Why Younger Evangelicals May Feel Uneasy In A Patriotic Church Service

Why Younger Evangelicals May Feel Uneasy In A Patriotic Church Service

The church transcends the state, a truth that should be proclaimed clearly in a worship setting.

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Chip Van Emmerik's picture

I have reconciled myself to the fact that I am no longer counted among the younger (I'm 43). However, I too would be uncomfortable in a patriotic church service. I came to this realization some years back while pastoring when I stopped to consider the position of this in my church who were not American citizens. The church is to be a separate entity. I have no problem with the church gathering on the 4th to watch fireworks, but worship services transcend political allegiances. They are about God and His people, the called out assembly. 

Why is it that my voice always seems to be loudest when I am saying the dumbest things?

G. N. Barkman's picture

I don't think this article touched upon the main problem, as I see it.  Too often, patriotic songs sound like we are giving our nation the same reverence, adoration, and worship that should be reserved for God alone.  To sing, "My country, 'tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing..." is too close to replacing Jesus Christ with the United State of America.  And this in a church worship service?  Who are we worshipping?  To place an American flag on one side of the platform and a Christian flag on the other is equally problematic.  Are we giving equal honor to the USA and the Kingdom of Christ?  It sure looks like it.  How would a visitor from another country or culture know that we exalt Christ above (hopefully way, way above) our nation?  Or, in  church, to pledge allegiance to the flag of the United State of America, and then, in turn, pledge similar allegiance to the Christian flag, looks and sounds like two entities that receive equal allegiance from Christians.  Is that really the message we intend to communicate?

Let's reserve church services for the worship of Jesus Christ.  If you want to go to a public park, watch fireworks, and sing patriotic songs (which often sound exactly like hymns), go to it.  But please don't confuse the worship of Christ with the worship of America (or Caesar).  The church of the Lord Jesus Christ worships Christ alone, and no one shares His honor.

G. N. Barkman

josh p's picture

G.N. Barkman I agree completely. That is a much larger problem in my mind. What is a Christian flag anyway? Does God really want us pledging our allegiance to a flag that is supposed to represent Christianity?

As for the American flag, I am happy to pledge my allegiance to the flag for the reasons Jim mentioned but I am not personally comfortable doing it in a church service.

DavidO's picture

Jim wrote:
My own church['s]. . . annual patriotic service . . . [i]s . . . Christ-honoring.

This is precisely where we "younger evangelicals" see a dichotomy.

Chip Van Emmerik's picture

Jim wrote:

I haven't seen a Christian flag in a church for over 30 years. 

I would be shocked if they aren't all over the campus of the day school there. 

Why is it that my voice always seems to be loudest when I am saying the dumbest things?

Mark_Smith's picture

Just because so-called "younger evangelicals" don't like something does not mean it is bad...they don't hold the "official" judge card!

 

Second, not all "patriotic services" are bad. For example, a reasonable affirmation that God, through Providence, guided the hand of many of the founders in our nation is not improper. Some songs are not "patriotic" and "militaristic", but are tasteful. Take "God Bless America", it is a short prayer that God would bless our nation. What could possibly be wrong with that? By singing it you are NOT affirming that everything the USA has done is on the straight and narrow...

Third, I never have said the Pledge of Allegiance to the US flag at a church worship service, never will.

Fourth, I don't care for the so-called Christian flag.

Fifth, if you live near a military base your attitude towards "patriotic" services would probably change given the service and sacrifices by many at your church!

Sixth, there is nothing wrong with taking a few minutes in a service on Independence Day or Veteran's Day, etc, to honor veterans. A church service also has a social/cultural/community component to it, not just pure worship and Word.

Seventh, there is nothing wrong with taking a few minutes in a church service to thank God that the US has been a relatively free country where the gospel could be freely preached, and to pray that it would continue to be such a place.

Chip Van Emmerik's picture

Sixth, there is nothing wrong with taking a few minutes in a service on Independence Day or Veteran's Day, etc, to honor veterans. A church service also has a social/cultural/community component to it, not just pure worship and Word.

