Posted Dec 22, 2020 by Michael L. Brown

It is one thing to be a patriot, even a Christian patriot. It is another thing to conflate the American flag with the banner of Christ. Yet that is what General Michael Flynn did in a recent editorial.

Writing for the UncoverDC website, Flynn opined, “The battle we are engaged in cannot be fought with only human weapons: it requires the intervention of God because in a war against the forces of Evil, only the Lord can obtain the victory. And as American citizens, we must refuse to go to the funeral of our own independence.”

Speaking in broad terms (rather that in the specific context of the 2020 elections), I second Flynn’s sentiments. The ultimate battle for the soul of our nation is a spiritual and moral battle, not simply a political battle. And we can only see lasting, positive change with the help of the Lord. Amen to that.

And certainly, this is no time for passivity or cowardice. Once again, I concur.

Flynn continued, “We the people are proud to proclaim that the United States of America is ‘One Nation under God’ – in this public profession of faith in God, we recognize his Lordship over our country, and we proudly stand beneath the banner of Christ and our flag in which millions have sacrificed their very lives for. In scripture through the strength and commitment of Matthew, he said, ‘Whoever is not with Me is against Me’.”

But was Jesus, as quoted in Matthew, actually saying that the left was against Him and the right was for Him? Isn’t that a massive oversimplification, to say the least? And does the fact that we recognize the Lordship of Jesus over all of life mean that we can require others to do the same?

The biggest concern, however, is Flynn’s statement that “we proudly stand beneath the banner of Christ and our flag in which millions have sacrificed their very lives for” (sic).

How, pray tell, is the banner of Christ directly connected to the American flag? And did the countless Americans who fought in our wars all fight under the banner of Christ?

We are certainly deeply indebted to those who risked their lives (or lost their lives) fighting for our freedom. And every American should be grateful to our veterans (and their families) for their service. That is not in question, and that is a healthy part of our patriotism.

We should also deeply appreciate the incredible opportunities we have here in America, a country unlike any that came before it in many significant ways.

We can also recognize the important role that the Bible played in the founding of our country.

But all that is a far cry from viewing America as a truly Christian nation or conflating the cross with the flag.

Rather, that is the type of Christian nationalism that can be so dangerous, the kind that non-Christians (or, even simply non-fundamentalist Christians) find so concerning.

That is the type of rhetoric that can lead to calls for a theocracy, something that I want no part of until Jesus returns and sets up His kingdom.

That is the type of mindset that sees the battle for the 2020 elections as a battle for the gospel, as if the anti-Trump forces are all anti-Jesus and the pro-Trump forces all pro-Jesus.

Flynn said, “Our protest, our denunciation of electoral fraud, is not only motivated by the fact that we are supporting Donald J. Trump as a candidate: it is above all a battle for justice and truth, which goes far beyond membership in a party or voting for a candidate.”

Again, I can agree with those sentiments. If the election was stolen, that would be a travesty of justice, and that should be of concern to atheists and theists, to Christians and Muslims, to agnostics and believers. We should all want justice and truth.

But as many others have emphasized, patriotism is not the same as loyalty to the kingdom of God, and we confuse the two concepts to our own harm.

There is also a subtle self-righteousness that infuses this “us” against “them” mentality, as if the sins of the left are heinous and the sins of the right quite trivial. As if the left’s hatred is vile and ours is justified. As if God overlooks the mountain of sin in the church, from sexual scandals to greed, and from gossip to failure to love our neighbor, because the only sin that matters is abortion. As if electoral fraud completely outweighed deception from the pulpit and slander in the pew.

Almost 2,000 years ago, Peter wrote that “it is time for judgment to begin with God’s household; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God?” (1 Peter 4:17) That is a sobering thought. Divine judgment starts with us, the believers.

Austin Cline, himself a secular humanist, claimed that “German Christians supported the Nazis because they believed that Adolf Hitler was a gift to the German people from God. German Christianity was a divinely sanctioned religious movement which combined Christian doctrine and German character in a unique and desirable manner: True Christianity was German and True German-ness was Christian.”

While Cline paints with too broad a brush, and while America is far from Nazi Germany and Trump is far from Hitler, the parallels remain striking and concerning.

He added, “Christian churches were willing to tolerate widespread violence against Jews, military rearmament, invasions of foreign nations, banning labor unions, imprisonment of political dissenters, detention of people who had committed no crimes, sterilization of the handicapped, etc. This includes the Confessing Church. Why? Hitler was seen as someone restoring traditional values and morality to Germany.”

Again, Trump is not Hitler and we who voted for him are neither Nazis nor supporters of Nazism. But to the extent that we think that true American-ness equals true Christianity, we make a serious mistake. And to the extent we wrap the cross in the American flag, we degrade the gospel.

By all means, then, let us love our country and serve our country and pray for our country. But let us not confuse America with the kingdom of God. Many will be hurt if we make this mistake.

