Thursday, July 06, 2006

Neighbors

Just a note to say that I'm glad we're not living any closer than we already plan to, to this.

Thanks to Kelly, who will be living closer than we are, God bless her, for the heads up.

37 comments:

Jennifer said...

That's just wrong.

TLS said...

God help us. Did the image make you nauseus too???

mrshammer said...

I don't understand, especially you being a pastor, what is it about this statue that you find offensive?? Is there something I am not getting here? Christianity was the religion of the founding fathers of our nation and our country attmepts at every turn to erase God from our culture. I see this statue as nothing more than a reminder to those who view it of what principles our country was founded on. What is your problem with this? (No disrespect intended.)

Mary Beth said...

Mostly I think it's tacky and gimmicky and a really poor use of $260,000 that they could have given to SOS or some equally worthwhile organization that actually does something for people.

But aside from just being garish...

The first amendment of our nation's constitution states that government shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion. To co-opt a symbol of this nation that claims to hold no requirement for religion and make it a symbol of a specific religion makes of mockery of the relationship that the founders of this country intended between religion and government.

mrshammer said...

Our founding fathers never intended for religion (Christianity and belief in the one true God) to be discarded from society, and that is exactly what America is doing with its removal of the Ten Commandments and the mention of God & Jesus from public and government buildings. I think it is our duty as Christians to take a stand against this, and if that means erecting a huge "garish" statue to get people's attention and point them back to God, I wouldn't call it a waste of money.

Rightthinker said...

I completely disagree. Our founding fathers, and subsequent generations (until it wasn't acceptable by society to do so any longer) erected many symbols of Christianity!

Everywhere we look into US historical literature and documents points us in the direction of Christianity. From the placement of the 10 Commandments in Federal and State buildings, the Preamble, and the fact that most of our laws and court structures are based directly out of Deuteronomy. I wrote about this a little in my "Independence Day" post.

The founders of our country wanted to ensure freedom OF religion-not freedom FROM religion. Even if one wishes to ignore historocity of religion in this nation, the fact remains that the founding fathers and the pilgrims that flocked here were Christians and in search of developing a nation to worship Jesus Christ freely. The Constitution was intended to provide for freedom of all to worship whatever they choose to worship. It was not developed to erase all vestages of Christianity and the importance of that history to our nation.

Many Christians believe we are a blessed nation because we were founded on Christ. While the price tag on this statue may not be humanitarian enough to suit your liking, everything that pastor said is exactly true, and he may demonstrate his belief in the Bible any way he chooses.

Rightthinker said...

I just wanted to add, before anyone tries to correct me, ;) that I know that the Preamble doesn't mention God. The preamble is modeled after Pennsylvania's Constitution and Preamble.

Most states also copy from the religion clauses found in the Pennsylvania Constitution. In particular, the first sentence appears in many state constitutions which says: "All men have a natural and indefeasible right to worship Almighty God according to the dictates of their own consciences . . ." In fact, every state constitution mentions "God" or "Almighty God"

I just wanted to point out that I understand that the word "God" doesn't appear in the Constitution, but this is not proof of secular or "diverse" founding fathers.

Even if the word "God" was in the Constitution, it probably would not make any difference. Anti-Christian and history rewriting groups like the ACLU would probably dismiss it as coincidence or ritual. There are 50 reasons to believe that this is true, since secularists dismiss all references to God in the state constitutions, there is no reason to believe that they would behave any differently with the federal Constitution.

TLS said...

I suppose what bothers me the most has nothing to do with the founding "fathers" but rather with the message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ which I believe is distorted by this blending of the Christianity and the nation state of the United States of America.

Christianity breaks down national barriers and ethnic identities, rather than builds up or takes pride in them. ("There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus." Gal. 3:28.)

There is nothing "christian" about our nation, particularly given our current social, economic, and foreign policies.
As a pastor, I want to be clear that the values of the secular government of the US are NOT the values and way of life envisioned by God and announced by Jesus Christ as the Reign of God...far from it.

Mary Beth said...

Well, said, tls. I've been wracking my brain all morning, trying to articulate exactly what you just said.

I am going to jot down a few more thoughts, hoping that they don't ruin what you have so eloquently stated. If I were wise, I would just let your comments stand and keep my mouth shut, but alas...

