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The Myth of a Christian Nation: How the Quest for Political Power Is Destroying the Church The Myth of a Christian Nation: How the Quest for Political Power Is Destroying the Church by Gregory A. Boyd
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“Jesus came to establish the kingdom of God as a radical alternative to all versions of the kingdom of the world, whether they declare themselves to be "under God" or not.”
Gregory A. Boyd, The Myth of a Christian Nation: How the Quest for Political Power Is Destroying the Church
“Consider these questions: Did Jesus ever suggest by word of example that we should aspire to acquire, let alone take over, the power of Caesar? Did Jesus spend any time and energy trying to improve, let alone dominate, the reigning government of his day? Did he ever word to pass laws against the sinners he hunt out with and ministered to? Did he worry at all about ensuring that his rights and the religious rights of his followers were protected? Does any author in the New Testament remotely hint that engaging in this sort of activity has anything to do with the kingdom of God? The answer to all these questions is, of course, no.”
Gregory A. Boyd, The Myth of a Christian Nation: How the Quest for Political Power Is Destroying the Church
“Participants in the kingdom of the world trust the power of the sword to control behavior; participants of the kingdom of God trust the power of self-sacrificial love to transform hearts. The kingdom of the world is concerned with preserving law and order by force; the kingdom of God is concerned with establishing the rule of God through love. The kingdom of the world is centrally concerned with what people do; the kingdom of God is centrally concerned with how people are and what they can become.The kingdom of the world is characterized by judgment; the kingdom of God is characterized by outrageous, even scandalous, grace.”
Gregory A. Boyd, The Myth of a Christian Nation: How the Quest for Political Power Is Destroying the Church
“...we must also recognize that people who have diametrically opposing views may believe *they too* are advancing the kingdom, which is all well and good so long as we don't christen our views as *the* Christian view. As people whose citizenship is in heaven before it is in any nation (Phil 3:20), and whose kingdom identity is rooted in Jesus rather than in a political agenda, we must never forget that the only way we individually and collectively represent the kingdom of God is through loving, Christlike, sacrificial acts of service to others. Anything and everything else, however good and noble, lies outside the kingdom of God.”
Gregory A. Boyd, The Myth of a Christian Nation: How the Quest for Political Power Is Destroying the Church
“The holiness of the kingdom of God must be preserved. If Jesus refused to acknowledge and fight for Israel as God's favored nation- even though it was the one nation in history that actually held this status at one time- how much more must his followers refuse to acknowledge and fight for America as God's favored nation" To say it another way, if Jesus was committed solely to establishing a kingdom that had no intrinsic nationalistic or ethnic allegiances- not even with Israel- how much more should his followers be committed to expanding this unique, non-nationalistic kingdom?”
Gregory A. Boyd, The Myth of a Christian Nation: How the Quest for Political Power Is Destroying the Church
“when the kingdom of God is manifested, it’s obvious. It looks like Jesus. But America as a nation has clearly never looked remotely like Jesus. There was nothing distinctively Christlike about the way America was “discovered,” conquered, or governed in the early years. To the contrary, the way this nation was “discovered,” conquered, and governed was a rather typical, barbaric, violent, kingdom-of-the-world affair. The immoral barbarism displayed in the early (and subsequent) years of this country was, sadly, pretty typical by kingdom-of-the-world standards. The fact that it was largely done under the banner of Christ doesn’t make it more Christian, any more than any other bloody conquest done in Jesus’ name throughout history (such as the Crusades and the Inquisition) qualifies them as Christlike.”
Gregory A. Boyd, The Myth of a Christian Nation: How the Quest for Political Power Is Destroying the Church
“I believe a significant segment of American evangelicalism is guilty of nationalistic and political idolatry. To a frightful degree, I think, evangelicals fuse the kingdom of God with a preferred version of the kingdom of the world (whether it’s our national interests, a particular form of government, a particular political program, or so on). Rather than focusing our understanding of God’s kingdom on the person of Jesus—who, incidentally, never allowed himself to get pulled into the political disputes of his day—I believe many of us American evangelicals have allowed our understanding of the kingdom of God to be polluted with political ideals, agendas, and issues.”
Gregory A. Boyd, The Myth of a Christian Nation: How the Quest for Political Power Is Destroying the Church
“The evangelical church in America has, to a large extent, been co-opted by an American, religious version of the kingdom of the world. We have come to trust the power of the sword more than the power of the cross. We have become intoxicated with the Constantinian, nationalistic, violent mindset of imperialistic Christendom.5”
Gregory A. Boyd, The Myth of a Christian Nation: How the Quest for Political Power Is Destroying the Church
“Laws, enforced by the sword, control behavior but cannot change hearts.”
Gregory A. Boyd, The Myth of a Christian Nation: How the Quest for Political Power Is Destroying the Church
“what if we individually and collectively committed ourselves to the one thing that is needful—to replicating the loving sacrifice of Calvary to all people, at all times, in all places, regardless of their circumstances or merit? What if we just did the kingdom?”
Gregory A. Boyd, The Myth of a Christian Nation: How the Quest for Political Power Is Destroying the Church
“The first question we needed to address in response to the popular “Take America Back for God” slogan concerned the precedent of Jesus, and in this light we must judge that the slogan can lead us into temptation. The second concerns the meaning of the slogan itself. I, for one, confess to being utterly mystified by the phrase. If we are to take America back for God, it must have once belonged to God, but it’s not at all clear when this golden Christian age was.

