Monday, April 27, 2009

The End of Christian America? (6)

Final thoughts from Greg Boyd's article -- reasons why Kingdom people should not weep over the demise of American Christianity:

3.  If Evangelicals lose all their political clout, we may be less tempted to lust after political power, which means we may have one less distraction from actually doing what God called us to do -- namely, manifesting God's reign by how we humbly live, love and serve.

4.  The Kingdom has always thrived -- and really, has only thrived -- when it was on the margins of society.  The Kingdom is, by its very nature, a "contrast society."  If Christians lose all their power and position in society and become marginalized, this can't help but be good for the Kingdom.  If Christians become persecuted, it likely will be even better.  We'd be turning back the clock from the disaster of Constantinian truimphalist Christianity in the direction of apostolic, servant Christianity.

5.  The "Christian" element of American culture was never deeper than the thin veneer of a shared civic religion.  Many think that being "Christian" is focused on preserving the civic religion (e.g. fighting for prayer before sports events, keeping the ten commandments on government buildings, holding onto a "Christian" definition of marriage within our government, etc.).  Not only this, but this veneer of Christianity causes Jesus followers not to notice the many ways foundational assumptions that permeate American culture are diametrically opposed to the values of the Kingdom.  If the civic religion of Christianity were to die, Kingdom people would be less tempted to associate Christianity with symbolic civic functions and would become more aware of how the Kingdom sharply contrasts with foundational aspects of American culture.

6.  Finally, if Jesus followers lose all their position and power and become a minority . . . this will expose the idol of American individualism we have bought into for far too long and perhaps help us realize that we need to cling to each other and that the Kingdom is inherently communal.  We are called to manifest God's uniquely beautiful love and bear witness to the reality of Jesus Christ by how we share our lives and serve one another.  But it is very difficult for many of us to embrace radical Kingdom community when we can get along very well (by American standards of "well") without it.

The God-given mandate to Kingdom people is not to keep the broader culture from falling apart, but to offer all who are hungry a radically different, far more beautiful, way of doing life.  And often people will not take this offer seriously until everything else is crumbing around them.

Let the civic religion die.  Our task is to live in a way that gives people hope.       

1 comment:

Jeff said...

Great thoughts. I have been thinking this way for some time and while my viewpoint is a bit radical for most people's taste, I do believe one way or another Christians will be called back to what is most important. I personally think it will come with a more pain than anyone would hope for but it might only be my defense mechanism to prepare for the worst and be happy if things aren't as bad as I imagined.