After years of buying into the notion that the USA was a Christian nation, I am starting to take a harder look at the evidence. And the evidence is convincing me of the contrary. In fact, I don't think we were ever a Christian nation. This shift did not take place when a California court overruled the will of the people concerning Proposition 8. This shift did not take place on a bleak day in January, 1973, when SCOTUS decided, horrifically, that the right to life for pre-born American citizens is constitutionally non-existent. It wasn't even at Woodstock or during the Civil War. No, we have to look farther, much farther, back than that.
When William Bradford landed at Plymouth, Massachusetts, in 1620, with a group of like-minded English separatists, he and the other men composed the famous Mayflower Compact.
- In the name of God, Amen. We whose names are underwritten, the loyal subjects of our dread Sovereign Lord King James, by the Grace of God of Great Britain, France and Ireland, King, Defender of the Faith, etc.
- Having undertaken, for the Glory of God and advancement of the Christian Faith and Honour of our King and Country, a Voyage to plant the First Colony in the Northern Parts of Virginia, do by these presents solemnly and mutually in the presence of God and one of another, Covenant and Combine ourselves together into a Civil Body Politic, for our better ordering and preservation and furtherance of the ends aforesaid; and by virtue hereof to enact, constitute and frame such just and equal Laws, Ordinances, Acts, Constitutions and Offices, from time to time, as shall be thought most meet and convenient for the general good of the Colony, unto which we promise all due submission and obedience.
- In witness whereof we have hereunder subscribed our names at Cape Cod, the 11th of November, in the year of the reign of our Sovereign Lord King James, of England, France and Ireland the eighteenth, and of Scotland the fifty-fourth. Anno Domini 1620.
I want to point out both the concepts and the language of the Compact. First of all, this is not a contract; it is a covenant of godly men committing to do everything first for the glory of God and second, for the advancement of the Christian faith; it is a covenant to which to signers pledged submission and obedience....which brings me to the language of the compact.
Notable is the name by which they refer to the Lord: "God." Simple.
Let us now fast-forward to the Declaration of Independence:
"...the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation...And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor."
Notice the shift in how we address God. He is no longer a knowable, immanent God. He is now called "Nature's God" and "Divine Providence." So, even as early as the 18th century--even before we were a nation--our documents would be infused with deism. And deism is not partly Christian. For anything that is not wholly Christian is quite simply not Christian. To apply for protection to a Creator who is not also the Redeemer is to embrace a relationship with a false god. Note also the language of the agreement. This is no covenant; this is merely a contract. To pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor does not involve God.
So it is with great sobriety that I must conclude that we have never been a Christian nation. For to be a people of God, there must have been a covenant with God. And, as we can see, our Declaration fails on two crucial points. It does not acknowledge the one true Creator/Redeemer God; it does not provide a covenant with our Creator/Redeemer God.
IF that is true, then we conservative citizens have been extemely misguided in our attempt to get our government to play Church. I submit that thoughtful Christians might want to begin re-thinking what we claim government should do.
Stay tuned. I'm going somewhere with this...