What does it mean to have the Statue of Liberty, a symbol of the freedoms (ostensibly) provided by this nation, holding a cross? Does it mean that you're welcome to be part of this nation as long as you are a Christian? Not to mention the fact that the statue was a gift from France to this country and, therefore, all the people residing therein--Christians, Jews, atheists, etc...Christians have no right to approrpriate it for themselves.

But then there's what tls said, and she's more on the mark than I could ever hope to be.

Rightthinker said...

Mary Beth-this statue wasn't erected by the government. This pastor is doing a wonderful thing representing his faith in a way that is blatant and open. This country is founded upon religious freedom, and even if it is uncomfortable for others, that means freedom to worship Christ-as well. Perhaps others aren't comfortable with it, but I am not comfortable with the increasing godlessness in our nation, and the removal of all pieces of our National Christian history.

tls-you are absolutely right that the blending of Christianity in this nation is a downfall. That is precisely my point.

While this is the land of religious freedom, and one has the complete freedom to worship whatever they choose, the fact remains that Christianity is attacked for the very core beliefs, and "waters it down" to serve a secular climate.

With repeat abortions on the rise, crime, divorce, drug use and a host of other social ills at an all-time high, our government certainly is acting secular. However, it is the lack of backing by actual Christians that leads to this.

A government of the secular people, for the secular people and by the secular people is just that.

Watered down Christianity makes Christianity less divisive for those who wish for it to be a homogeneous melting pot of other beliefs-which it is not. It is the only narrow gate in any religion and this is uncomfortable for many. It isn't serving Christ to make the entire faith simply a humanitarian effort, (afterall, most religions have a humanitarian element) and it supports the secular agenda to reject the history of Christianity, because the government has no chance of representing the diminishing Christian view.

While a high percentage of Americans refer to themselves as Christians, many of us would characterize far fewer as actually being a Christian. This is reflected in our Courts, Governmental policies and the state of the nation. We can't blame the government for the sin in the heart of man.

Mary Beth said...

RT,

Of course this statue wasn't erected by the government. But it is a national symbol representing the freedoms (ostensibly) provided by the country.

And I agree that Christians need to be transparent and open with their faith. But don't co-opt a national symbol and try to make it a religious one. As tls so eloquently stated, Christianity is about breaking down barriers, not erecting them. When you appropriate a Christian symbol like the cross and mix it with a national symbol, the message is that Christianity and America are exclusive to each other, which is not the case...nor should it be.

Rightthinker said...

For a Christian, evangelism should be one of the most paramount ideals. Evangelising is something that is nearly absent in today's modern Christian churches. Why? It hurts people's feelings.

While this comment may seem like a tangent (and I am quite guilty of going off on those, LOL!) it is in reference to the pastor's actions and the words he spoke.

I recommend "The Way of the Master" website, book and teaching guides for all Christians who think that evangelising is "too harsh", or that it is "someone elses job".

There is one path to salvation, and to be a humanitarian at all means witnessing-afterall, the hunger of today can be met by humans, but the spiritual hunger that means salvation or condemnation is of far great importance; it is our duty, and only through Jesus can we offer that message.

The statue of liberty is indeed a symbol of freedom. That freedom is one that many Christians see as being eroded-in other words, it is fine to have religious freedom as long as it is not diametrically opposed to any other religion, and the core beliefs do not cause conflict with others' beliefs.

Christianity does not intersect, merge or mingle with other religions, other than that other religions were condemned by Christ himself.

It is not offensive to me to stand up and to say, "Hey Americans!!! This country was once a Christian nation and us Christians are calling for a revival!" Afterall, this is one of few nations where Christians aren't beaten, raped and persecuted for their beliefs. This is one of the only safe-havens for Christians!

If an Atheist, Agnostic, Jew, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist or Cultist is made uncomfortable by this convicting message then he or she "has an ear to hear", and is being reached by the gospel. You may practice whatever you would like to practice in this nation, free of persecution, but don't think that means the message of the gospel will avoid you!

TLS said...

RT,

I am not sure you understood my comment. I am concerned not about the "watering down" or inculturation of Christianity in the US, but rather I am distressed by the equation this statue communicates that Christainity equals American (US) or that American (US) equals Christianity.

The two are in no way synonymous.

Patriotism is not a religious value. It is part of civil religion or perhaps secular society. It has no place in Christianity. After all, Jesus spent his ministry trying to break down these political/nation state barriers....he even ate with Gentiles!!!

