What does it mean to be a Christian? Is a person a Christian because they are born in a “Christian” nation? Does any nation in the world qualify as a “Christian” nation? How do people who are not Christians reconcile their residency when a portion of the population surrounding them considers the nation they live in and do not consider Christian, Christian?
Gregory Boyd, a pastor in Minnesota preached a multi-part sermon series called, “The Cross and the Sword.” Boyd was responding to the overwhelming calls to arms of American Christians to use the strength and power of government to enforce morality, pursue war, and craft laws with a Biblical foundation.
In The Myth of a Christian Nation, Boyd highlights the differences between the worldly structures the devil is master of and the Kingdom of God. Christians, Boyd stresses, are in this world, but not to be of this world. Christians must recognize this world is not the Kingdom of God and even the best of this world is nothing compared to the beauty and perfection of the coming kingdom.
With that dichotomy in mind, when Christians attempt to place a “Christian” stamp on things of this world that are not redeemed, it damages the witness of Christians and lowers the probability non-believers will listen or be receptive to the love of Jesus. In other words, it is hard for those who need to hear the love of Jesus when they witness Christians screaming for government violence and controls on people who do not think and act like them.
The book is a quick read if you are familiar with this line of thinking. However, if a reader consider the United States a “Christian” nation and that Christians have civic duties to act and respond within the American culture much like other non-Christians, this book will challenge your entire world-view.
I consider this a must read for the Church. I am regularly reminded of 1 Sam 8: 1-22. In this chapter Israel sees the surrounding nations and their earthly structures compared to their own reliance upon God as leader and demands a king. The part of this we frequently ignore is Israel responds to the bad leadership traits of Samuel’s sons who are not like him.
Israel wanted good leadership and thought with a king, they would be free of the tyranny of Samuel’s sons, without realizing a human king was an anathema to the reign of God. Israel’s demand was a rejection of God, not of Samuel. Boyd’s point in The Myth of a Christian Nation is that considering the United States or any other country or State Christian is a similar rejection of the Kingdom of God for this earthly kingdom.
Boyd divides the book into nine 10-20 page chapters that are further subdivided, which provides plenty of opportunity to set the book down and check his citations, read your own Bible, and ponder his thoughts.
The chapters are:
- The Kingdom of the Sword
- The Kingdom of the Cross
- Keeping the Kingdom Holy
- From Resident Aliens to Conquering Warlords
- Taking America Back for God
- The Myth of a Christian Nation
- When Chief Sinners Become Moral Guardians
- One Nation Under God
- Christians and Violence: Confronting the Tough Questions.
I recommend this book. Buy a handful of them and give them to your family and friends as gifts. This is a conversation believers need to have.