Just Jesus & Unjust July 4th: Why I Don’t Celebrate Independence Day (Annual Unpopular Post)

*Repost from 2011

That's for sure...photo © 2009 Alessandro Valli | more info (via: Wylio)

Guys can do stupid things. Add explosives to the equation and the idiocy quotient increases exponentially. Such was the case every 4th of July during High school. A group of about 20 guys would get together to BBQ and play with illegal fireworks. At any unsuspected moment while taking a bite out of a burger, an M-80 could be lit under your seat, a sparkler thrown at your bare chest like a dart, or a mortar could be shot like a bazooka, catching bushes on fire.

Then, there was the “bottle rocket game.” Us guys would stand in a circle with our arms locked in a tight circle. Following this precise formation, the bottle rocket was lit and dropped in the middle of the circle. Adrenaline pumping and terrified adolescents jumping, we’d pray like heck that the flying explosive wouldn’t impact and explode on our legs… and yes, some jeans did catch on fire. These chaotically stupid memories simultaneously serve as some of the most fun I can recall experiencing. So, for me, Independence Day equals fun.

However, there’s a deeper reality to which this holiday points. Only about three years ago did I realize that in celebrating Independence Day I’m also glorifying the pagan roots on which this nation was founded: an unjust war. Holidays can be redeemed/recycled from culture at times, but this isn’t the case with Independence Day (for instance, Easter and Christmas formerly were “pagan” but were redeemed in that they no longer have “secular” value when understood within the traditional Christian calendar whereas July 4th does nothing to narrate the story of Scripture). The “rockets red glare” and “the bombs bursting in air” remind us not of the day God liberated the colonies, but of the moment in history when our forefathers stole the rhetoric of God from authentic Christianity to justify killing fellow Christians.*** There’s two reasons I’m convinced that celebrating Independence Day celebrates an unjust war.

2 Reasons: Unjust Cause & Hypocrisy

First, nonviolence was normative prior to Constantine. However, even if you believe that there are moments when violence is justifiable by classical “just war” criteria, the Revolutionary War does not meet those standards.[1] Consider this summary: “Wars, to be just, must be fought under established governments, they must restore justice or preserve peace, they must be a last resort after exhausting peaceful means to solve a conflict, and they must be fought with the minimum of violence necessary and with proper safeguards for noncombatants.”[2]

Dunlap Broadside [Declaration of Independence]photo © 2009 The U.S. National Archives | more info (via: WylioThe Declaration states that “when a long train of abuses and usurpations… design to reduce them under absolute despotism…” it’s right to “throw off such a government.” [3] The document goes on to list about twenty grievances including: frustrations with taxation, troops quartered, ignoring murder, lack of Parliamentary representation, and more. Most historians agree that the Revolution was a “tax revolt, first and foremost.”[4]

In regards to taxes, the mantra “no taxation without representation” rings in our social studies books. The question to ask is the nature of the taxes leading up to the war. These taxes are connected to another war: the French and Indian War (1754-1763). When the colonists were threatened in conflict, who came to save the day??? The British!!! So much, that the debt of England had increased by £130,000,000 during the war.

To alleviate the heavy burden, Parliament passed the Stamp Act. Later, the Tea tax was added to help the importer who was facing financial difficulties. Oddly enough, even during the events leading up to the Revolution taxes were significantly lower and tea cheaper in the Colonies than in England! “The tax burden of the nearly two million colonists was per capita only one twenty-fifth of the roughly 8.5 million residents of Britain.”[5] Does that change your view of taxation and the Revolution?[6]

Unfortunately, the reality that Parliament could impose taxes, led the colonists to fear that further controls would be taken. This led the famous Boston Tea Party, which then led England sending troops to regulate the lawlessness.[7] Sadly, as history shows, some colonists believed that this was all part of some conspiracy to eventually eliminate all liberty, so they took up arms and fired the first shot at Lexington. No such thing was ever discussed by Parliament. Not only so, but the relationship between the Colonies and England were no different than modern U.S. policy in Puerto Rico – who get taxed without representation.
IMG_0057.JPGphoto © 2007 CODEPINK Women For Peace | more info (via: Wylio)

The second reason that the Revolution clearly doesn’t fit the category of “just war” is hypocrisy. Instead of going into details, let’s go to one of the most credible Christian voices in history, John Wesley:

