Practical Aspects of a Christian Culture
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Henry van Til wrote, “Culture is religion externalized.” Every man is religious, and our culture in America reflects our religion as a whole. A nation’s laws, ethics, and public policies flow out of its collective cultural mindset -- i.e. its religion. As the United States moves closer to socialism, and Christians see examples of tyranny around them, many are asking: Could we have a Christian nation? How would it be possible? What would it look like? There have been several attempts in history to found a distinctively Christian culture: Calvin in Geneva, Knox in Scotland, and the Puritans in the New England colonies. America in its inception was a Christian nation. The founders knew that God was the Person who blessed their efforts for freedom and they publicly declared that he was the King of their nation. The characteristics and aspects of a Christian culture include: a foundation in Scripture, the public worship of God, and freedom for the individual.
The first and primary aspect of a Christian culture is a foundation in Scripture. Noah Webster said, “The moral principles and precepts found in the Scriptures ought to form the basis of all our civil constitutions and laws.” He also said, “[T]he Christian religion… is the basis, or rather the source, of all genuine freedom in government… I am persuaded that no civil government of a republican form can exist and be durable in which the principles of Christianity have not a controlling influence.” If we as a nation are to follow God, we must go first to the book he has given us whereby we are told how to worship him in every area of life. We must take every law and examine it according to God’s principles laid out in Scripture. We must open up the lost book of the law, like King Josiah, and rid the country of everything unpleasing to God. James Otis (mentor of John Hancock and Samuel Adams; leader of the Sons of Liberty) said, “Has [government] any solid foundation? Any chief cornerstone?... I think it has an everlasting foundation in the unchangeable will of God… The sum of my argument is that civil government is of God.”
Secondly, we are to implement a public worship of God. Not as the Muslims, praying in public five times a day, but we would worship God through our speeches, debates and addresses, acknowledging God as creator and ultimate decider of destiny. This is done both through our words and through our actions. Patrick Henry stated, “Righteousness alone can exalt America as a nation. Whoever thou art, remember this; and in thy sphere practice virtue thyself, and encourage it in others.” He added, “The great pillars of all government and of social life are virtue, morality, and religion. This is the armor, my friend, and this alone, that renders us invincible.”
Finally, the third practical aspect of a Christian culture is freedom and liberty for the individual. When a nation openly confesses to be a Christian nation, and makes every effort to follow the commands of God, the government will give freedom to the people, allowing them to select their officials. The biblical doctrine of elected officials can be found in the book of 1 Samuel, when the Israelites selected Saul for their King. Unfortunately, the Israelites chose a man who let his pride get to him, and he did not honor God in the express way that God commanded him. A Christian nation giving the people power to elect allows them to chose rulers with their best interests in mind. John Jay said, “Providence has given to our people the choice of their rulers, and it is the duty as well as the privilege and interest of our Christian nation, to select and prefer Christians for their rulers.”
If we were to implement these essential principles, we would be able to say as did Robert Treat Paine, signer of the Declaration of Independence, hundreds of years ago: “I desire to bless and praise the name of God most high for appointing me my birth in a land of Gospel Light where the glorious tidings of a Savior and of pardon and salvation through Him have been continually sounding in mine ears.”
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Good article Amy-thanks!
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