7 Comments

  1. Amy @ Hope Is the Word
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    This resonates with me, too, Janet. As a practically lifelong resident of the Bible Belt, I have witnessed this false sense of righteousness firsthand. It’s hard to explain to other people (Christians) why I don’t think something like prayer in school means what they think it means. In fact, I don’t even try. I know people–sincere Christians–who are very happy to have their children in a certain school system because of many such issues. However, I have a rather jaded view of the same system because I used to be intimately familiar with it. (Sorry–that’s probably more of a personal axe to grind than anything, but it’s related.)

    1. Janet
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      Thanks for the perspective! I confess that sometimes the Bible Belt looks attractive compared to the “post-Christian Northeast” where I live… but you remind me of the more complex reality.

  2. Amy @ Hope Is the Word
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    Oh, dear. When I read my comment it sounds so, so, so. . . judgmental. I hope my intention is clear.

    1. Janet
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      No worries. You don’t sound like someone with a critical spirit, just like someone hungry for the real thing — as I am.


  3. ·

    This is an important discussion. When Jesus came he changed the whole way God relates to man and to nations. Jesus relates to individuals in the same way God related to the nation of Israel. Jesus did not come to set up a political kingdom. This does not mean we are to abandon culture or politics as individuals or as a church. Bonhoeffer believed that it was the churches’ responsiblity to confront the government when they were allowing the oppression of a people group, such as with the Jews in Nazi Germany. It is to come aside government as a counsellor, not act in its place, as in Medieval times when the Church and State were one. That never seems to work well.
    Civil religion may only seem trivial and sentimental if there is a disconnect from its civil practice and its cultural reality. Christianity can also appear trivial when it is only a reflection of culture as well. I do think it is important for the church to engage all aspects of culture, but in a way that reflects concern for the flourishing of humanity as a whole, and not serving its own agenda.

  4. Dennis
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    Was America from the beginning of European colonization established by Christians? I would argue yes. (Pilgrims, VA, even Spanish) Was it ugly. (killing indigenous people: yes; and some justify that by saying “they were savages.” Doesn’t God extend his hand of grace to ALL? Was the US Constitution established as a Christian document. I would argue no. BUT, take a look at the STATE constitutions and I would argue yes….so it’s not a simple answer. Does history show that when a nation or state is Christian (whatever that might mean) God BLESSES that nation/state more than when a nation or state is NOT Christian? Seems like the USA has been blessed…doesn’t it….BUT, my argument would be that what I think God really blesses is the FREEDOM that is promoted by a nation. HE IS A GOD OF FREEDOM; giving us FREE Will to choose HIM or not….and I think that HE promotes that. So, whether the nation/state is Christian or not, is not the issue: it is rather: does the nation/state endorse freedom to choose? If it does, blessing comes. Just a thought. (the Pilgrims kicked Anne Hutchenson and Rogers Williams out!) Some state constitutions forbade Catholics from voting, human Lifelong Slavery was promoted in the US……..My point: what does it mean to be “Christian?”

    1. Janet
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      I go by the traditional definition: one who follows Jesus.

      In The Myth of a Christian Nation, Greg Boyd defines a Christian this way:
      “Though the word has come to mean a multitude of things these days (many of them negative), the word Christian originally suggested one who follows and looks like Christ. By definition, therefore, the distinctive mark of a Christian is that one aspires to think, feel, and act like Christ.”

      This book looks at the ways nationalism can subtly warp our understanding of what this means.

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