Look into America… see that Negro, fainting under the load, bleeding under the lash! He is a slave. And is there ‘no difference’ between him and his master? Yes; the one is screaming ‘Murder! Slavery!’ the other silently bleeds and dies! ‘But wherein then consists the difference between liberty and slavery?’ Herein: You and I, and the English in general, go where we will, and enjoy the fruits of our labours: This is liberty. The Negro does not: This is slavery. Is not then all this outcry about liberty and slavery mere rant, and playing upon words?[8]

The very men that worried about becoming the slaves of ol’ King George, perpetuated one of the worst systems of slavery in the world! Consider the words of historian, Mark Noll:

Only one population in the colonies clearly was justified by classical Christian reasoning in taking up arms to defend itself—the half-million or so enslaved African Americans who were held in bondage as the result of armed attacks upon peaceful noncombatants.[9]

Just Jesus

If ever there was a situation that called for “just war,” it was the first century. The Roman Empire oppressed and killed people in Israel. There was no liberty for the Jewish people. Yet, Jesus taught the exact opposite of revolution – “But I say to you: don’t use violence to resist evil!” (Matthew 5.39, Kingdom New Testament).[10] Even if one holds to the possibility of a “just war,” historically, the victory we celebrate as Americans every 4th of July, does not count. May we quit appealing to pseudo “just war” theories and start appealing to just Jesus, because the only Independence Day worth celebrating is Easter – which reminds us that violence doesn’t win because the tomb is empty!

 

————————————————————————————————————————————

PS – I’m not inviting us to be legalistic on this issue, but rather pointing out that the origins of this celebration are more pagan than Christian. So, if you like fireworks, have fun watching… but ask: Do I simply enjoy the display of lights in the sky or am I celebrating an unjust war fought for a nation that is not God’s Kingdom? Do I enjoy an excuse for a BBQ or am I eating a burger with a side of “freedom fries?” I think you get the point :-)


* I realize that the Star Spangled Banner was technically written during the War of 1812, however it lingers in our imaginations each Independence Day as a reminder of the full narrative of the USA, from our beginnings in the Revolutionary War forward.

[1] 1) Just Cause: War is allowed only “to protect innocent life, to preserve conditions necessary for decent human existence, and basic human rights.” 2) Proportionate Cause: Damage inflicted must be proportionate to the good of the outcome. 3) Right Intention: “Requires the pursuit of peace and reconciliation.” 4) Competent Authority: War is “declared by those with responsibility for public order, not by private groups or individuals.” 5)Probability of Success: “Serious prospects of success” that violence will be worth it. 6) Last Resort: “All peaceful alternatives must [be] exhausted.” 7)Comparative Justice: “No state should act on the basis that it has absolute justice on its side.”

[2] The Search For Christian America by Mark A. Noll, Nathan O. Hatch, and George M. Marsden, 95.

[3] All facts come from the following source or the previous one: America’s War for Independence: Just or Unjust? by John Keown of Georgetown University.

[4] Keown, 288.

[5] Keown, 285.

[6] Interestingly, taxes went up by nearly 300% shortly after the close of the War. (see: Keown, 286).

[7] It’s worth noting that England could have been better at diplomacy. The confusion caused by their poor response certainly added to the conspiracy theories.

[8] Keown, 292.

[10] For more on this passage and nonviolence in general, go here.

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  • Robertnevillemd

    First, you need to get over yourself. Second, realize we live in an imperfect and fallen world and even the best of intentions are marred by sin. Finally, start thinking about all of the great things this country has been able to accomplish based on a few very simple but elemental ideas.
    If none of that is enough for you then I would politely suggest that you turn in your US citizenship and go live someplace where your delicate conscience won’t be so disturbed.

    • Brettthatcher

      It’s not a delicate conscience that Kurt displays, it’s the heart of Christ. Kurt says he doesn’t want to blow shit up with fireworks in celebration of war. Just or unjust, war never deserves celebration.
      And by the way, your ‘polite’ invite to leave America was less than polite. Im sure you knew that. Shalom.

      • http://patheos.com/blogs/thepangeablog/ Kurt Willems

        :-)

        • http://superrustyfly.wordpress.com/ Russell Purvis

          Kurt, you gotta stop calling this unpopular. It’s getting alot of popularity. :)

      • Robertnevillemd

        You didn’t really respond to any of my points. My invitation to him was polite compared to what I wanted to say. I suspect Kurt is probably a good guy, but having the heart of Christ might be overstating it a little.
        I think it’s great that Kurt can express his opinion freely. You probably saw this one coming… Since people died to protect this right.

