May 6, 2019
Recently, several aspiring politicians have introduced their views regarding how our nation should be governed and their take on what a successful democracy might look like if a different system than the Founders projected was implemented. Their interpretation of American exceptionalism and its value to the people and nations of the world rejects the idea that American success has come through its dependence on the God of the Bible from its very beginning. The question I would propose is whether American prosperity and freedom will continue if the philosophy of those who reject God’s part in America’s success and position in the world prevails.
Several years ago, Haverford College student John Nestler published an essay entitled, “The American Dream.” Nestler said in his article that, “the American Dream was synonymous with the opportunity to seek after “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” This opportunity was social, economic, and spiritual. He concluded that America has changed from its beginnings, and this change is noticeable in the metamorphosis of the American Dream. The individual’s free will is reduced by taking away the opportunities for exercising individual and voluntary decisions. This is immoral, and contrary to Christian precepts that the nation was founded upon.” He went on to write, “This change is not causeless, it is the result of moral deterioration, of the mass-man’s (majority)turning the concepts of good and evil to his own purpose. The mass-man (majority) prefers materialism over principles, and the American Dream reflects the efforts to enforce this preference. Yet, we must not despair, the situation is far from hopeless. The solution is to assert the founding principles, our concepts of right and wrong, our belief in the inalienable freedom and liberty of the individual. Then, the American Dream will regain its former identity, and America will remain the best of all possible lands, admired by all the world. But this will come about only with the active participation of us all, and by the grace of God.”
The average American Christian in 2019, or at least those who attend a “Christian” church more than twice a year and profess to be religious, has bought into the American dream of health, wealth, and prosperity doctrine to the point where to some, the American dream and a Christian’s right to prosperity seem inseparable. Many American Christians, especially those who watch non-stop Christian television and order every product offered by the programmers, can cite many verses from Scripture pointing out God’s promise for blessing and reward, and claim over and over verses about being blessed and expanding their territory, hoping that they will say just the right words which will enable God to pour riches upon them. The question is, what would become of a “Christian” nation if a “non-Christian” element had power? Wouldn’t this take the promised healing of the land and blessing of our nation in the opposite direction for sure? Wouldn’t it make the American dream for Christians only a fantasy, not an attainable dream?
A recent United States President stated emphatically that America is not a Christian nation. While I don’t like the fact that a that the President of the United States would say this, the fact is that his statement is not totally untrue. Americans in our lifetime have embraced many things other than Biblical Christianity. The truth is, that for much of America’s history, the assumption was that if you were born in America, you would affiliate with the Christian faith. Surveys, by The Barna Group, indicate that people’s views have changed. Their study discovered that half of all adults now contend that Christianity is just one of many options that Americans choose from, and that a huge majority of adults pick and choose what they believe rather than adopt a church or denomination’s slate of beliefs. As a result, you will find a virtual smorgasbord of choices within the “Christian” realm regarding their faith. For instance, there are people who say that they believe that the Bible is true, but also believe Jesus committed sin. There are many people today who say they have by faith accepted Christ as their Savior, but they also believe that a person can do enough good works to earn their salvation. Does all this watering down of the truth and blurring of the lines between faith and religion mean that the once prevalent Christian movement in America is dead and the blessings of God are finished for this country? God forbid!
Just as the American dream was once equated with principles and ideas, so too has Christianity in America shifted from its fundamental doctrines and tenets to various interpretations and choices propagated by denominations, best sellers, and the latest seeker friendly gadget in our churches. 1 John 5:1-5 describes how as believers our hope is based not on man’s latest book title or a fad, but on solid principles communicated in His Word. “Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves the Father loves his child as well. This is how we know that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out his commands. This is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world? Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.”
The message of Christianity is simple and clear. Jesus offers the free gift of salvation to everyone who by faith believes in Him and what He accomplished on the cross. For those individuals, and nations, who truly trust in Him, God will bless and protect them. Those outside of His protection and promises, including a nation once deeply rooted in depending on the God of the Bible, are truly in a precarious position. Being a Christian is not about doing Christian things or accumulating Christian resources. Being a Christian, results in people who realize that their hope is built on nothing less than Jesus blood and righteousness, and are willing to give up the things that may define 21st Century Christianity for the “truth” of the Gospel. May we be faithful to teach the “truth,” that the only one who can overcome the world and claim the promises of God, is the one who “believes that Jesus is the Son of God.”