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The Myth of a Christian Nation: How the Quest for Political Power Is Destroying the Church

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The church was established to serve the world with Christ-like love, not to rule the world. It is called to look like a corporate Jesus, dying on the cross for those who crucified him, not a religious version of Caesar. It is called to manifest the kingdom of the cross in contrast to the kingdom of the sword. Whenever the church has succeeded in gaining what most American The church was established to serve the world with Christ-like love, not to rule the world. It is called to look like a corporate Jesus, dying on the cross for those who crucified him, not a religious version of Caesar. It is called to manifest the kingdom of the cross in contrast to the kingdom of the sword. Whenever the church has succeeded in gaining what most American evangelicals are now trying to get – political power – it has been disastrous both for the church and the culture. Whenever the church picks up the sword, it lays down the cross. The present activity of the religious right is destroying the heart and soul of the evangelical church and destroying its unique witness to the world. The church is to have a political voice, but we are to have it the way Jesus had it: by manifesting an alternative to the political, “power over,” way of doing life. We are to transform the world by being willing to suffer for others – exercising “power under,” not by getting our way in society – exercising “power over.”


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The church was established to serve the world with Christ-like love, not to rule the world. It is called to look like a corporate Jesus, dying on the cross for those who crucified him, not a religious version of Caesar. It is called to manifest the kingdom of the cross in contrast to the kingdom of the sword. Whenever the church has succeeded in gaining what most American The church was established to serve the world with Christ-like love, not to rule the world. It is called to look like a corporate Jesus, dying on the cross for those who crucified him, not a religious version of Caesar. It is called to manifest the kingdom of the cross in contrast to the kingdom of the sword. Whenever the church has succeeded in gaining what most American evangelicals are now trying to get – political power – it has been disastrous both for the church and the culture. Whenever the church picks up the sword, it lays down the cross. The present activity of the religious right is destroying the heart and soul of the evangelical church and destroying its unique witness to the world. The church is to have a political voice, but we are to have it the way Jesus had it: by manifesting an alternative to the political, “power over,” way of doing life. We are to transform the world by being willing to suffer for others – exercising “power under,” not by getting our way in society – exercising “power over.”

30 review for The Myth of a Christian Nation: How the Quest for Political Power Is Destroying the Church

  1. 4 out of 5

    Wendy Roberts

    This really should be required reading for so many Christian evangelicals. I have many wonderful Christian friends who have become completely caught up in the idea of a Christian nation...God blessing our nation according to how much power the Christians wield, and how closely we are following his commands. Boyd pulls almost exclusively from Scripture to show that Jesus was apolitical...that Jesus showed in his life that the government in charge was superfluous to what the Christian should be do This really should be required reading for so many Christian evangelicals. I have many wonderful Christian friends who have become completely caught up in the idea of a Christian nation...God blessing our nation according to how much power the Christians wield, and how closely we are following his commands. Boyd pulls almost exclusively from Scripture to show that Jesus was apolitical...that Jesus showed in his life that the government in charge was superfluous to what the Christian should be doing. We as Christians should be striving for a "power under" approach...a humbling of ourselves to show Christian love to those around us. If we really want to reach people with the Gospel message, this is the way to do it. Great book!

  2. 4 out of 5

    Philip

    I think every American Christian should read this book. The American church really is becoming obsessed with politics and forgetting our real mandate is not to make a country into a Christian-run nation. The only part that I disagreed with was his last chapter on non-violence. I think that Romans 13 clearly demonstrates that government has the right to operate the sword, and for Christians to participate in this mandate does not violate Christ's command to turn the other cheek. But overall, I wo I think every American Christian should read this book. The American church really is becoming obsessed with politics and forgetting our real mandate is not to make a country into a Christian-run nation. The only part that I disagreed with was his last chapter on non-violence. I think that Romans 13 clearly demonstrates that government has the right to operate the sword, and for Christians to participate in this mandate does not violate Christ's command to turn the other cheek. But overall, I would highly recommend this book.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Paul

    Boyd’s book was a very interesting read for me. I’m not sure if I’ve ever had such a rollercoaster reading experience as I had reading this book. I have read books where I agree with some of it but not all of it. Only the intellectually insecure seem to discount everything someone says simply because s/he says something you disagree with. But with this book, I literally agreed with one sentence 100% and then disagreed with the very next sentence 100% and then agreed with the very next sentence 1 Boyd’s book was a very interesting read for me. I’m not sure if I’ve ever had such a rollercoaster reading experience as I had reading this book. I have read books where I agree with some of it but not all of it. Only the intellectually insecure seem to discount everything someone says simply because s/he says something you disagree with. But with this book, I literally agreed with one sentence 100% and then disagreed with the very next sentence 100% and then agreed with the very next sentence 100%. So this book’s ability to cause a rollercoaster experience is the reason I give it 4 stars. The book has its draw backs as far as the structure goes. Boyd’s writing style is smooth and conversational (being based on a series of sermons he preached at his church in '04), that’s not my gripe. It is one of the most repetitive books I’ve ever come across. Boyd constantly repeats himself, using the same language and illustrations throughout. It doesn’t border on overkill, it is overkill. I suspect this is on purpose though. Boyd is trying to “drive home" a point. Boyd’s central thesis is that “a significant segment of American evangelicalism is guilty of nationalistic and political ideology.” They are guilty because they (attempt to) “fuse the kingdom of God with the kingdom of the world.” These two kingdoms are radically different. But despite that, many American Christians think the “kingdom of God’ is about a particular form of government, political program, outlawing abortion, keeping gays from getting married, keeping “God” on our money and “under God” in the pledge, placing the ten commandments in court houses, and fighting for prayer at Friday night football games. Boyd says this is misguided. Any such fusing is idolatrous and has a negative effect on the message of Christianity. Boyd doesn’t argue that Christians should have no involvement in politics. He doesn’t argue that any particular political issue of the day is right or wrong. He just thinks that “finding the right political path” doesn’t really have “anything to do with advancing the kingdom of God.” Boyd follows the basic insights of such historians of American religion as Marsden, Noll, Yoder &co. Boyd believes that the idea that America was a “Christian nation” is largely founded on myth, anachronisms, misunderstandings, and shallow exegesis of the Founders’ writings. The claims that are marshaled out as the usual suspects that supposedly prove the Founders’ deep and pious commitment to Christianity, are largely nebulous claims about ‘religion’ and ‘morals,’ along with deistic claims about ‘God.’ At times, they make claims explicitly stating they had no intention to found a uniquely “Christian nation.” But, such myths are typically seen as the grounds that underwrite oft repeated claims about “taking America back for God.” Boyd finds something almost inherently evil and sinful in the kingdom of the sword (another name he gives “kingdom of the world”). He claims that Satan rules this kingdom (he lumps all governments under the one rubric “kingdom of the sword/world”) and that it is always seeking to gain “power over” (Anything? Everything?), while the “kingdom of God” is characterized by “power under.” One “wins” according to human tradition and common sense, the other “wins” in ways totally foreign to common assumptions of what “winning” looks like. Here, think something like, “the victory of the cross.” By human standards, a dead messiah hardly looks like a winning messiah. We frequently think our ideas on political issues and interactions with the world are “righteous” because “fallen humans tend to identify their own groups as righteous and any group that opposes them as evil.” Due to our narcissism we think that whatever we think is right, automatically mean that God thinks it’s right. Hence Bush’s claim that we are “rid[ding] the world of this evil.” Of course the rest of the world sees us in highly different terms. A militant (or non) Muslim might get the idea that we are militants if they saw some of our church services where the American flag waves across a big screen, complete with jets doing a fly-by and the congregation singing “God bless America,” all wrapped up with a sermon on how we need to pray for our president and our “boys” who are out “keeping America safe from evil,” all with the providential blessing of God, of course. “Despite our widespread reputation, of course, we evangelical Christians often insist that we are loving; it’s just that the world is so sinful they can’t see it -- or so we tell ourselves.” And so George Bush: “I’m amazed that there’s so much misunderstanding of what our country is about that people would hate us…like most Americans, I just can’t believe it because I know how good we are.” We know what’s best for the world. On top this, Boyd also finds that the church has a terrible history whenever they have been in charge. The early church wasn’t like the Constantinople church. When the church gained political power, terrible and scary results were brought about. Boyd finds the political-Christianity, always just a baptized version of “kingdom of the world” government, have engaged in racism, massacre, witch hunts, hypocrisy, tribalism, marginalizing, and all sorts of other thing incompatible with “the kingdom of God.” He cites Frederick Douglas’s reaction to the expression of “Christianity” he saw in his contemporaries. Thus Douglas: “Between the Christianity of this land, and the Christianity of Christ, I recognized 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. To be the friend of the one, is of necessity to be the enemy of the other. I love the pure, peaceable, and impartial Christianity of Christ: I therefore hate the corrupt, slaveholding, 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. I look upon it as the climax of all misnomers, the boldest of frauds, and the grossest of all libels." All of this Boyd uses as support of his repeated claim that “No one has ever been called a heretic for not being loving enough.” He wonders why? Boyd sees true Christianity as primarily about our actions. Christ is primarily a moral exemplar. And of course this is just a function of his clear Emergent approach to Christianity. Boyd is described on the front cover as an “electrifying preacher.” And he frequently says such cool, relevant things like, “We need to have an outrageous love.” Rather than discuss some of the problems I see in some of what I said above (I did not mean the above as an endorsement of Boyd, though I agree with some of it), I’d like to springboard off Boyd’s last point to discuss what I find is the biggest error in his book. Boyd claims the “kingdom of God” expands by us our “act[ing] like Jesus.” Christianity and the kingdom is not “primarily” about “confessing…magical truths.” God’s kingdom is “manifested and expanded through the faithfulness of his subjects, and so where people choose peace over violence and forgiveness over retaliation, acting in the interest of others rather than out of selfish interest, the kingdom of God is present.” We are to be “Christlike,” even “incarnating ourselves” into the world’s problems. True statements like, “our confidence isn’t to hang on power brokers of human history” is followed by claims that our confidence hangs on our being “committed to walking in the way of Jesus of Nazareth.” We “conquer by … making it our sole task , movement by moment, to manifest the unique righteousness of the kingdom of God.” “The kingdom of God…always looks like Jesus.” “What if we just did the kingdom?” “Doing the kingdom …transforms peoples hearts and therefore transforms society.” We are to love all people “with a Calvary love.” Since Jesus dies “for all people” then we are to “love all people” with “the same Calvary love that drove Jesus to the cross.” We love, we don’t judge. “If you want to judge someone else, you first have to be sinless.” These are all direct quotes from Myth. And it is statements like this that make Boyd’s book dangerous. The subtitle of the book is, “How the Quest for Political Power is Destroying the Church.” But it is Boyd’s teaching that will destroy the church far more efficiently than misguided Christians exhibiting a zeal without knowledge. As should have been self-evident from the above, Boyd is teaching a works-based gospel. Confusing law and gospel. The kingdom expands and people are transformed by what we do, not by what they believe Christ did for them. Boyd critiques that historic understanding via an argument from pejorative: “magical truths.” Our “confidence, again, rests on what we do. We need to “do” the gospel. “Live” the gospel. None of this is good news! It’s quite scary, actually. If our good works and righteousness is how the kingdom advances, then, with a healthy doctrine of sin, I dare say there will be no advancement and there is and will never be a “kingdom of God” here on earth. No one will ever be transformed. The gospel, which is a proclamation of good news about something that was done for us, has been turned upside down. Can there be anything more dangerous to Christianity than a denial of the gospel? I offer some extended criticism here: http://triablogue.blogspot.com/2008/1...

