What does King Jesus think of “The Apotheosis of Washington”? (Spoiler Alert: It’s not good.)

Every now and then God graces us with the ability to clearly see something that’s been plainly present all along but, for some reason, had eluded our detection. We can go for years, decades, and even generations as people with blinders on. Sometimes the blinders are cherished possessions that we cling to an attempt to avoid facing ugly realities that we see on the edge of our peripheral vision but don’t want to deal with head-on. Sometimes the blinders are so normal to us that we don’t even know they’re there.

Whatever the case, when God decides to remove the blinders, those blinders are removed, and when they’re removed, so are all of the excuses that they enabled (which is why we tend to cling to blinders in the first place).

While the removal of blinders might sound nice on the surface, it’s usually a painful event, often defined by a jarring jolt of unwanted reality.

Think of someone who’s been either ignorant or in denial regarding something serious like a spouse’s unfaithfulness or a catastrophically bad business decision.

Then, in an instant, God gives them clarity.

That can hurt.

A lot.

At least in the short term.

At this point we should note the “danger” of praying for clarity. The danger to our pet perversions and preferred idols is very real, so we should be careful what we pray for – and we should be mindful of the hypocrisy involved in prayers for others (leftists, liberals, atheists, secular progressives, etc.) to have their blinders removed so that they can see how wrong they are while we simultaneously cling to the blinders that protect us from noticing, much less confronting, our own favored sins and idols.

I was reminded of these challenging aspects of Christian life during a trip to Washington DC a couple of years ago when I visited the Capitol and took time to ponder the giant fresco featured as the artistic centerpiece of it all, where George Washington is literally portrayed and worshipped as a god with numerous pagan gods gathered around him as representatives of various areas of life. (This is not merely my opinion or a joke; keep reading for vivid, detailed confirmation.)

But that wasn’t the most amazing part of the artwork. The most remarkable part was the way that so many self-identified Christian conservatives reacted to it. They were all smiles, adoration, and pride…while standing in the presence of rank idolatry and blasphemy on a scale that’s hard to overstate.

In order to get a better sense of the significance of this situation – a situation unfolding daily under that dome in DC – we should dive into at least some relevant details of the artwork in question, formally titled The Apotheosis of Washington.

For those unfamiliar with the 4,664 square foot fresco painted by Constantino Brumidi in 1865 and featured in the eye of the Rotunda of the U.S. Capitol, we took an extensive look at this brazen bit of American-flavored idolatry in an article published back in early 2015, where we catalogued some of its more troubling aspects:

“Okay, so we all know that Barack Obama is openly and quite religiously worshipped by many folks on the Left. Tales of the ridiculous and blasphemous extremes to which his followers often go to express their adoration have become tragically common. As such, they’ve provided fuel for countless jokes and condemnations aimed at Obama & Friends for many long years now.

Most of the humor and many of the critiques are more than valid on many levels.

Obama worshippers have literally crafted, recorded, and distributed hymns of Obama praise and worship.

They’ve painted pictures, written poems, and constructed various religious apologetics advocating his messianic role in promoting the Progressive vision for America.

They’ve chanted, wept, fought, and bled for his “fundamental transformation” of our culture.

So yeah, they’ve got problems. Serious problems.

Now that their problems are our problems, we are well served to take the time to seriously ask and explore why and how this has happened.

How vulgar and twisted must a mind be to make a man into a god that way?

How warped and perverted must a worldview become in order to allow for the open, public exaltation of a man in such a flagrantly blasphemous manner?

How far removed must a person and culture be in order for such rank idolatry to take hold and define a land and its people?

If we’re serious about finding solid, helpful answers to those questions (especially the last one), and we’re not just lazy, hypocritical, self-serving noise makers looking to crack another Obama joke or take another cheap and easy shot at “the Left”, then a great place for us to start in our consideration of this subject is with…George Washington.

Yep.

George Washington.

More specifically, George Washington as depicted in The Apotheosis of Washington, a ginormous, worshipful, and rather flagrantly blasphemous bit of art adorning the dome in the rotunda of our very own United States Capitol Building since its completion near the end of the Civil War, when the supremacy of the State was being cemented into place using any and all available forms of propaganda and idolatry.

Before I go any further, let me present here a few close-up sections from this gigantic display of American idolatry. As you look through them, please keep one question front and center in your mind:

What has the one true God said about this?

Okay then, with that in mind, away we go…

Science - Roman Goddess of Wisdom, Minerva

In the “Science” panel of The Apotheosis of Washington, we have Minerva, the Roman goddess of crafts and wisdom, with American scientists and inventors Benjamin Franklin, Samuel Morse, and Robert Fulton looking on. How cool, right? Yay, America!

