What the Reformed Faith Should Mean to the U.S.

Rev. John Kruis is pastor of the Christian Reformed Church of Sussex, New Jersey. In view of the U.S. Bicentennial, he was asked to write on W hat the Reformed Faith Should Mean to the U.S. Let us not now vainly imagine,” says Rev. Kruis, “that we can best serve our nation by circumventing the Word, or by introducing a hermeneutic that undercuts the Word . . . Let us unashamedly proclaim it in all its fullness and power, and pray for the work of God’s Spirit to bring about the spiritual and moral revival our nation needs so desperately.”

When I was a boy the mere mention of the Fourth of July tended to arouse excitement. The Fourth of July was a big day, a very special day. The nearer we came to it, the more excited we became. One thing that made it so important was that it was one of the few days we didnt have to pull weeds or hoe in the corn or potato fields or help with haying.

More important than that, there was sure to be the Independence Day celebration. This included the thrill of seeing numerous American flags proudly displayed on automobiles (on fenders, hood, windshield, and atop the radiator), in front yards and on picnic grounds. The biggest thrill was to go to the Fourth of July celebration in Spring Grove (Jamestown, MI).

Not of least importance, of course, was the fact that we could have fifteen or twenty cents to spend for buying such things as a box of Cracker Jack, an ice cream cone, a package of chewing gum (which lasted no less than two weeks!) or one of those big bananas which hung in a large cluster in the canteen.

But it was also a thrill to hear the band playing our national anthem and other patriotic songs. And there was always a speech by a local pastor, in which we were reminded of God‘s blessings given to us as a nation and of our duty as Christian citizens. The “Fourth of July”—what an exciting day! It still is an important day for us.


Greatest need – Now we are fast approaching July 4, 1976. There is more excitement than usual, for this will be our Bicentennial celebration. It is a time for gratitude to God, by whose providence our nation was established, through whom we gained our national freedom and by whose mercy we remain free today! It is no less for us, as Christian citizens, a time to be concerned about the greatest need of our nation and our duty in regard to it.

As we celebrate our nation‘s Bicentennial, the greatest need is a spiritual awakening, a spiritual and moral revival. Most Americans have been greatly concerned about the recession wc have had for several months. Rightly so. A way must be found to continue to dim!) out of that recession, lest we fall into a great depression, which could make the depression of the nineteen thirties look like peanuts.

Yet there is a much greater problem that faces our nation than that. It is a problem about which few seem to be greatly concerned and fewer still are attempting to solve. It threatens the very life of our nation. What is that? We are already in a great spiritual and moral depression, and we are getting into it deeper and deeper right along.

Spiritual and moral depression – The evidences of this are abundant. Only a small percentage of our population can be found in the house of God on Sunday. There is a wholesale desecration of the Lord‘s Day (shamefully, many who profess to be Reformed Christians, rather than promoting the sanctity of the day, are going along with the tide). There is legalized murder of literally thousands of unborn children each year, with no end in sight (the Population Council of the U.S. Public Health Service estimates that there were 1,000,000 legal abortions in the U.S. in 1975).

We have become a sex mad society. The sanctity of marriage is being made a mockery, the divorce rate continuing to climb so that there were over one million divorces in the United Stales in 1974. Pornographic movies and literature are being produced and gobbled up by a gullible American public.

Alcohol and drug abuse are a greater plague to our nation than ever before. Recent surveys show that there are over 10 million problem drinkers and over 9 million alcoholics in America. Over 90 thousand Americans die annually as a direct result of alcohol abuse.

The crime rate continues to soar each year, with over 10,000,000 serious crimes reported in 1974. Authorities are contributing to the problem either by being ignorant of or ignoring the Biblical solutions to it.

Economic mismanagement and/or irresponsibility threatens the life of many cites. Welfarism is gaining momentum like a steamroller running down hill alit of control, with some authorities approving of it, while others are groping about in the dark trying to find a way to stop it.

These are only some of the evidences of the spiritual and moral depression which threaten the very life of our nation. As most of us know, past civilizations have fallen chiefly because of spiritual and moral decay. Unless there’s a spiritual awakening, a revival, God’s judgment could fall on us and we could lose the freedom in which we are rejoicing in our Bicentennial celebrations. “Righteousness exalted a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people” (Prov. 14:34).

Reformed faith as the answer – The Reformed faith has what it takes to meet this need. The early history of our nation bears this out.

The Reformed faith had a profound influence on our nation in its early history. New England from the founding of Plymouth in 1620 to the end of the eighteenth century was predominantly Calvinistic. The Puritans, who were in the main Reformed, were men and women of a deep religious faith and strong moral convictions. They possessed a religious fervor hardly equaled in our nation’s history. Tirelessly unashamedly, uncompromisingly, they preached and taught the Word of God and declared its relevance for every area of our nation’s life.

The Lord blessed their efforts. The Reformed faith became the greatest molding influence, helping to set a good spiritual and moral tone for our nation. Great spiritual awakenings and revivals were sparked by Puritans such as Jonathan Edwards and George Whitefield.

The Reformed faith has lost neither its power nor its relevance. It is powerful because it comes with the full force of God‘s Word to every area of life. And, “The Word of God is Quick and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Heb. 4:12). The main reason why our Puritan brothers were so influential was that they realized the power of the Word and used it as the sword to fight the Lord‘s battles.

Let us not now vainly imagine that we can best serve our nation by circumventing the Word, or by introducing a hermeneutic that undercuts the Word. We need not, nor may we, alter the Word or the message of the Reformed faith in any way in attempting to make it more effective. To do so would be to nullify its effect. Let us unashamedly proclaim it in all its fullness and power, and pray for the work of God’s Spirit to bring about the spiritual and moral revival our nation needs so desperately.

The Reformed faith is relevant also at this point in our nation‘s history. This is true because it is based on and informed by the Scriptures. Its principles are timeless in a changing world. “Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light upon my path” (Psalm 119:105). “Thy Word is truth” (John 17:17). It gives directives for all of life.

Dr. Henry H. Meeter was right when he said that Calvinism “is not a narrowly religious system, having soteriological significance only, but one which relates to the whole of life in all of its departments, political, social, educational and scientific, no less than the religious or soteriological sphere” (The Fundamental Principles of Calvinism, p. 25).

The course to follow – Let us, then, without hesitation bring the Reformed faith before the general American public, and especially before our leaders. Let us call men and women back to the authority of God’s Word and to a morality, not guided by situation ethics, but by the absolute norm God has given us. Bring the light of the Word to bear on the economic, educational, moral, political, and social problems troubling our land. In this way the Reformed faith can be a savoring salt and a bright light shining in the darkness.

Regretfully some among us seem to think that the better way is to change our stand on such issues as homosexuality, divorce, the sanctity of the Sabbath, the demands of justice, the punishment of evil doers (Rom. 13:1–5). Not a few have already succumbed to secular philosophy on such matters.

Others fear that if we maintain and press the full claims of the Bible, that which has always been part and parcel of the Reformed world and life view, the demands will be too radical. Our message would then be, in their view, simply unacceptable in America today and would be rejected out of hand. For this reason they want to alter the message of the Reformed faith to make it more acceptable, more palatable.

Where in the Bible do you find warrant for such thinking? Nowherel The true prophets and the apostles neither altered the Word of God nor subtracted from it in order to make the message more effective or more acceptable. Rather, in obedience to God, they forthrightly set forth the Word in all of its fullness and let that Word shine on every sphere of life.

This was true also of the Reformers, the Puritans and many others after them. In this way God made them to be a blessing to the nation and to the world. The Bicentennial celebration is a good time for us to dedicate ourselves to doing the same.