I continue my series , now in six parts, on the recent federal election. I believe the election, and the exit polling results, reveals our current spiritual state quite starkly. I thus begin by making a suggestion that will likely offend some who do not grasp the nature of what I am really saying in this series of blogs.
Stop Worrying About the Decline of America
For fifty years I have heard wave after wave of preachers and politicians talk about the decline of America. Each election has become a referendum on whether we had a future or not. Again, we are a nation deeply in love with the idea of “the city set on a hill.” We believe we have a unique and special place in God’s plan. We promote this theory as if we have obvious biblical support for it. In one pre-election interview I saw Sarah Palin interviewed about this point. She spoke about us having enjoyed a “most favored nation” status because of our Christian values. She then recited 2 Chronicles 7:14. Besides misquoting she had no earthly idea what the biblical-theological context of the passage was all about. She mixed politics and prayer into a deadly idea that this election was about recovering our past so we would enjoy God’s favor in the future.
Whatever you think about America’s past, and I am a historian who enjoys discussing the highs and lows of that past, we were never a theocracy, for which I am profoundly grateful. We are not the “new Israel” following the prescriptions and receiving the promises given to ancient Israel before the coming of the messiah. It is past time that this mythology be shelved inside the church. It is also past time for us to put aside blatant references to our flag and the Bible by putting them side-by-side in the places where we gather to worship God. Patriotism, or love of one’s country, is a good thing. But patriotism mixed with the Christian faith is both confusing and dangerous. Going forward, in the new America, it will prove to be harmful to our message to most non-Christians under 40.
Begin to Practice the New Way to Live
Richard Stearns, the president of World Vision, gave a response to the election to Christianity Today on November 7. His words reflect my vision.
While symbols can be important,