*** This is a rough transcript of today’s show ***
It is the 4th of July 2021. Welcome to the Christian History Almanac brought to you by 1517 at 1517.org, I’m Dan van Voorhis.
We continue the week o’ mailbag on this, the 4th of July. It seemed appropriate to answer the question that I am perhaps asked the most, a question I have answered in various formats and a question that pertains to America on the observation of her birthday.
Here it comes: is America a Christian nation?
Short answer: no. “nations” can’t be baptized and receive the Holy Spirit only people can. God’s covenant is no longer with a particular nation, but- in the Gospel- with all creation.
Medium answer: No, but it does have a large number of Christians in it. Depending, of course, on how you define Christian. The broader your definition the more Christians there are. But let’s say you are in the “Extra Holy Holiness Bible Church” that broke off from 3 other churches and proclaims itself the “one true church”, in this case, the nation isn’t very Christian at all.
Long answer: still no, but the legacy of the Protestant Reformation and the development of an Early Modern western church-in-society model (with the church neither in control nor prohibited) probably has its apogee in the broad American Christian tradition. In this way, it “feels” very Christian.
Often I find this question is asked as a subterfuge to figure out what the speaker “really” thinks. Is he or she one of those “godless communists”? Is he or she one of those “mindless sheep”? So on and so forth.
It’s a question of theology and identity, and so you can imagine why people’s ears perk up when the question is asked or answered.
“Is America a Christian nation?” deserves a few follow up questions:
Should she be?
And then, for your own private contemplation and conversation, we might ask what God would have you do, wherever you find yourself, regardless of the beliefs and histories of local governments.
Thank you for the questions this week- we will be back to our normal schedule tomorrow but we will continue to answer a question a week here on the podcast.
The last word for today comes from Luke 14, a verse I often think about in the context of parties and celebrations:
But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind. And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you, for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”
This has been the Christian History Almanac for the 4th of July 2021 brought to you by 1517 at 1517.org.
The show is produced by the star-spangled Christopher Gillespie.
The show is written and read by Dan van Voorhis who holds that our national anthem should be Ray Charles's version of America the Beautiful.
You can catch us here every day- and remember that the rumors of grace, forgiveness, and the redemption of all things are true…. Everything is going to be ok.