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By Rick Frueh  
I remain simply astounded at the response to my posts on nationalism, patriotism, and idolatry. I am convinced the Spirit is actively doing a work of grace in many, many hearts. Just so everyone knows where I am in my journey I want to share. But do not think that your perspective has to mirror mine, or that you will be bullied if you are in a different place. But it would be edifying for brothers and sisters to sharpen each other´s iron.  
I was brought up in a middle class home that went to a Lutheran church. I was baptized as an infant and I went for three years to catechism after which I was confirmed as a member. But I was still lost. But I was raised in a common patriotic family who watched the 4th of July parade and voted Republican. We always displayed a flag on the fourth.  
But in 1975 I was born again. My life was changed and I was delivered from drugs and immorality and violence. But one thing that did not change was my patriotic perspective. I never questioned it and since all the new believers I met were also patriotic Americans it just seemed like a non-issue. And even after I became a pastor I held patriotic services on the fourth of July weekend. I can remember pledging allegiance to the flag on that Sunday as well as singing a couple patriotic songs. We were good American Christians.  
During those years I can remember listening to radio and television people who held "conservative" political perspectives. Some would castigate the "liberals" and mock and berate them. And since being a politically active conservative seemed to be the evangelical way, I never questioned the Biblical nature of such verbiage.  
When Iraq invaded Kuwait I can remember the patriotic pitch rising dramatically, and even in evangelical churches there was a frothing of the mouth concerning the coming war. The emotions ran high, and if someone even questioned all it they were considered liberal or at least some 60´s hippie throwback. And I can remember listening to the radio and television updates about how the coalition (America) was winning the war. Even the phrase "shock and awe" was a rallying cry!  
It was around that time that men like Rush Limbaugh began what we now call talk radio and now talk television. And since we were all patriotic Americans who revered the Constitution and the founding fathers, we didn´t notice the caustic and self righteous rhetoric. Mocking liberals and demeaning jokes about President Clinton were commonplace and accepted even among preachers. The snowball got bigger and bigger and the evangelical church became very smug and self assured.  
But in the late 1990´s something began to eat at my insides. I could not put my foot on it but something just seemed wrong with all the saber rattling and incendiary language. I would speak with my best friend about it and he too was feeling uncomfortable. One day he asked me for Scriptural support for a violent overthrow of the American government if we disagreed with its tax policy. I thought he had lost it! I told him there was absolutely no Scriptural grounds for violence over money, none. Then he asked me why then would God support the Revolutionary War? And where was Scriptural support for that war? I was stunned. I had never even considered the Scriptural validity of the Revolutionary War. In the crowd I ran with that would have been considered treasonous just to ask such a question. In some circles it still is.  
I did a study of the New Testament just to allow the Spirit to guide me without any preconceived attitudes. It soon became obvious, I had been sold a bill of goods.  
Our allegiance is to Christ and Christ alone. To pledge allegiance to any earthly government is a form of spiritual treason. It does not mean you are not saved or that you do not love the Lord Jesus, but it does mean you are blind to that form of open idolatry. If we are to be honest, it is indefensible. But I was blind and I had to repent. And I would suffer criticism and even verbal persecution from some who were my friends. It was surprising how personally believers take even a discussion in this realm.  
And then there was the battle of self righteousness and any air of superiority. Whenever the Spirit guides me into a truth that substantially changes the way I think and behave, the devil and my flesh immediately urge me to feel superior to others with whom I had agree not too long ago. Isn´t the flesh such a diabolical and clever enemy? I still need to guard against that kind of feeling.  
And in November of 2000 I cast my last vote for George Bush. And during the last 12 years I have examined many things concerning politics and the New Testament. While we are called to obey the authorities, we are never called to join with them. Politics is an unholy alliance of the saved and the unsaved. And when we resort to the ballot box, we dilute the gospel. The world sees us involved in changing the outside of the cup and subsequently they are not confronted with the eternal aspect of the gospel message. They see us as a moral religion not a faith of redemption.  
So now I ask for your thoughts... - Rick Frueh.


Matt said...

