Is the United States a 'Christian Nation'?
This article was originally published in the July 2008 issue of Faith and Family, but it seems most appropriate to re-print it as we celebrate our freedom and independence this July 4.
By Rev. Terry Major
Pierceville Federated Church
There is a lot of debate about the United States and whether this really is a 'Christian nation' or not.
Before we get into a hot debate on the topic, and before I give you my answer to the question, let's fill in the blank of some of the options for what kind of nation the United States is not:
Just where was Jesus Crucified, burried and resurrected?
As I write this on Easter Sunday afternoon, I thought that it would be appropriate to conclude the series of stories about my tour of Israel with a visit to the two places considered most likely to have been the place of crucifixion and Christ's tomb and resurrection.
Temple Mount and The Holy of Holies
When we first entered Temple Mount, my heart almost stopped. While I had seen The Dome of The Rock from a distance, to see it up-close and know that it rests where The Holy of Holies once stood made me almost sick to my stomach. Our guide told us that only Muslims may enter, but I have heard that some Christians have been allowed inside.
The Western Wall: the remains of King Solomon's Temple
I never imagined that I would see the Western Wall; much less pray at the wall and leave my little prayer in the cracks between the stones. Words can not express my emotions as I actually did just this during my visit to Israel.
Gethsemane; The place of prayer and betrayal
Visiting Gethsemane leaves you totally speechless when you realize that you are walking among the olive trees that may have been silent witness to Christ's betrayal. The site is beautifully preserved with gravel trails where you can almost feel the presence of our Lord and Savior.
Masada: Give me liberty or give me death
In my tour of Israel, nothing took my breath away like my first view of Masada. Three questions popped into my head almost immediately: Why would someone build such a fortress in such a desolate and inaccessable location? How did they get the materials and supplies on top of the mountain? Why did the Romans build a ramp; rather than just waiting them out?
Qumran: Home of the Dead Sea Scrolls
One of the most important biblical archaeological discoveries of all time came in one of the most desolate and uninhabitable places on earth: Qumran and the Dead Sea Scrolls.
Shortly after leaving Beit She'an (Scythopolis), traveling south, we entered what is known as The West Bank. The geography changed almost immediately as we entered some of the most desolate land on earth.
The Glory of Rome in the middle of Israel
Just 20 miles south of the Sea of Galilee, we walked the streets of Scythopolis; one of the most important of the ten Roman cities which made up the Decapolis. This city, however dates back to 4,000 B.C. when it was known as Beit She'an.
Let's visit Jesus' neighbors
In the previous issue of Faith and Family, we visited Capharnaum, Jesus' home on the Sea of Galilee. The next stops on my tour of Israel were two of the neighboring towns: Bethsaida and Kursi.
Walking where Jesus walked in his hometown
When Jesus moved to the Sea of Galilee, he settled in Capharnaum. In this story, we visit his hometown and the home of Peter where Jesus healed Peter's mother-in-law and performed other miracles. We also visit the Synagogue where Jesus worshiped and also performed other miracles.
Visit Israel and you will never be the same
I was fortunate enough to join 9 other U.S. Christian newspapers for a tour of Israel in June, 2007. The entire trip was sponsored by the State of Israel and they picked up the tab. This is the first story in a series, and it gives a broad overview of the trip.