Were these God-glorifying years before, during, or after Europeans “discovered” America and carried out the doctrine of “manifest destiny”—the belief that God (or, for some, nature) had destined white Christians to conquer the native inhabitants and steal their land? Were the God-glorifying years the ones in which whites massacred these natives by the millions, broke just about every covenant they ever made with them, and then forced survivors onto isolated reservations? Was the golden age before, during, or after white Christians loaded five to six million Africans on cargo ships to bring them to their newfound country, enslaving the three million or so who actually survived the brutal trip? Was it during the two centuries when Americans acquired remarkable wealth by the sweat and blood of their slaves? Was this the time when we were truly “one nation under God,” the blessed time that so many evangelicals seem to want to take our nation back to?

Maybe someone would suggest that the golden age occurred after the Civil War, when blacks were finally freed. That doesn’t quite work either, however, for the virtual apartheid that followed under Jim Crow laws—along with the ongoing violence, injustices, and dishonesty toward Native Americans and other nonwhites up into the early twentieth century—was hardly “God-glorifying.” (In this light, it should come as no surprise to find that few Christian Native Americans, African-Americans, or other nonwhites join in the chorus that we need to “Take America Back for God.”)

If we look at historical reality rather than pious verbiage, it’s obvious that America never really “belonged to God.”
Gregory A. Boyd, The Myth of a Christian Nation: How the Quest for Political Power Is Destroying the Church
“Jesus’ life and ministry consistently reveal the humble character of a servant. Though he rightfully owned the entire cosmos, he, by choice, had no place to lay his head (Matt. 8:20). Though he rightfully should have been honored by the world’s most esteemed dignitaries, he chose to fellowship with tax collectors, drunkards, prostitutes, and other socially unacceptable sinners (Matt. 11:19; Mark 2:15; Luke 5:29–30; 15:1; cf. Luke 7:31–50). Though he rightfully could have demanded service and worship from all, he served the lame and the sick by healing them, the demonized by delivering them, and the outcasts by befriending them. This is what the kingdom of God looks like.”
Gregory A. Boyd, The Myth of a Christian Nation: How the Quest for Political Power Is Destroying the Church
“For many in America and around the world, the American flag has smothered the glory of the cross, and the ugliness of our American version of Caesar has squelched the radiant love of Christ.”
Gregory A. Boyd, The Myth of a Christian Nation: How the Quest for Political Power Is Destroying the Church
“Coming under others has a power to do what laws and bullets and bombs can never do—namely, bring about transformation in an enemy’s heart. This is the unique “Lamb power” of the kingdom of God, and indeed, this is the power of God Almighty. When God flexes his omnipotent muscle, it doesn’t look like Rambo or the Terminator—it looks like Calvary! And living in this Calvary-like love moment by moment, in all circumstances and in relation to all people, is the sole calling of those who are aligned with the kingdom that Jesus came to bring.”
Gregory A. Boyd, The Myth of a Christian Nation: How the Quest for Political Power Is Destroying the Church
“...we must never confuse the positive things that America does with the kingdom of God, for the kingdom of God is not centered on being morally, politically, or socially positive *relative* to other versions of the kingdom of the world. Rather, the kingdom of God is centered on being *beautiful*, as defined by Jesus Christ dying on a cross for those who crucified him.”
