A friend recently asked on Facebook whether it was heretical to believe in the idea of a Christian nation. I answered that to make up for my being-in-your-face 95% of the time, I do try to be a bit more polite on occasion. With that in mind, I’m not sure I’d yell, “You heretic!” at anyone who talked about Christian nations, though ultimately, I do see this as a false, un-Christian belief. I ended up going on a while to explain why, after which, my “essay” of a Facebook comment was applauded with the suggestion that I post it here.
So without further ado, here are those thoughts:
1) It’s completely ridiculous to define a nation as Christian because even if for a moment everyone in the nation were Christian, not everyone born the next day would necessarily choose Christianity. To call a nation Christian is rude to those who are not Christian, as well as to people too young (or not yet born) to choose make the Christian faith their own. Being a credobaptist influences my views here—I don’t think anyone should be assumed to be a Christian or coerced into religion just because their parents or community practice it.
2) A nation is more than just a collection of individuals. It is filled with institutions and systems which can reflect more or less of the Lordship of Christ. If God’s reign does not seem apparent in such realms (which, let’s face it, it never will completely until God’s inaugurated kingdom is finally fulfilled some time from now when Jesus returns…), then it is rather foolish for anyone to want to associate Christianity with the nation. Even if everyone in a nation were Christian, if it imperfectly lived out the Christian faith in its political system or domestic or foreign policy or cultural mores or whatnot, it seems inappropriate to call it truly “Christian” without qualification.
3) Because the cross reconciles people across social boundaries (See Eph. and Col.!), it seems silly to emphasize our nationality in the way that calling ourselves a “Christian nation” does. We should be Christians much more than Americans/whatever-one-is and identify much more with the global church (including those from “non-Christian” nations) than with our “Christian” nation. Plus, since we should love our neighbor, we should be trying to identify with and love our non-Christian neighbors outside our national boundaries, as well. If one thinks they have moral superiority or economic privilege or are the right side in a war or anything along those lines because they are from a “Christian” nation, that’s just ignorance of the Bible’s interest in reconciliation across ethnic lines and emphasis on caring for the “foreigner.”