I said, “America is not a Christian nation”, but here’s a clarification

In my sermon this past Sunday, I said this:

America is not a Christian nation. In fact, there’s never been any such thing as a Christian nation. There has been a Jewish nation, which was a theocracy. But never has there ever been anything like that since then. America has never been in a covenant with God like Israel was. We’re not a theocracy. In that regard, we are more akin to Babylon as a nation than to Israel.

But I could have said more. I didn’t due to time constraints, and because I plan to say more about it as I preach through Daniel.

Here’s what I was driving at with that comment.

I know that, unlike Babylon, America is unique in that it was founded on many principles that derive directly from Scripture. Biblical principles and concepts abound in the founding documents, which have been woven into the fabric of our American government and culture. Yet, it is without question that those principles that have influenced American life and though for so long have been eroding at alarming rates in the past number of decades. The trajectory toward increased secularism is just that: a movement away from the Christian concepts, practices, and principles that have undergirded and permeated our American society.

And yes, this concerns me greatly. Yes, there is much more that Christian individuals should be doing to influence government, society, and our culture to retard this trajectory. The operative word here is Christian individuals, not Christian churches.

Christians are citizens of two kingdoms simultaneously, and so should participate in both for the sake of the good of others and the glory of God. But the responsibility of the church is to minister the Gospel, not seek to run a government. That is the realm of individuals. And I believe that it would be a good, God-glorifying thing if more Christian individuals were involved in these matters than there are at present.

On the other hand, the church is to serve a prophetic function in the world, not a civil one. The church proclaims the good news of the Kingdom of God, but individual Christian citizens of the kingdom of man are free to influence government, culture, and society for the sake of maximizing the effectiveness of the preaching of the Gospel of the kingdom of God by the church. The church’s task is simple and clear: to minister the Word and the ordinances – to preach the Gospel, not to promote political agendas, politicians, or parties. The church’s function is prophetic, not political.

This would mean that while the church does have a responsibility to preach on abortion, homosexuality, marriage, murder, theft, stealing, etc. (because the Scriptures directly address each one of those issues), the Scriptures do not promote any one political agenda, and therefore the church shouldn’t either.

Furthermore, pastors need to be careful not to blur the lines between what Scripture says, and what even the pastor thinks is the best political agenda. As a pastor, when I speak behind the pulpit (that is, in a prophetic role) I am to speak where the Bible speaks, and be silent where it is silent. The pulpit is not the place for expressing my personal opinions or political persuasions.

Now, to be honest, I am a political junkie, and love to talk politics in private. But I do not have the freedom to impose my political persuasions on those whom I pastor, when I stand to preach or when I counsel those who come to me for Biblical guidance. I must keep my heavenly charge in clear view: preach the Word. And Christian individuals must recognize that the function of the church is not to play politics or try to create a “Christian nation,” it is to preach the Gospel.

If Christian individuals want to be more involved in politics, then there is great freedom from Scripture to do so, and there is a great motivation from the second greatest commandment to do so, because serving your neighbors in positions of authority can be a good way to “love your neighbor as yourself.” And if anyone should be loving their neighbors, it’s Christians! But Christians shouldn’t confuse their function as an individual seeking to serve and influence government and the culture through political involvement, with the function of the church to proclaim the good news to all men. Politics isn’t for that, pulpits are. Ultimately, the goal is not a “Christian nation,” but a nation filled with Christians.

2 Responses to I said, “America is not a Christian nation”, but here’s a clarification

  1. […] (which was a hoax and is reproduced in full in the link), but it got me thinking about another blog post I had read recently by my friend Scott Kay.  Scott […]

  2. sandra says:

    Just wondering about all of this myself. I struggle and am so unsure as to what line there is between my personal beliefs and how that applies to things like issues we vote on. Would like a little guidance from the pastor on this especially if I’m wrong in my reasoning.

