This is part two of this discussion on the Christian Nation Myth. Last time was mostly history about how the founding of this nation and the writing of the Constitution were not done in the context of Christianity. The main conclusions was that historically the critics of the Christian Nation Myth have valid points. So what next? The issue then becomes should this be a Christian Nation?
Before that though the history of what followed the constitution’s founding to the present day has been littered with attempts to try to do so. There have been moments when Christianity at least in its cultural form as dominated. After the Second Great Awakening in the late 1790s the country indeed took a turn toward Christianity, I would say that fundamentalism grew out of that and continued to have an effect until right before the Civil War. After the Civil War, I would say that the country once again turned to Christianity as a way of stabilizing itself and that continued until well into the 20th century.
The 1920s saw a falling away from Christian ideals but in large part it was Christianity’s fault. How? By forcing prohibition down the rest of the nation’s throat and then opposing women’s suffrage in many quarters a backlash lead to people during the depression basically splitting the nation between those who felt we need to turn back to God and those who thought God was the problem. The 1940s saw a cultural Christianity but the rise of secularism and humanism as well. The 1950s were basically an attempt to have a modern Victorian Era. The response was Playboy, Penthouse and other cultural changes that lead to the counter-culture revolution, the sexual revolution and only in the 1980s did Christianity rebound but that was short-lived when all the television evangelists scandals hit the history books. In the end since the beginning of the 1990s we have seen the slow but steady erosion of Christian values and ethics having major effect on the political landscape. Now we struggle to even have a voice and people genuinely hate us and will never, ever listen to the gospel.
It is the last phrase there that caused me to examine whether or not Christians should be involved in politics in the sense of pushing Christian values. I have to conclude that when the church gets involved in politics as Christians trying to force our Christian values, we do more harm than good. My points on this are many:
1. The nature f the gospel requires consent to have faith. You can’t force faith any more than you can force people to have certain thoughts. The only options you have for either are brainwashing, cultic indoctrination and the use of force by government means which are all contradictory to the nature and the function of the gospel which is about freedom in Christ.
2. Having a nation culturally embrace cultural Christianity is not the same as a people accepting Christ. People can go to church, live moral lives and be good people and still not believe the gospel in their hearts and minds. The fact is in such an environment sin goes into stealth mode and you cannot find out what a person’s sin problem might even be. Christian culture causes sin to go underground and burrow in like a tick. It multiplies too and once you get one out, three take its place.
3. We are losing. So how many times to we have to do the same things over and over and expecting a different result will we realize that we are crazy? The gospel does not require this much effort in reality. Peach the gospel, live the life of a Christian before others and disciple those that believe. We have always gotten better results when we were about influence rather than power.
4. Finally, but not exhaustively, the fact we spend so much effort in politics and so little in actual prayer and preaching tells me we really don’t believe in the power of the last two. We give them lip service but we don’t really count on them to actually do something. We believe more in politics by what we spend our time on if you ask me. We also show our lack of faith in spiritual weapons by our neglect of the others.