America, A Christian Nation?

First, I must qualify the opinion which I am about to express. I love my country, served my country, and could be accused by some of being a “Nationalist” (which they would associate in a negative context) for my America pride. I love the American Flag, which symbolizes the American idea. And I love the idea of America as originally defined by the Constitution of the United States. I love Jesus Christ and the Faith of Jesus Christ which God has made available to all who seek Him. And I love His church – His expression on the earth. But I take issue with the ideology and logical fallacy of America being “a Christian nation.”

Historically, the disgust over a national religion was one of the reasons why the colonies declared independence. The First Amendment to the United States Constitution not only prevents the prohibition of the free exercise of religion, but it also prevents the establishment of a religion. Thus, there is not, nor can there be, any law which determines Christianity as the official American religion. The argument that many of the founding fathers were Deists cannot be ignored (not to mention the evidence that many were Masons). The fact that Christianity spread so rapidly across America speaks volumes for the Gospel, not any national religion. Another variable in this argument is the Christendom mindset. Because Christianity was the norm in the “civilized world” (Christianity, it can be argued, is the reason for the civility), it only follows that America as a whole would follow precedent.

Theologically, it would seem bad hermeneutics to utilize Replacement Theology as a supporting argument for a Christian nation. Because the nation of Israel had a national religion, it does not necessarily follow that Christianity must, therefore, have a nation. First, God has not “replaced” Israel in any sense and; second, Old Testament Israel signifies the New Testament Church. Furthermore, while I would agree that God in His providence granted freedom to the United States from the King of England, I will argue that such freedom was from tyranny and injustice, and not to form some Christian nation (for England was already a “Christian Nation,” as it were). Further still, to demand Christianity of a people runs counter to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. One needs to look no further than the historical accounts of the Crusades and the Inquisitions to witness the end-results of such religious thought. The “Good News” does not, in its truest form, coerce converts, but it wins souls. And a national religion, by its very nature, is inevitably an exclusive one. Not just in the sense that it excludes other religions, but it also will eventually persecute individuals and groups who think differently than what it has deemed acceptable and orthodox.

Finally, my argument rests on the fact that the knowledge of the truth comes by Christ alone, and not any form of religious institution. That being true, then, America cannot have a national faith, because faith is an individual decision, which happens to be lived-out in community. America offers a place to live out that communal faith; it doesn’t dictate it (which would be a religion and not a faith by definition). Express your faith for all to see, don’t rely on a state sponsored religion. This is the purpose of the Church!

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