According to American political scientist and Harvard director for international affairs, Samuel P. Huntington, the American Identity is not based on the creed of the constitution as many would assume, rather it is based on our Anglo-Protestant heritage. Which in turn breaks down to the importance of these 5 historical foundations: Protestant Christianity, the English language, the power of law, the value of individualism, and a dedicated work ethic. One has to remember before the Mayflower Compact, the Colonial Constitutions, the Bill of Rights and Nations Constitution, there was a group of people with a specific identity, and it was out of the overflow of who they were and where they had come from that birthed the American Experiment. In other words, if we forget that we are first a people of Faith, with a shared language, who revere the law (for without it there is no knowledge of sin), are willing to exercise our wills for the good, and do so unto God with all our might—we will no longer be working from our identity, but for a new one—one which will be defined by the slack culture of our time. This is a narrow view of things, yes, and we are not making the case for a theocracy, but simply that if America and the individual forget who they are, there will be dark days to follow.
Pew Research released a study in March of ’21 showing that most people’s views on National Identity are becoming more inclusive—bringing the national temperature on identity to chilling temps. Fewer and fewer people today believe that in order to maintain the national identity of the nation—people must be born in the country, be a Christian, share our nation’s customs and traditions, and be able to speak the language. This is not about immigration, the need for a theocracy, or the like—it is pointing to the fact that we are getting away from our godly heritage of freedom, faith, and governing laws—because we have forgotten who we are. In fact, whereas almost half the population once believed it was necessary to be a Christian, now only roughly one-third believe it is necessary. A significant number of people believe our country will be better off if it is 1) open to changes in its traditions and way of life (60%), 2) remains careful not to offend others (40%), and 3) believes that inherent and systemic racism exists (61%). Much of the public is clearly for: forgetting where we’ve come from, what is right, personal responsibility, and the understanding that our choices have consequences.
As for the individual temperature regarding identity, a recent study by Dr. George Barna and the University of Arizona Christian shows over 75% of millennials, the largest generation in our nation to be at a loss as to where to find purpose or meaning. The research showed catastrophically high levels of mental and emotional health issues, including many feeling anxious, depressed, and fearful. 40% don’t believe God exists, and 96% lack a biblical worldview. 30% identify as LGBTQ, while a near 39% identify as such from the youngest of this demographic.The largest generation in America is experiencing an identity crisis, because they do not know where they’ve come from, who they are, or where they are going.
Joe Jensen, Barna’s Vice President for Church engagement notes that between Jan and October of 2021, pastors considering leaving full-time ministry went up almost 10 percent to 38%. Jenson understands where these pastors are coming from with the pandemic, political climate, and chaos over the last year, but encourages them to stay put, seek God, find him in the valley and the tension of it all and come out more resolved and resolute as far as who they are—again, back to identity. Maybe these last couple years were about finding our identity again as a nation, a people, individuals, and the Church.
Whether it’s our nations moral confusion, the struggling individual, or the Church—it seems we are at times and some of us even now–confused when it comes to who we are, where we’ve come from, and therefore where we are going. Again, I believe this is fundamentally an issue of identity. As for the answer to the madness, the words in Luke’s Gospel of the Father speaking to the Son come to mind: “This is my Son with whom I am well pleased.”Knowing Who He was and where He had come from—begotten of God– Jesus was able to endure the wilderness He was about to be led into, the subsequent cancel culture of Nazareth awaiting Him as he came out of the wilderness, and the sufferings there after. Identity, as Dale Mast puts it “Flows from how we see ourselves,” and Jesus knew He was the Son of God and the reason for which He came. Knowing He was a Son gave him access to a reality untapped by most of culture today. His identity gave Him access to the things of God for His life— purpose, hope, meaning, destiny. In chapter 4, only one chapter after the affirmation of the Father at the Jordan, Jesus stated His purpose which was given Him by His Father: “I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns as well; for I was sent for this purpose.” Meaning and purpose flowed out of who Jesus was and the purpose for which He was sent. Martin Luther, champion of the protestant reformation, standing before the Assembly at Worms in 1521 courageously said after his defense, “Here I stand. I can do no other. So, help me God. Amen.” Again, appealing to His Father, Martin Luther seemed to be stating His purpose and the cause of it– that being: Because I have a Father in Heaven who gave Himself for me, standing all alone on calvary I can do no other than stand up to tyranny, to death, to a culture which would rather cancel me then face the truth; here I stand for truth on account of scripture and conscience—for the liberty of a people enslaved to a government and a man. In either case, whether it was Jesus coming down from the mountain of God to offer men the life and light of His Father in His death and resurrection, or Luther standing up to the papal supremacy of his day, both men were only able to do these things to the degree that they knew who they were, where they had come from and where they were going. As a nation, individuals, and the Church, if we are to grow in our identity, we are going to have to turn from the world and turn to God. John records in His gospel that “Jesus on his part did not entrust himself to them [men], because he knew all people.” Jesus was not living his life to pass the test of men and receive the affirmation of a world He came to save. He was living in the light of His heritage—whose He was, where He had come from, and why He was there—declaring the name of His Father to a people living in darkness and confusion. Americans, individuals, and the Church are tired and worn out from jumping through hoops that men, media, and culture have set up for them in order to satisfy, and ultimately relieve themselves of secular cultures heavy hand. But, if they would turn and live unto God, remembering whose they are and where they have come from—being created in His image, life would become much simpler. If we would do this, and we can, then we all can have great hope and take heart, for our best days are ahead of us. And until this great identity change takes effect, we are ambassadors of this hope, taking the Kingdom by force through intercession and being salt and light–making it a reality by the power of the Holy Spirit and the love of Christ. The Nation, individual and church has made it clear to us that there is a clarion call—a need to address our identity and that when we do, as the scripture says, the fact of the matter is– “who shall stand against.”