I agree that a church body includes a community component, but I disagree that that is a primary component of the worship services. Furthermore, the majority of 4th of July services I have been in did not "take a few minutes in a service" but focused the entire service on the activity. Songs were patriotic and the message was geared toward national identity (usually by misusing and abusing a scripture like 2 Chronicles 7:14). 

Why is it that my voice always seems to be loudest when I am saying the dumbest things?

Jim's picture

Chip Van Emmerik wrote:
the majority of 4th of July services I have been in did not "take a few minutes in a service" but focused the entire service on the activity. Songs were patriotic and the message was geared toward national identity (usually by misusing and abusing a scripture like 2 Chronicles 7:14). 

Our pastor's message was on real freedom from John 8

Ron Bean's picture

I go to church to worship God.

When ALL  the hymns (?) in a patriotic service are these:

The Star Spangled banner

My, Country, 'Tis of Thee

Battle Hymn of the Republic

America the Beautiful

What am I worshipping?

 

"Some things are of that nature as to make one's fancy chuckle, while his heart doth ache." John Bunyan

josh p's picture

Our church has a Christian flag Jim. I don't know about other IFB churches in our area because I have not attended many.

Mark_Smith's picture

I don't know, what are you worshipping? You could line up the 5 greatest theologically perfect worship hymns, sing them to perfection, and be thinking of the Bears-Packers game on after church! Or you could be undressing the woman in front of you in your mind! Or doing your taxes in your head! Or thinking of something you need to do at work tomorrow...Worship time is what you make of it.

Maybe...just maybe...you could sing My Country Tis of Thee and be thinking that you are grateful to God to live in a politically free land where the gospel can be preached. And be asking God that doors of utterance be opened so that the hearts of the people would receive the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Mark_Smith's picture

What would happen if most of the believers in the US suddenly turned to the Lord, turned off the TV/ipad/cell phone, and prayed earnestly to God in repentance and for revival? What if they actually started living a life of obedience to the love of God? Do you think the balance of Scripture teaches that God would honor that and bless the US?

Greg Linscott's picture

Mark_Smith wrote:

Sixth, there is nothing wrong with taking a few minutes in a service on Independence Day or Veteran's Day, etc, to honor veterans. A church service also has a social/cultural/community component to it, not just pure worship and Word.

I do understand the sentiment Mark is expressing... I was raised as a "Navy brat," and my grandfather is a WWII veteran. Veterans are deserving of our gratitude and respect.

At the same time, I am not sure why we have concluded that church services are the best venue for that. Veterans are not the only people in our communities who deserve accolades. How about the spouses and parents of veterans? What about law enforcement? Fire fighters? EMTs? What about teachers? Doctors and medical staff? Adoptive and foster parents? We have Mothers' and Fathers' day, already... I mean, if you put half an effort, you could probably devote such a service to some deserving group every couple of months, at least. The question is, do they deserve enough attention to share it with God?

It seems to me that Christians do need to put some kind of effort into showing due gratitude and honor for those who serve and protect our society- including, but not limited to veterans. We brought our children to a parade today. We teach them all how to salute the flag, and we show respect to those who have worn the uniform. I took my children to the local cemetery on Memorial Day, though I have no relatives buried here, to explain to them why we celebrate the holiday.

What I am not convinced of is why that has to be done when we gather, not as citizens of an earthly country, but of one whose builder and maker is God. If a church is going to make that kind of effort, at least add an additional service. Don't take away from the time set aside for the corporate worship of the Triune Godhead.

Greg Linscott
Marshall, MN

Chip Van Emmerik's picture

Greg Linscott wrote:

 

Mark_Smith wrote:

 

Sixth, there is nothing wrong with taking a few minutes in a service on Independence Day or Veteran's Day, etc, to honor veterans. A church service also has a social/cultural/community component to it, not just pure worship and Word.

 

 

I do understand the sentiment Mark is expressing... I was raised as a "Navy brat," and my grandfather is a WWII veteran. Veterans are deserving of our gratitude and respect.

