Someone has said the problem is that the world stands at the crossroads, and someone has torn down all the signs. Nowhere is that more true than in the church in the USA. This post is an effort to see the flaws in the politicalization of the evangelical church. This post will go back to the beginning to see the fatal flaw in the establishing of the USA and how that flaw is being magnified by the Christian right in its political ambitions today. Tracing the flaw from the beginning to now is important in understanding what has happened. I write this with no political motivation, only a longing for the recovery of the truth that only the Lord Jesus Christ and the Gospel is the hope of the USA, or any nation. This will take time to read, but understanding the full context of history is essential to understanding our moment in time and its need.
The American Revolution of the 18th century is an historic and much written about revolution that resulted in the formation of the United States of America. The American Revolution has been idolized and offered as the perfect revolution not only for the USA but the founding principles for any country. Those from the Christian right have redefined the revolution as if it was to establish a Christian nation based on Biblical values with no King but Jesus. But the truth is the American Revolution was a deeply flawed revolution from the beginning, and that we are now in its final stages, as the flaws are proving fatal to the Republic it established.
The Declaration of Independence took God off the throne and effectively replaced Him with every citizen. It stated that God had created every man (at the beginning, only white landowners) with certain inalienable rights; the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. These rights cannot be granted by government or taken by government. They come from God to the individual. It is the offer of Satan to Eve in the Garden: you can become a god yourself. As man is sovereign, governments can only be formed and continue in power by the consent of the governed. When government no longer has their consent, it is the right of citizens to take arms to end that government and to establish one that has their consent. It was that principle that was the spirit behind the protests of January 6, 2021. The USA government no longer had their consent, and it was their right to bear arms if necessary to tear it down and to replace it.
Where is the Declaration of Independence wrong? Didn’t God give to each person inalienable rights? The problem is in the key issue: who is sovereign over a government? God or those men who are citizens? The Bible teaches in Romans 13 that God alone is sovereign over nations. Here is what the Bible says in Romans 13:1-2, “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment.” The Bible affirms that God is sovereign over governments. That He is active in forming of nations and causing leaders to rise and to fall. The responsibility of a citizen is to pay taxes, pay revenue fees when required, and to give respect and honor to those who hold office (Romans 13:7). In 1 Timothy 2:2, Christians are instructed to pray for their leaders so that Christians can live a peaceful and godly life.
The New Testament does not establish any particular form of government. When Romans was written there were republics, democracies, royalty. When it was written Claudius and then Nero were Emperors of Rome. Christians were to be good citizens wherever they resided. They were to trust absolutely that God was sovereign over nations, that He would cause leaders to rise or fall. If change was felt needed, the recourse of Christians was prayer. In countries where they had a vote, they were to vote as led by conscience, using their best judgment. Romans 13 was not written as the aspiration to have God-established governments. It was descriptive – governments that existed were established by God. To Israelis who had been taken captive to Babylon, God encouraged them to rest in His sovereignty over nations. In Isaiah 40 God through the prophet repeatedly assures the Israelis of His sovereignty over nations. He said in Isaiah 40:15,17, “Behold, the nations are like a drop from a bucket, and are accounted as the dust on the scales; behold, he takes up the coastlands like fine dust… All the nations are as nothing before him, they are accounted by him as less than nothing and emptiness.” God says in Isaiah 40:22-24, “It is he who sits above the circle of the earth, and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers; who stretches out the heavens like a curtain, and spreads them like a tent to dwell in; who brings princes to nothing, and makes the rulers of the earth as emptiness. Scarcely are they planted, scarcely sown, scarcely has their stem taken root in the earth, when he blows on them, and they wither, and the tempest carries them off like stubble.” Thus the person living by faith can absolutely trust in God’s sovereign reign over nations. We know that to the Lord Jesus Christ has been give all authority over nations (Matthew 28:18).
This perspective in the Bible was shared by David when he was being pursued by King Saul, who wanted to put him to death. The anointing of Saul as King had been removed by God. David had been anointed to be future King. David was a military hero in Israel. Saul’s jealous rage was not only unjustified, it was evil. One day while David and his men were hiding in a cave from Saul and his army, Saul came in privately to relieve himself. David’s men called him to seize the opportunity and kill Saul. Here is what happened, from 1 Samuel 24:4-7, “And the men of David said to him, “Here is the day of which the LORD said to you, ‘Behold, I will give your enemy into your hand, and you shall do to him as it shall seem good to you.’” Then David arose and stealthily cut off a corner of Saul’s robe. And afterward David’s heart struck him, because he had cut off a corner of Saul’s robe. He said to his men, “The LORD forbid that I should do this thing to my lord, the LORD’s anointed, to put out my hand against him, seeing he is the LORD’s anointed.”” Saul was God’s anointed ruler, and it was for God to remove him, not David.
