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.

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Jeremy Jernigan

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

10 Comments

Dennis

about 2 years ago

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

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jeremy

about 2 years ago

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

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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!

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jeremy

about 2 years ago

Thanks Stephen!

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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.

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Dan King

about 2 years ago

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

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jeremy

about 2 years ago

You'll enjoy it!

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jeremy

about 2 years ago

How are you liking Blue Parakeet?

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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.

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Randy Blunt

about 1 year ago

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

Reply

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