The Cruciform God: The Cross-Shaped Colony, Part 1

We’re continuing our study of Michael J. Gorman’s Inhabiting the Cruciform God. We are now well-beyond the book, but continuing to explore its implications.

The holy colony

(Phil 3:20-21)  But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.

We in the US take citizenship for granted. Most of us were born citizens. But in Rome, citizenship was a rare commodity — enjoyed by a minority of residents. Citizenship had to be inherited, bought, or earned. And the most common way to earn it was to serve at least 25 years in the Roman Legion.

After service, a Legionnaire would not only be given citizenship, he’d be given a tract of land in a Roman colony — that is, a city founded by Rome outside Italy. Philippi was one such city.

In a Roman colony, most people would not be citizens, but the citizens living there would mainly be retired soldiers and their children, and they’d be very proud of their citizenship.

The colonies served to protect Rome’s interests. After all, if necessary, the retired soldiers could be counted on to be loyal to Rome rather than to the local people and their peculiar, non-Roman customs. The retired soldiers also served as something of an army reserve, trained to preserve the peace and Roman interests when necessary.

As Carl Ketcherside wrote,

Rome planted colonies at strategic points throughout the empire. These were not made up of conquered peoples, but of Romans. They were primarily to preserve the Pax Romana, the peace of Rome. This was the great dream of the Romans. Universal peace would be secured by recognition of one lord, the Emperor. Every year upon his birthday, every citizen in the world was expected to burn a pinch of incense in front of his bust and audibly declare, “Caesar is lord!”

A Roman colony was a “little Rome.” It was set down in an alien world, where its citizens were strangers and foreigners to the land in which they lived. They spoke Latin, the language of Rome. Their dress, their customs, their whole manner of life was dictated to them by Rome, not by the social customs of the people of the land. The education of their children was to enable them to be proud citizens of Rome. They were taught to look forward with great anticipation and expectancy to the coming of the Emperor. That coming was resplendent in glory and pageantry. The colony must be ready at all times. There was to be no shame if the coming was unannounced.

To the alert mind of the apostle the little community of saints was a colony planted in an alien world. It was there to propagate the peace of heaven. This was to be a universal peace to be achieved by acknowledging one Lord-Jesus Christ. Every week the disciples gathered about a table and ate and drank in memory of Him. The colony of the Spirit which began with Lydia and her household was “a colony within a colony,” and the last was the pagan culture in which the first was set down.

This explains Paul’s use of politeuma. It was the word for citizenship. After having encouraged them to be followers together of him, and to observe those who did follow him as an example, he declares, “For we are a colony of heaven; from which we look for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.” What a thrill it must have been to the little persecuted minority in Philippi to realize they were actually a colony planted by heaven, set on a victorious course which would one day be world-shaking.

Paul told the church  to think of themselves as colony — people living in place where they are not citizens and there to pursue the interests of their native land. A Roman colonist in Greece would see Greek as a foreign language and Greek ways as foreign ways. He’d have to learn their language and ways, but he’d live as a Roman.

But Roman citizenship was both a privilege and an obligation. Citizens were expected to serve Rome, to worship the emperor (called “lord” and “savior” and even “son of god”), and to uphold Roman values — which they were expected to pass on to their children.

And to tell a Roman citizen that his real citizenship is in heaven is to tell him that his greatest pride and treasure has been replaced by something of far greater value.

Notice that Paul didn’t say that they are co-citizens, both of Rome and heaven. No, their allegiance is solely to God. There are no divided loyalties, just as a Roman soldier in Philippi owed allegiance to the Roman emperor only.

For Christians today, the impact is, in a sense, far greater, because while we take our US citizenship for granted, we identify ourselves as Americans as much as we identify as ourselves as Christians. Our local Christian private school is the “American Christian Academy” — because it values patriotism and Christianity — not because there’s any risk that someone might think it’s not in America.

We want to be co-citizens, and we want to import Americanism into Christianity to create Amerianity — that peculiar brand of Christianity that studies the Constitution and Declaration of Independence in Sunday School as if those those documents were holy writ drafted by the holy apostles themselves.