  4. 5 out of 5

    Nancy

    How I wish I could give a copy of this book to every politician, every religious leader, and everyone who believes that, due to their Christianity, it's their job to judge anyone different from them and treat these "others" with disdain, violence, hatred. Few books have moved me as this one has. The author advocates for a realistic view of our nation and its founding, including the dark places glossed over by many who profess Christianity. He advocates further for individuals and congregations t How I wish I could give a copy of this book to every politician, every religious leader, and everyone who believes that, due to their Christianity, it's their job to judge anyone different from them and treat these "others" with disdain, violence, hatred. Few books have moved me as this one has. The author advocates for a realistic view of our nation and its founding, including the dark places glossed over by many who profess Christianity. He advocates further for individuals and congregations to actually live what Jesus taught: radical love, not just for those we like or who are like us, but for all of our fellow travelers on this planet. "Jesus' weapon was not a sword, but a towel." That's my favorite quote from the book. Jesus came as a servant. Jesus didn't hang with the "right" people; he accepted those whom the society of that day considered outcasts. He welcomed them with love, he ate with them, he laughed with them, he walked among them. In our comfortable little lives (and I'm part of the "our") we don't want to go out and get our hands dirty. We plunk a check into a plate "for the poor", and pretend that it is enough, that we have fulfilled our duty. I believe, with the author, that following Jesus requires more - more sacrifice, more willingness, and certainly, more LOVE. When people look at the shambles of what they see as "The Christian Church" in our country, they see something very ugly, self-righteous, violent. I want no part of that, either, as a Christian. I want to have that radical love and humility, that faith that overcomes fear. It looks like a hard undertaking - but I can think of no better.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Steven

    This book is certainly over due. This is a book all Christians in America must read. As Boyd writes Christians in American have become to closely tied to the American government and as a result the church in America has also been tied with the government, which it never should be. America is a nation with Christians, not a Christian nation. Boyd writes about the dangers of the myth Christians live by in believing America is a Christian nation. His argument is sound and his points are well defend This book is certainly over due. This is a book all Christians in America must read. As Boyd writes Christians in American have become to closely tied to the American government and as a result the church in America has also been tied with the government, which it never should be. America is a nation with Christians, not a Christian nation. Boyd writes about the dangers of the myth Christians live by in believing America is a Christian nation. His argument is sound and his points are well defended. He isn't saying America is a "bad" nation, but that this nation has and never will be a nation "under God." He describes the differences of the kingdom of God and the kingdom of the world, and they are extremely different. How the governments of this world rule with the "power over" people, but the kingdom of God rules with the "power under" people. Jesus did not come into this world to be served, but to serve it. Jesus is the example we should be following in everything that we do and think. Boyd also speaks to Christians judging sinners, being moral guardians, and military service. A must read for anyone who believes they are a member of God's kingdom and a citizen of Heaven.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Helen

    An important book for every Christian to read, especially in this day and age. I felt the book was well researched and Biblically based. It gave me hope because so much of what it says confirms how I feel about the separation that Christians should have between their faith and their politics. It also challenged me on other aspects, like serving in the military and the death penalty. I strongly recommend this book to Christians and non Christians alike.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Tom

    A controversial book that argues for a severe distinction between the Kingdom of God and the kingdoms of this world, to the point that the author disputes Christians serving in the military. Whatever side of the "American as Christian nation" question you may fall, Boyd helpfully unpacks five significant harms done by the close association of these kingdoms and passionately and scripturally argues that Christians must trust only in the "power under" demonstrated by Christ and his cross, rejectin A controversial book that argues for a severe distinction between the Kingdom of God and the kingdoms of this world, to the point that the author disputes Christians serving in the military. Whatever side of the "American as Christian nation" question you may fall, Boyd helpfully unpacks five significant harms done by the close association of these kingdoms and passionately and scripturally argues that Christians must trust only in the "power under" demonstrated by Christ and his cross, rejecting the "power over" means of the kingdoms of this world. This is an energetic read and one that will give you pause about your various allegiances and how they interrelate. In the end, I don't find his strict Anabaptist/Pacifist stance to be tenable, for both theological and practical reasons. However, I respect his commitment to living in the Way of Jesus and his admission that, were his family's life in danger, he could not say that he would never resort to violence for their defense. One thing I most appreciated was his lament that when we readily accept the use of violence in "just causes," we fail to experience the love of enemies Jesus commanded (and we too quickly make enemies out of people) and we also greatly diminish our capacity to find creative, non-violent, non-coercive solutions that forge peace, establish justice, or promote Christian values.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Sean

    I liked the idea of Boyd’s book when it was first released about 15 years ago, although at that time I had a much more simplistic view of the issues involved. I never got round to reading it then, but recently I’ve become interested in the historical development of ideas around freedom of conscience and the separation of church and state (and of the influence of Christian principles on those ideas), so I thought I should acquaint myself with the relevant literature. I basically agree with Boyd’s I liked the idea of Boyd’s book when it was first released about 15 years ago, although at that time I had a much more simplistic view of the issues involved. I never got round to reading it then, but recently I’ve become interested in the historical development of ideas around freedom of conscience and the separation of church and state (and of the influence of Christian principles on those ideas), so I thought I should acquaint myself with the relevant literature. I basically agree with Boyd’s premise, and he movingly articulates how the way of Jesus is not of this world. I believe passionately, as Boyd does, that the idea of a Christian state is deeply antithetical to the entire nature of the Gospel. However, in many places I found Boyd to be inarticulate and meandering, resulting in a book which will fail to persuade anyone who doesn’t already agree with him. He rambles a bit and jumps confusingly between very different topics, and he supports his points with vague arguments (i.e., “It’s all about love, man!”) rather than articulating specific principles. Boyd says that if a pastor makes a statement in support of a war, then that pastor is falling victim to a Constantinian mindset. Well, in my opinion, not necessarily – unless that pastor explicitly says that the war should be prosecuted by the church in support of the church’s agenda. If the same pastor were to argue against a nation going to war based on Christian principles, it’s possible that this could also be a problem of a Constantinian mindset. Supporting religious war, or on the other hand, arguing that governments should govern according to the Sermon on the Mount (and have their soldiers turn the other cheek, for example), are flipsides of the same error – namely, an inability to conceptualize separate, appropriate spheres for government and church. It’s not a contradiction for a Christian to believe, for example, that (1) the US government was right to participate in World War 2, and (2) that Christians should not promote war to advance the church’s agenda. It’s not hypocrisy for a Christian to believe simultaneously that (1) he himself should turn the other cheek and seek to change violent people by laying his life down for them and having “power under” them, in Boyd’s words, and (2) that it is also appropriate for governments to utilize police and military forces to protect their citizens from violent people. The only thing required to hold these things in tension is a belief that the government and the church are separate entities. However, Boyd muddles all of those issues, and his lack of precision and nuance really weakens his arguments. His arguments are also colored by his unusual theological beliefs (namely open theism and his beliefs on spiritual warfare), and this also unnecessarily weakens his arguments. I think that a belief in human sin and Satan’s general influence on the world is enough for Christians to have a healthy degree of skepticism about the world and about government. But Boyd goes beyond this and seems to believe that secular government in any form is necessarily under the total control of Satan. I’m as pessimistic about government as anyone in the world, but even I found Boyd’s stance here to be exaggerated. His view will lead to the mistake of Christian disengagement with culture, and it also neglects Scriptural teaching that government is a means of grace, given by God to promote peace and flourishing. In a word, his perspective on government is unbalanced. Overall, I appreciate where Boyd’s heart is, but this isn’t really the powerful manifesto on the separation of church and state that I was hoping for.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Mel Foster

