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Thursday, May 01, 2008

Is America the Greatest Nation God Gave Man?

Note: I was trying to craft this post into a perfect, self-contained, all-encompassing, bullet-proof, ultimately persuasive blog post. But that just wasn't working. So I decided to post it in its current form. Perhaps the arguments are not fully completed, but that's okay. Perhaps I'll let you, the reader, poke holes in the blog post, thereby forcing me to plug them up, or admit that the holes cannot be plugged. My opinions are not set in stone on this issue. If you feel strongly about your contrary positions and have good arguments, let's discuss them.

WTC Flag and Cross, modified, from September11News.comFrom time to time, I hear conservative/libertarian political pundits refer to America as the "greatest nation God gave man." I am enticed by talk of God and nation like Luna is attracted to bloody meat, so I just had to say a few things about it.

I did some Google searches on phrases that resemble the title of this blog post. I wanted to read the reasons why people think this. Many pages say that freedom (political, economic, religious) and opportunity are what make America the greatest nation that God gave to man. I also read that America's greatness is evidenced by its material "blessings." I take issue with these claims.

Speaking of which, let's get that last one out of the way. I do not believe that material "blessings" make a nation great in the eyes of God. Certainly not, for "...it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I [Jesus] tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God." You cannot serve both God and Money. Anyways...

Clarification:

I don't really take much issue when people say that "America is the greatest nation on Earth." In fact, I am quite comfortable in the U.S.A. and don't really have much desire to live elsewhere. I like that Americans are generally more prudish about immodesty than Europeans (that's scary). I like that we are not totally socialist. I like many other things about living here. So it doesn't bother me too much when people say things like "America is the greatest nation to ever exist." What I do take issue with is when people invoke God in these claims, such as the aforementioned "America is the greatest nation God gave man."

Does God "give" nations to people, or do people create them out of their own initiatives?

You could make the case that God does give nations to people, in that God establishes every governing authority (Romans 13). That means that the governing authorities of the U.S. and North Korea alike have been established by God to uphold order and justice, and to bear the sword against those who break the law. If God establishes every earthly authority, what makes the U.S. more special?As humans have free will, they can choose to misuse this authority, for which they will eventually receive their dues. See Hitler and the pharaoh of Egypt during Moses' time. If God establishes every earthly authority, what makes the U.S. more special? There have been many great nations in the history of the world, and many have lasted much longer than the approximate 200 years that the U.S. has been in official existence (ancient Greece, ancient Rome, China, British Empire, to name a few)

God had quite the hand in establishing the nation of ancient Israel. So if any past or present nation can make the claim that it's the greatest nation that God gave man, it's ancient Israel. There's no question that they were God's chosen people. Let's compare ancient Israel and the U.S.A. in the context of freedoms granted to its citizens.

Ancient Israel

If God made America great by giving it freedoms, how did God make Israel? What was life like for the average Israelite? We need only to glance at a few pages in Leviticus to see that their lives had much less freedom than a typical American life. They did not have the freedom to worship whomever they chose; you were executed for practicing non-Judaic religion. Young Goat + Mother's Milk = NOPE, SORRYThey couldn't eat whatever they wanted. Do you have a hankerin' to cook a young goat in its mother's milk? In America, you are free to do so, but this was not allowed in ancient Israel (Exodus 23:19). They couldn't keep their hair however they wanted. Adultery was a capital offense. So was Sabbath breaking or spitefully throwing livestock dung at (thereby dishonoring) your parents because they wouldn't let you have an iPod. If these were still capital crimes, there'd be much fewer people taking up space. So perhaps I could say that freedom is not necessarily what makes a nation great in God's eyes. Ancient Israel was, or should have been, a slave to God, as Christians should be today.

Perhaps someone will make the statement that ancient Israel was created to be demonstrative of Old Testament Law, and that the U.S.A. is demonstrative of the New Testament Law. Whether that's the truth or not, no one can know unless he can ask God Himself.

What's the deal then?

