By Graham Glover –
I love my country. Although imperfect, the American republic is the greatest country in the world. No matter what candidates proclaim, protestors lament, or dissidents believe, there is little doubt that the American experiment reflects the best political model ever envisioned by humanity.
I also love the church. While itself perfect, its members embody the gross imperfections of all humanity. And no matter what unbelievers proclaim, critics lament, or skeptics believe, there is little doubt that Christianity is the perfect answer to our imperfect world.
So, just to be clear, I love America.
And I love Christianity.
But to be equally clear, I have a growing disdain for American Christianity.
More and more, I find the American interpretation of what it means to be a Christian to be insufferable. For the life of me, I cannot understand how citizens of such a great country, some of whom are followers of the great Christian faith, get both things so completely and utterly wrong. This disdain is an equal opportunity one. In other words, it’s not directed toward a particular party, a certain ideology, or a specific denomination. American Christianity as a whole is guilty of becoming something that is dreadfully awful.
While most Americans love their country and most Christians love the church, we seem to have radically confused what it means to love them at the same time. Most nauseating is the way American Christians appropriate our faith on what it means to be a citizen. Our Christian faith certainly directs our ethic. Our faith defines our moral code. But our faith has nothing to do with our American citizenship. To suggest these things are somehow inherently connected is to betray them both. (And please, for all our sake, don’t make the claim that the United States is a Christian nation or was founded on Christian principles. These claims are as naïve as they are false.)
This extends to how American Christians use the tenants of our faith to determine the politicians we support. We American Christians sit on our mighty thrones and make ridiculous assumptions about which candidate or party is more “Christian”. (Newsflash: neither of them are or ever will be “God’s Party”.) We so desperately want to make the divine law, human law. We want to presume that we know the will of God with respect to how a nation should act or what laws it should pass/enforce. But when we do these things we fail. We fail as Americans and as Christians.
Although done often by American Christians, it’s laughable to think we should care about the faith (or lack thereof) of our politicians. In the public realm, theirs is not to be advocates of the faith – to be the means by which Kingdom of God is advanced. Theirs is to be good public servants. Period. While I hope they follow a natural law that transcends religions (a law that is also for the unbeliever), whether they are Christian or not is inconsequential. Some of the best public servants of recent time have a faith that is offensive to my own, while some of the worst publicly confess a common faith. One has little to do with the other.
American Christians though have so intertwined the two that they no longer understand one for the other. Our citizenship – our politics, is about the nation. It is about preserving the republic. It is about sound public policy and pragmatic means of accomplishing it. Our faith is about the Lord. It is about Him preserving us. It is about good theology and pragmatic means of sharing His means of grace.
So please stop my fellow American Christians. Stop your incessant and false political theology. Stop making our faith a precondition or a determination of our politics. Stop making our politics more important than our theology.
Please, for the sake of our republic, for the sake of the proclamation of God’s Word, stop.
(I’m participating in a field exercise with my Soldiers for the next several weeks and will likely be unable to respond to comments. But don’t let my absence get in the way of the Jagged Mafia stirring the pot!)