        • http://superrustyfly.wordpress.com/ Russell Purvis

          Maybe we can find some middle common ground. Perhaps we can see Kurt give or reference a post that encourages the good points that he sees in America and I would say that we should carefully consider his points, since we can all agree that war is never a good thing. I would challenge your point of turning in his citizenship. I would counter that with the point that key figures in our history, despite weak points in their character, were great in that they had a delicate conscience (e.g., Abraham Lincoln). Let’s encourage great elements of our nation, yet not be afraid of correction, since that is a point of progress that our nation has in some cases built it’s greatness on. It is one of the few very simple but elemental ideas that you referenced.
          But most of all, more important, let’s remember that our focus is not our position with our government, as seen in the first half of Romans 13, but to love everyone, as seen in the second half of Romans 13. You both have so much to say to each other. And you both can sharpen each other as iron sharpens iron. 
          Grace and peace to both of you.

          • http://superrustyfly.wordpress.com/ Russell Purvis

            Oh, and as far as his right being died for, You have to remember that the traditional American teaching is that you are free whether you have a soldier fighting for you or not. Men are endowed with inalienable rights from the get-go.

          • Robertnevillemd

            There is a difference between deserving something and possessing it. We are all endowed by our creator with certain inalienable rights but those rights will never be grasped one retained without someone being willing to fight and die for them.

          • http://superrustyfly.wordpress.com/ Russell Purvis

            Would that not actually would counter the idea that one could suffer for excercising rights though. At least that would be my analysis. What you are describing is rights by law and not rights by nature.

          • Robertnevillemd

            Russell,
            I would certainly not claim that our country is perfect. In celebrating the 4th we are celebrating an ideal or set of ideals and this in no way justifies any of our country’s unsavory actions. I definitely love the passage in the second half of Romans 13.
            I’m not targeting Kurt personally. When you post a provocative article you should expect to get some strong responses. Personally, I feel the desire to respond strongly to such an article because it seems to be part of a larger trend toward demeaning our country. Also, I categorically reject pacifism and I belief pacifists in general have innocent blood on their hands as a result of standing idly by in the face of genocide. But we aren’t really going to solve that one here, are we?

    • Sherwood8028

      Apparently, you either cannot read or did not care to read

      • Robertnevillemd

        You’re a Christian, an old guy, and a veteran. So there’s nothing that I’ll say to your comment besides, Thank You.

  • Sherwood8028

    “May we quit appealing to pseudo “just war” theories and start appealing to just Jesus, because the only Independence Day worth celebrating is Easter – which reminds us that violence doesn’t win because the tomb is empty!”
    Your thoughts that I brought forward from the current issue of the Red Letter Christians.

    First of all, at 82+ years of age and a Christian of long standing, any talk of “just wars” coming from the thoughts of my brothers and sisters in the faith sickens me!

    I have been to war – Korea, 1950.  It was a stupid adventure prompted by men who were more concerned with their collective reputations and the problems at hand.  They knew we were being manipulated by the Russians and their allies at the time, the Chinese, but they feared the consequences of direct confrontation and so they sent our military on another fool’s errand.  I saw first hand what happens in war; good friends, buddies of mine, were laid to rest in their respective home towns, but still laying undiscovered in the frozen tundra that is North Korea, are the remains of others who are still there because of the ignorance of too many within our government.

    And where is the outrage coming from our pulpits.  They are curiously silent – unless, of course, there is a debate on “just war” theories.  That sickens me.

    And another thing that sickens me is the fact that when our Declaration of Independence was signed by men who might have also been signing their death certificates, had we lost the war that ensued – are these words, “We hold these truths to be self evident; that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, that, to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men…” and our pulpits today are alive with the premise that the Creator mentioned therein was the God revealed in our Bible (the Christian version) and not the One revealed in the religious writings of others.

    We need the celebration of the 4th of July for that reason alone, to define the word, Creator.

    I lived in the church for the first almost 45 years of my life and the word I heard more often as I encouraged others to join me was this, in so many words, “I prefer not to associate with hypocrites” and every time I hear one of my brothers refer to our great nation as a Christian nation, the earlier rebuke rings again in my ears.

    And as I visit the remains of what was once the habitation of the nations that governed this land, I have to wonder about the motives of those in our government that did their best to defame and destroy their world.  Christian nation?  I don’t see the thought even suggested in my Bible.

    There is a another reason for the 4th of July and that is to call our nation and the pulpits of our nation to repentance.

    It took me more than 45 years – in church, to realize the importance of that obligation, so it doesn’t amaze me – any longer, that the church – in general, refuses to acknowledge it.

