Friday, January 07, 2005

The Idolatry of "Civil Christianity" 

Further to my post dated July 05, 2004 (God Bless America), there's a relevant post here; an excerpt to whet your appetite:

Civil religion occurs when a significant number of a nation's inhabitants identify the interests of their nation with the interests of their deity. This situation is mutually beneficial for both government and religion. The government, wrapped in religious garb, achieves divine legitimation of its activities, and so critics of governmental policies can be cast in the most extreme negative light: as anti-god.

Civil religion inevitably leads to idolatry, as the nation-state acquires quasi-divine status. Civil religion also fosters confusion and coercion, as an attempt is made to apply ethical and spiritual principles that should properly apply to Christians to the entire populace.

No, I am NOT anti-American (I have a number of wonderful American friends) and the danger of civil/nationalistic religion is obviously not confined to America (think of the Balkans for starters). I pray that my American brothers and sisters who are caught up in the idolatry of civil religion will remember that "our citizenship is in heaven" (Phil. 3:20).

See also the section "Nationalism, Patriotism, and Other Works of the Flesh" (pp.144-149) in Mere Discipleship: Radical Christianity in a Rebellious World by Lee C. Camp (Brazos Press, 2003).

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