There is only one state to which we as Christians ought to belong and pledge our allegiance and that is the Reign of God. Any allegiance to a secular or nation state government is a betrayal of the gospel message we have been taught by Jesus. "My kingdom is not of this world."(John 18:36)

Rightthinker said...

I wholeheartedly disagree that "any allegiance to a secular or nation state government is a betrayal of the gospel message".

Are you asserting that Jesus wants us to be anarchist? Anti-allegiance to the US is a personal right, but please do not define that as Christian!

I am patriotic because I am part of something larger than myself, here. The Bible teaches that countries that are founded on God's laws and principles will be blessed. Psalm 33:12: "Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD; and the people whom he hath chosen for his own inheritance."

2 Samuel 23:3, "The God of Israel said, the Rock of Israel spake to me, He that ruleth over men must be just, ruling in the fear of God."

Most of the original laws that our judicial system upheld were taken directly from the Bible. Deuteronomy, most often. Many of these down through the years have now been altered or abandoned to our expense as a nation. In fact, scripture says we would live in such a day. Daniel 7:25: "And he shall speak great words against the most High, and shall wear out the saints of the most High, and think to change times and laws: and they shall be given into his hand until a time and times and the dividing of time."

Psalm 67:1: "God be merciful unto us, and bless us; and cause his face to shine upon us; Selah. That thy way may be known upon earth, thy saving health among all nations. Let the people praise thee, O God; let all the people praise thee. O let the nations be glad and sing for joy: for thou shalt judge the people righteously, and govern the nations upon earth. Selah. Let the people praise thee, O God; let all the people praise thee. Then shall the earth yield her increase; and God, even our own God, shall bless us. God shall bless us; and all the ends of the earth shall fear him."

I don't know how one could seperate the need for Christianity in this nation. I realize Jesus ate with gentiles, just as I witness and befriend those of opposing views. This does not have anything to do with the need for Christ in this nation, or that there once was an OVERWHELMING desire of this nation to follow Christ.

Thanks for the converstation.

Rightthinker said...

Oh, and please do not confuse an allegiance with Christ with an allegiance to the US. This country has ALLOWED me the right (based on those who have died for the right of you and I an any other person to worship freely) to worship Jesus Christ, wherein another nation I may have been killed for doing so.

I worship and praise Jesus Christ, and I am in allegiance and patriotic for a country that has allowed me the freedoms to do so, based (at one time) on the Word of God.

mrshammer said...

tls,
You SHOULD be first and foremost concerned about the "watering down" of Christianity in our culture.

Marybeth,
Chritianity is NOT about breaking down barriers. It is about Jesus Christ dying so that we might escape the eternal hell we deserve because our sinfulness when we repent and trust in Him. Jesus Himself stated that when we proclaim the truth and the gospel, it WOULD erect barriers:
Luke 12:51- " Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division."
You claim to be a Christian, but whose side are you really on?

Hammertime said...

Hmmm.

The primary disagreement here seems to be based upon preconceptions of America.

TLS for sure, and Mary Beth possibly, are not pro-America. While claiming to be anti-state in general, the actual words and actions associated with those who claim this are anti-American. Of course, were they in a truly reprehensible country such as North Korea or Iran, they couldn't even imply such a thing.

When you despise your country, you will despise any positive connotation of it - which is what this is. You both view Christianity in a positive light, and not your country, so you are offended by the mix. Mrs. Hammer and RT are proud of their nation - not because it is a Christian nation, but because it is the greatest nation in the world, despite its faults. There is no nation with greater personal freedom than ours. Perhaps the socialists among us would like to regulate those, but the victims of socialism would beg to differ.

I agree that the nation and Christ have a division, but we should be proud that we have a nation where Christianity can be practiced freely and any person, on any given day, can can be presented with a gospel message in the open, revelealing the true freedom that is born of continuing in the word of Christ as his disciple and knowing the Truth that makes us free. (Jn. 8:31-32)

One can be a Christian and a proud American without being jingoistic. To assume otherwise displays one's disposition toward the US of A - one of anatagonism.

Hammertime said...

Hmmm.

The primary disagreement here seems to be based upon preconceptions of America.

TLS for sure, and Mary Beth possibly, are not pro-America. While claiming to be anti-state in general, the actual words and actions associated with those who claim this are anti-American. Of course, were they in a truly reprehensible country such as North Korea or Iran, they couldn't even imply such a thing.

