American civil religion teaches us to behave civilly, all of us believers, and to respect all religious beliefs. But, is Christianity a civil religion? Are Christians taught by God’s Word to respect all religious beliefs? Are we supposed to affirm that the fertility gods - past and present - who demand human sacrifice are on equal footing with the Lord God of Israel, who despises our sacrifices?
Perhaps it’s time, given the current cultural revolution occurring in our streets and homes, that we Christians stop acquiescing to the ways of American civil religion. Maybe, since we are all witnesses to the opening act of an ideological and political crisis in this country, we return to our radical roots, confessing that our God condemns all religious beliefs that reject His Christ’s sacrifice for our guilt.
Perhaps it’s long past due that we Christians repent of our childish desires to be accepted by civil society (and avoid persecution for our beliefs) and believe what God’s Word says about Jesus, who was neither civil toward nor respecting of, other people’s false beliefs about God.
The term “radical” means “root.” To be a radical means going to the origin, getting to the essential thing. What’s radical about Christianity is Jesus. Specifically, God allowed Himself to be executed on a cross in order to reconcile the world to Himself. No other god makes this claim. No holy book except our Bible makes such a fantastical confession.
This is so important because, unlike other religions, this God isn’t confined to any ethnicity, geographic area, or class. He is the God who reconciled all people to Himself in his dying and resurrection. The God of Israel gives Himself as the Lamb to be slaughtered for the sins of the world. And since all have sinned all people are redeemed by the blood of Jesus. All are invited to repent and believe these words of grace, mercy, truth.
There are not many other truths. There aren’t other gods, or saviors, or paths to God. There’s only Jesus. No one comes to God the Father unless they hold fast to His Christ. But, the priests who serve at the altars of American civil religion would have us believe otherwise. There’s one god, but his, or she or its name is whatever each of us chooses. There are saviors that come and go, just pick our favorite and emulate them. So long as we’re good people, love America, and don’t attack other people’s beliefs we’ll go to heaven when we die.
In the same way, we’re free to be a Christian in America, just don’t try to push anything specific about our faith on other believers, or other Christians for that matter. At root, for those who adhere to American civil religion, it’s not about what we believe, it’s about behaving civilly towards each other and helping to keep the peace - in our streets, homes, and even in our churches. In America, we are free to worship however we want so long as we’re not judgmental or intolerant of what other people believe, their rituals, or how they choose to act out their beliefs in their daily lives.
In many ways, American civil religion’s reason for existing is to ensure that we talk like Christians, worship like Christians, and behave like Christians without ever realizing that what we’ve left out of being Christian is how specific the Bible is, and how exclusive its claims are, about Christ. If we call ourselves Christians but ignore what’s specific about being a Christian, we are the most pitiable people. We’ve been bamboozled by a Satanic lie.
Where in American civil religion is the saving power of baptism preached? When was the last time we heard a Christian politician say we need to repent and go to the Lord’s Table in order to receive Jesus’ body and blood for the forgiveness of sin? Our president said churches are important for the spiritual and mental health of believers, but why?
Again, we are witnesses to the opening act of a crisis that has not been seen in this country for more than three generations. In some ways, a crisis that’s never been experienced by citizens of this country. A godless ideology has captured the hearts and minds of politicians, the media, and many, many high school and college-age youth. It’s an ideology that seeks to rule us by fraud and force. It’s biggest supporters are not interested in the good of others; they are interested solely in power, pure power. As we’ve all seen with our own eyes, they want every record destroyed and falsified, every book rewritten, every picture repainted, every statue and street, and every building renamed, and every date that’s important to our country’s history, altered.
This process is continuing day by day and minute by minute, and it will not stop until they are stopped. But, they won’t stop until not just American history has ceased, but all of western history, and Christian history in particular. The reason being they these ideologies want nothing to exist except an endless present where they are always right and we, especially Christians, are always wrong.
What’s occurring in this country today is, at its root, an attack on Christ that’s been building for more than fifty years. So now is not the time to close our eyes and ears to the truth. Now is the time to become a radical. Now is a moment in history when we will either abandon God’s Word, neglect His glory, and embrace the gods of American civil religion or we will refuse to bend our knee to them.
We can either bend our knee to the gods of this world or we can kneel at the altar of our Lord God. We can stay quiet or we can preach the truth about Jesus Christ in our streets, homes, and churches. We can praise other men’s accomplishments or we can glorify Christ, who alone reconciled us to God by shedding His blood at Calvary. We can behave civilly so as not to give offense for our beliefs, or we can live a godly life anchored by the power of Jesus’ resurrection and the hope of eternal life.
We must not submit ourselves to false gods and godless men. Instead, we may hold fast to Christ, because He’s holding fast to us.