Happy 4th of July to One Nation Under God

The Pew Research Center recently found that “Christians continue to make up a majority of the U.S. populace.” To the tune of 63% of Americans in fact. Pew also noted that only a decade ago Christians made up 75% of the nation. Now Evangelical America is skeptical of that number, “63% huh? Sure, but how many of those people are really born again?” That’s a perfectly appropriate question to ask. But it is not the only question to ask. 

According to Pew, you live in a nation that plainly identifies, by way of majority, to be Christian. And that Christian majority is on a significant decline. Imagine living in a nation where only 5% of its citizens identified as Christian. Such nations exist. And you Americans don’t live in one. You live in a nation where the majority of citizens have been baptized in the Triune name.

This should not surprise us. During the colonial period, “at least nine of the thirteen colonies had established churches, and virtually all the rest required officeholders to be Christians” (Mark Hall, Did America Have a Christian Founding?, xxiv). And if that fact gets your wheels turning, this one will send you down the road fast, quick, and in a hurry. Not only Christianity, but the Reformed Tradition was “the religious heritage of three-fourths of the American people in 1776″ (Sydney Ahlstrom, A Religious History of the American People, 1:426). The Yale historian Harry Stout has said the same. Before 1776, “the vast majority of colonists were Reformed or Calvinist” (Harry Stout, Preaching the Insurrection, 17).

Much more could be said about America’s Christian founding. You may enjoy learning about the role Presbyterians played in the War of Independence from Toby Sumpter. And while you’re at it, you will likely want to read up on the differences between the American and French Revolutions from Doug Wilson.

For now, I’m simply making the point that Christians shouldn’t be shocked when someone points out that we are a majority Christian nation because that is how we started. But, where are we headed?

One of our major problems is that American Christians have swallowed the myth of neutrality when it comes to our national life. They conceive of the nation as a neutral place that should neither be for God or against him. The nation is like a car sitting there on a flat highway. She moves neither forward to backward when it comes to religion. Religion is another road entirely. God rules over religion road. But the nation is a car that sits upon secular road. And God doesn’t rule over secular road.

Militating against this notion of course is the fact that Americans declare far and wide that we are one nation under God. But in the main, Christians have resolved themselves to the position that the “God” over the nation is whatever god that the individual citizens want him to be. 

If we are going to move forward under the blessing of God, then we must repudiate the myth of neutrality as it pertains to our national life. We indeed are on nation under God and that God is the Triune God. And to say so is to say nothing more than what the Apostle Paul says in Romans 13—“For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil. Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake. For for this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are God’s ministers, attending continually upon this very thing” (Romans 13:3-6).

If you are going to take God’s Word seriously, then there is simply no way of escaping that Joe Biden, Kamala Harris, Congress, and the Supreme Court are ministers of the Triune God. 

The question then is, are the Christians of this land to pretend that they are not when they vote? Are legislators to ignore the fact that they serve the Triune God when the legislate? When they argue for their legislation? Are Supreme Court justices to disregard the word of their Master when they write their rulings? Would it have been out of bounds for Alito’s Dobbs opinion to state explicitly, “Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: And the fruit of the womb is his reward” (Psalm 127:3)? And the answer is, no, that would not have been out of bounds at all.

It will be a glorious day when every state in the nation legislates the following, “Seeing that the fruit of the womb belongs to the Triune God, the Creator and Redeemer of mankind through His Son Jesus Christ, the law of this land forbids murdering children in their mother’s womb.” On that day, our liberty bells will be able to ring without hypocrisy.

If what I am referring to sounds like an explicitly Christian vision for the nation, that is because it is an explicitly Christian vision for the nation. And if that statement sounds radical, tyrannical, and fringe, then you have forgotten that freedom comes from the Lord Jesus Christ and not Baal. You have forgotten that it is Christians who teach that earthly authorities are to be honored not Black Lives Matter. You have forgotten that Jesus said to render unto Caesar the things that are Caesars, and it is the soft marxist left that demands you render under to Caesar everything. 

But it still shocks the system of many Christians in these United States to speak of a Christian vision for the nation. So in an effort to make the idea stick I will quote the man in charge, this was his command just prior to ascending to the right hand of the Father—“Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:19). The following questions come to mind, “Is America one of the nations that we are to baptize in the Triune name? Is America one of the nations that we are to teach to observe all that Christ has commanded?” And can you answer yes to those questions and then honestly look your secular, unbelieving friend in the eye and say, “Yes, but don’t worry, we Christians don’t have a Christian vision for the nation.”

I referred to the myth of neutrality above. And those who have bought into the myth of neutrality have also bought into a false narrative about our present situation in the United States. That false narrative teaches that we have three main camps: the radical left, the normals, and the radical right. The radical left wants Brutus in the bathroom with your little daughter. And this truly is a new development so it has your attention. But the radical right says things like I have said in this post. They keep throwing out the word Christian and you’re not sure where that explicitly Christian road goes or ends. The “normals” in the middle are hoping to employ old fashion common sense to bring back the good old days when people generally respected each others property, you could find subcontractors who would put in a full days work, boys were boys and girls were girls, and Starbucks just sold you coffee rather than Leftists propaganda.

This three-fold paradigm is a faulty one that will not support the reformation work in front of us. It does explain our situation in one sense. But it is like having a well-outlined paper that is structured on a faulty premise. It is like having a house that is holding together fair enough at the moment, but has a rotten foundation. This three-fold paradigm for understanding our imtes is built upon the myth of neutrality. 

Here’s the point to those peace-loving, freedom-seeking Americans who find themselves longing for a better direction for the nation and at the same time think the three-fold set up above make good sense: The national recovery that you long for can only be brought about on Christin principles. Remember, it was a 75% Reformed and Calvinistic populace that set the conditions for the peace and liberty we have enjoyed. There is simply no other way to get it. If you want to the see the nation get its act together and move in a better direction, then two things must occur: a paradigm shift and the new birth.

Christians throughout the land must replace the three-fold paradigm above for a two-fold paradigm that says, “It is not whether but which.” It is not whether the nation will have a transcendent organizing principle, but which transcendent organizing principle it will have. It is not whether the nation will have a god, but which god it will have. The dividing line of the nation separates those who acknowledge the “Most High who ruleth in the kingdom of men” (Daniel 4:17), and those who acknowledge an idol who they desperately want to rule in the kingdom of men.

And this leads to the second thing we most desperately need if we would see the nation turn into greener pastures. And this second thing is straightforward: The citizens of this land must be born again. We would have liberty. And it is the Son who sets you free. We would have life. And “it is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing” (John 6:63).