Evangelicals maybe should be more concerned that Americans never lose their individual freedoms. I don't think we ought to be as dismayed that our civil government loses an alleged allegiance to Christian principles. For example, when our civil government recognizes the equality of gay marriages, or takes "In God We Trust" off of our coinage, or removes the Ten Commandments from public display in government buildings, or is led by a President or others who might be atheists, Buddhists, Muslim or followers of any other religion but Christianity, I think we Christians should not be nonplussed. Our civil government was founded on the principle that the power of government resides in the people, and truth be known, we now have people in America who want gay marriage recognized; people who are not Christians, and people who say they are tired of being treated like second-class Americans because they are not Christians. We now have leaders in America who reflect the religious pluralism and societal paganism of the majority of Americans who put them in office.
Again, we evangelical Christians in America should be unfazed by these changes.
God needs not the help of a material sword to assist the sword of the Spirit in affairs of the conscience. That sentence (and this post's title) comes from a line in Roger Williams' 1644 treatise The Bloudy Tenant of Persecution. Roger Williams (1603-1683), founder of Providence, Rhode Island and the first Baptist congregation in America, wrote his treatise after being evicted from the Massachusetts Bay Colony because he disagreed with the merging of the church and the civil government in that colony.
Roger Williams did not get along with John Cotton, the preeminent Anglican minister in Massachusetts who believed in the merging of the church and the government. Cotton believed that all Americans should Christians, and the government should use capital punishment for those who denied the fundamental Christian teachings of the church. Roger Williams left Massachusetts and wrote The Bloudy Tenant as a refutation of Cotton's Presbyterian and Anglican church polity that advocates the merging of church and civil government.
During this 4th of July week, as we evangelicals think about America and the freedoms we enjoy, I would encourage us to reflect on the biblical arguments of Roger Williams as to why the people of God should never be too concerned about living in a country where the civil government or civil leaders do not recognize the Judeo-Christian God of the Old or New Testaments or any of the teachings found in the Scriptures. I have updated Roger Williams archaic English, but you can read the original text of The Bloudy Tenant of Persecution here.
"Abraham lived among the Canaanites a long time, yet he believed contrary to the Canaanites regarding Religion (see Genesis 13:7. and16:13). Again, Abraham also lived in Gerar, and the pagan King Abimelech gave him freedom to abide in his land (see Genesis 20, 21. 23, 24).
Isaac also dwelt in Gerar, yet he believed contrary to King Abimelech regarding Religion (see Genesis 26).
Jacob lived 20 years in the same house with his Uncle Laban, yet he believed differently than his uncle when it came to Religion (see Genesis 31).
The people of Israel dwelt for 430 years in the infamous land of Egypt, and afterwards 70 years in Babylon, during which time they differed in Religion from the heads and leaders of both States (see Exodus 1, 2 and 2 Chronicles 36).
Coming to the time of Christ, the people of Israel lived under the Romans, where there were different sects of Religion, like the Herodians, the Scribes and that of the Pharisees, as well as the Libertines, the Thudaans and the Samaritans, besides the common Religion of the Jews, and that of Christ and his Apostles--all of which differed from the common Religion of the State of Rome which was the worship of Diana, which almost the whole pagan world then worshipped.
All these lived under the Government of Caesar, and their religion was not hurtful to the commonwealth of Rome, for they rendered to Caesar that which was his (taxes), and as to their Religion and consciences towards God, Caesar left them to themselves, having no dominion over their souls and consciences."
If someone objects to Williams' observations of Rome by saying it was the Roman civil government who put Christians to death after the resurrection of Christ, it must be remembered that the orthodox Hebrew Jews were the first to persecute the followers of Jesus (one religion persecuting another), and only when the Jews revolted against the civil government of Rome by force did the Romans come to put down the Jewish revolt (70 A.D.). Later, when Roman emperors left the principles of individual freedoms upon which the Roman empire had been built, Christians began to be persecuted.
It is the loss of individual freedoms that will eventually cause any country to collapse upon itself.
So, as we celebrate July the 4th and Independence Day in America this year, let us evangelicals not make the mistake of moaning the loss of Christian America. Any god that requires the sword of government to demand allegiance from a country's subjects is not the one true God of Scripture. Roger Williams understood this, and so should we.
That which we must guard against in this country is the loss of ndividual freedoms as well as increasing government intrusion into--and coercion of--the individual, regardless of a citizen's religion or lack thereof.