Five days a week our local Constantinian radio station blesses us with the wisdom of Kerby Anderson. Here's a commentary from back in November that I saved. I wanted to comment on it and my words are interspersed in this transcript.
You can find the original here.
November 4, 2010
by Kerby Anderson
I have often said that the quickest way to start an argument is to claim that America is or is not a Christian nation, and not explain what you mean by the term "Christian nation." The key to the answer is tied up in the definition.
That's a good point. The definition is critical. I would start with the Bible. The New Testament teaches the only Christian Nation is the Church of Jesus Christ. No other nation is given covenant status. No nation can take on covenant status. Where in the Bible do we ever find an example of a people outside Israel initiating a covenant? Could Moab suddenly say...okay, we're Jehovah's Covenant nation as well?
So, rather than get bogged down in historical arguments which miss the point, we need to turn to the Bible. Does Kerby do this? Read on.
President Obama learned this when he said earlier this month: "We do not consider ourselves a Christian nation or a Jewish nation or a Muslim nation. We consider ourselves a nation of citizens who are bound by ideals and a set of values." And a government professor learned the same lesson on my radio show recently when he was asked whether he thought we were a Christian nation.
Like him or not, Obama was correct. The Constitution does not teach the United States is a Christian Nation. In fact you have groups like the Reformed Presbyterian Church in North America (RPCNA), the American Covenanters who historically have refused to vote or participate in American politics BECAUSE the United States isn't explicitly Christian. The nebulous language of the Declaration and the Constitution is hardly Christian. A Mormon could sign on, so could a Jew or even a Muslim....or ESPECIALLY a Unitarian or Deist, which I would argue is what most of the Founders were.
Ah, the Christian Right knows the language is not clear, and quite disappointing, so now they turn to arguing over what type of men these founders were...so that we can argue when they said 'Creator'....they meant the Christian God of the Bible. I'm sorry to say that even Reformed men like Peter Lillback have put forth a great deal of energy to this end. Was George Washington a Christian? I would heartily say no, but it doesn't really matter. Even if he was....that doesn't vindicate what he and the others did. The Bible doesn't sanction revolting over taxes and if they were setting up a Christian Nation, the Bible doesn't permit that either. Either way, the Christian Right loses the argument.
Have any of these people even been to Washington DC, to Alexandria Virginia? These men were all Freemasons....serious Freemasons. By bringing this up I'm not trying to wander into conspiracy, but I mean to point out something of the quality of their Christianity. Freemasonry is another one of those issues that's very controversial but shouldn't be. Examine it for about ten minutes and you'll find it is utterly incompatible with Christianity. Those who embrace it are usually nominal at best in their understanding of Biblical Christianity.
While I certainly reject Kerby Anderson's and David Barton's mythological view of history...their main problem is theological. They doesn't understand the nature of the Church....and thus utterly fail to have a Biblical view of history. It's ironic, because in this generation of 'worldview' thinking....I find very little of the Biblical worldview they seem so keen to hold and promote. What they mean by 'Biblical Worldview of History' is actually a specific Americo-Constantinian narrative and interpretation of it. It's not Biblical in the least.
I would argue the Founders were a mixed bag...professing Christian or not, they're ideas were inspired by the Enlightenment, NOT the Bible...or even worse, the Enlightenment AND the Bible.
Either way the Christian Right loses the argument.
If they were trying to set up a Christian nation...they were theologically wrong to do so.
If they weren't, than the Christian Right has misinterpreted the men and the times in which they lived, and thus their arguments for American society in 2010...completely fail.
Who says the Founders had a static view of the American nation? Did they mean for everything to stay exactly as it was in 1789? If they did, then I would say they didn't understand history either. No situation remains static. The world is too complex and ever-changing.
I hear many Evangelicals make the stunning statement, "America was the first and only Christian nation in the history of the world."
Based on their definitions of 'Christian Nation,' then virtually every Western nation from Constantine on was Christian. When Evangelicals make statements like that, it shows just how little they grasp history. The Western tradition of Christendom is based on a common culture which includes political structure. People like Charles Colson have realized this and this has led him to embrace everyone from Constantine to Teresa of Avila to Martin Luther King Jr. as being Christian. It's a cultural definition, not a Biblical one.
In fact the very first nation in all of Western history....the very first since the time of the Theodosius to explicitly leave out reference to Christianity was....the United States in 1776. I think the Founders knew this very well and deliberately did this. And I think Constantinians of the day like Patrick Henry were most upset about it.
It's also ironic that Constantinians, like the one's who founded Patrick Henry College, and the people involved in the US Constitution Party would if given the chance....CHANGE the Constitution that they so hallow to add a clause (the one they think is missing) that would explicitly mention the country is Christian and tied to the name of Jesus Christ.
