Let me begin this post the same way I begin any conversation I have where I talk about a Christian response to Independence Day and the American Revolution:
I am a Chaplain (Captain) in the United Stated Army Reserve. My two younger brothers are both Active Duty U.S. Army. My father was in the Army. My grandfather was Active Duty Navy, was enlisted and sunk at Midway, finished seminary and went BACK into the Navy as a Chaplain. I have several uncles and cousins that have been part of the military. Clearly, then, I support the military and believe that a military, like a police force, is a necessary part of society. I do believe in Just War Theory. I don’t speak for the Army or for the government, but I want you to get where I’m coming from.
Now – to the point of the post: I believe that the American War for Independence was unbiblical and should not have taken place from a Christian point of view. No, I’m not crazy. I’m not some left-wing nut. I’m actually fairly conservative and (totally honesty here) am a registered Republican. But I whole-heartedly believe that the Bible is supposed to be our guide for what we believe and how we behave, and I believe that the New Testament would tell us that The Revolutionary War was wrong.
Looking at the New Testament book of 1 Peter will explain where I’m coming from:
1 Peter 2:11-17 ~ 11 Dear friends, I urge you as strangers and temporary residents to abstain from fleshly desires that war against you.12 Conduct yourselves honorably among the Gentiles, so that in a case where they speak against you as those who do what is evil, they will, by observing your good works, glorify God on the day of visitation.13 Submit to every human authority because of the Lord, whether to the Emperor as the supreme authority 14 or to governors as those sent out by him to punish those who do what is evil and to praise those who do what is good. 15 For it is God’s will that you silence the ignorance of foolish people by doing good. 16 As God’s slaves, live as free people, but don’t use your freedom as a way to conceal evil. 17 Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the Emperor.
First, Peter calls us strangers and temporary residents. Some Bible versions use the word “aliens” to describe his audience. No, not the little green men, but people who are foreigners. His primary audience were Jews of the Dispersion. They had been scattered from their homeland and lived abroad in “Gentile” territories. They were literally foreigners. He calls them to live exemplary lives among the non-believers so that even the non-believers will end up giving glory to God.
While we might be naturally born citizens in America but we find ourselves in a country that is more and more turning its back on the ideals and belief systems of Judeo-Christianity. We are fast becoming the minority. We need to remember that, no matter where our home or citizenship lie, our ultimate home is heaven. We too often forget our heavenly citizenship and cling to our earthly citizenship.
There’s a band called Building 429 with a song that says:
All I know is I’m not home yet. This is not where I belong
Take this world but give me Jesus. This is not where I belong.
That’s the attitude early Christians had. The longer we stay here the more we forget that we don’t belong here on earth – we’re passing through.
Second, Peter flat out says that Christians are to obey human institutions from the Emperor on down to local governors. That pretty much says it all right there. Extend Peter’s principle through history and imagine that he is writing to Colonials, separated from their homeland in Britain. “Submit to every human institution because of the Lord, whether to the King as the supreme authority or to local magistrates….” Boom! End of revolution.
The Christian principle and ideal in the Bible is one of submission and appropriate behavior. There is no exception clause for open rebellion. Rebellion is contrary to the Spirit of God.
I will admit that changing our understanding does not change history. We are where we are. What I would like to see changed is the American predisposition to believe that we are righteously called to be God’s people in this land. We are not.
Our nation was not founded on God. Our nation was founded on the Constitution of the United States of America (which, yes, does have some Christian principles in it). Ancient Israel, with its covenant and Torah, was founded on God (Yahweh). America – not so much. Here our country singers sing that “We’ll put a boot up your @$$” and claim that it’s “The American Way.” Shame on us for confusing America with Christianity.
It’s time to accept that Yahweh is the God of all nations, not just America. So please, Christians, stop chanting: “USA! USA! USA!” as though we have special divine favor. Please stop asking God to specially bless our country as though we are his special nation and are better than other nations. Stop reveling in rebellion and mourn the fact that so many Christians are caught up in the national cult of patriotism and worship at the throne of Uncle Sam when we ought to be putting our emphasis on our citizenship in heaven and worshipping at the throne of the Almighty.
So, it’s the 4th of July. The day when Americans tossed the Bible aside and said, “It’s more important to us to have freedom from the economic constraints of England than it is to follow the biblical model of submitting.
Because that’s what Jesus would have done. He would have fought tooth and nail for his freedom and liberty. He would have demolished the opponent and then celebrated every year.
Oh, wait. He didn’t, did he? He submitted – even unto death.
May God forgive our arrogance and disobedience….
**Note – I fully expect 90% of Americans to disagree with me. That’s okay. If you’d like to participate in civil conversation I really do welcome it.