Recently, The Washington Post published an opinion piece entitled: Why we can now declare the end of ‘Christian America’. Written by Duke University “Theologian” (I use that term loosely) Norman Wirzba, the piece is an attempt to make the case that a “uniquely Christian America” is a myth because voters demonstrate that America isn’t “serious about presenting to the world a picture of Christian America”.
Now, I freely admit that it’s hard to make the case anymore that our nation or its people are “Christian”. I agree with him insofar as I think we are living in a post-Christian America. But, to be sure, I don’t think it’s for the reasons he cites. Actually, I’m not inclined to believe that Wirzba thinks America ever was Christian.
Wirzba says “…this is a nation consumed by fear, anger and suspicion, none of which are Christian virtues.” He says that polls and election results “clearly” communicate this. He offers no argument in support of these notions, he simply asserts them. For that reason, we’re left to speculate as to what “polls and election results” he’s referring to and how he draws his conclusions from the clear communication they are alleged to be.
In any case, even if I thought we were “consumed” by these things, the question isn’t if these things are virtuous, it is, rather, are they justified given our present circumstances. Each of the things he mentioned can be justified within a particular context. For example: Am I fearful (I prefer to say “alarmed”) as I watch my nation and culture circle the drain? Absolutely. Am I angered as I watch the courts in our land destroy the sanctity of life and the institution of marriage? You bet I am. Am I suspicious when we have people entering our country in large numbers who may be plotting to kill us? Uh…yeah.
Wirzba goes on to ask, “What about the refugees and immigrants who are being refused at our borders and made to feel unwelcome in our land…?” Well, of course, this presupposes that we have a Biblical obligation to do otherwise. Once again, he merely assumes that without bothering to make a case for it. I would contend that it is both unreasonable and un-Biblical to assume that we are morally obligated to help every immigrant, and every refugee, in every instance. My arguments for this contention may be seen here.
Wirzba’s piece tugs at your heart strings as you are convicted on a personal level by the scripture he quotes, until you realize that he is equating your duty to obey these scriptures with support for his political agenda. For example, he seems to suggest that the duty listed in Matt. 25: 42-43 is about supporting a government relief program. I guess somebody back in the first century forgot to tell the Roman governor.
He goes on to ask a truly astounding question: “How will America fare in this time of judgment, especially when we admit as evidence the millions of Americans (many of them children and the elderly) who do not have enough good food to eat, or the millions of Americans who have to drink water polluted with lead and industrial/agricultural pollutants?” Couched in this question is a false accusation of the first order. America has produced prosperity for all economic classes within its borders that is unparalleled in the history of the world. Even our poorest are far better off than the poor in virtually all other times and places. And over half of our federal tax dollars go to major entitlements and income security. That doesn’t include, of course, social spending on the state and local level. To suggest that we will be judged by God as a nation on the ground that our public policy hasn’t sufficiently cared for our poor and elderly is simply ludicrous.
Lastly, he nowhere mentions the gospel of Jesus Christ. Had he made that his premise, I would have been far more sympathetic with his criticism. But there is no call to individual or national repentance for our sin, no proclamation of redemption of sinners through the blood of Jesus Christ. He appears to be much more interested in Leftist redistributionary public policy being pursued, and he’s unhappy that much of Christianity isn’t in agreement with him.
In short, Wirzba has just offered a rehash of the social gospel drivel which was infecting the mainline Christian denominations a century ago.
America may well be a post-Christian nation. But the alarm, anger, or suspicion many of us may have arises from watching a culture disintegrate as a result of embracing a post-Christian worldview. This is a worldview in which the gospel of Christ is ignored, dreadful national sins such as abortion and same-sex marriage go unmentioned, and erroneous interpretation of Scripture is set forth. Sadly, it appears that this is Mr. Wirzba’s worldview.