Friday, July 06, 2007

"In God We Trust"

Ah yes, forwarded emails! Gotta love 'em! My favorites are those that have only my last name in the subject line. "ATTENTION LYNCH" ... It makes me feel like I'm back in middle school under the polyester-clad, whistle-blowing authority of my bellowing P.E. coach. Anyway, I received the following forwarded email this week from a friend that really troubled me... but not for the reasons many might suspect.

Subject: The new dollar coin

Today I picked up at Bank of America several of the new $1 coins with the picture of George Washington on it. To my shock and dismay the words, "In God We Trust", are not on this coin! A quick search of the other coin denominations in my collection confirmed that every one contained these faithful words. The new George Washington $1 coin is the first money ever issued by the USA in modern history without the words "In God We Trust".

By omitting these words, our politically correct, secularist leaders made a conscientious decision that either; 1) God does not exist, or 2) that God exists, but can no longer be trusted. Who originally put 'In God We Trust' onto our currency? My bet is that it was one of the Presidents on these coins. All our U.S. Government has done is Dishonor them, and disgust me!!! I am personally offended and fed up with the denigration of God and Christianity in my country. I am certain George Washington would never have agreed to his picture on the coin if it any way diminished faith in God.

What can we do to show our displeasure? First of all, let's boycott the coin. Do not ask for it at bank. If it is given to you in change ask for dollar bills instead and tell the person why. Write your Senators stating your displeasure. Finally, if you agree, pass this e-mail on to others. Collectively, we must send a strong message to those secularists who are trying to remove God from our culture. If we do this, some 300 million $1.00 coins will back up and rot in the supply chain! To God be the glory! Together we can force them out of circulation. Please send to all on you mail list !!!

It might be surprising to some to learn that Jesus actually talks about what's printed on government currency in Mark chapter 12:

"Teacher, we know that You are truthful and defer to no one; for You are not partial to any, but teach the way of God in truth. Is it lawful to pay a poll-tax to Caesar, or not? Shall we pay or shall we not pay?" But Jesus, knowing their hypocrisy, said to them, "Why are you testing Me? Bring Me a denarius to look at." They brought one. And He said to them, "Whose likeness and inscription is this?" And they said to Him, "Caesar's." And Jesus said to them, "Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's." And they were amazed at Him.
What I find interesting is how strongly Jesus distinguishes between human government and the kingdom of God. And where does he place the issue of currency? His answer makes it wonderfully clear that the only government God whole-heartedly supports is his own ... the one he calls "the kingdom of God" ... the one that sets the captives free and heals the broken-hearted. And by the way, contrary to the Christendom model, as great as the USA might be, it is not the kingdom of God.

Jesus' words to the Roman governor Pilate in John 18:

"My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, then My servants would be fighting so that I would not be handed over ... but as it is, My kingdom is not of this realm." Therefore Pilate said to Him, "So You are a king?" Jesus answered, "You say correctly that I am a king For this I have been born, and for this I have come into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice."

Since I believe God has a pretty decent handle on what's best in life, I want my cares and concerns to be shaped by his. So the question I'm left asking is simple: "Does God care if his name is on American currency?" Considering what money has come to mean in America and how we've turned it into an idol, I doubt it.

I'm actually convinced that publicly identifying our national culture as one that "trusts in God" does far more damage to the receptivity of Christ's gospel than good. Especially when we tie faith to currency in this consumeristic culture of selfish greed! (It's the ultimate irony. If we were truthful, we should print, "in money we trust... and any god who makes us rich".)

I've never cared enough to take a stand on the "In God We Trust" issue; but seeing what it represents and how it influences Christian culture in America I'm now willing to do just that. If the trusting-God phraseology ever reaches the ballot-box, I'll eagerly vote to remove it from all government symbols, including currency, the pledge of allegiance, and all government buildings.

The kingdom of God does not exist on coins or currency; nor does it exist in white houses or government regulations on marriage. The kingdom is within and among us... the people of God. It's in those of us who've been spiritually recreated by the rebirthing power of the Holy Spirit. It's seen by the world only through the overflowing love and redefining truth of Christ's followers. So when it comes to the government's currency maybe we should simply "render unto Caesar what's Caesar's".



Brandon said...

Excellent post John!
We have some friends that are missionaries to a Muslim people group. As they have built relationships with the people they are working to reach they have learned a great deal about how the USA is known for what comes out of Hollywood. Movies that display lust of money, flesh and every profane thing. Also, the good ol' USA is the porn capital of the world. Then ironically, we put "In God We Trust" on our money. This is perplexing to Muslims. And their logical answer? If the God of Christianity is the God of America then I don't want anything to do with that God.

This is why they call us the great satan.

I thought that was interesting. We would probably be better off as Christians if we demanded that the government removed God's name from our currency.


Brandon said...

One more thought. This issue and the typical response to it by mainstream Christianity makes me think that way too many Christians put their hope and faith in this country rather than God. I hope this nation survives, but if it doesn't then that's okay too. My hope is in Christ and Christ alone. Not the nation I reside in.


Duncan McFadzean said...

Simply brilliant. Amen to that. In the UK, there is talk of allowing digital petitions i.e. launching online petitions of parliament. This has the potential for the electorate to put issues that they want to hear about to the Government for them to consider whether or not it's worth a law. If you have this, you could even do the same! In the meantime, if you could just pass all those boycotted coins from the people on the email chain over here, I'm sure there are a few homeless guys who would accept them gratefully........

John Lynch said...

I feel that Brandon.

And Duncan, I love your offer to take these "offensive" coins off our hands! Absolutely brilliant!

Cheers, both.

Al said...

Awesome post, John. I've actually always wondered why folks wanted to defend the argument that the US is a "christian" nation first. Even the idea of putting the Ten Commandments in government buildings perplexes me. Could someone speak from that side of the debate and let us know what the positives for that perspective are? Thanks for a great dialogue guys!

Joy said...

First off, those forwards... HATE THEM!! And I usually get them from the sweetest little church ladies!! Ugh.


The 10 Commandments are going up all over the place around my area. A little child care center up the road just put a big display in the front yard.

So are we teaching the children or just making a statement... kinda like the country song...

"We'll put a boot in your a**, It's the American way"

Because the American way is to shove it down your throat, right?

I find this type of thing to be a form of godliness... but with no godly power. It's almost like we use God as an amulet. It is more like superstition than faith in God.

Bino B. Manjasseril said...

Great post! In my mind it is hypocrisy to put 'In God we trust' on money and use it for ungodliness. Jesus did not come to change this world. He did not come to influence governments. Today's so called evangelical leaders are lining up at white house to 'impact' government with the 'Christian' agenda. I wonder if it is 'Christian'. It definitely is not from Christ. Christ did not go and meet Pilate or Cephas when He started His public ministry. He went to sea shore to pick fishermen. He spent hours with a 'insignificant' Samaritan woman. I get a sick feeling inside me when I see ministries campaign against government policies, laws, politicians etc. Don't we ever forget that Christ came to change the HEARTS of people one at a time?

John Lynch said...

We're all guilty of so much hypocrisy. I'm the utmost hypocrite. As fallen humans, we're full of paradoxes - most often without even knowing it. It seems, in this one area, some are seeing the issue from perspective different from that of the previous generation. Hopefully, it's closer to the life-giving kingdom perspective.

How then, in humility and love, can we help other Christ-followers recognize the subtle deception on this one? So many of our brothers and sisters in Christ confuse the way of Jesus (selfless) with the way of capitalistic democracy (selfish). We love them and are profited nothing by falling into the self-righteous judgment trap; so how can we engage them in humble and gentle ways that might encourage a different point of view?