But that would be like a Roman citizen in Greece declaring the laws of Greece equal to the laws of Rome. That would be, well, sedition against Rome. Rather, Greek law was to be judged by Roman law. They might obey the local laws for the sake of peace, but only if the laws didn’t conflict with the will of the Emperor. But the Roman citizen never asked whether Greece honored the laws of Greece. The true citizen asked whether Greece honors the laws of Rome.

Just so, when we get distracted from God and his word, and instead focus on securing our rights as Americans under American law, well, that’s to seek the lesser thing. It’s not Christianity at all. It’s pursuing the values of a nation which isn’t where our real citizenship is. No, we’re a colony of God, living under God’s laws, and those laws haven’t changed and don’t need to be defended before the Supreme Court.

I don’t know … Sometimes I think we feel the need to have our Christian values affirmed by the secular government, as though God needs the endorsement of the Alabama legislature or the United States Congress.

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23 Responses

  1. Jay said, “I don’t know … Sometimes I think we feel the need to have our Christian values affirmed by the secular government, as though God needs the endorsement of the Alabama legislature or the United States Congress.”

    I think it is much broader than that. Almsot everyone, whether a Christian or not, likes to have his opinions affirmed by others, not just by the government.

    I think it is an entirely natural human trait. Taken to the extreme it can cause us to try to force our opinions on others in an effort to convince OURSELVES. But in general, it’s not neccessarily a bad thing. It’s just how we are, how God made us.

  2. To me, this concept of citizenship is crucial. For years I thought I was a dual citizen, citizen of heaven and an earthly country. I now believe that I have but one true citizenship. I’m here on earth on a diplomatic mission, ambassador of the kingdom of heaven.

    Grace and peace,
    Tim Archer

  3. These are good words. Many (most?) do not understand this. I think it is simply a lack of being taught. The Philippians text just happened to be our devotional at church last night. I said we are first patriots of Christianity rather than the U.S. I make allusions like that from time to time. People here have responded favorably.

  4. Just so, when we get distracted from God and his word, and instead focus on securing our rights as Americans under American law, well, that’s to seek the lesser thing. It’s not Christianity at all. It’s pursuing the values of a nation which isn’t where our real citizenship is.

    To seek our rights under the law of the land is not to seek a lesser thing but is what the word of God says to do.

    Romans 13:1-4 “Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same. For he is God’s minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil.”

    Paul did not seeking the lesser thing when he focused on his rights as a Roman citizen. Paul understood very well that seeking his rights under the law of the land would be very helpful to him.

    Acts 22:22-29 “And they listened to him until this word, and then they raised their voices and said, “Away with such a fellow from the earth, for he is not fit to live!” Then, as they cried out and tore off their clothes and threw dust into the air, the commander ordered him to be brought into the barracks, and said that he should be examined under scourging, so that he might know why they shouted so against him. And as they bound him with thongs, Paul said to the centurion who stood by, “Is it lawful for you to scourge a man who is a Roman, and uncondemned?” When the centurion heard that, he went and told the commander, saying, “Take care what you do, for this man is a Roman.” Then the commander came and said to him, “Tell me, are you a Roman?” He said, “Yes.” The commander answered, “With a large sum I obtained this citizenship.” And Paul said, “But I was born a citizen.” Then immediately those who were about to examine him withdrew from him; and the commander was also afraid after he found out that he was a Roman, and because he had bound him.”

  5. I believe one of the dangers Christians face is an identity crisis. Are we disciples of Jesus or Americans (or whatever nation one is a lawful citizen of)? Some might reply “aren’t we both?” That is what the nation wants us to be because the powers know that in accepting both, we really diminish one for the other and in most cases that happens to be our identity as disciples that gets overshadowed by our identity as national citizens. Disagree? How much energy do Christians spend in political preservation and national defense? Why is there a constant struggle to adequately fund mission work and para-church ministry efforts?

    It seems that Paul saw himself and the church as Christians who live in Romam territory and not Roman Christians. So are we “American Christians” or “Christians who live in America?” It seems that how we answer that last question has much to do with what we see our priorities as being.

    Grace and peace,

    Rex

    P.S., Anonymous said, “To seek our rights under the law of the land is not to seek a lesser thing but is what the word of God says to do.” I would like you to explain in more detail how you arrive at that conclusion from Romans 13.

