01 May 2006

Was the Mayflower a Sinners' Ship?

I was having lunch with a friend the other week and we came upon an interesting discussion. He made the comment that it might be a good thing for all the Christians to move to one state (he recommended Texas) and secede from the Union, allowing the liberals to have the remaining 49. My initial reaction was to think of the old Geoff Moore song, Go to the Moon. You can find the lyrics here.

I told him that wasn't the right answer to our political situation. We were supposed to be trying to influence the liberals, even though we don't agree with them. He agreed, but it opened a different conversation:

1. Were the Pilgrims sinful to leave England and pursue religious freedom?
2. Were the founding fathers of America sinful to disobey their government and declare independence?

These are interesting topics. As Americans, we are taught from childhood to revere the Pilgrims and the Patriots. It is the tautological argument, because America is such a great place, the people who brought it into existence did great things to bring it into being.

But, our mandate is to influence those around us, not to flee into isolation. There are also clear Biblical commands to pay taxes and submit to the civil rulers in authority over us, including overbearing kings. If Jesus could submit and pay taxes to Ceasar, why couldn't the founding fathers pay taxes to King James? Taxation without representation is a great historical rallying cry, but is it Biblical? I don't think so. Nowhere is there a Biblical exception to the requirement to submit to the king if he doesn't allow you a voice in setting taxes. In fact, the kings during the Biblical era were more tyranical than the British monarch.

As for the pilgrims, I think it might be a harder argument, but the mandate is there to influence those around us and to boldly stand up for what we believe. The pilgrims left England to avoid going to jail for their faith. But, the heros of the faith were willing to face death for their faith. Polycarp, John's disciple comes to mind, standing in the colliseum, threatened with death, he is reported to have said "Your fire burns only for a short time then flickers out; but you are ignorant of the Judgment to come of everlasting fire preapred for the wicked." By contrast, the pilgrims seem like cowards fleeing to a foreign shore.

I am sure that it is not popular to criticize American heroes, but the truth is not centered around America.

Any one else have thoughts on this issue?

2 Comments:

At 5/02/2006 3:01 PM, Blogger Stephanie said...

I think about the founding fathers and what they did quite often - wondering the same things that you have wondered here. Have you ever read G.A. Henty's _True to the Old Flag_? It's an English perspective on the American Revolution (Christian historical fiction). Very convicting as far as us bragging about our ancestors' behavior at that time.

Another interesting point is that what Lincoln did to save the Union was unconstitutional - the southern states had every constitutional right to secede. But I suppose that's a different issue.

All I can figure is that God was leading the pilgrims and our founding fathers (and perhaps Lincoln) in what they did, and I'm thankful for the choices that they made. :-)

I'm also looking forward to homeschooling with US history as the subject over the next 2 years (we've been focused on the world as a whole so far). I can't wait to learn more!

 
At 5/10/2006 10:12 PM, Blogger Rodney Olsen said...

I think that one of the big issues is that many Christians want the world to act in a 'Christian' way but they're less zealous about leading people into a relationship with Jesus.

Why do they want a 'Christian' communtity? Mostly because life would be so much easier for them if they didn't have to battle the 'evils' of those outside the kingdom.

Shouldn't we be more concerned about the souls of those who need to know Christ?

Instead of trying to force non-believers to act like believers, we should be trying to bring them into relationship with God through Jesus, not because we want to live in a 'nicer' society but because we don't want anyone to live an eternity separated from God.

If we became more truly interested in the souls of the men and women around us, many more would come to know Christ. That is when behaviours and attitudes would start to change; not through the force of others but through the gentle leading of the Holy Spirit.

 

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