That truth that rulers were put in place by God under His authority was a key truth to many pastors during the time of the American Revolution. While there was one pastor who was a signer of the Declaration of Independence, there were many pastors who opposed the Revolution because God had anointed the King, and if he was to be removed, God could be trusted to do it. About a third of the Colonists opposed the revolution. At the time they were called Loyalists or Tories. Some loved England and were loyal to the crown, but some took their stand on Biblical principle. People, they believed, were not to take arms to overthrow their government. God is sovereign, and He can be trusted to do what is right.
The predominant number of the leaders of the American Revolution were Deists. They believed God created the Earth, but that He created it to run by natural laws. That God doesn’t actively oversee the affairs on earth. That God had given to man reason to oversee life in cooperation with the natural laws. That there was no God anointed Kings or rulers. To them, declaring independence from England was not rejecting the rule of God. It was the right of men to use reason, and they reasoned government was formed by man’s consent. If that government no longer had their consent, they had the right to tear it down and form one that had their consent. God would providentially support those who used reason to establish a government that had their consent. The Founders were not seeking to establish a Christian nation. They explicitly stated they were not. They wanted a nation established by reason. They did a great job. The Constitution is brilliant, and the Republic established is a great model for other nations.
However the Constitution and government has this fatal flaw. It has made each citizen a sovereign who has the right to have a government that meets his desires. Man has the inalienable rights, not government. Government existed only by the consent of the governed. If government no longer had the citizen’s consent, they had the right to take up arms against it. It is true, as has been quoted in the January 6, 2021 march on the Capitol, the Second Amendment gives the citizen the right to bear arms, and if necessary use them to remove a government as the Founders did the rule of England. The belief was that if only government had arms, citizens couldn’t resist a tyrannical government. But if citizens had arms they could resist tyranny and if necessary remove the government. This sovereignty of the individual is the fatal flaw of the American system of government. The false premise was that government does not exist to please a sovereign God. Rather, it exists to please a sovereign citizen.
Closely related to that flaw is the truth that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights. The reality is that at the time of the writing, not all men were considered equal. From the founding of the USA until the Civil War, only white landowners had the right to vote. It wasn’t until the 14th Amendment during the Civil War that citizens who were not landowners were allowed to vote.
The truth that all men are created equal did not apply to women. Women were not given the right to vote in national elections until the 20th Amendment passed in August 18, 1920.
The indigenous, Native American were not considered created equal. They were treated as a separate, lesser people. The advance of the USA power and influence across the West involved elements of genocide and the confinement of Native Americans to reservations without full rights. It wasn’t until the Snyder Act of 1924 that Native Americans who were born in the USA could become citizens and vote. This was needed though the 14th Amendment from 1868 granted the right of all natural born people to be citizens.
The inalienable God-given rights did not include slaves from Africa or those born to slaves in America. They were regarded as property and had no legal rights. They were owned, and the children they bore were owned. They were counted 60% for census purposes. Through this, many thought of African Americans as a different kind of beings from whites. They were not considered to have the intelligence to educate. They were not considered to have the same values as whites. They were known for physical prowess and imagined sexual virility. Because of their virility and perceived lack of values, they were regarded as particularly dangerous to white women.
The inalienable God given rights to all did not include Chinese who immigrated to the USA in large numbers during the 19th Century. Many worked on building the railway to the West. They were given less in wages than whites. In 1882 a law passed by Congress forbade Chinese born immigrants from ever becoming citizens.
The certain inalienable God-given rights were withdrawn from citizens of the USA who were of Japanese descent. When the USA entered World War 2, it was a war on two fronts. The Axis of Germany in the West, and Japan in the Far East. At the beginning of the War on the East Coast, very few people of German descent were detained. But in the West, deep suspicion developed for those of Japanese descent. The fear was that Japanese could not be loyal, trusted Americans. Thus 170,000 lost their rights as citizens and were forced to live in detainment camps. American propaganda during the war used many racist stereotypes to portray those of Japanese descent. These racist stereotypes exist today as Asian hate crimes have increased dramatically.
