Is America a Christian Nation?

by Aaron Brake

This question may be more complicated than it first appears, for the answer depends entirely on what one means by “a Christian nation.” Wayne Grudem does an excellent job of breaking this question down into nine possible interpretations, along with their respective answers, in his book Politics According to the Bible.[1]

As Grudem explains, this question cannot be answered with a simple “yes” or “no.” Unfortunately, heated debate and frustration have often surrounded this issue. But the matter can be largely resolved if we simply take the time to define what we mean. This helps avoid misunderstanding and prevents disagreeing parties from talking past one another.

So is America a Christian nation? Let’s look at nine possible meanings of that question along with their specific answers.

1. Is Christian teaching the primary religious system that influenced the founding of the United States?

Yes, it is. See this article by David Barton: The Founding Fathers on Jesus, Christianity and the Bible.

2. Were the majority of the Founding Fathers of the United States Christians who generally believed in the truth of the Bible?

Yes, they were. See this article by Greg Koukl: The Faith of Our Fathers.

3. Is Christianity (of various sorts) the largest religion in the United States?

Yes, it is.

4. Did Christian beliefs provide the intellectual background that led to many of the cultural values still held by Americans today?

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Here Grudem explains what he means by cultural values: “these would include things such as respect for the individual, protection of individual rights, respect for personal freedom, the value of hard work, the need for a strong national defense, the need to show care for the poor and weak, the value of generosity, the value of giving aid to other nations, and respect for the rule of law.”[2]

The grounding for many of these cultural values can be found in the Declaration of Independence itself:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

In other words, if all men are created equal and are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, then it would seem that many things like respect for the individual, protection of individual rights, respect for personal freedom, etc., would naturally follow. The Biblical concept of the imago Dei, human beings created in the image of God, provides the appropriate grounding for many cultural values (such as human equality) that secularists often take for granted and which their own worldview cannot account for.

Answer: Yes, it did…

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