God will judge US for this election??

Found on the new lutheran blog, Ad Crucem (to the Cross):

 

Last night, President Barack Obama was re-elected for another four years of service to our country. Emotions will be running high on both sides of the aisle today, and I’m sure you will see that spilling over into your Facebook news feed or favorite blog (such as this one!). I know I already have. I’ve seen all sorts of reactions to the news. I’ve seen statements of rejoicing and ones of anger. A couple friends posted their desire to move to a new country and others said they will now stay. I’ve also seen a few post about how now we can come together and be a “purple” country.

But I’m not writing about any of that. I want to deal with a different set of remarks entirely. Many of them were made before the election and I’ve seen some made since it. They go like this:

“America will never prosper if it doesn’t turn back to God.”

“America was a Christian nation once. God won’t bless us until we follow Him again.”

“If we re-elect Obama (or, now that we’ve re-elected Obama), God will judge us.” A very small minority also say this about Romney, to be fair.

Or they’ll even quote Scripture. “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord.” I googled it. That reference is the first half of Psalm 33:12. So at least it is in the Bible.

And usually what people mean by these statements is that we need to get the 10 Commandments back into courtrooms. We need prayer back in our schools. We need a president who is a “real” Christian (however the person defines “real”). We need to elect leaders and officials who will make new laws or enforce old ones that will stop all sorts of sinful behavior. We need to “turn back to God.” And if we do these things, God will bless us and make us prosperous once again.

“What must I do to be saved?”

In our country today, we have an odd version of Christianity. I call it American Evangelicalism or Pop Christianity. In this odd version of Christianity, everything is about us and what we do to make God happy with us. Your initiation into this new faith comes by asking Jesus into your heart or deciding to follow Jesus. Your decision, your action, determines your status before God. Later in life, depending on the age at which you made your decision, you make another decision to be baptized, demonstrating your continued commitment and fidelity to God. You take communion once a month or maybe a few times a year to remind yourself of your commitment. And you follow God’s Laws to prove to yourself and everyone around you that you really are “in”.  This is also how you know if God is pleased with you and if you can expect blessings from him– by your actions towards him.  Remember, you are showing everyone that God is your Lord by what you do, so you have every right to expect to be blessed, as Psalm 33:12 states.

Now, if you talk to an American Evangelical, they will be very quick to say (rightly) that all of the above comes only by faith, not of works. So we agree at least on that much. But notice who is the subject of the verb in each sentence. You are. Intentional or not, this false version of Christianity makes everything about you. I don’t think people do this on purpose. For the most part, it is what we have grown up with and we don’t know any better. And we live in a country that does the same thing with faith.

As it goes in our personal faith, so it goes in our national faith. From the very beginning of our nation, we have had this habit of nationalizing our faith. The earliest colonists would often refer to themselves as “the new Israel” and to America as “the promised land”. They would then take references about Israel, such Genesis 12:1-3, and apply it to themselves, claiming God’s blessing for themselves and others if they are treated right or behave right. We continue this habit today. God’s blessing is dependent on what we do, because we are the new Israel and God only blessed Israel with material blessings when she followed his commands. Or, if you read someone like Joel Rosenberg, you are told that God will only bless you if you bless and support in every way the new nation of Israel located on the eastern end of the Mediterranean Sea in Palestine.

This is wrong. And every time Pat Robertson says something silly about how some major disaster is God’s judgment on our nation for not obeying God’s laws or not supporting Israel, we know it is wrong. We are at least momentarily shaken out of this false view by the utter ridiculousness of Robertson’s claims. Or at least I hope we are…

Here’s the truth: We cannot judge how God feels toward us based on our experience or situation. Consider Job. We have an entire book in the Bible about this man who had done no wrong and committed no grievous sin that he could think of, and yet he may have suffered the most of any man ever, except Jesus. His friends even tried to convince him that he must have committed some horrible sin or God would not have allowed these afflictions. They looked at his situation and determined that God was angry with him. But God himself rebukes these friends and calls them false. God’s cursing us does not depend on our actions, and neither does God’s blessing. For individuals and nations.

