I was at the Dentist this morning and while waiting I happened to see the Newsweek article called “The End of Christian America“. I read it and much of what the article was talking about is things that our team is talking about regarding post-Christian America (the term used in the article and also in the books that I have been reading for some time now). There was a lot in the article that show cause for concern but also cause for hope. This is a time where, if we are adventurous enough and open to taking risks, we can re-imagine church, life, and faith in a new way. One that doesn’t decry the fact that our culture is becoming more and more like the 1st century. Look how the church exploded in the 1st century, without budgets, buildings, or bishops (Had to put all three words that started with B).

One of the quotes that I especially resonated with is:
“And they have learned that politics does not hold all the answers—a lesson that, along with a certain relief from the anxieties of the cultural upheavals of the ’60s and ’70s, has tended to curb religiously inspired political zeal. “The worst fault of evangelicals in terms of politics over the last 30 years has been an incredible naiveté about politics and politicians and parties,” says Mohler. “They invested far too much hope in a political solution to what are transpolitical issues and problems.”

Another two quotes from the article that I really resonated with are below:

The columnist Cal Thomas was an early figure in the Moral Majority who came to see the Christian American movement as fatally flawed in theological terms. “No country can be truly ‘Christian’,” Thomas says. “Only people can. God is above all nations, and, in fact, Isaiah says that ‘All nations are to him a drop in the bucket and less than nothing’.”

Experience shows that religious authorities can themselves be corrupted by proximity to political power. A quarter century ago, three scholars who are also evangelical Christians—Mark A. Noll, Nathan O. Hatch and George M. Marsden—published an important but too-little-known book, “The Search for Christian America.” In it they argued that Christianity’s claims transcend any political order. Christians, they wrote, “should not have illusions about the nature of human governments. Ultimately they belong to what Augustine calls ‘the city of the world,’ in which self-interest rules … all governments can be brutal killers.”

Their view tracks with that of the Psalmist, who said, “Put not thy trust in princes,” and there is much New Testament evidence to support a vision of faith and politics in which the church is truest to its core mission when it is the farthest from the entanglements of power. The Jesus of the Gospels resolutely refuses to use the means of this world—either the clash of arms or the passions of politics—to further his ends. After the miracle of the loaves and fishes, the dazzled throng thought they had found their earthly messiah. “When Jesus therefore perceived that they would come and take him by force, to make him a king, he departed again into a mountain himself alone.” When one of his followers slices off the ear of one of the arresting party in Gethsemane, Jesus says, “Put up thy sword.” Later, before Pilate, he says, “My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight.” The preponderance of lessons from the Gospels and from the rest of the New Testament suggests that earthly power is transitory and corrupting, and that the followers of Jesus should be more attentive to matters spiritual than political.

Take time to read the article yourself. Let’s begin to imagine how church in a post-Christian America can look taking into account the things found in this article.

The End of Christian America

Later today I will blog about some of the quotes that I resonated with in a book entitled “Missional Renaissance” by Reggie McNeal (thanks Martin for sending me the book). In a lot of ways I think some of the possible “answers” to the article lie in the book and becoming truly a missional church. More on that later today.