Gregory A. Boyd, The Myth of a Christian Nation: How the Quest for Political Power Is Destroying the Church
“Do you trust threats, judgment, shame, or social pressure (even in church!) to change people, or do you trust the Holy Spirit working in the people’s hearts and using Christlike acts of love to bring about change? The kingdom of God consists of all those who choose the latter rather than the former and who act accordingly.”
Gregory A. Boyd, The Myth of a Christian Nation: How the Quest for Political Power Is Destroying the Church
“I believe a significant segment of American evangelicalism is guilty of nationalistic and political idolatry.”
Gregory A. Boyd, The Myth of a Christian Nation: How the Quest for Political Power Is Destroying the Church
“Between the Christianity of this land, and the Christianity of Christ, I recognize the widest possible difference—so wide, that to receive the one as good, pure, and holy, is of necessity to reject the other as bad, corrupt and wicked…. I love the pure, peaceable, and impartial Christianity of Christ; I therefore hate the corrupt, slaveholding, women-whipping, cradle-plundering, partial and hypocritical Christianity of this land. Indeed, I can see no reason, but the most deceitful one, for calling the religion of this land Christianity.14”
Gregory A. Boyd, The Myth of a Christian Nation: How the Quest for Political Power Is Destroying the Church
“I’ll suggest that the kingdom Jesus came to establish is “not from this world” (John 18:36), for it operates differently than the governments of the world do. While all the versions of the kingdom of the world acquire and exercise power over others, the kingdom of God, incarnated and modeled in the person of Jesus Christ, advances only by exercising power under others.5 It expands by manifesting the power of self-sacrificial, Calvary-like love. To put it differently, the governments of the world seek to establish, protect, and advance their ideals and agendas. It’s in the fallen nature of all those governments to want to “win.” By contrast, the kingdom Jesus established and modeled with his life, death, and resurrection doesn’t seek to “win” by any criteria the world would use. Rather, it seeks to be faithful. It demonstrates the reign of God by manifesting the sacrificial character of God, and in the process, it reveals the most beautiful, dynamic, and transformative power in the universe. It testifies that this power alone—the power to transform people from the inside out by coming under them—holds the hope of the world. Everything the church is about, I argue, hangs on preserving the radical uniqueness of this kingdom in contrast to the kingdom of the world.”
Gregory A. Boyd, The Myth of a Christian Nation: How the Quest for Political Power Is Destroying the Church
“Because the myth that America is a Christian nation has led many to associate America with Christ, many now hear the good news of Jesus only as American news, capitalistic news, imperialistic news, exploitive news, antigay news, or Republican news. And whether justified or not, many people want nothing to do with any of it.”
Gregory A. Boyd, The Myth of a Christian Nation: How the Quest for Political Power Is Destroying the Church
“One wonders why no one in church history has ever been considered a heretic for being unloving. People were anathematized and often tortured and killed for disagreeing on matters of doctrine or on the authority of the church. But no one on record has ever been so much as rebuked for not loving as Christ loved.

