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.
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.
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.