Marine - Neptune, god of the sea

For the “Marine” portion of our presentation, we see Neptune, the Roman god of the sea. Also depicted is Venus, goddess of love (who was, of course, born from the sea). They are apparently helping to lay the transatlantic telegraph cable. Isn’t that just awesome! We have not one, but two gods helping us out here! Oh yeah! [insert “U! S! A!” chant here]

Commerce - Mercury, god of commerce

For the “Commerce” section of this worship-loaded display, we are treated to Mercury, the Roman god of…what else?…commerce. He is shown here giving a bag of gold to American Revolutionary War financier Robert Morris. Cha-ching!

Mechanics - Vulcan, god of the forge

In the “Mechanics” wing of our presentation, we see Vulcan, the Roman god of fire and the forge. The man at the forge is said to represent Charles Thomas, the supervisor of ironwork during the construction of the Capitol dome. No wonder that dome turned out so good, right?!

Ceres, goddess of agriculture

Here in the “Agriculture” section, we have Ceres, the Roman goddess of agriculture. “Young America”, in a liberty cap, holds the reins of the horses, while the goddess Flora gathers flowers in the foreground. Another two-fer on the gods front here; America has truly been blessed with a “double portion” in the realm of agriculture!

There’s so much that could (and perhaps should) be said here (and I haven’t even gotten to the specifics of George’s radically unbiblical portrayal yet), but I want to keep it relatively short and simple:

God has spoken. He hates this. It is flagrantly evil…and most modern day Christian Americans love it!

 And God spoke all these words, saying,
“I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.
“You shall have no other gods before me.” ~ Exodus 20:1-3 (emphasis added)

Remember: When God commands that there be “no other gods before me”, He’s not even remotely suggesting that it’s just fine and peachy to have or allow other gods in the land, so long as they’re not ahead of Him in line or above Him in status. No, that’s not what the language here conveys at all.

Its plain, crystal clear meaning is that there are to be no other gods in His sight within the land of His obedient people.

No other gods are to be tolerated, much less openly worshiped.

Even in paintings.

Even when escorted by (or escorting) George Washington.

Such displays of worship are always fundamentally evil and destructive to any people who would have (and adore) them.

So the next time we roll our eyes or proclaim our “shock and horror” at the latest repulsive public proclamation of rank idolatry and man-worship from the Left, let’s remember that they’re just following the long established lead of the professing Christian church in America.

The Orwellian totalitarian American State that we are now watching emerge all around us has come our way first and foremost because professing Christians have allowed and encouraged it to do so through proud, open idolatry of America, Americans, and patriotism itself.

What I hope and pray we might see through the honest, serious examination of many displays like this one from throughout our history is that we have great sin and idolatry to repent of…and we have been graced with the undeserved opportunity to do just that right here and now.

So will we repent…or will we be destroyed?”

Sadly, we don’t seem much closer to repentance now in mid-2019 than we were back in early 2015 when that article was first written. We seem more pride-focused than ever.

Even so, by God’s grace we’ve been given more time. Lord willing, we’ll use it wisely to repent before we land on (or under) the last part of the “repent or be destroyed” scenario presented so vividly in passages like Psalm 2 (which we dove into in an article entitled Want to see America in Scripture? Try Psalm 2).

The unavoidable and unbreakable bottom line is this: Jesus is Lord.

He has all authority over all of creation, including the United States (see: Matthew 28:18-20).

All nations, rulers, and people are subject to Him.

All are commanded to repent of their rebellion against Him.

All are commanded to submit to His lordship over every area of life.

He will break all unrepentant rulers and nations into pieces, as He makes plain in Psalm 2.

He hates idolatry.

He destroys all idols. (Even if they wear red, white, and blue while singing “God bless America”.)

Sometimes in an instant.

Sometimes over decades or even centuries.

But make no mistake: He destroys them all.

Psalm 2 is no joke.

Jesus’ lordship is no plaything.

Our current status as Exhibit ‘A’ in contemporary examples of a Romans 1 culture should tell us that much, but we don’t even seem to notice that most obvious of truths. (Which only further confirms our Romans 1 condition when you stop to think about it.)

In this context, could it be that our culture’s present full-throttle rocket ride to hell is merely one part of a path charted long ago when We the People began to openly worship our government? Perhaps as a way of worshiping ourselves?

Could it be that the carnage unfolding around us is simply the natural outworking and predictable fruit of a pride-fueled, self-centered path that we chose long ago?

These seem to be questions worth at least considering right about now.

I hope and pray that the Lord might use this article to help remove blinders and inspire true love for America and Americans – a Christ-centered love that seeks the restoration and revival of our dying culture through conviction and repentance at the feet of King Jesus.

May God bless America with such conviction, repentance, and restoration.


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