Monday, May 05, 2008

"Respond to this statement:..."

I am somewhat frequently interviewed by students here at MVNU for Research Writing projects, Public Speaking presentations, or Christian Life and Ministry papers. Tonight I was interviewed by Daniel Coutz. It was one of the more thoughtful interviews that I have experienced and I appreciated the approach. The conversation went something like this:

: "Respond to this statement: The United States is a Christian Nation."

Travis: "No earthly empire is distinctively in keeping with the way of Jesus. Those who claim the United States to be a Christian nation need to enroll in a post-reformation church history course that discusses the period of American colonization. Also helpful would be a study in theology and philosophy to explore the definitions of theism, deism, and idolatry.

Daniel: "Do you feel the American flag should be displayed in churches? Why or why not?"

Travis: "No. The church is laced with a history of symbol and icon for visual engagement in worship and when one considers what the American flag represents I would have to question what one is worshiping. I would have no problem with displaying a flag in a church if it was displayed beside every other flag of every other nation so long as the symbol is understood to represent equality and unity.

Daniel: "Respond to this statement: The loyalty of a person belongs first to his country."

Travis: "Why would one view an earthly empire as something to which giving loyalty is necessary or a priority? My suggestion is that most would give said loyalty due to an enculturation that promotes a sense of loyalty as nessecary. I would also suggest it has something to do with the supposed 'safety' provided by the military branch of a certain country's government. Fear would be that which fuels loyalty to an earthly empire."

Daniel: "Respond to this statement. Christians living in the United States should be patriotic about the United States."

Travis: "One's definition of patriotism would be primary. I find it problematic for a follower of Jesus to pledge his allegiance to an earthly nation. So in the sense that the recitation of the 'Pledge of Allegiance' is patriotic, then patriotism may be considered contrary to 'worshipping no other gods.'"


Tyler DeLong said...

why don't you just move then?
I think it is fine to pledge allegance to a flag...only if you also repeat the pledge to the bible in addition.
weren't you aware that america is the chosen nation to rid the world of evil?

Daniel Coutz said...

I detect a hint of sarcasm. My presentation on why American flags should be removed from churches went really well today. No riots broke out, No objects were thrown and I was not jumped after the class. In fact I got several compliments, some from people I figured would jump down my throat.

John-Paul said...

Travis, as a future educator, I've got a question on this part of your post:

"I find it problematic for a follower of Jesus to pledge his allegiance to an earthly nation. So in the sense that the recitation of the 'Pledge of Allegiance' is patriotic, then patriotism may be considered contrary to 'worshipping no other gods."

Are you suggesting that it would be wrong for a Christian to recite the pledge in any setting, or just in a "religious" setting such as a church?

As a teacher-to-be, I'll be required to lead my class(es) in the pledge daily, and had never (up to this point) considered it contrary to my faith.

I'd love to hear your thoughts. -JP

D said...

Always feel a little weird when the pledge happens, particularly since I don't feel it's a nation under God nor that there is liberty and justice for all.

If for no other reason the pledge is problematic because it is a lie.

:::: Travis Keller :::: said...

i am in complete agreement with you. possibly another post will deal particularly with the pledge.

all settings are religious settings. to quote a teaching that i recently re-viewed, "If you asked Jesus how his spiritual life is going he would probably be like... what? He would be very confused." Things that are religious or spiritual are not separate from any other part of life. I proposed in a paper once that there no such thing as separation of church and state. i could keep typing on this issue for some time so i may create a whole new post for you.

Matthew 5:38-48, NASB

"You have heard that it was said, 'An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.' But I say to you, do not resist an evil person; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. If anyone want to sue you and take your shirt, let him have your coat also. Whoever forces you to go one mile, go with him two. Give to him who asks of you, and do not turn away from him who wants to borrow from you. You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? If you greet only you brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect."