Should local churches celebrate patriotic holidays by mingling patriotic practices with the congregational worship of God?

Yes
19% (6 votes)
No
47% (15 votes)
A qualified "perhaps" (please explain)
34% (11 votes)
Total votes: 32
5985 reads

There are 40 Comments

Matthew_Black's picture

Our churches are outposts of the new Jerusalem--they are made up of people of every tribe, tongue and nation worshiping the Lamb that was slain to take away our sins. We are a called out people gathered together not for the purpose of earthly patriotism, but that we would be united around the Gospel which is not American or of any other country. Christians can and ought to be patriots, but to bring songs about country into the Lord's Day is out of place at best. Our Psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs ought to focus on the Gospel, not on patriotism. When we enter into the church, our banner is the cross. Kevin Bauder said it best:

"The church in this world is an outpost or colony. It exists among worldly governments, but it has no part with them. When we enter the church (i.e., when we assemble with a true congregation of Christ), we no longer occupy the ground of any worldly nation. We now inhabit a small, anticipatory outpost of the New Jerusalem". (The Christian and Patriotism, Pt. 2, by Kevin Bauder, http://www.centralseminary.edu/publications/20050708Print.pdf).

"Taste and See that the Lord is Good!" Ps. 34:8

Matthew S. Black, Pastor, Living Hope Bible Church of Roselle, Illinois

http://www.livinghopechurch.net

rogercarlson's picture

I would like to hear from the one who voted yes. I have not voted yet. I used to ALWAYS mix patriotism in the service. I have become uneasy about it over the last couple of years. I tend to agree with Matt and Ken, but I would like to hear the argument from the other side.

Roger Carlson, Pastor
Berean Baptist Church

SharperIron's picture

EditorAdmin

I was trying to rig this poll and broke it.
Not really... we had some tech. issues this AM (Jul 4) and I had to rebuild this post and hook the comments back up to it again... but so far haven't been able to figure out what the vote tally was so... vote early, vote often!
Sorry for the inconvenience.

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

I believe it's possible to worship God properly in a worship service that references the nation. If we can sing about how God blesses us with His bounty in the creation, I don't know why we can't sing about His blessings on us in the form of a great country to live in.
So the line can be a fine one, but it's far from impossible.

To make it more concrete, an example.
For a more time honored example, For the Beauty of the Earth

For the beauty of each hour,
Of the day and of the night,
Hill and vale, and tree and flower,
Sun and moon, and stars of light.
Lord of all, to Thee we raise,
This our hymn of grateful praise.

For the joy of ear and eye,
For the heart and mind’s delight,
For the mystic harmony
Linking sense to sound and sight.
Lord of all, to Thee we raise,
This our hymn of grateful praise.

For the joy of human love,
Brother, sister, parent, child,
Friends on earth and friends above,
For all gentle thoughts and mild.
Lord of all, to Thee we raise,
This our hymn of grateful praise.

What I'm saying is that it's proper to give God praise for every good and perfect gift and we can sing about our country in that context.
We will do so, Lord willing, on July 5. It just takes a little effort to create the context. In our case, we'll read from Psalms about God's sovereignty over the nations first and sing Crown Him with Many Crowns, then later in the serve we do God of Our Fathers and Blessed the Nation Who's God is the Lord.
Not "patriotic enough" for some in our congregation I'm pretty sure, but I think it's a good effort to connect our national blessings to their ultimate Source.

Dennis Clemons's picture

Only to the extent that our patriotism exalts God for His grace on our country as many of our patriotic songs do. It should be done in a spirit of worship to God not country.

Dennis

The first to present his case seems right, till another comes forward and questions him. ~ Proverbs 18:17

CLeavell's picture

I agree with most of the sentiments that have already been posted. I appreciated the comments by Kevin Bauder that there is a good form of patriotism and one that more closely resembles idolatry.

Here is a question.
Most churches do not see any problem with celebrating Valentines Day with a large banquet honoring the institution of marriage. It is common to celebrate Mothers Day and Fathers Day with special songs and gifts to honor fathers and mothers. Does the celebration of family also a play a part in this discussion? Both families and governments are earthy temporal institutions ordained by God.

rogercarlson's picture

CLeavell wrote:
I agree with most of the sentiments that have already been posted. I appreciated the comments by Kevin Bauder that there is a good form of patriotism and one that more closely resembles idolatry.

Here is a question.
Most churches do not see any problem with celebrating Valentines Day with a large banquet honoring the institution of marriage. It is common to celebrate Mothers Day and Fathers Day with special songs and gifts to honor fathers and mothers. Does the celebration of family also a play a part in this discussion? Both families and governments are earthy temporal institutions ordained by God.