    4.5/5 If you are a pastor in America today, you should read this book. If you are a Christian who is at all interested in how your faith and your citizenship should interact, you should read this book. I happen to fit both categories, and I have nine pages of powerful quotes that I took down to reflect on from its pages. The Myth of a Christian Nation is even more relevant and essential today than it was when Boyd wrote it in 2005. In short, Boyd argues that attempting to meld Church and State is 4.5/5 If you are a pastor in America today, you should read this book. If you are a Christian who is at all interested in how your faith and your citizenship should interact, you should read this book. I happen to fit both categories, and I have nine pages of powerful quotes that I took down to reflect on from its pages. The Myth of a Christian Nation is even more relevant and essential today than it was when Boyd wrote it in 2005. In short, Boyd argues that attempting to meld Church and State is harmful for both institutions. He suggests that the Kingdom of God is meant to operate totally differently from the Kingdom of the World--specifically, without the coercive element. It will be very easy for those who are uncomfortable with Gregory Boyd's arguments to dismiss this book based on a disagreement with Boyd on a particular point. After all, didn't he write in support of Open Theology? Doesn't he quote from some liberal Catholic theologian? What? He dismisses Augustine's just war doctrine with a couple sentences?! Not so fast. Take a look at the main points he is presenting in this book, and ask yourself whether there is BIBLICAL support for what he is saying. I believe that most of the time, the answer is yes. It is always uncomfortable to be confronted with the ways we have culturally accommodated at the expense of our faith. However, it is these uncomfortable messages that most need to be heard. There were things that I myself didn't like about this book. In the mechanics department, I admit that about the 12th time he used the phrase "to the contrary" when he meant "on the contrary" I was ready to take out my red pen. (But I was reading an interlibrary loan book so I refrained.) On more substantive issues, there were things I disagreed with. I find his affirmation of the expansion of state hate speech laws unsettling, as well as inconsistent with the overall theme of the book that coercion doesn't change hearts, only behavior. A few times I thought he was employing hyperbole to disadvantage, such as when he suggested that the presence of Christian slogans and mottoes on coins and in the pledge couldn't possible bring anyone to a meaningful faith. Why spoil a good point with overstatement? That being said, there's just too much good content here to dismiss it. I'm a big fan of C.S. Lewis, but a few things he said I disagree with. I love Martin Luther, but there are a number of things he said that I disagree with. And this book is not inerrant scripture, but it is just the thing that the American church needs today to return from its focus on nationalism, militarism, and coercion to the calling and culture that Jesus outlined for his Church in the New Testament. Thank you Gregory Boyd for having the courage to say it.

  10. 5 out of 5

    David

    Boyd attacks the idea that to be a Christian is to be affiliated with a specific political party. He shows that a Christian's commitment is to the kingdom of God, not the kingdom of the world. So much wrong happens when people assume that a specific kingdom of the world (America for example), is favored by God. He spends a lot of time going through the damage that has been done by equating a earthly nation with God's kingdom, specifically the damage done by assuming America is a Christian nation Boyd attacks the idea that to be a Christian is to be affiliated with a specific political party. He shows that a Christian's commitment is to the kingdom of God, not the kingdom of the world. So much wrong happens when people assume that a specific kingdom of the world (America for example), is favored by God. He spends a lot of time going through the damage that has been done by equating a earthly nation with God's kingdom, specifically the damage done by assuming America is a Christian nation. There is no such thing as a Christian nation. This book gets right to the point, is very easy to read, and is challenging. I recommend it to any Christian, but especially to those fed up with the constant political rhetoric coming from many churches.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Joe

    Far and away the most concise, level-headed, and logical argument for the separation of church and state I have ever read. Gregory Boyd takes aim at the idolatry of nationalism and how it has crippled the Church's ability to an effective witness to the culture and the world. The quest for politic power and justification for violence against America's enemies has long been a blind spot in the ethics of Christianity since it became Rome's official religion in 312 A.D. The Myth of a Christian Nation Far and away the most concise, level-headed, and logical argument for the separation of church and state I have ever read. Gregory Boyd takes aim at the idolatry of nationalism and how it has crippled the Church's ability to an effective witness to the culture and the world. The quest for politic power and justification for violence against America's enemies has long been a blind spot in the ethics of Christianity since it became Rome's official religion in 312 A.D. The Myth of a Christian Nation excels at its systematic takedown of the nationalistic jargon associated with mainstream evangelical Christianity like "We need to take the country back for God!" Walking through the history of the United States, Boyd shows that at no point was the U.S. ever a "Christian Nation" and that much of our romantic views of an idealized past are nothing short of white-washed mythology. He also shows how using faith to justify being the "morality police" only results in a more alienated and disillusioned culture that harms both the church and the culture. However, this is not a book bashing Christianity. Boyd is merely pointing out the gaps of logic and inconsistencies many Christians fall into when they confuse being a good Christ follower with being a good American citizen. He answers so many questions (like "Should Christian be a part of the military?" and "What about self defense?") that this book should be an inexhaustible resource for those late-night conversations fueled by practical theological application and a couple of beers. Nearly every page of my copy has multiple passages highlighted. Packed full of Biblical references and verse annotations, I cannot recommend this book enough - for Christians and nonChristians, alike. This book may leave you angry, conflicted, convicted, or encouraged, but it definitely won't leave you unchallenged. This book seriously has the potential to change the way you see the world and your faith.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Will Dezern

    The Kingdom of God always looks like Jesus, and the clearest picture we have of Jesus is the cross. This may seem like pretty basic Biblical ethics, but when we look at our politics through this lens, we see that the quest for political power by the Christian community is destined to fail. Boyd breaks down his argument in several key ideas, but the basic premise is that the Kingdom of the world (the government, in this book usually specifically the US government) uses “power over” to coercively en The Kingdom of God always looks like Jesus, and the clearest picture we have of Jesus is the cross. This may seem like pretty basic Biblical ethics, but when we look at our politics through this lens, we see that the quest for political power by the Christian community is destined to fail. Boyd breaks down his argument in several key ideas, but the basic premise is that the Kingdom of the world (the government, in this book usually specifically the US government) uses “power over” to coercively enforce order and law, even laws we would consider “good”. This system of governing, while ultimately legitimized by God to maintain order, is not ideal and is in fact diametrically opposed to the “power under” system of self-sacrificial love displayed by Jesus which is to be replicated by Christians. A running theme is that this love doesn’t always look effective, it may look ridiculous even. How can we be so irresponsible to not exercise political power to enforce justice? How can Christians stand by and allow *insert political issue* to continue and not vote evil out of existence? Boyd counters by pointing out that Jesus could have used political force to control the Roman government and called legions of angels to destroy his political enemies. In fact, this was one of the temptations offered by Satan, who holds dominion over the governments of the world. No, instead Jesus did something that looked ridiculous and ineffective: he allowed the government to murder him in the ultimate act of love. Self-sacrifice is the focus, and while politics are not incompatible with Christianity (things can be “good”, like democracy, and not specifically ordained by God), our Kingdom and its way of solving problems is very different from the worlds. We are not limited to the nuanced and coercive political game set before us by party politics. Overall this book challenged me to rethink the questions I want to answer. Our Kingdom does not play by the same rules, and Boyd shows through countless examples the power of self-sacrifice and service to those around us. Highly recommend!

  13. 5 out of 5

    Bethany Dufilho

    I wish I would have read this back in 2004 when it came out. I think it was certainly ahead of its time in calling out nationalistic & political idolatry in the American evangelical church. Followers of Christ are to display their beliefs through radical love, not power and legislation. He does several times make the case that Christians can and do support different sides of the political spectrum but we should be careful to never believe that our side is the “Christian” side. The one issue I ta I wish I would have read this back in 2004 when it came out. I think it was certainly ahead of its time in calling out nationalistic & political idolatry in the American evangelical church. Followers of Christ are to display their beliefs through radical love, not power and legislation. He does several times make the case that Christians can and do support different sides of the political spectrum but we should be careful to never believe that our side is the “Christian” side. The one issue I take however is that you could potentially interpret from this book that Christians need not involve themselves at all in politics and should influence the world on an individual “heart change” basis and through prayer only. I do think considering these issues with humility is always important but lately in the climate of 2020 I also have come to see how voting and government, while it may not influence my suburban privileged lifestyle in any major way, impact so many people living on the edges of society. One way I can live out my faith is by staying informed and supporting governmental policy that supports structural change for the poor and disenfranchised. This is a way of loving my neighbor- “institutional neighborliness” as I’ve heard it phrased before. I’m curious if the author has changed any of these views since 2004 and I do think it was a fascinating read- good for anyone involved in evangelical churches lately.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Garrett Marshall

    This book is, I think, an very important read for Christians today. The problems addressed in this book have, unfortunately, only gotten worse. Boyd does an excellent job of diagnosing Christians "politics problem" and gives a well thought out solution. While he does not ban Christian political involvement entirely, he does put it in perspective and makes the oft overlooked point, that the New Testament does not really consider Christians as political people, and advocating Christian values thro This book is, I think, an very important read for Christians today. The problems addressed in this book have, unfortunately, only gotten worse. Boyd does an excellent job of diagnosing Christians "politics problem" and gives a well thought out solution. While he does not ban Christian political involvement entirely, he does put it in perspective and makes the oft overlooked point, that the New Testament does not really consider Christians as political people, and advocating Christian values through the government is never talked about as a good option for achieving Christ-Like behaviors, especially from non-believers. The last part of the book was probably the only part he did not really sell me on, which was okay, as I think he was primarily just sharing his opinion on controversial political topics.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Lavon Herschberger

