Thursday, July 09, 2009

Web Roundup on Christianity and Patriotism

Russell Moore guest hosted in last Friday on the Albert Mohler Radio Program and offers a balanced view: Patriotism in church can marginalize the gospel, but if you don't acknowledge the holiday in some way, you're probably failing to contextualize prudently.

Moore also said in a forum at Southern Seminary related to Billy Graham and Southern Baptist political influence:
If we want to reshape American culture, we need to give up on reshaping American culture. We need to turn to reshaping Southern Baptist churches. In order to save our influence, we must lose it.
Stephen Davey, pastor of Colonial Baptist Church in Cary, North Carolina, has written an excellent book on the topic—I Pledge Allegiance: Politics for the Citizens of Heaven. Read about it (and related products) here, but buy it here. Seriously, you can't beat the price!

Chris Anderson has written an excellent article for the OBF Visitor, published on his blog in two parts (part 1 and part 2). There are more punchy quotes in this series than I can begin to reproduce here, but I think this is the most powerful:
We have traded in our spiritual birthright for a bowl of political influence. Sometimes the cost has been orthodoxy, as evangelicals have aligned with political and social conservatives from a variety of false religions. The fact that Jews, Roman Catholics, and Mormons can form a united front for political purposes should be sufficient evidence that such causes are not distinctly Christian. Other times, the gospel hasn’t been denied, but merely displaced. We have been distracted from the main thing.
If you want to read his specific words to fundamentalists, you'll need to check it out for yourself.

Chris refers to Irwin Lutzer's excellent Why the Cross Can Do what Politics Can't.

Also worth a read is Blinded by Might, by Cal Thomas, well-known DC commentator and disillusioned former aide to Jerry Falwell, and Ed Dobson, who also worked for Falwell.

Speaking of Cal Thomas, he hit the nail on the head in a Christianity Today interview, explaining why he changed his view on the Church and politics:
I'm not looking for a savior; the one I have is sufficient. I'm certainly not looking for a political deliverer because our major problems in America and the world are not economic and political — they're moral and spiritual. The real problem is that we're sinners, not dysfunctional people. We don't need reformation, we need redemption.
Frankly, Thomas argues more radically than I would, suggesting that believers shouldn't even be involved in politics because it takes time that could be used to share the gospel. Ok, but so does writing newspaper columns . . . I'll actually argue that believers should work in politics. Churches, on the other hand, need to lead people to worship Jesus, not exalt America, as I hear a certain Christian song leads the kiddies to do.

One final observation: Has anyone else ever noticed how many preachers who take 2 Chronicles 7:14 as a promise to Christians in America so often proceed to preach about how bad the culture is and say nothing about that verse's call to repentance for God's people—the ones who are called by his name?


brian said...

On your final comment:

I find it interesting that so many who quote that verse and apply its promise to America would call applying other OT promises to the church "replacement" theology.

Ben said...

That's an excellent observation.

Chris said...

Thanks for the links and kind words, Ben.

I can't justify singing songs of praise to America in church, as much as I love our country and thank the Lord for her. I did, however, mention in our prayer of preparation that (1) we are grateful for our freedoms and the country in which we enjoy them, but (2) that we have come together on the Lord's Day to worship Him, as citizens of an eternal kingdom. So I was able to express our gratitude appropriately (I think), but also use it as a teaching moment. Then we sang about Christ. FWIW.

Ben said...

And I think that's the appropriate sort of contextualization Russell Moore talks about.

Another approach (which you may well pursue in addition to what you did last Sunday) is to give thanks for freedoms, pray for your nation and its leaders, and pray for the spread of the gospel to all nations throughout the year.

Chris said...