When you despise your country, you will despise any positive connotation of it - which is what this is. You both view Christianity in a positive light, and not your country, so you are offended by the mix. Mrs. Hammer and RT are proud of their nation - not because it is a Christian nation, but because it is the greatest nation in the world, despite its faults. There is no nation with greater personal freedom than ours. Perhaps the socialists among us would like to regulate those, but the victims of socialism would beg to differ.

I agree that the nation and Christ have a division, but we should be proud that we have a nation where Christianity can be practiced freely and any person, on any given day, can can be presented with a gospel message in the open, revelealing the true freedom that is born of continuing in the word of Christ as his disciple and knowing the Truth that makes us free. (Jn. 8:31-32)

One can be a Christian and a proud American without being jingoistic. To assume otherwise displays one's disposition toward the US of A - one of anatagonism.

jenny said...

Yowzers, MB, you really got people going here.
I am a little concerned at the assertion that one who wishes to break down barriers between Christians and unbelievers is obviously on the wrong side here. Paul must really have gotten it wrong when he wrote to the Ephesians about the reconciliation of Jews and Gentiles (the chosen people and those who were NOT God's chosen...) "But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups one, and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall...And He came and preached peace to you who were far away, and peace to those who were near; for through Him we both have our access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God's household."
(Eph. 2:13-14, 17-19)
It seems to me that Christians give themselves a black eye to outsiders by treating them as outsiders. To me, each person I meet should be considered an eternal soul needing Christ's love, not someone who should be shown how "outside" he is. Sure, we as Christ's followers should be "in the world and not of the world", but maintaining a separatist attitude tells unbelievers and not-yet-believers that we think we're better than they are. WE'RE NOT -- we just have forgiveness through Christ, which we should be willing to share with others. ("This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no differences, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God and are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that came by Jesus Christ." Romans 3:22-24)
We need to recognize persons of all races, religions, etc., as creations of God, whether or not we agree with them, and not set up additional barriers to reconciliation. Jesus ate with sinners and tax collectors -- the people he had the most trouble with were the religious establishment. I would hate to be a part of a church that doesn't welcome those who need the message of Christ's reconciliation most of all. Evangelism to me is about building relationships with the people around me and showing them God's love and Christ's sacrifice, not throwing in their faces some mixed-message symbol.

Rightthinker said...

The religious establishment? My gosh, Jenny, you are posting on a Methodist blog, here! It doens't get anymore religious establishment than that!

Where did anyone say that fundamentalist Christians or Evangelicals are part of a church that doesn't welcome those who need the message of Christ's reconciliation of all?

My problem is the fact that most churches don't teach that! Most churches are building memberships based on live group therapy sessions, because they fear actually evangelising!

Not everything is comfortable, and the ultimate goal of the body of Christ is not to make everyone feel happy. Christ is full of love, but He is also full of wrath for those who have an ear and deny His truth! If we miss both points, we are no better than a modern-day non-profit organization suited to help people in the here and now.

All of our works and efforts to be kind are a beautiful thing and completely of God, when compelled by a rebirth in Him to do so. I can be friends with a Hindu and a Native American-and I am. However, this does not change the fact that I will speak the truth to them, in love, so that I may sit beside them in Heaven one day. If I truly love people so much, I must do my best to witness to them.

If I follow Jesus, then I must understand that my ultimate goal on earth is to serve Jesus and help to spread the gospel to them.

Telling non-Christians how right their religion is, and how it happily coexists with Christianity is false. Everyone might "feel-better" about themselves at the end of the day, but not me. I will not tell myself it is OK to sin, or to live without Jesus, and I will not tell others that.

There was no mixed-message symbol in that statue. There was a pastor utilizing his parishoners tithes and offerings (on top of feeding the hungry and other humanitarian and evangelical usages) to make a statemtent of faith to the world.

jenny said...

Hey, RT, there are a lot of things I agree with in what you said. Believing Christ's message isn't comfortable, and following His teachings shouldn't be either; it should put us in uncomfortable spots and make us think.
But (I humbly add) MB (and my brother) are Methodist pastors, not THE Methodist Church, and sure, any mainline denomination by name is "establishment". You sure are right that a church (any church) that misses the true message of Christ is no better than any other club. It is Christ's message that should make us different, and all churches struggle with how to do that. I cringe every time I feel the Church is trying to be a social club rather than the Body of Christ. Go join the Rotary or Kiwanis for social do-gooding alone. :)

I do consider myself an Evangelical Christian, and nowhere did I say that fundamentalist and evangelical Christians in general are unwelcoming. However, what I objected to was the assertion that MB, agreeing that Christianity was about breaking down barriers, wasn't a true Christian. ("You claim to be a Christian, but whose side are you really on?") And I don't ever claim that all religions are the same and have the same goal. He Himself is our peace, not He mixed with whatever else we're bringing to the table.