    There is a much better way than to live – in church.  It is to be – in Christ, to follow Him, to regard what He had to say as the truly “good news” and move on, encouraging others to join us along the way – to a nation of which we could be rightfully proud,

  • David Johnson

    “Finally, start thinking about all of the great things this country has
    been able to accomplish based on a few very simple but elemental ideas.”

    Yes, let’s consider for a moment the many millions of people the U.S. has condemned to live in repression, deprivation, persecution, and random violence over the past 100 years or so because she toppled governments and replaced them with dictatorial tyrants. Or simply installed a government and tried to fight off the rebellion that naturally ensued.  Or destabilized a government by arming and training warlords to fight off another occupying force, which in the end led to the growth of the Taliban and much of the global Islamic terror network.  Honduras, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Chile, Vietnam, Iran, Cuba, Afghanistan, the Philippines—that’s really a LOT of people.

    Meanwhile, what has the United States done?  Been wealthy and powerful (militarily) and attempted to use power to exploit the natural resources of Iran and Honduras and Nicaragua and Guatemala and Chile. 

    • Robertnevillemd

      Dude, cut down on the caffeine.

    • Jacqui Norman

      and, I might add, US funding of the IRA – terrorists of the first order.

  • http://benirwin.wordpress.com/ Ben Irwin

    I SO love this article. In a day when it’s seen as borderline heretical to suggest that ‘Murica could do any wrong, this is a timely and dang near prophetic message. This is you at your best, Kurt. (Though, fair warning: prophets did tend to have stones and other projectiles lobbed at them.)

    • http://patheos.com/blogs/thepangeablog/ Kurt Willems

      thanks Ben! I appreciate this comment and your warning is well received.
      Peace brotha!

  • Ggg

    Why don’t you leave the country? Ungrateful people like you are ruining this country.

    • http://www.facebook.com/ajfarley Alfred J Farley

      America is, of all places on the earth, the home of people who respectfully disagree. At least it used to be.

  • http://twitter.com/joshkelley Josh Kelley

    While I disagree with the bottom line of the post, it is vital to be reminded that American is not our first allegiance. We are citizen of Heaven first, America is a distant second.

    My disagreement is that the 4th is a celebration of America, and we are called to “give what is due…if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.” I honor my nation because “there is no authority except that which God has established.”

    • http://benirwin.wordpress.com/ Ben Irwin

      Josh, the interesting thing about the passage you mention is that it was written at a time when the authority in question was the Roman emperor, a.k.a. no friend of Christians. And since Roman emperors around this time were claiming to be gods incarnate, there is, in fact, a subtle little dig in Paul’s statement about where the emperor’s authority comes from. 

      In any case, yes, we are called to be good citizens and honor the authorities. But ITSM there’s a difference between patriotism and giving respect/honor. I can respect my country (and its leaders) without necessarily celebrating it. 

  • Andrew Thule

    The world hates Christ because he testified that its works are evil [John 7:7].  It seems to me that if we take “faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead’ [James 2:17] seriously ‘Just War’ is an outgrowth of evangelism.

    Use of Force doesn’t spread the Gospel, but it does limit unmitigted violence, and that type of godlessness which confronts and prohibits the spread of the Gospel.  (Security is a precondition of peace, whether or not we like it) If we don’t stands against the Hitlers, the Stalins of this world, yet profess to love peace, mercy, righteousness, we no more than hypocrites.

    Peace is not the natural state of sinful man, war is, and so failure confront the violent nature of others, by opposing conditions of lawlessness does more harm than good.  Tolerating tyranny, brutality, and genocide on pacifist principle is not morally superior to using force to limit it.  Similarly, failure to act against it on the same principle does not establish peace; rather it guarantees victory to the sinful state of man.

    Mock ‘just war’ if you will – but it is an outgrowth of evangelism.

  • Robertnevillemd

    Kurt, you wouldn’t want someone to come to your birthday party and make insults, would you? Of course not. From your background I can understand why you wouldn’t be real supportive of our country’s wars. I don’t understand why you would use July 4th to pick a fight and also be disrespectful (in my opinion) to those who have made our country possible.

    • Bob

       Dunno, dude; my real birthday party is the day I was reborn in Christ. Nations come and go, but the Kingdom of God abides.

    • Sarahrosangela

      If voicing one’s opinion is disrespectful then I’m concerned this fair land isn’t the democracy we’re claiming it to be. At no poiint was the author disrespectful with either his word choice or his tone. You, as a veteran, may be personally offended by his beliefs, but that doesn’t make him disrespectful. Our service members fight for all Americans, not just the ones with whom they agree with.

