Pick Your Community: | Hopkins | Muhlenberg | Daviess | Christian | Fayette | Henderson | Lakes | McCracken | Warren | Webster

Keeping the Faith - Mixing is a Mistake

ronniemcbrayer300 maroonKENTUCKY (6/31/13) - Regardless of the particular denomination, most of this country’s churches are fiercely joined to American nationalism. On this Independence Day weekend you will likely find “God and Country” rallies inside churches of all theological brands.

Stars and stripes will drape the ceiling. Patriotic songs will boom across the sanctuary. There might even be a military color guard in front of the pulpit. Stories of economic and armed forces supremacy will mingle with the Bible’s stories of faith.

Not that any of this, in and of itself, is necessarily a bad thing, but it does remind me of Tony Campolo’s nimble words. He said, “Mixing government with the church is a lot like mixing horse manure with ice cream. It doesn’t affect the manure very much, but it really ruins the ice cream.”

Largely, the church has operated under the false notion that America actually belongs to us Christians. We have accepted the preaching of the kingdom of God and the rallying around the red, white, and blue as synonymous. We have long believed that the church and the state can make beautiful music together if only the two would cooperate (or put more accurately, things would go much smoother if we Christians could control the state). I don’t think this is very good for the ice cream.

Yes, I love my country. I enthusiastically sing the National Anthem, say the pledge, “do my part,” and pay my taxes (though the latter is performed with less enthusiasm than the former). But I recognize that the sacrificial, life-giving, peace-pursuing, cheek-turning way of Christ, and the domineering, power-hungry, least-of-these-abusing systems of the world, aren’t compatible. And when these different ways of living are mixed together – Tony is right – it all starts smelling like guano.

But this is nothing new. Not many decades after the resurrected Jesus ascended to heaven and the Apostles died, somebody decided it would be a good idea for the church to join forces with the powers that be. Just imagine how many people could be converted, helped, enrolled, and evangelized if the church were more powerful, more organized, and more efficient – if the church were in charge!

So the church went for power and won it in spades. The coffers ran over with gold, people of influence, including kings and queens, began to seek the ministers’ approval on policy, the pews were full every Sunday, there were no more martyrdoms (unless you were someone who opposed this new arrangement), and as Vernard Eller said, “the church’s computers jammed trying to move all the names from the ‘Pagan’ column to the ‘Christian’ column until somebody realized it was just easier to switch the headings.”

Ever since, and this was centuries ago, Christians have more or less pined for the seats of governmental power, believing that such an approach would enhance the work of God. What actually happens is a stinking mess. With the infatuation of being “in charge,” we seem to forget that the way of our Lord was not the way of domination, but the way of submission and sacrifice.

Roger Williams, New England Puritan preacher, founder of Rhode Island, organizer of America’s first Baptist congregation, and champion of religious liberty a full century before Thomas Jefferson, was the one who actually coined the phrase “wall of separation” between church and state.

He understood that the two should be kept separate, not to protect the government, but so as not to pollute genuine faith. Power simply has a way of corrupting spirituality. I suppose we must relearn that lesson: Any state religion – whatever name it might go by – is illegitimate, for faith is matter of heart and spirit, not coercion or force.

So this weekend, in my own church sanctuary, I will pause and thank the heavens for my country, its freedoms, and acknowledge that God has indeed “shed his grace” on us. But I want no part in creating a “Christian America,” for such an effort might taint my ability to actually be a Christian, a Christian who happens to reside in America.

Ronnie McBrayer is a syndicated columnist, pastor, and author of multiple books. You can read more and receive regular e-columns in your inbox at www.ronniemcbrayer.me.


Disclaimer: The content supplied by columnists and letters to the Editor on this site does not in any way, shape or form, implied or otherwise, necessarily express or suggest endorsement or support of any of such content, statement, or opinions therein. SurfKY News does not necessarily adhere to or endorse content provided by outside non-staff sources.

© Copyright 2014 SurfKY News Group, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, or rewritten without permission. SurfKY News encourages you to share this story by using one of the social media links below.