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Comments

truthforce posted a comment · Jan 15, 2021
Christians have been proven to be confused, misled, and easily deceived into doing evil. You would think that they would have learned their lesson after seeing the truth of Vietnam, would have seen the character of politicians over the years-liars all. But 9-11 was blamed on Muslims, and despite no significant evidence of blame on Afghanistan, Christians by the tens of thousands enlisted to go kill Arabs. Bush and Obama were shown to be evil lying warmongering liars, yet Christians killed for them willingly . The bible tells us regarding the love of money, yet Christians are quick to get rich and have slaves (minimum wage employees). I am trying to facilitate the survival and transformation of the planet, but if Christians have such a hard time perceiving what the truth really is (supporting any democrat or republican), how can they expect to win in this battle between good and evil, when they cannot discern truth from fiction, good values from wrong, shepherds from wolves, etc.. An easily decieved and obedient to lying leaders and shepherds seems to be the Christian character. Perhaps you should rethink the idea of being a sheep as being a positive attribute.
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Contend4Truth posted a comment · Dec 28, 2020
Thank you Dr. Brown. No doubt many people on the right will find your words in this article offensive. But the gospel is neither right nor left -- thank you for bravely standing with God and not with any political fad.
Deancooper posted a comment · Dec 28, 2020
I think if you would listen to Flynn some, you would understand what he was meaning to say. As I understand him, he is simply saying that our country was designed by our founders assuming a moral and believing people. Once our country departs from those, our constitution doesn't really work. You can't fully separate our nation (our flag) from a people that believe in God. If you do, the whole thing will eventually fall apart. And yes, believers don't get a pass just because they believe. Morality does matter. But the farther you go to the Left, the more they hate God and want to tear down all biblical concepts of morality. The Left is the antithesis of what our country was founded on. Since I think Flynn was talking along these lines, I cheer him on. And I regret that you chose to disparage him.
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Swkh310 posted a comment · Dec 23, 2020
I place the blame squarely on the revisionist history that turned the deeply flawed, shortsighted, duplicitous founders into some kind of brilliant statesmen.
czarpaul posted a comment · Dec 22, 2020
Man you seem all over the place. In us vs them we are not saying we are without sin but recognize PUBLICLY confessing that sin in today's cancel culture would be very harmful. We confess PRIVATELY to God and reveal nothing to those that would slander and destroy us. We we founded on Christian principles and for along time were a Christian nation and most who serve WERE Christian believing they were doing their duty to God and country. You seem to be extrapolating an awful lot from what he said. And very few trump supporters would support the thing the German church did in Nazi era Germany. Antisemitism was rife in the European church then so it was easier to blame the Jews and have Christians look the other way. Remember too Obama was openly talked about by several of his supporters as the second coming an a messianic figure or messiah. Trump was not called that by many if any of his. No I don't think all dems or leftists are evil but I believe most are simply deceived.
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kimberly posted a comment · Dec 22, 2020
Dr. Brown, excellent article !!! Keep speaking truth !!!
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mdmullins@q.com posted a comment · Dec 22, 2020
I had the same or similar tho't as RAS. The word "and" associates the two, but does not NecessarilY conflate them. For some it could, for others it might not. I've never been a flag waver, but I'm giving him a pass on that one. I like your post, though. Good job. Strictly speaking, IF the flag represents a true god fearing country and IF there is in fact only one actual god (the Bible is100% clear that there's actually only one true almighty self-existent creator and savior of mankind), IF the "Banner of Christ" is Christ's "flag" (some concepts I find rather vague and alien to the Bible--I think of "His banner over me is love" so that's a different thing because God's or Christ's banner there is "love", not God Himself, though if God is love, then I guess His banner is Himself, and Jehovah(God is salvation), so maybe. . . . another discussion) then you could say the American flag is also the flag of Christ. I don't think I would be caught dead saying that the American flag is the flag of Christ; probably for all your reasons and more. By the way, I don't think there's any such thing as the flag of Christ, is there? But I digress. I'm not actually trying to nit pick. I am just saying (having virtually no information about (Lieutenant?) General Flynn) I'm still willing to give him the benefit of the doubt in using "and." As far as I know, General Flynn may be a non-believing "God and country" careless ignoramous on matters of Christ; he maybe a man who every moment has the eyes of his heart on Jesus our Savior and Lord and will die in that blessed state. I'm GuessinG he's closer to the latter than the former. First post ever on this site. Badly written. Will try being succinct next time.
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RAS posted a comment · Dec 22, 2020
Last stanza of the Star-Spangled Banner ..................................................................................... O thus be it ever when freemen shall stand................................................................................. Between their lov'd home and the war's desolation! ................................................................ Blest with vict'ry and peace may the heav'n rescued land ....................................................... Praise the power that hath made and preserv'd us a nation! ................................................. Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just, ...................................................................... And this be our motto - "In God is our trust,"............................................................................... And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave .............................................................. O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave. ............................................................... What do you think? Should Sir Francis Scott Key be denounced and labeled Christian nationalist?
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RAS posted a comment · Dec 22, 2020
Maybe Flynn is not conflating the two, as the word "and" is used to separate the Banner of Christ and the flag . I have no doubt the hand of God was instrumental in the creation and rise of America. If our flag to you symbolizes the things that God gave us, I have no problem standing with that symbol in preservation of those gifts. This all comes down to context and meanings, which vary among individuals. Viewing Flynn's statements in only one context is itself an over simplification. As for Christian nationalism, I see the term as an oxymoron. You cannot serve two masters. However, if you are embracing your nation as a gift from God for the purpose of preserving what little is left and restoring the former things God gave to this nation, it is a noble cause. In such context, patriotism is not dangerous but honorable.