  6. Was Paul’s Biblical example not enough?

    I believe under the law of the land we should seek any such rights that are helpful to us.

    Romans 13:1-4 “Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same. For he is God’s minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil.”

    Paul did not seek the lesser thing when he focused on his rights as a Roman citizen. Paul understood very well that seeking his rights under the law of the land would be very helpful to him.

    Acts 22:22-29 “And they listened to him until this word, and then they raised their voices and said, “Away with such a fellow from the earth, for he is not fit to live!” Then, as they cried out and tore off their clothes and threw dust into the air, the commander ordered him to be brought into the barracks, and said that he should be examined under scourging, so that he might know why they shouted so against him. And as they bound him with thongs, Paul said to the centurion who stood by, “Is it lawful for you to scourge a man who is a Roman, and uncondemned?” When the centurion heard that, he went and told the commander, saying, “Take care what you do, for this man is a Roman.” Then the commander came and said to him, “Tell me, are you a Roman?” He said, “Yes.” The commander answered, “With a large sum I obtained this citizenship.” And Paul said, “But I was born a citizen.” Then immediately those who were about to examine him withdrew from him; and the commander was also afraid after he found out that he was a Roman, and because he had bound him.”

    Paul did not lay down his citizenship in heaven by proclaiming his Roman citizenship and his rights as a Roman citizen.

  7. Anonymous,

    Paul certainly experienced whipping and eventually execution for Jesus and I believe Paul would have accepted a beating there in Jerusalem (Acts 22) had they proceeded to whip him. His rhetorical question in Acts 22.25 was simply a reminder to them of the law…it is as though they are punishing Paul for breaking the law but in doing so they themselves are going to break the law…that is what Paul is reminding them of. That is far short of spending countless amounts of energy, money, etc… to lobby, protest, whine and carry-on in a political procedure to ensure that the law of the land is favorable to a traditional Puritan-values way of life that some call “Christian.”

    Grace and peace,

    Rex

  8. Paul seemed to be demanding his rights as a Roman citizen only to avoid being scourged and so he could continue to teach the gospel. Sometimes today people seem to be glorying in their American citizenship in order to demand non-citizens to leave, or to say we are paying too many taxes, or to insist political things be done in the manner they think is best. They don’t seem to be demanding their rights as citizens so they can continue to teach the gospel. I have little respect for those who glory in their American citizenship only to carry guns and lord it over others.

  9. Incredible how people like to bring about more a negative atmosphere, as if the world doesn’t already have enough negative influence.

    You are trying to avoid that Paul did proclaim his Roman citizenship and his rights as a Roman citizen, that which you said no Christian should do.

    The Biblical believer yearns daily for a God-fearing population. That believers intercedes for our nation, its leaders, its future. The believer researches Scripture for divine wisdom in how to better serve the country we live in. Patriotism is God-based for it is totally reliant on His provisions for our liberties.

    Numberless organizations and committees are now operating for the good of America’s citizens and other nations solely on the drive of a Biblical faith. There are many who reach out daily to the broken, needy, homeless, and hungry because of serving the God of Scripture? They compose a commendable list.

    1 Timothy 2:1-2 “Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence.”

    1 Peter 2:13-17 “Therefore submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake, whether to the king as supreme, or to governors, as to those who are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and for the praise of those who do good. For this is the will of God, that by doing good you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men— as free, yet not using liberty as a cloak for vice, but as bondservants of God. Honor all people. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king.”

  10. Didn’t the children of slaves in Rome gain citizenship?

  11. Speaking of Citizenship. Then what should be our perspective on immigration?

    I had a preacher once tell me, (paraphrasing) ‘Since this is God’s world, that anyone living in one place or another, doesn’t bother him.

    I don’t think he was encouragin law breaking, but perhaps that the laws in place regarding immigration were not in the right.

  12. Anoymous,

    Actually, I am trying to avoid this popular myth that Christians are being about the business of God when then spend endless energy trying to sercure and preserve a “Christian nation.” Yes Paul invoked his Roman citizenship but there is no evidence that he ever used his citizenship or the secular politics of his day to secure a better political/cultural climate for Christianity. Instead he preached the gospel which denounced everything else, including the politics of his day, as “rubbish” in light of the gospel (Phil 3.8, NRSV).

