Thursday, June 13, 2024

the last book I ever read (The Kingdom, the Power, and the Glory: American Evangelicals in an Age of Extremism by Tim Alberta, excerpt one)

from The Kingdom, the Power, and the Glory: American Evangelicals in an Age of Extremism by Tim Alberta:

For much of American history, white Christians had all of those things. Given that reality—and given the miraculous nature of America’s defeat of Great Britain, its rise to superpower status. And its legacy of spreading freedom and democracy (and yes, Christianity) across the globe—it’s easy to see why so many evangelicals believe that our country is divinely blessed. The problem is, blessings often become indistinguishable from entitlements. Once we become convinced that God has blessed something, that something can become an object of jealousy, obsession—even worship.

“At its root, we’re talking about idolatry. America has become an idol to some of these people,” Winans said. “If you believe that God is in covenant with America, then you believe—and I’ve heard lots of people say this explicitly—that we’re a new Israel. You believe the sorts of promises made to Israel are applicable to this country; you view America as a covenant that needs to be protected. You have to fight for America as if salvation itself hangs in the balance. At that point, you understand yourself as an American first and most fundamentally. And that is a terrible misunderstanding of who we’re called to be.”

This can happen anywhere, Winans explained, but the conditions in American are especially ripe for national idolatry. “The freedoms in our Bill of Rights, we like to call them ‘God-given.’ Now, think about what that means in the context of gun control,” he said. “If someone’s trying to take away something God has given you, well, shoot, that’s pretty upsetting! But is there a God-given right to bear arms? Or is it a cultural right? If I went to the U.K., or most other places in the world, they would say it’s a cultural right. In America, many Christians believe it’s a God-given right. So, you can see how, even in that one small example, we start running into problems.”

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