    This was a sensitive topic when Boyd published this book in the wake of 9/11 and the heat of the Iraq War. The topic was no less tense while Jesus Saves banners waved in front of a breached Capitol building last month. Logical, courageous, and supported by Jesus' teachings, Boyd presents a clear argument for what it means for Christ followers to live in a country of this world, but not subscribe to this world's ways of handling problems. Jesus advocated not "power over", but "power under", Boyd This was a sensitive topic when Boyd published this book in the wake of 9/11 and the heat of the Iraq War. The topic was no less tense while Jesus Saves banners waved in front of a breached Capitol building last month. Logical, courageous, and supported by Jesus' teachings, Boyd presents a clear argument for what it means for Christ followers to live in a country of this world, but not subscribe to this world's ways of handling problems. Jesus advocated not "power over", but "power under", Boyd likes to say. This is not at all intended to be a history book; he only briefly mentions examples of America not being "Christian" in the past. I'm sure you can find many such records of atrocities America has committed while being "Christian", but that is beside the point. Nations clearly can't be following the Sermon on the Mount while wielding violent power over others. I felt that the author did well presenting his case against "Christian Nationalism" and whatever you want to call the belief that Christians should try to fix the world’s problems through politics. He did it in a kind way, and an understandable way. If you should approach this with humility, you may be forced to dismantle your entire way of thinking about a Christian's role in society.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Geoffrey Harris

    I would have given it 4.5 stars if I could have, but 5 was more warranted than 4. While I don't believe that Dr. Boyd and I share the same political philosophy, I do think that his principles are sound and Christ-like. This is a very sensitive issue, but needs to be addressed in the Church. I appreciate Dr. Boyd's courage to share this message in this day and age. I know that when he first delivered this series of sermons to his congregation, nearly 1000 people left his congregation, which eithe I would have given it 4.5 stars if I could have, but 5 was more warranted than 4. While I don't believe that Dr. Boyd and I share the same political philosophy, I do think that his principles are sound and Christ-like. This is a very sensitive issue, but needs to be addressed in the Church. I appreciate Dr. Boyd's courage to share this message in this day and age. I know that when he first delivered this series of sermons to his congregation, nearly 1000 people left his congregation, which either highlights that he is dead wrong, or that he might be on to something. I'm inclined to think that latter is more accurate. His love of God and detection to loving others is central to his approach. I appreciate his honesty and his sensitivity to his own fallen humanity when applying the principles he draws from the scriptures to his life. I expect to read everything else he has written. I think at least a quarter of the book is underlined. If anyone of my friends of family would like to read it, I will happily buy a copy for you.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Jeremy A

    I am hardly objective since I attend Boyd's church. This was a great read and the sermon series it was based on articulated many thoughts I have been wrestling with over the past 3-4 years. Boyd offers a dynamic vision of the "kingdom of god" that calls believers to emulate Christ's self-sacrificial love and service to society rather than attempting to police it morally by seeking and wielding political power. Boyd brilliantly deconstructs the myth, still believed by way too many in this country I am hardly objective since I attend Boyd's church. This was a great read and the sermon series it was based on articulated many thoughts I have been wrestling with over the past 3-4 years. Boyd offers a dynamic vision of the "kingdom of god" that calls believers to emulate Christ's self-sacrificial love and service to society rather than attempting to police it morally by seeking and wielding political power. Boyd brilliantly deconstructs the myth, still believed by way too many in this country, that the U.S., or any nation-state can ever be "Christian".

  18. 5 out of 5

    Callie

    I have a headache and don't feel like writing a review, so I'll keep it short. This book is absolutely amazing. For me, I'd say it's life-changing. This book points out what a mistake it is to mix true Christianity up with politics. There were points in the book that were a bit repetitive, but the message was so incredible. Why haven't I heard these things before? No matter how good any govt. may be, it is no substitute for the kingdom of Heaven. Ugh, I can't do this book justice right now. Read I have a headache and don't feel like writing a review, so I'll keep it short. This book is absolutely amazing. For me, I'd say it's life-changing. This book points out what a mistake it is to mix true Christianity up with politics. There were points in the book that were a bit repetitive, but the message was so incredible. Why haven't I heard these things before? No matter how good any govt. may be, it is no substitute for the kingdom of Heaven. Ugh, I can't do this book justice right now. Read it.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Jeff Borgman

    Boyd tackles one of the major dominant and still emerging obstacles to Christian faith in the US which is nationalism and more precisely the power-over authority of the "principalities and powers." This book is a must read for opening up thoughts and dialogue about what it is to be a part of God's kingdom and how that differs from the world at-large. Be careful, this book is revolutionary! Boyd tackles one of the major dominant and still emerging obstacles to Christian faith in the US which is nationalism and more precisely the power-over authority of the "principalities and powers." This book is a must read for opening up thoughts and dialogue about what it is to be a part of God's kingdom and how that differs from the world at-large. Be careful, this book is revolutionary!

