July 3, 2014
What would happen if the church thought about the symbols of the state the way the state seems to think about the symbols of the church?
Good question, Joel. I'd rather not see it at all. Patriotism is <a href="http://timfall.wordpress.com/2014/07/03/happy-4th-of-july-patriotism-isnt-highest-virtue/">nowhere near the highest virtue</a>. Our eternal citizenship is in heaven, and we should focus on the King who reigns forever.
Several years ago, a prominent family in my congregation (a family with connections to the military) thought that our sanctuary should have an American Flag; so they donated one to the church. The church leadership refused the donation stating that our God is a God of all nations. The family left the church, which was sad. But I think my church made the right call. American ideals are not the same as Gospel ideals. The Church can be harmed, and our Lord's name dishonored, when the lines between nationalism and Christianity are blurred.
We do belong to the church universal. The only time I want to see the United States flag in our sanctuary is during our mission conference, when the Cadets and GEMS bring in flags representing the far flung places our missionaries work.
America is not the new Israel, nor are Americans God's chosen people.
Thanks for the article.
I think the flag belongs in the church on Memorial Day and Independence Day. On Independence Day, we specifically thank God for our "founding fathers" who sought freedom of religion, and on Memorial Day we recognize the many who died defending our country where we still have those rights. A month ago, I attended a Hmong Memorial Day celebration and was deeply moved as speaker after speaker said "God bless America." I have family members living around the world and they, too, pray that all people may some day celebrate the freedoms we have.
Thanks for the article. I think that this line of thought could take us in a number of directions. It's a big can of worms in my view and not necessarily bad. I believe that we need to be sencitive to honour the sacrifice of people's lives, time, effort, money, etc... while recoginzing the cost not only to ourselves but to ordinary people (like us on the other). Does the flag have to be there. For some yes and for others no depending on how we were raised and what we have come to believe. From what I have seen and experienced the government is waging war on Christianity and is not just passive or indifferent.
I wonder at the many things that the church and Christians make compromises to in order to reap benefits.
In the US it is not possible to separate patriotism and politics. Is it possible in Canada? Switzerland might be the only country in the world where it is possible.
In our church, the USA flag is on the viewing left and the Christian flag is on the viewing right. Our Chairman of Deacons is a retired Navy Seal Veteran and the V Chairman is a retired Army Veteran. We also have other veterans in our congregation. I was raised military and so have been many others. We do not view it as competition to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We look at it as the extension of Romans 13:1-4. We pledge allegiance to our Country; who many have served and died for the freedoms we enjoy. We Pledge our Love and Devotion to our God and our Father, His Son and our Savior, His Holy Spirit and our Comforter in Worship. We, especially, as Black Americans know full well that the USA is not perfect nor to be worshipped. As a matter of fact we know the dangers of mixing Nationalism and Religion...ie. KKK.
As an US National (note that I did not say citizen) I believe in the separation of church and state. By that I mean the church (body of Christ) should not be a party to the worship of any state. I have lived in many countries around the world. In fact, I am still living outside the US. God is everywhere, and He loves all other peoples just as much as He loves Americans. America needs to come to grips with the fact that God only blessed America because the people worshiped Him, honoured Him, and trusted in Him. America did not receive her blessing because we have a pretty flag, or a strong army, or because we are arrogant and proud.
Rather than suggesting the American flag needs to be displayed in the churches, I believe the Cross needs to be displayed, above the flag, in every federal, state and local government building as a joyous reminder of just where America's greatness came from, and as a sober reminder of the only way America will be able to restore herself from the depths into which she seems to be sinking.
I believe the flag belongs in the church, not necessarily on stage or as prominent as the cross.
Placing the flag in church is not worshipping the flag. We have a cross on the stage/platform in our church. But we do not worship the cross. The cross is a symbol of what was done for us - Jesus Christ's death, burial, and resurrection. Believing or worshipping the cross does not bring salvation or freedom from sin. Only faith in Christ does that. Christ and Him crucified, and resurrected, is our focus.
The flag is a symbol representing our nation. We are instructed to give respect and honor to those in authority over us. That would be the leaders of our nation, and in extension the flag represents the nation. The flag also represents the price that thousands, if not millions of men and women have paid that we might live out our faith without fear of persecution. The United States is the only country that recognized at its founding the right to believe and live for the God, or god of your choosing. This is powerful. No one can force you to believe and worship any particular faith.
When I look at the Stars-and-Stripes I know that freedom is not free. It reminds me that God has blessed us to be able to live in a country where we do not need to hide in basements or caves or catacombs to worship and study His Word.
Let us also be clear: Freedom of Religion does not mean freedom to worship any way you choose in church on Sunday morning only. It seems the growing secular opinion is 'you can worship in church as you please, but you can't take it out of the building.' We must guard against falling into that way of thinking.
The American flag in a sanctuary reminds worshipers that we honor the nation which among its freedoms makes that of assembly and worship an important sign to all who see it. In addition, we honor those who serve, have served, and some even died so that we, the living, might continue to live in freedom. When we remember those who have fallen in past wars and see grave markers of the Americans GI's at home and abroad and think of the sacrifices they made (think of Normandy e.g.) and continue to make it should indeed make us thankful to the Author of Liberty.
In Reply to Joel A. Ward (comment #28564)
you do realize that "viewing left" is stage right which is pulpit right which is where flag etiquette says it is supposed to be. At the right hand of the speaker, even if the speaker is a minister of God. American flag etiquette dictates that the American flag should be placed above and given precedence over any other flag (including the Christian flag). If you choose to fly the flag in your sanctuary, you are obligated to give it higher honor than your own Christian symbolism. Just sayin' see http://www.usflag.org/flagetiquette.html
This is something that is very important to consider. I don't think that the American flag has any place in a building where people are gathering for corporate worship. I've seen too many times: veteran's day or the 4th, we take a break from worshiping our Lord and instead worship our country. Most would say that that is not what is taking place, but we worship all kinds of things without realizing that that is what we are doing. We can be good citizens, honor veterans, and remember our countries losses without setting up America as God's chosen nation. Jesus is the hope of the world, not any nation.
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