That is intersting. I have never honored Valentine's Day. With both Father's and Mother's Day, we honored them before the worship service begain. Aaron, I like your approach. Tomorrow, I am preaching on Sodom from Genesis 19 because that is where i am in my preaching plan.

Roger Carlson, Pastor
Berean Baptist Church

DKing's picture

Since Government is ordained by God and we are called to submit to its authority and give honor to whom honor it makes sense that it is possible to give honor to God by giving appropriate honor to the country in which we have been placed. With that said, I typically don't change my preaching schedule for holidays but will acknowledge them with during the announcement time and when appropriate a poem, song or something of the sort.

There you have my "qualified perhaps".

Philippians 1.6

Jamie Hart's picture

DKing wrote:
Since Government is ordained by God and we are called to submit to its authority and give honor to whom honor it makes sense that it is possible to give honor to God by giving appropriate honor to the country in which we have been placed. With that said, I typically don't change my preaching schedule for holidays but will acknowledge them with during the announcement time and when appropriate a poem, song or something of the sort.

There you have my "qualified perhaps".


What in the world? What kind of theological GARBAGE is this?!? (JK...Glad to see you on SI, DKing...:-))

I answered a qualified yes. I agree with "D"...there are men in my church who put their lives on the line to provide us with the freedoms. These men felt they were saving something worth their lives...a country whose foundation was based on godly principles. Like "D"...I honor these men without devoting the whole service. I'll stay with my series tomorrow...but will acknowledge them with pride and gratitude!

KenFields's picture

Here are my questions for those of you who will do some mingling!

Since God ordained government ... and specific governments according to Romans 13; if you were a Chinese citizen would you celebrate your country by mingling patriotism with worship?

Or, do we tend to mingle American patriotism with worship because we are convinced that our nation is more "godly" than others because of its heritage?

Just wondering what the basis is for celebrating one nation over another since even "bad" governments (and presidents and kings) are granted their authority by God Himself, and since the church is an entirely new race (Ephesians 2) and nation (1 Peter 2), and since our citizenship is in heaven (Ephesians 3:20).

Ken Fields

Bob T.'s picture

There is no prohibition against honoring others and some admonitions to do so. We can honor those who have given us blessing and freedom to worship without diminishing God and compromising principles.

Jamie Hart's picture

KenFields wrote:
Here are my questions for those of you who will do some mingling!

Since God ordained government ... and specific governments according to Romans 13; if you were a Chinese citizen would you celebrate your country by mingling patriotism with worship?

Or, do we tend to mingle American patriotism with worship because we are convinced that our nation is more "godly" than others because of its heritage?

Just wondering what the basis is for celebrating one nation over another since even "bad" governments (and presidents and kings) are granted their authority by God Himself, and since the church is an entirely new race (Ephesians 2) and nation (1 Peter 2), and since our citizenship is in heaven (Ephesians 3:20).


On the other hand, Ken, are you saying the Chinese Government is as worthy of honor as the heritage of our country? The facts are our country WAS founded by men driven by biblical principles. The facts are the Chinese government IS persecuting Christians by the thousands. Rom. 13 is not the only principle at heart here.

Here's a really bad illustration. You're at the playground and one kid is beating up another for standing up for his Christian faith. Since God is in total control, this is ordained by Him. But is the kid who is doing the beating really as worthy of honor as the one making a stand?

I understand that our country has moved far from it's heritage...and I understand our founding fathers were far from perfect. But there ARE principles that are worthy of honor. Now more than ever we need to be reminded of that. And I can honor our heritage AND honor the world-wide church as well, IMO.

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

Bob T. wrote:
There is no prohibition against honoring others and some admonitions to do so. We can honor those who have given us blessing and freedom to worship without diminishing God and compromising principles.
I think Bob's got a good point here. Someone a while back was telling me about an honors event they had at church how horrible it was that they were "giving glory to men." I responded w/some passages that recommend that and explained that what we have to be careful of is not to give God's glory to men. There is a kind of "glory" (honor and thanks) we owe to human beings and institutions.
It's just tricky doing this in a worship setting. Personally, I'd what to make a pretty clean separation between our worship and our honoring and thanking of our fellow men... though even the latter really needs the context of "We're thankful to how God has blessed us through these people."

Eric R.'s picture

Bob T. wrote:
There is no prohibition against honoring others and some admonitions to do so. We can honor those who have given us blessing and freedom to worship without diminishing God and compromising principles.

The question is not: Is honoring a nation/heritage/soldier a good thing? The questions is: Is that worship? There are many aspects of life that are good for a Christian to participate in, including non-idolatrous patriotism. And a local church, as a group of believers, can joyously share many aspects of life together.

