Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Who Cares if We are Christian Nation?

A few days ago Newsweek seemingly shocked a lot of Christians with this article declaring we were getting closer to the end of a Christian America. They have since backed off that statement a little with subsequent articles here and here. Now, albeit to the author Jon Meacham, who penned the original and one of the follow-up stories clarifying the first, he does a very good job of clarifying a distinction of Christianity in America and a Christian America and worked off of verifiable data to make his point. This is not a post to attack or argue against him. In fact I could I say I have long already held this decline in assumption.

However, I want to speak to those who became up in arms or worried about the content of the article. As you can read in other posts and my profile, I am a faith believing Christian and agree with many things the "Christian Right" holds of value with the addition of a lot of social justice issues. So I will start my conversation with a question. Who gives a rip in the world if America is seen as a Christian Nation? Add to that: Who cares if Christianity is the most popular mind set or faith?

I for one did not get into Christianity because it was the most popular things to do. I got into because when I began asking questions at the age of 17, it was the only faith that had answers for evil in the world, restoration for my wicked acts and atonement for sin, an explanation for death, and the concept of Grace (which upon initial exposure made my heart respond in full). From the very beginning I was never told it would be easy, popular, or the rule of the land. My own parents made my first year as a Christian tough by asking me to live a suddenly magical higher standard and then calling me a hypocrite when I failed (the no longer do this and respect my choice of faith).

In 1966, Time Magazine asked "Is God Dead?" and went on to assume faith was on the decline and there was no need for God. Since that time millions around the world including myself have become Christians. What I am trying to get at is, don't rely on a writer or another human being to project your own personal faith or God's rule. Jesus told His followers the path would be narrow and would not be easy due to persecution. Jesus' intent was never to use faith to legislate either. He never told the Romans how to conduct their business. Who did he get mad at? Those who used the name of God to conduct shady practices. Who did Paul warn and lash out at? It was not the government. It was not even Hebrews who chose not to follow Jesus. It was those who followed Christ. Everything you see Paul and others write about was directed at Christian believers and how to conduct their lives as individuals and as a community under oppressive rule. Paul knew that you could not tell someone who did not follow God how God was going to make them live their lives.

But here, there can be found the crux and the challenge. Paul told us to witness to non-believers so that they may know God and do His will so they may be spared from eternal separation, worldly desperation, and sinful exhibition. So, if the level of Christianity is declining in America, it is your fault and it is my fault. Why? How? Because I believe that any person that exposed to the Truth, Love, and Grace of Christ cannot ignore it and that is where lives and opinions are changed. So if that is not evident, it is because we are not doing enough to present it as such. Not through legislation or forced religion. Does that mean we give up on issues like abortion? No. Of course not. Lives are at stake there. But do not ignore the mother and their living life. Do not ignore the gay man who desires to be with their partner. Sure they have bought into what we know to be a deception. But my oh my, if we do not love them as Christ loved us, then they will NEVER see Christ and never turn away from the lies of the world. My friends, concern yourselves not with the numbers in mass that claim to be Christians, concern yourselves with your neighbor, co-worker and family members. Show them Christ as He displayed himself in love and compassion and concern for the lost. Leave the judgment for Him.
As for being a Christian Nation. One day God will come back to claim ALL nations. It may or may not be in our life time but there is blessed assurance that He is still in control.


JMS said...

I couldn't agree with you more, Kevin. The Church is always the healthiest and the faith always the most vibrant in places where Christianity is not seen as the default religion (China, India, Sub-Saharan Africa, etc.).

Also, the idea that America is a "Christian Nation" or that the Founding Fathers were Bible-believing Christians is a myth that the Religious Right have used for decades to motivate people to reclaim the "good ol' days" (which, incidentally were only 'good' if you were white, preferably male as well!). But as both Greg Boyd ("The Myth of a Christian Nation") and Roger Olsen ("How to be Evangelical without being Conservative") have shown in their respective books, this is a form of naivete at best...and idolatry at worst.

Which is why I throw up in my mouth a little bit whenever I hear people saying how we need to "take back America" or "put Jesus back in the schools" if Jesus has gone anywhere or America is any less under God's sovereign rule.

AK Blogs said...

JMS - KLock - I agree with the both of you.

However, what are we to do with this moral decline in our country? Now, I am not saying that everything was peachy clean 50 years ago. But, what I am saying is that there are things done in said in media today that would not have been fathomable 50 years ago. As a believer it makes you sick to your stomach. Are we to continue to let entertainment do this? If we call it immoral, what right do we have to call it immoral? Do you all get what I am trying to get at here?

UTKevDawg said...

@AK Blogs,
I am pretty sure I get what you are saying and certainly share the frustration. But we as Christians have made too many compromises and then claim it bothers us. I am not one for uproarious protests but if something on TV bothers us, we can avoid it. How many Christians watch Entertainment Tonight or buy People Magazine. What is that? Gossip. But we don't speak out against it. What about greed? Never talked about.
All we can do is show Christ's love in word and action. AS 1 Peter 3:15 says, "But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect."