The Christian Citizen
|The Flag of Christians|
Before we discuss if America, or any nation, is a Christian nation, if it used to be one, or if we should make it one, let’s be sure we understand what we’re talking about.
What is a Christian nation?
There could well be four possibilities:
First, ideally, of course, a Christian nation would be one in which every citizen repented of his sins and believed in Jesus Christ. Such a nation has never existed, of course, and we have no hope that one on this side of heaven will be made.
Secondly, more realistically, a Christian nation would be a people in formal covenant with God. In the Bible, Israel is the only Covenant Nation—even though the great majority of its members were not saved. The Apostle Paul says,
"All Israel is not Israel, but there is a remnant according to grace". Romans 9:6
This was true in the best of times, when David and Solomon reigned over the united kingdom, and in the worst of times, when the nation was divided and wicked men like Ahab occupied the seat of power. Even then the Bible says,
"Seven thousand had not bent the knee to Baal". 1 Kings 19:18
Thirdly, a Christian Nation could be one that publicly professes faith in Christ. Before the French Revolution in 1789, every country in Europe was Christian in this sense. England was Protestant, Spain was Catholic, Russia was Eastern Orthodox, and Germany was a mix of Catholic and Protestant. But they all thought of themselves as Christian nations or part of Christendom, which means "The Kingdom of Christ on Earth". Yet, the monarchy of each nation refused to allow any Christian Church authority above them. In England, the monarchy is also the titular head of the Church of England, the national and “official” church.
Fourth, a Christian Nation could be one in which many believers live and whose culture is influenced by the Bible. This is what most people are thinking of when they say America is a Christian Nation.
Does America match any above category?
Obviously, America would not fit into the first one, not every American is saved. That has never been true and we have no reason to hope it ever will be. The most fanatical Patriot does not believe that.
But what about the second option? Is America in Covenant with God? No it isn’t. Covenants between God and men are always made by God. It is He who chooses us and not we who choose Him. God no place in scripture mentions any covenant nation besides Israel.
But has God chosen America to be His own peculiar people? The Bible doesn’t say He has. If you point to the great blessings we have from Him, I say, Amen, yes we do. But then, of course, so did the Roman Empire. They had wealth, power, and stability too. But they were under the Judgment of God despite their worldly advantages.
What about Option Number Three, that America formally professes faith in Christ?
If by America, you mean the legal documents, then no. The Constitution does not mention God and forbids "the establishment of religion". At no place in the Constitution will a person even find a mention of Christ. The Constitution was written as a secular founding document. The Declaration of Independence names a Creator, but gives Him no title except for Nature’s God which was the term used most often by Agnostics and Deists who affirmed the existence of God but who denied the divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ. In other words, not a Christian document meant to establish a Christian nation.
The Covenanters (who were the most Reformed and committed Scottish Presbyterians) denounced the US Constitution as blasphemy and infidelity. They wondered how in the world a nation could be Christian without publicly affirming the Lordship of Jesus Christ. They were answered by Jefferson and Adams who told them to stop interfering and realize the USA was being founded as a secular nation granting religious freedom to all.
In his Notes on Virginia, Jefferson wrote: "Millions of innocent men, women and children since the introduction of Christianity have been burnt, tortured, fined, imprisoned. Yet have we not advanced one inch towards uniformity. What has been the effect of coercion? To make one half the world fools and the other half hypocrites. To support roguery and error all over the earth. I and my fellows shall not see this befall our nation."
Many Americans have professed Christianity and many are truly saved people, but America as a nation has never done that.
The Fourth Option is the only one we can accept with truth and integrity. There are many Christians in the United States and over the years the Bible has had a big influence in our government, culture, education, and public life in general.
I don’t think anyone can seriously disagree with this.
Is this standard good enough to be a Christian nation?
The short answer is no.
Professing faith does not make one a Christian. Our Lord Jesus put it this way, Matthew 7:21,
"Not everyone who says to Me, Lord, Lord, shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven".
Following some selected parts of the Bible also does not make a person, or a people Christian. For example, there is no doubt the Jews of the First Century prayed, fasted, and gave alms to the poor. Every one of these is a commandment of God! Yet the Lord said, Luke 50-51
"That the blood of all the prophets which was shed from the foundation of the world may be required of this generation. From the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah who perished between the altar and the temple. Yes, I say to you it will be required of this generation".
Israel at the time was what many Christians are calling for a traditional, conservative, religious society. And yet that society, not pagan Rome, crucified the Lord of Glory!
What social changes do most Christians want nowadays? First on the list is an end to abortion. Amen to this! Abortion is murder in the first degree and of the most unnatural and vicious kind. Yet Ireland has no abortion rights. Is it Christian? Or is it simply one of the most Catholic nations on earth? It is now and has been ruled by secular minded people.