Yet if love is to be placed above all other considerations (Col. 3:14; 1 Peter 4:8), if nothing has any value apart from love (1 Cor. 13:1–3), and if the only thing that matters is faith working in love (Gal. 5:6), how is it that possessing Christlike love has never been considered the central test of orthodoxy? How is it that those who tortured and burned heretics were not themselves considered heretics for doing so? Was this not heresy of the worst sort? How is it that those who perpetrated such things were not only not deemed heretics but often were (and yet are) held up as “heroes of the faith”?

If there is an answer to this question, I believe it lies in the deceptive power of the sword. While God uses the sword of governments to preserve law, order, and justice, as we have seen, there is a corrupting principality and power always at work. Much like the magical ring in Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, the sword has a demonic power to deceive us. When we pick it up, we come under its power. It convinces us that our use of violence is a justified means to a noble end. It intoxicates us with the unquenchable dream of redemptive violence and blinds us to our own iniquities, thereby making us feel righteous in overpowering the unrighteousness of others. Most of the slaughtering done throughout history has been done by people who sincerely believed they were promoting “the good.” Everyone thinks their wars are just, if not holy. Marxists, Nazis, the Khmer Rouge, Islamic terrorists, and Christian crusaders have this in common.”
Gregory A. Boyd, The Myth of a Christian Nation: How the Quest for Political Power Is Destroying the Church
“Shortly after the Gulf War in 1992 I happened to visit a July Fourth worship service at a certain megachurch. At center stage in this auditorium stood a large cross next to an equally large American flag. The congregation sang some praise choruses mixed with such patriotic hymns as “God Bless America.” The climax of the service centered on a video of a well-known Christian military general giving a patriotic speech about how God has blessed America and blessed its military troops, as evidenced by the speedy and almost “casualty-free” victory “he gave us” in the Gulf War (Iraqi deaths apparently weren’t counted as “casualties” worthy of notice). Triumphant military music played in the background as he spoke.

The video closed with a scene of a silhouette of three crosses on a hill with an American flag waving in the background. Majestic, patriotic music now thundered. Suddenly, four fighter jets appeared on the horizon, flew over the crosses, and then split apart. As they roared over the camera, the words “God Bless America” appeared on the screen in front of the crosses.

The congregation responded with roaring applause, catcalls, and a standing ovation. I saw several people wiping tears from their eyes. Indeed, as I remained frozen in my seat, I grew teary-eyed as well - but for entirely different reasons. I was struck with horrified grief.

Thoughts raced through my mind: How could the cross and the sword have been so thoroughly fused without anyone seeming to notice? How could Jesus’ self-sacrificial death be linked with flying killing machines? How could Calvary be associated with bombs and missiles? How could Jesus’ people applaud tragic violence, regardless of why it happened and regardless of how they might benefit from its outcome? How could the kingdom of God be reduced to this sort of violent, nationalistic tribalism? Has the church progressed at all since the Crusades?

