Recently I have been conversing with Europeans about “American Christianity”. They tell me that European Christianity is very different and far superior to American Christianity. However, it is not my purpose to compare the two “types” of Christianity here. My purpose is to compare Christianity with christianity.
Let me explain what I mean. I use a capital “C” in Christianity when I am referring to biblical Christianity. Biblically, one is a Christian when one recognizes one’s condition (i.e. that he/she is a sinner under the wrath of a Holy God), repents and turns to the finished work of Jesus Christ for his/her redemption. By “finished work of Jesus Christ” I mean His life (without sin), His death (bearing our rightful punishment for our sin), and His resurrection (overcoming death that we might have eternal life). One who believes this and gives his life over to the Lord, this one is a Christian. It matters not where he/she was born or what the faith of her/his parents were. It is a personal, one on one, relationship with Jesus Christ.
The lower case “c” as used in the term “christianity” herein refers to those who call themselves christian for reasons other than a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. I firmly believe the bulk of those in America who consider themselves Christian, are, in fact, christian.
The term “Christianity” has, at least in America, come to mean a sort of nationalism. Most “christians” here proclaim themselves such because they were born, raised, and live in a “christian nation.” It seems to me, from my discussions with European Christians, that folks outside of America consider America to be a “Christian Nation” as well. I have heard it said that England is a “secular society” and America is a “christian society.” That is correct when “christian” is spelled with a lower case “c”. However a lower case “c” puts it directly in the realm of a “secular society.”
The term “Christianity” has, for most people, changed in definition. It means something to the effect that one was born in a “Christian Nation”, or goes (at least occasionally) to a “Christian Church.” It has become a term to describe a type of society and, in reality, has little or nothing to do with Christianity at all. Thus, some of the worst of us, some of the most uncaring and egotistical, are considered by themselves, and by others, to be Christians, when, in fact, they are simply christian.
Can you see how the term “Christian” has actually lost spiritual meaning in our country (and I believe abroad as well)? It has become a political designation rather than a spiritual one. This is one reason it has been so very difficult for me to communicate on this topic with my European friends. In my experience they have not been able to separate Christianity and christianity, at least in terms of America. More often than not my American friends suffer the same malady.
Because of this shift in definition of the term “Christian”, it has been easy to set the blame for most of the major ill’s of society on “Christians.” It is an easy cop out. Society is messed up because the Christians are uncaring about others and only care about their status and the thickness of their wallets.
Many believe that Wall Street is run by Christians. It is not. Many believe the American government is run by Christians. It is not. Both are run by individuals, people. Christianity has nothing to do with either institution. Christian values have nothing to do with either institution. My European friends don’t seem to understand that.
America is not a Christian nation. There is no such thing as a Christian nation. America was founded on biblical principles, but that did not make it Christian. Nations are not Christian because nations cannot make a decision for Christ. Nations cannot collectively repent and turn to Christ. Individuals can do that. Living for Christ, accepting His Lordship in ones life, cannot be legislated. It doesn’t work. It has been tried, and it has failed. Christ died for individuals (for you and for me), not for nations.
So, where does that leave us? How are the social problems we face going to be solved. Sadly, they are not going to be solved for two reasons:
1. Those who do not have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ either don’t care or believe that man can legislate morality (which it cannot).
2. Those who call themselves christian but have no relationship with Jesus Christ either don’t care or believe that man can legislate morality (which it cannot).
These social problems we all face daily will only be solved at the return of Jesus. They will only be solved when He separates the sheep from the goats. Why? Because the solutions do not rest in the hands and minds of man, but in the Grace of God. That is why those who have helped peoples suffering from the social problems they face have been helped by Christians (capital “C”). It will be so until Christ returns.