I feel in a reflective mood, which isn’t always good. I was reflecting on an interview where a woman was asked why she voted for Donald Trump. Her answer, “So I can say ‘Merry Christmas.’”
That made me reflect of something I haven’t heard lately, that America was and should always be a Christian nation. Some like the “Merry Christmas” lady, may feel it has finally become one.
It hasn’t. It never was. It never will. I’m glad it won’t. Why? Because it would cease to be America. You see, “nation” and “Christian” are not compatible. A nation is an area with boundaries. Christianity is universal. Nations seek their own partisan agenda. As Jesus noted, “Nation shall rise against nation.” (Matt. 24:7) Christianity’s agenda is a ministry of reconciliation among all nations.
A nation is built on self-preservation by military might. The Church offers itself upon the cross of suffering love. It is not seeking survival, but spreading the good news of God’s love. And, historically, nations have come and gone, but Christianity, at its worst and at its best, after two thousand years plus, still can be a power for good.
Citizens of a nation are, in a general sense, simply those born there, like it or not. No one is born a citizen of the Church. It is by choice that one becomes part of Christ’s purpose on earth.
I don’t want to spend much time on the history of America and its Constitution, but some things need to be remembered. America was never a Christian nation by those who shaped the Constitution. “Christian” nor “God” is mentioned. “Creator” and “Supreme Judge of the World” is, but these are Deist statements which can mean anything. “Religion” is mentioned and everyone is free to choose what that religion is. Article IV.
The Treaty of Tripoli (1797) stated that “The government of the United States is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion.”
There is not enough space nor need to mention everything Thomas Jefferson said about the Bible or religion. However, moving forward in history it was 1954 when the Eisenhower administration added “Under God” to the pledge of allegiance. It should also be noted that President Eisenhower also said, “Our government makes no sense unless it is founded on a deeply religious faith–and I don’t care what it is.”
The idea of a “Christian America” distorts Christianity. It’s the idea that America cannot be a good and significant country unless it is “Christian.” Who is America? America is the people, all people, not just Christians. In fact, often enough it has been “America” which has taught “Christians.” Two examples are racism and patriarchy, both of which were strongly held views by the majority of Christians in earlier periods of America’s development.
Before I go any farther, I should explain the title of this article. In 2016 the state of Tennessee House and Senate pushed a bill to make the Bible the official state book. The Governor, having more civic and historical understanding of America, vetoed the bill. Hence, they missed it by that much. Thank God. By the way, Louisiana also tried and failed, for now.
It’s not that the Bible is not important. It is. But a nation or a state is first of all lead by it’s constitutional law.The Bible is about God, the Jews, Jesus and Christianity.
Jesus, as the leader of Christianity was about a suffering, giving, love for all, even the enemy. If we lay that beside America, the idea that this is a “Christian” nation is a failure.
Jesus said the teaching of the kingdom of God was to be like salt and light. It was like leaven. It was like a mustard seed which grows in the soil (of any country) and brings forth in abundance.
If it becomes captive to any one people or country, it loses its universal value. It becomes identified with a certain ideology, rather than the loving, divine power penetrating the whole of creation. As such, the teachings of Jesus (Christianity) belong to and can thrive in any country, in any culture, in any situation. A Christian church can produce Russian Christians, African Christians and socialist Christians, among others. Democracy, however it is defined, is not Christian, even though at its best it employs the teachings of Jesus.
The Jews (Hebrews) were led by prophets, not kings, at least that was the ideal. It was to be a theocracy. Reading the Old Testament shows that didn’t work very well, as kings and politicians (religious leaders) took power. What would have worked? The easy answer would be if they kept the Law of Moses i.e., and the prophets (God). Did they? Not very well.
Who were the voices of God in the Old Testament? Rarely a king. The record of kings is up and down. But at all times there were prophets. Moses is called a prophet. Nathan guides David and so on. The Jews felt everything hung on the law and the prophets, not on the kings. That being true, what were the guiding principles of the prophets? Take my word for it, they are consistent.
Amos can speak for all them. “Let justice roll down like waters.” 5:24. The rich trample on the poor. 5:11. The poor are driven out or cheated by rigging the scales and currency and the floor sweepings were sold for wheat. 8:4-6. Amos’ message is summed up in chapter 5: “I hate, I despise your religious feasts: I cannot stand your assemblies.” v.21
Isaiah, working in Judah says God denounces the elders and princes of his people and saying “the spoil of the poor is in your houses” Isa.3:14 .
In summery: the powerful treat the poor, who make up most of the populace, as sources of wealth and underpaid labor, using coercion, dishonesty, legal technicalities, and even violence. Justice is the opposite. See Ezek. 18:5-9.
CONCERNS: Judy Hall is in room 116 at Raleigh Court. She is making headway and as soon as she can walk she will go home. Jim Hunter is having pain. Prayers are asked for the Scotts who lost a three month old baby to apparent SIDS. Also for Carlo and Silvia Baltedano in Montellano, Guatemala. Deanna McRoy is cancer free at this time,but the type she has is very aggressive and can return. Keep The Beach’ parents in prayer, as well as a niece, Jamie Cole. Also Del Bolin’s mother, Teryn Gaynor’s mother, Sheila Jansen and daughter, Amber Weaver. Marjorie Wilson, Melanie Gentry, Gil Richardson, Jim and Mary Smith and Tim Elder.
Today’s service will be lead by Wayne Flora. These third Sunday services give us a chance to listen to the gospel from those of the congregation. Be sure to thank Wayne for his service.
This is also Super Sunday, which means we will enjoy a meal together in the annex following the service. Visitors are considered our guests. Please stay.
THE BIG DANCE
Del Bolin has been serving as the team doctor for Radford University and traveled to Dayton Ohio with them where they scored their first tournament win in several years. They went on to Pittsburgh and at the time of this printing had not yet played, so if Del is here it means they lost.
WOULDN’T YOU KNOW IT
Just kidding a little. It was mentioned that since we are now required to pay for trash collection, we could now begin to clean up the area at the end of our property and the city would remove the brush placed on the curb. You may notice the pile Len Jordan worked up is gone. Yeah! However, a call was received from the city saying they do not do that for businesses, and we are a business. So all we get for the money is that other refuse except brush will be picked up. But some nice man did pick it up. We can fill the dark can with brush, or haul it away. Such is life in the big city.