Example: Are yardsales forbidden by Scripture? Of course not; so feel free to have a group yardsale with Christian friends from your church! But is a yardsale worship? Of course not; so it has no place in a Worship Service. I believe wholeheartedly that we should honor those who have sacrificially served our country. It's just not worship, that's all. So have a church picnic and be a testimony of how a community of believers can express their patriotism. But we dare not sing, for example, the words "My county, tis of THEE I sing" and confuse it with worship of God. Is it wrong for a group of believers to publicly give honor to men to whom it is due? No. Unless the expressed purpose of that gathering is the public worship of God.

To gather together on a Sunday morning and say, "We are here to worship God" and then intentionally place the focus of the congregation on men (be they founders or soldiers) is at best confusion, and at worst, idolatry.

This past Sunday we joyfully sang "God of Fathers" -- singing to and about God, not to or about a nation. And we read Psalm 2 -- reminding us who is truly sovereign and where our true citizenship lies.

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

I'm sure someone has better terminology for what I'm trying to say here, but I think it's a factor that there are different kinds of worship.
That is, there's the general worship that is all of a believer's life... Romans 12:1.
("reasonable service," as some have it, renders latreuw in Greek, which was a word for the service of worship.)
And, of course, "do all to the glory of God" has that idea well.

Then you have the more focused worship of praise, confession, attention. It's a subset of the first kind and the first kind cannot replace it.
Add to that the fact that this second kind has both corporate and individual expressions.

So what's it have to do with the question? Well, not everything we do at a "worship service" quite fits the mold of "corporate praise." For example, the believers are supposed to fellowship at their gatherings as well. And there is supposed to be teaching, which is God-focused to varying degrees (sometimes it's very practical.. e.g., the Proverbs and things like "if a man doesn't work he shouldn't eat."). These activities more than fit the broader sense of "worship" in the Rom.12.1 sense. They are almost worship in the more narrow second sense.

I say all that to say this: if we know that some of the commanded activities of the gathered church are not "worship" narrowly defined, then we cannot really say, on biblical authority, that only the elements of worship in the narrowest possible sense are permissible.
What may be done in the broader fulfillment of the worship concept is open for some discernment.

That said, I do think it's best to err on the side of caution and make sure we're not confusing people about what the worship service is for and Whom it is about. But I think it's quite possible to include elements of rejoicing and thankfulness for one's country in a way that is clearly connected to praising the One who has given us these gifts (as I posted earlier).
We sang "My Country Tis of Thee" in the Sunday School hour, which we do not call a "worship service," and also contains some pretty trivial things like singing happy birthday/anniv. to people. In our particular setting, I don't believe this is a problem.

But I certainly understand and respect the thinking of those who see the need for a much wider separation of "all of life" type worship from the "gathered adoration of God" worship.

Jack's picture

I didn't understand at first that there were two similar threads on this topic. This seems to be the more popular, so I'll comment here from now on.

Since we have believers from many different nations in our congregation, I think it's important to ask whether such a service or specific elements of such a service would exclude some of the brothers and sisters with whom we've covenented. For example, I'd not expect that my brothers and sisters from Britain are likely to be able to sing "My Country Tis of Thee" or pledge the flag. The same is true of our members from India, El Salvador, Russia, Zimbabwe, China, Singapore, and many other countries.

On the other hand, almost every week the pastoral prayer (rightly, I think) includes petitions that our political leaders would be wise, just, protectors of the weak, etc. At the same time, that prayer addresses another country or two - specifically the plight of believers, the state of the church, or religious freedom there.

I have even more serious reservations related to the potential to confuse the gospel by adulterating it with patriotism or nationalism.

John Benzing's picture

Why not have a patriotic service some other time than Sunday morning? I think we should be cautious to make Christ, without a doubt, preeminent in our worship meetings. Everything else should be a distant second.

Eric R.'s picture

Aaron Blumer wrote:

I say all that to say this: if we know that some of the commanded activities of the gathered church are not "worship" narrowly defined, then we cannot really say, on biblical authority, that only the elements of worship in the narrowest possible sense are permissible.
What may be done in the broader fulfillment of the worship concept is open for some discernment.

Aaron, excellent points! I completely agree that there is very much a sense in which "all of life is worship." And there are certainly various aspects/degrees/manifestations of worship, as you point out. My understanding of the original poll question, and subsequent thread, is that the discussion concerns the "mingling" of patriotic observances with the gathered, corporate "worship service" specifically, and so my comments were in reference to that specific subcategory of worship.

I believe that there are several purposes for God's people to gather together, among them worship, fellowship and discipleship. While there is certainly some overlap (fellowship takes place in "admonishing one another" in singing; discipleship takes place during a sermon), there is also ways in which they are distinct, and it is important to maintain those distinctions the more they become obscured by the modern church.

