On American Exceptionalism and the Gospel

From Dave Black Online:

10:35 AM Arthur Sido needs help. He writes:

They are hawking a “God Bless America” T-shirt (to the exclusion of other nations I assume). How exactly is buying and wearing this particular T-shirt going to honor God? If someone living in Iran wears a “God Bless Iran” T-shirt, is he also honoring God? What about “God Bless Liechtenstein”?

As I think about this issue I have concluded that the one thing that might keep us from successfully insourcing missions, the one thing we have not learned from the past, is the danger of American exceptionalism. When evangelicals moved from cultural obscurity to become a major force in U.S. politics in the 1970s, along with this change came a pressure for conformity to the Religious Right. Calls to “Take America Back!” became ubiquitous. This rhetoric reflected a deep-seated theology of triumphalism — the Army of God marches forward to take over the federal judiciary, overturn laws deemed inimical to Christianity, support Israel, etc. Obviously this agenda is incompatible with a Great Commission mindset and with the Jesus who tells us to go into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature. Jesus had strong words for the moralists of His day, the religious leaders who saw the speck of sawdust in someone else’s eye and paid no attention to the plank in their own. Evangelicalism, it seems to me, has lost its capacity to stand against what Paul called “the principalities and powers of this world.” As I argued in my book Christian Archy (p. 16):

It seems that our steel is fatality flawed after all. It is only faith in Jesus Christ, the Originator and Finalizer of faith, that we have any possibility of salvation. In reality, the Gospel is the only source of personal, familial, and societal renewal. What matters, then, is not that we lose ourselves in futile political or social agitation. What matters is that we recognize in the incarnation of Christ, and in his death and resurrection, that God was intervening in the course of human history to give us not only eternal life but an abundant life every day. There is now only one response we can give — calling all men and women into a relationship with God through this same Jesus.

In short, the purpose of the church is to be God’s missionary people in the world. To put country above the Gospel is a gross error. Such thinking is a sin against the truth.

(From Dave Black Online. Used by permission. David Alan Black is author of Energion titles The Jesus Paradigm, Christian Archy, and Why Four Gospels?.)