Others demand modesty, especially female modesty. I agree with them. But that’s what The Taliban has done in every place it has ruled. Is the Taliban Christian?
Hard work would be good, but is the Japanese Buddhist or Shinto Christian?
I sure wish we could abolish drunkenness. They’ve done that in Saudi Arabia. Is that a Christian society?
The fact of the matter is: Having many professed believers and parts of the Bible made law in the culture does not make a nation Christian. Therefore, the United States of America is not a Christian Nation.
If abortion were outlawed tomorrow, if homosexuality was declared the abomination, if drug abuse was sharply curtailed, and if crime took a nosedive, what we’d probably have a better place to live, but the nation would be no more Christian with these things than secular nations are today.
You see, Christianity is not "being good" (though we ought to be good). It is nothing less than repentance and being born again with faith in Jesus Christ.
|Our Christian Leader, King Jesus|
Many Americans are in union with Christ, but the United States is not, never has been and we have no promise that it ever will be.
If the USA is not Christian then what should Christians do?
Some would say "Leave it". The Puritans said this about England and they sailed for a new land (today's USA) in which, they hoped, the Kingdom of God would be rebuilt in the world.
Whether they should have done this or not is a matter of opinion. But what isn’t a matter of opinion is this: they failed. If you read Puritan history, you’ll find that though the first generation was heroic for Christ, the second generation wasn’t. And within a few decades Christian New England became a hotbed for heresy because the Puritans did what they said they never would do – allow the Anglicans to have equal rule in the Puritan colonies.
Furthermore, the Bible nowhere commands us to leave an ungodly nation. The Lord commanded Abraham to do that—but we’re not Abraham!
One place, at least, seems to suggest we ought to stick it out, I Corinthians 5:9-10,
"I wrote to you in my epistle not to keep company with fornicators. Yet I certainly did not mean with the fornicators of this world—or with the covetous or with the extotioners or with idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the (this) world."
Picking up the verse, if you left America for a better place, a more Christian place, where would you go? In terms of morality and public religion, Europe is worse than the USA is. I believe more Christians live in Africa than on any other continent, yet no African country is Christian.
If you want to emigrate, that’s your business, but don’t think for a minute you would move to a Christian nation. You won’t because there is none on earth. Even Vatican City developed a secular constitution in 1924. The Pope may be the head of Vatican City but every Pope since Pius XI has refused to call Vatican City a Christian nation. This is the main and only reason Vatican City is allowed a UN presence.
Leaving then, is not an option. But how about revolution? Maybe we could overthrow our wicked leaders and replace them with saved men. This might be done, but how would you square this with Romans 13:2?
"Therefore, whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God and those who resist with bring judgment on themselves".
If revolution were the right option, then Barabbas was a hero. Or the Apostles should have joined with the Zealots who, after the Day of Pentecost, might have overthrown the Roman rulers.
No, this is not the right option. If good men in the past did it personal heroes even then we only say that good men are not the standard. It is the Bible that determines right and wrong. The US Revolution is only good if one is an American. If revolutions are blessings then the French Revolution which ushered in a bloody secular, Christ hating regime was a blessing. The Wilhelmine revolution of Germany which spawned both World War I and II is a blessing. The Soviet Revolution was a blessing. Where does a Christian draw the line of the Apostle Paul and seeing all warfare as a curse upon humanity.
The third option is the one most sensible Christians take. If the government is bad, then work for a Christian one. What do we make of this?
If by work for a Christian government you mean preach the Gospel to our leaders, then yes, by all means do! Presidents and governors and mayors are all included in the Great Commission. Moreover, in II Timothy 2, Paul says
"God desires all men to be saved".
This includes President Obama and Senator Reid, Nancy Peolsi, and Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginzberg.
But, if you mean try to make the government and the culture Christian, then I say you’re wasting your time. Honest leaders are better than crooked leaders and good laws are better than bad ones, but if every official was honest and every law good, the government, culture and people of the United States would still be under the wrath of God. There is no covenant between the US and God. There never will be a covenant because God will never call for one. Israel alone is the covenant nation with God.
If you want to work to make things better in society then God bless you, it’s good work and is noble for a person of faith, we are called to do so in Matthew 25, but don’t ever think making things better is the same thing as making things Christian.
The best option is, of course, the Bible one. Accept the fact that the United States is not a Christian nation and live as "Pilgrims and strangers". 1 Peter 2:11
Pilgrims and strangers may enjoy the country they’re passing through and may do some good in it too, but it’s not their country. They’re from somewhere else. And so are we, "Our citizenship is in heaven". Philippians 3:20
What about politics?
Ought Christians be involved I politics? The key word here is "ought", that’s the word of duty. Is it my duty to vote? Or your duty to campaign for someone? Or run to office?
