My family often listens to a Christian radio station that has a segment called “Jesus Freaks”. This segment is about Christians who are so devoted to Christ that the world often calls them “fools” or “freaks”. This is a mantle all Christians must be willing to bear for following Jesus for the world mocked and persecuted him as a fool. If we bear his name, we too might receive the same treatment when we stand for God’s truth in a sinful world. The segment on the radio station often highlights missionaries and martyrs which is most appropriate.
But I was shocked recently when they did a Jesus Freak segment on Thomas Jefferson and John Adams. This was shocking since both these men denied the deity of Christ. They were not Jesus Freaks. They were foes of the biblical Jesus. Adams was a Unitarian. He denied the doctrine of the Trinity and especially denounced the deity of Jesus. Jefferson believed the Bible was full of superstitions that modern, rationalistic man could not accept. He produced his own editions of the gospels in which he cut out everything that was supernatural including the miracles and resurrection of Jesus. What was left was Jesus the moral philosopher. These men stumbled over Jesus’ claims to be divine, just like the scribes and Pharisees did. They would not confess that Jesus is Lord which is necessary for salvation.
Of course, Adams and Jefferson were American heroes that Americans justly celebrate, but that does not mean they were Christians. A person can be a Jesus Freak. A person can be an American hero. Sometimes those two groups overlap. Sometimes they don’t. Adams and Jefferson are truly American heroes but they were certainly not Jesus Freaks.
Sometimes we American Christians are tempted to “sanctify” American history so that every American hero and every American action is backed by the God of the Bible. We want to confuse the kingdom of God with America. This is untrue, unwise and impossible. I am very thankful to be an American. Our nation has accomplished things that every nation on earth ought to emulate. I don’t want to live any where else. But, to be a Christian one must confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead. Only those that do this are part of the kingdom of God. Not all Americans in the past or present have done this and that includes some of the greatest American heroes. On the 4th of July I can praise God for the positive contributions such men made to our country while at the same time knowing, sadly, they are not my brothers in Christ and for eternity they are lost. When we claim that men who denied Christ are Christians just because they are American, we are preaching a false gospel.