    I personally believe as a Christian it is not my business to stop gay marriage or intervene in anyone’s life other than to bring the gospel and let them decide. I do have libertarian leanings. Now someone will read this and think I want to tickle their ears but that is not it either. I just don’t see how we are being wise in witnessing to others in our day and time by holding signs up and telling people who are homosexual they are going to hell. Didn’t Paul say he met people on their level to win them to the gospel? To the Jews he became as one under the law, etc….

    Clearly holding huge sometimes semi hateful signs and speaking through megaphones just ain’t doin’ it in our culture.

    We live in a country that is suppose to be free and in order for it to stay free we must honor the rights of others. If a state votes and makes it legal who are we to get in the way of that as long as it’s not infringing on the rights of others? Aren’t we suppose to obey the laws of the land, not change them so that they fit our interests only as if we are living in a country only inhabited by Christians? Granted in our society the laws of the land are largely ignored even by Congress and SCOTUS because no one takes the time to learn the Constitution or more about our founding through things like the federalist papers. I myself have it as a goal to learn more so am not excusing myself from this.

    The fact is that our culture is changing fast and is becoming very anti christian and Christians are partly at fault for that in my belief.

    Why? How do you expect others to respect your rights when you do not respect their need for freedom? I’m not saying go against your conscience and vote for it, I’m simply saying stay out of the way because God never called us to force other to live as we believe and when you do so you better bet they are going to go after your freedoms.

    Imagine a world where Christians refused to say hateful things and instead did many good works. People would take notice and would want to know more about you and your beliefs and that would be the perfect time to share the gospel. If our lives were governed by gentleness and love. I know there is a time and place for being stern and firm but imagine if people were mostly gentle, slow to anger, apt to teach out of patience and forbearing with unbelievers.

    From there God and his word as well as proper Christian preaching and teaching can help them to learn God’s will for their lives. I just believe more people would be reached that way but instead we look like hypocrites getting our panties bunched up over homosexual people marrying when it’s really not our business.

    Let God deal with it. We should be lights of the world and yes lights tell the truth but there is a time and a place for that and I highly doubt your going to get your truth across to someone by forcing them to live the way you think they should. I mean how’s it working so far? No one can live up and change their lives unless they have the Holy Spirit. The world doesn’t. Quite expecting them to live like you. I get it everyone should be held to certain moral laws. Don’t steal, don’t kill, etc… I’m just saying beyond those universal moral laws, we shouldn’t force anything on anyone.

    The apostles did not hold signs up and yell at people to turn or burn and try and force all people in the country they were in to change their laws and live like good Christians. They respected the laws where they were at and reached people with the gospel by becoming as they were, finding common ground.

    Someone may say, what common ground do I have with a homosexual? Ummmm, are you a sinner? We all are. They are no less of a human being than you are and you are not acting like a Christian by treating them as if they are! The hallmark of a Christian is love. Love tells the truth, but love does so the right way.
    Love is patient, love is kind, believes the best about others, hopes for the best, etc….

    I feel as a Christian what does it concern me how they want to live? Isn’t it God who said not to judge those on the outside but let him deal with it, that we are to deal with those matters in the church? A gay person marrying isn’t hurting their neighbor nor is it infringing the rights of another citizen. So why is this so frequently targeted by supposed Christians? I say supposed not because I believe all who protest are not Christians but because many who claim to be Christians and are protesting do not even believe in a gospel of grace but a gospel of works. Many are Christian in name only and attack homosexuals with some of the nastiest language on forums.

    Why aren’t they (Christians and supposed Christians) also protesting adultery, that is far more prevalent in our society than gay rights and it’s definitely in our churches and homes, because none of us are beyond sinning and falling.

    Why aren’t they protesting haughty looks which everyone seems to have a haughty attitude these days. After all it is one of the top 7 things God personally says he detests! Guess what? Of those 7 detestable sins God hates, homosexuality isn’t mentioned.

    I know God says it’s wrong. I agree. I just feel like we are trying to take the splinter out of someone’s eye while many have planks in theirs.

    Ok, I’m just rambling now so I’ll stop I would like your personal ideas on what I wrote because if I’m wrong I’d like to know but I don’t see where what I said is hurtful.

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