Friday, August 17, 2007

The Myth of a Christian Nation

"The Myth of a Christian Nation" by Gregory Boyd is a book that did a good job of coherently presenting a lot of random thoughts that have been rolling around my head for the past few years. Basically, the main thrust of the book was to destroy the myth that the way to revolutionize the world for God is by taking over the kingdom of this world. It is a somewhat popular thought right now (although it is waning) that many of the problems in our nation and even the world could be solved if we got the right "Christian" leaders in positions of power. However, this was never Jesus' plan while he was here on earth and he talked about the creation of a new kind of kingdom. In fact, one of the temptations Christ had to overcome before he began his ministry was the lure of worldly power.

Instead, Christ came to institute a new kind of kingdom. A kingdom that is all about transforming love and not coercive power. One theme that Boyd touched on over and over was contrasting the idea of "power over" versus "power under." It is a myth to believe that the best way to gain power is through force, but Christ demonstrated a new kind of power, a power that comes under others. Christ, even though he was God, did not consider equality with God as something that should be grasped by humans. Instead, he emptied himself and loved others by being a servant. That is the type of power that will change and transform the world.

The book also briefly touched on this common conception that the Founding Fathers of America were Christian and set this nation up to be a Christian nation. Many people tend to idealize our past and think that we need to return to the golden age when our nation was purely "Christian." However, this has never been true and American history has been stained with war, oppression, and violence from the very beginning. This truth was especially fresh on my mind have recently read Howard Zinn's history of America.

All in all, I thought it was a pretty good book. I would definitely recommend reading it if you are looking for an alternative way to think about what Christians should be doing in America.

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