Barack Obama once said, “America is no longer a Christian nation.” In this he is wrong. But not in the way a standard patriotic Christian in America might think. Such a person may object, saying “yes we are/were!” The fact is, there is no such thing biblically as a Christian nation. We live in the age the Bible describes as the “Times of the Gentiles.” It is not the age of the nation Israel being God’s messenger nation to the world. Nor did things change at the time of Nebuchadnezzar’s conquest of Israel, which initiated the Time of the Gentiles… ie... that event did not make any particular locale ripe for Christian nation building as a clear alternative to Babylonian rule or King George.
I recall early in our family life, we began to homeschool. One popular book was called The Light and the Glory- a book which in hindsight was much too closely tying Christianity to America, even to the point of gross error. It was almost as if America was a new Israel, a shining beacon in the world - of hope and freedom for all- and as a gift from God Himself. While we can recognize God is at work among the nations, and that in various places and times He sovereignly chooses to bless in certain ways, this particular “interpretation” of things is amiss.
The true position of believers in this Christ rejecting world is seen in various texts. 1 John 5:19 says …we know that we are of God, and the whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one. Here we learn that the world is not under the sway of a particular Christian nation but under the sway of Satan.
Consider also 1 Peter 2:11-12, …beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul, having your conduct honorable among the Gentiles, that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may, by your good works which they observe, glorify God in the day of visitation. The normal position of a Christian in this world- is a stranger, a pilgrim – passing through. This is hardly the state of things as we understand men’s notion of Christian nations.
Then there is James 1:1, James, a servant of God and the Lord Jesus Christ, To the twelve tribes scattered among the nations. -Hebrew Christians were “among” the nations, not part of a Christian nation or ruling as such. Nor were they part of an independent Israel any longer, as things were under Roman sway -and within a century of full removal of all Jews from the holy land.
John 15:19 says this, … if you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. The painful truth is that the world and its system, hates Christianity. It just does not fit to suggest there is such a thing as a Christian nation. Whether some thought they were creating such a utopia is open to debate, but we are not interested in men’s opinions, goals, and aspirations. What saith the Word?- that is the question and the answer.
What then is to be a believer’s attitude towards any Gentile nation amongst whom he lives? Romans 13 helps remind us the purpose of Gentile human government, and we are to obey those in authority- only disobeying when government seeks to compel us to disobey God or to do evil. We are also compelled to pray for those in authority, but not control or rule over them. The millennium is yet to come, and then Christ will rule the world and administer his Kingdom and believers will have a role. Today He overrules all in sovereignty, but in that day, He will rule directly from Jerusalem.
Were any of the great nations of Christendom something that could be called “Christian nations?” The Holy Roman Empire post-Constantine? Britain in its heyday? America the Beautiful? Holy writ does not give us this option.
Having said that, wherever the Christian influence is strong, or large, or biblically influential, it is true that a nation may be blessed. The ideas of morality, sound government, right and wrong, human depravity, - when these are understood and somewhat permeate a culture, then a culture and a Gentile nation do benefit. Justice is understood, care for the poor is a virtue, and sin is frowned upon by the government. America is an example of this, no doubt.
The struggles in the world we see today between light and darkness should not catch us by surprise. We should be careful not to have false hopes of “reclaiming a nation” that we as Christians NEVER had as our possession in the first place. 2 Timothy 3:13 will remind us that ere the end of the age evil men and pretenders will get worse and worse. We can and should be salt and light, but that is different from Christian Nationalism.
The best course is to remain prayerful, faithful, and speaking out both righteousness and the gospel. Do good in our sphere. Pray for those in authority, obey them and encourage others to as well. And expect problems. It is the nature of this age.
And-lest we forget, Psalm 2 tells us God's view of man's rebellion- and its hints of the coming millennial reign of Jesus.
1Why do the nations rage,
And the people plot a vain thing?
2 The kings of the earth set themselves,
And the rulers take counsel together,
Against the Lord and against His Anointed, saying,
3 “Let us break Their bonds in pieces
And cast away Their cords from us.”
4 He who sits in the heavens shall laugh;
The Lord shall hold them in derision.
5 Then He shall speak to them in His wrath,
And distress them in His deep displeasure:
6 “Yet I have set My King
On My holy hill of Zion.”
7 “I will declare the decree:
The Lord has said to Me,
‘You are My Son,
Today I have begotten You.
8 Ask of Me, and I will give You
The nations for Your inheritance,
And the ends of the earth for Your possession.
9 You shall break them with a rod of iron;
You shall dash them to pieces like a potter’s vessel.’ ”
10 Now therefore, be wise, O kings;
Be instructed, you judges of the earth.
11 Serve the Lord with fear,
And rejoice with trembling.
12 Kiss the Son, lest He be angry,
And you perish in the way,
When His wrath is kindled but a little.
Blessed are all those who put their trust in Him.