Did anyone else catch that? They've built up a myth surrounding these hallowed men and documents, but if given the chance the US Constitution Party would do what? Change the Constitution to suit their interpretation and vision.
Oh, I suppose we could point to the original Anglo-Saxons in England, and the Vikings etc and say they're Western but weren't Christian....... But ultimately all those peoples eventually succumbed to Constantinianism. That's what we're talking about. That's what Christian Nation means....something I never hear any of these people bring up. Maybe they don't know the difference? Maybe they do, but don't want you to know?
Those who don't believe America is a Christian nation will inevitably cite a section of the 1797 Treaty of Tripoli that says that: "the government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian Religion." Those who do believe America is a Christian nation will often cite the 1892 Supreme Court Decision of Holy Trinity v. United States that states: "No purpose of action against religion can be imputed to any legislation, State or national, because this is a religious people … This is a Christian nation."
For those trying to make a historical argument....older is usually better. The reality is, these Constantinians have been slowly but surely working to transform the United States into a Holy American Empire. They had just about won in the 1950's....and then a little social revolution happened. We call it the 1960's.
And I would argue that revolution was both good and bad. For Constantinians it was the pre-eminent disaster of modern times. The 1960's brought in much wickedness and the current backlash we're feeling today, BUT from a theological standpoint if Constantinianism is Satanic, then it was a glorious check to their power and agenda.
They're reaching a crisis point....the culture is in the midst of a mega-shift and they're growing desperate. The wheels of the propaganda machine are running white hot. Like I've said I just wonder with people like Barton and Anderson....do they really believe it, or is someone just writing them a check? I suppose they're true believers in their cause. I'll have to grant them that. Others like Colson....I don't think so. He's not as ignorant. He strikes me as more scheming, but that's just my opinion of course. It doesn't really matter what motivates them. What is pertinent is their message. Whether they be regenerate or not....at the moment their message is in opposition to the Kingdom of Christ.
President Obama may not consider America to be a Christian nation, but a recent Newsweek poll shows that nearly two thirds of Americans (62 percent) do consider America a Christian nation. The key, I believe is in the definition. If by "Christian nation" one means that it was founded as a theocracy, then obviously America is not a Christian nation. If by "Christian nation" one means that is how it is defined in the Constitution, then once again it is not a Christian nation.
But if you mean that Christian principles were important in the founding of this country and even in the framing of our government, then certainly America was influenced by Christianity. Professor John Eidsmoe says: "A majority of the delegates to the Constitutional Convention were professing Christians, many had theological training, and at least one had been a licensed preacher."
And I answer with a resounding, 'So what?' What does that mean? Your whole agenda is based off political and legal structures. You just cut off your own head if you're going to admit 'Christian Nation' in no way institutional structures. This is where they speak with forked tongues. I contend most of them actually know they don't really have a historical leg to stand on....so they turn to a nebulous cultural argument. Is this how we define Christian and Christian nation? What if 98% of the people don't meet a basic Biblical definition of what a Christian is? Is it still Christian because of some touchy-feely perception of what the Founding Fathers were? Anderson's definitions are just muddying already dark waters.
Anderson seems to mean since Christian principles were important in the founding of this country....then that should have to translate into legal, political, and diplomatic structures. Otherwise, what is his point?
Rather than turn to the Bible for the answer, Anderson wants to turn to a Newsweek poll? About what people feel?
A nation comprised of mostly Christians? Does that mean they were right to rebel against England? The Holy Roman Empire under the Habsburgs was all Christian too....at least in the way Anderson is defining it here. If he's just saying that Christian social principles were at work and everyone verbally professed to be followers of Christ...then why did Protestants take up the sword against their Habsburg masters in Holland, Germany, and Hungary? Would Anderson condemn that? He sure would today in the American context. I condemn it, but I condemn the whole model that he embraces.
Anderson and his kind are the Establishment Church, the Habsburgs and Stewarts of our day. Though they think they're historically akin to groups like the Baptists and the Reformers...they're actually the protectors the Conservators of the Constantinian order and structure. They are the Roman Catholic System of our medieval American Church.
Are they faithful to the legacy of the Reformation? Yes and no. Theologically they have departed from it on many fronts, but in terms of the Constantinian vision...I'm afraid they are faithfully keeping it. The Reformation did not abandon the Constantinian model in any way. Not surprisingly it tied the model more to the then developing nation-states rather than a transnational union...but in principle it was the same. Christian nations, waging wars in the name of Christ, and persecuting non-conformity.
