Church and State on Jan. 20: An Advent Reflection

Nathan Bierma

December 22, 2008

I am a convert to your way of thinking. I used to like the idea of a Moral Majority. But now...i really think its not such a good idea. 25 years later and what do we have? We actually NEED a government opposed to us. We NEED a society that has turned its back on us. We NEED to flee prosperity and popularity so Christ can do his work unfettered through us.<br><br>Great post!<br>check out <a href="http://www.redletterbelievers.com" rel="nofollow">www.redletterbelievers.com</a><br>and I have a post called, "No Government Will Save Us" that shares a similiar strand:<br><a href="http://redletterbelievers.blogspot.com/2008/11/no-government-will-save-us.html" rel="nofollow">http://redletterbelievers.blog...</a>

December 22, 2008

Finally . . . a Christian who publicly states that the US was founded by deists, not Christians, and that the US as a "Christian" nation is a ruse.

December 22, 2008

Well here we go again, by indorsing any one who is in or going to be in office is wrong. Supporting the concept of justice through acts of kindness is what you should be doing. Politics and religion do not mix as one is for man and how he can impress his kind and the other is to serve the one who gave us life eternal. You should not trust those who proclaim they are the ones who will change everything for the better. You should trust in yourself through the teachings of God and Jesus Christ to do what is right for others. I will support our government and help it grow so that it can and should care for us all. But and here is the but, I will love our God with all my heart, all my mind and all my soul. Then I will love my brother and sister in Christ Jesus, doing for them what God wants. No politics, no government, just us giving of ourselves to others in an attempt to make things better for us all. In God's Grace John

December 22, 2008

Rick Warren was a very poor choice in my opinion also. His church and he have given so many statements about homosexuality, including banning gay people from membership at his church, he is just too controversial.

December 22, 2008

First of all, I have to comend you for acknowledging true change through Christ. However, I am not a "passionate Obama supporter" for very simple reasons; 40 million to be precise and something that God calls marriage. That's beside the point, I realize that. But I needed to preface that.<br><br>I am fine with Rick Warren although I would have rather it been Franklin Grahm, David Jerimiah, Dr. James Dobson of someone of the sorts. Rev. Joseph Lowery and the benidiction? I guess if you're an Obama and gay rights supporter that is not quite as worriesome. (I don't say that vindictively.)<br><br>The idea that a christian clergyman shouldn't be involved at all, I couldn't disagree more. I am sure at this point Nathan, it is obvious that you and I stand in two different courts. So i will ask a few questions myself, for the sake of conversation of course.<br><br>How is it as a country we should refuse the acknowledgement of our God, the Father of your Jesus, the One through which comes true change, by your own admission? That very change that is required in our country that can only come through Christ from God. If I am understanding you correctly, you believe that.<br><br>So how is it that you worry about a christian minister at the Inauguration? This is not a discussion of law.....lets be honest here Nathan. Our Supreme Court has debated the subject of Seperation of Church and State. There may be a few scholars here (which I am not), but we will not shed conclusive light on that subject.<br><br>I can't imagine that you would expect a lawful type debate; so what is the simple question that you're asking? Certainly prayer at an Inauguration is not flirting with the State controlling the Church or vice versa. Are you making a statement?<br><br>I just don't understand. If you think that the ceremony really doesn't matter ("I know the whole thing will just be a ceremonial exercise, with most distinctively Christian content necessarily extracted in favor of vague pluralistic platitudes, and so it all won’t really mean anything."), then why worry?<br><br>Oh....you think the christian message is disruptive? To what?<br><br>I'm sorry Nathan, but for this one, with all do respect, you're all over the place. Make up your mind. You can believe Christ is the answer without political justification? It's hard to have Christ without church and it is impossible to truly change politics without Christ. <br><br>We are still speaking of "true change we can believe in", are we not?<br><br>I think you believe that and you're struggling with the fact that you support President-elect Obama. All I can sincerely and compassionately say to you Nathan is you have to choose, we've been on the fence for a long time in America. You are obviously very smarter than I and can see that. Don't intellectualize what you know to be true about Christ despite what most people are saying about the new administration.<br><br>This was a very difficult election for me as well......but it's easier to stand on biblical principles when I am facing Christ. I would urge you to do the same.<br>

December 22, 2008

I really can't agree with not wanting prayer at the inauguration (or opening of Congress, or other civic ceremonies). It is good and right that the government acknowledge it's dependent on the giver of their authority. The psalms are full of a king seeking the hand and favor the King, privately and publicly. <br><br>Of course for the government endorse one sect or religious body is inappropriate (as well as illegal). But prayer at the installation of a new leader is right, appropriate, and proper. It reminds us as the citizens that, as much as we hope great things from the new government, our true sovereign is Christ. That is, after all, the motto on our currency - we trust not in the president, the Congress, or the judges. We, the nation of USA, trust God. <br><br>Historically, the religion of the founders was a mixture of Enlightenment deists and Christians. That tension is played out in the Constitution and the writing surrounding it. To say America is purely Christian or purely humanist is wrong, and does not capture the complexity of belief that went into our foundation. But at one time, Benjamin Franklin, a pure deist, got fed up with congressional squabbling and eloquently called for prayer to help work through the issue. (I can't remember if it was the congress drafting the constitution or the congress formed from the constitution.) Anyway, if one of the deist founders called for public, civic prayer, we most certainly can allow the public and civic prayer at milestone changes.