If it’s a duty, you’ve got to find it in the Bible. And no verse can be found. The Word of God nowhere commands the believer to vote, campaign, contribute, get involved or run for office.
But someone will say, "God commands us to be salt and light". Just for the record, God doesn’t command that, He says we "are salt and light". Grammarians call this an indicative, not an imperative—it says what is, not what ought to be.
But leaving that aside, can anyone seriously say You cannot be salt and light without getting into politics? If you do say that, then the Apostles and the Lord Jesus Christ didn’t do the right job.
Should believers take an interest in politics?
Of course they should, if they choose to. Politics are neither commanded nor forbidden in the Bible. Thus, we’re free to get into them or stay out of them.
Saints in the Bible were involved in the politics of wicked nations. Think of Daniel, Esther, Mordecai, and "The Most Excellent Theophilus".
Must we take an interest in politics? No. May we? Yes. It s a matter of liberty, and Paul says,
"Who are you to judge another man’s servant?"
OK, no nation is Christian, so what can we expect as Christians from nations we live in?
We shouldn’t look to it for salvation in the next world or much happiness in this one. The Bible is very plain here,
"Under the sun all is vanity". Ecclesiastes 1:2
"It is better to trust the LORD than to put confidence in princes". Psalm 118:9
This is the great folly of our tim and all times! The Civil War was fought Lincoln said, "Lest government of the people, by the people and for the people should perish from the earth".
The Union won the war, but that did not secure self-government here or anywhere else.
President Wilson said the World War I was "The war to end all wars". It wasn’t.
Neville Chamberlain came back from Munich with a piece of paper in his hand signed by Hitler, ensuring "Peace in our time". It didn’t.
The Civil Rights Movement promised freedom to all Americans. But it didn’t come through. The Contract with America promised reform but nothing really changed. On and on it goes. Every politician, statesman, and talking head promises salvation through human works, and not one of them works out.
The greatest political philosopher of the Twentieth Century is Roger Daltrey. Here’s what he said about pinning your hopes on men, political parties, or revolutions,
“I’ll tip my hat to the new constitution,
take a bow for the new revolution,
smile and grin at the change all around
Pick up my guitar and play,
Just like yesterday,
Then I get on my knees and pray,
We don’t get fooled again.
Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.”
Our attitude needs to be like Jesus Christ in John 2:23-25:
Now while he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Festival, many people saw the signs he was performing and believed in his name. But Jesus would not entrust himself to them, for he knew all people. He did not need any testimony about mankind, for he knew what was in each person.
Trust in Christ and not any human.
Philip Melanchton was the dear friend and assistant to Martin Luther. When he saw the wonderful changes the Reformation brought to Saxony, he thought all the world would soon be saved. After years of stalemate, though, he had to admit, "Old Adam is stronger than young Philip".
The sooner you learn that, the smarter you’ll be. No party, no politician, no movement, no human creation will make the world a wonderful place to live. No, Jesus Christ is going to do that and not gradually but all at once when He comes again,
"Surely, I come quickly. Yea so be it, come Lord Jesus". Revelation 22:20
What then should we hope for from our public leaders? II Timothy 2:2 says, "Quiet and peaceable lives in all godliness".
That’s all we can hope for. If that’s what we’re looking for, we won’t be half as discontented as we are. That’s what we ought to pray for. And pray without ceasing.
Do we have to wait for heaven to live in a Christian nation?
The answer is no. It’s true that heaven is a Christian nation, a pure Monarchy in which the King loves His subjects and they love Him in return. Perfectly and forever.
But heaven is not only up in the air. It will one day also be on the Earth. The King will come and set up a Royal Outpost in the world right in Jerusalem. And why shouldn’t He? He’s as much the King of Earth as He is the King of Heaven! Revelation 21:21
Believers live in cities right now. What Israel would have been if they had obeyed, we have become where we are: at home, at work, in church, where the believer is then there is the Lord. Because our Lord Jesus Christ has obeyed for us. Right now with all our faults we are, “A chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.” 1 Peter 2:9
Brothers and sisters, there is a Christian nation and all Christians are in it. But it’s not America, it’s the Kingdom of God which is occupied by everyone who serves the King, the Lord Jesus Christ.
After the shocking events of 9-11, people were calling for a renewed patriotism. People all over town were waving flags, singing God bless America, and so on. I’ve got nothing against that, there’s nothing wrong with loving your country.
But I urge you to love you other country even better. What we need now is Christian Patriots and not believers who wave the Red, White, and Blue so much as Christians who love heaven and who set their priorities by it and who invite foreigners to immigrate to the Kingdom. There’s plenty of room in heaven, plenty of resources, and no prejudice. Everyone is welcome there. Why don’t you go tell your friends about where you’re from and the King you serve?
That’s a patriotism you’ll never be ashamed of.