Monday, December 28, 2009

A Christian Nation

One of the more bizarre arguments in American politics is the argument over whether or not America is a Christian nation. I've seen many Christians try to make this claim and many more who are willing to defend it. I find this bizarre because, as a Christian, I don't think any nation should call itself a Christian nation.

A Christian nation is one that exercises its authority in the name of Christ. Nations exercise and maintain authority by using force, but this is not how authority works in God's Kingdom. Many nations claim to exercise authority in God's name, but none of them exercise authority the way Jesus did when he came to earth.

As I have already said, no political entity can take the place of God's Kingdom. God's Kingdom is distinctly different from the nations of this world. Hence the phrase "Christian nation" is a contradiction in terms. Nations wield authority in a way that is fundamentally at odds with God's Kingdom.

As Christians our hope is not in some great Christian nation that will oppress the whole world in the name of Jesus Christ. Our hope is that the power of love and humility will one day overcome all the nations that rule by force. When we try to build a "Christian nation" we are working against God's Kingdom.

This is why I don't find it troubling when people say that America isn't a Christian nation. In fact, I find it more troubling when people try to associate political forces and institutions with Christianity. Doing so only serves to confuse the message of Jesus.

If we want to stay faithful to the message of Jesus we can't be going after political power. Jesus' message is about loving others, serving them and valuing them above ourselves. If we make it about having power over them, having the ability to control them through political means, then we're abandoning the work that God has given us to do. That's not something I'm prepared to do.


  1. I'm glad you came to the same conclusion as I did, if by different means. Christians may still be in the vast majority in America; about 75% according to census data on wikipedia, but that means America is almost 25% non-christian. 25% of 300 million is still a lot of people and they deserve to be represented.

  2. Yeah, in this post I talk about the religious reasons why people shouldn't claim that America is a Christian nation. There are also good historical reasons why we shouldn't say that America is a Christian nation.

    You make the good point that if America is a democracy that respects the rights of minorities, then we shouldn't consider ourselves a Christian nation.

    What we can say is that this country's history has been shaped by Christianity since the beginning. America has been the home of at least two major Christian revivals during its history. I think it's fine to talk about those things, but when you say that America is a christian nation you step into a hornet's nest of controversial issues.