There are many aspects of fellowship to be enjoyed - sharing a meal, singing happy birthday, celebrating a common national heritage, making announcements about upcoming church events - and those are best served in the appropriate venue: a Sunday School hour (as you said), perhaps a more informal Sunday or Wednesday evening service. But if we're going to have something called a "worship service" (and my church does) then I believe it should be a single-purposed, unalloyed, sacrifice of praise from the redeemed, going up as a sweet savor to the Redeemer. Certainly the local church can engage in more than corporate worship when gathered on a Sunday, but when we're "doing worship" I want us to be focused on that and nothing else. Perhaps that is too hard of a distinction, but as you well said, I think it's best to err on the side of caution.

I have other reservations/concerns along the lines of what others have posted regarding bringing nationalism into a local manifestation of the universal church. That certainly depends on the situation of a particular local church and requires careful thought and discernment. But my overarching response to the poll question is: When we're gathered for worship, let's worship!

Eric R.'s picture

John Benzing wrote:
Why not have a patriotic service some other time than Sunday morning? I think we should be cautious to make Christ, without a doubt, preeminent in our worship meetings. Everything else should be a distant second.

Amen! Both to the idea and the following reason.

What's to keep us from gathering as a body as much as possible? Sometimes it seems that we're trying to cram a whole week's worth of worship, fellowship, and discipleship into two or three hours on Sunday. Certainly the structure and pace of life is different in 21st century America than in 1st century Jerusalem, but can we imagine the joy of "continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house"? Maybe if we had a little more of that family unity, we wouldn't even be talking about whether or not to celebrate national holidays in the one hour a week we're all together.

Chaplain Long's picture

Romans 14:5-6,10-13, 16-19

5 One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind.
6 He that regardeth the day, regardeth it unto the Lord; and he that regardeth not the day, to the Lord he doth not regard it. He that eateth, eateth to the Lord, for he giveth God thanks; and he that eateth not, to the Lord he eateth not, and giveth God thanks.

10 But why dost thou judge thy brother? or why dost thou set at nought thy brother? for we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.
11 For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.
12 So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God.
13 Let us not therefore judge one another any more: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumblingblock or an occasion to fall in his brother's way.

16 Let not then your good be evil spoken of:
17 For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.
18 For he that in these things serveth Christ is acceptable to God, and approved of men.
19 Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another.

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

@Eric R. ... sounds like alot of us are looking at this pretty much the same way with some just barely in the "perhaps" group and some just barely in the "no" group, depending on how they took the question.
I'd agree that if "mingling" refers specifically to time that is clearly set aside for the purpose of bowing before God and "patriotic practices" refers to plain ol' "We love America" stuff, they should not go together.
Once, years ago we said the pledge to the flag on one of these holiday weekends and it seemed completely out of place to me.

But I personally believe in drawing the line short of eliminating songs that clearly give God the praise for the blessings of country. As I said before (referring to the hymn For The Goodness of the Earth) if we can praise God for sites and smells, good food and friends, we can sure praise Him for a good country.

Eric R.'s picture

Chaplain Long wrote:
Appropriate Scripture to the Topic Romans 14:5-6,10-13, 16-19

Chaplain,

First of all, thank you for your vital service to our God, our country, and the other men and women serving us. Thank you also for pointing us to Scripture - always wise and profitable.

I want to make sure I understand your post: Are you saying you believe that Romans 14 applies to the observance of secular national holidays in a church service?

CLeavell's picture

Aaron Blumer wrote:
As I said before (referring to the hymn For The Goodness of the Earth) if we can praise God for sites and smells, good food and friends, we can sure praise Him for a good country.

This is a good point.

C.S. Lewis addresses the subject of patriotism in his book “The Four Loves.” He states that there is a healthy love for a man’s country because it is HIS country. This is the sentiment expressed by Jesus as he wept over Jerusalem and Paul’s expression of love for his countrymen in Romans 9:1-3. I believe it is good, proper and in no way offensive to people from other national backgrounds to express this kind of patriotism.

Even this kind of patriotism can be out of proportion with our love for God. But, it is not our love for our countrymen that is the problem in many churches, but the disproportionate love for God.

Here in “Ron Paul" country you can deny the deity of Christ in a sermon and maybe someone will ask you a question about it after the service, but if you disparage the United States Constitution they will walk out or shout you down.

Greg Long's picture

Eric, do you have announcements in your primary Sunday worship service? And if so, do you consider them to be "worship"?

-------
Greg Long, Ed.D. (SBTS)

Pastor of Adult Ministries
Grace Church, Des Moines, IA

Adjunct Instructor
School of Divinity
Liberty University

Eric R.'s picture

That's a good question, Greg.

I do not think announcements are worship, and that is why we very intentionally do not have them as part of our Sunday morning worship service. We used to. My home church growing up always had announcements in the middle of the service as well. Even then I thought it a bit odd that the song leader would get up after five minutes of announcements and say something like, "As we continue in our worship, turn in your hymnals..." and I would think, "Don't you mean, as we resume our worship?"

