Dr. David VanDrunen of Westminster Seminary of California was on Theocast this week to discuss his book, Living in God's Two Kingdoms: A Biblical for Christianity and Culture.
I'm known, and I get a few eye rolls every time I say this, for my assertion that there is no such thing as a Christian country. Believe it or not, one of scriptures that I use is Psalm 33:12. Many people are familiar with the first half of the verse, "Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD." You might now be scratching your head. However, the reason for using this support is the second half of the verse: "the people whom He has chosen for His heritage." So, the language that is being used by the Psalmist here is language having to with God's choice of a people. In the context of the Old Testament, this is what we call "covenental" language. It's language that speaks of a covenant that God makes between Himself and a specific people--at His choice and discretion. He's referring, here, in the Old Testament context, to the nation of Israel under the Mosaic Covenant. This covenant, at least in terms of the national life, was one of "do this and live." It echoed the terms laid out for Adam in the garden. Yet, there is a promise of something better that was given to Abraham. A promise of grace such that all who had true faith in God, like Abraham, would not only part of "ethnic" Israel but also part of the "true" Israel. This is testifying to something better that is coming.
Now, that covenant has passed and something better has indeed come. The New Covenant in Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of all the law, the prophets, and the writings. By His life, death, resurrection, and ascension, He has fulfilled the terms of There is also a nation attached to this covenant. And this scripture still holds true to this covenant. This nation is also "the people whom He has chosen for His heritage." So, the question is, where is this nation.
Well, this nation is not one bounded by any geographic boundaries or political alliances. Rather, it is the nation spoken of in 1 Peter 2:9 where God, through the Apostle Peter, tells His people,
This is referring to what Paul calls, the elect. This is a people from every tongue, tribe, and people group. This is the church of Jesus Christ. So, the blessed nation whose God is the Lord? The church of Jesus Christ composed of Jew and Gentile. This is not found a any geopolitical entity (that is, a country) including the United States. There is no such country that is in a covenant relationship with God. Israel, under the Mosaic Covenant, was the only country under such a special covenant. However, that Covenant has passed and has found its fulfillment in something that goes beyond any national boundaries!
So, what's the point of all of this? We as Christians need to spend our energy and lives on things that God has promised and has enacted: the promise of Grace in Christ Jesus! God has not promised us a place, here, that is "our" country or "God's" country. Rather, the USA, like all other countries, is but a drop from a bucket. So, we misplace our efforts trying create something that God has nowhere said is a possibility in His holy word.
Does this mean that we don't concern ourselves with the affairs of the nation? That depends. The church (as in each local church) is an colony of this New Covenant and has a scripturally regulated mission to proclaim the truths of God's redemption in Christ Jesus to His people and those who are yet to come to Him. This is done in word and sacrament.
However, as individual Christians, we also live lives in which we share common space and callings with those who are not part of this nation. In that, we have an obligation to carry out our business as Christians and in ways that honor Christ. As Richard Mouw points out, in Calvinism in the Las Vegas Airport: Making Connections in Today's World,
We are to do what we are told in 1 Peter after 1 Peter 2:9: That is, we are to live as citizens of the nation that has the LORD as its God!
-Pastor Mark Bahr
In this lesson we begin laying the foundation with a theme that runs through the Gospel of Jesus Christ: the two Adams. We look at the first Adam who had a task to complete as God's vice-regent and Eden's priest to enter into rest. We also see the implications of his failure to do so.