For the kingdom of God is not about coercive "power over," but influential "power under."
Its essence is found in the power to transform lives from the inside out through love and service.
~Gregory A. Boyd

Christian Nation?

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For years now, I’ve sat back as I’ve gotten e-mail after e-mail after e-mail about how we are supposedly a “Christian Nation” founded on “Christian Principles” when the vast majority of the ideas professed in those e-mails could not be backed up by the actual teachings or example of Jesus.  Frankly, I’ve had enough.  I’ve had enough of the rhetoric.  I’ve had enough of the “I’m in, but you’re out if you disagree with me.”  I’ve had enough of the, “You’re not a Christian if you don’t pass this along.”  I’ve had enough.

Here, for your consideration, are questions – hot button topics – that are being spewed out without looking at what the vast majority of the New Testament says about those.  In response, I give you some passages of Scripture with a brief synopsis of those passages.  Keep in mind that I’m not giving you an exhaustive list of Scriptures – just a starting point.  I’d encourage you to read more on your own. . . .

Christian: n. One who follows or looks like Jesus; one who aspires to think, feel, and act like Jesus.
(adapted from Gregory A. Boyd’s The Myth of a Christian Nation, p. 51)

The so-called Christian principles upon which our country was founded EXCLUDED rights for:

  • Women
    (Women wouldn’t have the right to vote until 1920. Apparently, only men were created equal despite what Galatians 3:28 says and what Genesis 1 says when the text is clear that men and women were created in God’s image.)
  • Slaves
  • Children
    (why else would we need to make child-labor laws years later?)

Should we re-distribute wealth?

  • Luke 18:18-25
    – Jesus asks the rich ruler to redistribute his wealth and is saddened that he is unwilling to do so.
  • Luke 19:1-10
    – Jesus applauds Zacchaeus for redistributing his wealth.
  • Acts 2:44-47 & 4:32-37
    – The early church practiced this even up to the time of Constantine.
  • If we are a Christian nation, paying taxes is redistributing wealth.

Should the military be reduced?

  • Matthew 5:38-42
    – Turn the other cheek.
  • Matthew 5:43-48
    – Love your enemies & pray for your persecutors.
  • Matthew 26:52
    – All who take the sword perish by the sword. Put your sword away.
  • John 18:36
    – God’s kingdom (being Christian) is not of this world. If it were, we could fight. It isn’t.
  • All four gospels portray Jesus turning over tables and driving out animals (thus saving their lives), but none say he lifted a finger against any person.
  • Romans 12:14-21
    – Repay evil with good.

Should we take care of people not like us – aliens?

  • Leviticus 23:22
    – Don’t harvest all of your crop. Leave some for the poor and alien.
  • Matthew 25:35
    – We welcomed the stranger, Jesus, when we welcomed the least of these.
  • Luke 10:25-37
    – Even aliens are our neighbors.
  • Galatians 3:28
    – There is neither slave or free, male or female, Jew or Greek, alien or neighbor, for we are all one in Christ Jesus.
  • Romans 12:13
    – Extend hospitality to strangers.

Should we provide healthcare?

  • Matthew 25:36
    – We took care of the sick person, Jesus, when we took care of the least of these.
  • Luke 10:1-18 (especially vs. 9)
    – When Jesus sends the seventy out in pairs, they are told to cure the sick.
  • Luke 10:25-37
    – The Samaritan provided healthcare. We are told to do likewise.

Should we sit down with our enemies?

  • Matthew 5:21-26
    – If you realize someone doesn’t like you or has something against you, you go take the initiative to be reconciled.
  • Matthew 5:43-48
    – Love your enemies & pray for your persecutors.
  • Matthew 6:14-15
    – If you won’t forgive those who sin against you, God won’t forgive you.
  • The gospels are full of stories of Jesus sitting down with people who were perceived enemies (tax collectors, Pharisees, etc.).
  • Romans 12:14-21
    – Repay evil with good.

Is capital punishment okay?

  • Matthew 5:38-42
    – Jesus says that is what the “law” says, but he holds Christians to a higher standard – turn the other cheek.
  • Romans 12:14-21
    – Repay evil with good.
  • How can one be against abortion and for capital punishment? Remember, there is none who are righteous – no, not one (Romans 3:10).
  • So many who support capital punishment say out of the other side of their mouth that Jesus died once for all, where “all” apparently is not all, but just some. I guess God’s amazing grace can save a wretch like me but not that so-and-so in prison or around the corner or on the other side of the world or . . . .
  • By taking the life of an apparent sinner (which often isn’t the case as often people are falsely imprisoned), we are preventing that person from having an opportunity to accept a saving relationship with God.

Should the Ten Commandments be displayed?

  • Ever notice that Jesus never talks about the 10 commandments? He’s more concerned with loving God with everything and our neighbors (which includes aliens) as ourselves.

Should spoken prayer be in schools?

  • Matthew 6:5-6
    – Prayer should be in secret – at least according to Jesus, but who wants to listen to him?

Should we take care of others – even those who cannot take care of themselves?

  • Leviticus 23:22
    – Don’t harvest all of your crop. Leave some for the poor and alien.
  • Mark 2:1-5
    – The text is clear that salvation comes to the paralytic due to the faith and actions of the four friends.
  • Mark 9:36
    – Wanna be great? Be last and serve all.
  • Matthew 7:12
    – Do to others as you’d have them do to you.
  • Matthew 25:31-46
    – Even the least of these are to be fed, given something to drink, clothed, welcomed, taken care of when sick, and visited even in prison.
  • 1 Corinthians 13
    – Love does not insist on it’s own way.
  • Philippians 2:1-5
    – We should look not to our own interests but the interests of others.
  • Romans 15:1-7
    – We are to bear the burdens of the weak.

Copyright 2011.  Rev. Troy Sims


3 Responses to “Christian Nation?”

  1. By Bubba on Jun 16, 2011 | Reply

    Then how and why has Chistianity failed in communicating the clarity needed to see what you have outlined? Is there an element of reflection and humility missing? Is this the failing of the pastor?

  2. By Bubba on Jun 16, 2011 | Reply

    Or (oh my) the Christian educator?

  3. By Troy Sims on Jun 17, 2011 | Reply

    There is much blame to be spread around to all who serve in the church – lay and clergy alike – including myself.

    I think there are three main problems:

    1) Fear – In this highly politicized and polarized culture we find ourselves in today, it is much easier to skirt these ideas. Jesus offended folks, but we are unwilling to do so even it it means staying true to the Gospel and example of Jesus, whom we are called to emulate.

    2) Over-simplification – We have over-simplified Jesus’ message, making it an entirely (or almost entirely) personal transaction between “me and Jesus.” We’ve lost any sight that Jesus and the early church was probably as much or more concerned with changing community and culture than the individual heart (though that IS a GOOD place to start).

    3) Loss of Jesus’ Message – This is related to point 2. We’ve made Jesus’ message all about “me getting into heaven.” Thus, we focus primarily on Jesus’ birth (he had to get here to get me to heaven), and his death, resurrection, and ascension (he had to get to heaven first, so I could follow). In doing this, we deny that the vast majority of each of the four gospels is focused on Jesus’ teaching, which focuses primarily on bringing God’s kingdom here on earth (as it is in heaven) as opposed to getting us out of here. This is much easier and simpler than thinking about changing our society or culture.

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