May
15

The Grand, Old Flag?

Home > Pastor's Page > The Grand, Old Flag?

A Dutchman was explaining to an American the red, white and blue colours on the Netherlands flag  “Our flag is symbolic of our taxes. We get red when we talk about them, white when we get our tax bills, and blue after we pay them.”  The Yankee nodded. “It’s the same in the United States, only we see stars, too!”
There are actually a total of 36 flags that have red, white and blue in them: 35 representing countries (Australia, Cambodia, Chile, Cook Islands, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cuba, Czech Republic, Dominican Republic, France, Haiti, Iceland, North Korea, South Korea, Laos, Liberia, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Panama, Paraguay, Philippines, Puerto Rico, Russia, Samoa, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Taiwan, Thailand, United Kingdom, United States) and 1 representing the church (Christian flag).  Here’s how the latter came to be.

The year was 1897.  The month was September.  The place was Coney Island, New York. The event was a fall Sunday School rally.  The church was a Methodist chapel.  The S.S. superintendent was Charles Overton.
But on that day, for whatever reason, the rally speaker did not show up.  So Mr. Overton had to ad lib a speech.  He noticed an American flag nearby and in a flash of inspiration declared that it was a shame the church did not have a (red, white, blue) flag of its own.  The local Sunday School leader then proceeded to use
the three colours as the outline of his talk – the red would represent the blood of Jesus Christ, the white forgiveness of sins, the blue true loyalty to the faith and a cross would replace the stars.  Following the rally, the godly Christian man returned home and with the help of his wife made the first Christian flag.  He then displayed the now iconic symbol in the local chapel where it remained for the next ten years.  Then in 1907, the national secretary of the denomination came there to speak and took note of the flag.  He asked Charles Overton if he might take it with him to display as he spoke across the nation.  And the rest, as they say, is history.  Today in North America alone, over 250,000 churches display the flag as well as congregations all around the world.  It is also found in many Christian schools, colleges, hospitals, ministries, etc.  And Fanny penned a hymn for it – The Christian Flag!  Behold It (today sung to Stand Up, Stand Up For Jesus)

THE CHRISTIAN FLAG!  BEHOLD IT.

#1 – The Christian Flag! behold it and hail it with a song, and let the voice of millions the joyful strain prolong.  To every clime and nation, we send it forth today; God speed its glorious mission, with earnest hearts we pray.

The Christian Flag! behold it, and hail it with a song, and let the voice of millions the joy stain prolong.

#2 – The Christian Flag! unfurl it, that all the world may see the blood-stained cross of Jesus, who died to make us free.  The Christian flag, unfurl it, and o’er and o’er again, Oh! may it bear the message, Good will and peace to men.
The Christian Flag! behold it, and hail it with a song, and let the voice of millions the joy stain prolong.

#3 – The Christian Flag!  God bless it!  Now throw it to the breeze, and may it wave triumphant o’er land and distant seas, till all the wide creation upon its folds shall gaze, and all the world united, our loving Saviour praise.

The Christian Flag! behold it, and hail it with a song, and let the voice of millions the joy stain prolong.

There is even a pledge to the Christian Flag -

“I pledge allegiance to the Christian Flag and to the Saviour for whose Kingdom it stands. One Savior, crucified, risen, and coming again with life and liberty to all who believe. Amen.”

However, the Christian Flag has also not been without its share of controversy.  There are those who view it as sacrilegious in that a symbol of the world is being brought into the sanctuary and replacing the great symbol of the church, the cross.  There are others who look upon the colours and the pledge as being too closely tied to the United States. Then there is the question of when displayed together, what flag gets higher prominence – the country’s or the church’s?  This last one is still debated.   And finally, there’s  been a growing uncomfortableness among conservative Baptists regarding the flag.  Not the idea itself, but that a number of today’s churches that display the Christian flag no longer hold to the old-time gospel (salvation by faith alone) that it represented when it was first brought into being back in 1897, more than a century ago. …… So meet the Baptist Flag.  It originated in the heart and mind of Dr. D. L. Green, pastor of the Parker Memorial Baptist Church in Lansing, Michigan.  He set out to design a flag which would be attractive in appearance and distinct in message.   After sketching a variety of designs and rejecting them as insufficient to express his thoughts, Dr. Green settled on the theme of the threefold tie that binds together Baptists around the world (based upon Ecclesiastes 4:9,12, Two are better than one … and a threefold cord is not quickly broken):

● Book (the only rule of faith and practice).
● Blood (he only way of salvation for sinners).
● Blessed Hope (the only answer for the grave).

The two colours, red and white, were then chosen to  visually convey the message: red (His blood that redeems us) and white (His purity that is now ours).

On Canada Day (150th birthday) Sunday, along with having the Canadian Flag and singing O Canada, we’d like to have a faith flag and sing Fanny Crosby’s faith hymn.  What faith flag would you like to see up front?