Friday, July 14, 2006

The Myth of a Christian Nation -- Gregory Boyd -- Part 2

Please read my previous post before reading this one.

After stating his central thesis, Boyd goes on to say the following:

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, keep the phrase "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance, fighting for prayer in the public schools and at public events, and fighting to display the Ten Commandments in the government buildings.

. . . this perspective is misguided, . . . 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.

. . . What gives the connection between Christian and politics such a strong emotional force in the USA . . . is the longstanding myth that America is a Christian nation. . . . this foundational myth is a alive and well in the evangelical community . . . and is being embraced more intensely and widely now than in the past . . . because evangelicals sense it is being threatened. . . .

this nationalistic myth blinds us to the way in which our most basic and most cherished cultural assumptions are diametrically opposed to the kingdom way of life taught by Jesus and his disciples. Instead of living out the radically countercultural mandate of the kingdom of God, . . . this myth links the kingdom of God with certain political stances . . . and it has greatly compromised the holy beauty of the kingdom of God to non-Christians. This myth harms the church's primary mission.

Pretty strong words, wouldn't you say? What do you think? Are the majority of evangelicals in America idolatrous because they mix these two kingdoms? Is this sycretism? Is Christianity, America's tribal religion? Is this nationalistic myth blinding us, manipulating us, making us ineffective as God's people? Is it stopping us from truely being counter-cultural?

One of the things I remember vividly is being in a church service on the July 4th weekend in 2001. There were probably 1200 people in the service. We sang some worship songs -- and some people had raised their hands and were "getting into" the worship. The worship time was closed by a couple of patriotic songs including the "Battle Hymn of the Republic" and "God Bless America". As I watched the reaction of the people to these songs I was shocked. During these songs people REALLY worshiped. 3-4x as many people had their hands raised. People were swaying to the music, their eyes closed in what appeared to be "worship".

I remember standing there, looking around and thinking -- who are these people worshiping -- God or America? Maybe Boyd is right and we are an idolatrous people. Maybe we are more committed to America than to God, and that is why the church in this country is largely ineffective and shrinking in size. Perhaps, if we were more committed to God than to our country, evangelicals really would agents of spiritual, social and cultural transformation.

What do you think?

1 comment:

SocietyVs said...

Church in general is committed to it's country, and I for one don't agree with that trend because produces bad results.
Firstly, in Nazi Germany many church groups followed the status quo even though they knew people of one race (Jewish) were being attacked and persecuted...they just didn't do anything. Secondly, in civil rights 60's in America most church groups (mainly the south) sat on the side and watched brothers and sisters in Christ being persecuted, for what, equality.
I think aligning gospel truth with political gain is not the direction we as Christians need to take. Is there a sense of 'idolatry' in it, I guess so if you choose the values of state over God's, you then forfeit the carrying of a 'cross' for the carrying of a 'gun' in some instances. But we are selfish beings and duped by media around us but I half-heartedily blame the church's reputation for this.