Jesus Wrote The Constitution

 

 

At least I’m pretty sure that’s what this painting is saying. Although, to be fair I’m not an art expert. I’m simply a self styled aficionado of the obvious.

This painting was done by a guy named Jon McNaughton. You can check out his website here.

Yes this picture is goofy and amusing, but as someone who takes the Christian faith seriously I find it to be rather disturbing.

Here’s why.

Two reasons.

First, the implication of this painting is that the Constitution is a sacred document, akin to the Bible itself. At least, that’s the only message I can possibly draw from a painting of Jesus holding the Constitution. So, as a Christian I find this to be more than a bit disturbing, every bit as disturbing as people who worship the Bible. I don’t worship the Bible, and I’m certainly not interested in worshiping the Constitution, a great document though it may be. If you really wanna split hairs on this one, we could label this painting as heresy, in that it seems to a firm a non-canonical text as co-equal to Holy Scripture. Except in this holy writ, African-Americans were only considered 3/5 of a person. Jesus wrote that??

But alas, that takes some thinking and if there’s one thing Tea Partiers and Christian fundamentalists both agree on it’s that there’s nothing harder or more dangerous than thinking. (Sorry, cheap shot I know)

Second, and more importantly, America is not and never has been a Christian nation. We are a nation founded by people, some of whom were Christians, and we continue to be a country populated by a significant Christian population. However, when this idea of American as a Christian nation is invoked, what is really being implied is that at some point in time the United States entered into a covenant relationship with God just like the nation of Israel did in the Old Testament. We didn’t. In fact, we did just the opposite. We declared a separation between church and state. In other words, we rejected any notion of a covenant relationship with God, along with the idea that America is/was/will be again a Christian nation.

What makes this notion so frustrating is that it means we should expect the same judgement to fall us and/or that we have the same calling to “conquer the land” that was given to Israel in the Old Testament. This allows people like Pat Robertson and others to reinterpret events like earthquakes and hurricanes as punishment from God for some perceived sin, exactly as God did in the Old Testament with the nation of Israel. As a result, Christians everywhere, regardless of their thoughts on Pat’s theology, are left looking like crazy people. We might be crazy (grace and forgiveness to your enemies??), but this shouldn’t be what makes us look crazy.

Worse yet, this Christian nation mentality can also become very dangerous. When we see the United States as “God’s chosen people” then (ironically) we begin to very quickly and easily justify violence off all forms, both by private citizens as well as the government. We see ourselves as God’s “holy warriors,” His vessels of wrath and justice ordained by God to hold the bad guy’s accountable. Just like Israel did in the Old Testament we believe God has ordained us to kill the enemy and “conquer the land.” Somehow, we miss the passages in books like Judges that come before and after all the violence: “In those days, there was no king in Israel and everyone did what was right in their own eyes.”

Now, I am not a pacifist, but this is REALLY, REALLY dangerous ground to be walking on. Remember the crusades? They killed lots of people in the name of God with swords and bows and arrows. Guns and bombs do a lot more damage. There may come a time like the holocaust of WWII or genocides in Africa when, I believe, we have a responsibility to act and defend the defenseless. Although, as Dietrich Bonhoeffer showed us, even this should be down with great thought and prayer.

That being said, if we want to believe that we really are a Christian nation, then we should pause and understand what we are claiming. If we want to be like Christ, then we are forced to wrestle with and embody His response to evil and injustice. Jesus didn’t didn’t campaign for any candidate. He didn’t champion a political party or even a particular form of government. Most of all when persecuted and threatened with death He didn’t take up arms to defend himself. Instead, He “was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon Him, and by his wounds we are healed.”

If we really want to be a Christian nation, then we need to know what we are getting ourselves into.

Grace and peace,

Zack Hunt

P.S. If the lure of Sarah Palin, Michelle Bachman, and Rick Perry is simply too much for you to resist, then you can pick up this abomination of a painting beautiful piece of art for only $29.95 plus shipping and handling! Here’s how to order:

  • http://nicodemusatnite.com Charlie Chang

    //I don’t worship the Bible//

    If I heard you say this 2 years ago, I’d think you were on your way to hell.

    But that’s where I’m at right now and what I’ve been thinking about.

    It’s funny we say we hate the religious leaders of the day because they couldn’t see God past the law. And we study the bible so much that we actually miss the word of God, which is Jesus himself.

    Thanks for posting this.

    Charlie
    nicodemusatnite.com

  • http://newchurchca.wordpress.com/ Pastormike

    If you believe that the constitution is sacred, or the flag is (and can thus be desecrated according to various legislative attempts over the years) then you believe something other God is sacred, which by default makes you an idolator and not a Christian. This is probably the most amusing/disturbing irony of the “Christian” Right.

  • BrotherK

    Ah, but this painting did inspire a greater parody: One Nation Under Cthulhu (feel free to look it up in your image browser). I may not know art, but I know what I like…

  • Z

    Thanks for this post Zack. You’re spot on here.

  • http://anirenicon.com Allen

    I think its significant that the “immigrant” on the left in the crowd of people that “make America strong” is the only one shielding his eyes from the glory of Christitution.

  • http://anirenicon.com Allen

    The Christitution- stereotyping in stereo.

  • Wes

    Did you read the artist’s “reference guide” to the characters and symbolism in the painting? It’s really an amazing way to spend 10 minutes….

    http://buyonenationundergod.com/images/ONUG_ReferenceGuide.pdf

  • Somewhere in the middle

    I think that in the Founding Fathers’ minds, the Constitution was inspired by God and I wouldn’t doubt that, even though we all know they didn’t get it quite right, such as you mentioned the 3/5 Compromise. The concept that they were getting at was freedom and equality, two very Biblical principles, especially freedom albeit in a spiritual sense. Obviously, their greed and/or ignorance blinded them from their hypocrisy concerning slavery.

    While America has never been a Christian nation, I do agree with the Founding Fathers that the crux of a Republican government is a moral electorate and that most of them found their moral guidance in God at that time. While that’s not a popular view these days, it seems to me through their own words that this was the case. That is why today’s breakdown in political values is only a reflection in the breakdown in the values of the population that elects them.

    With that said, this painting is over-the-top and clearly takes the Lord’s name in vain by forcing Jesus to take sides in politics. As politically convenient that would be for me if Jesus really would be die-hard Conservative, I’m not so bold to make that claim. Jesus should guide our political beliefs, not the other way around.

    • Steare

      You know, i see what you mean. The founding fathers were obviously christian, and I’m sure that they based a lot of their values off of christianity. However, like you said, they realized the a truly free or equal country cannot be based on one religion, hence the separation of church and state

      • Tom

        The Founding Fathers were not 100% Christian as the Christian Right would love to paint them. The faith that they had been reared in played a major role in their lives, both privately and professionally. However, as learned men, they embraced many aspects of Deism. While there has been an ongoing debate between historians and the Christituion as to the exact nature of their faith, like most things in life, it appears the answers lies somewhere in the middle, this case being somewhere between Deism and Christianity.

        • Steare

          Hmm, I didn’t know that before, but thank you for telling me. That’s interesting, and I’ll have to read about it some more. It’s amazing how smart our founding fathers were. I’ve always been interested about that time period.

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  • The_C_a_t

    Many thanks for the excellent article on the artwork, and far more important matters as well! Grace and peace to you!

    >^o.-^<