Category Archives: Christian nation

The Public/Private Split Dodge

This is the fourth post in a series of posts looking at the Sermon on the Mount. I’ve referred to a blog by Michael L. Westmoreland-White which brings up these specific points; he in turn credits John Howard Yoder and Glen Stassen. Westmoreland-White describes “dodges” to the Sermon on the Mount, ways in which people seek to get around applying it today. (I might note that he is specifically discussing pacifism, so his comments at times focus on how the Sermon is applied at a national level)

We’ve looked at the dispensational dodge and the preterist dodge. Today we’ll talk about the public/private split dodge. This approach says that yes, the Sermon on the Mount has moral guidelines for Christian living for the individual, but it says nothing about how countries are to conduct themselves. Again, Westmoreland-White is approaching this topic in the midst of a discussion of Christian pacifism, so his interest is to look at whether or not countries should be held to the standard of the Sermon on the Mount. According to him, this teaching was held to by Martin Luther and has been popular among Lutherans ever since. I’m not familiar enough with Lutheran teaching to confirm or deny that affirmation.

I’ve discussed this concept before, in the context of the idea of the existence of a Christian nation. As I’ve said, if such a thing could exist, I think that it would have to live up to Jesus’ teachings, including turning the other cheek and loving enemies. (Interestingly enough, I noticed that the people behind the Brick Testament picked up on this very idea: note this series of graphics)

I’d also say that I believe that Christians must continue to follow the teachings of their Master, even if they choose to put themselves in service to an earthly nation. The Sermon on the Mount still shows us what is right and what is godly. Again, I’m not talking about how to escape damnation; I’m talking about how to live as sanctified people.

Nations in the Old Testament, even nations not in covenant with God, were judged on several factors from what we see in the prophets: their treatment of their fellow man, their pride, and their willingness to acknowledge God. To some degree I have to think that God continues to look on countries in that same way. Even if they aren’t in covenant with Him, they are held to certain standards. And frankly, I don’t know when any nation has lived up to those standards.

I’d like to hear your thoughts. Are nations given a “free pass” as far as Jesus’ teachings go? Or are they expected to love enemies, turn the other cheek, etc.?

Christian Nation: Where To Find One

3quarter_globeSo what would a Christian nation look like?

Simply put, it would be a nation that in all its dealings, in everything that it was, tried to be like Christ.

Some specifics:

  1. Such a nation would not retaliate when wronged.
  2. Such a nation would not seek increased prosperity, but increased faithfulness.
  3. Such a nation would have give emphasis to taking care of those who needed it most.
  4. Such a nation would put the interest of other nations ahead of their own.
  5. Such a nation would return all territories and possessions that had been taken from other nations.

I could go on, but I guess you get the point. As others have pointed out, such a nation does exist. It is described in 1 Peter 2:9.

I don’t think that geopolitical nations of this world can be Christian. Individuals are Christians; nations aren’t. The nations of this world will one day belong to our God; for now, they are under Satan’s control, subject to his deception. We long for the day the revolution is complete, when governments are overthrown by the kingdom of God, where men pledge allegiance only to the Christian nation. That day is coming. Until then, we reside as ambassadors of a Christian nation, living in a kingdom of this world.

Christian Nation: The teachings of Jesus

431px-Cristo_abrazado_a_la_cruz_El_GrecoWe’ve seen that those nations known as Christian nations don’t actually base their laws on the Ten Commandments. But what about the teachings of Jesus? Maybe that’s the trick; to be Christian nations, they need to follow the teachings of Jesus. Don’t they?

But which ones? Which teachings of Jesus? When the proponents of the Christian nation theory talk about the Sermon on the Mount, for example, they usually say, “Of course, Jesus never meant for those things to be applied to civil government.” I tend to agree… unless those nations claim to be Christian. Can you be Christian and not follow Christ’s teachings? Not according to Jesus.

Those same people will turn around and claim that their nation “upholds Christian ideals.” Again I ask which ones? Non-retaliation? Loving enemies? Giving to all who ask? Putting the needs of others ahead of our own? (I’m waiting to hear that from a Christian politician: “Naturally America must put the needs of the rest of the world ahead of our own.”) Giving up your life? No, I can’t see that “Christian nations” meet this test, either.

Or is there something I’m missing? In what way do so-called Christian nations uphold the teachings of Jesus? Or am I expecting too much? Is there a way to be Christian and not follow Christ’s teachings?

Christian Nation: The Ten Commandments

Ten Commandments monumentI had hoped for a bit more discussion yesterday, especially with suggestions on how to decide if a nation is Christian or not. I appreciated Jon’s addition of “the DNA of a culture,” though I wish we could have fleshed out a bit just what that looks like.

One common argument that I think has to be rejected is about laws being based on the 10 Commandments. Have you read the 10 Commandments lately? If not, take a moment, turn to Exodus 20, read them, then come back here.

There have been societies that tried to enforce most if not all of the 10 Commandments. I don’t think there is a modern society that does so. Laws about coveting? Honoring parents? Not taking the Lord’s Name in vain? Not that I can tell. Graven images? Polytheism? Keeping the Sabbath? We’ve just knocked out 6 of the 10, for those of you keeping score at home. A few places still have adultery laws, though I wonder when was the last time someone was prosecuted for adultery (here in the States).

That leaves us murder, theft, and perjury. Things which just about every culture forbids, be they Christian, Buddhist or otherwise. We can say that we punish those things because of our respect for the 10 Commandments, but that would be a hard case to prove.

I don’t doubt that many legislators and jurists respect the 10 Commandments. But to affirm that a modern legal system is somehow based on them is a distortion of the truth.

What makes a nation Christian?

Christian flagThere’s an ongoing debate about whether or not the United States is a Christian nation. You get comments back and forth about what the founders intended, etc. I think we need to step back at least one step before we can begin to address that question.

We need to ask, “What is a Christian nation?” How do we define that phrase? What makes a nation Christian versus being a secular nation or being of another religion?

What nations of the world would we define as Christian? You’d probably have to put Vatican City into that group, right? With the Pope the head of the country, is there any doubt? What others would be included? Unless it’s changed recently, Argentina’s constitution clearly states: “The Federal Government supports the Roman Catholic Apostolic religion.” I’m sure many other countries have similar declarations. Are all of them Christian nations?

Are all of the nations where the majority of the people claim some form of Christianity Christian nations? Is that how we make the determination?

Some say that upholding certain Christian teachings makes a country Christian. Which principles, in your opinion, have to be upheld for a country to be considered Christian?

How would you define “a Christian nation?”

[Congrats to Scott McCown, winner of the certificate for a Mosaic Bible. Special thanks to Dr. Mads Haahr of the School of Computer Science and Statistics at Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland for choosing our winner (through his website.)]