In the last segment, I made the claim that many people, including religious leaders, have fashioned American patriotism into an idol. Like most false religions, there are many elements that are designed in opposition to Christ and the gospel:
It is true that some of our founding fathers were orthodox Christians, including Patrick Henry, John Quincy Adams and Samuel Adams. But it is futile to deny the huge influence Deism, Unitarianism, Freemasonry and other vain philosophies had upon our founders. Many of these men did indeed believe in providence but it was not a Divine Providence based upon the promise of God that everything in history is geared toward the blessing of the church. God still rules over all for his people:
That in the dispensation of the fulness of times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in Him. Ephesians 1:10
The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of His calling, and what the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, And what is the exceeding greatness of His power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of His mighty power, Which he wrought in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead, and set Him at His own right hand in the heavenly places, Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come: And hath put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be the head over all things to the church. (emphasis mine) Ephesians 1:18-22
These men believed in a god, but many—like Jefferson and John Adams—rejected the deity of Jesus Christ and His virgin birth, resurrection and second coming. This shows that they knew not God. You cannot know God unless you know Jesus, because Jesus is God in the flesh and has displayed Him. When you have seen Jesus, you have seen the Father:
All things are delivered unto me of my Father: and no man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him. (emphasis mine) Matthew 11:27
Whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father: but he that acknowledgeth the Son hath the Father also. I John 2:23
For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me: for he wrote of me. John 5:46
Whenever parachurch leaders, pastors, political leaders or Christian historians tell us that to save the country we must return to our founders, they are treating them as if they were apostles. But the Apostles of Christ wrote the only book that can teach us how to be saved. The Constitution is not equivalent to the Bible. Hope lies in Jesus, not Jefferson.
False Religious Ceremonies and Artifacts
A true revival, Reformation or Great Awakening, if it is to occur, will be demonstrated by widespread repentance and faith in Christ as our only Savior, and will come as a result of the preaching of the gospel. Once we grasp this, all attempts to manipulate our emotions or convince us that we need to do this or that patriotic act in order to save our country will leave us cold and unaffected.
Promotion for Kirk Cameron’s new film, Monumental: In Search of America’s National Treasure, illustrates two problems that have plagued the church in recent years.
First, we have begun to think that one event or experience will be the catalyst that saves the country. For example, virtually every leader in the evangelical church got behind Mel Gibson’s 2004 barbaric film “The Passion of Christ” which implied that the suffering of Jesus was almost exclusively physical and primarily at the wrath of men, while ignoring the Atonement, which is Christ suffering the wrath of God for sinners. Many blasphemously implied that that film’s impact would be greater than the preaching of the gospel itself.
Second, we believe that going back to the founders is the key, not going back to Biblical religion. Here, Cameron is clear:
“We need groups of families, churches, schools, political clubs to come out together to experience it as one community—and then share the message with others.” 
What’s wrong with America, and how can we make it right? This is the question Kirk Cameron asks as he retraces the footsteps of our forefathers in the hope of rediscovering America’s true “national treasure.” What made us one of the most exceptional nations the world has ever seen? How did we stray from such a great beginning? Journey with Kirk throughout America and Europe as he explores the foundational doctrines and governing principles on which America was founded. 
We cannot redeem the culture by making pilgrimages to Massachusetts, literally or figuratively. Moreover, the Puritan forefathers would likely have rejected honoring men with statues of remembrance such as the Monument to the Forefathers, which the Cameron film venerates. We can indeed honor the Lord by remembering what He did in the lives of His people in our country, but we must guard ourselves against grandiose claims about the benefits of human endeavors or the necessity of going back to 1620 or 1776.
I am afraid that the neo-patriotic fervor we are being called to experience is offering a false salvation. We are being told that if we somehow “restore liberty” in our country, we will then see some great awakening of religious blessing. But liberty is a result of blessing, not the cause of it. Right now we can freely preach the gospel, but many worry that it may someday become illegal. What shall we do then, we fretfully ask? The answer is simple. We will freely preach the gospel:
Remember that Jesus Christ of the seed of David was raised from the dead according to my gospel: Wherein I suffer trouble, as an evil doer, even unto bonds; but the word of God is not bound [chained]. (emphasis mine) II Timothy 2:8f
The effect of the grace of God, the work of Christ, and the preaching of the gospel are not dependent upon Constitutional protections and the backing of the U.S. Supreme Court, as Pastor John MacArthur notes: “The ideal human government can ultimately do nothing to advance God’s kingdom, and the worst, most despotic worldly government in the end cannot halt the power of the Holy Spirit or the spread of God’s word.” 
And when he saw a fig tree in the way, he came to it, and found nothing thereon, but leaves only, and said unto it, Let no fruit grow on thee henceforward forever. And presently the fig tree withered away. Matthew 21:19
That fig-tree, full of leaves, but barren of fruit, was a striking emblem of the Jewish church, when our Lord was upon earth. The Jewish church had everything to make an outward show. It had the temple, the priesthood, the daily service, the yearly feasts, the Old Testament Scriptures, the courses of the Levites, the morning and evening sacrifice. But beneath these goodly leaves, the Jewish church was utterly destitute of fruit. It had no grace, no faith, no love, no humility, no spirituality, no real holiness, no willingness to receive its Messiah.