I agree with the post completely. It is amazing to me how our culture has shaped us and caused our emotions to be wrapped up in this patriotic theme. Just as in other areas of our emotions, this too has to be brought into a transformation as the mind is renewed. Until this transformation has been brought into manifestation we MUST remember that we serve Jesus not our emotions.

Pamela said...

The church has also fed this madness. Many preachers try to guilt you to voting. I'm sure this happens in many liberal and conservative churches to hear the preachers talking. There are at least three schools of thought that I have observed:

(1) Those that believe that our nation will be harshly judged by God if government leaders make ungodly decisions. This was the case under the Old Covenant I believe most of the time where people suffered for the sins of others. That is no longer the case. Jesus paid the price for all sin. Each person is responsible for their own sin. How can the sins of our leaders be charged to us that are not in sin? How can I be responsible for the downfall of our nation if I decide not to vote? It is pretty evident that both sides have been bought by huge piles of money. Our votes do not matter unless we agree with the choices that the money people pick. I am only responsible for what I decide to do. My trust is that the Holy Spirit will lead Bernard & I around the madness and that we will not be touched negatively except for maybe persecution for the cause of Christ.

(2) Those that believe in liberation theology will say that we must feed the poor, clothe the naked, etc. Our government should be the one that does this. Some of those churches focus on this without much emphasis on the fact that Christ changes people. Basically Jesus challenged the establishment aka government to affect change in society. They tend to be on the liberal side. They chide conservatives as heartless, bigoted, against the poor, un-Christian, etc. The extreme view of this will keep people in messes where they will constantly need help either from the church or the government. They will not learn responsibility. Only changed hearts will solve most ills in our society.

(3) Those that believe in dominion theology will say that Christians should completely take over all aspects of government before Christ returns. They tend to be on the conservative side. They are the ones mainly that fight for the so-called moral laws to be implemented in our government. They view the liberals as not Christian, ungodly, loose morally, etc. They want a theocracy, no matter how much they say they do not. The New Apostolic Reformation group is behind this. HOW ON EARTH can Christians rule other people (which we were never called to do) when most of us cannot even keep control of our own lives?????? Also if you look at history many of the dictatorships started with trying to correct the moral depravity of the day? Hitler was one that used this to gain power in Germany.

I totally agree that emotions are definitely being played here. Reason has been lost in the political discourse. I am from the DC area and used to love to discuss ideas. I have quit for the most part other than talking with Bernard who is from a country where one of the first words learned is politics:)

Anyone that trust in governments to take care of them or do what the Bible says the church is supposed to do are trusting in a foundation of sand. The Bible says not to put our trust in man because they will fail (us included). The only perfect one is Christ. We can only walk free from our soul when we live from the new nature. That revelation is desperately needed. This is the only thing that will kill the love of money and power that is ruining our society and our pulpits. Again Bernard & I believe that the Holy Spirit will lead us around the madness so we can do what we are supposed to do in our lives.

Bernard and Pam Dreyer said...

In my opinion there is no such thing as a Christian Nation since a nation is not a person. Such a concept might only apply to a theocracy. Only a person can be a Christian. The US is not and has not been founded as a Christian Nation. It is a nation where the majority of the people are Christians.

The founding fathers were not all godly – Benjamin Franklin was an admitted high degree mason. George Washington had some masonic ties. Jefferson thought Jesus was a good leader but disbelieved all His miracles…this was evident in the Jefferson Bible where Jefferson had cut out all the miracles of Jesus and created a “bible” for himself. How can these men be deified by the people who call themselves followers of the Lord Jesus?

Many evangelicals state that the US was founded on godly principles and that we are a Christian country. How are murder, slavery, selfishness, rape and occult involvement godly? How can slaves only have 3/5 representation in our Constitution be considered a Christian principle?

Decentdrummer911 said...

I thought this blog was really interesting. I never even thought about this before, honestly! But you are so right. "Pledging allegiance to the flag", which is basically submitting/bowing down to the nation. Thank you so much for posting this, it opened my eyes up more to the truth :).

Bernard and Pam Dreyer said...

We generally do things because they have always been done, sometimes for generations. It's best to think about what we do and why, especially in light of our knowledge base. We may find that things we have done in the past we no longer believe in or may have never started if we had thought those decisions through.