Flag-waving

Discussion in 'Worship' started by Sarah, May 3, 2011.

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  1. Sarah

    Sarah Puritan Board Freshman

    Over on the thread about the United Methodist Church, someone mentioned "flag-waving." This is what was said:


    1) what's at the front of the sanctuary? Have you an American flag (and a "Christian" flag) at the front, in the corners? 2) Does your hymn selection for services near or on July 4 contain The Battle Hymn of the Republic, America, or God Bless America?

    It was also stated that this was an abysmal practice.

    Here is my question: What is wrong with this? Is it just because there is no Biblical basis for a Christian flag or a pledge to it? Is this a regulative principle of worship thing, or is there another reason?

    I grew up saying the 3 pledges of allegiance every Sunday (to the American flag, the Christian flag, and the Bible), and while my current church doesn't do this, if I were to visit my parents and go to the children's Sunday school I would say the pledges with them. Should I not?? I LOVE the Battle Hymn of the Republic. Is there something wrong with patriotic songs, or just the singing of them in church?
     
  2. ericfromcowtown

    ericfromcowtown Puritan Board Sophomore

    I'll take a stab at this, even though I'm not American.

    I don't think there is anything wrong with patriotic songs per say (although patriotism, like anything, can become an idol), but they have no place in a church service. You are there to worship God as part of the universal Church, not take part in a pledge of allegiance to the state, no matter how appropriate that might be in another context.
     
  3. Dearly Bought

    Dearly Bought Puritan Board Junior

    I might also mention that United States Flag Code requires that you honor the U.S. flag above the "Christian" flag by giving it the place of prominence at the right hand of the speaker. National allegiance is expressly elevated above allegiance to the King of kings.

     
  4. discipulo

    discipulo Puritan Board Junior

    By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise:

    For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God. (...)

    and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country.

    And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned.

    But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city.

    Hebrews 11:9-16
     
  5. Jack K

    Jack K Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    It's more basic than that. When you add a hymn of praise to our nation into the worship service, you are suggesting that God share worship with worship of the USA. Even if God gets 95% percent of the worship and worshipping the USA is a side thing, it's still not right. God will not share worship with another. Not another god. Not a nation on July 4. Not mothers on Mother's Day. Not anyone or anything, praiseworthy as those things may be.

    I realize those who introduce flag-waving into worship services usually aren't consciously trying to rob God of worship. But I do believe that's what ends up happening. Gentle but insistent correction is proper. I think we can be nice about it while pointing out a problem some folks have simply never thought through.

    (Personally, I might give some latitude on The Battle Hymn of the Republic since it is technically a God-directed hymn. But from a practical standpoint, its use historically makes it into something else for most worshipers.)
     
  6. Grillsy

    Grillsy Puritan Board Junior

    The only war hymns I accept for worship would be select Psalms.

    While I wouldn't give any latitude on Battle Hymn of the Republic I agree with the rest of what you said. Excellent explanation of the issue, it is both irenic and fair without being soft on the issue.
     
  7. jogri17

    jogri17 Puritan Board Junior

    Just for the reccord, I was born and raised in the states. I will answer shortly.
    -What is wrong with this? Nothing innerantly wrong with it, the question is whether it belongs in the corporate worship of God. First of all, even though I am an American by birth, I have no sense of love or loyalty to the US government nor country. I want to be a Canadian, specifically in the context of Québec and I support Québec sovereignity. Second, not only is there no biblical precident, I do not think there is historic precident in all of Christian History. Even Roman Catholicism, mandated that the allegiance is to the Pope before to the emperor. Fundamentally, the CHurch is the gathering of believers ( and their children ) and what we do there ideally transcends, in a sense, all nationalal boundaries (in the least sense).
    -Is it just because there is no Biblical basis for a Christian flag or a pledge to it? It's a good reason isn't it given the Westminster Standards. But there is practical widsom also. Churches in cities will have many immigrants and people from different national backgrounds. There is also remembering the fact that The church is an spiritual entiety fundamentally and not a civil one (in the sense that the Church is not the same thing as the civil magistrate).
    -Is this a regulative principle of worship thing, or is there another reason? Pastoral sensitivity, not winding to bind consciences, not associating christinity with a nation that many people around the world (many christians in fact) hate (and in my judgment there are legtimate reasons).

    This is why I am against it.
     
  8. kainos01

    kainos01 Puritan Board Junior

    Aside from all that has been said before, I have problems with the Battle Hymn of the Republic anyway. I explained why here.
     
  9. Backwoods Presbyterian

    Backwoods Presbyterian Puritan Board Doctor


    To be frank the Battle Hymn of the Republic is vile.
     
  10. Edward

    Edward Puritan Board Doctor

    You should carefully consider what you are saying when you take the vow of the 'Pledge of Allegiance'

    It's one state, but is it one nation?

    Is it a republic or a democracy?

    Can you truly say without mental reservation that this country is 'under God'?

    I'll stick to taking an oath to uphold and defend the Constitution.

    Thanks.
     
  11. Sarah

    Sarah Puritan Board Freshman

    Thanks for all these enlightening answers.
     
  12. Sarah

    Sarah Puritan Board Freshman

    Do white southerners sing the Battle Hymn of the Republic? Do black southerners?

    I had never before considered that it was a song about the union army in the civil war, and it only just occurred to me that perhaps it isn't sung in the South. Any southerners on here want to answer this?
     
  13. Bethel

    Bethel Puritan Board Freshman

    We sang it every 4th of July as previous members of a Southern Baptist Church in Texas. We would also sing it on Memorial Day weekend and sometimes Flag Day if it fell on Sunday. By God's grace we are more discerning now, but back then we just sang what was in the bulletin without much thought...
     
  14. Jack K

    Jack K Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    Yes, some southerners, whites included, do sing it these days.

    When I was part of a PCA church in North Carolina, it was sung in worship a few times until someone wisely decided there were better hymns to choose and removed it from the repertoire. I think many of the educated, white southerners in the congregation actually liked singing it, as if doing so was freeing in regard to old divisions and injustices and was reclaiming a politically divisive song for a godly purpose. But as has been mentioned here, the theology actually is suspect and the historical baggage is heavy.

    ---------- Post added at 08:58 AM ---------- Previous post was at 08:51 AM ----------

    BTW... Does anyone here know if Battle Hymn is what what Machen had in mind when, at the end of Christianity & Liberalism, he made unflattering reference to "one of those hymns breathing out the angry passions of 1861, which are to be found in the back part of the hymnals." I've often wondered. Assumed it is.
     
  15. Edward

    Edward Puritan Board Doctor

    I'd say "Some in the south..." I don't know that I'd call them Southerners. Of course, if you played Dixie these days, I don't know how many folks would have sense enough to stand.
     
  16. Backwoods Presbyterian

    Backwoods Presbyterian Puritan Board Doctor

    I'm not sure why anyone would sing the "Battle Hymn". Talk about an offensive song.
     
  17. Rufus

    Rufus Puritan Board Junior

    Not in Church, I'm blessed to live in America and appreciate, perhaps love, my country, but not in Church. America is not the world, it is not the body of Christ, and doesn't deserve the place of worship that Christ should get.
     
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