America, England, and the Myth of a "Christian nation"

As recently reported in the Telegraph, in England there is ongoing debate as to whether or not the country should remain a "Christian nation."

Across the pond, for the past 500 years, the church and state in England have "officially" been intermingled.  It may come to a shock to most of my readers to learn that Queen Elizabeth is recognized as the official head of the Church of England.  She is the official "Defender of the Faith," and the heirs to her throne will one day inherit her role as the head of the Church of England.  She is responsible for appointing their archbishops and bishops.  Likewise, leaders from the Church of England are officially appointed as leaders in the British parliament, and are responsible for helping draft legislation.

For my American readers, you probably find this little arrangement a little strange.  But that's okay, it's British.  If you want to understand it more, Google it.  Only a few other nations in the entire world have a similar arrangement (see a list of nations with official religions.)

Here in America, the separation of church and state has been a hot issue since we were formed.  Many Puritans ("Pilgrims" for those of you who went to public school) traveled here from England, and attempted to start their own Christian nation, such as was attempted with the Massachusetts Bay Colony.

Others, such as the Quakers, weren't so keen on the idea.  They, and many others, wanted something a bit more secular.  They didn't care for the arrangement in England, which is why many of them left.

Because of America's rich Christian heritage as a nation, and the importance that Christianity had in the formation of our government, many Christians today believe America has been, or is in fact, a "Christian nation."

All of our social evils would once and forever be solved, many say, if America would just "turn back to God."  You hear this language echoed by the likes of popular voices, such as Pat Robertson, the late Jerry Falwell, David Barton, Billy Graham, Glenn Beck, and many others.

Promises from the Old Testament to the nation of Israel are often passionately invoked, as if we actually entered into a covenant with God, and a "revival" is passionately called for.  If we would just turn back to God, our nation will endure, and American will continue to be a great nation, acting as a light unto the world... or at least, that's how the story goes.

Having held such views at one point in my life, I must say I am highly sympathetic to the notion that America is, or has been, a Christian nation.  Unfortunately, such a view is simply not true.  It is a myth.  And this is something England needs to learn for herself.

At no time in our history has America ever been, nor will it ever be a Christian nation.  

The idea that any nation, be it England or America, can be a Christian nation is simply bad theology.

No doubt, it is possible for the vast majority of the citizens of these countries to be Christians.  Many of these nations leaders and policies may even be influenced by Christian values.  You  may even go so far as to intermingle the powers of the church and the state, as England has officially done.  However, this still would not make it a "Christian nation."

The truth of the matter is, Biblically speaking, the only "Christian nation" that has ever existed or will ever exist, is the church of Jesus Christ.  

As the apostle Peter said in 1 Peter 2:9, it is the church that is "a holy nation."  The church of Jesus Christ alone is the only Christian nation to ever exist.  No other nation is capable of at any time becoming a Christian nation.  Only the church can occupy this role.

Sadly, our deficient theology and understanding of the things of God keeps many within the church from ever seeing itself as an actual nation.  Instead, we see ourselves as Americans, or British, and only then are we Christian.  As a result, we fail to realize that our borders swallow up all the maps of this entire world, of whom our Lord has been made Lord of all.

All authority has been given to Jesus Christ on heaven and on earth, and as Christians we live as a redeemed people under the rule and reign of Jesus Christ, no matter what nation we find ourselves living in at this time.

Therefore, if the Church of England wishes to practice good theology, it should side with England's Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg (who is an atheist), and divorce itself from intermingling the powers shared between the church and state.

And so long as the Church of England continues to intermingle itself with the state, it robs itself of the ability to be a prophetic witness to all who are in England, and the rest of the world.  Instead of looking to keep itself as part of the British government, the Church of England needs to tell the powers that be that their days are numbered, that they've been weighed, and found wanting.

England will one day fall, as will America and all other nations, and they will brought to an end by the kingdom of Jesus Christ.  Therefor, the church should not find itself clinging to any nation that is destined to fall, unless it should perish with them.

Instead, it should point the kingdoms of this world to another kingdom, that is not of this world, and will endure forever.

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