Pick Your Community: | Hopkins | Muhlenberg | Daviess | Christian | Henderson | Lakes | McCracken | 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.

3/13 - 16
3/13 - 16
button coupons
3/13 - 16
3/13 - 16
button classifieds

In Other News...

Trojans Fend off McLean County, Remain Undefeated

DIXON, Ky. (12/17/14) — Four Webster County scorers reached double figures as the Trojans outlasted visiting McLean… Read More

Galloway, Director of Provider Services MCH, Guest Speaker at Muhlenberg Job Corps

MUHLENBERG COUNTY, Ky. (12/16/14) — The Muhlenberg Job Corps Center's Medical Office Support class had the opportunity… Read More
3/13 - 16

Most Read This Week

December 16, 2014 8706

Coal Miner Fatally Injured in Underground Mining…

in Top News For All Sites by Dick Brown
December 14, 2014 8233

Muhlenberg Pays Homage to U.S. Armed Forces

in Local (Muhlenberg) Top News by Charles W. Riley II, SurfKY News
December 12, 2014 7792

Man Allegedly Threatening Medical Staff with…

in Local (Muhlenberg) Top News by Wes Miller
December 17, 2014 4730

Elderly Couple Found Shot to Death in Muhlenberg

in Local (Muhlenberg) Top News by Trooper Stu Recke
December 11, 2014 4685

Muhlenberg District Court Fines Handed Down

in Local (Muhlenberg) Top News by Charles W. Riley II, SurfKY News
December 15, 2014 4645

Hopkins County Woman Charged Second Time in Two…

in Local (Hopkins) Top News by Charles W. Riley II, SurfKY News
December 17, 2014 4610

Three Men Charged with Burglary

in Local (Hopkins) Top News by Madisonville Police Department
December 12, 2014 4503

Man Allegedly Hits Brother with Pickup Truck…

in Local (Muhlenberg) Top News by Wesley Miller
December 11, 2014 4229

Madisonville Police Arrest Reports - Dec. 11, 2014

in Hopkins News by Madisonville Police Department
December 15, 2014 4201

Woman Leads Police on High-Speed Chase in Stolen…

in Local (Hopkins) Top News by Madisonville Police

Stories Trending Today

December 16, 2014 8706

Coal Miner Fatally Injured in Underground Mining…

in Top News For All Sites by Dick Brown
December 17, 2014 4730

Elderly Couple Found Shot to Death in Muhlenberg

in Local (Muhlenberg) Top News by Trooper Stu Recke
December 17, 2014 4610

Three Men Charged with Burglary

in Local (Hopkins) Top News by Madisonville Police Department
December 16, 2014 2675

Highway Crews Pre-Treating Roadways for Potential…

in Hopkins News by Keith Todd
December 16, 2014 2647

Madisonville Police Arrest Reports - Dec. 16, 2014

in Hopkins News by Madisonville Police Department
December 15, 2014 2530

Rich Brings Old, New Together in New Album

in Local (Muhlenberg) Top News by Charles W. Riley II, SurfKY News
December 16, 2014 2467

Muhlenberg Community Hospital Installs Biometric…

in Local (Muhlenberg) Top News by Erin Warren
December 15, 2014 2330

Dawson Springs Police Reports Released

in Hopkins News by Melissa Heflin
December 16, 2014 2315

KFWC Proposes 2015-2016 Deer Season Dates and…

in General News For All Sites by Department of Fish and Wildlife
December 16, 2014 2151

Galloway, Director of Provider Services MCH,…

in Local (Muhlenberg) Top News by Karen Robinson

SurfKY News Group, Inc.
Corporate Office & Studio
1125 Nebo Rd.  •  Madisonville, KY 42431
270.452.2727 (phone)
  •  270.452.2249 (fax)


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

social fbsocial twsocial yt
social gpsocial flrsocial rss