The Myth of a Christian Nation: How the Quest for Political Power is Destroying the Church

Gregory Boyd, Zondervan, 2005, reviewed by Vern Ratzlaff

        Boyd invites evangelical Christians to look carefully at how they make political choices and invites us to return to the love of Calvary and the way of the cross for life in our pluralistic society. ‘If we are to take our society back for G-d, it must have once belonged to G-d, but it’s not all clear where this golden Christian age was’ (p 98). ‘America as a nation has never looked remotely like Jesus’ (p 90).

        The way this nation was discovered, conquered and governed was a rather typical barbarian, violent, kingdom of the world affair. The Doctrine of Discovery and its applications had its origin in the Enlightenment, not in scripture.

        The concept of power is key to understand the political options; ‘power over’ marks the kingdom of the world, and ‘power under’ marks the kingdom of G-d (lion power versus lamb power).

        The Jesus way of ‘power under’ reveals the humble character of a servant: to become like children (‘there is no place for evaluating how important someone is on the basis of their power, possessions, money or social respect. Children have none of these’ (p 36), to wash feet, to heal an enemy, to live in love not because it works but because this is what G-d is doing). The two kingdoms are in contrast to each other: contrast of trust, of aims, of scope, of response, of battles (pp 47,48)—demonizing one’s enemies, whether from the right or from the left.

        A final chapter deals with five questions about how this applies to issues such as personal and public safety questions, and to the military complex in our society.

        A good treatment of the Jesus way of ‘power under’.

Vern Ratzlaff is a pastor and professor of historical theology at Lutheran Theological Seminary in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada.