Is America A Christian Nation?

I have on several occassions made the comment that I believe that America is no longer a Christian nation. I based that comment and belief on the documented research of The Barna Group and The MIssional Research Center. Basically, we are a nation with a population of 300 million plus people and it is estimated that the large majority of the population are not Christian as defined by evangelical standards. Those standards which are rooted in biblical scripture include, but are not inclusive: the belief in a Creator – God, the belief in the existence of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit existing as one entity in the form of three individuals, that the Son Jesus came to earth to atone for men’s sins, that Jesus is the only way to the Father and thus eternal life in heaven, the belief in a literal heaven and hell, the belief that Jesus will return and judge humankind, and the belief that we re to follow and imitate Jesus and live out his teachings.

I will confess here and now that I have changed my mind. I do believe that America is a “Christian” nation. Let me explain. I just gave a very brief description of the core beliefs of an evangelical Christian. Let me give you the definition that most Americans have of “Christian” which will be broad and very over-arching. For the majority of Americans, Christian means I do good to others, attend church ocassionaly, be a good citizen and top it off with donating a small percentage of your time and money to charitable causes.  Now, some people might say they are are Christian because their Mother was Christian or because they attended Sunday School when they were a kid. With these kinds of definitions, I do believe our country is full of “Christians.”

But what about followers of Christ, believers, disciples? How many Americans refer to themselves this way? I am a follower of Jesus. I count myself as one of his disciples not because I live in the land of the free or the home of the brave, but because He lives in me.

Could it be possible that there is such a thing as a Christian Atheist? Christian Atheist you say!  Could there be such a thing? Pastor Craig Groeschel released  a book a few years ago with that title and he defines a CA as – Someone who believes in God, but lives as though He doesn’t exist. Now that is what I am talking about when I address this problem of using the term Christian lightly.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • Pat Jesberger

    I would say that we’re a nation founded on “Christian principles.” But, I believe one of the reasons Christianity has become mostly irrelevant is – PEOPLE. I believe that our structure of churches has led to the creation of ‘country-club’ like gatherings (and that is loosely defined because it is irrespective of finances or attendee profiles) that can be intimidating and elitist.

    Jesus has this ‘irresponsible’ habit of opening the doors to whomever, and that is just too hard for many to accept, because often those people don’t fit into our ‘picture’ of what a Christian should be.

  • jeffcalloway

    Patrick – you are spot on buddy! Christian is mention once in the NT while descriptives such as disciple, believer and follower are used many more times over.