    Yet you seem willing to take one example of when Paul invoked his Roman Citizenship as grounds for Christians seeking to secure their rights from the government. And you do so against all the contrary evidence of early Christians preaching a gospel that not only dethroned the political powers of their day but also brought upon them persecution for doing so.

    Further, since scripture records wrong behaviors and attitudes display by other people of God, there is always the possibility that Paul was actually wrong for invoking his Roman Citizenship. While that cannot be proved, it is a possibility. So why would we want to take one example against all the contrary evidence and especially against the actions of Jesus himself who refused to speak up in defense of himself in order to justify Christians trying to secure their rights and priveledges? To do so just seems like one of many examples of selectively plucking the Bible in order to justify what we already wish to believe.

    Grace and peace,

    Rex

  13. And for the record, I am not trying to promote a positive or negative atmosphere.

    I am interested in calling all people to be disciples of Jesus; proclaimers of his gospel; who live as a chosen race, royal priesthood, a holy nation; people who identity is alien to this world.

    Grace and peace,

    Rex

  14. Jesus never had any problem or dismissed being called Jesus of Nazareth. Paul sought his rights as a Roman citizen, Paul did not lay down his citizenship in heaven by proclaiming his Roman citizenship and his rights. Paul set a good example that it is not ungodly for a Christian to proclaim their national citizenship. If that bothers you so be it, I will not apologize for Paul nor for myself. You want to dismiss Scripture and go as far as to conjecture that because Paul was a Christian he had no right to proclaim his Roman citizenship and his rights as a Roman citizen, that is hogwash.

  15. Paul used his status as a Pharisee in the same way he used his status as a Roman. (Acts 23:6)

    Funny how few people argue that we should be Pharisees based on that passage.

    Grace and peace,
    Tim Archer

  16. If I recall the Bible says Paul became a Christian yet still he could proclaim his Pharisee status and still have citizenship in heaven.

  17. Anonymous,

    That is funny to read you saying I want to dismiss scripture…that could not be further from the truth.

    But if you want to talk about scripture then let’s talk… If God wants his people to be so preoccupied with sercuring their own political rights from the nations of this world, why did Jesus just stand and weep over Jerusalem rather than leading a militia against Rome in order to demand the rights of the Jews? Why did Jesus not speak up when he was being crucified and tell Pilate about the false accusations being made against him which were a violation of his rights? Why don’t we find any Christians in the book of Acts organizing a militia or some sort of political party in order to demand their rights? Why do we find the Apostle Paul reminding the Ephesian Christians that their identity is not Jew nor Gentile but “in Christ” alone and why do we find Paul writing to the Philippians to speak about his chains for Christ (part of that goal he is pressing towards) rather than his fighting for his rights as a Roman citizen? Why do we find the Hebrew writer reminding Jewish Christians what God in Jesus (not the nations or Torah) has accomplished and then calling them to be faithful to the way of Jesus even when facing persecution (I guess the Hebrews writer missed the part about fighting for one’s rights)? Why do we find Peter writing to churches in Asia Minor facing persecution reminding calling on them not to assert whatever secular allegiance they have but instead reminding them to live out of their identity as God’s people, as foreigners and aliens? Why do we find the Apostle John telling the seven churches to come out of Babylon and have nothing to do with her lest they perish with her?

    You have offered one examply of a Christain asserting his national citizenship and as I said earlier, that alone does not support near what you claim it does. All Paul was doing in Acts 22 by asserting his Roman citizenship was outsmarting the Jewish tribunal hoping to have him whipped. Nevertheless, the vast whole of scripture does not support any notion of God’s people making an effort to secure and preserve the nations of this world and the rights people have (or should have) as citizens of those nations. Instead as Peter reminds us, drawing upon the covenant God made with Israel to shape the churches in Asia minor, Christians were to be a nation among the nations pointing those nations and the people who inhabbit them to the glory of God in hopes that they would seek God and his redemptive grace. But Christians cannot do that as long as they are occupied with their own personal rights and/or the affairs of the nations in this world…we cannot serve two masters.

    Grace and peace,

    Rex

  18. When have I denied that Christans are and have been persecuted, that doesn’t mean we can’t exercise our rights or proclaim our national citizenship.

