Summary: Christianity shaped the character of America. Our task is to live for Christ but let us honor the legacy of faithful men and women.
The Character of a Nation, Isaiah 32:1-8
The Pledge of Allegiance is not a verse composed by the Founding Fathers of our republic. It was written especially for children; in the summer is 1892 to commemorate that year’s celebration of Columbus Day in public schools throughout the country. The pledge first appeared in print on September 8, 1892, in The Youth’s Companion, an educational publication. In its original form, it read: “I pledge allegiance to my Flag and the Republic for which is stands -- one nation indivisible-- with liberty and justice for all.”
Its author was Francis Bellamy, an assistant editor of The Youth’s Companion, who intended it for a one-time recitation. But its immediate popularity transformed it first into an annual Columbus Day tradition and then into a daily classroom ritual. It became one of the earliest verses memorized by students. Since its debut, Bellamy’s pledge has undergone two major alterations. In 1923, the National Flag Conference of the American Legion replaced the somewhat ambiguously personal “my Flag” wording with the more explicitly patriotic "the Flag of the United States of America." And in 1954, President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed a bill that added the words "Under God.”
The pledge of allegiance comes to us in its present form after having been shaped, transformed, over time to its present condition. So too, ours is a nation which has had its character shaped by specific factors over time. Our constitution was written by faithful men who had their characters shaped by some of the very same factors which shaped our national character.
This morning we will examine the shaping of the character of our nation specifically with regard to the influence that Christianity and the Bible have had on this nation. We live in perilous times where history is constantly under the attack of the pen of the revisionist historian and his social agenda.
This morning I seek not to persuade you toward any particular political ideology or perspective. I long only to put on honest display the simple truth that Christianity has had a profound impact upon the shaping of the character of our nation and to propose what this implies for modern American Christians.
In our day there are agenda driven political and church leaders who seek to use the history of our nation to their advantage on both sides of the political aisle. There are excesses on both sides of this issue. Whether one is conservative or liberal, there are great liberties taken on both sides.
There are those who seek to use the Christian heritage of this nation as justification for the church to place its emphasis almost entirely upon seizing political power. The idea is that if we could just take America back for God then we could create the utopist society that our Pilgrim forefathers envisioned.
Many of these people have made the grace error of equating conservative political ideas with Christian faith. Implying that to vote a certain way is the primary means of expressing one’s faith in Christ.
There are others who, for the sake of their political and social ideologies, would prefer to revise history as to erase and wash away the Christian roots of this nation. For many of these folks issues such as slavery, oppression of women, and the injustices handed out to Native Americans negate the very notion that early American people in general and the framers in specific, were Christian people.
This morning I want to share with you what I believe to be a much more balanced view and practical national theology for the modern Christian. Indeed, this nation has an imperfect history, as do all nations and any organized group of people; where there are imperfect people there will always be imperfect results.
O, but it is equally true that this nation is founded upon principals and ideas so profound as to be unparalleled in all of human history. It is likely that no greater a document will ever be produced by human hands than that of the beautiful constitution of the United States, upon which so many fledgling democracies have been modeled. The declaration of independence with its soaring ideology is among the most profound promise laden scripts in modern or ancient history.
Ours is a nation founded by Christian men and women and built upon plainly biblical principles of freedom, charity, and liberty. The promises built into our constitution however are not strong enough to stand on their own. The promises made by the framers of the American way of life are like a check written which each succeeding generation must continually cash.
Today’s text is a passage which speaks prophetically with regard to the coming reign of Christ, messiah, upon the earth. The biblical prophetic timeline is such that time and again in the Bible we see the promise that this earth is passing away. The things of this world are fleeting. They are all passing away.