At the same time, I am not sure why we have concluded that church services are the best venue for that. Veterans are not the only people in our communities who deserve accolades. How about the spouses and parents of veterans? What about law enforcement? Fire fighters? EMTs? What about teachers? Doctors and medical staff? Adoptive and foster parents? We have Mothers' and Fathers' day, already... I mean, if you put half an effort, you could probably devote such a service to some deserving group every couple of months, at least. The question is, do they deserve enough attention to share it with God?

It seems to me that Christians do need to put some kind of effort into showing due gratitude and honor for those who serve and protect our society- including, but not limited to veterans. We brought our children to a parade today. We teach them all how to salute the flag, and we show respect to those who have worn the uniform. I took my children to the local cemetery on Memorial Day, though I have no relatives buried here, to explain to them why we celebrate the holiday.

What I am not convinced of is why that has to be done when we gather, not as citizens of an earthly country, but of one whose builder and maker is God. If a church is going to make that kind of effort, at least add an additional service. Don't take away from the time set aside for the corporate worship of the Triune Godhead.

Exactly

Why is it that my voice always seems to be loudest when I am saying the dumbest things?

JJ Hoban's picture

Jim wrote:

I haven't seen a Christian flag in a church for over 30 years. I personally was never comfortable saluting the Christian flag.

My own church, 4th Baptist, has an annual patriotic service. It's tasteful and Christ-honoring.

Does your church have an annual Martin Luther King Day service? 

Do any of you advocates of Patriotic Services over Expository preaching of Holy Scripture have Martin Luther King Day services? Or Black History Month services? 

 

JJ Hoban's picture

Jim wrote:

 

JJ Hoban wrote:

Does your church have an annual Martin Luther King Day service? 

 

We celebrate​ justification by faith at every service.

Can you answer the question? Or is a red herring all you have? I believe Catholics preach the same thing in every service too.....

 

Jim's picture

JJ Hoban wrote:
Can you answer the question? Or is a red herring all you have? I believe Catholics preach the same thing in every service too.....

Answer this first:

  • How do you feel this is relevant to this conversation?
  • And ... what do Catholics have to do with this?

Thanks

Kevin Miller's picture

JJ Hoban wrote:

 

Jim wrote:

 

I haven't seen a Christian flag in a church for over 30 years. I personally was never comfortable saluting the Christian flag.

My own church, 4th Baptist, has an annual patriotic service. It's tasteful and Christ-honoring.

 

 

Does your church have an annual Martin Luther King Day service? 

Do any of you advocates of Patriotic Services over Expository preaching of Holy Scripture have Martin Luther King Day services? Or Black History Month services? 

 

JJ Hoban, do you think an expositional message covering Romans 13 should only be preached as a pastor is going through the book of Romans, or can such a message be preached at any time, perhaps even during the first part of the month of July? Is it okay to preach an expositional message from I Corinthians 13 during the middle of February?

JJ Hoban's picture

Jim wrote:

 

JJ Hoban wrote:

Can you answer the question? Or is a red herring all you have? I believe Catholics preach the same thing in every service too.....

 

Answer this first:

  • How do you feel this is relevant to this conversation?
  • And ... what do Catholics have to do with this?

Thanks

1) The question is relevant to the conversation because if the church is going to lend itself to preaching patriotism, than she ought to lend herself to preach other holidays that expound on freedom and sacrifice.

2) I brought Catholic into the question as randomly as you brought preaching justification every service. Neither had anything to due with the question/statement at hand.

Now, you answer my question: Does your church have an annual Martin Luther King Day service? 

JJ Hoban's picture

Kevin Miller wrote:

 

JJ Hoban wrote:

 

 

Jim wrote:

 

I haven't seen a Christian flag in a church for over 30 years. I personally was never comfortable saluting the Christian flag.

My own church, 4th Baptist, has an annual patriotic service. It's tasteful and Christ-honoring.

 

 

Does your church have an annual Martin Luther King Day service? 

Do any of you advocates of Patriotic Services over Expository preaching of Holy Scripture have Martin Luther King Day services? Or Black History Month services? 

 

 

JJ Hoban, do you think an expositional message covering Romans 13 should only be preached as a pastor is going through the book of Romans, or can such a message be preached at any time, perhaps even during the first part of the month of July? Is it okay to preach an expositional message from I Corinthians 13 during the middle of February?

