|Volume II, Issue 2 |
|Is America Post-Christian? |
Lawrence R. Blades
O Theophilus is the Quarterly Journal of The Center For Biblical Literacy
Is America Post-Christian?
At a recent SC meeting the question was raised, “Are we engaged in the Christian reconstruction of American society and culture, or does the Lord have other intentions for the Church in our country?” We observe much feverish activity among Christians on television and in popular Christian magazines. Charismatic mega-churches are bombarding heaven with demonstrative displays of “spiritual warfare,” while in the dusty trenches, zealous saints lay their bodies on the line for social causes. Reconstruction Theology has legitimized the role of political activity for the sleeping church of this century and the so-called “Religious Right” has claimed a certain clout in today’s political arena. But for all this frenzied activity, what change has the Church produced in the culture? We still see a rising crime rate, a plague of drug abuse, an abortions industry, unrepentant adulterers and sodomites in high political offices, and an impending quasi-totalitarian government. So, these crucial questions remain, “Are we fostering a naive hope of reestablishing a Christian culture in America when the opportunity for such a restoration has passed?” and “Is America a post-Christian nation?”
The plain fact of the Scriptures is that God deals not only with individuals, but also with families, ethnic groups, communities, and nations. Psalm 33 pronounces blessings upon “the nation whose God is the Lord.” And Proverbs 14:34 says, righteousness “exalts a nation” but “sin is a reproach to any people,” not just to individuals. Biblical history is replete with God”s many judgments upon whole cities and nations (Sodom, Nineveh, Babylon, Jerusalem, Egypt, Rome, et al.), and the blessings of Abraham were promised long ago to “all the nations of the earth.”1 In Matthew 25, the separation of sheep from goats concerns “all nations,” not just individuals, and the book of Revelation foretells of “nations” walking in the light of the New Jerusalem as the “kingdoms of this world become the kingdoms of our Lord and His Christ” (21:24; 11:15). Indeed, “All nations shall serve Him!” (Psalm 72:11).
This small sampling of scripture attests to the reality of nations being identified as either “Christian” or “non-Christian.” So what defines, what distinguishes, a nation as being “Christian?” Must every citizen profess Christ as Savior, Lord and King? Should every person be forced to attend church on Sunday? Can other religions be tolerated, numerous denominations co-exist, and conflicting statements of faith be believed? Can Darwin be taught? Can I read Catcher in the Rye? Will all the saloons, casinos and brothels be shut down? Will I have my MTV? Have I just opened up a Pandora”s Box to the non-thinking, Biblically illiterate Christian?
Historically, the concept of a unified Christian society was not an abhorrent notion, but an accepted norm. In three-hundred short years the “world was turned upside down” by a Gospel that claimed “another King, one Jesus” until even emperor Constantine bowed his knee under the banner of “Hoc Signo vinces” and the Empire christened itself a Holy Empire. The changing forms of civil governmentwhether Empire, Monarchy, Parliament, Constitutional, Dictatorship, or Socialistichave all been secondary, temporary, imperfect and corruptible. The triumph of the Gospel has superseded all human systems of government to advance a pervading Christian civilization in the western world. (This is not to deny the many shortcomings and un-Biblical actions done “in the name of Christ.”)
A nation is a corporate body composed of various governmental units (states, counties, towns, cities) themselves comprised of individual people. The individuals are not exactly the same in kind, in thought, nor in belief, yet the corporate body acts as a whole, as “one man.” In a human body there may coexist healthy cells, diseased cells, native cells, foreign cells, nourishing cells, and deadly cells, but the body is judged on the whole as being where can i from either sick or well, alive or dead. So also a nation can be identified as being Christian, or non-Christian, though its citizenry be varied.
We are commanded, “Go ye into all the world” (Matthew 28:18- 20), and this means we are to assert the Crown Rights of our King in all spheres. To coexist with an evil world is to acknowledge failure: we have a duty to convert it.
Rev. R.J. Rushdoony, “Our Acts,” Chalcedon Report, August 1994: 2
The Christian life and faith of a nation is evidenced by the fruit it bears. Acknowledgement that Christ is King is first reflected in the laws a nation legislates and enforces. The worship of the Creator (not the creation) is expressed and appreciated in its arts, music and literature. The wisdom that “comes from above, not beneath” is welcomed and embraced in its educational institutions. Covenantal fidelity, the cohesive element of a society, is exemplified in heterosexual, monogamous, and permanent holy matrimony. Followers of Christ are esteemed as the “head and not the tail,” and when the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice (Proverbs 29:2). In a Christian nation, Christianity is not considered a subculture, but the culture. These and many other “fruit inspections” expose our naivete if we assume America has a wholesome Christian status.
Yet the desire to be a Christian Nation is not a whimsical wish of some “right wing religious fanatics.” Until very recent years, the United States unashamedly considered itself a Christian nation, as John W. Whitehead documents in The Separation Illusion:
“In 1892 the United States Supreme Court made an exhaustive study of the supposed connection between Christianity and the government of the United States. After reviewing hundreds of volumes of historical documents, the Court asserted, “These references…add a volume of unofficial declarations to the mass of organic utterances that this is a religious people…a Christian nation.” Likewise, in 1931 Supreme Court Justice George Sutherland reviewed the 1892 decision in reference to another case and reiterated that Americans are a “Christian People.” And in 1952 Justice William O. Douglas affirmed that we are a religious people and our institutions presuppose a Supreme Being” (emphasis mine).”2
As recently as 1982, the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives requested and authorized President Reagan in a joint resolution to designate 1983 a national “Year of the Bible.” The resolution claimed that the Bible is the Word of God and “has made a unique contribution in shaping the United States as a distinctive and blessed nation and people.” The Bible led to the early settlement of our Nation and “inspired concepts of civil government that are contained in our Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States.” The resolution recognized “both the formative influence of the Bible…for our Nation, and our (present) national need to study and apply the teachings of the Holy Scriptures.”3
So what change in the last half century has allowed America to outlaw the Bible and ban prayer from our classrooms, denigrate the Christian family, promote promiscuity and perversion, and murder over 27 million innocent babies; and why, while all this is going on, does the Church draw a deep yawn? If this is a Christian nation, “Where”s the beef?” If it is not, what are we and what is coming next? We must now ask, “When does a post-Christian nation become Anti-Christian?”
1. Genesis 12:3; Galatians 3:8; Matthew 8:11
2. John W. Whitehead. The Separation Illusion. Michigan: Mott Media, 1977.
3. Verna M. Hall and Rosalie J. Slater. The Bible and The Constitution of the United States of America. San Francisco: The Foundation for American Christian Education, 1983.
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