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Dare to Re-Think “Christian America”

I’ve often said that if the early Christians could see the American church today, it would not be recognizable to them as the community built on the mission and message of Jesus. In our country Christianity has been so mixed with and compromised by American values that most people have come to believe that American values and Christian values are one and the same.

Our nation was not built on Christian values. Did our forefathers use religious imagery? Yes. Were some of them Christians? Yes. Was the nation built on the values of Jesus Christ as taught in the New Testament—particularly the Sermon on the Mount? Absolutely not.

Why is it so important for us to realize this? Well, most Americans are biblically illiterate. They don’t know what Jesus taught. When they constantly hear that America is a Christian nation and was built on biblical values, they draw conclusions about Christianity that are totally at odds with the biblical account. Christianity does not get a fair hearing because it is being represented as life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. People think Jesus taught that personal liberty was the highest ideal, that the most important thing is to look out for your own people (nation), that military superiority is part of God’s will and that America is the “city on a hill.” These are all gross misrepresentations of the gospel. In fact, the American values that we were taught in school don’t even show up on the New Testament list of values (see 1 Corinthians 13:13).

That is why for the past couple of years I’ve been recommending that people read The Myth of a Christian Nation by Greg Boyd (see my “I Recommend…” page). Add to that Jesus for President: Politics for Ordinary Radicals by Shane Claiborne and Chris Haw.

Prepare to be challenged—even offended. You may not agree with everything Claiborne and Haw say, but that isn’t the point. I think the point of this book is to show us the beauty of the good news of a new kingdom. We always say that Jesus’ message of the Kingdom of Heaven is a radical, counter-cultural message. Claiborne and Haw show just how radical it is.

Don’t put it down (even if it makes you mad). The book concludes with some beautiful expressions of the kingdom in daily life. They are inspiring and challenging.

Reader Comments (1)

I'm going to check our university library to see if I can find these books! Thanks!

October 28, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMichelle

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