This Sunday is the one when many churches in America conflate Patriotism and Christianity

I want to be very clear that i am patriotic and i am also a Christian. Let me explain what those two things are.

Patriotism

I believe that our nation as designed by the founding fathers with: separation of powers into three equal branches, a form of republican representation on both the state and federal levels, a structure enabling both individual state’s rights and also an overarching federal union of those states, and with rights for individual citizens as enumerated in our Bill of Rights (and for me, the most important of those rights: separation of church and state along with free speech and a free press), is a landmark and perhaps the best form of government yet designed by men. Certainly, our government and its branches sometimes do things i have a problem with, but our basic system is as sound as a system can be when it is made up of broken and sinful people.

Which brings us to: Christianity

I am a follower and disciple of Jesus. This means that i believe:
1. Jesus Christ is God’s son come in the flesh, both fully man and fully God.
2. My brokenness and my sin has been assuaged, cleansed and forgiven by the grace of God through the sacrifice of Jesus on my behalf on the cross.
3. My goal is to both love God with all my heart, mind, soul, and strength and to love others.

The problem

It is when we try to unify these two things that we are in grave danger. The worst thing to ever befall Christianity occurred when Constantine and Theodosius made Christianity the state religion of the Roman Empire. They declared that all citizens were Christians whether they personally believed in Jesus (as i’ve listed above) or not. A state religion has no power to change the hearts and lives of individuals. It produces outward forms without inner substance. The danger in this is that people come to belive that they are followers of God based on where they live and not on what they believe or who they follow. The reformers in Europe continued this patter for several hundred years after the reformation, with most nations in Europe having state religions.

This is a false teaching and a tool of Satan which condemns men to separation from God based on a wrong belief of what a Christian is. Our nation has never been, based on our founding documents, a Christian nation. In fact, i believe that there is no such thing as a Christian nation and there can never be such a thing until God establishes His kingdom on earth. To follow Jesus, to truly believe, is not a national thing but an individual thing. A nation can have many true believers (Christians) and attempts can even be made to produce laws based on Christian principles, but that does not make a nation Christian. Individuals can be Christians, but nations are just groups of individuals who unite together under a common government. A nation or a government has no soul.

I’ve laid out my premises here, and i suspect many of my friends might agree in principle with what i have said. I also suspect many will not agree with the conclusions i will now draw.

1. Churches should not have the flag of a nation placed in prominence in the front of the church. The church and the Christians in the church owe allegiance to one kingdom: the kingdom of God.
2. Patriotic songs/hymns/programs have no place inside a church. Like me, Christians can be patriotic, and even serve in our government and armed forces, but the church is wrong to endorse or glorify any nation. Its allegiance is to God and His kingdom.
3. The Apostles Peter and John, when arrested and imprisoned as related in the book of Acts, proclaimed unequivocally to the religious leaders that followers of Jesus must obey (give allegiance to) God rather than to men.

You see, when my life on earth comes to an end and my time in eternity begins, my citizenship as an American will have no value at all, but my citizenship in God’s Kingdom will make all the difference.

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