Not that I think it's wrong to have announcements during a service, but I've found it's not best for our ministry. In my experience they only distract our minds from what we are doing. They take our minds off of God and put them on next week's potluck.

We are by no means a "formal" church. We're small, rural, and very family oriented. But we strive to be very thoughtful and purposeful in our most important activity as a body - Sunday corporate worship. A typical service begins with a prelude, followed by a call to worship -- which may consist of scripture reading, or some opening exhortation to focus our minds on what we are about to engage in. We often follow this with a few moments of silent prayer to quiet and focus hearts and minds, ended by a pastoral prayer. Then the first hymn or hymns, and from there the service flows in a (hopefully) uninterrupted progression of praise, praying, reading, testifying, culminating in the preaching of the Word and a call to respond. This is all designed to accomplish specific worship objectives. To insert announcements anywhere in that progression is counter-productive and requires some extra element to "get back on track."

We have experimented with various ways of communicating necessary organizational information to the congregation: Sometimes Pastor will make a few announcements just before dismissing after the final hymn. At other times we have made a few brief announcements at the very beginning, before the call to worship. Most recently and most effective has been simply printing announcements in the worship bulletin. (In fact, they've always been printed, we've just been being needlessly redundant and the people had become dependent on it.) It's taken a while for the folks to learn that they actually DO need to read the worship bulletin Smile but they have caught on.

As we have become more intentional in our worship, actively trying to educate the congregation by calling their attention to what we're doing and why we're doing it, it has been exciting to see the difference in the worship service. For us, eliminating announcements has been one small part of that process. When we're gathered for worship, let's worship!

John Benzing's picture

Aaron Blumer wrote:
But I personally believe in drawing the line short of eliminating songs that clearly give God the praise for the blessings of country. As I said before (referring to the hymn For The Goodness of the Earth) if we can praise God for sites and smells, good food and friends, we can sure praise Him for a good country.

I agree it is important to praise God for these good things. But what if in the service to praise these good things (let's say food, for example) we had farmers stand up and we corporately thanked them for the food they grow, and then we had a couple of songs about how wonderful the food production is in our country and even had the congregation dress in clothes that they think would represent what farmers would wear. At that point does it appear we are thanking God for food or have we passed a line and started worshiping the creation instead of the Creator.

This is an extreme example, but isn't the Bible replete with examples of God's people being led astray from worshiping God. Maybe this is just my personal prejudice, but it seems to me that the hardest part of worshiping Christ is keeping focus on Him. Anything that distracts from that focus should be discarded.

Greg Long's picture

Eric R. wrote:
That's a good question, Greg.

I do not think announcements are worship, and that is why we very intentionally do not have them as part of our Sunday morning worship service. We used to. My home church growing up always had announcements in the middle of the service as well. Even then I thought it a bit odd that the song leader would get up after five minutes of announcements and say something like, "As we continue in our worship, turn in your hymnals..." and I would think, "Don't you mean, as we resume our worship?"

Not that I think it's wrong to have announcements during a service, but I've found it's not best for our ministry. In my experience they only distract our minds from what we are doing. They take our minds off of God and put them on next week's potluck.

We are by no means a "formal" church. We're small, rural, and very family oriented. But we strive to be very thoughtful and purposeful in our most important activity as a body - Sunday corporate worship. A typical service begins with a prelude, followed by a call to worship -- which may consist of scripture reading, or some opening exhortation to focus our minds on what we are about to engage in. We often follow this with a few moments of silent prayer to quiet and focus hearts and minds, ended by a pastoral prayer. Then the first hymn or hymns, and from there the service flows in a (hopefully) uninterrupted progression of praise, praying, reading, testifying, culminating in the preaching of the Word and a call to respond. This is all designed to accomplish specific worship objectives. To insert announcements anywhere in that progression is counter-productive and requires some extra element to "get back on track."

We have experimented with various ways of communicating necessary organizational information to the congregation: Sometimes Pastor will make a few announcements just before dismissing after the final hymn. At other times we have made a few brief announcements at the very beginning, before the call to worship. Most recently and most effective has been simply printing announcements in the worship bulletin. (In fact, they've always been printed, we've just been being needlessly redundant and the people had become dependent on it.) It's taken a while for the folks to learn that they actually DO need to read the worship bulletin Smile but they have caught on.

As we have become more intentional in our worship, actively trying to educate the congregation by calling their attention to what we're doing and why we're doing it, it has been exciting to see the difference in the worship service. For us, eliminating announcements has been one small part of that process. When we're gathered for worship, let's worship!

So you do, at times, have announcements at the close of the service. This means that you do, in fact, have announcements as part of the service. We have ours as the very first thing. And how about this...do you or anyone else welcome people to the service? Something like, "Welcome to Grace Baptist Church. Thank you for coming today." Is that worship?

