From: Joel Cannon (email@example.com)
Date: Tue May 27 2003 - 12:11:00 EDT
From: "Terry M. Gray" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
> Subject: Re: Do non-U.S. Christians say "God Bless America?"
> Isn't "God Bless America" a prayer in keeping with Romans 13:1ff and
> 1 Timothy 2:1-2? You seem to suggest that what is meant by that is
> "God is blessing America" ("America is God's country.") No doubt,
> that sentiment exists, but I'd suggest that my reading is more in
> keeping with Jay's and most people's intent.
> Isn't it legitimate for Christian citizens of each nation to utter
> such a prayer for their nation and their leaders? Of course, a
> Christian's primary allegiance is to the Kingdom of God.
Perhaps. Maybe it is no different than when Brits sing "God Save the
Queen" (to the tune of America the Beautiful!), although I suspect
that "God Save the Queen" had a different pathos (and was more idolatrous)
at the height of the British empire than it does now. For the reasons
you mentioned, I was curious about what others from outside our
How do non-U.S. Christians find language like God Bless America?
I did not get the sense that it was just what you say, and that is
partly why I asked what non-U.S. citizens thought. As Calvin
recognized, a characteristic of our fallen state is that we are prone
to self-deception---we often do not know why we do what we do. Those
in power, it seems, are most prone to self-deception. The question is,
"Are we Americans self-deceived and idolatrous when we use this
language?" In many cases, I think the answer is yes.
Why did I think it was more than a simple response a la Rom. 13?
The 1) juxtaposition of the gospel as captured in John 3:16, 2) a
overly simple, overly sentimental view that endows U.S. soldiers'
deaths with questionable grand meaning (a good many presumably did not
have high principles in mind when they were drafted---does the memory
of missionaries' deaths, for example, garner the same emotion from Jay
and others?), with 3) the God Bless America does strike me as
communicating more than a response to the simple instuction to pray
for the Emporer.
While on the subject of being faithful to Romans 13, it does seem
ironic that the instruction to pray for the emporer comes in the
context of forbidding revolution (He who rebels against the authority
is rebelling against what God has instituted, Rom. 13.2). It seems
that it is difficult to translate Paul's instruction to first century
Christians into our own. Revolution was evidently a possibility to
them. They lived in a world that, perhaps apart from Israel, knew
nothing equivalent to the modern nationalism that we have
today. Furthermore, the Romans were not vulnerable to national
idolatry since the statement Jesus is Lord (ergo Caesar is not) was an
inflammatory political statement that made the state see those who
proclaimed it as enemies. It is a supreme irony that a number of
those who are most eager to be faithful to 13.1 by praying for our
equivalent of an emporer can be the most enthusiastic in celebrating
on July 4 what the next verse specifically forbids (and which probably
gave rise to the command to pray in the first place).
Time to go. I feel like what the Car Talk hosts say ("You have
squandered another perfectly good hour...").
>I am curious what non-U.S. citizens think of statements like this,
>which implicitly tie the gospel to "God Bless America."
>I find it to be a surprisingly clear manifestation of the national
>idolatry that characterizes too much of American (U.S.)
>Christianity. Why not just say "God is on our side" or "America is
>God's country" and be done with it?
> There are many things for an American citizen to be thankful for
>(much of which can be traced, ironically, to the Enlightenment). My
>post is not anti-American. However, the line between the good and the
>bad (or the Godly and the un-Godly) cuts right down the middle. Being
>Christian should encompass among other things telling the truth about
>the principalities and powers of this age; we are citizens of a
>different kingdom. Our belief that "Jesus is Lord" should mean that we
>do not worship America, the American ideal, or other things "of this
>> From email@example.com Mon May 26 13:56:26 2003
>> Message-ID: <firstname.lastname@example.org>
>> From: "Jay Willingham" <email@example.com>
>> Save this one and most important thing,
>> God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that those who
>> believe in him should not perish but have everlasting life.
>> Remember those who have laid down their life for our freedom.
>> God bless America.
>> Jay Willingham, Esquire
>Joel W. Cannon | (724)223-6146
>Physics Department | firstname.lastname@example.org
>Washington and Jefferson College |
>Washington, PA 15301 |
-- _________________ Terry M. Gray, Ph.D., Computer Support Scientist Chemistry Department, Colorado State University Fort Collins, Colorado 80523 email@example.com http://www.chm.colostate.edu/~grayt/ phone: 970-491-7003 fax: 970-491-1801
------------------------------------------------------------------------------ Joel W. Cannon | (724)223-6146 Physics Department | firstname.lastname@example.org Washington and Jefferson College | Washington, PA 15301 |
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