God’s People and the State
When we use the word “Christian” as a self-description, those of us who believe the Bible are making a profession of faith in Jesus. We believe to be a Christian one must repent of sin, confess their sin, receive forgiveness from God and believe in our hearts that Jesus is Lord. When we use the term Christian, we are confessing that we seek to follow Jesus as our Lord in all we do in life.
That is not so for everyone when they use the term, Christian. Some may use this term as a cultural identifier and others may mean a political affiliation. Still others might simply mean they are citizens of a nation where Christianity has been or is still the predominant religious expression.
What do we mean when we say, America is a Christian Nation?” We may mean most Americans profess Christianity over other religious expressions. In fact, a Pew Poll puts that number at 70%. We may mean that America has religious freedom and the freedom of choice by individuals to accept Jesus or reject Jesus is essential to true Christianity.
As Baptists we have always celebrated and defended religious freedom. We know that part of the story of those who came to America is religious freedom. However, our Baptists ancestors suffered greatly in the early days of our nation and yet they were also instrumental in getting the religious freedom clause in the U.S. Constitution. There are many who feel our religious freedom is being diminished. What does it mean to have religious freedom and is there or should there be a limit to religious freedom?
All these questions create great debate and even division among followers of Jesus. Is there a way to dig deeper into these current questions? I think there is and so I want to invite you to join us on Wednesday nights at 6:30 p.m. in the Fellowship Hall for a series I have entitled, “The People of God and the State.” We will take a Biblical and historical survey on this topic to help us discover how the people of God have related to the government over history and in our own nation.
I have invited two professors from Campbell University to help us explore these topics. Dr. Barry Jones is professor of Old Testament at Campbell University Divinity School and Dr. Glenn Jonas is Chair of Campbell University Department of Religion. They will lead our sessions and discussion.
Our schedule is below:
February 9 & 16: In the Old Testament (Dr. Barry Jones)
February 23: In the New Testament (Dr. Jeff Roberts)
March 2: Ash Wednesday Service in Sanctuary (Dr. Glenn Jonas)
March 9: The Church as Christendom and the Church in Reformation (Dr. Glenn Jonas)
March 16: Christianity in Early America (Dr. Glenn Jonas)
March 23: The Baptist Influence in American Christianity (Dr. Glenn Jonas)
March 30: Current Issues (Dr. Glenn Jonas)
I invite you to join us in person or online through our Facebook page for these sessions. There is no registration required. I am excited about learning with you and having a better understanding of this topic.