I cheated. I recently ordered Focus on the Family‘s The Truth Project for small groups in churches and schools. It’s an exciting program, but I didn’t wait for training or go through a small group myself to watch the DVDs. I watched them. All of them. In less than twenty-four hours. Dr. Del Tackett is an amazing teacher, but, far more importantly, he accurately describes and defines faith in a God that is far more amazing. I won’t spoil the series for you, because I think that it is much more powerful in a group setting, but I will use one of the lessons as a jumping-in point for today’s posting.
Ever since President Barack Obama told the world that the United States is not a Christian nation, there’s been a lot of questioning about whether or not he was right in doing so. Perhaps it is better to first ask ourselves what it takes to be a Christian nation. Can you simply slap a label on a country and call it Christian? Can you deny it that label if you so choose? What would a truly Christian nation look like?
A Christian nation would begin with the understanding that God has set up a number of distinct realms in society that are dependent on each other. The Truth Project materials list these realms: Family, Labor, State, Community, Relationships with God, and Church. Each sphere is sovereign in nature. Families operate in a distinct way from churches, and one does not replace the other. One has the duty to create because we are made in God’s image, but work should not encroach upon or replace your relationship with God. Sovereignty, however, does not eliminate an appropriate relationship between spheres. Families ought to go to church. Going to church ought to bolster our relationship with God. A strong relationship with God should provide meaning to work. Work should support and enhance community and government. Government and community should find its principles for functionality from a proper view of Scripture. There is a distinction between Church and State, but the two cannot completely separate themselves from each other. God has ordained the State (Romans 13:1) for a number of reasons. When a nation forgets God, however, horrible things may happen.
In the absence of a belief in God, the State may come to believe that it has the authority to determine what is right and what is wrong. We’ve seen the results of such a government. According to R. J. Rummel’s work Death by Government, Stalin killed 42 million, Mao Zedong killed nearly 38 million, Adolf Hitler killed 21 million, and on and on and on it goes. The State-that-would-be-God is a terrible monstrosity. Unfortunately, there are those who have no problem with this mentality. G. W. F. Hegel wrote:
“The Universal is to be found in the State. The State is the Divine Idea as it exists on earth. We must therefore worship the State as the manifestation of the Divine on earth, and consider that, if it is difficult to comprehend Nature, it is harder to grasp the Essence of the State. That State is the march of God through the world.”
What madness is this? The State would absorb family, labor, church, education, and community. And so it has in many Western nations.
In modern-day America, the State gets to determine what marriage is, how a parent may discipline, what should be done to the rich, how the poor must be helped, how a child should be educated, what a church may and may not do in the community, and how a community must function. From the cradle to the grave. What hideous thing mankind has created that now has us slouching toward Gomorrah! What have we done to God’s established order, this wondrous system that should have been a reflection of God’s divine attributes? Where will the West wind up if we continue in this direction? Gibbon’s Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire portray the Roman Empire as self-destructing due to the following, among other things:
- A mounting love of show and luxury
- An obsession with sex
- Freakishness in the Arts
- An increased desire to live off the State
This path will not end any better for us than it did for Rome. It wasn’t always this way, for America at least.