      • Sarahrosangela

        Gotta love the speed of auto correct. Sorry for the incorrect grammar at the end there, heh.

      • http://patheos.com/blogs/thepangeablog/ Kurt Willems
      • Robertnevillemd

        Perhaps you missed the part where I said, “In my opinion”. I guess that’s understandable since it was hidden between those parenthesis. You sound kind of defensive though, are you sure that you and kurt aren’t, you know, an item?

  • Darren Barkey

    I shouldn’t, but I still do find myself amazed at the frequency of comments where people say something along the lines of – “why don’t you leave, then?”  America is not Jesus and it’s people should never consider their nation or themselves above reproach.  If you find yourself considering leaving a comment like that, take a step back and remember that the constitution that you claim to support and love guarantees just this sort of dialogue.  If it is your desire to bludgeon away discussion and intimidate away those you disagree with, realize that you do not actually support American (or Christian) ideals when you do that.  

    Kurt, I think this post is brave and timely, and intelligently written.  It seems to me that what passes for Christianity (in the mainstream) of America today would be unrecognizable to Jesus.  

    • http://patheos.com/blogs/thepangeablog/ Kurt Willems

      Thank you Darren.

  • Aaron

    Great perspective. It’s always encouraging to be reminded that our allegiance should be to God alone. As I am wrestling through this whole idea of pacifism, nationalism, etc. I find your thoughts refreshing, humble, and Christ-like. thanks

    • http://patheos.com/blogs/thepangeablog/ Kurt Willems

      Thanks Aaron. I certainly wasn’t always convinced of the very things I say in this article / blog. Keep wrestling and if I can be a resource let me know!
      Peace.
      Kurt

  • http://twitter.com/JimPuntney Jim Puntney

    and Jesus said:

    “”You have heard that it was said,  ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy’  But I say to you,  Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,  so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and  sends rain on the just and on the unjust.  For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?  And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even  the Gentiles do the same?  You therefore must be  perfect,  as your heavenly Father is perfect. ”

    In our fallen state we have imbibed of the American dogma, and is “religious righteousness”. In doing so we have opted for a point of view that fails to align itself with the teachings of Christ. In our patriotic fervor we turn a blind eye toward the many pitfalls of our government (past & present) and validate death, rebellion, slavery, and military power.

    Please allow me to offer a point of view, when we stand before the one who judges rightly, which kingdom will you be found giving your allegiance to?

    Once again Jesus said:

    “My Kingdom is not an earthly kingdom. If it were, my followers would fight to keep me from being handed over to the Jewish leaders. But my Kingdom is not of this world.” 

  • Corky Riley

    Interesting point Kurt, many of the things you shared are true and given what I remember there is additional information that also causes me to disagree with you. I think it is difficult to celebrate any war because no matter what happens good people on both sides are killed. I think in the long run the Revolution became nessicary and right or wrong we as a country and Church are continuing in a state of evolution. I wonder if the Civil War would be considered a just War and by who. Was the issue to keep the Union together or to end slavery a just war. I am not saying they are nessicary but they became nessicary when good people could not prevail over the debate or question. The war of 1812 was not only unjust but not needed yet men and women killed and and Washington burned. The Battle of New Orleans was fought 6 weeks after the war ended. Kurt,  I read many of the comments and one said you should leave the country for what you said.” Someone should remind this brother that free speech is one of the reasons the Revolution was fought. This is the 1st  Admendment.  I remember hearing your exact argument from a Berkeley professor who was a friend of mine. God bless you. Corky Riley

    One other thought I wanted to share and that is my life and the lives of my father, mother and brother was saved by the avaiability of a gun. In addition a good friend of mine was murdered in front of me the week I started Bible College. I also had a very good friend murdered by a stronger man with a knife. As a result of my work I have seen a number of suicides. I wish I knew what would work. I wish I had the faith of many followers I have known. Faith, now  there is a thought. Corky Riley 

    • http://patheos.com/blogs/thepangeablog/ Kurt Willems

      Cocky, thanks for your heartfelt, authentic, and kind comments as always. Although we don’t see everything exactly the same, you are someone I consider to be quite wise.

  • http://thecommonloon.com Common Loon

    Pitting Independence Day vs. Easter is provocative and makes a good point about Christ-followers’ primary allegiance in the context of conservative evangelicalism’s propensity for God/country conflation, but it’s also a false dichotomy. Why not also pit Dr. King’s national birthday celebration vs. Jesus’ birthday?