Finally, from a purely Christian standpoint, sure, the message is clear: This church believes in Christ and this church believes in this country. But for someone outside, what does it say? You'd better be a Christian to live here? You'd better be an American citizen to belong to this church? We really think the French make great statues? (Okay, I'm exaggerating the point, but not to be sarcastic, I promise.)

Hey, if that's the way that congregation wants to spend their money, this is a free country, and they're allowed to do it (as long as sign ordinances permit). I can think of a whole lot more ways to spend that $260K for the good of the Kingdom. That's all.

Rightthinker said...

This is really long, so I will make it my last contribution! LOL!

I understand what you are saying, Jenny. I am also in full agreement with mrshammer in her commentary.

She was responding to MB's comment that Jesus was here to "break down barriers". Jesus was not here to break down barriers-nor are we.

We are to treat eachother with respect, but we all have a purpose. Jesus' purpose was to save all those who will pick up their cross and follow Him, from a perpetual death that we all deserve.

One of my greatest fears is that Christians are missing the mark. The secular and one-world call for Christians to relinquish their beliefs should envoke a bit of fear in all who believe in Him. Just ask the millions of martyrs who were burned, beaten, scourged or literally carved up alive for a confession of faith.

Some Christians do get awfully riled up (and I think we all should!) when there is a call to weaken the yolk that separates us from non-believers.

“Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers; for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?” (2 Cor. 6:14-18)

We cannot be sympathizers with those who work to destroy the name of Jesus. To do so unequally yolks us to evil.

This passage expressly warns us of wavering unto those who are unsaved. It definitely prohibits the children of God walking arm-in-arm with the wordly. It is an admonition applying to every phase and of our lives—religious, marital, social, and in business.

And never, perhaps, was there a time when it more needed pressing on Christians than now. The days in which we are living are marked by the spirit of compromise. On every side we cower and waver to changing social times, ungodly alliances, unequal yokes.

Many professing Christians appear to be trying how near to the world they may walk and yet go to Heaven.

“Be ye not unequally yoked together.” Divine demand has been made. To Abraham, Jehovah’s peremptory word was, “Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house.” To Israel He said, “After the doings of the land of Egypt wherein ye dwelt, shall ye not do: and after the doings of the land of Canaan, whither I bring you, shall ye not do; neither shall ye walk in their ordinances.” (Lev. 18:3) And again, “Ye shall not walk in the manners of the nation which I cast out before you.” (Lev. 20:23) It was for their disregard of these very prohibitions that Israel brought down upon themselves such severe chastisements.

So, while we must tolerate and allow and not persecute other beliefs and religions, we musn't lift these up to coddle these beliefs as they are somehow "soul brothers" of ours.

That is my concern, and why MB's barriers statement truly may hit a nerve with some, and continues to do so on the backs of many anti-christians, anti-americans and ultra-liberals.

Hammertime said...

Jesus did come to break down one barrier, RT- the barrier between God and man, sin.

Any message we try to sell that isn't that, first and foremost, is false. That is this pastor's stated purpose. I choose to give him the benefit of the doubt.

MasonDixon said...

This statue is the perfect example of the confusion and conflation of allegiances created by the myth-making of certain Christians.

Clearly, allegiance to God supersedes any national barriers or barriers of race, class, culture, etc. If Christians are part of Christ's body, then it makes no sense for Americans who are also Christians to assert there's something inherently special about their nationalism. American nationalism is no more special than French, Turkish or Zambian nationalism. Nationalisms have no theological significance except where the state becomes Divinized (as in Imperial Japan)in which case the State becomes an object of idolatry. The second instance is when the State and the Religion become part of the same apparatus --a theocracy. A theocracy can be as mild as simply refusing the public forum to minority rights or using the instruments of the state to punish variances with a particular worldview.

The irony, is that certain Christians claim to be this persecuted minority under cruel subjection to a secular state, while Christians in fact constitute the majority of persons in the US. This tale of persecution is part of their larger mythology which sees only the facts that fit their paradigm. The majority of US immigrants were not religious radicals from England seeking freedom. Most colonies were founded for mercantile reasons, and populated by those seeking to exploit economic opportunity. The other part of their mythos is that the Founding Fathers would all attend the local Bible-believing Church in their neighborhood if they were alive today. This belief demonstrates an ignorance of the history and culture of these men's times.

