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Martyred for the Gospel

Martyred for the Gospel
The burning of Tharchbishop of Cant. D. Tho. Cranmer in the town dich at Oxford, with his hand first thrust into the fyre, wherwith he subscribed before. [Click on the picture to see Cranmer's last words.]

Collect of the Day

The Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany.
The Collect.

O LORD, we beseech thee to keep thy Church and household continually in thy true religion; that they who do lean only upon the hope of thy heavenly grace may evermore be defended by thy mighty power; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Daily Bible Verse

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

The Gettysburg Address: Honoring Union Soldiers, Dishonoring Confederate Soldiers

Most school children are taught the politically correct version of the Civil War as being fought over slavery and that the South fought to preserve slavery. Along with this politically correct version we are told that the Gettysburg Address honors the fallen soldiers of the battle of Gettysburg. What they do not tell you is that the address was meant only to honor the fallen Union soldiers since the war raged on for two more years. Fallen Union and Confederate soldiers, due to the biological hazards involved, were buried immediately.

However, the Union soldiers were buried in individual graves and later re-interred in the national cemetery at Gettysburg. The dead Confederates were buried in a mass grave and were never given an honorable burial:

The dead of Gettysburg were piled upon the battlefield, quickly decomposing in the hot summer air. Sanitary concerns required an immediate response, so the Union dead were initially disposed of in field graves: hastily dug, shallow graves close to where the soldiers fell in battle. (The Confederate dead were simply piled into mass, unmarked graves as was deemed appropriate for an enemy.) But sentiment and politics demanded that the dead be commemorated in a more long-lasting and honorable way. Land was purchased near the battle site and designated as a national cemetery, and thirty-five hundred Union soldiers were reinterred in graves organized in radiating semicircles according to the eighteen states whose soldiers participated in the battle.

Four months after the terrible battle, the Soldiers' Cemetery at Gettysburg (now the Gettysburg National Cemetery) was dedicated with a public ceremony. Fifteen thousand people gathered to participate, including many family members who had lost loved ones in the battle.
From: Gettysburg Address

I find it amazing that some ministers of the Gospel still believe that our modern United States is somehow "blessed of God" and a "Christian nation."  The Billy Sunday civil religion view of the USA is alive and well apparently.  However, given the fact that only 20% of the population attends church at all and this number is falling daily one has to wonder if the United States is a Christian nation in any sense of the word?  Materialistic atheism is the secular party line for the public school system and there is no longer any prayer allowed in public schools or at sporting events sponsored by public schools.  Abortion, legally endorsed by our "Christian" nation, is the officially sanctioned murder of unborn children sacrificed to the god of convenience and the mother's right to kill her own child.

While there are certainly Christian influences in our founding documents, the idea that this in and of itself makes America "blessed of God" is just wrong.  Of course, providence has it that the USA is still here.  But that could change at any time.  Just as Israel disappeared in the dispersion for a time and just as the Roman Empire no longer exists, so the United States could at any time be cut off from the face of the earth by God Almighty.  It is overly optimistic to think that it cannot happen to us.

To confuse patriotism with Christianity can lead to atrocities like the holocaust in Nazi Germany.  The United States has committed acts that by modern standards would be considered unjust war, including the dropping of the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in World War II.  Giving blanket approval to the United States government as somehow divinely approved and endorsed by the Almighty is downright dangerous.

The truth is the visible church is the New Israel.  To confuse the United States of America with the New Testament church is inexcusable (Galatians 6:16; Deuteronomy 29:18-29).  The political philosophy of Manifest Destiny has been used to justify the taking of Native American lands and to justify the policy of genocide of Native American tribes which refused to reside on reservations, among other things.  Divine favor is invoked to justify all kinds of injustices, including slavery.  The truth is the Civil War was fought over states rights versus a strong central and federal government, not over slavery.  As wrong as slavery was, the North cared little for the rights of slaves but rather cared more for maintaining their domination of the states in the South.

The situation continues today in the ongoing culture war between the theologically and politically liberal northern states and the theologically and politically conservative southern states known traditionally as the "Bible" belt.  The mistake made by the Moral Majority is to argue that this is a Christian nation.  It is not and never has been a "Christian" nation anymore than the Roman Empire or Nazi Germany were "Christian" nations.  We do have many Christian influences in our foundational documents like the Constitution and the Bill of Rights but those are so generic as to be nothing more than deism at best.

Modern Evangelical Christians should recognize that we are to be good citizens (Romans 13:1-6) of the nation in which we reside.  We should pay our taxes and obey the government (Luke 20:22).   But we should not commit the sin of idolatry by placing America on a pedestal as if it were somehow the New Israel.  America is becoming more pagan by the minute.  Our true citizenship is in heaven (Philippians 3:20).  Nations pass away but our God lives forever (Isaiah 40:15).  To confuse political allegiances with our faith in God and our loyalty to Jesus Christ is nothing short of idolatry whether it is someone loyal to the Union or someone who is proud to be from the South.

I'm proud to be born a southerner and I'm proud of my southern heritage.  But ultimately my loyalty is not to the Confederacy or to the Union or to modern America.  My loyalty is to Christ and to preaching the Gospel of salvation by grace alone (Acts 22:25-29; Philippians 3:20; Romans 1:16-17).

 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, (Ephesians 2:19-20 ESV)



2 comments:

Augustinian said...

Charlie,

This is very good. It's very bad that most folks who need to read this won't.

Being a conservative Calvinist Anglican in an ECUSA church, I greatly appreciate your articles, comments, and entries. They give me a lot of encouragement. Keep up the good work.

Charlie J. Ray said...

Thanks, Augustinian. It's encouraging to get some positive feedback on occasion. I'm a bit too radical for some Anglicans... But then the Anglo-Catholics don't mind running roughshod over everyone else either. hehe

As Luther said, "Here I stand. I can do nothing other than this."

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