My obvious point is that there are some minor elements of the service that I believe are allowable such as announcements and a welcome that would not fit your strict definition of "worship." Yes, of course the primary focus of the service is directed towards God, but that's not to say that there couldn't be other elements that are appropriate for helping the ministry or giving honor where honor is due (honoring mothers, honoring and praying for a specific group of ministry volunteers such as Awana workers at the beginning or end of the Awana season, etc.).

BTW, our church does not have flags on the platform and does not do much in the way of "patriotic" stuff. I'm just arguing that that kind of thing is not necessarily wrong.

I think it would be more helpful to address specific questions about what you would do or not do during a worship service, such as...

* Would you say the pledge of allegiance?
* Recognize veterans or those serving in the armed forces?
* Sing the national anthem?
* Sing patriotic songs?
* Preach a sermon honoring our country?
* Pray for our country and its leaders in the pastoral prayer?

Etc.

-------
Greg Long, Ed.D. (SBTS)

Pastor of Adult Ministries
Grace Church, Des Moines, IA

Adjunct Instructor
School of Divinity
Liberty University

Chaplain Long's picture

Eric R. wrote:
Chaplain Long wrote:
Appropriate Scripture to the Topic Romans 14:5-6,10-13, 16-19

Chaplain,

First of all, thank you for your vital service to our God, our country, and the other men and women serving us. Thank you also for pointing us to Scripture - always wise and profitable.

I want to make sure I understand your post: Are you saying you believe that Romans 14 applies to the observance of secular national holidays in a church service?

Thank you for you kind words. What I am saying is that I believe that if a Christian is going to regard one day (4th of July, Mother's Day, Father's Day, Christmas, etc), then they must regard it unto the Lord. He must be "fully persuaded in his own mind." That is why I have no guilt of singing "My country, tis of thee, sweet land of liberty of thee I sing", but I am convinced that it is imperative to also sing the 4th verse as well,

"Our father's God to Thee,
Author of liberty,
To Thee we sing.
Long may our land be bright,
With freedom's holy light,
Protect us by Thy might,
Great God our King."

I think Colossians 3:17, 23 sums it up best: "And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him....And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men." Therefore, every day I thank God for my country and the privilege to serve it. He is the Author of my freedom; and, in His sovereignty, he used the circumstances of our past to give us those liberties and freedoms. For that I glorify Him. I am also mindful of the Proverb: "Withhold not good from them to whom it is due, when it is in the power of thine hand to do it." (Proverbs 3:27). By thanking the appropriate individuals for their sacrifices to give me the freedom to worship as my conscience dictates, I AM glorifying the God of the universe. If your conscience does not permit you to sing the national anthem, or salute the flag, or honor the fallen during a Sunday morning worship service; or you would rather do it on an off time (or not at all), I have not qualms with that. I am thankful that you have the right to exercise your conscience as much as mine compels me to Worship God by properly thanking those who have helped secure that opportunity without fear of reprisal.

That is how I apply Romans 14 to this and I fully respect those who apply this passage conversely to my own. That is the beauty of this great nation and our great God who blessed us with this nation.

Eric R.'s picture

Greg Long wrote:
So you do, at times, have announcements at the close of the service. This means that you do, in fact, have announcements as part of the service. We have ours as the very first thing.

Okay, granted. Technically the announcements are occurring during the service. But (apparently in both our cases) they purposefully do not interrupt the worship once it has begun. If I say that when I drive in my car to work I don't stop, one could argue "What about turning the key? What about putting your seatbelt on? That's not 'driving.'" Okay, sure. But the point is that I don't pull into a gas station, fill up, get coffee, and then start driving again. When I'm driving, I'm driving. When I'm worshiping, I'm worshiping.

Greg Long wrote:
And how about this...do you or anyone else welcome people to the service? Something like, "Welcome to Grace Baptist Church. Thank you for coming today." Is that worship?

We certainly do welcome visitors, but again, that is at the very beginning. It is done as part of the call to worship; often in the same breath the ideas are expressed that "we're glad you're here" and "this is why we've gathered today..." All designed to point people to God and prepare them for worship.

Greg Long wrote:
My obvious point is that there are some minor elements of the service that I believe are allowable such as announcements and a welcome that would not fit your strict definition of "worship."

Of course there are necessary aspects of a group of humans being gathered together that aren't in and of themselves "worship," but it's important that they remain "minor elements." Telling people what hymn to turn to isn't worship, but it's end and purpose is. Furthermore, it only takes a few seconds to say. That is a far cry from "mingling patriotic practices with the congregational worship of God" (the original question).

Greg Long wrote:
BTW, our church does not have flags on the platform and does not do much in the way of "patriotic" stuff. I'm just arguing that that kind of thing is not necessarily wrong.