This is however a powerful story that has been theologized and propagated as truth by certain Christians and churches, and in a world of diversity and plurality is a comfortable haven to hide in when faced with the anxieties and complexities of the larger world. This history is read into and around the Bible and their faith so much so that it becomes difficult to tease out this form of religious nationalism with a Christianity whose primary and central allegiance is to the Kingdom of God and not to any temporary earthly kingdom, regardless of that earthly kingdom's merits.

The identification of God's Kingdom with our own is an insidious and demonic form of idolatry that is ultimately about the worship of ourselves.

Mary Beth said...

Welcome, Masondixon! I had so hoped you would join us!

mrshammer said...

Masondixon,
Your statement that "Americans in fact constitute the majority of persons in the US" and is simply NOT a fact. While many profess to be Christians, this no more makes them one than my professing to be a car makes me one. There are many who will stand before Jesus claiming "Lord, Lord" and He will say those dreaded words, "Depart from me, I never knew you." Do you know Jesus? All the wisdom of the world won't do you a bit of good on the day of judgement if you don't have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

mrshammer said...

Marybeth,
When I asked the question, "whose side are you on?" I was referring to your general disapproval of the statue depicting the Statue of Liberty holding a cross and the Ten Commandments. The conclusion I drew was that if you disapproved of this, you probably also approved of the removal of the Ten Commandments from government buildings and the removal of the phrase, "Under God" in the Pledge and that sort of thing. Maybe it was a wrong assumption, and I hope so, because I cannot see how one could be a true Christian and desire to see God's Laws and Holy Name discarded from society. Forgive me if I drew the wrong conclusion, and I hope I did.

Hammertime said...

Clearly, allegiance to God supersedes any national barriers or barriers of race, class, culture, etc. If Christians are part of Christ's body, then it makes no sense for Americans who are also Christians to assert there's something inherently special about their nationalism.

Masondixon,
Allow me to present that in the form of a philosophical argument:

A: Allegiance to God supercedes other barriers

B: Nations and nationalism are morally equivalent

If A then B.

Your belief in such an argument indicates that you likely have been to graduate school (and not for an MBA nor in a hard science area).

For the rest of us, whether you like the symbol or not, recognition of the complete cultural expanse that Chritianity will overcome is a recognition that God so loved the whole world - not just Jews, but the Gentiles of every nation as well. No Christian is any less or any more a member and heir to the kingdom because of their nation they happen to live in today. After all, we are not of this world.

We are, however, in this world. It is utterly ridiculous to claim that the Incarnation resulted in national moral equivalence. I'm sorry, Masondixon, but that is drivel. America is truly the best nation in the world, and being proud of that is not only nothing to be ashamed of, it is commendable. One need not know the religious inclinations of the founding fathers to see that today. Does that make it ideal or even one-millionth as glorious as the kingdom of the risen Lord? No - but that was never the issue.

Hammertime said...

For those who have not deluded themselves beyond reason, I recommend you read the "The Annals of Congress, formally known as The Debates and Proceedings in the Congress of the United States", a record of the discussions of the Continental Congress. You may be surprised what these men actually sought with the establishemnt clause.

Hint: It is quite unlike what Masondixon suggests.

MasonDixon said...

"We are, however, in this world. It is utterly ridiculous to claim that the Incarnation resulted in national moral equivalence."

That's not at all what I said. I said nationalisms were equal. Patriotic adherence to a particular nation state has no moral weight. This has no bearing on whether certain governmental systems may or may not be more moral than others.

And why is America the best? It's not particularly more free than other Western nations or Japan. It does not take care of its poor and its downtrodden better than other places. It didn't give up slavery first or promote women's rights first. Its history is checkered with propping up evil dictators, overthrowing legitimate governments from Iran to Chile and it blinks at human rights whenever economic incentive dictates. It's certainly better than say, North Korea-- if you prioritize personal autonomy over obedience and group conformity. There's no reason other than beliefs of the civic religion of patriotism however to demand that others believe that it's the best.

