I’ve had this book on my wishlist at Amazon and on Nook for awhile, but with the cries of “Christian persecution” reaching a fever pitch in recent weeks, I decided to pick it up and see what Pastor Boyd had to say on this topic. He has quite a lot to say actually, and makes his case quite well. The basis of this book, “The Myth of a Christian Nation: How the Quest for Political Power is Destroying the Church,” is made up of several sermons that Boyd had preached in his own church on the subject. He is quite frank about it, saying that many people were not happy with what he had to say, and that more than a few members walked away from his church as a result.
In this book, Boyd asks the question: “Is America now, or has it ever been, a Christian Nation?” To decide that, we must know what a Christian nation would look like. According to Boyd (and I agree) a true Christian Nation would look like the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom of God always looks like Jesus, loving unconditionally and seeking to serve and bleed for others despite their circumstances. One of they keys to this is the way in which any nation or government relates to it’s people and other nations. For Boyd, worldly nations operate using a “power over” approach seeking to keep order through dominance and the threat of the violence of the sword.
Boyd contrasts this with the Kingdom of God, which operates using the “power under” approach. Like Jesus, the Kingdom of God seeks to “come under” people through genuine love and service, perhaps even dying for them in the ultimate expression of Calvary type love. The Kingdom of God doesn’t seek to dominate by the sword, but to serve by the cross. Thus, while the stated goal of the Kingdoms of the World is to change behavior through threat, the goal of the Kingdom of God is to transform people’s lives through the love of Christ, crucified and resurrected.
So with this criteria in hand, Boyd now looks at whether America is a “Christian Nation.” Spoiler Alert: it’s not. At least he doesn’t believe it is, and I am in agreement in with him. Boyd takes a look at our history and culture and decides that no, America has never really looked like Jesus. The act of wanting to subdue the land and it’s inhabitants basically began when the first European settlers stepped off their boats. While they tried to cloak it in terms of Christianity by “converting the Indians,” this was nothing more than code for domination. Over the next 200 plus years “America” engaged in a mass theft of land and property and committed genocide on native peoples, destroying entire nations and cultures in the process.
Is that something a Christian nation would do? Does that look like Jesus? Of course not.
Then we get to African slavery. Members of this supposed “Christian Nation” kidnapped and enslaved an entire race of people just because their skin was a different color. Americans sold Africans like cattle and traded them like commodities, denying their basic worth as human beings and their “inalienable rights” that were trumpeted in our founding documents.
Speaking of those documents, the founders, the men who wrote them (and I do stress MEN) were Christians and founded the nation based on Christianity, right? Boyd takes care to point out what anyone who has ever taken a serious US History class should already know: most of the founders were not “Christian” in any sense of the word that we would use today. For the most part they were Deists, heavily influenced by the ideas of the Enlightenment. As Boyd says, the founders and the writers of our founding documents were most certainly influenced more by John Locke than they were Jesus Christ.
Which brings us to the final bit of this. What many Americans think is “Christianity” is not the faith of Christ at all, but a mostly white, nationalistic, civic religion borrowing terms from Christianity. In this civic religion, America seeks not to further the Kingdom of God but to strengthen itself as a powerful Kingdom of the World through the power of oppression and the sword. Our savior becomes a politician or political party instead of Christ, our hymns glorify a whitewashed version of our country’s checkered past instead of praising The Father. We pledge our loyalty to a flag instead of the cross of Calvary.
Does that sound like a harsh judgement? Does that sound like it’s going overboard? Boyd points out that Jesus says that you cannot serve two masters, so which gets our ultimate loyalty, the flag or the cross?
Honestly, there’s so much more to Boyd’s position than one could ever do justice to in a blog type review. However, I will tell you that he backs up pretty much everything he says directly from scripture. In fact, I would encourage you to keep a Bible at your side as you read the book so you can check it out. The last chapter points out various issues and questions that he is often asked about his position and how he answers them, again this is all heavily fortified with well used scripture. At the end of the book are discussion questions for each chapter, making the book ideal for use in a group setting.
All in all, I was very pleased with the book and in agreement with Boyd on probably 90% of what he says. Even where I possibly disagree on a secondary point or two, I would still concede that his position is more than reasonable and ALWAYS driven by love, which of course is the point of the Kingdom of God.
Check this book out. I know I’ll be reading more by Boyd in the future.