I'm not ready to say that having a flag is wrong either, I'm just saying it has nothing to do with worship.

Greg Long wrote:
I think it would be more helpful to address specific questions about what you would do or not do during a worship service, such as...

* Would you say the pledge of allegiance?
* Recognize veterans or those serving in the armed forces?
* Sing the national anthem?
* Sing patriotic songs?
* Preach a sermon honoring our country?
* Pray for our country and its leaders in the pastoral prayer?

Etc.

My personal opinions, in the order asked:
* Nope. Not worship.
* Certainly. Briefly. And primarily to have public prayer for them (worship).
* Nope. Not worship.
* This category would need a little definition, but: We gladly sing songs to God about our nation but wouldn't simply sing about our nation or to our nation.
* I'm not sure what that is. I preach about Christ.
* Without question. We do it regularly. We are commanded to do it. Prayer is worship.

My basic answer to the poll question is that there are plenty of things that are good and right for a Christian to do. Patriotic expression is certainly one of them. But not every good thing we do is worship. For that hour, gathered together on the Lord's appointed day, we have one purpose. Anything that does not serve that purpose, however good or noble, is best done at a different time.

Eric R.'s picture

Chaplain Long,

Thank you for your reply. I'm afraid I have to leave at the moment, but I will return and share my thoughts in reply as soon as possible.

Have a blessed day!

Eric R.'s picture

Chaplain Long wrote:

What I am saying is that I believe that if a Christian is going to regard one day (4th of July, Mother's Day, Father's Day, Christmas, etc), then they must regard it unto the Lord. He must be "fully persuaded in his own mind."

I completely agree that Romans 14 gives freedom for differences of personal conviction and personal practice. However, we are not talking about personal practice, we are talking about corporate worship. The pastor of the church at Rome would have been in violation of Romans 14 if he required everyone to eat meat as part of a service, because that could violate the conscience of some weaker brothers. Likewise, if he required the observance of a secular holiday as part of a worship service.

Chaplain Long wrote:
That is why I have no guilt of singing "My country, tis of thee, sweet land of liberty of thee I sing", but I am convinced that it is imperative to also sing the 4th verse as well,

"Our father's God to Thee,
Author of liberty,
To Thee we sing.
Long may our land be bright,
With freedom's holy light,
Protect us by Thy might,
Great God our King."

I too have no guilt over singing this song. I do sing it - just not as part of a worship service, because it is not worship (not 3/4 of it I mean). Now, I suppose I could choose to use only the 4th stanza, but that might come off as a bit odd in a service. But I did want to include the text in our thoughts for the day on July 5th, so in our bulletin I printed the words to the 4th stanza as poetry for reflection.
To me, the problem comes when we’re gathered for a worship service, we say we’re worshiping, but we’re singing “of thee I sing” and “thy name I love” and “my heart with rapture thrills” and we’re not singing about Christ but about a country! That is dangerously close to worshiping the creature rather than the Creator. At best it blurs the lines.

Chaplain Long wrote:
I think Colossians 3:17, 23 sums it up best: "And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him....And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men."

Amen! I celebrated the 4th of July this year as usual and I trust I did it unto the Lord. I also vote regularly and I do it unto the Lord. I also go to work every day and do it unto the Lord. But not everything we do unto the Lord is part of corporate Sunday morning worship, which is the subject of this poll/thread.

Chaplain Long wrote:
If your conscience does not permit you to sing the national anthem, or salute the flag, or honor the fallen during a Sunday morning worship service; or you would rather do it on an off time (or not at all), I have not qualms with that. I am thankful that you have the right to exercise your conscience...

That is the honorable and biblical position to maintain between two individuals such as you and me. But if you were the Pastor of a church of which I was a member, and you asked me to stand and sing the national anthem and salute the flag as part of worship, then there would be a problem, wouldn't there? Once you're making decisions for a whole congregation and not just yourself, things change. That's my only point about Romans 14.

Brother, I appreciate you and enjoy discussing this together. Please take these thoughts for what they're worth. And again, thank you for your service!

Rob Fall's picture

David C. Innes, Sr. wrote:
Worship is the entertainment of God
I have no problems celebrating the Fourth of July in the context of celebrating God's grace that has been shed abroad in this land. On the other hand, if it was culturally appropriate, I'd have no problem celebrating XYZ day in EFGland. XYZ Day being the patriotic holiday in that country. The best example I can think of is Remberance Day in Great Britian and much of the Commonwealth.

Hoping to shed more light than heat..

Eric R.'s picture

Rob Fall wrote:
David C. Innes, Sr. wrote:
Worship is the entertainment of God
I have no problems celebrating the Fourth of July in the context of celebrating God's grace that has been shed abroad in this land. On the other hand, if it was culturally appropriate, I'd have no problem celebrating XYZ day in EFGland. XYZ Day being the patriotic holiday in that country. The best example I can think of is Remberance Day in Great Britian and much of the Commonwealth.

