Re: Do non-U.S. Christians say "God Bless America?"

From: Michael Roberts (
Date: Tue May 27 2003 - 17:42:59 EDT

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    I think Joel has a good point, surely our faith is worldwide and not

    I think we all need to be wary of a faith which can become nationalistic.
    The problem of a civic cum gospel faith is that the civic will win. I think
    of examples in South Africa, Russia, Germany and Britain nearly.

    ----- Original Message -----
    From: "Joel Cannon" <>
    To: <>
    Sent: Tuesday, May 27, 2003 5:11 PM
    Subject: Re: Do non-U.S. Christians say "God Bless America?"

    > From: "Terry M. Gray" <>
    > > Subject: Re: Do non-U.S. Christians say "God Bless America?"
    > >
    > >
    > > Joel,
    > >
    > > 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
    > country thought.
    > 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...").
    > Blessings!
    > >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
    > >world."
    > >
    > >
    > >Forwarded message:
    > >> From Mon May 26 13:56:26 2003
    > >> Message-ID: <000701c323ac$a40f0260$>
    > >> From: "Jay Willingham" <>
    > >>
    > >> Save this one and most important thing,
    > >>
    > >> God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that those
    > >> 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               |
    > >Washington and Jefferson College |
    > >Washington, PA 15301             |
    > >
    > >
    > --
    > _________________
    > Terry M. Gray, Ph.D., Computer Support Scientist
    > Chemistry Department, Colorado State University
    > Fort Collins, Colorado  80523
    > phone: 970-491-7003 fax: 970-491-1801
    > --------------------------------------------------------------------------
    > Joel W. Cannon                   |   (724)223-6146
    > Physics Department               |
    > Washington and Jefferson College |
    > Washington, PA 15301             |

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