    Jesus never had any problem or dismissed being called Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus wept because people were lost in their sins. Jesus came to die for our sins, He had no intention of stopping that from happening.

    You want so badly to avoid that Paul did proclaim his Roman citizenship and his rights as a Roman citizen. Christians can do that and still have citizenship in heaven, regardless of what you may think.

    Christians can exercise their rights and it doesn’t make them no less a Christian. If you want to say people can’t proclaim their national citizenship nor exercise their rights and be a Christian, so be it, I will not apologize for Paul nor myself.

  19. “Their minds are on earthly things, but our citizenship is in heaven.”

    That conjunction makes a contrast. Think about who that is written to. Think about what it says. Read all of Philippians 3, reading about Paul saying that all the former things are excrement compared to knowing Christ. Included in that list is his status as a Pharisee.

    I used to think we were dual citizens. I now believe that we are ambassadors of the Kingdom of Heaven, living as strangers and aliens in this world.

    Grace and peace,
    Tim Archer

  20. Who here is saying we don’t have citizenship in heaven?

    When I hear Christians lament the fact that our government is doing poorly I think of the fact that there are over 60 million evangelical Christians in our country and that less than one fourth of them vote in most elections, that’s being of the world many would say.

    When it comes to the law of the land, many Christians treat it is an unwelcome intrusion, that they do not apply. Christians want to see themselves as necessarily above the law, they say but we are citizens of heaven. That is being both naive and arrogant.

    Christians render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s. There are laws for business purposes, Christians own property, pay property tax, pay laborers, and buy and sell things in the normal course.

    Who set their minds on earthly things

    Those who set their minds on earthly things look at life from the standards of a world without God with a self indulgent viewpoint rather than the divine viewpoint.

    If we must choose between obeying God or man, we will obey God, those potential situations should not be used as excuses for Christians to abdicate their responsibility as citizens of our nation.

    For our citizenship is in heaven

    The seat of a Christian’s citizenship is in heaven. Our citizenship is first in heaven then to our nation. Christians have citizenship both here and there. The people Paul spoke to lived in Greece but their citizenship was in Rome, they could understand Paul’s speech. They have a citizenship on earth but they have another in heaven. They were never to forget they were citizens of heaven. It does not prevent us from being obligated to our country, as some sects have falsely taught. As Christians we are obliged to be good citizens on earth, and because we serve God, we are all the better able to serve our country.

    A Christian may from lack of proper knowledge not always show the right attitude toward government and yet be a believer in spite of this weakness. God’s will in regard to our relationship to government is clearly expressed in the Bible. When we do not submit to God’s Word we are not loving God. Citizenship on earth entitles us to rights and imposes duties. To claim Christ’s kingdom and at the same time refuse to acknowledge the earthly authority that God has placed over us is not the Christian thing to do.

    The Word of God does not exempt any person from being subject to an earthly government. It speaks rather plainly on this matter and demands of all men that they should take their citizenship seriously. Christians may be praying for God to guide their footsteps, but they are not willing to move their feet. The believers, in particular, should measure up to higher standards of obligation to our country. The Apostle tells Christians that, because they are citizens of heaven, they should be model citizens of the nation to which they live in.

    Romans 13:1-10 “Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same. For he is God’s minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil. Therefore you must be subject, not only because of wrath but also for conscience’ sake. For because of this you also pay taxes, for they are God’s ministers attending continually to this very thing. Render therefore to all their due: taxes to whom taxes are due, customs to whom customs, fear to whom fear, honor to whom honor.”

    1 Peter 2:13-17, “Therefore submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake, whether to the king as supreme, or to governors, as to those who are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and for the praise of those who do good. For this is the will of God, that by doing good you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men— as free, yet not using liberty as a cloak for vice, but as bondservants of God. Honor all people. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king.”

    I don’t believe that the Son of the God of law and government, the Christ on whose shoulders the government rests never wants us to proclaim our rights under the law.

    Being a Christian does not mean we can’t proclaim our national citizenship and our rights. Proclaiming our national citizenship and exercising our rights does not make us no less a Christian. Christians should strive to be able to serve our country better.

    God wants us to produce fruit not nuts.

