It’s Not Salvation, It’s Politics

Christians who look to discern religious significance in the United States have only two options. The first is to sacralize the nation:

By conflating a certain understanding of American history with scriptural revelation, proponents of “Christian America” risked idolizing the nation and succumbing to an “irresistible temptation to national self-righteousness.” They also sacrificed any ability to offer a scriptural critique of the cultural values they themselves embraced.

A second should be to secularize the nation — look at it simply as part of God’s providential care which is almost impossible to discern. But that’s not the way it goes because the search for a Christian American usually results in seeing how un-Christian America is. That leads to sacralizing anti-Americanism:

What, then, might a Christian understanding of the nation look like?

To begin with, it would reject any notion that the United States, or any other nation since the coming of Christ, occupies a unique position as God’s chosen people. It would recall that God’s people, wherever they find themselves, were to be “strangers and pilgrims”—good citizens, yes, but always remembering that their real home lies elsewhere. And Christians must also remember that they will be judged not according to what they profess, but rather according to how they act. Thus, the righteousness of any society should be judged “not merely by the religious professions that people make, but also by the extent to which Christian principles concerning personal morality and justice for the oppressed are realized in the society.”

And that leads to the demonization of Trump’s America (thanks to Chris Gerhz):

I didn’t actually want a Trump sign, but one of the volunteers had shoved it into my hands as I walked through the door earlier; “Make America Great Again!” That sign probably saved someone from getting hurt. I held the sign close to my chest as I positioned myself between the chanting protesters and the angry mob. My 11-year-old daughter was clinging to my arm, sobbing in fear.

The two angry, screaming ladies looked at me, both of them raised their middle finger at me in my face and repeatedly yelled, “F*#% YOU!” Repeatedly.

I calmly responded, “No thank you, I’m happily married.” Their faces and their voices were filled with demonic anger.

I have been in places and experiences before where demonic activity was palpable. The power of the Holy Spirit of God was protecting me in those moments and was once again protecting me and my daughter in this moment.

This is what happens when people try to find religious significance in every nook and cranny. Sometimes a cigar is a cigar. Sometimes a nation is simply a nation. But when you’re in the habit of using religious categories to justify national greatness, it’s only natural to use the same outlook to conclude national turpitude.

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9 thoughts on “It’s Not Salvation, It’s Politics

  1. “simply a nation” What a concept! And how hard it is for a lot of Christians, both on the left & on the right, to understand, much less agree with it.

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  2. Of course there are more than two ways to look at this. One way is to continue to apply the commandment to love one’s neighbor. Thus calling for justice for the vulnerable is one of many ways by which one is to love one’s neighbor. And since the Good Samaritan parable expands the scope of one’s neighborhood and that we live in a democracy where we have more responsibility for our government’s actions because we have ore opportunities to influence them, we do have responsibilities to those who suffer because of our nation’s policies.

    But note that in framing political and social justice action in this commandment, we are no longer focusing on sacralizing either nation-first or anti-nation. It is about loving one’s neighbor and the compassion we have for others especially the vulnerable.

    Why is it that the issue of loving one’s neighbor neglected while binary model that is based on what we put on a pedestal provides our only choices here? If we go to the I John, we will not two necessities of the Christian faith: a proper belief in Jesus and love. Read I John when he talks about love and how those who love are described vs those who don’t love are described. Somehow the inclusion of love is often left out of the discussion when developing theological models.

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  3. “religious significance in every nook and cranny”

    true.

    Let no man deceive himself, if any man thinks he is wise in this age (about some things being insignificant in the Lord’s world), he must become foolish, so that he may become wise.

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  4. Curt, there you go again, blurring categories of citizenship and church membership. What my fellow Americans require of me as citizen is different from the stranger who comes to town and needs a room for a few nights.

    And you think I don’t consider development. You try to apply the parable of the good Samaritan to the modern nation-state. Sheesh.

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  5. The third choice (to submit to whatever powers God has ordained without being loyal to a second kingdom) is not a “realistic” choice??? Nobody can do that without being a parasite, because even though the earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof, our lives themselves we owe to the good offices of those who serve the kingdom that kills?

    But if we can’t live without that second kingdom killing for us, why should we complain if they do this killing in the name of salvation and not politics? Giving one’s life is what one wants to do for God. And taking another’s life also seems too trivial if it’s only good politics or good for business. Even if a church has its “regulative principle”, why should a state be forbidden by religious people from being religious if the state wants to be religious?

    http://www.scottmanning.com/archives/pattonsprayer.php

    To each officer and soldier in the Third United States Army, I wish a Merry Christmas.May God’s blessing rest upon each of you on this Christmas Day.
    G. S. Patton, Jr., Lieutenant General Commanding, Third United States Army

    The next day, the weather cleared and remained perfect for about six days while the Third Army pushed North to relieve the 101st Airborne at Bastogne. Upon reviewing the weather, Patton said of the Chaplain, “God damn! Look at the weather. That chaplian sure did some potent praying. Get him up here. I want to pin a medal on him.” He shook the Chaplain’s hand and said, “Chaplain, you’re the most popular man in this Headquarters. You sure stand in good with the Lord and the soldiers.” Chaplain O’Neill then received a Bronze Star Medal. On Christmas Day, Patton wrote in his journal that the day “dawned clear and cold; lovely weather for killing Germans, although the thought seemed somewhat at variance with the spirit of the day.”

    Revelation 12–The salvation and the power
    and the kingdom of our God
    and the authority of His Messiah
    have NOW COME
    because the accuser of our brothers
    has been thrown out:
    11 They conquered the accuser
    by the blood of the Lamb
    and by the word of their testimony,
    for they did not LOVE THEIR LIVES
    in the face of death.

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  6. D.G.,
    How have I blurred the distinction between citizenship and Church membership? Is it because I think loving one’s neighbor includes more than offering a stranger a room for a few nights?

    Do you know what the commandment to love one’s neighbor is a summation of? And how is it that offering a stranger a room for a few nights is an exhaustive interpretation of the commandment to love one’s neighbor when the parable of the Good Samaritan is used to illustrate the commandment?

    Is the Church the only party that is to be concerned with justice issues? If so, then everyone in the Church should be Social Justice Warriors and nobody in society who do not belong to the Church should be Social Justice Warriors. But if only society pays attention to social justice issues, think of the dishonor that brings to the Gospel where God’s people are only concerned with personal sins but live in denial of corporate sins. Of course another option is what seems to be your belief that neither citizens nor the Church should serve as Social Justice Warriors because since there is no corporate sin, neither is there social immorality thus there are no social injustices. While I believe that both citizens and the Church should work as social justice warriors while the Church adds some accountability to the committing of personal sins that state does not. And thus there is, in my thinking, a distinction between citizenship and church membership. But it is as I wrote before, the concerns of citizenship and Church membership are neither disjoint nor identical.

    As for loving one’s neighbor, since that is the summation of the 2nd part of the 10 commandments, wherever Jim Crow violates that summation, we see how it violates the 10 commandments.

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  7. Curt, “if only society pays attention to social justice issues, think of the dishonor that brings to the Gospel”

    Jesus and the apostles blew it, I guess, is what you’re saying.

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  8. D.G.,
    Of course Jesus and the Apostles were working in the exact same historical context of when there were democracies, Christian governments, and the Gospel has been spread throughout the world. Or perhaps significant differences in historical contexts should never produce different approaches.

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