• What Israel Teaches Us About the Idolatry of Security

    Christian in the United States today grapples with a desire to control and preserve its own future. Illustrated by the rise of the Religious Right in the past few decades and a recent resurgence in Christian governmental politics, we are concerned with how God works in, through, and outside of our national structures of government. But perhaps the question we should be asking is where our hope comes from. Do we rely on God for our security, or do we seek it instead through our own systems of safety and predictability?
  • Losing Christ Within the Empire

    Today is the eve of Independence Day, the peak of the American Christian's tendency to conflate the worship of God with the celebration of our national heritage. One of the most important conversations in this era of our culture involves two problems set up by the early church: the rise of politics within the body of the church, and the wedding between the Christian faith and the empire of the world.
  • A Nation After Christ

    There are a lot of different ideas about whether the United States was founded as a Christian nation. Regardless of those ideas, though, the majority of Americans now say that the United States of today isn’t Christian nation. The question, then, is whether we should strive to establish the United States as a Christian nation for tomorrow. Conservative voices across the country join together to demand laws that defend the biblical definitions of marriage and protect expressions of Christian faith on government property. They cry for Christian men and women to speak up, protest governmental authorities, and stop the rise of secularization in our nation. Certainly, Christians should hope for all Americans to come to know Christ in a real and personal way. We should have that same hope for all the world. But is legislating our Christian ethics the way we are to bring people to Christ? Let’s start with some of the core, universal beliefs of evangelical Christianity. At the heart of evangelicalism is the idea that authentic Christian faith is personal. The decision to live your life for Christ is one that each individual must make for himself. It’s not something that can be inherited or passed along or absorbed by sitting in a pew. We believe in the transformative power of a relationship with God. When a person commits their life to Christ, the Holy Spirit speaks to them and draws them closer to God. We believe that community is a vitally important part of Christian life. We come together to worship, to support one another, and to challenge each other. I understand the desire to create a Christian culture. After all, we want to live in a wholesome society that shares our values. And since we believe in the right-ness of our values, we believe society can be improved by adhering to our values. And we feel that if the world would simply live by our ethics, the United States would be a beautiful, happy place to live. But here’s one of my big hangups with that. When we create laws based on the Bible*, we are effectively discouraging people from having a personal relationship with Christ.  We’re telling them they have to live a Christian life rather than allowing them to discover the joy of living a Christian life. It’s like reading books. I’ve always loved reading - I was one of those kids that went to the library every other week and brought home 10 books to read over the next 14 days. In school, though, we were always assigned a list of books to read, and working through those books was torture. They weren’t bad books. They weren’t boring or difficult to understand. I just hated reading them. Since I’ve been out of school, I’ve re-read a number of those books for fun, and I’ve been astounded at how incredible those books are. I’ve loved reading them. Why do I enjoy them so much now even though I hated them in school?…