Wow! That is just one of the worst definitions of worship I've ever heard. (Apologies to Mr. Innes - I don't know who he is.)

Merriam-Webster defines entertainment as: "a) amusement or diversion provided especially by performers b) something diverting or engaging."

Worship is just a pleasurable distraction for God? Something to keep Him from thinking? (the meaning of a-muse)

But that disastrous definition aside, I'm afraid I don't see what it has to do with the rest of the post. Could you elaborate on the connection?

Rob Fall's picture

Eric R. wrote:
Rob Fall wrote:
David C. Innes, Sr. wrote:
Worship is the entertainment of God
I have no problems celebrating the Fourth of July in the context of celebrating God's grace that has been shed abroad in this land. On the other hand, if it was culturally appropriate, I'd have no problem celebrating XYZ day in EFGland. XYZ Day being the patriotic holiday in that country. The best example I can think of is Remberance Day in Great Britian and much of the Commonwealth.

Wow! That is just one of the worst definitions of worship I've ever heard. (Apologies to Mr. Innes - I don't know who he is.)

Merriam-Webster defines entertainment as: "a) amusement or diversion provided especially by performers b) something diverting or engaging."

Worship is just a pleasurable distraction for God? Something to keep Him from thinking? (the meaning of a-muse)

But that disastrous definition aside, I'm afraid I don't see what it has to do with the rest of the post. Could you elaborate on the connection?

It's a short and sweet contrast to a common thinking that a worship service is to meet man's "needs". And no entertainment is not the same as amusement (the disengaing of thinking). In this context it means, proper worship seeks to please God not man. That's doesn't mean that proper worship puts the congregation to sleep.

Hoping to shed more light than heat..

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

Eric R. wrote:
Worship is just a pleasurable distraction for God? Something to keep Him from thinking? (the meaning of a-muse)

I don't think anybody can prove it isn't.
I really have two points on that subject...
a) Our ideas about what being worshiped does for God is just speculation (except we know it "pleases" Him)
b) What exactly being worshiped does for God is irrelevant to us... even if it were something trivial to Him (which it clearly isn't, so I'm with you there Eric), if He commands us to do it as His creatures, it's of enormous consequence for us.
So.. not sure I'm expressing myself very clearly here, but the important thing about worship is that God has made it clear that our offering of it is of great importance to Him.

... what could the word "amuse" possibly mean in reference to a being that is omniscient anyway?
But I think David's aim was basically to say "It's not about us, it's about God" which is dead on.

Rob Fall's picture

That is precisely the point. Please keep in mind, HSBC is just up the hill to the west of Glide Memorial church. So, such an idea is not without local relevance.

Aaron Blumer wrote:
SNIP But I think David's aim was basically to say "It's not about us, it's about God" which is dead on.

Hoping to shed more light than heat..

Eric R.'s picture

Rob Fall wrote:
That is precisely the point.
Aaron Blumer wrote:
SNIP But I think David's aim was basically to say "It's not about us, it's about God" which is dead on.

Well in that case, then I'm in total agreement with you on that! I just happen to think Aaron's way of putting it is a LOT better than David's. So much of the conversation about worship today is filled with the "Well, I like..." thinking. We can't remind people enough that "worship isn't primarily for US."

Rob Fall wrote:
And no entertainment is not the same as amusement (the disengaing of thinking).

So, I guess this is the only point that you and I disagree on. Or rather, that you and Webster disagree on. Wink Amusement is the primary definition of, and a primary synonym for, entertainment. If they are not identical, they are so closely related that it's not worth splitting hairs over. I agree wholeheartedly with the authors intent as you have described it, but still reject the actual definition as it stands, because it is so poorly worded and potentially very misleading.

A minor point, perhaps. But words do mean something and I think we should always strive to be as accurate in our speech as possible, especially when dealing with something as important as worship. That's my little "defense" of my view, for what it's worth.

Larry's picture

Moderator

I haven't read everything here, but it seems to me that this is a wisdom issue, and I have concluded that wisdom for me does not include this type of service for several reason.

1. America (or any other nation) has nothing to do with the gospel. I would rather preach the gospel.
2. In a community of mixed heritage, including some who think the American government and economic system is oppressive and bad, it raises an unnecessary obstacle to the gospel. If you minister in a community that is entirely American, you might be able to better do it. But still, is it worth it to risk mixing the gospel up with politics? I think not.

And BTW, Bob T., honoring pastors is commanded. Honoring veterans or LEOs is not. They are two different things. I think we should honor veterans and LEOs, but in a worship service? I don't see that as wise.