I do not receive God’s material blessings because I follow God’s commands. Our nation is not materially blessed by God more than other nations because it follows God’s commands or supports Israel, nor is it cursed by God when it doesn’t. (John 9)  And yet I am blessed, and the nation in which I live also has an abundance of material blessing. So how do I reconcile this?

The answer, of course, is found in Scripture. But we need to make sure we are asking the right questions of Scripture if we hope to get the right answers. Since Psalm 33:12 is the one I hear quoted most often, I’ll work with that one. Usually, when we read that text, our tendency is to ask, “How do I show that God is my Lord so that I can be blessed?” It’s a very natural question. And by natural, I mean that it comes from our sinful nature, our flesh, which is only interested in itself and its own comfort. Since our flesh is the one asking the question, our flesh will usually come up with a fleshly answer. In this case, “I have to work for it. I have to demonstrate my allegiance through action. Then God will be pleased with me and bless me.” We get that answer for two reasons: 1. We asked the wrong question, 2. Our flesh gave the answer.

A better question would be to ask, “How does God become someone’s Lord?” By grace through faith! God chooses you. God gives you the gift of faith and belief. God reconciles you to himself, adopts you, justifies you and saves you from your sin! Faith asks this question, and so faith receives the answer. And with this answer we can now ask the second question. “What blessing does faith receive when God is my Lord?” Salvation in Christ! Faith receives Christ, his life, death and resurrection for your sins, giving you the most wonderful blessing of all – reconciliation with God and life everlasting!  These passages in Scripture are not first and foremost about material blessings in this life. Even Israel’s blessing and the promise God made to Abraham in Genesis 12 were fulfilled in the person of Jesus Christ. From before creation, God’s greatest blessing has always been Christ. Christ crucified for the sin of the world.  Here at Ad Crucem, our entire focus is on this very theme. Ad Crucem – Latin for “to the Cross”, the cross of Christ, where God reconciled Himself to us and where we continually need to be focused.

This is what I shared with my wife and children last night before we went to bed. God is our Lord through faith in Jesus Christ. That faith is received as a gift, given to us by God when He chose us. The blessing that we now receive from Him is salvation and an assurance of an eternity spent in His loving presence. We do not need to worry about how to obtain that blessing, because it was given to us as a free gift. We do not need to worry about ourselves or our nation being judged or cursed for not following God’s commands because Scripture does not teach that God’s blessing is a response to our actions. Nor does it teach that God’s blessing is primarily found in material things, but is instead found in His Son, Jesus Christ.

And so my family and I went to bed at peace last night, knowing our future is secure in Christ and that nations will rise and fall, but the Church will stand firm and our faith will remain firm because it is anchored in the Rock that cannot be moved – Christ crucified for sinners like us.

But…but…wait! Why is it then that there does seem to be some sort of connection between material prosperity and nations that follow God’s commandments??? I’ll save that answer for another post later this week. This one is already way too long!!

 

 

For more on early American Christianity, I highly recommend the series of lectures by Dr. Daniel Van Voorhis. Here are the links to them as broadcast on Fighting for the Faith.

  1. Christianity in America, part 1: Christianity in America, part 1
    [podcast]http://004f597.netsolhost.com/fftf/F4F083011.mp3[/podcast]
  2. Christianity in America, part 2: 19th Century Romantics and Radicals
    [podcast]http://004f597.netsolhost.com/fftf/F4F091411.mp3[/podcast]
  3. Christianity in America, part 3: The Rise of Fundamentalism
    [podcast]http://004f597.netsolhost.com/fftf/F4F100511.mp3[/podcast]
  4. Christianity in America, part 4: Fundamentalism and Modernism in the early 20th Century
    [podcast]http://www.piratechristianradio.com/fftf/F4F030912.mp3[/podcast]
  5. Christianity in America, part 5: West Coast Christianity
    [podcast]http://www.piratechristianradio.com/fftf/F4F040312.mp3[/podcast]

About Norm Fisher

Norm was raised in the UCC in Connecticut, and like many fell away from the church after high school. With this background he saw it primarily as a service organization. On the miracle of his first child he came back to the church. On moving to Texas a few years later he found a home in Lutheranism when he was invited to a confessional church a half-hour away by our new neighbors.

He is one of those people who found a like mind in computers while in Middle School and has been programming ever since. He's responsible for many websites, including the Book of Concord, LCMSsermons.com, and several other sites.

