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Are Americans Still "One Nation, Under God?"

 

Last updated 11/20/2019 at 3:10pm



We must examine ourselves as a nation. Aside from party affiliation, the election was clearly a revelation of the voter’s values. Abraham Lincoln, quoting from Mark 3:24, boldly stated that “a house divided against itself cannot stand.” The issues that divided our nation during the elections were of greater significance than the prevailing economic scrutiny. The moral values of the sanctity of human life, preservation of marriage, defense of Israel, and religious freedoms became the overwhelming subject of many attack ads, speeches, and debates. There seemed to be more emphasis on the definition of marriage and the defense of the unborn than ever before.

Candidates aligned with opposing sides of the spectrum, leaving no middle ground. Based on the arguments, life was described as either (1) sacred and meant to be preserved, no matter the circumstances, or (2) a decision—not a right. Marriage was described as between one man and one woman, as it was from the beginning, or it was left to interpretation and redefinition based on social moral relativism.

The problem isn’t as much the politicians in Washington D.C. as we would like to believe. The problem is in our homes, our communities, and even our churches. Indeed, the heart of the American people has changed.

How far have we digressed as a nation? In 1620, William Bradford and the brave men and women of faith aboard the Mayflower declared America to be “for the glory of God and the advancement of the Christian faith.” Later it was President George Washington who said that the twin pillars essential for supporting a successful society are morality and religion. What kind of religion? Was it just any kind? John Adams, our second president, clarified this when he declared, “The general principles on which the fathers achieved independence were … the general principles of Christianity.”

Where are we today? Stephen Hopewell describes our current state of affairs:

The pillar of traditional morality is certainly one that needs to be restored to our society; but we will have to separate it once and for all from the other pillar, that of progress. It is no longer possible for us to see America as ‘the leader in moral progress,’ a conceit which has made us blind to the real moral decline in our society and susceptible to believing that our supposed moral goodness can serve to defend us from enemies and invaders (from Stephen Hopewell, “The Three Pillars of American Civilization,” The Heritage American (blog), Dec. 22, 2008).

Are we still a Christian nation? For those of us who align with this faith, the easy answer is yes—but the reality is more difficult to process. According to recent surveys, including one from the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, the fastest growing “religious” group in America is made up of people with no religion at all. This group has grown by 25 percent in the past five years, and for the first time evangelicals and Protestants now make up only 48 percent of the population. There was a significant decline in the group who identified themselves as Christian—by as much as 14 percent since 2005 (from “‘Nones’ on the Rise,” The Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, Oct. 9, 2012).

This alarming trend provides a pathway to power for individuals whose perspectives do not align with those of our Founding Fathers or the general precepts of morality we have strived to preserve for nearly 400 years, since the Mayflower Compact. Proverbs 29:2 reminds us, “When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice; but when the wicked rule, the people groan” (NRSV). Noah Webster, a Founding Father and educator, offered a similar warning:

Let it be impressed on your mind that God commands you to choose for rulers just men who will rule in the fear of God (Exod 18:21). … If the citizens neglect their duty and place unprincipled men in office, the government will so be corrupted … If government fails to secure public prosperity and happiness, it must be because the citizens neglect the Divine commands, and elect bad men to make and administer the laws.

We have no one to blame but ourselves. We have failed to pass a legacy of faith to the next generation as God Himself directed us to do (Deut 6:1–9; Psa 78). In four generations, we have lost a firm foundation on moral truth. Now the heart of our nation is divided, and we must be reminded of what the prophets spoke to the people of Israel—a reminder that is still relevant to us today: If we repent and return to God, He will hear, forgive, and restore our land (2 Chr 7:14). It was the Lord who said to Isaiah, “their hearts are far from me” (Isa 29:13). Again He spoke to Jeremiah and said that if His wayward people would return to Him with all their hearts, then He would give them leaders who honor Him—“shepherds after [His] own heart” (Jer 3:6–18). You see, it begins with us assuming a humble, contrite spirit before our Almighty God, expecting nothing in return.

God knows what He’s doing—a fact that we, His people, need to be reminded of. This was true of Job, who stated, “Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know” (Job 42:3).

God says that He saw the end from the beginning (Isa 46:10), that He is omnipresent (Psa 139:1–18), and that there are no accidents, for all things are according to the counsel of His will (Eph 1:11). Do we believe it? Even when tragedy strikes or we experience a refining defeat, He already has the victory and assures us of such. Perhaps the church today needs a wake-up call of what it means to stand for truth in a society of moral relativism.

King David recognized God’s sovereignty and sang Him praise: “Yours, LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendor, for everything in heaven and earth is yours. Yours, LORD, is the kingdom; you are exalted as head over all. Wealth and honor come from you; you are the ruler of all things. In your hands are strength and power to exalt and give strength to all” (1 Chr 29:11–12). Scripture declares that God directs the hearts of the rulers of the earth and selects them for His bidding (Prov 21:1; 8:15; Dan 4:25; Col 1:15–20). The battle is not lost—God is still hearing the cries of His people.

Prayer is needed in America to restore the foundations of Christianity in our homes. Now is not the time to grow weary. Now is not the time to give up. God has identified for us the chinks in our armor and the hindering sins that prevail within, so that we gird up our loins and prepare in solemn assembly as never before. We must not allow our prayers to diminish. Rather, we must amplify our prayers with persistence and perseverance. In the words of the Apostle Paul, “Thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain” (1 Cor 15:56). May our days be filled with praise and adoration for the King of kings. Let our faith be contagious with our passion of service, and may the joy of our love for Him fill our home and impact generations not yet born. We must be intentional for such a time as this.

“America was founded by people who believed that God was their rock of safety. I recognize we must be cautious in claiming that God is on our side, but I think it’s all right to keep asking if we’re on His side.”

Ronald Reagan - January 25, 1984

- John Bornschein, Th.D.

Senior Pastor, Calvary Fellowship Fountain Valley

Editor’s Note: The preceding is a guest submission by a pastor in the Fountain Valley community. The newspaper will begin sharing regular submissions from pastors representing a variety of churches in our coverage area. These will be featured on the Church pages each week.

 

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