I don't believe America is the greatest nation in God's eyes. I don't believe America is the worst nation either. Americans throughout its history have committed atrocities and benevolent acts alike. Will America be judged harshly for its injustices, let off easy its Constitutional liberties, or neither?Surely there have been good and righteous American Christians, and surely there have been hypocritical false "Christians" who said one thing and did the opposite. I believe that America is just a nation, perhaps with equal footing to other nations, in the eyes of God. According to Amos (among other examples), God does judge nations. Will America be judged harshly for its injustices, let off easy for its Constitutional liberties, or neither?

But of course, perhaps my admittedly non-thetical analysis has not been exhaustive. I would be interested in honing my views by hearing your opinions. What do you think? Do you think that America has a special place in God's view? Let's take it to the comments, if you are inclined (and comfortably so).

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7 have poured out their souls in electronic text:

  • Ginny

    I don't usually voice my opinions regarding this matter, because it doesn't mean that much to me, but I would just like to say that I do not believe that America is special in God's eyes. Israel is God's chosen nation and all the other ones are pretty much the same. It is the individual that matters, although nations do exist and God does use nations in His workings. I don't know that He blesses or curses a nation as it's own entity or that He does it because of the individuals within it.

    This was a very interesting post. You are a good writer and put your thoughts together very well. That doesn't mean that I automatically agree with everything you say. You have just gotten lucky so far.
    ;-)

  • Ginny

    P.S. When I said that all the other nations are pretty much the same, I did not mean that they are the same as Israel, I meant equal with each other. I thought that needed clarifying. I wish I could catch stuff BEFORE I publish...
    :-D

  • JunkMale

    Ginny,

    Thank you for the comment and compliments. I totally agree that it is the individual that matters most. Even if America were somehow favored by God above other nations, I don't think that should change the way that American Christians act. We certainly shouldn't become complacent in our faith, in that hypothetical situation.

    As for cursing a nation or the people within that nation, I thought of Sodom and Gomorrah. God would've spared those places for the sake of just 10 righteous people. Hopefully the Lord will stay His hand for the sake of the (hopefully) 10+ righteous people in this country.

    I also saw in Genesis 18 that God said all nations on earth would be blessed through Abraham. So there is at least some Biblical precedent for God blessing nations as a whole.

  • Thehotrod5

    I completely agee jm...I do not see America as a "Christian Nation" or one that Honors God. In order for us to be a Christian Nation...the nation as a whole would be devoted to our Lord....that is not something I see. I know (as well as I am sure you do too) know or know of many Christians around the world. I do not think that God looks at a *nation* rather than the individual. Your comment about Sodom and Gomorrah made me think...I believe you hit it right on the mark. Although I wonder about the blessing of a nation as a whole...I tend to think that the blessing of a nation is more of a linage rather than a "country"

  • Melissa

    Great post. Great thought process.

    I can dig it ;) No nation has ever existed before or since the Israel of the Old Testament that was specifically appointed by God as the people of God...and now after the coming of Jesus, those who believe are all the sons and daughters of Abraham, all "adopted" as children of God's family (Ephesians 1; John 1; Romans 4, etc.). So God's people do not exist as an earthly nation, but all around the world as we await our heavenly home...(Philippians 3; Hebrews 11, etc.)

    For any nation to claim otherwise would strike me as arrogant and in danger of putting words in the mouth of God...not ground on which I want to tread...

    Oh, and in my small opinion, in Genesis 18, I perhaps think that God was referring to the coming of Jesus...that all nations would be blessed through Abraham ultimately through the coming of Jesus and the hope of salvation...the promise was for all people of all nations...but that's just my two cents...and it could be a wrong two cents...

    anyhow, thanks for this post... :)

  • JunkMale

    Thanks Melissa. Personally, I liked this post too, but unfortunately, I haven't been able to muster up more posts like this recently. Hopefully they will start coming back to me...

  • ajay

    yes the greatest nation in war with weaks,violence,intolerence,uncivilised activities and cultureless activities