Are Many American Christians Handicapped by Statism?

christianity, statism, statist, christian flag, federal flagThe Lord says: ‘These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is based on merely human rules they have been taught.'” – Isaiah 29:13

As the Christian Church in America (and throughout the West) struggles to boldly stand for the wisdom of God’s law and the transforming power of Christ to change lives, the picture above seeks to illustrate what might be one of the primary problems with Christianity in America today. We honor our Lord with our lips, but our hearts are far from Him. And our worship is only made up of rules taught by men.

Because in case you didn’t notice in the picture above, the flag representing the Kingdom of God is actually placed in a place of submission to a flag representing a human kingdom…almost as if to suggest that the kingdom of man is given greater honor over the Kingdom of God. While we’re sure this was merely an effort to comply with flag codes on the part of church leadership, the significance of displaying a flag representing God’s Kingdom in this way, and the message it inadvertently sends, must have been missed by the people who raised it. But the proper respect and honor for our Lord in our lives is something we can’t afford to overlook. We’re all guilty of it. Whether it be an obvious outward sign, or a more hidden inner rejection of the Lord that only we know about – standing for the Lord’s Truth (the Kingdom of God) isn’t always easy, or convenient in the kingdoms of man.

It’s ironic that while many human kingdoms are working to remove God from just about everything, many Christians seem to be inviting more and more of man’s systems into their own lives. Instead of standing as beacons of truth and living with a consistent Biblical worldview, they’re participating in all manner of state-run programs while angrily defending the “right” to send their children to be educated in government schools. All while our churches are too busy worrying about losing their tax exempt status to inform us how the Bible should be applied to all areas of our lives. This results in ineffective Christians that are conformed to the culture instead of working to reform the culture.

Christian, cartoon, Romans 13, Ephesians 6, full armor of God, illustration, God and Government, Politics, Religious Right, Christian Reconstructionism, Theonomy, DominionismWhat is important to recognize is that rights and law aren’t simply pulled out of thin air. They are rooted in the existence of a Supreme Law-Giver, as Sir William Blackstone noted (read more from this Axiom resource on William Blackstone). And in keeping with Blackstone’s teachings about law, many early American leaders knew it was foolish to suggest that a government could properly govern without being informed by Christianity. This of course isn’t advocating a Church State, but merely an acknowledgement that no human system will survive very long without a moral, self-governing people. This need for moral people in our communities is why early American leaders emphasized the importance of the Christian Church as an institution in society – one that should not be handicapped by the State.

Larry Beane in On Flags in the Sanctuary writes that, “In a sense, the church is like a ship or an embassy that flies under its own flag. Churches, though located in the U.S. or Canada or Russia or Ethiopia – are actually missions or consulates or embassies of heaven. The sovereign of the Church is not the king or the queen or the president – but the King of Kings, the Lord Jesus Christ, He who said, ‘My kingdom is not of this world,’ He who rebuffed Satan’s temptations to give Him all of the kingdoms of the world.”

And in Should Churches Display the American Flag?, Douglas Wilson, pastor of Christ Church in Moscow, Idaho states, “The New Testament is all about this principle. Where customs interfere with transnational fellowship, those customs must give way (Acts 15:29). Placing a flag in a sanctuary has many possible implications. It could convey the idea that we claim some sort of ‘favored nation’ status. It could imply we believe that the claims of Caesar extend into every space, including sacred spaces. It could imply that our version of Christianity is similar to some kind of syncretistic ‘God and country’ religion, where patriotism and religion are one and the same.”

Thoughts on american christians and statism, flag displays in the church, or how Christians might better serve the Lord and their communities? Let us know by leaving us a comment!

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3 Reasons Western Christianity is in Trouble – and How to Fix It!

Christian, Reconstruction, Christ, illustration, cartoon, Christ and His Kingdom, God's Law, Western ChristianityI get it. As a Christian, it can sometimes be easy to look at our local community and our country, and wonder what in the world is going on. I was once there, having grown up with a pessimistic view of Christianity in retreat in this world. Later, as a young adult, I’d often find myself falling into a destructive and entirely unhealthy mind-set of hopelessness and fear. But while that may be a view that some Christians have been taught in more recent times, Dr. Jason Garwood on the August 7, 2016 edition of Reconstructionist Radio (Social Issues are Spiritual Issues) takes a different view. Following are three reasons why Western Christianity is in trouble – and what can be done to fix it!

