The spiritual advantage of leaving God out

This lack of diversity no longer exists.

This lack of diversity no longer exists.

The pledge that we now use as the official Pledge of Allegiance of the United States of America was originally written by a Baptist minister who chose to leave God out of it. Not only that, the original pledge he wrote didn’t even have America in it. It was a generic pledge written to be used by any nation that wishes to uphold the ideals of freedom and justice.

The following paragraph was lifted from the Wikipedia article on the Pledge of Allegiance:

The Pledge of Allegiance was written in August 1892 by Francis Bellamy, who was a Baptist minister, a Christian socialist, and the cousin of socialist utopian novelist Edward Bellamy. The original pledge was: “I pledge allegiance to my Flag and the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.” His intent was to create a pledge that could be used in any country. The Pledge was supposed to be quick and to the point. Bellamy designed it to be recited in 15 seconds. As a socialist, he had initially also considered using the words equality and fraternity but decided against it – knowing that the state superintendents of education on his committee were against equality for women and African Americans.

In other words, the original pledge was designed by a Christian leader who saw the importance of fostering religious freedom in the marketplace. He would have been against adding “under God” a hundred years later.

But John … why would a Christian ever champion leaving God out of anything? Out of respect for those who don’t believe in God, or in the Judeo-Christian God. This would be a Christian who wants the freedom to introduce a relationship with Christ in an environment where people don’t feel forced to believe in this God by the state. A free public square leads to a free and open sharing of the gospel while still respecting others’ beliefs. Leaving God out of public life allows us to more freely introduce Him into our private lives and into our relationships in the marketplace.

Even the biblical teaching that law brings about transgression shows why using the law to coerce right beliefs creates a natural resistance against those beliefs. It’s human nature. People resist what they feel forced to do. We want to bring people to Christ by winsomely appealing to their own free will, not by in any manner forcing them to believe what we believe.

This is obviously a radical departure from how Christians have been thinking and acting in the marketplace for the last several decades. That’s why I’m spending time on it. It’s important if we are going to introduce the Gospel of Welcome in the marketplace today that we know how to think about and treat those with different, even opposing, views. We are living in a time of great diversity. There were times in our national history and heritage when assuming a belief in the Judeo-Christian God we love and worship was closer to a universal belief than it is now. That assumption would not even have been challenged 60 years ago except by a very small minority. This is a different age. In this time of great diversity; we need another way of thinking — a way that respects and gives dignity to those of all races, religions and ethnic backgrounds.

We want the gospel to have the opportunity rise up and be what it is by the power of its truth and the Holy Spirit, not the power of America.

Francis Bellamy was way ahead of his time.

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9 Responses to The spiritual advantage of leaving God out

  1. David in AZ says:

    As an Army Veteran (1966-68) I have not said the “Pledge” for over 25 years. My allegiance is to and has been to Jesus Christ since boyhood. Out of respect for those around me I stand when it is said but do not repeat it. I’m old enough to have had to learn it with and without out “under God”. I have been influenced by the New Covenant “everything coming from God, nothing coming from us” since the mid 70’s. “Our competence (to live life) is from God, who has made us competent to be ministers of a new covenant..” 2 Cor. 5-6. Now I am learning to live the Gospel of Welcome. Thanks be to God.

  2. johnhaak says:

    Come on John … Everyone can just say a little, “under God”. It is no big deal; as easy as tossing a pinch of incense on the altar and say “Caesar is Lord”. What can it hurt?

  3. Very good points. And true, that when people feel forced, they back up, turn and run, sometimes forever. Most places where Christianity was strong-armed into being seem to now be post-Christian or nothing now.

  4. It really doesn’t matter if “God” is left in or out, because ignorant people get offended to realize that the word God is a title and not His name.

  5. Andrew P. says:

    I’m with David (see above). I’m not entirely consistent about it (giving in to perceived peer pressure from time to time, not wanting to offend those around me), but that’s the way my thinking goes. I’m very happy to live in this country, but my true allegiance is to Jesus Christ, not a country.

  6. Mark Seguin says:

    I’ll be happy to add an Amen to this: “…we need another way of thinking — a way that respects and gives dignity to those of all races, religions and ethnic backgrounds.” To me that is a GREAT example & use of very good people skills!
    PS johnhaak: it’s a big deal to a person that doesn’t believe in like you, or even in a God. Give them some respect to think/believe as they choose and you’ll maybe able began to have a fun / intelligent conversation w/ them, which may or may not be about God – Befriend them first. Get to know them. Their dreams, desires wants and likes… To summarize Dale Carnegie great book about people skills: “How to Win Friends…” of which i completely think/believe can & will help make a lot of people (including me) a much better Ambassador’s for the Lord.

  7. The “God” of the pledge is not Yahweh (the only true and living God; Romans 1:18-23) but the gods that people falsely worship such as money, power, sex, themselves, etc. Our passion must be to preach the true gospel (Galatians 1:6-10) that saves sinners by God’s grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone.

  8. Good points, both in the initial post and the comments. It speaks to something we were discussing offline, John, about the difference between being a “Christian Nation” and a “Nation made up of Christians”. But let me throw something else in here about the effects of leaving God *in*. In Canada, despite the best efforts of many people who believe that it’s “non-inclusive” to do so, God is still an official part of our institutions. The national anthem refers to God in both the English version and the original French: “God keep our land glorious and free”/”car ton bras sait porter l’épée, il sait porter la Croix” (“While your [the country’s] arm knows how to carry the sword, it also knows how to carry the Cross”); the national motto is “A mari usque ad mare” — “From sea even unto sea” (Zechariah 9:10); our coinage still shows Queen Elizabeth II with the legend, “D.G. Regina” — “Queen by the grace of God”; the Canadian Constitution begins with the preamble, “Whereas Canada is founded upon principles that recognize the supremacy of God and the rule of law …”

    And y’know what? We have been remarkably well protected from the strife that besets other countries, like the spectre of invasion by neighbors (thanks in large part to the fact that our nearest neighbor is the US) or mass murder by terrorists — indeed, we read often how our police “stumbled upon” or were tipped off about a possible attack, in time to shut it down. Is that coincidence? Luck? Or is our willingness to recognize God institutionally — while not requiring everyone to believe in the same way — ensuring His protection? Would we want to take that chance?

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