  20. 5 out of 5

    Douglas Wilson

    pretty confused, actually

  21. 5 out of 5

    ***Dave Hill

    (Original review Jan 2007) Overall 4/5 Writing 4/5 Re-Readability 4/5 Info 4/5 Gregory Boyd is a theologian and pastor of a large Protestant congregation in Minnesota. Disturbed by what he saw as increasing identification between the evangelical Christian church and the political right wing, he started in 2004 a series of sermons on “the cross and the sword,” arguing that such close ties were not only harmful to the church, but were against the message of Jesus. The result was a serious diminution (Original review Jan 2007) Overall 4/5 Writing 4/5 Re-Readability 4/5 Info 4/5 Gregory Boyd is a theologian and pastor of a large Protestant congregation in Minnesota. Disturbed by what he saw as increasing identification between the evangelical Christian church and the political right wing, he started in 2004 a series of sermons on “the cross and the sword,” arguing that such close ties were not only harmful to the church, but were against the message of Jesus. The result was a serious diminution of his congregation — but its strengthening and rebound, in numbers, since. And, of course,this book. "Myth of a Christian Nation" is written by a Christian, primarily for Christians (though it has much of value to say for non-Christians, too). It is steeped in both citations from the Bible and in evangelical theology and terminology. It answers those who think that’s all Christianity’s about is taking over the reins of government, via the Religious Right, and turning the US into a theocracy (speaking both to those who would seek such an occurrence and those who fear it). Boyd’s thesis (and language) are actually pretty simple, and compelling, and are summed up in both the subtitle (“How the Quest for Political Power is Destroying the Church”) and in these points: 1. Jesus eschewed “power-over” means of controlling humanity (the power of the sword), teaching instead “power-under” service to fellow men (the power of the cross). Indeed, he explicitly rejected such “power-over” kingship during his testing in the desert. Following Jesus must mean following a similar course. 2. A civil government — including that of the US — may be a worldly good, promoting justice and peace and freedom at it’s best, but that’s not what Jesus’ message is about, or where salvation comes from, or what we, as Christians, are called to worship. A government cannot, by nature, be Christian; at most, it can appear to be “Christian,” which then causes confusion as to what the term actually means. 3. Historically, whenever churches or religions have gained a “power-over” relationship to the people — in Christianity’s case, after Constantine’s conversion — it has led to a corruption of both church and state, bringing about the compromise and destruction of the true message of Jesus. The book is a fairly fast read, decently organized (if sometimes a bit repetitive and overly-reliant on evangelical buzz terms). Though supportive of the evangelical ideal (as he defines it, though I concur with his definition), it is merciless in its pointing out the beams in the eyes of evangelicals, Christians (past and present), American Christians, and those who confused public morality with following Jesus, and who think the best way to promote the former is to force the latter. It does this not to indict their intentions, or religion in general, but to show how conflating personal salvation with world domination is an impossible combination. It’s well worth reading, wherever one is on the political or (ir)religious spectrum. I plan (aside from loans) to keep my copy handy, as a reference. Some (extensive, I realize) quotes of interest below the fold: On how nations can be identified with the Kingdom of God: Not everything about the kingdom of the world is bad. Insofar as versions of the kingdom of the world use their power of the sword to preserver and promote law, order, and justice, they are good. But the kingdom of the world, by definition, can never be the kingdom of God. It doesn’t matter that we judge it good because it stands for the principles we deem important — “liberty and justice for all,” for example. No version of the kingdom of the world, however comparatively good it may be, can protect its self-interests while loving its enemies, turning the other cheek, going the extra mile, or blessing those who persecute it. Yet [that] is precisely what kingdom-of-God citizens are called to do. It’s what it means to be Christian. By definition, therefore, you can no more have a Christian worldly government than you can have a Christian petunia or aardvark. A nation may have noble ideals and be committed to just principles, but it’s not for this reason Christian. The all-important distinction between the kingdom of God and the kingdom of the world entails that a kingdom-of-God citizen must take care never to align any particular version of the kingdom of the world with the kingdom of God. We may firmly believe one version to be better than another, but we must not conclude that this better version is therefore closer to the kingdom of God than the worse version. [...] To be sure, a version of the kingdom of the world that effectively carries out law, order, and justice is indeed closer to God’s will for the kingdom of the world. Decent, moral people should certainly encourage this as much as possible, whatever their religious faith might be. But no version of the kingdom of the world is closer to the kingdom of God than others because it does its job relatively well. For God’s kingdom looks like Jesus, and no amount of sword-wielding, however just it might be, can ever get a person, government, nation, or world closer to that. The kingdom of God is not an ideal version of the kingdom of the world; it’s not something that any version of the kingdom of the world can aspire toward or be measured against. The kingdom of God is a completely distinct, alternative way of doing life. [pp. 54-55] On the history of the church in power: Tragically, the history of the church has been largely a history of believers refusing to trust the way of the crucified Nazarene and instead giving in to the very temptation he resisted. It’s the history of an institution that has frequently traded its holy mission for what it thought was a good mission. It is the history of an organization that has frequently forsaken the slow, discrete, nonviolent, sacrificial way of transforming the world for the immediate, obvious, practical, and less costly way of improving the world. It is a history of a people who too often identified the kingdom of God with a “Christian” version of the kingdom of the world. [p. 75] But even within the borders of America, the mindset is alive and well. When Jerry Falwell, reflecting a widespread sentiment among conservative Christians, says America should hunt terrorists down and “blow them all away in the name of the Lord” (emphasis added), he is expressing the Constantinian mindset. When Pat Robertson declares that the United States should assassinate President Chavez of Venezuela, he also is expressing the Constantinian mindset. And when Christians try to enforce their holy will on select groups of sinners by power of law, they are essentially doing the same thing, even if the violent means of enforcing their will is no longer available to them. [p. 80] This tragic history has to be considered one of Satan’s greatest victories, and the demonic ironies abound. In the name of the one who taught us not to lord over others but rather to serve them (Matt. 20:25-28), the church often lorded over others with a vengeance as ruthless as any version of the kingdom of the world ever has. In the name of the one who taught us to turn the other cheek, the church often cut off people’s heads. In the name of the one who taught us to love our enemies, the church often burned its enemies alive. In the name of the one who taught us to bless those who persecute us, the church often became a ruthless persecutor. In the name of the one who taught us to take up the cross, the church often took up the sword and nailed others to the cross. Hence, in the name of winning the world for Jesus Christ, the church often became the main obstacle to believing in Jesus Christ. [p. 81] On what Jesus’ message is, and how the church (especially when in authority) has missed the point: Love is patient and kind (1 Cor. 13:4); enslaving and torturing people is neither. Love is never rude (1 Cor. 13:5); burning people alive is. Love does not insist on its own way and is not irritable or resentful when others disagree (1 Cor. 13:5); compelling people to agree with you by using force is the direct antithesis. Love doesn’t rejoice in wrongdoing (1 Cor. 13:6), even if (especially if) those rejoicing credit God, who supposedly gave them the power to do it. Love bears all things while believing the best in others and hoping the best for others (1 Cor. 13:7); imprisoning, enslaving, and killing others in the name of your religious views is not bearing their burdens, believing the best about them, or hoping the best for them. It’s that simple. Given how obvious this is, one wonders how it was so often missed and why it is yet so often missed today. One wonders why no one in church history has ever been considered a heretic for being unloving. People were anathematized and often tortured or killed for disagreeing on matters of doctrine or on the authority of the church. Yet no one on record has ever been so much as rebuked for not loving as Christ loved. [p. 83] On bewaring what one wishes for: Can you find any region where Christians once ruled where the church has prospered in the long run? Scan the whole of Europe: England, Sweden, Denmark, and so on. Could anyone dispute that these countries are today on the whole more secular and less open to the gospel than regions that have had little or not contact with the gospel? [...] It teaches us that whenever Christians have gotten what so many American evangelicals today are trying to get — namely, the power to enforce their righteous will on others — it eventually harms the church as well as the culture. The lesson of history, a lesson the Devil has known all along, is this: The best way to defeat the kingdom of God is to empower the church to rule the kingdom of the world — for then it becomes the kingdom of the world! The best way to get people to lay down the cross is to hand them the sword! While this conclusion may seem paradoxical to the Constantinian kingdom-of-the-world mindset, it makes perfect sense within a kingdom-of-God mindset. For the kingdom of God is not about coercive “power over,” but influential “power under.” Its essence is found in the power to transform lives from the inside out through love and service. When kingdom-of-God citizens aspire to acquire Caesar’s authority to accomplish “the good,” we sell our kingdom birthright for a bowl of worldly porridge (Gen. 25:29-34). To the extent that we pick up the sword, we put down the cross. When our goal as kingdom people becomes centered on effectively running a better (let alone Christian) version of the kingdom of the world, we compromise to be faithful to the kingdom of God. [pp. 94-95] The ultimate danger of conflating “public morality” (civil religion) and actual religious faith. When we fail to distinguish between the quasi-Christian civil religion of America and the kingdom of God, two things happen. First, American kingdom people lose their missionary zeal. Because we buy the myth that we live in a Christian nation, as defined by the civil religion, we don’t live with the same missionary zeal we’d have if we lived, say, in a country where Buddhism or Hinduism was the civil religion. This is why American Christians so often define “missions” as sending people to other countries — as though there was more missionary work to do there than here. I believe this sentiment is rooted in an illusion. if you peel back the facade of the civil religion, you find that America is about as pagan as any country we could ever send missionaries to. Despite what a majority of Americans say when asked by pollsters, we are arguably no less self-centered, unethical, or prone toward violence than most other cultures. We generally look no more like Jesus, dying on a cross out of love for the people who crucified him, than people in other cultures. The fact that we have a quasi-Christian civil religion doesn’t help; if anything, it hurts precisely because it creates the illusion that we are closer to the example of Jesus than we actually are (cf. Matt. 21:31). [...] A second thing that happens [...] is that we end up wasting precious time and resources defending and tweaking the civil religion — as though doing so had some kingdom value. We strive to keep prayer in schools, fight for the right to have public prayer before football games, lobby to preserve the phrases “under God” in our Pledge of Allegiance and “in God we trust” on our coins, battle to hold the traditional civil meaning of marriage, and things of that sort — as though winning these fights somehow brings America closer to the kingdom of God. [...] Now, you may or may not agree that preserving the civil religion in this way is good for the culture. Vote your conscience. But can we rally believe that tweaking civil religion in these ways actually brings people closer to the kingdom of God, that it helps them become more like Jesus? For example, does anyone really think that allowing for a prayer before social functions is going to help students become kingdom people? Might not such prayer — and the political efforts to defend such prayer — actually be harmful to the kingdom inasmuch as it reinforces the shallow civil religious mindset that sees prayer primarily as a perfunctory religious activity? Might it not be better to teach our kids that true kingdom prayer has nothing to do with perfunctory social functions, that true kingdom prayer cannot be demanded or retracted by social laws, and that their job as kingdom warriors is to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thess. 5:17) whether the law allows for it to be publicly expressed or not? [pp. 113-115] There’s a lot more, and even though I find some of his language choice to be irritating (I’m not much into the “kingdom people” rhetoric), I find his arguments well made … even when they lead to some uncomfortable places (the idea of Christian pacifism, for example). I don’t do the work justice here, even with these long excerpts. Borrow (or even buy) the book. And loan it to a friend, evangelical or not. It should demonstrate to Christians that they don’t have to make the Bible into the law of the land in order to bring about God’s kingdom — and it should demonstrate to non-Christians that followers of Jesus are not necessarily all about creating a theocracy and burning them at the stake.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Andrew Kern

    First off, I liked the book. It is what modern Christians sorely need—a reminder of the stark difference between Christ's kingdom and earthly kingdoms. Unfortunately, it came off a bit partisan. The author seems to come from the political left. While he did not explicitly advocate that Christians should support things like gov't welfare and business regulation, he didn't condemn them either. On the other hand, he made a point to condemn all the major policies that right-wing Christians typically First off, I liked the book. It is what modern Christians sorely need—a reminder of the stark difference between Christ's kingdom and earthly kingdoms. Unfortunately, it came off a bit partisan. The author seems to come from the political left. While he did not explicitly advocate that Christians should support things like gov't welfare and business regulation, he didn't condemn them either. On the other hand, he made a point to condemn all the major policies that right-wing Christians typically support. It would have been nice for him to touch on how Christians should prefer mutual aid and voluntary collaboration over their political alternatives, alongside his critiques of the Christian right. Christ after all, sacrificed his own time and resources, He didn't petition Caesar to take them. The author could also have gone further in his views on participation in politics, I think. While I was impressed with his forthrightness in arguing that Christians should not be soldiers, the logic could easily have been extended to the government in general.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Emily Parsons

    I think this is a really important book. As someone who’s always felt uncomfortable with a lot of Christian-Nationalistic rhetoric and sentiment, I found this book put into words and expanded the convictions I’ve always held. It’s amazing how many people can get sucked into the kingdom of the world thinking and forget what Jesus actually did and said. This is a great reminder for me to focus my attention on Jesus, to love and serve those he is calling me to love and serve, and not get mad at tho I think this is a really important book. As someone who’s always felt uncomfortable with a lot of Christian-Nationalistic rhetoric and sentiment, I found this book put into words and expanded the convictions I’ve always held. It’s amazing how many people can get sucked into the kingdom of the world thinking and forget what Jesus actually did and said. This is a great reminder for me to focus my attention on Jesus, to love and serve those he is calling me to love and serve, and not get mad at those I see stuck in kingdom of the world thinking, but to show them God’s kingdom. Well written and a simple explanation of complex ideas.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Matthew Richey