He has served the church in various positions, including financial secretary, sunday school teacher, elder, PTF board member, and choir member.

More of his work can be found at KNFA.net.

Comments

God will judge US for this election?? — 27 Comments

  1. I certainly do not take what Pat Roberson says as the truth. After all, he is a heretic.
    But did not Luther say, Good government is a blessing, but an evil government. a curse?

  2. Does God promise temporal blessings to those following His commandments?

    Do people tend to live better lives by following His commandments? Believers? Unbelievers?

    Do people tend to live worse lives by disobeying God’s commandments? Believers? Unbelievers?

    Is the answer to every question “Salvation by grace through faith in Christ, apart from the works of the Law”?

    Is every bogeyman an American Evangelical?

    Are most Americans Evangelicals? If not, why are AEs frequently the fall guys in our Lutheran discourse?

    In the same vein, what happened to bashing Roman Catholics? The Reformed?

  3. We do not need to worry about ourselves or our nation being judged or cursed for not following God’s commands because Scripture does not teach that God’s blessing is a response to our actions.

    What?  There are countless examples in scripture such as:

    When the news reached the king of Nineveh, he rose from his throne, took off his royal robes, covered himself with sackcloth and sat down in the dust.  Then he issued a proclamation in Nineveh: “By the decree of the king and his nobles: Do not let any man or beast, herd or flock, taste anything; do not let them eat or drink.    But let man and beast be covered with sackcloth. Let everyone call urgently on God. Let them give up their evil ways and their violence.  Who knows? God may yet relent and with compassion turn from his fierce anger so that we will not perish.”     When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, he had compassion and did not bring upon them the destruction he had threatened. (Jonah 3:6-10)

  4. God is already judging the US. It will meet the same fate as the Roman Empire. But Christ’s Church will live on!

  5. @John Rixe #3

    I agree that there are several examples, including: The promise attached to the 4th Commandment, and this well-known/quoted verse:

    2 Chronicles 7:14

    English Standard Version (ESV)

    14 if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.

    Please offer some clarification.

  6. Not a single one of us can answer the title question “God will judge US for this election??” because God Himself has not given us the answer. Do you know the unrevealed mind of God? Where has He spoken on this specific issue. It’s the wrong question to ask. Thus, it’s a question you dare not answer as “Yes” or “No.”

  7. Don’t despair. As all Christians know, we’re going to lose along the way, but there’s a great victory coming up down the road.

    Dr. Alan Carlson
    Howard Center
    “Post-Election Analysis”
    Issues, Etc.
    Wednesday, November 7, 2012

  8. @#4 Kitty #5

    All nations meet the same fate, and your beloved America will be no exception.

    The success of the homosexual movement is an example of God’s judgement. Evangelicals like to say it will bring God’s judgement, but in truth it already is God’s judgement. See Romans 1.

    As I said, Christ’s Church will will live on long after the current nations of the world have collapsed and been replaced by new ones.

  9. Ug, I guess, people just don’t remember their American History, why or how this Republic was founded. Why we have separation of Church & State. It is was a Republic, a Democracy, is different, but can be a Republic. So are dicatorships, theocracies, and Sharia-democracy. Republic vs democracy, ck Wiki for the difference. Ck the definition of Republic vs Democracy. Basic 7th grade American Politics.

    A child of Christ, is taught, to respect & yield to those who are placed in authority over us. Whether we like it, understand it, or agree. Roman taxes, paid for a horse to be elected to the Roman Senate, under Caligula. Christian’s paid, render to… It is by our Heavenly Father’s Will, that these things occur. My vote counted, here, but I leave it to His Good & Gracious Will, to choose who lives at 1600 P. Ave. He can see, know, and understand, the future & why. As we all well know, He scolded many a Patriarch & Christ did when He walked with us. If slaves are to obey their masters, who are we to fly in the face of what He asked of us? Until such a time, in basic, we now are Polycarp.

