Here’s some more thought-provoking tidbits from Matt’s “book report” on “The Myth of a Christian Nation” by Greg Boyd…
After speaking briefly about some of the terrible things in America’s past (treatment of Native Americans, Slavery, Segregation, etc.), and about reconciling those with the commonly held view that America was created on the basis of Christian principles, he had this to say:
The problem is not just whether America is a “Christian nation,” Boyd says, but whether – since all nations depend on force to maintain power – any nation can ever be considered “Christian.” Nevertheless, he says, when we clearly and consistently separate the kingdom of God from all versions of the kingdom of the world, we can affirm the good things from American history without undertaking the impossible task of defending its entire history as “Christian.” (I find this last point to be particularly well taken.)
I thought that last line was particularly important, and I found myself re-reading it multiple times… It’s actually very FREEING to think like this, since then it allows us to accept that bad things have happened in the past, but that they are NOT things that should be ANY reflection on God, Jesus or the Bible… If America is not, and never has been, a “Christian Nation” then we longer have to feel the need to defend America’s reputation for fear that it will cause people to think less of God or Christians in general.
Boyd winds up the chapter by pointing out that there is a sense in which we should “take America back for God,” as well as Europe, Iraq, Sudan, Rwanda, etc. The question is how should we do this? If you think the way of submission and service is impractical, or even morally irresponsible, you need to reflect on the cross itself. When Jesus was on the cross, it looked as if he were losing – as it may appear when Christians choose this path – but God raised Jesus up on the third day. Our task is to trust that such power is still at work in us.
Do we sometimes think like this? I know that I do… Sometimes it seems like “submission and service” is the wrong thing to do. Sometimes it seems like force and power is the only way that something can get done, and the only way that justice can be served, etc….
But is that feeling really stemming from my lack of faith “that such power is still at work in us”? I don’t know… it certainly could be.
When Jesus died, at the hands of the powerful establishment of His time (Rome and the Jewish leaders), I’m sure that to everyone, INCLUDING HIS FOLLOWERS, He appeared to have lost. But we know that, in reality, what He did changed all the rules, changed EVERYTHING. He demonstrated that God doesn’t play by the rules that make sense to mankind, He plays by a different set of rules: that our sacrifice and service to others is the only thing that can actually bring lasting change… that the only way forward is to break the cycle of violence, to break the myth of “redemptive violence”…