3/12 - 718 switched from reg 2 to hopkins only

Stock Report

1 DOW 16,982.59
+22.02 (0.13%)    
2 S&P 1,978.91
+0.57 (0.03%)    
3 NASDAQ 4,444.91
-4.65 (-0.10%)    
3/12 - 718 switched from reg 2 to hopkins only
3/12 - 718 switched from reg 2 to hopkins only

In Other News...

Foot Pursuit Ends with Arrest

DRAKESBORO, Ky. (7/28/14) — A foot pursuit ended with the arrest of a suspect and injuries for him and a Kentucky State… Read More

Vehicle VS Pedestrian Crash

CADIZ, Ky. (7/28/14) — Cadiz Police were called to a report of a vehicle vs. pedestrian crash in the 400 block of East… Read More
3/12 - 718 switched from reg 2 to hopkins only

Most Read This Week (Site-Wide)

July 24, 2014 4028

Powderly Man Injured in Apparent Gun…

in Top Stories by Charles W. Riley II, SurfKY News
July 24, 2014 2882

Madisonville Man Charged for Drugs,…

in Top Stories by Trooper Stu Recke
July 28, 2014 2344

Madisonville Woman Arrested for Being a…

in Top Stories by Madisonville Police Department
July 25, 2014 2236

No One Injured in Truck-Train Collision

in Top Stories by Ami Clayton, SurfKY News
July 28, 2014 1993

Madisonville Man Arrested for Endangering…

in Top Stories by Madisonville Police Department

Most Read Stories from Hopkins County

July 24, 2014 2882

Madisonville Man Charged for Drugs,…

in Top Stories by Trooper Stu Recke
July 28, 2014 2344

Madisonville Woman Arrested for Being a…

in Top Stories by Madisonville Police Department
July 25, 2014 2236

No One Injured in Truck-Train Collision

in Top Stories by Ami Clayton, SurfKY News
July 28, 2014 1993

Madisonville Man Arrested for Endangering…

in Top Stories by Madisonville Police Department
July 25, 2014 1469

Vehicle Strikes Lawn Mower Driven on…

in Top Stories by Dep. Mike Evans

Most Read Stories from Owensboro

July 24, 2014 1406

US 231 Ohio River 'William Natcher'…

in News by Keith Todd
July 24, 2014 1129

Maintenance Scheduled at Fisher Park and…

in News by Brittni Bunn
July 24, 2014 971

Portion of Spring Bank Drive Closed…

in News by Sherry Girten
July 28, 2014 749

Zuberer Takes Over at Quarterback for…

in News by Steve LeMaster
July 28, 2014 688

Dont Miss Out on a Howl of a Good Time

in News by Brittni Bunn

Most Read Stories from Muhlenberg County

July 24, 2014 4028

Powderly Man Injured in Apparent Gun…

in Top Stories by Charles W. Riley II, SurfKY News
July 24, 2014 1867

Muhlenberg to Have State's Only Honey…

in Top Stories by Charles W. Riley II, SurfKY News
July 25, 2014 1427

Business Spotlight - McQuady's Automotive

in Top Stories by Charles W. Riley II, SurfKY News
July 24, 2014 1393

Marching Mustangs Band Camp Underway

in Top Stories by Charles W. Riley II, SurfKY News
July 25, 2014 1250

Business Spotlight - Blue Moon Car Wash

in Top Stories by Charles W. Riley II, SurfKY News

SurfKY News Group, Inc. Central Office & Printing Division
1125 Nebo Rd.  •  Madisonville, KY 42431  •  270.452.2249 (fax)
Main Number: 270.452.2727 (phone)  •  Printing Division Direct Line: 270.821.8600 (phone)

SurfKY Owensboro News Bureau
920 Frederica St. / Suite 210  •  Owensboro, KY 42301  •  270.683-8060 (phone)


Contact a member of our staff: www.surfky.com/contact
Copyright © 2014 SurfKY News Group, Inc.  •  Terms of Use  •  Site Map

social 06social 21social 22social 04social 03