Is America worthy of patriotism from Christians this Fourth of July?
Some to say that we live in a country that is "post Christian"; that we have abandoned our moral absolutes found in the Bible. Without this protective coating of moral absolutes America's conscience appears scorched and burnt and at times seems invisible. Without a conscience to guide us our country has moved toward secularism relegating Christianity to simply another religious idea with only nominal importance or social significance.
How could this have happened? Having abandoned the absolutes of the Bible in its very first verse Christianity has been left without a foundation and has, at times, become an impotent influence in this country. Are we still a nation that still believes, "…that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights?" Unchallenged, public schools teach our children they evolved. Thus, the conclusion must be that their rights are not a privilege granted to them by a Creator (and thus have responsibility attached) but government owes their rights to them.
We seem to have changed into a country whose people are screaming for their rights and demanding government to grant them. Dr. John Eidsmoe, in his book, Institutions on the Constitution accurately describes our government's relationship to the rights of its people: "Government does not grant these rights, rather government is instituted to secure them, protect and preserve them."
This concept of government as a servant to secure rights instead of the source of rights is impossible to understand if we continue to ignore and acknowledge that it is from God and His word that our rights are derived. Unfortunately, even many Christians today are ashamed to stand firmly on the word of God in public, going into battle against the issues of the day embarrassed to say, "It is written." Rarely will we find statesmen today able to make statements like this one of Noah Webster, "The moral principles and precepts contained in Scriptures ought to form the basis of all our civil constitutions and laws." Perhaps the moral problems we have today in our country are the result of rejecting God's word as Webster concludes: "All the miseries and evils which men suffer from vice, crime, ambition, injustice, oppression, slavery and war, proceed from their despising or neglecting the precepts contained in the Bible." Even Abraham Lincoln recognized that, "It is the duty of nations, as well of men, to own their dependence upon God and to recognize the sublime truth announced in the Holy Scriptures and proven by all history, that those nations only are blessed whose God is the Lord."
Has this rejection of God and abuse of His word caused us to be a nation that does not deserve honor and patriotism? Absolutely not. While many have rejected God, many more are turning to God's word for direction. Although caricatured by much of the media, many Bible-believing Christians are making a difference. Also, our country deserves honor because the Bible wants us to honor our civil leaders. In addition, our country deserves patriotism. Dr. Eidsmoe defines patriotism in his book God and Caesar: "Patriotism is the spark that makes people willing to place their country above themselves, to sacrifice for their country, even if that sacrifice means their lives. Patriotism is the spirit that gives a special flavor and which enhances our appreciation for that which is our own. The spirit of patriotism has enabled Americans to unite and struggle through every crisis in our nation's history." In contrast, humanists in the Humanist Manifesto II "deplore the division of humankind on nationalistic grounds" and "reaffirm a commitment to the building of a world community."
Certainly patriotism can be abused. Blind and misguided patriotism has caused some to equate or elevate love of country with and over love of God. Instead, as a Christian, we should take the advise of Doug Phillips of the Vision Forum who wrote, "For the American Christian informed by the light of Scripture, however, it is glorious to remember the hand of God and to rejoice in the blessing He has showered upon our people. In fact, the Fourth of July can be used as a day for obeying God's righteous command found in Psalm 78: 'I will open my mouth in a parable. I will utter dark sayings of old: Which we have heard and known, and our fathers have told us. We will not hide them from our children, shewing the generations to come the praises of the Lord and His Strength, and His wonderful works that He hath done.'"
I have often quoted Ravi Zacharias when considering the importance of our history in our lives today. In response to someone criticizing nostalgia he said, "There's only one thing worse than nostalgia -- that's amnesia."
With our patriotism we can show our children, our nation and the rest of the world the importance of God's hand in America; we can help to turn them back to the strong beliefs of our forefathers like that of George Washington who said, "Whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly implore His protection and favor…"
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Originally published in the Rockdale/Newton Citizen