In the history of the church in the USA, Christians while trusting that God was sovereign over the nation, developed the idea that the USA was uniquely established by God. The USA was seen as a nation blessed by God with an unique role among nations in the world. It was seen as different from other nations. The word exceptional was used to describe the USA as inherently different from other nations. The impact of the USA entering World War 2 and its key role in defeating the Axis in Europe and in Asia was seen as proof of its God-given role among the nations. Its flag and military were glorified. All its motives in relations among nations were sanitized. The rise of the Iron Curtain and the battle of the West against Communism was portrayed as a contest between good and evil. The American military and the flag of the USA was glorified.
All that confidence in the goodness of America and it being blessed by God among nations began to be challenged by the massive cultural changes that came to the USA starting in the 1960s. The Civil Rights movement brought significant challenge to the thought of the goodness of the USA as its racial prejudice and discrimination against African Americans was exposed. This was expressed in peaceful protests and was painfully expressed in major riots in major cities. The sex, drug, and rock and roll culture coming out of the 1960s challenged the moral norms of culture as the sexual revolution brought dramatic contrast to Christian moral values. The antiwar movement against the war in Vietnam led to massive protests among youths. The glorification of flag, military, and country was seen as being under assault. Roe v Wade legalized abortion and brought another startling change in cultural norms for Christians.
All these changes in cultural norms and values birthed a counter revolution among some evangelical leaders of influence. Men who were known for their passion for the Gospel suddenly became known for their theory that America was being stolen. The idea of the big steal did not start with Trump in the 2020 presidential election. It began in the 1970s. Men like Jerry Falwell, James Kennedy, Tim LaHaye, and Pat Robertson proclaimed that America was being stolen. They claimed the majority of Americans were good and moral and opposed to the cultural changes. They stated that the cultural changes came from a small group of elitists in the media, education, entertainment, and government who had plotted together to steal America. The problem was that the moral majority in America was silent and passive in political involvement. The silent majority, they argued, needed to be organized and active politically. While many were involved in the movement, the majority were white evangelicals. White evangelicals became a voting block of significance in American politics. Political bonds with others were formed not along evangelical beliefs, but by shared political values. All but instinctively, the need to evangelize was trumped by the need to organize and vote politically. Advancing the cause of the exceptional USA and freeing it from the conspiracy of the elitists superseded the need to evangelize the USA and the world. Prayer meetings were replaced by political activation activities. The Gospel was not the hope of America. Political activism was the hope.
For some evangelical leaders, raising up the evangelical vote became a way to power. It became a great source of fundraising, as the enemy of the elites and the threats they are to evangelicals became a motivating reason to give to them. Almost by the month, the supposed new inroads and dangers of the elite needed the funding of some evangelical leaders to overcome. The key motivating issue used universally for evangelicals was abortion. The evil of over 62 million aborted babies since abortion was legalized is an evil beyond imagination. For many, it trumped all other political issues and became the bottom line of value for evangelicals as they voted. It was the ultimate good vs evil issue.
In addition to some evangelical leaders exchanging their passion for the Gospel for their passion for the USA, other extraordinary changes came. The history of the American Revolution was Christianized to be a movement of Christians who wanted no King but Jesus. In many ways the glory of the Lord Jesus Christ and the role of His church was diminished as the USA and its President were substituted. It was President Reagan on the 200th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence who all but officially replaced the church with the USA. The USA was described as the city set on a hill who sends its light of hope into the world. It was the Statue of Liberty that was the symbol of liberty whose arms were open and inviting, not the crucified and risen Lord Jesus Christ.
This glorification of the USA by some evangelicals led to tremendous significance laid on the person who is President. The President is viewed as having almost superhuman powers to lead a nation and the world. To some evangelicals, the divide of political parties of Republicans and Democrats became a battle of good and evil. It became a tremendous fundraising tool and point of influence for organizations that could fight the battle against evil at the political level. The process of choosing a President became to some evangelicals the opportunity of the elite liberals to plot to elect Democrats. Vast conspiracy theories were created to give fear to how the elites in government, media, education, and entertainment were manipulating the political process to bring and keep liberals in the Presidency. As America moved from a vast white majority to a rising percentage of people of color, this became evidence to some evangelical leaders of the conspiracy of Democrats. It was thought that because people of color were more likely to vote Democratic that the elite liberals were behind significant numbers of immigrants who were welcomed to the USA so they could bring and continue the Democrats in power. It gave rise to the idea that the true Americans were white as they had the intelligence and values to be trusted with the majority to determine winners in elections, particularly for President.
