Sunday, March 27, 2016

America Is NOT A Christian Nation

A sentiment endures that America is a Christian nation.  People still treat America as a Christian nation.  That bus long ago left the depot.  I will list and then explain several reasons why I believe America is not Christian.  However, has America ever been a Christian nation?

In a practical way, America didn't start as a Christian nation and I really don't write that to be controversial.  I'm sure it is controversial to some.  In recent decades, David Barton in addition to several others has written or posted much material documenting America as a Christian nation.  The founding fathers didn't intend, however, to start a theocracy per se, where the Bible was a founding document.  Since the nation was a democratic republic dependent on self-government, Christianity impacted the decision making through its people.  Alexis de Tocqueville made that point in his classic book, Democracy in America.

Idealogically, I think an argument could be made that America was at one time a Christian nation. The second paragraph and main body of the Declaration of Independence, the founding document of the United States begins:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights.

You read the words, "self-evident" (natural revelation), "created," and "endowed by their Creator." Notice that it also reads, "these truths," not facts or ideas or concepts.  "Truths" means absolutes because there are absolutes and that's what they believed.  All of these are Christian language derived from a Christian view of the world, which could be only the Christian God, which is the only God.

When you read Noah Webster's 1828 Dictionary was titled, American Dictionary of the English Language.  Webster published the first American dictionary, which uses verses from the New Testament for examples of the words therein.  The original American colleges, the Ivy League ones, were Christian.  Many quotes from founding fathers, including from James Madison, Father of the U. S. Constitution, say that idealogically the United States started Christian.

One can argue this point either way.  I see America one time as a Christian nation.  If that is the case, then how did things change?  A majority of Americans no longer see America as a Christian nation.

Christianity is Christianity.  Something called Christianity that isn't even Christian any more can't be counted as Christianity.  What was Christianity when America was Christian isn't even what Christianity is today.  America can't be Christian because of something called Christianity, but because of something that is Christian.

Early colleges started because of and for Christianity.  They were Christian.  Now Christianity isn't welcome in America's colleges and universities.  The Declaration starts with Creator and Creator isn't welcome in America's institutions.  Just the opposite, Christianity is attacked there.

At one time, businesses closed on the Lord's Day.  Now Sunday is one of the most worldly days of the week in America.  Sunday is a good day for travel and recreation.  The thought of church barely enters into society.  America hasn't stopped us from talking about Christianity, but it's not a sure thing that it is legal to live it any more.

Politicians still use their Christianity for votes.  It's still worth something, but it won't win an election. It won't lose an election unless you attempt to use it in a phony way.  If you think you have a Christian candidate, don't think we will return to a Christian nation again because of him.  You need to become accustomed to Christianity in a secular state, a place where Christianity in general is not welcome.  I like to think of it as being a missionary to France.  It's not that bad, but it's that to which you should become prepared.  The people of France don't expect a Christian president.

Enjoy your church.  Have a Christian church.  Have a Christian family.  Don't expect a Christian nation.  It will be a waste of time for you.

8 comments:

d4v34x said...

I don't think America has ever been a Christian nation. Although I guess I'm not sure whatt the definition of that term is. Certainly there have been times when Christian thought/principles have been a major, perhaps even the primary) influence in American culture and politics. But I doubt that the US ever had a majority population of genuine believers.

d4v34x said...

Ok, Bro. B,

What is a Christian nation?

Jon Gleason said...

There's no such thing.

A Christian is a redeemed, regenerated believer in Jesus Christ.

The only Christian nation that exists in Scripture is the one described in I Peter 2:9, and that is not one of the nations of this world.

When we talk about whether this earthly nation, or that earthly nation, is a "Christian" nation, we are using a Biblical term ("Christian") but we are not using it in any way the Scripture ever uses it. Thus, there is no way to Biblically answer the question, "Is this a Christian nation?" So then we have to answer it extra-Biblically, by using ours or someone else's made up definition of "Christian nation" which hasn't come from Scripture. And then we end up, I fear, arguing about words to no profit.

Thomas E Kresal said...

I read a short book by Ted Alexander "American Foundations LAID BY THE BAPTISTS" (I also highly recommend "America in Crimson Red" by James R. Beller) Brother Ted presents a strong case on how our nation was influenced by the Baptist. Indeed the Rhode Island Charter granting liberty of conscience made the Baptist community the freest city-state in the world at that time. The idea of Liberty of Conscience is distinctly a Baptist hallmark. The large voting block in Virginia influenced Madison and Jefferson. One can safely say that the First Amendment to our Constitution is due to the lobbying efforts of the Virginia Baptists. The United States is a nation that has been given liberty, a battle ground of free exercise. The first Jewish Synagogue was a few blocks away from the first Baptist church in America in Rhode Island.

BTW - I don't hold to David Barton Reconstructionist Reformed views of Christianity or his notoriously slanted view of USA history.

Kent Brandenburg said...

Thomas,

Thanks. I read the Beller book. This is something I learned in college too. I think you can be your position without being David Barton. I was arguing presuppositionally, since the Declaration starts with God as Creator and the only consistent view of God as Creator is a biblical worldview, which is a Christian worldview.

Jim Camp said...

A little late to the party,& maybe a little off topic, but I did desire to add a thought or two...
I have Bro. Ted Alexander in at our church almost every year & greatly appreciate his ministry. While here last year, he made a statement I heartily agree with. He said, (roughly) that some men have bought into a warped from of British Israelism with America replacing Britain. I was trained among guys who held "God save America" conferences regularly. After a number of years, I gave up on all this hooey. America is not "God's country", & the Lord has no reason to save it. As patriotic as I am, we are still just another Gentile nation of sinners. (I'm considering starting a "God save Armenia" rally!?) We have Liberty of conscience here, which is the big difference. I very much agree with Bro. Brandenburg that we should view ourselves as missionaries. I think that is all we are.

Joe Cassada said...

It is a waste of time to look for politicians who will champion the Christian faith in office. What we need is politicians who will champion the Constitution.

The Bible tells us to pray for our authorities so that we may lead a "quiet and peaceable life." I think this is part of the view of good government in the Bible - one that enables its people to lead a quiet and peaceable life. I think an implication of this is the superiority of limited government over against big government.

To stir the pot: the GOP is quickly becoming anti-limited-government. Christians may find themselves needing to vote for Libertarian candidates who (though socially liberal) will defend us from Big Brother.

Thoughts?

Kent Brandenburg said...

Jim,

I never answered, but I agree.

Joe,

I pretty much agree with you. I can't say I disagree. I get the libertarian thing, truly, Rand and Ron type stuff. I would like to see what that looks like happening. I don't think it will, but would be better by far than the last 24 years, yes, 24 -- two Clinton, two Bush, two Obama, and now what?