there are two great lies that i have heard…

January 15, 2008

So, I am finally close to finishing Myth of a Christian Nation. Its really great and I would have loved to read it with others because I think the conversation would have been very interesting.

The thesis of his book revolves around the idea that a large part of American evangelicals are guilty of nationalistic and political idolatry. I think one of the biggest things I am learning is that American is not, and quite possibly never was, a nation with an inclination towards Christianity.

To a frightful degree, I think, evangelicals fuse the kingdom of God with a preferred version of the kingdom of the world [whether it’s our national interest, a particular form of government, a particular political program, or so on]. Rather than focusing our understanding of God’s kingdom on the person of Jesus- who incidentally, never allowed himself to get pulled into the political disputes of his day- I believe many of us American Evangelicals have allowed our understanding of the kingdom of God to be polluted with political ideals, agendas, and issues. For some evangelicals,the kingdom of God is largely about, if not centered on,”taking America back for God,” voting for the Christian candidate, outlawing abortion, outlawing gay marriage, winning the culture war, defending political freedom at home and abroad, keeping the phrase ‘under God’ in the Pledge of Allegiance, fighting for prayer in public schools and at public events, and fighting to display the Ten Commandments in government buildings.

I will argue that this perspective is misguided, that fusing together the kingdom of God with this or any other version of the kingdom of the world is idolatrous and this fusion is having serious negative consequences for Christ’s church and for the advancement of God’s kingdom.

Just look at what Frederick Douglas said in the 19th century:

Between the Christianity of this land, and the Christianity of Christ, I recognize the widest possible difference- so wide, that to receive the one as good, pure, and holy, is of necessity to reject the other as bad, corrupt, and wicked… I love the pure, peaceable, and impartial Christianity of Christ; I therefore hate the corrupt, slave-holding, women-whipping, cradle-plundering, partial and hypocritical Christianity of this land. Indeed, I can see no reason, but the most deceitful one, for calling the religion of this land Christianity.

There is a lot more to flush out, but this alone has really created a paradigm shift for me regarding how i see the various slants that politicians take on issues of church and state. Its been really great to know I am not alone in some of my thinking on thisand I really resonate with his words. It isn’t that I’ve suddenly come to a conclusion about the “right” way to vote… because it isn’t black and white. When Boyd preached on this at his [mega] church, 1/3 of the congregation left, which just goes to prove how polarizing this topic can become […and how certain notions have been ingrained into our minds in such dogmatic ways].

Sometimes I wish I didn’t have the ability to empathize. It makes me more indecisive and also makes me more likely to compromise for the sake of the Other, [which can be good or bad]. But its how I am wired and why I hate labels and [seemingly] perfectly constructed belief systems that don’t leave room for questions or doubt. Basically, what I am saying is that only having 2 options [Republican or Democrat] and choosing to be for or against, is really hard.

If anyone has any thoughts, I’d welcome them for sure. 🙂

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