The Myth of a Christian Nation

Every now and then I’ll read a book that will so challenge my ideas that it causes me to rethink things that I’ve long ago concluded. I look for these types of books all the time which is why I try and read such a diverse list of books. Greg Boyd has recently become a favorite of mine for this reason. His book The Myth of a Christian Nation articulates a tension that I’ve lived with for years now but have struggled to navigate.

I’ve been meaning to read this book for awhile now and with the election this week it seemed like this was the time to do it. For any Christian in America that wonders how their faith should impact their political involvement, this book is a must-read.

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!

Laws, enforced by the sword, control behavior but cannot change hearts.

Myth of a Christian NationBecause 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.

The kingdom of God advances by people lovingly placing themselves under others, in service to others, at cost to themselves. This “coming under” doesn’t mean that followers of Jesus conform to other people’s wishes, but it does mean that we always interact with others with their best interests in mind.

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.

The kingdom of God is not a Christian version of the kingdom of the world. It is, rather, a holy alternative to all versions of the kingdom of the world, and everything hangs on kingdom people appreciating this uniqueness and preserving this holiness.

To read more about the political/Christian dynamics, also check out my posts about political agnosticism and how to mix religion and politics.

Sign up with your email and never miss a post!



Jeremy Jernigan

This is the personal blog of Jeremy Jernigan husband, father, executive pastor, and student of truth

11 Comments

Dennis

about 2 years ago

"The law can control behavior but it cannot change hearts" (paraphrase). In your opinion what changes hearts?

Reply

jeremy

about 2 years ago

Jesus, The Spirit of God, His Kingdom, etc.

Reply

Stephen Pate

about 2 years ago

This book definitely challenged a number of beliefs I used to hold. In fact, reading this book led to a few other works that have been incredibly insightful as well--The Politics of Jesus by Yoder and Jesus for President by Shane Claiborne. Thanks for posting this. I will be sharing it!

Reply

jeremy

about 2 years ago

Thanks Stephen!

Reply

Webb

about 2 years ago

If you guys are reading Yoder and his generation, bless you. I cut my teeth on these guys. I still get them out from time to time. Been reading Sojourners since it was called Post American.

Reply

Dan King

about 2 years ago

Wow this seems very interesting. I will put it on deck for after I finish the blue parakeet!

Reply

jeremy

about 2 years ago

You'll enjoy it!

Reply

jeremy

about 2 years ago

How are you liking Blue Parakeet?

Reply

Gomer

about 2 years ago

Yeah, after I read this book I stopping living and dying over every political thing and instead treated it more like one of my intense hobbies. I still keep up with stuff and vote and care about what's going on, but my foundation was put back in Christ for the outcomes, and my value in myself got switched back to coming from Christ rather than being an American.

Reply

Randy Blunt

about 2 years ago

Awesome book! Awesome interview too, but only part of it. Gotta go look up the rest now...

Reply

Wayne

about 1 week ago

I don’t think I’ve ever read a book I thought misapplied scripture so heavily. How can we accept his argument when it is based on these two implausible premises: 1) Standards Christ set for individuals universally apply to governments as well (making the OT inapplicable, and hence God inconsistent), and 2) Satan is in control of all governments / kingdoms (in contrast to Romans 13:1)? Boyd ignores the clear intentions of our Founding Fathers for our nation and tries to validate his desire to not face social rejection (in stark contrast to Matt 10:22, Rom 12:2, Mark 8:38, etc.) by asserting that because America hasn’t been perfect, it shouldn’t try to be a Christian nation? It’s an absurd argument which is at least consistent with his passivist views, in that they are both incredibly convenient (and paradoxical) to proclaim while living in a society where God’s blessings are still upon us because of the sacrificial blood of those who fought for a nation established on The Word, and written in the safety provided by others who defend him from both foreign and domestic threats. Boyd should defer to the clear views of our Founders (organizations like Wallbuilders carry scores of documents showing their intentions for the United States to be based on Biblical principles and delineating the effects if it falls away) and to those who have actually lived out their faith in the real world rather than stretching Scripture and providing inaccurate “facts” to try to justify his Relativistic views. While I fully agree with his assertion that the purpose for government is not evangelism nor that it should ever force anyone to become a Christian, he fails to recognize that nations are judged based on their adherence to God’s laws. He states that he wants the blood of martyrs to be the seeds of a new American church. If that’s what you want for your children, go ahead, Greg, but leave mine alone to live under the protection of a Godly nation, to have the freedom to lovingly witness to the non-believers among us from someplace other than a prison cell or death row.

Reply

Leave a Comment

Please be polite. We appreciate that.
Your email address will not be published and required fields are marked


Want your picture next to your comment? Click here!

Have you Subscribed via RSS yet? Don't miss a post!

More in Politics, Reading
religion and politics
Mixing Religion and Politics

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof..." First Amendment "I contemplate...

Close