I’m currently leading a group of folks at my church through Lee C. Camp’s book Mere Discipleship: Radical Christianity in a Rebellious World. I first read it last year (it was highly recommended to me) and I think that it is one of the best “popular level” introductions to the theology & ethics of John Howard Yoder & Stanley Hauerwas (with a good measure of N.T. Wright and Richard Hays thrown in as well) that I have read.
The book has spurred some great conversation among our group and as I was preparing for our next meeting I was struck by the following quote:
“This is the great irony of American Christianity: exalting the nation that affords us ‘freedom of religion,’ we set aside the way of Christ in order to preserve the religion we supposedly are free to practice. We kill our alleged enemies in order to ‘worship’ the God who teaches us to love enemies. The most important question about our pledge of allegiance is not whether we pledge allegiance to a flag under “one God,” but to what god we are pledging our allegiance. Perhaps it is, after all, not the God revealed in Jesus Christ we are worshiping, but the god of the nation-state, the god of power and might and wealth.”
Do you agree with his assessment of the “great irony of American Christianity”?
Can you think of any other examples that would support his argument?
4 thoughts on “The Great Irony of American Christianity”
Camp’s book is great. I agree completely with his assessment. However, instead of simply the ‘great irony of American Christianity’ I don’t think it would be too harsh to rephrase it as ‘the great idolatry of American civil religion’ in true Hauerwasian style.
Russell, I’d agree with you there. I’m always a little less bold with my rhetoric than Hauerwas is – the circles I run in are pretty nationalistic.
Yep, I know those circles all too well. I just don’t seems to be very good at ‘towing the line’. 🙂
I would entirely agree with Mr. Almon. It is in true Hauerwasian style, because after all, if one is not willing to WORSHIP the God or the Jesus Christ of Christianity, but rather a god of his own interpretation,
… then one should refrain from calling it Christianity AT ALL.
This “version” or “strain” of “Christianity” that we know in America is, I believe, by and large, to borrow a turn of phrase, not “close to the kingdom of God.”