    I appreciated this; much of where I see my current train of thought taking me is articulated in this book though I did not agree with everything. I do think Boyd greatly oversimplifies some issues (primarily historical) where it is to his advantage to do so. I partly read this book (I already had it but hadn't read it) to evaluate whether to read his recent work, "The Crucifixion of the Warrior God," I likely will at some point this summer. I appreciated this; much of where I see my current train of thought taking me is articulated in this book though I did not agree with everything. I do think Boyd greatly oversimplifies some issues (primarily historical) where it is to his advantage to do so. I partly read this book (I already had it but hadn't read it) to evaluate whether to read his recent work, "The Crucifixion of the Warrior God," I likely will at some point this summer.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Sam

    This book is a scathing, prophetic rebuke of American nationalistic, political idolatry. The kind that would get some pastors who exposed it run out of their church. The author does a great history lesson on Constantine and “Christendom” and a history of America that clearly shows that America is not “Christian” in any sense of being like Christ or exhibiting the sacrificial love and theology of Christ’s kingdom. Read it if you want your mind and heart to be changed by God. It is controversial, This book is a scathing, prophetic rebuke of American nationalistic, political idolatry. The kind that would get some pastors who exposed it run out of their church. The author does a great history lesson on Constantine and “Christendom” and a history of America that clearly shows that America is not “Christian” in any sense of being like Christ or exhibiting the sacrificial love and theology of Christ’s kingdom. Read it if you want your mind and heart to be changed by God. It is controversial, but solidly biblical! Central thesis: I believe a significant segment of American evangelicalism is guilty of nationalistic and political idolatry. To a frightful degree, I think they fuse the kingdom of God with the preferred version of the kingdom of the world. Rather than focusing on Jesus, many of us Americans have allowed our understanding of God’s kingdom to be polluted with political ideals, issues, and agendas. (Fighting to take america back for God, outlawing abortion, voting for the Christian candidate, winning the culture war, defending political freedom at home, keeping the phrase “in God we trust” or the 10 commandments in government buildings, or prayer in public schools. It’s not a matter of wrong or right, or that Christians shouldn’t be involved in politics, but that it doesn’t advance the kingdom of God. This myth harms the Church’s primary mission. For many in America and around the world, the American flag has smothered the glory of the cross, and the ugliness of our American version of Caesar has squelched the radiant love of Christ. Many hear the good news of Jesus (by association with a “Christian” America) as captitalistic, imperialistic, exploitive, anti-gay, Republican news. The whole world lies under the power of the evil one. The kingdoms of the world are under demonic rule, in the process of being delivered over to Jesus (Rev. 11:15). Babylon, violent world empire that opposes God. We believe in our nation over against their nation, (religion, culture, political ideology, etc). Insofar as we are influenced by the kingdom of the world we express these passions as attempting to express power over others, if their religion, culture, political ideology conflicts with our own. Violence is the inevitable result. These have a demonic expression to them. That is, they don’t express peace and justice. The true cause of violence is that our fallen hearts are idolatrous and subject to the fallen powers that influence us. So long as people locate their worth, significance, identity, security, in their power, possessions, traditions, reputations, religious behaviors, tribes, and nation, rather than in a relationship with their creator, Babylon’s bloody tit for tat game is inevitable. As long as people are about self-interest over against others, violence is inevitable. One of Jesus’ misguided disciples was rebuked when he tried to fight like kingdom of world (Malchus ear was cut off), and Jesus healed it, showing that his kingdom would advance not by destroying the enemy who seeks to destroy you, but by loving, serving, and hopefully transforming the enemy. This is the heart of the kingdom of God. The rule of God is established wherever God’s will is obeyed, his character is manifested. (God’s character, name, glory be manifested IS God’s will) His character is His unsurpassable love. This looks like Calvary. The character and rule of God is manifested, when Jesus loves his enemies in order to redeem them. Rather than protecting his self, he allows himself to be murdered, put in the place of sinners. What if we we took Paul’s teaching seriously? What if the ultimate criteria for success in churches was the question, Are we loving as Jesus loved? We are only carrying out God’s will and expanding the kingdom if we answer that question affirmatively. A contrast of aims: kingdom of world seeks to control behavior, while Kingdom of God seeks to transform lives from inside out, KOW in preserving/advancing one’s own will or interests, while KOG is God’s will, even if sacrificing one’s interests, we must die to self. KOW: tribal, advancing one’s people group, nation, religion, ideologies, agendas, KOG: universal, loving as God loves, living to replicate Christ’s love to all people, all times, all places without condition. Contrast of response: KOW: tit for tat, eye for eye tooth for tooth, carrying the sword; KOG: we carry the cross, are not to return evil for evil, violence for violence; loving praying for our enemies, responding to evil with good, exposes the evil, and opening up the possibility that our enemy will be transformed, seeking their wellbeing. Contrast of battles: KOW: earthly enemies, demonizing others (liberal/conservative) KOG: warfare is against rulers, authorities, cosmic powers of present darkness, spiritual forces of evil; The ultimate hope in the world lies not in human, kingdom of the world wisdom, but in the advancement of God’s kingdom and the return of Jesus Christ the King. Even the best parts of the kingdom of the world are a problem, fallen people trust power over coercion rather than power under love. We tend to preserve and promote our self-interests. Most Jews longed for a political Messiah, restoring Israel to its glory days. (Spectrum: e.g. Zealots, take Israel back for God, conservatives: cooperate with Rome) Jesus never took the bait. He always found a way to take the discussion to a deeper level (the kingdom of God). e.g. Should Jews pay taxes? This suggests the church has been coopted by the world, we’ve abandoned our mission. We’ve allowed the world to define us, set our agenda, and define the terms of our engagement with it. We have not sought wisdom from above (Ja. 3:17). Rom. 8:29. We must allow the kingdom to grow in us and through us, repent from our idolatrous allegiances, and submit to God’s rule, the kingdom gets planted in our innermost being. From there, as the Spirit teaches us to yield, the Kingdom takes over our hearts, minds, and finally our behavior, as we learn to think, feel, act under God’s rule, we learn how to get our worth, significant, security from Christ alone, freed from our addiction trying to get these for ourselves, walk in freedom from violence, self-centeredness, materialism, nationalism, racism, and all other false ways of getting life. We die to our old self and put on our new self (Eph. 4:22-24) we learn how to be loved an love God ourselves, our neighbor, our enemies, animal kingdom, earth under our care. We grow in Christlikeness, conduits of the kingdom, increasingly manifesting Christ’s love. In time, it is planted in others and this process take places in others. This is the mustard seed in the garden. This is how demonic powers are defeated. What is true in principle, becomes fact. To the degree that a person looks like Jesus they can be said to manifest/demonstrate the kingdom of God. Since we are called to imitate Jesus in all we do in the kingdom, we have to ask, When did Jesus ever act or talk like this? (taking a nation back for God) In contrast, most of Jesus’ contemporaries wanted to take Israel back for God. Did Jesus ever suggest by word or example that we should aspire to acquire or take over the power of Caesar? Did Jesus spend time worrying about the rights of his religious followers would be protected? We must never confuse the positive things that America does with the KOG. To promote law, order and justice is good, and we should do all we can to support this. But to love enemies, forgive persecutors, serve sinners, accept social rejects, abolish racist walls, share resources with poor, suffer with the oppressed, bear burdens with neighbors, all while making no claim to promote one’s self, THIS is beautiful. This is Christlike. This is distinct KOG activity. Our thinking has been coopted by the world. Again, the only way the world can be won for Jesus Christ is by people being transformed from the inside out by the power of Christ’s love expressed through the sacrificial Calvary quality service of his followers. This is what wins the world. Whenever politicians and people use spiritual language (light/darkness, etc) it can be used for kingdom of world purposes: religious rhetoric around a military cause. When we associate Jesus with America, we legitimize the widespread global perception that the Christian faith can be judged on the basis on what America has done in the past, or continues to do in the present. Global missions have been harmed by American nationalism. We must seek first the kingdom, it hasn’t been our top priority. We have taken on a Constantinian Christianity. We have placed our worldly citizenship before our heavenly citizenship, and allowed the flag to smother the cross. The fact that we have a quasi-Christian civil religion doesn’t help. It hurts because it creates the allusion that we are closer to the example of Christ than we actually are (Matthew 21:31). The Kingdom of God always looks like Jesus. when people who are serious about their Christian faith buy into the myth that America is a Christian nation, they can easily conclude that it is their job to keep America as Christian as possible. If not restore America back to its supposed Christian heritage. They become moral guardians of society. Why are evangelicals obsessed with cracking down on homosexuality? Probably because the loss of a traditional marriage is symbolic of a loss, that our quasi-Christian civil religion is on the wane. Undoubtedly, fallen humans have tended to fuse religious and nationalistic interests. We want to believe that God is on our side, protects our interests, and ensures our victories. Various NT authors speak about freedom from sin, fear, and the devil, but show no interests in political freedom. Until recently, political freedom wasn’t a value espoused by the church! To the contrary, most Christians understood that people cannot govern themselves, especially from the Enlightenment period on. Yet now, suddenly, it’s a Christian value! Our approach will be more like Paul’s (missional to cultures) if we can see the disparity between “one nation under God” and the kingdom of God. People who are merely shaped by the civil religion of America are no closer to the kingdom of God than the civil religion of Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam. It’s a civil religious veneer of the culture. View things from an eternal perspective. Living in love is more important than life itself. Having made Jesus her example on a moment by moment basis, her values would not be defined by cultural expediency, but cultivated a trust in God that would free her from defining winning and losing in terms of temporal outcomes. She’d have confidence in the resurrection. (Regarding a man’s family being attacked) It seems to me that a person totally conformed to Jesus Christ with a kingdom mind and heart would choose non-violence, at the same time, I confess that my disagreement with Jesus is probably because I haven’t cultivated the kingdom mindset. I could only plead for God’s mercy, but let us not rationalize away God’s kingdom prescriptions. What about Christians in the military? Modern Americans tend to view personal and political freedom as helpful criteria for whether a war is just. We kill and die for our freedom and the freedom of others. Why should a kingdom person think killing is a legitimate exception to the command to love and bless enemies? Can they be certain God holds this opinion? (Author anti-just war theory of Augustine) To the extent that the Church has promoted the sword for the promotion of the selfish, political, and national interests, we can repent and say, That’s not the kingdom of God. There is nothing beautiful about war, no matter the outcome. It is not true that if we turned the other cheek, that blacks would still be enslaved and the world would be under nah rule. To the contrary, it was mostly nominal Christians that enslaved the blacks and supported Nazis. If we had remotely been like Christ in the first place, there would have been no slavery or war for us to wonder about, had Christians loved their enemies. Principle: The thing that creates the need for violence ensures that there will be more violence. There is no need to worry that people will “love each other too much”. Kingdom people will not succumb to fear. Fear is an indicator that our worth and security is rooted in what they threaten. Fear shows that we are living in idolatry, not love. Let’s suppose that Bibles are outlawed, eventually in America, Christianity becomes illegal, should we be afraid of this and rise up to protect ourselves from this slippery slope? Where do we find Jesus ever worrying about such thing? When did Jesus ever concern himself about protecting his rights or rights of the community he founded? Didn’t he teach the opposite? He had all the power, and every right to use it, and yet let himself be crucified: for love! We expand and manifest Christ’s rule in this act. Instead of fearing persecution, God we trust will use it for furthering of His Kingdom. They have usually had a positive kingdom effect, rather than the political corruption and power harming the church. While we might hate our religious rights being taken away, or thrown in prison, but perhaps this is what we need? Currently, Christianity in America is just a preservation society for the quasi-Christian civil religion. We are called to be imitators of God. If dying furthered the kingdom, Christians considered it an honor. How things have changed! We stand up for our rights and protect ourselves, in Jesus name, the one who surrendered his rights, and died for sinners. We do what pagans do, we Christianize it. In response I ask, Where if your faith?