    Christians exist in nearly every nation on the globe. All of these nations are sinful (except Canada because of their wonderful healthcare system). Nearly every nation on the globe has some sort of national holiday celebrating their country’s origin, independence or collective identity. I spent part of my childhood in the Philippines, Nepal and Congo, where it was common for Christians to participate in these celebrations. Are you suggesting it be inherently idolatrous for Christians in these countries (given their histories of war, dictatorship, genocide and the like) to participate in their respective national holiday festivities? 

    • http://patheos.com/blogs/thepangeablog/ Kurt Willems

      Dan… I’m simply trying to put the information out there and trust that followers of Jesus will discern what is best for their situation…
      KURT WILLEMS
      http://twitter.com/kurtwillems
      http://facebook.com/kurtwillems

    • http://hisvoiceinthewilderness.blogspot.ca/ Trudy

      Thanks for the good word on behalf of us Canadians… Just need to add, it’s not only our healthcare, it’s a bit bigger than that. We also say sorry when you step on our toes, ‘excuse me’ when you walk into us, ‘pardon me’ when you burp, and ‘thank you’ when we do something for you. That’s what make us so Christ-like. ;)

  • http://www.churchlandia.com/ Scott Peterson

    I wholeheartedly agree but I’m confident you already knew that. 

  • http://hisvoiceinthewilderness.blogspot.ca/ Trudy

    Being a Canadian, I’ll comment on the broader message of your post, rather than the Independence Day focus. I appreciate your forthright way of communicating–state it as you believe it, without apology and yet not condemning. This topic, of Christians and war, is one that I’ve been thinking about a lot. Being Anabaptist background, I was taught strong non-resistance, and mostly believe it. Where I struggle, is how do we draw then line with that mentality? Is there a time for men to draw their swords and fight, a time to defend family and country? God knows I’d be lying if I said I wouldn’t consider drawing a weapon if I saw a child–any child–being violated and I had the wherewithal to intervene. And I’m a lady who hates violence. Where does ‘non-resistance’ become apathy? These are the questions I battle with…

    • SpeakUp

      This is the best question on this entire post imho, I don’t have the answer either, but I have often thought it’s situational above as you suggest. Dependent upon relationship and how God leads in the moment. What a scary thought to many I bet..

  • Bob G

    I don’t think we’re expected to celebrate the 4th because Jesus = America or because the revolutionary war was or was not warranted. I celebrated today because I’m thankful to be in America, in this era. Not because it’s the only place or only era that was ever any good. The past was complex, and there has always been two sides to every coin. Today we can work and play and safely sit around exchanging ideas that may or may not support our country. This helps us to gradually figure things out, and in some instances (slavery, etc) we are.

    Most Americans have our daily bread, and we have much to be grateful for.

  • GGuts

    ” The “rockets red glare” and “the bombs bursting in air” remind us not of the day God liberated the colonies…” actually it was written during the War of1812. It has some other verses we don’t sing as well. Just an FYI. Not a call for you to leave the country. :)

    See : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Star-Spangled_Banner

  • http://twitter.com/JimPuntney Jim Puntney

    If you have the desire to explore this debate this book may be of interest:
    http://www.peaceablekingdomseries.com/volumes/a-faith-not-worth-fighting-for/ 

  • Robertnevillemd

    Looking forward to your next major post, “Why I can’t Celebrate Labor Day” written on behalf of all the unemployed or those who have ever had a bad day on the job.

  • crys

    kurt: check out the 4-dvd documentary series by adullam films on this subject… secret mysteries of america’s beginnings, riddles in stone, eye of the phoenix, and the hidden faith of our founding fathers. http://www.adullamfilms.com/SecretMysteries.html

  • Tim Litzinger

    The problem is the inaccuracies.

    The American revolution was not a tax revolt. Definitely not like you would think of one today. First of all, it was without the consent of the colonist. Secondly, it had not been done before. But most importantly, it wasn’t just a tax it was an extraordinary inconvenience, purposeful and economically limiting. You could only pay with British money, short supply, and only use stamped paper, again, a short supply. And couple other intentions were to limit the rise of the professional class in the colonies and the courts being able to exercise religious or church related jurisdiction. An issue that was the reason many colonists left Britain to begin with.

    Now why the tea tax? Oh, did that have anything to do with the undue influence of the East India Tea company on parliament? An influence that American colonists had no ability to act upon and an influence that the company used to keep the colonists indefinitely indebted to them? A similar horrible over-influence that large companies have on our congress today? ( A definite hypocrisy of the current “tea party” today).