If I may say so and praise the Founders for a moment....they were trying to break with that 1400 year tradition. Christians or not, their secular model represented a healthy shift, a blow, a sword in the heart to the Constantinian vision. This spread and eventually affected every nation in European Christendom. The Christian Right makes these men into heroes. In reality they should be spitting on their graves. It was these men who got the ball rolling. They set in motion the undoing of European Christendom. It was a small leap. The same intellectual foundations led to a large leap in France just a few years after the Americans seceded. And sorry, Kerby and co.....the Founding Fathers are on the record as being heavily in support of what was happening in France. Why? It was a cousin-movement....not tit-for-tat the same....but it flowed from the same waters.
I would also ask Kerby....are people allowed to change? We're a long way from 1776 and certainly no one would argue that a global empire was what the Founders had in mind. Why are we even arguing about this? America is not the same country it was even a hundred years ago let alone 230 years ago.
Do Germans sit around and argue over what Bismarck said and believed? Do the British really care about what Alfred the Great said about statecraft? Even the French who do appeal to the ideals of their Revolution would never sit and get hung up over what Rousseau or Diderot said and believed. Aren't these figures part of the heart and soul of those nations? According to people like Anderson, shouldn't the people of those nations focus on what their Founders intended? Or are they interested in general ideas that function somewhat differently in historical contexts.
Gee, I though the Gospel was the Universal Message for all times in history. Apparently the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution need to be added to that list of hallowed texts. Sound crazy? Many of these people argue that very point. The Founding documents are treated as Deutero-Canonical. They believe them to be inspired by God but not on par with Scripture. If this isn't Satanic, I don't what is.
So what about the people of other nations? Should everyone be delving into their pasts to look for exact moments in time when God inspired their leaders to bring about their New Israels?
You'll find that with Anderson and people like him, they would rather the people of other nations look to the United States for inspiration and a model. This is why American missionaries are often despised and it's also why many Christians in other countries beg Americans to stay home. Their Christianity is corrupt.
This all stems from a bad theological construct that believes the United States has an 'exceptional' status in the world, that the United States has a special calling from God.
There's not an ounce of Scripture to support it. History doesn't support it. Let's say it...it's heresy.
Theological Error is when you get something wrong, like maybe you hold to a wrong mode of Baptism, or you think the Church has to worship on Saturday, or perhaps you think Elders should wear robes. These are mistakes, but don't fundamentally destroy the Gospel message.
Heresy is an error so grave that it ultimately overthrows and corrupts the Gospel message. If the heresy is embraced it puts people in danger of hell, because they will misunderstand the fundamental Gospel message.
Americanism isn't just an error. It's heresy. It overthrows the Biblical view and understanding of the Kingdom of God. It destroys the doctrine of the Church. It turns Christian ethics upside down. Turning the other cheek doesn't work for nations, and since the national social ethic is equated with the Christian one....suddenly being a Christian means being a Delta Force assassin, or the pilot of a F-16 launching a Tomahawk missile on a Third World village.
It's the heresy of the ages*, that has cursed nation after nation, destroyed Churches and unleashed bloodshed.
It is Revelation 17 manifesting itself over and over again throughout history. It is not merely the Beast, a deified state like Babylon, Persia, or the Hellenistic Empire of Alexander, or Rome of the Caesars. It is the Whore on the Beast, a false Christianity joining with the state to build an empire....to make a name for themselves. It is theological Babel/Babylon manifesting itself again and again in Constantinian Rome, Byzantium, Charlemagne, the Habsburgs, the Ottomans, the British Empire, the French Empire, the German Empire, the Russian Empire, and yes without a shred of doubt, the American Empire.
And the imagery of Revelation 13 couldn't be more clear. They look like lambs, but speak like dragons. I always think of the Land Letter...Christian leaders calling upon the State in the name of Christ to invade and destroy another country. It doesn't get more satanic than that. Lambs speaking with the voice of the Dragon.
Is America a Christian nation? It depends on how you define the term. I'm Kerby Anderson, and that's my point of view.
Is Kerby Anderson a Christian? It depends on how you define the term.
For Anderson, Christian means Americanism. It is the religion that declares de facto that America is the Kingdom of God on earth. It is a system that conflates many Enlightenment era social constructs with Biblical Christianity. In this system, Imperialism/Militarism, and Capitalistic Consumerism are wedded with Christian doctrines creating a system which looks a bit like Biblical Christianity, but for anyone who bothers to read their Bible is quickly exposed as a dangerous counterfeit.
Is Kerby Anderson a Christian? It depends on how you define the term.
*Only Christological heresy competes with it or surpasses it. Since American Christians aren't very interested in theology, this issue doesn't really come up. But if you adopt the Christological definitions of the Early Church you will find the majority of Evangelicals actually are heretical on this point as well.