  26. 5 out of 5

    Casper Denck

    Crossposted at http://nicodemist.wordpress.com/2010/... In the run up to the 2004 Gregory Boyd began a sermon series "The Cross and the Sword" that according to the New York Times resulted in the loss of 1000 members from the church membership of 5000. The Myth of a Christian Nation is based on these sermons and it is easy to see why this was a source of contention for many evangelicals; Boyd's argues that many evangelicals have simply got it wrong, not so much on the substantive issues with whic Crossposted at http://nicodemist.wordpress.com/2010/... In the run up to the 2004 Gregory Boyd began a sermon series "The Cross and the Sword" that according to the New York Times resulted in the loss of 1000 members from the church membership of 5000. The Myth of a Christian Nation is based on these sermons and it is easy to see why this was a source of contention for many evangelicals; Boyd's argues that many evangelicals have simply got it wrong, not so much on the substantive issues with which they are concerned about (eg, Gay Marriage, Abortion, Nationalism) but the manner in which these issues are addressed by the Church. At the core of Boyd's argument is the contention that politics can be divided into two categories "power-over" and "power-under". Power-over is the political way of the world categorised by all the real-politics with which we are all aware. When used by Christiana this approach is guilty of the so-called constantinian mindset which is contrary to the way of Christ. So it is that Boyd argues that so much of the political strategies of the Religious Right (and Boyd almost exclusively deals the the RR in his book) is by virtue of its adoption of a power-over approach is not only unwise but actually antithetical to the message of Jesus which is the determinative paradigm Christian political engagement. Boyd is adament that he is not arguing for a withdrawal from political engagement, merely for a realignment of this engagement to the pattern of the power-under kingdom. The power-under kingdom is the calvary-love of Jesus who forsook the way of political power-seeking and was a servant to the disenfranchised. This, and not the kingdom-over model should be the model for Christians in politics. To illustrate this point Boyd (p. 144-146) offers the example Dorothy, a middle-aged, divorced woman. A 18 year old woman (Becky) in Dorothy's Church with whom they had a close relationship became pregnant but could not tell her parents for fear of being kicked out of the house. Fearing that her hopes of college would be jeopardized and hence her dream of becoming a Vet, Becky decided that she would get an abortion. Dorothy was the only person to whom Becky discussed her plan. Dorothy offered to support Becky whatever decision she made but also offered to assist should Becky decide not to carry out the abortion and to offer her home should she end up homeless. Eventually the still pregnant Becky did tell her parents and they did in fact ask her to leave. So it was that Becky moved in with Dorothy and help raise the child or go through the adoption process. If the baby was to be kept then Dorothy would take out a second mortgage and become the child's godmother to enable Becky to study as she had hoped to do. For Boyd this is what it means to be pro-life. As he sums it up: "The price Dorothy paid is much greater than the price of a vote. carring a picket sign, or signing a petition. But this is why Dorothy's way of being pro-life is a distinctly kingdom way of being pro-life. It has nothing to do with her opinions about which limited, ambiguous, kingdom-of-the-world option is right, and it has everything to do with replicating Jesus' Calvary-quality love for others (P. 145)." By Boyd's reckoning such an approach is consistent with Jesus' approach to social injustice while at the same time avoiding the complete withdrawal that is the trend of some groups (I am thinking for example of some branches of Anabaptism). I will be clear in saying that I think Boyd is, in the main right. For the Christian the primary political location is the Church in its mission to embody the grace of God in a fallen world. And yet a lingering doubt remains; does Boyd acquiese too much? I understand that Boyd is directly addressing the problem of Religious nationalism and the religious right but the issues he addresses affect political praxis in general. What for example would Boyd think of the Confessing Church's active political dissent (eg Bonhoeffer's 1933 radio addresses), Christian involvement in the Civil Rights movement or more recently the Jubilee 2000 campaign. Was Christian involvement a form of kingdom-over thinking? Boyd does not address this issue and the book is the poorer for it. Nonetheless, even if the above are granted as legitimate the primary political actions the church could do was to emphasise to universal Church of zealous nationalism, affirm that the church is a church for all races and that we will not be complicit in the unjust trade practices so common elsewhere. These questions aside Boyd has done the Church a service in asking some tough questions of the Church's alignment with approaches that do not have at its centre the witness of Jesus as our model political life.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Lisa Anne Morrow

    Another outstanding book by Gregory A. Boyd! I recommend it to every Christian!

  28. 4 out of 5

    Hannah

    American Evangelicals need to read this book.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Jeff Elliott

