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Monday, March 05, 2007

The Idolatry of Mis-Placed Patriotism

With American theocrats continually working to broaden their influence on elections, courts, public education, revisionist American history, reproductive rights, end of life decisions, science, personal relationships, war and peace, foreign policy, etc., etc., etc., more traditional Christians are not always heard amid all of the clamor and pulpit-pounding.

In his March 4th sermon, Pastor Christopher Nelson at Bethlehem Lutheran Church in south Minneapolis had some succinct warnings on cultural influences....

A real danger to us is that we succumb to the idolatry of our culture--the culture that teaches an individualism and narcissism so intense that a 16 year old in Cloquet, MN, can dump ice water on a disabled elderly woman not once but several times and find it "hilarious..." and never consider her feelings. What do we--you and I--say to that sort of behavior and a popular culture that produces it?

A real danger to us is a culture that seduces us away from Christ and instead to accumulating more and more and more? What do we--you and I--say to a culture where our stuff becomes our god?

A real danger to us is the idolatry of American Civil religion that blesses a particular political point of view and demonizes those who disagree. Pastor Greg Boyd of the Woodland Hills Community Church has rightly spoken out against tying God to any one side of a political argument and it has cost him. His church lost at least a thousand members and likely millions of dollars. What do we--you and I--say when it is necessary to challenge the powerful, to challenge an idolatrous connection between church and state?

I've heard other religious leaders refer to the current brand of theocratic patriotism as a form of idolatry, which is as much a sin as lying, stealing, and killing. I hope people like Pastors Boyd and Nelson continue to inspire use of the Gospel for its true intended purpose, vs. advancing a political agenda.


lloydletta said...

Excellent post, Mark.