December 22, 2008

Hi Nathan, <br><br>I'm hoping you could clarify some items... <br><br>1) "To me it’s a worrisome flirtation—if only that—between church and state." <br><br>From your comments, it seems that your perspective suggests there ought-not be any connection between organized religion &amp; government. Could you clarify? Do you see "the separation between church and state" to be something legally binding or just preferable, or did I misunderstand? <br><br>2) "...to continue the ruse that the country was founded as a Christian nation, when the real religion the Founding Fathers followed was Enlightenment deism..." <br><br>It was my understanding that this nation was founded with Christian roots... after reading "Original Intent" by David Barton of Wallbuilders, it seems hard to see it in another light... Granted, I have never heard that perspective that the fathers followed the Enlightenment deism religion.<br><br>Can you help me out by providing references to (at least) the premise of the founding fathers following this Enlightenment deism approach? <br><br>Thanks. <br>-cb

December 23, 2008

I actually did a sermon series entitled "Kingdom Collision" in the fall that dealt with the Political implications of Jesus' preaching in the first century world, attempting to walk people into our world. Jesus did have political things to say ("Thy Kingdom Come" in the Roman Empire was an extremely political statement), but he always re-framed the expectations of both his supporters and his opponents to come up with something no one expected.<br><br>Anyway <a href="http://www.centralbaptistpalmyra.org/content/view/107/65/" rel="nofollow">here's the write-up</a> for the series on our Church's web-site. Podcasts are there too.<br><br>And I am in total agreement that all worldly powers, while given to keep us from complete anarchy and evil, are <i>worldly</i> powers. No earthly leader will bring the Kingdom.

December 23, 2008

I would say that the ceremonial prayer is the one place that religion SHOULD be allowed a place in government. It's just like writing "In God We Trust" on coins. We may differ about who God is and how He is to be worshiped, but by including a prayer in the inauguration ceremonies we acknowledge that without Him, we ain't going nowhere. As far as I understand the doctrine of the separation of church and state, that is the real point. The founders were not saying that the church should have no input at all into the way government is conducted, but that the government should not choose any one of the squabbling sects and make them the official religion of the US. As somebody has said, it is not separation of church FROM state, but separation of church AND state, that the founders were after. A prayer at the inauguration, even by that dangerous radical Rick Warren, who &lt;gasp&gt; DOESN'T BELIEVE IN GAY MARRIAGE, would not have seemed amiss at all. <br><br>Anything further than that, though, and I am with you 100%. It would be very interesting to survey your readers and find out what percentage of them have been turned off from the whole conservative agenda by the last administration. I bet it would be a pretty big number. &lt;/gasp&gt;

December 23, 2008

I appreciate your comments. I once heard a speaker on a Christian radio station state that our idea of "a wall of separation between Church and State" came from a letter written by Jefferson, and that he was writing about protecting the church, not the government. The speaker said that we, therefore, shouldn't worry about that separation. He was speaking about public prayer in schools, and seemed to think that we should use "separation of church and state" when it is in our favor, but when it gets in our way, we should remember that it is isn't constitutional. <br>I wanted to scream. <br>That wall of separation is what keeps my government from interfering in my beliefs, and as citizens of the US, we should cherish it, not pick and choose when to use it. We should never forget that playing with fire gets us burned. When I read accounts of people in other countries being punished for practicing their religious beliefs, I thank God that our country has this wall, and I want to do my part to keep that wall strong. <br>I don't think a watered-down prayer at the inauguration hurts anything, but it certainly does make one wonder what the point is. It's like the watered-down prayers at our school football games; they don't hurt anything, but I think my fervent prayer for safety whispered from my seat on the bleachers is much more meaningful. I will argue to my dying breath to keep public prayer out of school because my children need to know that their silent prayers to the one true God are more powerful than any spoken prayer to a nameless god over the intercom could ever hope to be. I also wonder if it could hurt just a bit: if maybe the non-believers who participate in these public prayers feel like they are "covered" just a bit longer because they prayed again, instead of seeing their need for a covering of God's true grace.<br>I am glad Obama won, and I hope this controversy doesn't lead to more in-fighting and back-biting. I'm sure Warren will pray a nice prayer, and we'll all go away with warm feelings. But I hope that those of us "in the know" will continue to pray our fervent, heart-felt prayers asking for God to protect our country from ourselves and our enemies, and asking God to give Obama the wisdom to remember that he is only one small person in the midst of many small people under an awesome God, and that it's all about doing God's will.

December 24, 2008

hi john,<br>i have to disagree about Politics and Religion not mixing. A great majority of our Forefathers which wrote the Constitution based it on their love for our God (in heaven) and when you think about it, these decisions/guidelines are based on moral issues. <br>Our country was founded on godly principles.

December 24, 2008

Well said april well said the fighting has got to stop i think we all have our pointer views but it boil down to what god means to you how big or little is your god. One thing i love about the god we serve is a just god it is his way or hell we have choices. He forgives all of us in our mess because he know's christian or not we all are inperfect and god knows i need him to make it so he knows we can't make it without him that's why he sent his son so that we could have life more abunduntly. So it is up to each and every one of us to except or not and if we don't ,we all know results to that answer. I choose to live some of us choose to walk around already dead with that said. When GOD ARRIVES WITH HIS BRIDE WE WILL ALL LISTEN THEN WON'T WE. MERRY CHRISTMAS AND A BLESS YEAR.

January 7, 2009

I agree that trying to separate the two has gotten this nation in quite a bit of trouble.

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