Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Christian Social Conservatives Not Doomed

On Friday May 17 the blog Cranmer posted an interesting response to allegations that Christians in the USA with a socially conservative mindset have been decisively defeated by the forces of amorality. Cranmer responded in part as follows:

"There is a concern that church attendance in the United States ‘is heading the way of Britain, where no more than ten per cent worship every week’. As far as Evangelicals are concerned, the United States of America was founded ‘purely as a Christian country’, which President Obama refutes. Recently in Turkey he said quite emphatically: "We do not consider ourselves a Christian nation."

Really? Did the Mayflower Compact proclaim the Pilgrims were establishing their colony for ‘the advancement of the Islamic faith’? Does the dollar proclaim ‘In Allah We Trust’? Do patriotic Americans join in the refrain of ‘Allah Bless America’?

America was founded unequivocally upon the Christian ethic, and it permeates the cultural fabric of the nation. God has blessed America with Protestantism and Enlightenment, but now follows the counter-reformation couched as postmodernism to move the nation into the ‘post-Christian’ era. Recent surveys on religious adherence all indicate a significant shift in the American religious landscape: ‘A study by Trinity College in Connecticut found that 11 per cent fewer Americans identify themselves as Christian than 20 years ago. Those stating no religious affiliation or declaring themselves agnostic has risen from 8.2 per cent in 1990 to 15 per cent in 2008’.

But Cranmer is intrigued by the divergent diagnoses of the cause. One view holds that ‘Conservatives became so obsessed with the political process we have forgotten the gospel’, while another believes that the Christian movement failed ‘not because its views were unpalatable for moderates and liberals, but because it was not Christian enough’.

Christians may indeed have been corrupted by politics. But politics corrupts, and absolute politics corrupts absolutely. Evangelicals identified their movement with the culture war and political conservatism. They are apparently persuaded that their failure to transform culture and the mass rejection of political conservatism means that Christianity is dead.

This is fatuous reasoning.

The Founding Fathers choose the Christian ethic and the First Continental Congress made its first act a prayer. They had a ‘firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence’ which has guided and inspired Americans to spread abroad ‘freedom’s holy light’. The Founders of the United States of America were steeped in religion – and that religion was not Judaism, Islam, Roman Catholicism, Buddhism, Sikhism, Hinduism or Jedi Knightianity: it was religion of the Protestant Christian variety.
. . .

Those who created the United States did so after meditating upon the divine precepts and laws of the Christian God. This foundation was their virtue; from this virtue came their liberty; and from this liberty came stability and prosperity.

President Obama is neither the Messiah nor the Antichrist: he is just another man to occupy another political office, and, like all Democrats, he seeks to make the United States more statist, Socialist and amoral.

The Christian response is not to curse God and die, but to repent, believe and trust; indeed, to rejoice in suffering, because suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.

Hope that the Forces of Conservatism shall soon be on the ascendancy, and that government shall once again soon be concerned with whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, and whatever is admirable."


Anonymous said...

Good word Professor McConnell!

Tim A. said...

Professor McConnell.
I appreaciated the good words for our nation.
I understand that are nation came to be by the faith of those who were seeking to begin a nation under God, and Christian principles - the Word of God.
Can a nation be Christian? Are not all nations and rulers basically under the "prince of the power of the air"?
Thanks for the post.

Dean McConnell said...

As the quotation marks and introduction show, the words are not mine but Cranmer's. I agree with him though.

The question of whether a nation can be "Christian" depends upon the way in which you define that term of art. In some senses, the United States has always been a Christian nation, in others it was once and now is not, and in some senses it never was a Christian nation.

If by "Christian Nation" you mean a country were all the citizens are among the elect of the true Church, or one whose institutions are perfectly in line with God's own design, then in a fallen world such a place cannot exist and will not exist until after the final judgment, when the new earth is ruled by Christ in person.

If you mean that the nations laws and institutions arose, in large part, out of a Christian world view, and that a substantial segment of the society professes Christian faith, however imperfect their theology or lives, then the US is and always has been a Christian nation.

As for the nations and the Devil, all nations are influenced by spiritual forces both good and evil. But I would estimate that for ever verse evidencing the influence of our infernal enemy, there are seven on the sovereign power of God and two on nations and their laws as God's tools.

Humans are sinful and their opperation of government and laws is always imperfect. But, because of God's gracious hand at work that imperfection is far from being as bad as it could be. Were all nations and their rulers pure instruments of Darkness I would expect far worse treatment at their hands than humanity suffered from even the most notorious humsn rulers. Even bad rulers maintain some civil order and punish some real crimes. Even the worst rulers encourage some good activities if only because they are needed for the life of the state and the fulfillment of their own lusts.

Anonymous said...

Dr. McConnell,
Thank you for your answer.