This battle of elites vs the moral majority, this battle of evil vs good, found its champion in Donald Trump, the candidate of the Republican Party in the 2016 Presidential election. The candidacy of Hillary Clinton, the Democratic candidate, seemed to depict to the evangelical right the ultimate choice of the elites in their plans to totally dominate America. The evangelical right’s embrace of Donald Trump came despite the demonstrated character of Trump which evidenced the things God hates. The Word of God says in Proverbs 6:16-19, “There are six things that the LORD hates, seven that are an abomination to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers.” Trump’s motivating value for America was wealth as measured by the dollar. How much wealth a person had was the measure of the person. How much wealth a country had was the measure of a country. The almighty dollar was the measure of a nation. The wealth of the USA and its security from outside threats was the purpose of the government. The principles of freedom and democracy were not the values to be championed in the world, it was to make America first. As the slogan went, to make America great again. All relations with other countries became transactional. How a nation, treaty, or relationship could financially benefit the USA became the sole issue.
As the Trump Presidency moved to the 2020 election campaign, polls showed that Trump was significantly trailing in the polls. Thus Trump started the mantra that the election was being stolen. The destruction of confidence in the electoral process became a goal as the fairness of elections was continuously attacked. Knowing the emphasis on the Democratic Party on using mail in ballots to encourage as many as possible to vote, Republicans were encouraged not to mail in but to vote on election day itself, as if this was a truly American value. Knowing in most states voting for the election day was reported ahead of mail in votes, the Republicans could declare victory on early vote totals. They could express that somehow mysteriously overnight, votes were reported and the election was stolen. They played on the fears that the majority of blacks, Asians, Latins did not have the values to be trusted with the majority vote.
But behind all this, during the election and since, is something more sinister. The belief was held that only people who were white had the intelligence and truly American values to be trusted with the majority. The increase of people of color whether from African, Asian, or Latin nations were seen as a plot by the elite liberals to take control of America. The embrace of people of color coming to the USA was seen as a plot by the elites because it was thought people of color were more easily inclined to vote Democratic. It was thought these people did not truly embrace American values and thus couldn’t be trusted with the majority particularly in electing a President. It was a new expression of the Manifest Destiny of the 19th century that whites had the right to claim the West. Only those who were white had the intelligence and embrace of American values to be trusted with the majority in voting. Thus there was no problem in plans to limit their voting. They were easily manipulated by the elites in government, education, entertainment, and media who were stealing America. Thus Republicans under Trump’s influence worked in legislatures to oppress voting or to be able to overrule the vote. Inherent in this was the idea that only whites have the true values of America to decide who rules or not.
This has led to the ultimate and most destructive tyranny, the tyranny of self. Government was only legitimate if it had the consent of the voters. It has been easy to persuade many that the Presidential election was stolen. Thus the government no longer had the consent of the governed. The citizens had the right to take up arms and bring a new American revolution. The gathering on January 6, 2021 in Washington DC was an effort to either make Trump President or to tear down the government. This was done despite the fact that there was no credible evidence of voter fraud. The theory of stolen elections was tested over 60 times in courts and rejected each time. The Attorney General said there was no evidence of significant voter fraud that could have influenced the election. The idea that the country was being stolen by a small group of elites in government, education, and media became accepted as ‘truth’.
All of this fits into the prophecies of the last days. 2 Timothy 3:1-5 warned in the last days of the worst tyranny, the tyranny of the love of self, the love of pleasure, and the love of money. A people who will have a claim of godliness, but it will have no power as it is all rooted in the love of self. The USA, the great Babylon of Revelation 18 and Jeremiah 50-51, is in its last stages of decline. The threat of civil war prophesied in Jeremiah 51:46 is happening, “Let not your heart faint, and be not fearful at the report heard in the land, when a report comes in one year and afterward a report in another year, and violence is in the land, and ruler is against ruler.”
Despite this, most evangelical leaders continue in their support of the USA being stolen. All calls to action are political, not spiritual. Anger and the threat of violence in ‘taking back America’ is the norm. Evil is no longer to be overcome by good, now the tactics of evil become the accepted strategies in combating the imagined big steal. The Gospel is no longer seen as the way to save the USA. No one calls for repentance and prayer. The tyranny of self, the most powerful tyrant, is gaining in terrifying ways. As the cartoonist Walt Kelly said through the character of Pogo, “We have met the enemy, and he is us.”
“Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain” Philippians 2:14-17