America and Christians Part One: Christian Nation?

Disclaimer: This are only my opinions, presented to generate discussion on the issue. It is completely fine if you disagree. I respect the fact you may have another opinion and ask you respect mine. Comment on any part of this, whether you agree or disagree. Again this is presented to generate discussion.

In southern circles, at the least, you hear how America is a Christian nation. This country was founded on Judeo-Christian values they say and this fact alone makes us a Christian nation. I would like to explore this idea, first was it ever and second should Christians want to claim this?

First was this country ever a Christian nation? I believe the answer to be no. If you read about the founding fathers (of America) you find many of them were not Christians, they may have known Christian values but did not practice them. Benjamin Franklin was not a Christian even though he loved to go hear George Whitfield speak. Thomas Jefferson practically invented the Unitarian church (basically a hodgepodge of whatever religion you like). So at best you can call the founding fathers Deists (belief that there is a god). But what about after that? Well, if the constitution is not strictly a Christian constitution that makes it hard for the nation to be consider a Christian nation without changing the constitution. Also America is setup as a majority rule nation with allowances and understandings for minority groups. What happens if an influx of other religions occurs and one of them takes the majority? (Please note this is a very brief and probably unsatisfying look at this part, however many books and articles have been written on the subject and I do not pretend to know enough.1)

Now more importantly, should Christians want to claim America as a Christian nation. I believe not. Why you might say should we not want to claim America as a Christian nation. There are several reasons and I will attempt to touch on them (some in this blog and then “larger” subjects in the rest of this series). One, as a Christian we can only serve one master (Matt 6:24), if we choose to claim America are we not really making America our master. Also if we take a look at our Old Testament, we find that being a nation with a leader did not work out well for Israel. While Judges was a bad time for the Israelites, God provided for them, once they asked for a King, they were quickly separated (after three kings the nation splits) and then five-sixths of the nation’s tribes were lost by conquer. While America does not have a king, we do have a central government that in a sense has the same power as a king. If we look to them are we not like Israel demanding to be like everyone else. I realize the nation of America could not function without our government, this is no reason for us as Christians to embrace it as our own, though. This leads into the next point of America being a capitalist nation. If you can find me a passage that clearly shows Jesus teaching this idea then you are better than me or deluding yourself. While communism does not work as a government form, it is the type of idea Jesus teaches in the New Testament. I honestly like communism on paper, but then I remember we live in a world with non-perfect people who corrupt the system. So then should Christians move away and start their own communities where they do live communally. I do not have answer, because we are to be a city shining on a hill (Matt 5:14) but also to be in the world (but not of it) (loosely John 17:16). America is hyped up on buy this, get this house, drive this car, dress in these clothes, etc. This is not what Jesus teaches us, while he does teach to make sure we are taken care of, we do not need all the cool new gadgets.

Capitalism is only one major problem, as noted above what would happen if Muslims became the majority group in America? Would this become a Muslim nation? They like wise could point to many traits in the constitution that are similar to their belief system and could make the same claims we do, except that the founding fathers were muslim (though as I previously pointed a group of them (if not most) were not Christians). How many laws have been passed that are counter to Christian beliefs? America is founded on the idea that majority rules but also cannot discriminate against the minority. So for instance prayer in school, we cannot (and should not) have public prayer in school (private prayer, most definitely). How would you determine who gives the public prayer in school, majority faith (in school, city, county, state, country). Not looking good is it. Or I could point to Roe vs. Wade, this is currently a legally sound judgment according to our constitution, the only way it will change is a law being passed defining when life begins. (On a side note in the Christian ethics issue mentioned earlier, end-noted, there is an interesting article on ensoulment vs life.) Still liking “your” nation and want to claim it as Christian. Theocracy does not work, our kingdom is in Heaven not on Earth. While we should want a nation full of Christians, we should not desire a Christian nation. There are other implications to this that I will discuss more fully in later parts of this blog.

{Part Two is: Military, Part Three is: Politics, Part Four is: Bible, and Part Five is: Schools. (Notice I have come up with a fifth part and watch for more to come, and comment on topics you would like to be written.)}

1. see Christian Ethics Today. Vol 15 no 3 iss 75. Fall 2009. For further research in this area. Also you may consider Gregory Boyd’s book Myth of a Christian Nation, I have yet to read it so I cannot fully comment on its take.

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One Response to America and Christians Part One: Christian Nation?

  1. Like you, I don’t claim to know it all. But, I did launch http://www.OneChristianNation.com and you may be interested in understanding why.

    I wrote a few thoughts down as a sort of stream of consciousness because I’m no writer, theologian or master of apologetics. I’m a sinner in desperate need of God’s grace looking forward to His return.

    Here is the blog: http://gunfireandbrimstone.blogspot.com/2009/10/one-christian-nation.html

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