    So, these so called conspiracy theories might have a bit of more teeth if you actually look at the facts and not change history to fit within you sweet little article.

    Regarding the slavery, there obviously is no defense to that. But, it’s also not as easy to discard as you put it. First of all, it existed prior to the revolution, Secondly, there was a lot of debate amongst the likes of George Wythe and many other American “thinkers” of the day of that hypocrisy. Many, if not most, wanted to get rid of it. But when it comes down to it, nobody had the political will, because then there wouldn’t of been enough support for the other economic, political and tax concerns.

    Most importantly, I’m not aware of anybody that thinks “yea, we went to war, lets celebrate that”. In fact, if that was what Independence Day was about, wouldn’t we celebrate it on October 17th? When Cornwallis surrendered?

    Independence Day is the celebration of very real and important political factors in American history.

    And you are absolutely right to emphasize how it completely pales in comparison to Jesus, Easter and the empty tomb.

    Thank you for that reminder. Why is it necessary to change history to fit into that important knowledge and emphasis?

  • Tim Litzinger

    The American revolution was not a tax revolt. Definitely not like you would think of one today. First of all, it was without the consent of the colonist. Secondly, it had not been done before. But most importantly, it wasn’t just a tax it was an extraordinary inconvenience, purposeful and economically limiting. You could only pay with British money, short supply, and only use stamped paper, again, a short supply. And couple other intentions were to limit the rise of the professional class in the colonies and the courts being able to exercise religious or church related jurisdiction. An issue that was the reason many colonists left Britain to begin with.

    Now why the tea tax? Oh, did that have anything to do with the undue influence of the East India Tea company on parliament? An influence that American colonists had no ability to act upon and an influence that the company used to keep the colonists indefinitely indebted to them? A similar horrible over-influence that large companies have on our congress today? ( A definite hypocrisy of the current “tea party” today).

    So, these so called conspiracy theories might have a bit of more teeth if you actually look at the facts and not change history to fit within you sweet little article.

    Regarding the slavery, there obviously is no defense to that. But, it’s also not as easy to discard as you put it. First of all, it existed prior to the revolution, Secondly, there was a lot of debate amongst the likes of George Wythe and many other American “thinkers” of the day of that hypocrisy. Many, if not most, wanted to get rid of it. But when it comes down to it, nobody had the political will, because then there wouldn’t of been enough support for the other economic, political and tax concerns.

    Most importantly, I’m not aware of anybody that thinks “yea, we went to war, lets celebrate that”. In fact, if that was what Independence Day was about, wouldn’t we celebrate it on October 17th? When Cornwallis surrendered?

    Independence Day is the celebration of very real and important political factors in American history.

    And you are absolutely right to emphasize how it completely pales in comparison to Jesus, Easter and the empty tomb.

    Thank you for that reminder. As well as a thank you to Greg Boyd, my pastor. Why is it necessary to change history to fit into this important knowledge and emphasis that you have shared with us?

  • http://gcjeffers.wordpress.com/ Gregory Jeffers

    I get it. I totally understand this response, but I think it is uncharitable. In my experience, most people are not celebrating the “killing of fellow Christians.” Most people are celebrating the ideal–Liberty and Justice for all–toward which America strives and perpetually misses. Yes, the Revolution was probably an unjust war. But the outcome has produced a society that, though marred with serious injustices and oppressions, has expanded human flourishing and has served as a model to other nations. I’m getting weary of the apocalyptic “America is the antichrist” vitriol to the same degree that I am already weary of the “America is God’s chosen nation” bullshit. America is a fallen agent capable of redemption, as are all systems and people. I am skeptical of simplistic endorsements or condemnations of America. The church needs to wake up and realize that it is part of a society that is far bigger than itself. The church does not have exclusive claims to goodness, righteousness, holiness, justice, or freedom. And sitting on the side while raining on everyone else’s parade is arrogant, petulant, and childish. We should work for the common good, and that partly requires identifying with those others in society who do not share our religious convictions. One way to do that is to celebrate Independence Day with your fellows, even if you only do so conditionally. Here is a link to my further thoughts on July 4th: http://gcjeffers.wordpress.com/2013/07/04/happy-independence-day/

  • Andrew Shinn

    Kurt, I guess I need to challenge some of your premises, especially your contention that the 4th of July stands on equal footing with Christmas and Easter. You claim that it’s a holiday with Pagan roots, but I don’t think you’re using that word correctly. (http://youtu.be/G2y8Sx4B2Sk) Here’s the Wikipedia article on Paganism: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paganism. You may be correct to use the word ‘Heathen’, which comes from an Old English term meaning, “Not Christian or Jewish.” But you’re still assuming Independence Day is a religious holiday, and that’s an understanding on which you’d find very little agreement. You can’t set up that kind of logical straw man just to seem contrarian by objecting to it. I, for one, celebrate the 4th of July as a political holiday, with roots in history, not religion.

