July 24

This Sunday morning our journey through the book of Romans takes us into chapter 13 and a passage that seems like it could have been written this week. The apostle Paul states, “Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established.” This call is even more challenging when we remind ourselves that this was written to a first century church that was suffering intense persecution including torture and death at the hands of the “governing authorities,” and not to a 21st century American church that by comparison is still shown overall consideration, approval and respect. Leading up to our study on Sunday I’d like to share a recent article by brother Ed Fudge, a member of the Church of Christ in Houston, who published these thoughts in his “GracEmail” ministry column on July 3rd in response to a reader’s question, “Is America a Christian Nation?”
There are two extremes on this topic, both to be avoided. Secularists often seem unaware that our nation’s founders assumed a Supreme Being and a broad biblical morality, and that they wrote these convictions into the nation’s charter documents. James Adams was apparently a committed Christian believer, and perhaps George Washington was as well. However, pietistic reconstructionists today often fail to mention Thomas Jefferson’s rejection of Scripture’s supernatural elements, including the deity of Christ. Likewise, they seem unaware that regular churchgoers in 1776 constituted a smaller percentage of the general population than is the case today.
Demographically, the United States as a whole is still largely populated by professing Christians. However, the day is past when American Christians could assume that their neighbors shared the same faith in Jesus Christ. I write this gracEmail in Houston, Texas, where the landscape is speckled with Jewish synagogues, Moslem mosques, Buddhist temples and Hindu shrines. If we draw the picture to include the less tangible gods of power, wealth, entertainment, pleasure and physical beauty, the whole city appears given over to idolatry.
I am not ashamed to say that ours is a great and good nation, but honesty requires us to admit its blots and blights as well. These include ruthless slaughters (from Native Americans to the unborn), the abomination of human slavery, and the support of foreign dictators who persecute believers and deny basic human rights. And, often enough to generate stereotypes, the party in power advances political agendas grounded in cold-hearted selfishness on one hand and in flagrant immorality on the other. In the end, “Christians” are not nations, however noble. They are individual men and women, exactly like you and me.

Bill Allen

Dr. Bill Allen preached at South Fork from 2005 to 2015. He received a Bachelors degree in Bible from Oklahoma Christian in 1978, a Masters in Bible from Abilene Christian (ACU) in 1988, and a Doctor of Ministry from ACU in 1992. He now preaches at the West Erwin Church of Christ in Tyler, Texas.

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