Before liking, loving, or clicking on the scowling face of dissent, please read this post which I’ve written in response to Hobby Lobby’s full-page ad in newspapers nationwide on July 4th. Then, feel free to weigh in with your own thoughts, pro or con.
Among the quotes included in the ad, the one by Justice John Jay is most problematic to me. He said: “Providence has given to our people the choice of our rulers, and it is the duty as well as the privilege and interest of our Christian nation to select and prefer Christians as their rulers.”
I don’t agree that America is a “Christian nation” or that it is my Christian duty to vote for Christian rulers exclusively. I prefer the sentiment of what has often been attributed to Martin Luther, “I’d rather be ruled by a wise Turk than a foolish Christian.”
But let us not quibble over Luther or Jay but take an intelligent look at the excerpt from Psalm 33 that they referenced : “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord.” The rest of the verse says: “… the people he chose for his inheritance.”
The $ million question is, “Is America or any other nation on the earth, past or present, besides ancient Israel, the nation God chose for his inheritance? Is this a generic maxim to be applied to any nation that has a lot of Christian citizens? Has God chosen other nations as his inheritance? I say “No.” Here’s why. (My answer will make more sense if you take the 3 minutes to read the whole Psalm.)
You’ll notice that the poet does exhort “all the earth” and “all the people of the world” to obey the Lord. He says that the Lord “sees all mankind,” “watches all who live on earth,” and “considers everything they do.” But does any of that equate to favored nation status for any country? Or are these poetic assertions intended to be set in contrast to his claim that there is a nation “whose God is the Lord,” the only nation (ancient Israel) that he “chose for an inheritance.”
I say that applying this to America is not only bad theology, but may lead to the dangerous ideology some are calling “Christian Nationalism.” You don’t have to time travel further back than to the infamous January 6th for one of the most odious examples of the danger of thinking America is chosen by God as his inheritance. That is not to say that all the insurrectionists that day were professing Christians, but many were and most if not everyone that day displayed a particularly toxic version of nationalism.
I’ll talk more about the dangers of “Christian Nationalism” in future posts, but for now I simply encourage you to read the Bible more carefully and do your best not to interpret its teachings through the lens of your political preference. Rather, develop your politics through the lens of Scripture.
Until next time, as this Psalmist exhorts at the end:
“Praise the Lord… for the word of the Lord is right and true; he is faithful in all he does… [he] loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of his unfailing love.”