The Christian patriot movement seems to suffer the same malady. We are willing are to talk about the founders and freedom, but not Jesus and the gospel. Over the last several years, rallies have been promoted under the auspices of religion and have been passed off as calls for spiritual revival to an unwary American church. In many cases politics was supposed to take a back seat to religion, if it was allowed to come along at all. Each rally provided its own pitfalls for the Christian.
Religious Convocation #1
Glenn Beck planned and conducted what he called a Restore Honor rally for a crowd of hundreds of thousands on the Washington DC Mall on August 28th, 2010, in front of the Lincoln Memorial. The program was filled with references to the founding fathers and God, but what might have been seen as a traditional patriotic rally in which Christians could have freely participated, became much more in the eyes of Beck:
This is something that 8-28, we prayed about and prayed about and prayed about and prayed about and I told you some things were going to happen on 8-28 that hadn’t been done in over 238 years. I told you that this is the period of awakening, not the period of enlightenment….The founders didn’t agree on religion….We all have principles that are the same. God is universal… I have been reaching out to the biggest names in faith for the last year. It has been extraordinarily difficult because of my faith and because of who I am. I have met with the biggest leaders of faith in the country privately and I have asked them to help me put differences aside and to reach out with one another so we can remind people to get down on their knees… for our brothers’ shield in our danger’s hour. I have been telling you for awhile this will be a historic moment. I promise you that it will be….I have told you, prepare to witness mighty and powerful miracles. I have already seen them. What you will witness…the beginning of a restoration you and your children will never forget…nationally known religious figures from all faiths will join me on stage….
It seems many evangelists and pastors have taken the position of Jerry Falwell, Jr. when he said concerning Beck’s religious rally: “There are bigger issues now, we can argue about theology later after we save the country.”  This could not be more wrong. No country will be saved without revival, and no revival will arise without the true preaching of the gospel of Christ. We have traded away the gospel for patriotism. Love of country has replaced love of God.
To Falwell, “save the country” does not mean save souls or bring about moral reformation, for Falwell immediately discussed banking regulations and problems with the Federal Reserve. That this was a religious rally begs two questions. First, what are Christians doing joining hands with unbelievers in an effort to bring about spiritual revival? Would the average evangelical join hands in going door-to-door with members of the Jehovah Witnesses? Apparently a common political goal justifies joining together with unbelievers. The Bible teaches otherwise:
Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate saith the Lord II Corinthians 6:14-17
Second, can we have the kind of political reform Falwell and Beck desire without spiritual revival? It is unlikely to happen, and I’ll go so far to say that it ought not to happen if it is at the cost of denying the gospel of Jesus, and the law of God. Though Beck is thought of as a “social conservative”, he supports the claim that homosexuals can get married, as shown in an interview with Bill O’Reilly:
O’Reilly: Do you believe that gay marriage is a threat to the country…?
Beck: “Are the gays going to come and get us? I believe that Thomas Jefferson said ‘if it neither breaks my leg, nor picks my pocket, what difference is it to me? 
Looking at the Restore Honor rally in hindsight, one Scripture comes to mind:
Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. Matthew 7:16f
One evangelical thinks that Christians should thank Beck for giving Protestant Christians a platform to call a return to the God of the Bible,  though Jesus is the God of the Bible, a fact Beck flatly denies.
Southern Baptist leader Richard Land also joined in praise of Beck’s event:
Land told National Public Radio that the rally was neither political nor sectarian. ‘We had rabbis praying. We had Catholic priests praying. We had Muslim imams praying and participating. We had Protestant Christians,’ said Land. ‘And [Beck] kept saying over and over again: This is not a political event, and politics is not the answer. The answer is spiritual renewal and rebuilding a civil society one person, one family, one church, mosque, synagogue, temple and one community at a time.’
When Land said the rally was not political, and that politics was not the answer, he means you can’t rebuild a decaying society by voting, lobbying and legislating. This is certainly true.
When he said the rally was not sectarian, he means it was religious but not Christian: it included Jews, Mormons and Muslims. In other words, Beck believes that getting people to pray to their own gods will bring about revival and cultural transformation. This is certainly not true.
We cannot have spiritual renewal without the Spirit of God. The Bible says of Jesus: “Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty (2Co. 3:17). The passage in context tells us there is a veil over the hearts of those who know not Jesus, so that they cannot understand God or His commandments. Those still bound to false religions such as Judaism, Mormonism and Islam then cannot contribute to spiritual renewal unless and until they turn to Christ, who is the God of the Bible.
 Ironically, Cameron appeared on the Glenn Beck show and suggested that what Beck and other Americans do at their dinner tables can bring about a Third Great Awakening, never once suggesting that Beck turn to the Christ of the Bible.
 John MacArthur, Why Government Can’t Save You: An Alternative to Political Activism (2000), Word: Nashville
 Ryle’s Expository Thoughts on Matthew
 That does not mean they cannot be good earthly citizens, but that only in Christ is one spiritually renewed.
David is currently an adjunct instructor of Composition and Speech at Marshalltown Community College in Iowa. His wife and he have also owned a business selling antique and collectible postcards on eBay since 1999. David was an activist with Operation Rescue in the early 1990s. He is a member of Trinity Presbyterian Reformed Church in Johnston, Iowa.
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