Thursday, January 23, 2014

Civil religion

Some Christians who are also great admirers of the American founding generation are also tempted to fashion the Founding Fathers as exemplary saints, too. This is even more problematic, not only because the Founders weren't all perfect Christians (and, in some cases, weren't Christians at all), but it can turn them into heroes of a quasi-Christian patriotic faith. American civil religion is dangerous and something Christians should avoid, no matter how much they admire the founding generation's accomplishments. Admitting that someone like George Washington was imperfect (he owned slaves and refused to take communion at church, for example) is not only honest, but it helps us remember that all humans, no matter how noble, are flawed by sin and the limits of our culture. ....

...[I]t is sobering to remember that, one day, America will cease to exist, while the Kingdom of God will go on forever. In heaven, my identity as an American will likely have very little significance at all, as the great throng composed of people from every "tribe, tongue, and nation" will set aside their ethnic, racial, and historical differences. .... [more]