By Noah Graham | Contributor
"One nation under God." Does that mantra define the United States? Or, as American Christians, is our nation under something else? Since Taylor University is a Christ-centered community, I'm directing this article at Christian citizens of the United States of America.
Since when was this ever our identity? And what is our national identity if not that? James Madison and Alexander Hamilton would have argued that America's identity lies in the liberty endowed to each U.S. citizen. For it is by liberty that we are free to conduct profound questioning, searching and reasoning. All those actions must be taken to determine a statement such as "one nation under God" in a volatile and fallen world.
Madison and Hamilton would likely have believed that America's identity reflects the freedoms of the individuals who comprise our nation. Madison and Hamilton wrote into existence the defining document that beautifully encapsulates America. With their God-given minds, they engendered a country that gave power to the people in many ways, including the essential idea that our creator endowed us with individual rights. Those rights include, but are not limited to: life, liberty and property. "The pursuit of happiness" wasn't the intended conclusion, originally, as shown by articles published by the Foundation for Economic Education, which highlight how John Locke influenced Jefferson's writing of this phrase.
Our national identity is in the Constitution, the Bill of Rights and the spirit of our beautiful tradition of rejecting tyranny. The Declaration of Independence could also be called "the original Brexit." Our identity is in protecting the freedoms which allow all of us to decide our own identities and influence the identity of our country.
Our identity does not lie in "In God We Trust," four words published in the Pledge of Allegiance over 100 years after the Declaration of Independence. While our country changes-while individuals change-our identity is pure and unaltered from its original intention. The biggest challenge we as American Christians face politically is the Church's sphere of influence being overshadowed by the expansive tyranny of modern government forces.
I believe in America. I believe in the one true God. To me, I see the statement "one nation under God" as a mantra for the lives of those who choose to adopt it. God will still be God after America no longer exists. He is still God during the midst of our country's disunity, and God was God before July 4, 1776.
In our Christ-centered community, we tend to view the world according to Christian views. There is no fault in this; God commands us to spread Christ's good news. However, we must realize America is not heaven, politicians are not sovereign and law is not salvation. The United States is incredible. But, first and foremost, we are Christians living in America. Let us not forget that our earthly homes are not where we belong.
I am a patriot, grateful for all my country has given me. I believe ours is the greatest country, period. Open a history book. Look at what America has accomplished, overcome and produced. I am a patriot in every sense of the word because this country has given me almost unlimited opportunities.
But, like the rest of our fallen world, America is not Eden. We should pay homage to our nation, but we cannot expect our nation to be "Under God" in a fallen world. America is what she is. The actions of Americans have often defined her, but her identity is set.
Only when Christ returns will all Christians recognize our fallacies, regardless of our race, gender, age or political orientation. Then, our internal conflicts and twisted, spewed rhetoric of insignificant idealism will pale in comparison to what could have been accomplished if we had set our eyes on Jesus.