Patriotic services?

I attended by wife's family's church in South Carolina over July 4 weekend; the church had its annual patriotic service. It is in a town with an air force base; I'd guess the church has 25-30 active duty service men/women and vets. I hate attending the patriotic service. I don't mind the presentation of the colors, saying the pledge of allegiance or the recognition of vets. What gets under my skin are statements like, "America is the greatest nation on the face of the earth," "I'm proud to be an American," and "Our founding fathers were all Christian." Then there are the hokey songs like, "The Cross Is My Statue of Liberty." I'm just seeking the thoughts of others on this. Does this even belong in a church on the Lord's Day? Can patriotism be idolatrous? Is national pride an ok kind of pride?

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Alex Guggenheim's picture

John,

I am about halfway through my composition. However, it appears that its completion won't be until next weekend. While my time is permitting sporadic participation here, lengthy engagement for thoughtful composition of the second half of my response appears to be 5 more days from now.

Alex

John Benzing's picture

Alex Guggenheim wrote:
John,

I am about halfway through my composition. However, it appears that its completion won't be until next weekend. While my time is permitting sporadic participation here, lengthy engagement for thoughtful composition of the second half of my response appears to be 5 more days from now.

Alex

No problem

JohnBrian's picture

Some years ago my mother heard me preach for the very first time. On the way home from church my aunt asked my mother if she was proud of me, and her answer was, "Proud no, blessed yes."

That was a challenge to me, and as a result I do not use the word proud even when speaking of or to my children. I have told them that they are a delight to me, that I am pleased with them, and similar phrases but I purposely refrain from using the word proud.

In my sales work for the past couple years I had to memorize a script and one line in the script required us to say that the thing we were most proud of was that our product was "made in America, by Americans, for Americans," and wave the flag while we spoke. I changed the "proud" to "pleased," and am very proud that I did so. Smile

I would agree that there are enough other words that can be used that don't require using PROUD.

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Marty H's picture

Is it not wrong to give place to anything in the in the church ? We have all week and we have fellowship halls and pic-nic sheds and even river banks where we can talk about our love for or make a pledge to whatever.

Why take what belongs to GOD and give it to anything else ? And you can quote scripture if you like but I think you are missing the point.

Mat 22:21 They say unto him, Caesar's. Then saith he unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's; and unto God the things that are God's.

There are two parts spoken of here, Not just one ! And notice it does NOT say to take what is GOD's and give it to Caesar.

Here I am in the middle of Bible educated people and they seem to have no idea what the word HOLY means !

From the Websters online " devoted entirely to the deity or the work of the deity"

Hbr 9:24 For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, [which are ] the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us:

consecrated : to make or declare sacred; especially : to devote irrevocably to the worship of God by a solemn ceremony

See separate......

Now I'm not trying to put anyone down for loving this nation of ours. And I for sure am not making light of those who have fought and died. I joined the Army when Iran took the Hostages and though we did not go in and fight, That is what I was there for.

In fact, This has nothing whatever to do with patriotism as far as what I am addressing. Its all about taking what belongs to GOD and giving it to the world. There are far better places to wave your flags. IMO And not a worse place on earth.
Think about it.

Pastork's picture

After reading through this thread, I just want to thank both Eric R. and Ben Howard for their posts.

Eric, I think you pretty much hit the nail right on the head in the Biblical and linguistic arguments you offered. In fact, although I would never have said, "I'm proud to be an American," I have at times told my children that I am proud of them, and now I am convicted about it. This conviction comes from the Lord, I believe, in response the the fact that you were absolutely right in what you said.

Ben, as a pastor who served for a time in the military, I want to state my agreement with your post as well.

Thanks again,

Keith

Chip Van Emmerik's picture

When I first entered the pastorate, I prepared special messages for each of the special days of the year. Over time, I became convicted that we were diverting attention from God and stealing His glory with the practice. This really hit home one year as we celebrated the 4th of July and I realized I had foriegn nationals in the service. They had come to join spiritual brothers and sisters in Christ in worshiping God, not to observe American Christians celebrating their national heritage. My practice became to treat events as Scripture does. National holidays are best celebrated nationally -- Easter, Christmas and Thanksgiving are alwys special services -- Mother's and Father's Days occassionally receive special treatment, but not regularly -- and so forth.

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

Pastor Rob V's picture

Illinois who was fired from a church because he took the flags off the platform. He was from Scotland and didn't understand that for a lot of Christians their patriotic zeal is about as important as their christian zeal. I personally believe we are the greatest nation on the planet because I can't think of anywhere else I would like to live. We still, knock on wood, have freedoms that others do not enjoy.
From a pastoral standpoint I think our duty is to let people know that God is not just the God of America, but He is the King of the Universe. Being a patriotic American is not the same as being a dedicated disciple of Christ. At the same time we thank God for the nation we enjoy. I am sure those believers in England and the other nations are thankful for what the Lord gives them there.
I can see how a patriotic service could blur the lines between faith and patriotism. How we handle it is to keep Jesus at the center. His Cross and His salvation is offered to all the nations.

Don't be a great pastor, just be a pastor and let history judge for itself.

Pastork's picture

In my view, a church that would "fire" a pastor for taking the American flag off the platform has got a serious problem. Their so-called "patriotic zeal" sounds more like idolatry to me.

By the way, I took the flag out of our sanctuary several years ago. I don't think it needs to be there at all.

Pastor Rob V's picture

At the same time I believe you better not try to remove the flag at the beginning of the ministry in the church. You should wait until you have built up enough clout. This subject made me think of something Keith Green once said. He said, "God isn't an American. He isn't even a Republican."

Don't be a great pastor, just be a pastor and let history judge for itself.

Pastork's picture

I had actually been at Immanuel for several years when I removed the Christian flag and U.S. flag from the sanctuary. I didn't see any need for either of them to be in there. As I recall, only a couple of people even noticed, and they didn't care one way or the other.

Had people noticed and reacted strongly, I would have exposed a problem that needed dealing with, I suppose, but I was glad it didn't go that way, especially since in that situation I would not have been able to put the U.S. flag back!

JonS's picture

This is a subject I have given much thought to over the last few years. Let me start by saying that I really love this country. I served in the Army for over three years and was medically discharged in 1997. I can honestly say that I would not have any problems dying to protect its people and the freedoms we enjoy. There is no problem for believers to be extremely patriotic. Christians should be, as we are commanded to be, the most upstanding citizens in the country. But how do we show this patriotism? Is it by having a few patriotic services three times a year (July 4th, Memorial and Veterans Day) or is it by serving this country on multiple levels? Most church members are all about waving flags here and there, but ask them to sacrifice and you won't get much. God forbid that we send our sons and daughters to serve in the military as a way to repay the favor (sounds suspiciously like most church member's attitude towards missions). God forbid we partake of the political process which we are very priviledged to do so if we desire. God forbid we consistently pray for our leaders including the ones we consider enemies of God and country. This is the attitude I find among most believers in America today.

On the other hand, any time I meet with my church family for a time of corporate worship that service should be all about God. Should we honor our vets? You better believe we should. But we need to do it in a way that does not take away attention from God. I think church families should set apart a special time to thank God for this country and the blessings we have just by being here. Maybe have a patriotic themed cook-out at the church on some other day besides Sunday. But when I meet with my church family for corporate worship, I am not going to praise this country, its founders, its leaders or its military. My devotion to God should never be substituted by my devotion to this country in any way whatsoever.

Unfortunately, I find that most believers attitude towards patriotism is about the same as their attitude towards God. They give lip-service as evidence of love for both but there is no act of sacrifice out of love for either.

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