If it makes you feel good to be proud of America, good for you, but there's no reason that such an attitude should be prescriptive. The criteria for the determination of "best" are certainly debatable. And regardless of how good or not America is, it's a temporary construct just like any other Empire or nation. The confusion of temporary and finite symbols with the Eternal is the very definition of idolatry. Be proud of America if you need to be just don't wrap Jesus in the flag or set the flag alongside the cross on your altar.

I think also that Constitution was written by a special Convention, not by Congress like you suggest. Its sources are Locke, Montesquieu, Hume and the English Bill of Rights not the New Testament.

Hammertime said...

Masondixon,
I must have been right about the graduate school. Your logic continues to be...absent.

Claiming that all nationalism is the same is not discussing nationalism as a virtue. Nationalism is not a virtue in itself, because nations are not morally equivalent. However, that wasn't your point. Your point was that all nationalism is equal, which begs the underlying assumption that you obviously have, that all nations are equal. Thinking individuals do not consider Zimbabwe morally equal to England.

I think also that Constitution was written by a special Convention, not by Congress like you suggest. Then you display your ignorance for all to see. You either did not read what I wrote - that the establishment clause (which is part of the first amendment, not part of the original Constitution) was ratified by Congress - or you just don't know history and prefer to rant about it without even referencing easily obtainable source documents, like the one I cited. The Bill of Rights was ratified by Congress in 1791. I hope your graduate degree is not in history.

It's certainly better than say, North Korea-- if you prioritize personal autonomy over obedience and group conformity. There's no reason other than beliefs of the civic religion of patriotism however to demand that others believe that it's the best.

Unbelievable. According to Masondixon, one only thinks America is better than North Korea if we value personal freedom over obedience and group conformity. According to Masondixon, such "relatives" as the freedom to proclaim Christ without being executed, the freedom to speak out against one's government, the freedom to own property and raise your children with the values you choose as parents - these are all really only better than obedience to the state under fear if you think so.

Total moral relativism is not of Christ - it is of this world, and we see with whom you stand. You don't have to be a patriotic American to be A Christian. You can be ambivalent, ignorant, or concerned about the things we are doing wrong. What you cannot be a Christian and do is argue for moral relativism. The Way, The Truth and the Life stands against such depravity.

What seminary did you attend, and did you go to graduate school before that, or is that it?

Mary Beth said...

OK, this is finished. These comments are becoming so disrespectful that I will not allow them to continue.

First, my Christianity was called in to question, not once but twice. Then tls and I were accused of despising our country an accusation extrapolated from who knows where. And now masondixon's writing has been called drivel, he has been called ignorant, and the discussion has somehow turned to trying to determine his academic history. Not that masondixon can't fend for himself, because he can, but I'm completely disgusted by the insolence displayed here.

I'd hate to have to turn on comment moderation, but I will.

Rightthinker said...

That's a shame, MB. I said I wouldn't contribute to the topical commentary any longer, (and I won't) only because I had said my part and it was FAR longer than it should have been.

It seems masondixon was perfectly allowed and within his right to bash all comments regarding patriotism as being an ungodly alliance, yet when hammer requires some critical thinking and perhaps citation of actual pieces of information, you call it off!

In a discussion that turns to theology and patriotism, one must allow different presentation of ideas. Not all forms of debate are disrespectful just because they put someone in the hot seat.

In other words-if masondixon can criticize patriots for "making up history" (to condense) to suit their theological and/or political agenda, those with adequate historical knowledge should be able to question them.

Your blog-obviously you can set the tone. I am just saddened that this intelligent discussion can't continue.

mrshammer said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Hammertime said...

Illogical statements by someone using the level of vocabulary possessed by Masondixon are drivel, because someone of such obvious intelligence knows better.

Incorrect statements about our country's history are either misinformed or intentional lies. I gave the benefit of the doubt, which was that Masondixon didn't know the truth. That is, by definition, ignorant.

I have heard Dennis Prager describe the lack of logic possessed by those who attend graduate school. I thought that this was a perfect example of that. Masondixon's vocabulary and logic mirror that description, and I wondered if he had, as well, been to seminary, since his terminology is uncommon.

I voluntarily withdraw from the discussion. Rightthinker has a post about patriotism at her site for those who wish a discussion of the ideas.

Jennifer said...

Way to go, MB!

Sara said...

I've just spent the last hour catching up on this discussion and already it's over. Rats! Having a graduate degree myself, I'd hate to add something for fear of being accused of being "illogical" by hammertime. One question, though. Hammertime, When did getting an education become a bad, dare I say sinful, concept?