The United States: A “Christian Nation”?
In the eyes of many, the United States of America is considered a “Christian nation.” Some believe God has specially chosen the United States as His possession and uniquely blesses it and its citizens. Others are convinced the United States was founded on the Christian faith and can only endure if most of its citizenry maintains the Christian religion. Some characterize the United States as “Christian” because most of its citizens claim to be Christian. In many places around the world, people conclude that since most Americans claim to be Christians, the United States must be a Christian nation, and therefore everything promoted by the United States and Americans must represent the Christian faith.
Throughout its history, the United States has been populated by many people who have professed to follow Jesus and practice Christianity. Many of those who helped to establish the United States believed in Jesus and felt that Christianity would hold the country together. Statistics continue to show that most Americans profess belief in God, Jesus, and the Bible. The United States represents a force for good in many ways, and there can be little doubt that God has blessed the United States with many blessings. But can the United States truly be characterized as a “Christian nation”?
In the Old Testament, God did choose one particular nation, Israel, as His possession, uniquely blessing it (Exodus 19:3-6). Yet Jesus, through His life, death, and resurrection, paved the way for the establishment of a Kingdom which would transcend all national boundaries, over which He now rules as Lord (Daniel 2:44, Matthew 28:18-20, Acts 2:36, 10:34-43, Colossians 1:13). Jews and Gentiles were brought together with equal standing in Jesus’ Kingdom (Ephesians 2:11-18). Because of Jesus and His Kingdom one’s country of origin no longer matters; everyone in every nation is able to call upon the name of Jesus as Lord (Galatians 3:28, Colossians 3:11). Since Jesus’ Kingdom transcends all national boundaries, Christians are called upon to consider their citizenship in Jesus’ Kingdom as primary (Philippians 3:20-21). Because people from every nation are to find unity through Christ, Christians must privilege the bond of shared faith in Christ over the bond of shared nationality (cf. Isaiah 2:1-4, Ephesians 4:11-16). Christians are called upon to show concern for fellow Christians no matter their nationality or ethnicity (Romans 15:25-27, Galatians 6:10).
God has always shown concern for His chosen people; the New Testament makes it clear that God’s chosen people today do not reside in only one nation-state but represent all people who serve His Son Jesus as Christ (Romans 4:13-25, Galatians 6:14-16). Therefore, the only “Christian nation” in the world is the Kingdom of God as represented by Jesus’ church, which is not limited to the boundaries of any nation-state (Colossians 1:13, 18-20).
Many Americans are Christians, but there are Christians in other countries as well. While we can have little doubt that God has blessed the United States and uses it to accomplish His purposes, there is no reason to believe that Americans are privileged in God’s sight or have special standing before Him. No one will be saved because they were citizens of the United States; the only people who will be saved are citizens of the Kingdom of God (cf. Philippians 3:20-21)!
The United States is a nation with many Christians in it, but it never has been a “Christian nation,” nor ever will be. The United States has done many good things but has also perpetrated injustice and evil at times as well. Most Americans profess faith in Jesus, but that faith is not often deep, and many who “believe” do not really serve Jesus. Many aspects of American culture promoted in American media are considered immoral and sinful by God (cf. Galatians 5:19-21). The United States and its culture do not accurately reflect Jesus or Christianity. Let us all, Americans as well as citizens of other nations, serve Jesus as Lord, maintaining citizenship in the Kingdom of Heaven, and find our salvation in Him!
Ethan R. Longhenry