  21. Mike,

    Seeking affirmation is not that bad a thing until we decide our survival as the church depends on getting the government to build monuments to our religion. Here in Alabama, Judge Roy Moore is once again running for governor, polling in the mid-30% range, just because he hung a Ten Commandments plaque in his courtroom and then had a stone monument to the Ten Commandments illegally placed in the state judicial building. For some reason, it’s very important to Christians that we be able to force the government to affirm our Christianity. And this is not the mission.

    Some of it is a longing to return to Constantinian Christianity — the marriage of government and church that prevailed over 1,000 years. Some is anger at removal of Christian symbols from public spaces. Some is the desire for affirmation. None is important. None is worth taking up the millions invested in futile litigation. And it’s a very poor way to select a governor.

  22. John,

    That’s good to hear.

  23. Anonymous,

    When we focus our religion on winning lawsuits to force the government to honor the symbols of our religion we’re wasting our time and money. We often do more harm than good. I hope to never see another suit over putting a manger scene on the lawn of city hall. We were not called to make Christianity the religion of the state. The goal is to convert people, not governments. And there are plenty of good places to put the manger scene that won’t breed millions in litigation cost.

    Suits are rarely filed over the right to exercise our religion. Nearly all suits are actually over whether the government should pay lip service to Christianity. The recent Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals (federal appeals court for California) decision upholding the Pledge of Allegiance is a classic example. The court finds,

    The recitation of the Pledge is designed to evoke feelings of patriotism, pride, and love of country, not of divine fulfillment or spiritual enlightenment.

    http://www.ca9.uscourts.gov/datastore/opinions/2010/03/11/05-17257.pdf (p 3885). In short, the spiritual elements of the Pledge are inconsequential.

    Much as Justice Brennan explained, the “references to God contained in the Pledge of Allegiance” are “uniquely suited to serve such wholly secular purposes as solemnizing public occasions, or inspiring commitment to meet some national challenge in a manner that simply could not be fully served in our culture if government were limited to purely non-religious phrases.”

    (p. 3888) The court further finds that “under God” serves a wholly secular purpose.

    These findings make it absolutely clear that Congress in 2002 was not trying to impress a religious doctrine upon anyone. Rather, they had two main purposes for keeping the phrase “one Nation under God” in the Pledge: (1) to underscore the political philosophy of the Founding Fathers that God granted certain inalienable rights to the people which the government cannot take away; and (2) to add the note of importance which a Pledge to our Nation ought to have and which in our culture ceremonial references to God arouse.

    (p. 3902) In other words, “under God” is not about religion! It’s merely a way of emphasizing the seriousness of the pledge.

    23 Here, Jefferson was referring to Cicero’s concept that “God himself” was the author, promulgator, and enforcer of the “universal law of justice.” Marcus Tullius Cicero, De Republica III, xxii. Cicero, who lived from 106 BC to 43 BC, obviously was not a Christian. Thus, this concept of God and Nature bestowing rights upon the people is not confined to the traditions of Christianity, regardless of some of the proclamations of preachers and Congressmen in 1954.

    (p. 3907). Indeed, they argue, “under God” doesn’t even necessarily refer to the Judeo-Christian God!

    The point is that even though the Christian community counts this decision a victory, the result of this “victory” is to so minimize the meaning of “under God” that it’s been nearly written out of the Pledge. When we “defend” Christianity by so secularizing the name of God that “under God” becomes a primarily secular device to encourage devotion to a nation — rather than God — we have a problem. You see the gist of the argument is that “under God” means God is endorsing the US rather than the US endorsing God. And that’s one example of a lesser thing.

    By seeking governmental endorsement of God, we wind up with the exact opposite. I’d FAR rather that the courts find “under God” to be such an incredibly holy, reverent, and devout phrase that it makes the Pledge of Allegiance utterly Christian and religious — regardless of the legal result — than to have the courts secularize the name of God.

    You see, sometimes how you win or lose is more important than whether you win or lose. But when this case is appealed to the Supreme Court, what church will write a brief declaring the name of God so holy that the Pledge of Allegiance is profoundly religious — even if that makes it unconstitutional? Which is more important to us? Getting to say the Pledge in public school or having God’s name revered as utterly, unspeakably holy?

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