    I DO agree with your conclusion, though, that Easter is the only real Independence Day worth celebrating. But that’s because I assume Easter has real religious significance, whereas I celebrate the 4th of July purely for the sake of political history.

    • http://patheos.com/blogs/thepangeablog/ Kurt Willems

      Andrew,

      Thanks for commenting. Briefly… the word “pagan” according Webster is: “Heathen, one who has little or no religion and who delights in sensual pleasures and material goods : an irreligious or hedonistic person”. This, of course is not to be confused with “Paganism” which is a modern ‘religion’ so to speak. The semantic argument does not work here as you are confusing pagan with Paganism.
      Secondly, if you take an honest look at history and our current context, it is almost not debatable that America has its own civil religion – which has evolved by taking Christian-ish language and imagery and fusing it together with the aims of individualism, expansionism, etc. Saluting the flag and pledging allegiance to a nation is completely in conflict with New Testament Christianity… Revelation says as much if not the Gospels and Paul in their own ways.
      Finally, political holidays that subvert direct Christian teachings are not worthy of admiration or celebration (see the PS of my article for the tone in which I mean this). That is the point of this post. Of course, that assumes a person holds to specifically Christian views of either “Just War” or “nonviolence.” For Christians, there are no other options for understanding war than these and what I sought to do was to demonstrate that the Revolution (which we celebrate on the 4th) does not fit the specifically Christian categories for a “just war.” Therefore, it is not something that I believe I should celebrate (although I’d go further and say that I don’t celebrate anything that has its roots in pagan [or secular] violence of any kind). Now, if the nation would repent of its violent past and proclaim a new era of peace and global equality (which would NEVER happen) then theoretically it might almost be possible that this day could be redeemed in a way like Easter or Christmas.
      The way of Jesus is peace which Christ makes clear in John chapter 18: “My kingdom doesn’t originate from this world. If it did, my guards would fight so that I wouldn’t have been arrested by the Jewish leaders. My kingdom isn’t from here.” If that is the case, why would we glory in “fighting” which Jesus clearly refused to do (along with the first 200-300 years of early Christians)? We don’t have a “Christian” part of us and a “public/secular” part of us… that is a modernist American dichotomy. We are “Christian” and therefore ought not allow that to be compromised by civil religion and its “political history.”
      Thanks for your comment bro.

  • Rachey

    Reading this a year later and I couldn’t agree more.

  • Notthistime

    Gee, one hardly knows where to begin. Did you get out of bed one morning and decide to be ignorant? Or have you been studying long and hard for the distinction?

    Peace was normative before Constantine? Are you mad? Or merely ignorant. The list of the wars of Rome is very long indeed and stretches back 1200 years before Constantine became Emperor.

    Indeed, war has been the almost perpetual state of mankind since he wrapped the first loin cloth around his waist. There are a very few, brief, periods in which there is not some war being waged somewhere in the world all throughout history.

    It is an old argument of those who feel the Colonies should have remained under British rule that all they did was justified by the French and Indian Wars. The facts are far more complex. But in essence, England wished to maintain a colony which would supply her with cheap raw materials, and a ready, and forced, market for the finished goods of her merchants. That colony, as all others, would , of course, be subservient to Britain, without the same rights and privileges as a British subject living in London or Liverpool. A number of Britain’s colonies were asked to accept this arrangement and trust to the greater breeding, experience, and goodwill of Mother England to care for them; to keep them neat, and clean, and well advised. But by ones and twos, in protests, in non compliance, and in open warfare, we all said no, thank you. By the mid 20th century, not a single British colony remained.

    If you wish to place yourself under the British monarchy, please, feel free. Emigrate to England, or Canada.
    As for the teachings of Jesus, He was giving rules for personal living. If all countries followed your interpretation, we would be forever under the rule of the biggest bully on the block, Napoleon, Hitler, Stalin, Mao. There would never be free men. To take it further, there would be no prisons. No one who took your property , or assaulted you, or took your life, would be punished. We would live in anarchy.
    Do you lock your doors at night? Do you lock your car? Would you call the police if someone attacked you? Unless you are willing to bare your life and property to the wishes of the closest bully and criminal, don’t be so ready to tell this country she should or should have done the same.


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