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Remembering the Myth During Election Season

Given the current political furor in America right now, we thought we would post an extended quote from Greg’s book The Myth of a Christian Nation. This book was originally a reflection on Christian political engagement during the 2004 election, and how conflating “America” with Christianity is devastating to the mission we’ve been given in the world. We seem not to have learned much since then.

The myth of America as a Christian nation, with the church as its guardian, has been, and continues to be, damaging both to the church and to the advancement of God’s kingdom. Among other things, this nationalistic myth blinds us to the way in which our most basic and most cherished cultural assumptions are diametrically opposed to the kingdom way of life taught by Jesus and his disciples. Instead of living out the radically countercultural mandate of the kingdom of God, this myth has inclined us to Christianize many pagan aspects of our culture. Instead of providing the culture with a radically alternative way of life, we largely present it with a religious version of what it already is. The myth clouds our vision of God’s distinctly beautiful kingdom and thereby undermines our motivation to life as set-apart (holy) disciples of this kingdom.

Even more fundamentally, because this myth links the kingdom of God with certain political stances within American politics, it has greatly compromised the holy beauty of the kingdom of God to non-Christians. 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. Because the myth that America is a Christian nation has led many to associate America with Christ, many now hear the good news of Jesus only as American news, capitalistic news, imperialistic news, exploitive news, antigay news, or Republican news. And whether justified or not, many people want nothing to do with any of it. (pp. 13-14)

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