    When we are asked to deny our Lord, our Heavenly Father, or His Holy Ghost, that is when we act. I think it may behoove a few, to review the unsanitized version, of American History, it’s founders, it’s universalist history, and how that all plays in. As we’ve seen, by those on the liberal & many on the other end, seem to have forgotten quite a bit. When you have Emergent Churches teaching aScriptural precepts, (WELS & LCMS count here w/this) and you have those who adhere at the end of the day, to not simply Doctrine, but Sola Scriptura, it’s easy to see issues. The problem is, few seem to deem it a priority, to explain what you do when ya warm the wood in a pew had better match what ya say, do, believe, in public, when ya aren’t.

  10. wineonthevines :
    I certainly do not take what Pat Roberson says as the truth. After all, he is a heretic.
    But did not Luther say, Good government is a blessing, but an evil government. a curse?

    My followup article today addresses that issue and what I think that can look like. Thanks for the good question.

  11. Robert :
    Does God promise temporal blessings to those following His commandments?
    Do people tend to live better lives by following His commandments? Believers? Unbelievers?
    Do people tend to live worse lives by disobeying God’s commandments? Believers? Unbelievers?
    Is the answer to every question “Salvation by grace through faith in Christ, apart from the works of the Law”?
    Is every bogeyman an American Evangelical?
    Are most Americans Evangelicals? If not, why are AEs frequently the fall guys in our Lutheran discourse?
    In the same vein, what happened to bashing Roman Catholics? The Reformed?

    To answer your first question – sort of? The main point is that we don’t have a guarantee and it is wrong for us to teach that we do.

    For the next two, my article today addresses that. I encourage you to read it and see what you think of the answers I propose. It will be posted later this morning on the Ad Crucem site.

    As for your question about salvation by grace…I’m not sure how to take that. I could answer yes. Ultimately, most things are and it is the area where the world, our flesh and the devil fight most strongly. I guess I don’t see why that would be a problem. Forgiveness of sins is the greatest blessing to be had this side of death and I would find it to be impossible to overstate its importance and role in our earthly lives. But I’m not really sure where you are going with this. Perhaps you can help me out a bit more.

    I understand your frustration about my comments regarding American Evangelicalism. I have a couple things to say about that. First, the target audience of Ad Crucem is American Evangelicals who are seeking to know more about confessional Lutheranism. So you will find that we will talk about it a lot. Our goal is to speak “Lutheran” with an American accent so that we can reach this group. As we do that, we’ll also end up talking with a lot of Lutherans who may be confused about their theology due to the huge influence of AE teachings, as well as Lutherans who have been fighting this battle longer than us. I’m sorry that my comments came across as “bashing”. That was not my intent as that would not really serve anyone. But we do intend to point out error when we see it, especially when it impinges on the doctrine of justification. Also, I grew up in the AE camp, so when I comment about it, I am speaking to all my childhood friends and the vast majority of my family. So bashing is not my intent.

  12. Rev. Paul Mumme :
    Not a single one of us can answer the title question “God will judge US for this election??” because God Himself has not given us the answer. Do you know the unrevealed mind of God? Where has He spoken on this specific issue. It’s the wrong question to ask. Thus, it’s a question you dare not answer as “Yes” or “No.”

    Yes!! That’s exactly my point! And yet I see Christians claiming to know the answer all over the place. My intent with this article was to point out that we can’t specifically know the answer, and that attempting to answer it leads us down the wrong road.

  13. @John Rixe #3

    @The Black Robe #6

    What I’m most trying to avoid here is the idea that we can manipulate God through our actions and get Him to do what we want, i.e. bless us or forgive us. Are you guys saying I am wrong in that? Is the proper way to understand the texts you have cited to say that God can be moved to bless and save by our actions/works? Just trying to clarify so we don’t start talking past each other and missing the point entirely.

  14. Let’s start by what the “blessings” are we look for. Hebrews clearly says that it wasn’t the earthly promised land that was the true blessing for God’s people, it was the eternal promised land. I think some folks are missing the authors point, but it’s in there. We can’t determine God’s favor or judgment on us based on TEMPORAL blessings. We look at the ETERNAL blessings He gives to us.
    Luther remarks in one of his sermons that we get hung up on the blessings part and forget the command proceeding it. DO ALL THAT I COMMAND. Luther says we can never do that! Yet like the Israelites we delude ourselves into trying thinking that we can somehow bring about all these temporal blessings based on our obedience. Wrong! It will never happen. So where do we turn? What hope is there for us that we might receive any blessing? It is only in Christ our Savior who did indeed fulfill the Law perfectly and then gives to us all the eternal blessings He has won by grace through faith. So yes, it does always come back to the cross.

