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Proposal for New Christian Flag

The present design for the  Christian flag ​features the very American colors of red, white, and blue. Considering the designers, Charles C. Overton (fl. 1907) and Ralph Diffendorfer (1879–1951), were from the United States, this is not surprising. However, if we Christians are to have a flag, then we should have one which represents believers from around the world that features politically neutral colors. After all, the church includes Jesus' followers from all nations, so a Christian flag should be accessible to everyone. Moreover, such a design should have colors derived from scripture rather than a national symbol. As it stands, the current flag even has its own "Pledge of Allegiance," a creed-like statement unique to the American citizen. This is not to degrade the United States, as I am proud to be an American. However, the Christian church is universal and began in Roman Judea about two millennia before U.S. independence in 1776.

My proposed Christian flag receives its inspiration from the tallit, a Jewish prayer shawl that also inspires the modern Israeli flag. This pattern derives from the Old Testament, specifically when God told the ancient Israelites to make tassels (Hebrew: tzitzit; H6734) for their cloaks with blue and white threads (Num. 15:38, 40; Deut. 22:12). The tallit's function is to hold them onto an overshirt so the wearer does not have to sew tassels onto all their clothing. The gospel writers also mentioned them when they narrated stories of ailing people who reached for Jesus' tzitzit to receive healing from him (Matt. 14: 35-36; Mark 6:56Luke 8:43-44). Therefore, the symbolism of the tallit includes both Old and New Testament relevance. The present Christian flag does not call us to remember the Jewish roots of our faith, whereas my proposal does just that. 

However, the early church was very clear to bring gentiles into their assemblies. Therefore, the Christian flag must also represent a gentile heritage without borrowing from ancient paganism or contemporary patriotism. To select a color without favoring a specific culture or nationality is difficult. I chose evergreen to silhouette Jesus' cross, which is the liturgical color with the longest time in the church calendar. It symbolizes eternal life, taking its meaning from the lasting green hues of the pine tree. Gentiles were grafted into the otherwise Jewish identity of God's chosen people (Rom. 11:17-24), and this word also comes to us from agriculture. Moreover, the green color of the cross alludes to the church taking a symbol of death and turning into one of life. 

The tallit pattern overlaps the cross first to represent Christ's salvation "to the Jew first, then to the Greek [i.e., gentile]" (Rom. 1:16). It also refers to the titulus that Pontius Pilate added to Jesus' cross which read, "Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews" (John 19:19). The white background conveys how Jews and gentiles maintain their distinctions, but find commonality in Jesus (Gal. 3:28). It also symbolizes the peace of Christ and his victory over evil. However, the cross overlaps the bottom line of the tallit pattern, not to portray the church's replacement of the Jews, but to emphasize God's plan for Jesus to be crucified as the metanarrative of Israel's history. 

Bibliography

Coffman, Elesha. " Do You Know the History of the Christian Flag?" Christianity Today. Carol Stream, IL: Christianity Today, 2008.                    https://www.christianitytoday.com/history/2008/august/do-you-know-history-of-christian-flag.html.

Gesling, Linda. Mirror and Beacon: The History of Mission of The Methodist Church, 1939-1968. New York: General Board of Global                          Ministries, United Methodist Church, 2005. https://methodistmission200.org/diffendorfer-ralph-1879-1951.

Christian Origins/Current Faith

Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina, USA

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The teaching ministry of James Mikołajczyk, M.T.S.

 

 

Scripture quotations come from the New Revised Standard Version, © 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA. Used by permission. All rights reserved