Indeed, I wondered how this tribalistic, militaristic, religious celebration was any different from the one I had recently witnessed on television carried out by Taliban Muslims raising their guns as they joyfully praised Allah for the victories they believed “he had given them” in Afghanistan?”
Gregory A. Boyd, The Myth of a Christian Nation: How the Quest for Political Power Is Destroying the Church
“The question that wins the world is not, how can we get our “morally superior” way enforced in the world? The question that wins the world, and the question that must define the individual and collective life of kingdom-of-God citizens is, how do we take up the cross for the world? How do we best communicate to others their unsurpassable worth before God? How do we serve and wash the feet of the oppressed and despised?”
Gregory A. Boyd, The Myth of a Christian Nation: How the Quest for Political Power Is Destroying the Church
“Jesus never allowed himself to be defined by the political conflicts of his day, and neither should we.”
Gregory A. Boyd, The Myth of a Christian Nation: How the Quest for Political Power Is Destroying the Church
“the reason God now calls kingdom people to remain separate from the ways of the kingdom-of-the-world is not to isolate them from their culture but to empower them to authentically serve their culture and ultimately win it over to allegiance to Jesus Christ. The reason we are not to be of the world is so we may be for the world.”
Gregory A. Boyd, The Myth of a Christian Nation: How the Quest for Political Power Is Destroying the Church
“The radically countercultural and revolutionary movement that Jesus birthed has, in our country (as in every other “Christian” country), been largely reduced to little more than a preservation society for a national civil religion.”
Gregory A. Boyd, The Myth of a Christian Nation: How the Quest for Political Power Is Destroying the Church
“Just listen to Frederick Douglass, a nineteenth-century slave who taught himself how to read and write, as he expresses his view of how Christian America was: Between the Christianity of this land, and the Christianity of Christ, I recognize the widest possible difference—so wide, that to receive the one as good, pure, and holy, is of necessity to reject the other as bad, corrupt and wicked…. I love the pure, peaceable, and impartial Christianity of Christ; I therefore hate the corrupt, slaveholding, women-whipping, cradle-plundering, partial and hypocritical Christianity of this land. Indeed, I can see no reason, but the most deceitful one, for calling the religion of this land Christianity.14”
Gregory A. Boyd, The Myth of a Christian Nation: How the Quest for Political Power Is Destroying the Church
“The words and acts of the founding fathers, especially the first few presidents, shaped the form and tone of the civil religion as it has been maintained ever since. Though much is selectively derived from Christianity, this religion is clearly not itself Christianity. ROBERT BELLAH1”
Gregory A. Boyd, The Myth of a Christian Nation: How the Quest for Political Power Is Destroying the Church
“In the words of Barbara Rossing and John Yoder, borrowing an image from the book of Revelation, the contrast between the “power over” kingdom of the world and the “power under” kingdom of God is “Lion power” versus “Lamb power.” The kingdom of God advances by people lovingly placing themselves under others, in service to others, at cost to themselves. This “coming under” doesn’t mean that followers of Jesus conform to other people’s wishes, but it does mean that we always interact with others with their best interests in mind.

Following the example of Christ, and in stark contrast to the modus operandi of the world, we are to do “nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than [our]selves.” We are to “look not to [our] own interests, but to the interests of others” (Phil. 2:3–4). We are to “not seek [our] own advantage, but that of the other” (1 Cor. 10:24, cf. 10:33). Following Jesus’ example, we are to find honor in washing people’s feet (John 13:14–15)—that is, in serving them in any way we can.

So too, in following our Master we are to seek to do good and free all who are “oppressed by the devil” (Acts 10:38) while we voluntarily bear others’ burdens (Gal. 6:2). We are to “outdo one another in showing honor” (Rom. 12:10) and never be competitive with others (unless, of course, it’s for fun) (Gal. 5:26). We are to “put up with the failings of the weak, and not please ourselves,” always asking how we might “please our neighbor for the good purpose of building up the neighbor” (Rom. 15:1–2). We are to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, take in the homeless, befriend the friendless, and visit the condemned prisoner (James 2:15–17; 1 John 3:14–18; cf. Matt. 25:34–40).”
Gregory A. Boyd, The Myth of a Christian Nation: How the Quest for Political Power Is Destroying the Church
“We may well prefer a democratically controlled oligarchy to some other kind. We may well have a choice between Marxist and Islamic and other statements of the vision of the good society. But what our contemporaries find themselves practically incapable of challenging is that the social problem can be solved by determining which aristocrats are morally justified, by virtue of their better ideology, to use the power of society from the top so as to lead the whole system in their direction.8”
Gregory A. Boyd, The Myth of a Christian Nation: How the Quest for Political Power Is Destroying the Church

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