 

Oh, I didn't know praising America was exegeted from the original languages in Romans 13 and 1 Corinthians 13. It must be lost in translation....

Jim's picture

My church does not have a Martin Luther King Day service. 

Observations about the same:

  • While we are a multicultural church with some blacks
  • The black-American experience is one that few in our church would relate 

Final: We worship and preach Christ at every service .... even a patriotic service

Kevin Miller's picture

JJ Hoban wrote:

 

Kevin Miller wrote:

 

 

JJ Hoban wrote:

 

 

Jim wrote:

 

I haven't seen a Christian flag in a church for over 30 years. I personally was never comfortable saluting the Christian flag.

My own church, 4th Baptist, has an annual patriotic service. It's tasteful and Christ-honoring.

 

 

Does your church have an annual Martin Luther King Day service? 

Do any of you advocates of Patriotic Services over Expository preaching of Holy Scripture have Martin Luther King Day services? Or Black History Month services? 

 

 

JJ Hoban, do you think an expositional message covering Romans 13 should only be preached as a pastor is going through the book of Romans, or can such a message be preached at any time, perhaps even during the first part of the month of July? Is it okay to preach an expositional message from I Corinthians 13 during the middle of February?

 

 

 

Oh, I didn't know praising America was exegeted from the original languages in Romans 13 and 1 Corinthians 13. It must be lost in translation....

Now who is the one throwing out red herrings instead of answering the question that was asked? Wink

JJ Hoban's picture

Jim wrote:

My church does not have a Martin Luther King Day service. 

Observations about the same:

  • While we are a multicultural church with some blacks
  • The black-American experience is one that few in our church would relate 

Final: We worship and preach Christ at every service .... even a patriotic service

So because they are a minority in a white mans church and not many would relate, they do not get to show the same revere for a man who portrayed better qualities than the founding fathers?  How do non-Americans feel about your services, assuming they attend.

Those types of services only harm and splinter the body of Christ, where there is neither Jew nor Greek. I guess if Nadab and Abihu could add to the worship of God what the deemed good, why not the 21st Century christian church.

JJ Hoban's picture

Kevin Miller wrote:

JJ Hoban wrote:

Kevin Miller wrote:

JJ Hoban wrote:

Jim wrote:

I haven't seen a Christian flag in a church for over 30 years. I personally was never comfortable saluting the Christian flag.

My own church, 4th Baptist, has an annual patriotic service. It's tasteful and Christ-honoring.

Does your church have an annual Martin Luther King Day service? 

Do any of you advocates of Patriotic Services over Expository preaching of Holy Scripture have Martin Luther King Day services? Or Black History Month services? 

JJ Hoban, do you think an expositional message covering Romans 13 should only be preached as a pastor is going through the book of Romans, or can such a message be preached at any time, perhaps even during the first part of the month of July? Is it okay to preach an expositional message from I Corinthians 13 during the middle of February?

Oh, I didn't know praising America was exegeted from the original languages in Romans 13 and 1 Corinthians 13. It must be lost in translation....

Now who is the one throwing out red herrings instead of answering the question that was asked? Wink

Oh, I didn't know praising America was exegeted from the original languages in Romans 13 and 1 Corinthians 13. It must be lost in translation.... I suppose if you eisegete Scripture it would only make sense to preach those texts during those times.  But if you Exegete God's word, you can preach those anytime to people of every tribe, tongue and nation.

Wayne Wilson's picture

Personally, I think these sentiments are excellent and biblical.

O beautiful for pilgrim feet 
Whose stern impassioned stress
A thoroughfare of freedom beat 
Across the wilderness! 
America! America! 
God mend thine every flaw, 
Confirm thy soul in self-control, 
Thy liberty in law! 

O beautiful for heroes proved 
In liberating strife. 
Who more than self their country loved
And mercy more than life! 
America! America! 
May God thy gold refine 
Till all success be nobleness 
And every gain divine! 

O beautiful for patriot dream 
That sees beyond the years 
Thine alabaster cities gleam 
Undimmed by human tears! 
America! America! 
God shed his grace on thee 
And crown thy good with brotherhood 
From sea to shining sea! 

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