If American nationalism appeals to Christians because of the resemblance between the idea of America and the idea of the universal Church, then it stands to reason that the weakening of the major Christian churches, Catholic and Protestant alike, would make the Church of America (in both its progressive and conservative forms) more appealing than ever before. Almost every major Christian body has less moral authority today than it did a few generations ago, and while the idea of America has been battered over this period as well, patriotism in its various forms burns far brighter than most religious Americans’ affections for their particular churches and denominations. “God and country” has a stronger pull than “God and the Catholic bishops” or “God and the United Methodist Church,” and the partisan mind-set increasingly provides a greater sense of solidarity, shared purpose, and even eschatological fervor than the weakened confessions of Protestantism or the faded grandeur of Rome.
—Ross Douthat, Bad Religion: How We Became a Nation of Heretics.
Also, read my review preview of Bad Religion, as well as some of my other thoughts on this Memorial Day 2012.
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[This is a repost of the last in a 4-part series of articles I wrote about a year-and-a-half ago (here’s Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3) exploring my struggles with the idea of America as a “Christian Nation” and how my Christian faith should influence my politics. Where I ended up is a very helpful place, I believe, for us Christians struggling with these things.
In the first post, I show how America has many similarities with Ancient Rome that lend itself to helping us in this discussion. In the second, I discuss the motivations and limits of imposing a Christian worldview on a post-Christian society. In the third, I laid out the wrong motives that seem to drive most of Evangelicalism’s attempts to take over the country, and their historical and philosophical roots. In the post below, I pick up right where the third one ends and give a biblical foundation for a possible framework we can use to discern our political action as Christians.
My exploration of motives for Christian involvement in politics began to shift when I realized that the same Paul and Peter that preached a political worldview of simply obeying the laws were the same Paul and Peter that when told by authorities not to preach, they refused to obey. What’s going on? Apparently there’s some other principle at work that creates a depth, complexity, and dynamism within this issue: God and His Nature, Christ and His Glory. More on this in the next post.