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Is America a Christian Nation?

By R. J. Rushdoony
July 01, 1998

Friedreich Nietzsche wrote that Jesus Christ was the first and last Christian, and it was pseudo-wise comments like this that made him popular with many pseudo-wise people. Unhappily, some church-related scholars have often imitated Nietzsche in like statements, denying the facts of church history. For example, some decry that America has ever been a Christian country.

As a son of immigrants to whom America was a promised land, and Americans a Christian people who sent missionaries and relief to the needy everywhere, I cannot but regard such "scholars" with anything but disgust. But a question does remain: After 1917, Woodrow Wilson completed a shift of the U. S. from a missions-minded country to one dedicated to saving the world by military and political interventionism. The facts on that are clear. Since the 1960s, we have seen a shift also whereby the intellectual elite regard as the only valid morality the freedom to do as one pleases, especially in the sexual sphere. The sexual revolution has replaced the War of Independence as the fundamental event in American life for many. Only a few years ago, an Oregon senator was forced out of office for what is now common in Washington, D. C.

But is the truth about America summed up in our humanist establishment in church and state? Certainly I am a strong critic of present-day Christianity and its antinomian hostility to God's law, and I am uncompromisingly Calvinistic. Theonomists and Calvinists are increasing, but they still are not many. How then can I call Americans still a Christian people?

In the valley below us, many churches still practice a form of gleaning. All summer and early fall, the church's lobby will be full of boxes of fruits and vegetables brought by farmers for the elderly, needy and others to take freely. North of us, numbers of young people and adults glean the apple orchards after harvest to pick and sell for use by the needy and aged the proceeds of hundreds of tons of fruits. A few days ago, a dairyman in the valley lost much of his herd in a freakish accident. When this was reported on the television news, other dairymen and listeners stepped in with donations of cows and money to enable the dairyman to survive. These are not unusual incidents. Such things occur all around us but are rarely reported. These countless events witness to the Christian character of millions of Americans.

Like evidence can be found in the area of doctrine. I learned yesterday of a layman's resignation of his church office and membership because the church took a compromising view of the historicity of Genesis 1-11; he will now go weekly to another church some 75 miles away: the Faith maters to him. Unusual? No. Everyday people are making stands refusing to compromise their Faith. True, many denominations, seminaries and colleges are compromising the Faith, but untold numbers are standing firm and are advancing the Faith.

True, we have a humanistic establishment, but consider the Christian school and home school movements: they witness to a Christian America of growing power. In California, there are several regional associations of home schemers and I spoke to three of them in 1997; one of them alone had c. 10,000 parents in attendance. To me, this is Christian America, alive and on the march.

But what scholar apart from Chalcedon pays attention to such things? Not many. The Chalcedon Report does tell you of men in all the world who are capturing men and nations for Christ.

The compromisers are many, as are the humanists, but the men of action are the men of faith. The scholars are remote from reality. They have not see the realities of a Christ-hating state that hates and kills Christians. They do not realize how much we Christians alter and hold in restraint evil forces, and impact society. Their world is the realm of respectable humanism and its scholarship, and they cannot see the sun because they bury themselves in their unreal and limited communities of cloudy doubt and unbelief.

But this is God's world, and, for the present, a battlefield. More Christians have died for their faith in this century than in any before us, in Armenia, Russia, China, Africa and elsewhere. Some have estimated that 300 are killed daily, but 600 converted daily. Get into the battle if you want a part in the victory!

The way some scholars want to define a Christian country would make only heaven qualify, and no doubt they would find fault with that. I hear constantly of incidents small and great that tell me this is a Christian people. Though surrounded with ungodliness and the ungodly, and also by the fearful and the lukewarm, we see countless numbers living the Faith and rejoicing in it. Both my grandfathers, and many other relatives, died for their Christian faith, brutally murdered because they were Christians. Of course, I have faced much hostility, and many gross insults for my faith, but I have also been blessed, thanked, and, yes, rewarded for it because I live, unlike my grandfathers, in what is still, despite serious problems, in and among a Christian people. For that I thank God and his mercy. As for those who deny our American Christian past and present, I can only regard them with amazement and bewilderment.


Topics: Philosophy, Church History, American History, Christian Reconstruction

R. J. Rushdoony

Rev. R.J. Rushdoony (1916–2001), was a leading theologian, church/state expert, and author of numerous works on the application of Biblical law to society. He started the Chalcedon Foundation in 1965.  His Institutes of Biblical Law (1973) began the contemporary theonomy movement which posits the validity of Biblical law as God’s standard of obedience for all. He therefore saw God’s law as the basis of the modern Christian response to the cultural decline, one he attributed to the church’s false view of God’s law being opposed to His grace. This broad Christian response he described as “Christian Reconstruction.”  He is credited with igniting the modern Christian school and homeschooling movements in the mid to late 20th century. He also traveled extensively lecturing and serving as an expert witness in numerous court cases regarding religious liberty. Many ministry and educational efforts that continue today, took their philosophical and Biblical roots from his lectures and books.

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