Saturday, October 13, 2012

The Strong Delusion Called America


Centuries ago the Vikings landed in the upper part of North America which is now Canada. Many years later Columbus set foot in the Caribbean and proved that the world was not flat and that the new world could be reached. Adventurous souls would begin to visit the continent we know as North America, and Spain and Portugal were the first countries to establish small beach heads on the continent. The first imported religion was Roman Catholicism.

In the early and mid 1600s protestant believers known as Puritans came to North America in order to avoid the persecution of King Charles of England. They observed a much purer form of Christianity with a certain level of legalism. And most disturbing is that the puritans viewed the Indians as devils, and killed many in skirmishes and wars. Many captured Indians were sold into slavery and sent to the Caribbean. The Puritans were by no means gentle and they did not see the Indians as lost and in need of a Savior. This kind of history is rarely taught in American public or Christian schools. There were recorded cases where Puritans slaughtered entire Indian villages, and in fact the tribe known as the Pequots were essentially wiped out.

Many modern Christians idolize the Puritans and excuse there violence against the Indians as a necessary evil because the Indians were violent against them. It beggars the mind to understand how that kind of thinking can ever be considered aligned with the teachings of the New Testament. But when it comes to idolatry, the Old Testament Israelites had nothing on the western church. It seems the Puritans were much more interested in what people wore than in the souls of the American Indians. People were punished for the length of their hair, wearing lace, missing church, and one man returned home after a month's long journey and kissed his wife on the doorstep of his home and was placed in stocks for two days. The Puritans were more fond of the Old Testament than they were of the New, and they practiced an undiluted form of Calvinism. In many circles of Calvinism today they are heroes of the faith.

And through the years people began to flock to America. Some for religious reasons, but most to begin a new life and find fortune. It operated as an English colony. But in the 1700s business men began to complain about English tariffs or taxes. The hostility between England and America began to grow. Acts of vandalism such as the Boston Tea Party grew. In fact, that act of vandalism is now almost revered in the community of faith. I wonder again how that aligns with the teachings of Jesus. Eventually it reached a boiling point and the colonies went to war. And go ahead and find New Testament justification for going to war over taxes.

The founding fathers were an eclectic group of white men. Some claimed Christianity while some claimed deism while other claimed no faith. Many owned slaves, and George Washington himself had hundreds of slaves and was the richest American president. You can read something about that HERE. And after thousands had died, and boys and girls had lost their fathers, the country became independent and was now a pluralistic nation. Because men did not want to establish any one religion, the Constitution made sure that all religions and all gods were acceptable within this new nation. The word Jesus appears nowhere in the original documents. And in a treaty with North Africa (Tripoli), President John Adams assured the Muslims with these words,

“As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion; as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquility, of Muslim men; and, as the said States never entered into any war, or act of hostility against any Islamic nation, it is declared by the parties, that no pretext arising from religious opinions, shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries.” (source)

I hope I did not burst your balloon, I hope I destroyed it. This self delusional view of America is diabolical and has been used of the devil to keep the church in bondage to a lie. And this lie has seeped into all areas of our lives including diluting and nationalizing the gospel of Christ. And even when confronted with curious facts, most professing believers refuse to even allow their minds to question their patriotism, much less do a sincere investigation, and much, much less repent of their beliefs. In fact, even broaching the subject with many believers will elicit stern warnings and unkind words directed toward you. It’s as if you are saying something about their God, and in some ways you are.

But in these last several decades there has been some shift in thinking. Some, not many, are beginning to see just how wrong we were and just how we were duped into believing a lie. For those of us who have come out of that idolatry we have found new freedom in Christ and we have found encouragement from God’s Spirit and the testimonies of others. Our challenge continues to be self righteousness and to continue to show the love of God toward those who are still blind and treat us disparagingly.

But we cannot, we must not, remain silent. Of course this issue is not the gospel but it hinders the gospel and it has thwarted spiritual growth within the church. It is astounding to see how the church can embrace things like self righteousness, boasting, greed, violence, and many other sins as long as they are hidden with nationalism and patriotism. Things that we teach our children not to do we applaud when it is in defense of America. And the teachings of Jesus, proclaimed loudly to be absolutely literal in our doctrinal statements, are rendered impotent as it pertains to nationalism.

We can now kill others while still saying we believe we should love our enemies. We can now join hands with unbelievers because they say they espouse certain moral views while still saying we believe we should not be unequally yoked. We can now murmur and complain about gas prices and government leaders while still saying we should not murmur or complain. We now can use pejoratives against liberals or gays and still say we believe in speaking words seasoned with salt. It is utterly amazing how we can go about and exhibit everything but the teachings of Christ and yet say Jesus is Lord. Hollow words indeed.

But steeped in this strong delusion called nationalism and specifically America, the church has been systematically assimilated into the culture and stripped of her holiness and profound and exclusive allegiance to Jesus Christ. The average western congregation can practice all sorts of hedonism, complain even when they have plenty, watch ungodly entertainment, show disdain about the lost, almost never witness personally, live an almost prayerless life, speak words of judgment and hate among each other, and yet still pretend to be following Jesus.

Imagine yourself being swept away and placed on an island with thousands of other people. And imagine your memory has been altered and you no longer remember where you were born. All you have is this life now. And now you must open God’s Word and see what it says without the prism of nationalism and without what has been programmed inside you by others. Would you pledge allegiance to trees? The ocean? Without being taught to accept what the world had constructed, perhaps you would be free to explore the freedom that is in Christ and to ponder the depths of what His Lordship means in your life.

You could be free to be a prisoner of the Lord and a bond slave to Jesus Christ. You could walk in Christ without being compromised by the trappings of national allegiance. You could be salt and light once again, and there would be no founding fathers to idolize. Your lived the teachings of Jesus and shared the glorious gospel to everyone. What an incredibly atmosphere of Christian devotion!

But perhaps one day you got together with all the rest on that island and formed a country. And perhaps you gave your heart to that country. And perhaps you allowed sacrifices for all kinds of gods. And perhaps you constructed this country so that everyone could gain many coconuts. And perhaps everyone voted and allowed the slaughter of infants they did not want. And perhaps your country approved of gay marriages. And perhaps you we prepared to kill anyone who tried to take over your country. Perhaps you made some people your slaves. And since you were among the original people, perhaps you were considered one of the founding fathers. And when you died, perhaps they would erect a monument in your honor. Yes, perhaps.

But in the pursuit of all those things, perhaps you forgot the teachings of Jesus.


Anonymous said...


JMD said...

That pretty well sums it up.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Rick for telling it how it is (was.) I'm still getting people that honk I'm a nutcase for not voting. One day I was mending our flag and as I attempted to repair it I thought it won't do any good. I also had a thought that no matter how you try to fix it , it can't be saved. Weird huh? -Noel