Civil Religion is the enemy of Biblical Christianity

This morning, I was reading through 2 Chronicles and came across the very familiar verse below:

“If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” – 2 Chronicles 7:14

Oh, the memories!

Way back in the 1980s, my wife and I attended an independent fundamental Baptist church that patterned itself strongly after Jerry Falwell, Sr. and his Thomas Road Baptist Church in Lynchburg, Virginia. Needless to say, faith and politics went hand in hand at our church. Our pastor took the position that America was in a special covenant relationship with Almighty God in much the same way as ancient Israel. He was not alone. Beginning with the voyage of the Puritan pilgrims to Plymouth, Massachusetts in 1620, American Christians have historically taken the view that America is a “Christian nation” and that God was in a covenant relationship with it.

Old Testament passages such as 2 Chronicles 7:14 that were meant only for the ancient nation of Israel were appropriated by patriotic American ministers. I believe 2 Chronicles 7:14 was quoted from the pulpit of our old church as much or possibly more than any other verse in the Bible.

What started me going on this topic?

Yesterday, I posted a review of an excellent book which examined how the early church was led down a dangerous path in which Christianity was mixed with Roman imperialism and paganism resulting in an institutionalized “civil religion.” See here.

Many Americans over the last 400 years genuinely accepted Jesus Christ as their Savior because of the strong Gospel witness here, but of course many others never did. Over the last 100 years there’s been a tremendous watering down of Biblical doctrine and the Gospel message in this country. The Gospel was increasingly replaced by “civil religion,” whereby Americans of all religious stripes could join arms and sing together, “God Bless America,” “America the Beautiful,” and “My Country ‘Tis Of Thee,” united in their citizenship and belief in a nebulous “Supreme Being.”

But “civil religion” is the enemy of Biblical Christianity. It opposes the teaching of Jesus Christ, who proclaims that He alone is “the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” “Civil Religion” denies the exclusivity of Jesus Christ and promotes accommodation, cooperation, compromise, and betrayal of the Gospel in the pursuit of civic morality and national brotherhood.

Jesus Christ did not come to this earth to establish “civil religion.” Countries don’t become Christians, only people do, one individual soul at a time.

Civil Religion – Wikipedia article
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Civil_religion

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25 thoughts on “Civil Religion is the enemy of Biblical Christianity

    1. Thank you, Elizabeth. After writing a post yesterday about the early church getting way too cozy with the world, it struck me again today that the same thing happened here in “Protestant” America.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. 1. I am actually quite patriotic. My service in defense of our nation is one of the high points of my life . If needed I would go again.
        2. The last thing we want is a church run state. What? We start legislating doctrines?
        3. As you said, God did not make a covenant with the U.S. in fact He has no special relationship with this country
        4. No leader is going to bring this country back to God least of all the heathen in office at the moment
        5. We cling to this to release ourselves from responsibility to personally reach out to a lost and dying world.

        How’s that?

        Liked by 3 people

      2. Thanks for chiming in, Wally. Good stuff. BTW, I took the liberty of adding “not” to #3 because I knew what you wanted to say and friends take care of each other.

        Liked by 2 people

  1. “Civic” Religion is all about watering things down for everyone to join in as “Americans” and thus is different than historic Biblical Christianity. This post is needed and you said what needs to be said. I love America but America is not the church and vice versa.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thanks, Jim. While reading Kee’s book about Constantine’s melding of church and state, I thought about parallels here in America, although it’s certainly not a case of apples and apples.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Tom,
    The Lord said quite a bit about this, declaring that His kingdom is not of this world, that it is within us, that it does not come with observation, and that those who believe in Him are a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. I truly wish we would remove the U.S. and “Christian” flags from our places of worship so that we could show and teach this!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks, Maria. I’m with you. I’m very much aware that this post goes against the grain in regards to how most evangelicals think. No wonder. Believers in America have had a mixture of faith and patriotism preached at them from their pulpits for 400 years. I myself was pretty much in line with Falwell’s viewpoint back in the 80s, but my outlook on this has definitely changed quite a bit. I’m very grateful we live in this country and for all of the freedoms we enjoy as citizens, but I’ve shifted more towards having (or trying to have) the mindset of being an ambassador for the Lord and His kingdom rather than being a deeply rooted patriot in this temporal world. We are only 2 hours from the Canadian border and I don’t think the Lord is all that concerned about the nationality of individual souls on either side of the man-made border. I don’t believe we’re going to have one single drop of national pride when we get to Heaven, and yet it’s a pride held with great passion by believers in America.

      Liked by 2 people

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