Russell Moore says the belief that the United States is a Christian nation in the respect of being a divinely ordained country is "theological liberalism."
In a video posted to YouTube on Tuesday, the head of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention tackled the question of whether or not the U.S. is a Christian nation.
"If what you mean by that is a nation in which most of the people profess to be Christians, then certainly the United States of America was and is a Christian nation," said Moore.
"The idea that God was in covenant with the United States of America in order to bless the United States as a special people, as a New Israel, as a group of people covenanted under Christianity — the answer to that is clearly no."
Moore added that while the Founders were influenced by Christian ideas, the government that was set up did not include things like a religious test, while it did include a separation between the institutional church and the secular state.
Moore went on to argue that the idea of a nation-state being held in such a manner was akin to theological liberalism and was not a biblically Christian idea.
"I think the confusion often comes in when people assign to the United States a providential place in history that the Bible never assigns it," continued Moore.
"The idea that we're living in a Christian nation in that sense is really a form of theological liberalism. It assumes that a person or a nation can be a Christian apart from the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit, apart from new birth. That is contrary to the Gospel."
Moore's comments were uploaded by The Gospel Coalition, a theologically conservative group largely comprised of pastors in the Reformed tradition.
Moore's position on whether America is a Christian nation echoes that of the liberal activist group Americans United for Separation of Church and State.
In a brochure titled "Is America a Christian Nation?" Americans United takes a similar nuanced view regarding the two different definitions for such a phrase.
"If the people who make this assertion are merely saying that most Americans are Christians, they might have a point. But those who argue that America is a Christian nation usually mean something more, insisting that the country should be officially Christian," read the brochure.
"Is this viewpoint accurate? Is there anything in the Constitution that gives special treatment or preference to Christianity? Did the Founders of our government believe this or intend to create a government that gave special recognition to Christianity? The answer to all of these questions is no."
The Americans United brochure went on to note that the Founders did not create a secular Constitution "because they disliked religion" but rather because "they were well aware of the dangers of church-state union."