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