Is America a Christian nation? Many people would probably answer, “Yes.”
Compared to all the other nations in the world, America seems to fit the bill more than any other. Yet, in order to answer that question, there may be a couple of other questions to consider. For example, is there even such a thing as a “Christian nation?” What criteria is used to determine the answer? Is America a Christian nation, because the predominant religion is Christianity – or is there another standard that needs to be considered? Does the Bible shed any light on this question?
I grew up believing that I was a Christian. My mom was a Christian. I went to church for most of my young life. That must count for something, right? When I joined the Air Force, I had to declare a faith to put on my dog tags. So, I said that I was a Protestant. I believe the only choices back then were Protestant, Catholic, or Jewish. So, if you had asked me if I were a Christian, I would have emphatically answered, “Yes!”
I also thought that since I grew up in America and did not convert to another religion, I was automatically a Christian. And, as I already mentioned, on top of that, I went to church and my mom was a Christian. It was several years later that I learned going to church, being raised in a Christian home, and even believing in God, does not make you a Christian. According to the Bible, a person must be born again to become a Christian.
In John 3, we discover a story about Jesus and a man named Nicodemus. Nick was a religious man but was confused about Jesus. He must have heard Jesus speak, because he acknowledged that He was a teacher sent by God – but he did not understand how Jesus performed miraculous signs.
In their meeting, Jesus answered the question Nicodemus never asked, by telling him that he had to be born again. (John 3:3) Certainly, that was a funny answer to questions about miracles. No doubt, Nick was even further confused, because he then asked how it was possible for a man to enter a second time in his mother’s womb!
Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” (John 3:4-5) A person must be born of the flesh to enter this world, but they must be born of the Spirit, to enter God’s eternal kingdom. The Bible is clear. A Christian is someone who has been born again. Simply knowing about God and even believing He exists, does not make you a Christian.
So, back to our original question: Is there such a thing as a Christian nation? Biblically speaking, I believe the answer is, no. For a nation to be Christian, every person in it would have to be a born-again believer – and I’m fairly sure that will never happen. Even so, America may be thought of as a Christian nation, because Christianity has been the predominant religion. Although that has been true in the past, statistics show that the number of people who now identify as Christian is rapidly declining. America may even be considered a Christian nation because our government, laws, and constitution have each been established on Biblical principles. As good as that sounds, that doesn’t make America a Christian nation – and just confuses the truth about what it actually means to be a Christian in this country. Let me explain…
Maybe, you can relate to my story. Perhaps, you grew up in a Christian home, attended church, even prayed a “sinner’s prayer.” And like me, you assume that living in America makes you a Christian. It doesn’t. Jesus said that we must be born again to enter the kingdom of God. That was not just a message for Nicodemus, but for all people everywhere.
The good news is that eternal life is not attached to your citizenship; it is a gift from God to all who believe. “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is a gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.” (Ephesian 2:8-9) That gift is available to every person everywhere who truly surrenders his or her life to God and receives Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. If you sincerely ask Him to forgive you for your sins and come into your life – He will.
I know that because that happened to me. On March 15, 1971, Jesus Christ came into my life, and I discovered what Jesus meant when He told Nicodemus, “You must be born again.” I was born again that day – and it had nothing to do with where I grew up, whether or not I attended church – or lived in America. It had to do with only one thing: The Son of God came into my life, and I’ve never been the same since!