By myself I have sworn; from my mouth has gone out in righteousness a word that shall not return: ‘To me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear allegiance.’ – Isaiah 45:23
The Lord would have us pledge allegiance, that is, swear an oath, to none other than Himself as the One True King. That excludes the American flag, government or military machine. We have but one Sovereign, Jesus Christ.
In many churches on this fourth of July weekend, two gods will be worshiped; the God of the Bible, and the god who is the state. There is a time and place appropriate for patriotism and patriotic songs. Sunday services is not one of them. Worship services in the local church is for the worship of God alone. To share that time with patriotic (so-called) hymns to our government, country, flag or soldiers is nothing short of patriotic idolatry.
May the saints within the church be delivered from such sin.
Joel – I served three times. 7 years in the Army, a few years in the Navy and the Air National Guard. That means I took the following oath 3 times:
I, (NAME), do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.
Every member of the military, at least since 1975 when I first entered the Army(and I suspect well before) and until now…have taken this oath. There was no option to opt out. No matter what documents you sign, no matter what your intention, you are not in the military until the completion of this oath.
Is it your contention that all who did or do serve in the military are idolatars? Was George Washington? Robert E. Lee? Stonewall Jackson? J. H. Thornwell? R. L. Dabney? I presume they all took some form of oath as military officers.
By the way I do not think the word “affirm” leaves much of an out save by a twisted sort of sophistry. Both the intent and result are the same: allegiance to the military, those ranking over you, and the government at large.
For whatever it is worth, I am not keen on “patriotic” church services or sermons. But I do not see my military service as tantamount to idolatry.
What say ye my buddy?
Is it idolatry to serve in the military? of course not. That has nothing to do with the post. This is about Sunday church services dedicated to sharing the time of the corporate church gathering – a time which should be dedicated to the study, preaching of God’s Word and praise, worship of Him – along with American patriotic songs, pledging allegiance to the American flag, etc. Part holy, part pagan.
Thornwell was not in the military, that I have ever been able to determine. Dabney was never a member of the yankee army.
I understand that Dabney’s allegiance was to the South. As for Thornwell, you may be correct, and I may be mistaken, but t it seemed to me that he had served as a chaplain. If not, drop my accuracy rating and memory reliability half a notch.
That being said, I still believe Christians have in the past served honorably and appropriately in the military, and do so today as well – and do no violence to Christ’s service or the Scripture therby.
Good to hear. Though of course I understood that your larger point contextually was in relation to church services (which again, I quite agree with), your opening paragraph suggested a toughness about ALL oath taking. Even undestanding the primary intent of your piece, I feared a broader application from your words:
“The Lord would have us pledge allegiance, that is, swear an oath, to none other than Himself as the One True King. That excludes the American flag, government or military machine. We have but one Sovereign, Jesus Christ.,”
Appreciate you clearing it up for me! So if you were speaking only in regard to church activity, services and sermons you have my “Amen!”
Government is a divine insitutition for the perpetuity of mankind. Individuals, marriages and familys all form nations which form governments. All are divine institutions from God. All are anthropologically based divine insitutions for the perpetuity of mankind, of which all humanity, including and especially Christians, should not only be participating but doing so from a very enlarged understanding of their origins and operating principles.
While in the church, the body of Christ, the spiritual divine institution in existence today for the perpetuity of mankind, also, via its gospel commission and the subsequent eternal rebirth of its members, we still teach about and celebrate doctrines pertaining to anthropological functions such as self, marriage, family and government. Patriotism is an extension of sound Bible doctrine relevant to our role as both humans participating in government and our elevated prescription as Christians to participate with an obedient spirit.
In some churches, unfortunately, where patriotism is celebrated, they do so poorly and without proper categorical distinctions which may give rise to skepticism by others. It should not. Christ is central, always, but in being central he is central in providence to all governments and nations to which we belong and the celebration of its blessing as it exists for our benefit, whereever we are, and the prayers, hope and actual endeavors as its citizens that it function well, all rightly stem from sound Bible doctrine and should not be eschewed as features of worship.
This is no different that teaching on families and celebrating family governments. Yes, it must not become an idol but no, I do not agree the Bible teaches that its placement as an element of special doctrinal and thanksgiving attention to God for limited periods of time is a form of idolotry or compromise.
I am in total agreement on the church service. Hey, I’m all for getting together in the town square and rallying around the flag and singing patriotic songs and all that.
But not in church. God will not share his glory with another, and that includes our beloved flag and country. I agree that it is idolatry to gather for worship on the Lord’s day and then sing songs worshiping America.
And for what it’s worth, my two cents on the issue of oaths….I took the military oath several times as well. But I wouldn’t do it again. Not that I wouldn’t fight to defend my country, I would gladly do that….but the oath? Now that I am saved I would not swear blanket allegiance to any man-made document or blanket obedience to any mere man. Constitutions can change and we’ve all seen what sort of man can become president!
And why the oath anyway? A good man will be loyal without it and a traitor won’t be made loyal by swearing to it.