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  • Jonathan Palaci

Is America A "Christian" Nation Or Not?

Everyone Has a Religious Worldview

Let me start by stating the obvious. Unless you live alone in a cave or in the middle of nowhere detached from society, there is no way to escape the subject of politics, no matter how hard you try to avoid the topic. This past weekend, just when I thought I had a day free of hearing something about politics, a 7 year old wanted to debate me on her political opinion. It was funny and cute, but she was a little too passionate for her age in my opinion. For this reason, I’d like to write about what I honestly believe our political differences boil down to. It’s my view that what drives much of the tension in politics is the inevitable influence of “religion” within the political atmosphere. Now, before I continue, I know there are many whose immediate response would be to emphatically refuse to want to mix religion with politics. What we’ll probably most commonly hear is a response with the phrase “separation of church and state”. Nonetheless, our political environment over the last four years have made it abundantly clear that strong convictions exist, and that these convictions derive from somewhere. I would argue that it is precisely a person’s religion or religious convictions that have always been the driving force behind the way everyone approaches their political affiliations or preferences, whether that person believes him or herself to be religious or not. Truth is, everyone has a religious worldview toward living life in general. Whether we’re aware of it or not, each one of us sacrifices our time, energy, and resources according to the set of beliefs we have about ourselves and about the world we live in. In other words, everyone has a framework of values for understanding their reality of what is and what ought to be. And it’s through the lens of our set of beliefs, aka our religious worldview, that we interpret our experiences, make life decisions, and for the sake of this blog, approach politics. I know many would argue differently, but that’s for a whole other conversation. Religion and politics are too intertwined to exist separately as we collectively live within a society and culture of values. With this said, I was prompted to briefly write and discuss the hot topic of: “Is America a “Christian” nation or not?”

Is America a “Christian” Nation or Not?

Many approach this question from strong opposing positions. The short and simple answer is… “NO.” By definition, a nation cannot be “Christian.” Being a Christian is a personal matter of the heart. One can only be a Christian when the heart of an individual is regenerated to believe in Jesus Christ as personal redeemer and savior from the penalty of one’s sins. As a result, the individual Christian then imperfectly bears the fruit of living his or her life to follow Jesus Christ as Lord in all they do, which is also a supernatural progression empowered by the Holy Spirit. (More can be read about this from the Bible in Ephesians 2:1-10, among other places in Scripture).

With that said and out of the way, however, we know that the use of the term “Christian” can also be applied to multiple different spheres and disciplines of broader life and culture, which is when we would have no choice but to connect the topics of religion and politics. Now, as a side note, as a Christian, I don’t consider my Christian faith a “religion,” but I know Christianity is identified in broader culture as a “religion,” so I’ll associated it that way. Again, the term “Christian” is applied to more than just one’s personal faith in Jesus. For example, one can have a “Christian worldview,” or study “Christian philosophy,” or live according to “Christian principles and values.” One can also measure the fruit of one’s “Christian behaviors or actions.” The most prevalent use of the term “Christian” for this particular blog post is when it is applied to “Christian morality," especially as it pertains to a “Judeo-Christian Worldview” or “Christian morality” that one can argue serves as the basis for law and order of a specific government system or nation.

Therefore, again, technically the US of America is not a “Christian” nation. However, throughout history, it was the impact of Christians who began to enter into broader culture to influence their “Christian” ideas over common society that later rolled over into the birth and forming of the United States of America. In other words, it was Christian groups and/or individuals that would essentially influence their “Christian” ideas into culture (as imperfect as they may have been), because they were certain that living according to a Judeo-Christian worldview would in fact prove to be the best and most fruitful way to approach the law and order for the common grace and good of all people, whether some individuals within culture were professing Christians or not. Therefore, “Christian ideas” have proven to result in a lot of benefit for the common culture of the United States of America. Of course, there have been imperfections, misrepresentations, and even atrocities in the name of “Christianity.” One should always expect counterfeits to deceive. Moreover, when human beings are involved, Christian or non-Christian, one will always encounter the sin-rooted temptations of pride to distort what otherwise should be good and healthy. That is why every human being equally needs the saving grace found in the good news message of Jesus Christ. But that’s also for a whole other conversation. The point is that history has proven throughout millennia that the Judeo-Christian worldview is healthiest for the common grace and flourishing of the culture.

The Undeniable Influence of Christian Ideas

Much gruesome blood was spilled from the lives of Christians throughout history, because of this very topic. It was Christians that challenged and opposed the sovereignty of the Roman Emperor as a deity in the 2nd and 3rd centuries. The emperor was the source of law and order. He was the source of morality. Christians, however, said NO! You can kill me, but we will not bow down to an idea that is false! There is a ONE higher power that lives as the source of good and evil. And that higher power is God, who determines our fate and destiny, and who establishes what is good and evil. That was a huge declaration to make and one that cost many people their lives throughout history. Nevertheless, this bold declaration began to introduce the greatest “Christian” idea that has served as a primary basis of the Judeo-Christian worldview. In effect, only God is sovereign and ALL human beings are equally subject to what he has sovereignly establishes and determines to happen on Earth. As a result, no other human being or leader can remotely act as a deity, even if they are the most powerful leader of an empire.

Many Christian Apologists argue that… To say there is such a thing as evil, you must say there is such a thing as good to distinguish from evil. To say there is such a thing as good and evil, you must say there is a moral law. To say there is a moral law, you must say there is a moral law giver, and that moral law giver is the God of the Bible.

Now, it has taken centuries of sacrifice, toil, and hardship for Judeo-Christian ideas to spread throughout the civilized world. But they did in fact spread. And American culture has been a direct beneficiary of that. Christianity has influenced ideas in and through the American way of life and have undeniably served as the foundations of law and order within the United States of America. For this primary reason, the United States continues to attract immigrants that have been and continue to be willing to give up their lives to enjoy the opportunity, safety, and freedom the United States provides. It was the idea, for example, that all men are created equal under God that has led to the flourishing of the greatest country known to man in the history of the world. This idea assumes that human beings are (1) created by a sovereign power and (2) equally created as dependent creatures of a sovereign creator. And although many will point out the unjust atrocities experienced by certain people groups within America, it is nevertheless due to the motivating force of the Christian worldview that has compelled millions of people to fight and oppose these terrible Non-“Christian” atrocities. Therefore, although there have been deviations of Christian ideas, it was the very ideas that served as the protecting basis of law and order that continue to derive from the Christian Worldview that, again, all men are created equal.

These are idea that will always need to be upheld, but also sternly protected throughout American law and order. All men are created equal was an idea that was founded by way of Christian doctrine. It hasn’t always been practiced, but the idea MUST stay intact as a central part of the constitution that is based upon the commonly gracious, just, and benevolent law of God.

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