A pastor at a church I occasionally attend preached an interesting series of sermons a while back, as is his wont. In the sermons, he taught that politics is not a central concern for either individual Christians or the church, that God is neither a Democrat nor a Republican and that George W. Bush is the Antichrist.
(OK, I made that last one up. Everyone knows the Lizard Queen makes a much more likely candidate for the Antichrist. At least “W” doesn’t eat puppies.)
The pastor’s sermons were more effective than the usual Sunday lectures in that they inspired a powerful response from the church membership. Unfortunately, that response was for 30 percent of the church members to leave the church.
Now, I have no problem with anyone leaving a church for any reason; it’s one of the many ways to demonstrate how the freedom in Jesus Christ is greater than that of any worldly government. But I do find it peculiar that there are so many people who make national politics a central part, if not the central point, of their theology. And I’m saying this as a member of the Christian right by blood; when Ralph Reed was in town with the Christian Coalition, he stayed at my parent’s house.
While it’s true that the vast majority of the Founding Fathers were Christians –nearly half of the signers of the Declaration of Independence were theologians – it’s also obvious they understood the difference between a nation of Christians and a Christian nation. It is without question that America was once a nation of Christians; it is rather less obvious that it is still one.
Consider the state of the seven deadly sins in America:
- Lust: Pamela Anderson and the Pussycat Dolls are famous. Enough said.
- Gluttony: 64 percent of Americans are overweight.
- Avarice: The concept of bling-bling was not invented in France.
- Sloth: We pay farmers not to farm, we pay workers not to work.
- Wrath: 5.5 murders per 100,000 is better than in the past, but still a high rate by world standards.
- Envy: The basis for our progressive tax system and most advertising concepts.
- Pride: Ask anyone from Argentina to New Zealand about this.
None of this should be taken as a criticism of the country. After all, America has rather more reason for harboring a sense of national pride than, say, Uzbekistan. But if we judge the nation by the Christian measure, its metaphorical fruits, one finds it very difficult to believe that the land of 40 million abortions and cradle-to-grave feminism is in the good graces of the life-affirming, children-loving God the Father.
There is, I suspect, an unconscious stream of omniderigence underlying the concept of divine American exceptionalism. Either God has inordinately blessed America because of the unique qualities of her inhabitants or because He has a special plan for America. The problem with the first possibility should be obvious in light of the character and behavior of said inhabitants; the problem with the latter is that it requires believing that the Christian God is responsible for the death of millions of unborn children, the establishment of transnational globalism and Paris Hilton.
If you believe that George W. Bush is the president because God wanted him to be, you must also accept that God also wanted Bill Clinton, Jimmy Carter and Franklin Delano Roosevelt in office as well. Moreover, those who believe possessing supreme military power for the last 60 years proves divine favor would do well to remember that God’s word expressly tells us about His plans for past superpowers when He sent the Assyrian and Babylonian empires against the kingdoms of Israel and Judea.
And then recall the U.S. military is now occupying the land in which the crumbled remnants of those long-vanished empires can be found.
Related special offer: