Weekly Must-Reads {08.11.11} | reasonable Christianity edition (in honor of John Stott)

This week, I wanted to focus on extremely “reasonable” expressions and discussion surrounding Christianity: it’s heroes, it’s application, and how to live it out. This is in honor of a great man we lost recently. A couple of weeks ago, John Stott, a great and fairly unassuming hero of the Church, died. He is very much responsible for the shaping of a Christianity that is both just and intelligent. Even though he did not preach nor speak regularly, and mostly wrote academic books, it is he that laid the theological foundation that has only now finally trickled down to the masses of young and “restless” Christians today–whether we know his name or not. It is the shoulder of this giant of the faith upon which we all now stand. Let us not forget that. I have provided some links to that end.


John Stott Has Died | Christianity Today

This is Stott’s obituary in Christianity Today. Read up on his life and read some of the homages linked to in this article. He was an amazing man.

Evangelicals Without Blowhards | NYTimes.com Opinion

This is by Bill Kristof, a weekly contributor to the blogs at NYT. He is not a Christian, and yet he devotes this article in honor of John Stott–his work, his influence, and the presence of millions of Evangelicals that are continuing his work today by caring about justice in this world.

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Some thoughts on our “Christian” Nation

I recently received a facebook request to join the cause: “Tell Obama America is a Christian Nation”.  Coming from the Bible-belt, this was certainly a worldview that I am very familiar with and one that I’ve thought through extensively ever since I was old enough to vote.   I think I have come to a few conclusions concerning the matter.  Please leave feedback.

America isn’t a christian nation.

First, “Christian” is never used as an adjective in the Bible.  There’s no such thing as a “Christian” anything, except for a person.  Sure, for most of its history most people living in America have been Christians, but if you have mostly Christians living in a certain apartment complex, would it suddenly be called a “Christian” apartment complex?  Most all of America’s founders were Universalists (John Adams), Unitarians (Thomas Jefferson), Masons (Ben Franklin), and Deists (pretty much all the rest).  Hardly any were Orthodox Christians in any recognizable sense of the word other than the fact that they used the words “God” and “Creator”, but so do a lot of other groups that clearly aren’t Christians.

Second, there’s a big difference between checking off “Christian” on a poll and actually being a Christian.  Sure most people still check that off, but I would say that the percentage of people that are actually saved, born-again, living-the-life, actually loving Jesus Christians out there is less than half.  It certainly feels that way living in the city, at least.

Thirdly, at the very least, even if America was “founded on Christian ideals”, the nature of a democracy/republic is that it changes with the public beliefs.  Even if it used to be a Christian nation, the basic worldview of the citizenry has changed, so “what” the nation “is” has changed.  The “public” define the nature of a democracy/republic, not its past.

Lastly, every time in history that Christianity has been used to describe a country, it’s never gone well (see: Constantine, the Inquisition, the Crusades, etc.).  I pray America becomes a nation of Christians, but for the vast majority of its history, Christianity has done a lot better when it was in the minority (China, anyone?).  We don’t fight for numbers of people or a percentage of a population or an office in politics.

We fight for the Glory of Christ.

Any thoughts?

Here’s a very balanced and helpful article from Patrol Mag, and here are some lyrics from a favorite Derek Webb Song of mine, “In God we Trust”:

In God we trust
and the government is on His shoulders
in God we trust
through democracy and tyranny alike
in God we trust
He uses both good and evil men

in God we trust
so we fight for peace and He fights for us
in God we trust
even when He fights us for someone else
in God we trust
even when He looks like the enemy

in God we trust
even though our hearts are bankrupt
in God we trust
for more than just the value of our dollar bills
in God we trust
but there’s no gold behind these notes of reserve

in God we trust
even through our great presumption
in God we trust
even though He favors no nation-state
in God we trust
even when the blessing is a curse