No Other Gods: How American Evangelicals Have Replaced God with the Government (Part 5)

Click here for Part 1: The Problem

Click here for Part 2: The History of the Problem

Click here for Part 3: Understanding the Problem Biblically

Click here for Part 4: The Effects of the Problem

The Solutions to the Problem

Now that we have laid out the Problem in detail, what is left is to suggest some solutions for it.  Of course, there is no silver bullet, but what follows are a few suggestions that might get us back on track.

A couple of suggestions flow right out of the effects of the Problem.  First, we must resist the urge to confuse the purpose of the Church with the goals of government.  There are a number of ways we could sum up the purpose of the Church.  Continue reading

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No Other Gods: How American Evangelicals Have Replaced God with the Government (Part 4)

Click here for Part 1: The Problem

Click here for Part 2: The History of the Problem

Click here for Part 3: Understanding the Problem Biblically

The Effects of the Problem

So what?  What does it matter if we let government use Christian language to describe its efforts and goals?  So far, our discussion has been pretty theoretical.  What are the practical implications of this form of idolatry?  What difference does it make in real life?  In my understanding, there are at least 3 different ways this problem has effected the Church in real, practical ways.

First, the Church in America has largely given away its calling to the government.  Continue reading

No Other Gods: How American Evangelicals Have Replaced God with the Government (Part 3)

Click here for Part 1: The Problem

Click here for Part 2: The History of the Problem

Understanding the Problem Biblically

The place to start when trying to understand the Problem Biblically is with the question of idolatry.  Idolatry is most specifically and plainly laid out for us in the Ten Commandments. Exodus 20:2-5a says, “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.  You shall have no other gods before me.  You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on earth beneath or in the waters below.  You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God…”  So in its most basic form, idolatry is worshiping another god or something in the form of something created.  What is the basis for God’s ability to make these commands?  He has rescued the people out of Egyptian slavery.  God has moved on the part of the people, therefore they are to worship only him.  We see this understanding of idolatry reflected a few chapters later in Exodus 32, with the story of the golden calf.  In the story, Moses is on the mountain with God so long that the people start to wonder what happened.  They go to Aaron and have him make them an idol in the shape of a golden calf, even going so far as to say to each other, “This is your god, O Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.”  (Exodus 32:4)  The people had decided to take God out of the equation and replace him with something else—in this case, a statue of a golden calf.

We see another aspect of idolatry when we look at the dictionary definition of the word.  The Merriam-Webster Dictionary has two definitions for idolatry.  Continue reading

No Other Gods: How American Evangelicals Have Replaced God with the Government (Part 2)

Click here for Part 1: The Problem

The History of the Problem

We concluded the last post with some pretty serious ideas; namely, that many members of the colonies and early settlers of North America saw themselves as a new Chosen People of God, a sort of New Israel inhabiting and settling the new Promised Land of North America.  (For the purposes of time, we will only look at a few examples, though whole books have been written on the subject.)  We can see these ideas expressed as early as the 1600s, in the writings and sermons of the Puritans.  John Winthrop, aboard a ship headed for America, said “…we shall be as a city upon a hill, the eyes of all people are upon us.”  He saw he and his people as “a peculiar people, marked and chosen by the finger of God.”  As we quickly mentioned earlier, the phrase “city on a hill” comes from Matthew 5:14, where Jesus is calling his followers, the Church, to be a city on a hill, to shine the light to the world.  Of course, Jesus was specifically not speaking about one nation or another.  He was speaking to all who would believe in him and go on to become his body, the Church.   According to Jesus, it is not a nation who is the City on a Hill, but the Church, across all nations. Continue reading

No Other Gods: How American Evangelicals Have Replaced God with the Government (Part 1)

The Problem

“The future of the world is at stake because if America falls, there’s no longer a strong champion of freedom and a champion of the oppressed of the world.”  So said Pat Robertson as the Republican primaries for the 2012 election started heating up.  And here’s the real zinger—Pat claims that God told him these things.  The first time I heard this quote, in the context of a larger speech Robertson gave on his TV show “The 700 Club”, I knew I had to say something to somebody about it.  So I did.  On Facebook.  And I received an overwhelmingly positive response.  I still had a feeling that more should be said, though.  As bad as Robertson’s quote is, it really is just a symptom of a larger problem.  It is that larger problem that we will explore in more depth.

What, then, is the problem with Robertson’s quote?  Continue reading