    We fallen humans have passionate convictions that control us and lead us into conflict with other who have equally passionate convictions. We believe in our nation over and against their nation, our religion over and against their religion, our culture over and against their culture, our political ideology over and against their political ideology and so on. And insofar as we are influenced by the kingdom of the world, we express these passions by attempting to exercise “power over” others as th We fallen humans have passionate convictions that control us and lead us into conflict with other who have equally passionate convictions. We believe in our nation over and against their nation, our religion over and against their religion, our culture over and against their culture, our political ideology over and against their political ideology and so on. And insofar as we are influenced by the kingdom of the world, we express these passions by attempting to exercise “power over” others as their nation, culture, religion, or political ideology conflicts with or threatens our own. Violence is the inevitable result. P. 19 p. 21 So long as people locate their worth, significance, and security in their power, possessions, tradition, reputations, religious behaviors, tribe and nation rather than in a relationship with their Creator, Babylon’s bloody tit-for-tat game is inevitable. Of course, peaceful solutions must still be sought and can, to some degree, be attained with regard to each particular conflict. But as long as humans define their personal and tribal self-interests over and against other people’s competing personal and tribal interests, violence is inevitable and will break out again. p. 22 Followers of Jesus must realize—and must help others realize—that the hope of the world lies not in any particular version of the kingdom of the world gaining the upper hand in Babylon’s endless tit-for-tat game. The hope of the world lies in a kingdom that is not of this world, a kingdom that doesn’t participate in tit for tat, a kingdom that operates with a completely different understanding of power. It is the kingdom established by Jesus Christ and a kingdom that is expanded by people committed to following him. It is the kingdom of God. Participants in the kingdom of the world trust the power of the sword to control behavior; participants in the kingdom of God trust the power of self-sacrificial love to transform hearts. The kingdom of the world is concerned with preserving law and order by force; the kingdom of God is concerned with establishing the rule of God through love. The kingdom of the world is centrally concerned with what people do; the kingdom of God is centrally concerned with how people are and what they can become. The kingdom of the world is characterized by judgment; the kingdom of God is characterized by outrageous, even scandalous, grace. Gregory A. Boyd, The Myth of a Christian Nation 12% p. 27 p. 28 The love we are called to trust and emulate is supremely manifested in the cross of Jesus. The cross is the ultimate symbol of the kingdom of God, for it defines what that kingdom always looks like. It looks like Christ—self-sacrificial and loving. It looks like grace. p. 28 So rather than fight and “win,” Jesus chose to “lose”. Or better, he chose to lose by kingdom-of-the-world standards so that he might win by kingdom-of-God standards. His trust was not in the power of the sword but in the power of radical, self-sacrificial love, and so he let himself be crucified. Three days later, God vindicated his trust in the power of sacrificial love. He had carried out God’s will and, by his sacrifice, defeated death and the forces of evil that hold this world in bondage (Col. 2:13-15). By the standards of the world Jesus lost at the cross, by the standards of the kingdom of God He triumphed. Jesus did not need political authority, power or freedom to execute His mission in the world. Look at Jesus’ words in the Sermon on the Mount; look at His actions approaching Calvary The kingdom of the world is intrinsically tribal in nature, and is heavily invested in defending, if not advancing, one’s own people-group, one’s nation, one’s ethnicity, one’s state one’s religion, one’s ideologies, or one’s political agendas That is why it is a kingdom characterized by perpetual conflict. The kingdom of God, however, is intrinsically universal, for it is centered on simply loving as God loves. It is centered on people living for the sole purpose of replicating the love of Jesus Christ to all people at all times in all places without condition. The kingdom-of-God participant has by love transcended the tribal and nationalistic parameters of whatever version of the kingdom of the world they find themselves in. p. 40 Conservative religious people involved in kingdom-of-the-world thinking often believe that their enemies are the liberals, the gay activists, the ACLU, the pro-choice advocates, the evolutionists and so on. On the opposite side, liberal religious people often think that their enemies are the fundamentalists, the gay bashers, the Christian Coalition, the antiabortionists, and so on. Demonizing one’s enemies is part of the tit-for-tat game of Babylon, for only by doing so can we justify our animosity, if not violence toward them. What we have here are two different religious versions of the kingdom of the world at each other. If we were thinking along the lines of the kingdom of God, however, we would realize that none of the people mentioned in the above lists are people whom kingdom-of-God citizens are called to fight against. They are, rather, people whom kingdom-of-God citizens are called to fight for. Our battle is “not against flesh and blood,” whether they are right wing or left wing, gay or straight, pro-choice or pro-life, liberal or conservative, democratic or communist, American or Iraqi. Our battle is against the “cosmic powers” that hold these people, and all people, in bondage. Whatever our own opinions about how the kingdom of the world should run, whatever political or ethical views we may happen to embrace, our one task as kingdom-of-God disciples is to fight for people, and the way we do it is by doing exactly what Jesus did. He defeated the cosmic powers of darkness by living a countercultural life characterized by outrageous love and by laying down his life for his enemies. So too, we contribute to the demise of the “power over” principalities that hold people in bondage when we refrain from judgement of others and rather extend grace to them, when we let go of anger toward others and instead “come under” them in loving service. p. 41 p. 40 The kingdom of God is not an opaque concept, and when it’s manifested, it’s not an opaque reality. It always looks like Jesus, dying on Calvary for those who crucified him. It always has a servant quality to it, and in this fallen world in which individuals, social groups, and nations are driven by self-interest, this sort of radical, unconditional, and scandalous love is anything but invisible. If we accepted the simple principle that the kingdom of God looks like Jesus, and if we were completely resolved that our sole business as kingdom-of-God citizens is to advance this kingdom by replicating Jesus’ gracious love toward others, neither we nor the world would have to deliberate about where “the true church” is. Once we understand that the kingdom looks like Jesus, attracting tax collectors and prostitutes, serving the sick, the poor, and the oppressed, it is as obvious when it is present as it is when it is absent. There’s nothing invisible about it. P. 41 p. 41 Not everything about the kingdom of the world is bad. Insofar as versions of the kingdom of the world use their power of the sword to preserve and promote law, order, and justice, they are good. But the kingdom of the world, by definition, can never be the kingdom of God. It doesn’t matter that we judge it good because it stands for the principles we deem important—“liberty and justice for all,” for example. No version of the kingdom of the world, however comparatively good it may be, can protect is self-interests while loving its enemies, turning the other cheek, going the extra mile, or blessing those who persecute it. Yet loving our enemies and blessing those who persecute us is precisely what kingdom-of-God citizens are called to do. It’s what it means to be a Christian. By definition, therefore, you can no more have a Christian worldly government than you can have a Christian petunia or aardvark. A nation may have noble ideals and be committed to just principles, but it’s not for this reason Christian. p. 42 To be sure, a version of the kingdom of the world that effectively carries out law, order, and justice is indeed closer to God’s will for the kingdom of the world. Decent, moral people should certainly encourage this as much as possible, whatever their religious faith might be. But no version of the kingdom of the world is closer to the kingdom of God than others because it does its job relatively well. For God’s kingdom looks like Jesus, and no amount of sword-wielding, however just it may be, can ever get a person, government, nation, or world closer to that. The kingdom of God is not an ideal version of the kingdom of the world; it’s not something that any version of the kingdom of the word can aspire toward or be measured against. The kingdom of God is a completely distinct, alternative way of doing life. Not only this, but we know that however good a particular version of the kingdom of the world may be, it does not hold the ultimate answer to the world’s problems. It may indeed be better in certain respects at maintaining law, order, and justice, for which we should be thankful. But the kingdom-of-God citizen knows that the world is not going to be fundamentally transformed by the “power over” use of the sword. We know that love, peace, and justice will not be experienced on a global scale until the kingdom of God is permanently established, until human nature is fundamentally transformed, and until the corrupting influence of demonic powers is finally destroyed. Take it on God’s authority if it’s not already obvious to you: the ultimate hope of the world lies not in human, kingdom-of-the-world wisdom, but in the advancement of God’s kingdom and the return of Jesus Christ! p. 49 What this suggests is that the church has been co-opted by the world. To a large degree, we’ve lost our distinct kingdom-of-God vision and abandoned our mission. We’ve allowed the world to define us, set our agenda, and define the terms of our engagement with it. We’ve accepted the limited and divisive kingdom-of-the-world options and therefore mirror the kingdom-of-the-world conflicts. Because of this, we have not sought wisdom from above (James 3:17), the wisdom Jesus consistently displayed that would help us discern a unique kingdom-of-God approach to issues to empower our moving beyond the stalemates and tit-for-tat conflicts that characterize the kingdom of the world. Instead, we’ve made these conflicts our own as we fight with each other over “the Christian” option. p. 55 …a significant portion of evangelical Christianity has come under the influence of an escapist apocalyptic theology. Believing Jesus will soon “rapture” Christians out of the world before destroying it, they have little concern with the church being a witness on issues of social justice, global peace, the environment, and so on. To the contrary, in the name of fulfilling biblical prophecy, many are actively supporting stances that directly or indirectly encourage violence, possibly on a global scale (for instance, extremist Christian Zionism). Since the world is doomed for soon destruction, the thinking goes, the only thing that matters is getting individuals ready for the rapture. Whatever else one think about the New Testament’s eschatology, it certainly does not encourage this sort of irresponsible escapism. The hope offered to believers is not that we will be a peculiar elite group of people who escape out of the world, leaving others behind to experience the wrath of God. The hope is rather than by our sacrificial participation in the ever-expanding kingdom, the whole creation will be redeemed (Rom. 8:20-23; Col. 1:18-20). God so loved the world he sent his Son (John 3:16), and we are to love the world that we are willing to imitate this sacrificial behavior (Eph. 5:1-2). If we do this we will certainly be a “peculiar” people. But following the example of Jesus, our peculiarity will lie in our willingness to incarnate ourselves in the tribulations of the world, not in possessing a “rapture ticket” that allows us to escape the tribulations of the world. p. 57 (Quoting Lee C. Camp in Mere Discipleship: Radical Christianity in a Rebellious World) it is not through the power brokers of human history that God will effect God’s purposes, but through the little minority band of peoples committed to walking in the way of Jesus of Nazareth, bearing witness to the new reality, the new creation, the kingdom of God. p. 63 One wonders why no one in church history has ever been considered a heretic for being unloving. People were anathematized and often tortured and killed for disagreeing on matters of doctrine or on the authority of the church. But no one on record has ever been so much as rebuked for not loving as Christ loved. p. 97 Why didn’t the sinless Jesus point out, condemn, and try to control people’s morality? It certainly wasn’t because people in his day were less sinful than they are today. By most reckonings, morality in Jesus’ day was a good bit worse than it is today. While we may get upset over a president having a sexual liaison with a young inter, for example, Roman rulers routinely engaged in outrageous sexual escapades. Yet, while Jesus certainly didn’t condone such behavior, we have no record of him so much as commenting on it. His purpose, apparently, was not to guard, promote, or fix public morality. p. 113 …fallen humans have always tended to fuse religious and nationalistic and tribal interests. We want to believe that God is on our side, supports our causes, protects our interests, and ensures our victories—which, in one form or another, is precisely what most of our nationalistic enemies also believe. So it has been for most people throughout history. Pgs. 113-115 Now, we may (or may not) grant that it’s “self-evident” that political freedom is the most precious thing a government can give its people. We may (or may not) think it would be good if every version of the kingdom of the world espoused this value. But on what basis can a follower of Jesus claim this is obviously a supreme value for God? Political freedom certainly wasn’t a value emphasized by Jesus, for he never addressed the topic. He and various New Testament authors speak about freedom from sin, fear, and the Devil, but show no interest in political freedom. In fact, until very recently, political freedom wasn’t a value ever espoused by the church. To the contrary, most branches of the church resisted the idea that people can govern themselves when it first began to be espoused in the Enlightenment period. Yet now, quite suddenly, it’s supposedly a preeminent Christian value—to the point of justifying the view that America is uniquely established and led by God because it emphasizes this value! More quotes saved in file

  30. 5 out of 5

    Karina Cortes

    Every American Christian should read this book. I have read it twice and I'll probably read it again. The book wrecked my world view the first time I read it; and has empowered me the second time I read it. I dare you to read this book. Every American Christian should read this book. I have read it twice and I'll probably read it again. The book wrecked my world view the first time I read it; and has empowered me the second time I read it. I dare you to read this book.

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