1. The Establishment Church has truncated the gospel message. If the gospel for you only applies to your heart and spiritual matters, so that you can go to heaven and get off planet earth some day – you have an incomplete gospel! Part of the gospel announcement is the arrival of God’s Kingdom, in time, on earth, and in history. Another part of the gospel is the actual rescue of both sinners and creation (Romans 8 comes to mind). The gospel of the pietistic Christian is merely a private, spiritual affair. The gospel for the Biblical Christian who loves the Kingdom of God, and seeks to APPLY the Kingdom of God touches ALL of life – taxation, politics, private property, education, sound money and so on.

2. The Establishment Church has given up on the world around her. Because of number 1, number 2 is the result. When we don’t see how the word of God can apply to ALL of life, we end up forsaking our duties here in search of the higher life. So the church retreats with their tail between their legs, unsure if all that Kingdom talk is truth or fantasy or just mere conjecture. There was a time when the pulpits across this nation prophetically proclaimed a robust gospel for ALL of life, including social and political realms. Instead of giving up on the world, we must confront the world. The world belongs to those who bow before Jesus, and we will not go away!

3. The Establishment Church has forgotten that it is Hell who has gates. Consider this reality. Hell is the one in Scripture who is on the defense…Jesus has legislative authority in Heaven and on earth. Christ’s Kingdom advances in time and space in history (Daniel 2, Matthew 13). The Church will advance because the battle has been won! Christ was given dominion and a Kingdom that would not end when he ascended to the throne in fulfillment of Daniel 7. After His death and resurrection, Satan was dethroned and is on the run. The world is NOT a sinking ship. Sure, it was cursed by God because of sin. But God is in the process of restoring all things under the feet of King Jesus. The gospel is truly that big! The World isn’t sinking. Evil is sinking!

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Who would Jesus vote for?

voteOne of the things I always find slightly funny, and a little disconcerting, is the way some Christians behave when it comes to elections, political parties and even nationalism itself. This seems especially true during that not-so-wonderful time of life when election season rolls around, and people who used to be your friends start giving you dark stares for not supporting their favorite presidential candidate…or worse, questioning their favorite political party. It reminds me a little of those dark days of the time referred to as the “Civil War” when everyone was forced to choose a side, and anyone who tried to remain neutral was often mistreated, persecuted and considered a traitor. Amazingly, that bloody conflict (in which an estimated 1 million men, women and children were killed) involved many professing Christians on both sides. Imagine how the Gospel could have advanced throughout the country had this conflict been avoided. Blessed are the peacemakers?

Or, maybe let’s put it this way. Could you imagine if Jesus and His twelve disciples went around admonishing people to lend political support to a Jewish or Roman leader of the day? There were plenty of politicians, Christian, cartoon, Romans 13, Ephesians 6, full armor of God, illustrationpolitical scheming and upsetting issues regarding the government happening in the time of Christ, and Jesus never shied away from telling the truth about them. He spoke out against King Herod, calling him a fox (Luke 13:32), had plenty to say about the hypocrisy of the teachers of the law and Pharisees (Matthew 23) and spoke about giving to God what is His, and giving only to Caesar what belongs to him – which may not be much of anything good (Matthew 22:20-22). But, we never read of Him talking about XYZ politician and saying things like, “Well, I may not agree with this guy on everything – but he’s certainly talking like he’s going to fix taxes and eliminate governmental corruption, so maybe we’d do well to give him our support.” Instead, what He DID do was call everyone, politicians included, to repentance and obedience to God and His law.

flagStill, I suppose some of this “Statist” attitude on behalf of many American Christians could stem from the fact that nationalism is unwittingly promoted in a lot of churches, with flag displays prominently situated at the front of the sanctuary, and at the entrance to the church (with the Christian flag ironically in a position of submission to the government flag). I’ve even seen some churches with patriotic and military displays elsewhere in the building, which again may inadvertently place an overt emphasis on the temporary kingdoms of man. So instead of participating in nationalistic fervor and allowing ourselves to be used by politicians and political parties – what about focusing on Christ, the only source of hope and peace in this broken world, and working to build His Kingdom, the only Kingdom that will last for all eternity?

In the end, I think it’s a problem when Christians get more excited about the election than they do over missions, church planting, or making disciples within their community. Because after all, we are citizens and ambassadors of the Kingdom of God first and foremost! Imagine what it could look like if we lived like it?

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