Independence Day is always the hardest day of the year for me to write about from a Christian perspective. This is primarily because I believe that to be truly Christian means to pledge allegiance solely to Christ and His kingdom, not to a flag or to a country or to a system of government. In a country for which civil religion (i.e. the god of democracy, capitalism, and a vague notion of personal freedom) has replaced true Religion (i.e. God in Christ), it cannot but be idolatrous to pledge allegiance to an entire system (and icons of that system) that makes a claim on the heart and mind.
In his lecture at Azusa Pacific University entitled "America's God," Stanley Hauerwas elucidates why American Protestantism was something other than Christian from the start. It is such that we glorify those willing to die and kill (blood sacrifices) for the nation, but give very little thought, if any at all, to God's explicit vision of the Church and His kingdom. The nation has become our god, and we simply co-opt Christian concepts and language to prop it up. As Hauerwas says, "The American church has failed to make clear that the "American God" is not the God we worship as Christians, the God who would have us baptized into the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ."
The remedy is returning to "disciplines" of good theology and the sense of proper ecclesiastical and priestly authority. That sentence alone probably raises the blood pressure of good American Protestants because we've been so ingrained with the completely senseless idea that all opinions are equally valid (i.e. "Jesus is Lord, but that's just my opinion") and that authority begins and ends with the individual. But that's how American Protestantism has co-opted the Faith. If theology does not order one's life and thought processes towards friendship with God, it is not good theology.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, in his “Protestantism without the Reformation,” in No Rusty Swords: Letters, Lectures and Notes, 1928-1936, wrote the following:
"God has granted American Christianity no Reformation. He has given it strong revivalist preachers, churchmen and theologians, but no Reformation of the church of Jesus Christ by the Word of God….American theology and the American church as a whole have never been able to understand the meaning of ‘criticism’ by the Word of God and all that signifies. Right to the last they do not understand that God’s ‘criticism’ touches even religion, the Christianity of the church and the sanctification of Christians, and that God has founded his church beyond religion and beyond ethics….In American theology, Christianity is still essentially religion and ethics…Because of this the person and work of Christ must, for theology, sink into the background and in the long run remain misunderstood, because it is not recognized as the sole ground of radical judgment and radical forgiveness."
You can view the lecture by Hauerwas below. His lecture begins at about the 12 minute mark in the first video.