  15. While God has promised to save his Church, He almost never saves us from the temporal consequences of our own actions. A thief might repent and go to heaven, he must still serve the jail time. Nowhere does God call the U.S. the “promised land”, although we frequently make that claim. Even Israel – who were His chosen people – had to suffer the consequences of what they did.

    I wonder how much of what is happening right now is actually happening because of what the U.S. Evangelicals believe and practice? How much of it it enemy action and how much the consequence of our own actions or inactions?

  16. I think the article is warning against a perceived one-to-one correlation between material/situational blessings and obedience. Yes, God does bless, and Scripture makes clear that God can bless for obedience. The danger comes in assuming that, because one is prosperous or doing well, therefore one is obedient (or the converse situation as well, that one must be living in disobedience because one is in bad circumstances).

  17. My take on the election which I posted yesterday morning:

    America no more.

    After the election last evening, Americans (except for a few states like Texas, Arizona and Oklahoma etc.) are growingly wanting an eastern European socialist government like Spain, Greece etc………

    America no more.

    Americans (blacks, whites, hispanics, all) increasingly want a government that can give the folks the most government freebies. The party that can do that, is the party that Americans will now vote for………..

    America no more.

    Talk show host Dennis Miller, when recently asked what he would advise the folks if Obama was voted in for another term, “I will tell them to quit working so hard on their jobs, quit their jobs, and get in the other line, where you can get paid almost as much and have a nice, long vacation.”…….

    America no more.

    Last night on Fox news they were talking about the nice, young, good candidates that will be fighting for the election in 2016–you know the names; Rubio, Santorum, etc.. But, the masses no longer want good, solid American leaders of the past (including some good, moderate democrats), they want eastern European freebies. The party that can give the folks the most freebies will be the elected party.

    America no more.

    Americans now want Nanny State…..and they got it……..

    America no more.

    What is some of the fallout of an Obama repeat? When Bush left office Al-Kaida was in two countries, they are now in more than thirty countries. The Obama administration insists that terrorism is no longer a problem because they have fixed the problem.

    Israel is ready to attack Iran over nuclear weapons. The middle east is in a worse mess than ever.

    The national debt will soon be over 20 trillion. Obamacare will cost much more than anyone can ever imagine or pay for. The IRS will come after folks if they don’t have medical insurance. Companies will soon drop folks’ work medical insurance leaving them to join Obamacare at the expense fo the taxpayers.

    Food stamp usage will go from 47 million folks to about 70 million. Unemployment will soar to about 10 percent (the actual number will be about 20 percent). One in six folks in poverty will turn into two in six folks.

    Obama will give the masses free cell phones at the expense of another 1.7 billion, leaving the folks elated at the prospects of Hillary being voted in in 2012, as she promises them even more freebies with the condition of more government control.

    Amerca no more!

  18. The big lie is that our nation was ever based on Christian anything, or deserving of special blessings from our Triune God. We were born in a bloody illegitimate rebellion against constituted authority, started by gangs of thugs led by Deist and Unitarian devotees of the same Liberal European philosophy that led to the Prussian Union. That doesn’t make us any worse than most other nations. I have voluntarily put my life on the line to protect and defend our nation, our people and our constitution, but that was a Left hand decision and service. The political trends we are bemoaning do not constitute a break w/ the values of our national founding fathers; the seeds of the trends we’re bemoaning today are part and parcel with the liberal philosophy of the Declaration of Independence.

    Pax Christi+,
    -Matt Mills

  19. @Matthew Mills #24

    Exactly. The founding fathers assumed that people would always have the same standard of morality that they had, not realizing that their standard was derived from the Bible.

    The founders would be shocked to come back today and see what their project has resulted in here and the rest of the West.

  20. Blessings Peter,
    I have no “pod” to cast anything upon, lol. I did read the part 2 link. Yep, well said, Peter, very well said, indeed.

  21. @Dutch #26

    I see that Fighting for the Faith has no easy way to play these files on your computer; I’ve added podcast links to the 5 audios that Peter provided, so you can easily listen to the audio files.

    Norm

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