Is America a Christian nation? Has she ever been a Christian nation?” Many believers in Christ would answer “no” to the first question and “yes” to the latter. I dare say that a majority of evangelical believers are of the opinion that the greatest priority of the American church should be to facilitate the return of the United States to its place as a Christian nation. This begs the question, “What does it mean to be a “Christian nation?” Perhaps even more importantly, is the Great Commission a call to make America or any nation state a Christian one?
The popular definition of “Christian nation” seems to be one in which the popular culture and government are Christian dominated. Where it is “looked down upon” to be non-Christian. Where a Christian world view is respected, honored and championed. Where elected leaders are believers who pray, attend worship and prayerfully follow God’s moral will as outlined in Holy Scripture and lead the nation to do the same.
Certainly much of America’s history is one in which the popular culture has been heavily influenced by a Christian worldview. Throughout our history Christian ethics and ideas have dominated public discourse. The 20th century saw this demonstrated in the financial and social benefits of church membership and attendance. Unfortunately, this led to great numbers of apostate church members who never truly became Christian. Many who talked the talk of Christianity never genuinely walked the walk.
Has America ever enjoyed a time when it was governed by Holy Spirit led Christians who followed God’s moral law? Before you answer consider the inconvenient fact that legally protected slavery and segregation existed for most of our history. In addition, women didn’t have the constitutionally protected right to vote until the 20th century. It isn’t Christian to subjugate people because of their race or sex. Christian or not our leadership has never been perfect.
America has been a great land of opportunity and at times the righteous hand of God in world affairs but defining her as a Christian nation is difficult at best.
Many of the ideas which make up the definition of a “Christian nation” seem wonderful, however one should consider whether their implementation is even possible. Jesus said “narrow is the way to salvation and few will find it.” Every culture is going to be dominated numerically by non-believers.
Jesus promised His followers persecution, hardship and even death on account of their faith in Him. The normal Christian experience is one of persecuted minority. Should we expect less than that which the Savior Himself promised? Of course Jesus also said to have faith in the midst of these difficulties because He, and we in Him, have overcome the world!
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
— John 16:33
Christians in the United States have, for most of our history, enjoyed a preferred status and preferential treatment in the public square. This has been a welcome respite in the church’s long history of persecution. But we are now emerging into a post-Christian world in which the promises Jesus made concerning hardship and persecution are becoming more real to our own personal experience. What does this mean for the church moving forward? What is our mission from here?
Many of us have been sidetracked by a politically motivated Christianity and the result has been a misguided priority. God hasn’t called us to save America but to be a part of what He is doing to save the people of America. God hasn’t called us to fight for a Christian nation but to fight spiritual battles in advancement of His Kingdom. God hasn’t called us to work for the salvation of a political system or nation state but to labor with Him for the salvation of men, women and children through the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
SHOULD WE CARE?
Should Christians care about our government, culture and nation? Absolutely! But if we love America and American culture more than Jesus and the Kingdom of God, we have traded genuine Christianity for an idol of our own creation. There will only ever be one Christian nation/kingdom and it will be a literal one ruled over by Jesus Himself; it will be called the Millennial Kingdom. Until then we pray, endure, witness and love for the sake of the Lamb of God; so He may receive the reward of His suffering; so some might be saved.
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