distraction from the Gospel

our enemy’s favorite play is the misdirection play. He doesn’t mind if a bunch of Christ followers get together to do “christian” things. He prefers that we stay huddled together in committees working out the details of the next building project or program designed to make ourselves more comfortable. he must especially like it when we expend great energy and fritter away the integrity and legitimacy of our message by getting involved in hand to hand combat in secular political society trying to recapture some mythical “christian” past as a “christian” nation.

whatever we do, if we aren’t loving our God with all of our heart soul mind and strength and our neighbors as ourselves in order to demonstrate the selfless love with which we have been loved, then our enemy is pleased.

I haven’t said anything about the American Patriots Bible because I didn’t have anything nice to say.

So I will simply link to Richard Gamble’s review and show this excerpt:

Publication of The American Patriot’s Bible ought to provoke a much needed debate in the United States about the church’s right relationship to civil society. This Bible may become a landmark in that debate, clarifying the issues as never before, forcing people to recognize the degree to which Americanism has penetrated Christianity. An Augustinian perspective may help frame that conversation. In Book XIX of The City of God, the Bishop of Hippo explained in which areas there can be peace and in which there must be conflict between the earthly and the heavenly cities. Christian and non-Christian have a common interest in earthly peace, good order, and the “necessaries of life.” But in matters of worship, Augustine wrote, the Christian was forced to “dissent” from the earthly city. The limits of the common life had been reached. The Christian was forced “to become obnoxious to those who think differently, and to stand the brunt of their anger and hatred and persecutions…” Praising piety and faith in general alongside remnants of the historic Christian faith, The American Patriot’s Bible combines the things of God and the things of Caesar at the very point where they most vigilantly need to be kept apart. When the City of Man sets up Americanism as its faith, the Christian is forced to dissent.

There is another problem here. Why nationalize the Bible? A nationalized Bible would seem in effect to reverse the story of redemption. At the core of Christianity is a message that the gospel of salvation is flung wide open to all peoples regardless of nationality, race, or language. The day of Pentacost made that truth clear. While Christianity has inevitably taken on national accents as it has encountered culture after culture over the past 2,000 years, it is a universal faith. Why, then, take that transnational faith and fuse it with an earthly Caesar and empire by setting it side by side in pages of Holy Writ with a particular nation’s history and identity, as if Christianity belonged to Americans in a special and intimate way not true of other people? This Bible by its very existence distorts the gospel. As Augustine says in The City of God, the “heavenly city, while it sojourns on earth, calls citizens out of all nations, and gathers together a society of pilgrims of all languages…”

Go read the rest. It is delicious.

Hat tip to Nathan Finn, who adds:

For what it’s worth, the wife of a good friend of mine was horrified to receive a free copy of this book at an event during the SBC Annual Meeting in Louisville. She saw it as a key commentary on why Southern Baptists need a Great Commission Resurgence–because too many of us have become distracted by a desire to return America to her “Christian roots” (among other distractions) rather than laboring for the sake of the gospel so that more Americans (and people from every tribe, tongue, and nation) will become Christians. I agree 100%.

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2 Responses

  1. I haven’t heard of this Bible. What a stupid idea, to say the least. weird.

  2. It is weird, but there is a group of well meaning nice people who are dedicated to the recovery of America as a “christian nation” and they expend great energy in its pursuit.

    if only they pursued with similar vigor the reconciliation of their neighbors with God so that the citizenship of the Kingdom of Heaven would increase.

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