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Christian America and the Kingdom of God

Christian America and the Kingdom of God

Richard T. Hughes
Foreword by Brian McLaren
Copyright Date: 2009
Pages: 232
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  • Book Info
    Christian America and the Kingdom of God
    Book Description:

    The idea of the United States as a Christian nation is a powerful, seductive, and potentially destructive theme in American life, culture, and politics. Many fundamentalist and evangelical leaders routinely promote this notion, and millions of Americans simply assume the Christian character of the United States. And yet, as Richard T. Hughes reveals in this powerful book, the biblical vision of the "kingdom of God" stands at odds with the values and actions of an American empire that sanctions war instead of peace, promotes dominance and oppression instead of reconciliation, and exalts wealth and power instead of justice for the poor and needy._x000B__x000B_With conviction and careful consideration, Hughes reviews the myth of Christian America from its earliest history in the founding of the republic to the present day. Extensively analyzing the Old and New Testaments, Hughes provides a solid, scripturally-based explanation of the kingdom of God--a kingdom defined by love, peace, patience, and generosity. Throughout American history, however, this concept has been appropriated by religious and political leaders and distorted into a messianic nationalism that champions the United States as God's "chosen nation" and bears little resemblance to the teachings of Jesus._x000B__x000B_Pointing to a systemic biblical and theological illiteracy running rampant in the United States, Hughes investigates the reasons why so many Americans think of the United States as a Christian nation despite the Constitution's outright prohibition against establishing any national religion by law or coercion. He traces the development of fundamentalist Christianity throughout American history, noting especially the increased power and widespread influence of fundamentalism at the dawn of the twenty-first century, embodied and enacted by the administration of President George W. Bush and America's reaction to the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001._x000B__x000B_Timely and provocative, Christian America and the Kingdom of God illuminates the devastating irony of a "Christian America" that so often behaves in unchristian ways.

    eISBN: 978-0-252-09154-4
    Subjects: History, Religion, Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-viii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-x)
  3. Foreword
    (pp. xi-xiv)
    Brian D. McLaren

    I am a citizen of the United States and I love my country. I choke up sometimes when I sing about our land—the purple mountain’s majesty and fruited plain, the spacious skies and amber waves of grain, from the Mojave to the Okeefenokee to the oceans white with foam. I love the people, because they’re my people, Democrats and Republicans and independents, northerners and midwesterners, southerners and northwesterners, urbanites and suburbanites and ruralites, folks of all skin tones and accents, recent immigrants, long-term settlers, and aboriginals.

    I love our sports, our music, our jokes, our cooking, our holidays. There’s...

  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xv-xviii)
  5. Introduction: Getting Our Bearings
    (pp. 1-14)

    The idea of Christian America is a powerful, seductive, and potentially destructive theme in American life, culture, and politics. It therefore deserves thoughtful consideration by every citizen of this republic. And one of the most fruitful ways to explore that theme is to compare it with the biblical vision of the kingdom of God.

    Throughout this book, the reader will encounter the phrase “the myth of Christian America.” When I use the term myth , I don’t have in mind something that is fundamentally untrue. A myth may be false in certain ways and true in certain ways, but one...

  6. Chapter 1 Christian America As God’s Chosen People
    (pp. 15-29)

    On the morning of October 2, 2006, a man entered a one-room Amish school house in the community of Nickel Mines, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, brandishing guns, ammunition, lumber, nails, and sexual paraphernalia. The children in that school—as with all Amish schools—ranged from first to eighth grade. After the teacher and her mother ran from the building to seek help, the man ordered three other adults and the boys to leave. He then boarded the doors and windows to prevent the girls from escaping—and the police from getting in—and began his assault. He bound the hands and...

  7. Chapter 2 The Witness of the Hebrew Bible
    (pp. 30-49)

    Americans can claim their country as a Christian nation if they wish, but to make that argument stick, they must somehow make it square with the Bible. For it makes no sense to hail the United States as a Christian nation while ignoring the only text that can ultimately define what “Christian” means.

    As we have seen, only two biblical themes could conceivably support the notion of Christian America. One is the biblical vision of the chosen people—an idea we explored in the previous chapter. The other is the biblical vision of the kingdom of God. More than any...

  8. Chapter 3 The Witness of the New Testament
    (pp. 50-104)

    Of all the biblical concepts that advocates of Christian America fail to grasp, the most important is the biblical vision of the kingdom of God. If they had any comprehension of that notion at all, they would abandon their claim that America is a Christian nation.

    The kingdom of God is one of the central themes in the New Testament text, and the phrases “kingdom of God” and “kingdom of heaven”—phrases that have the very same meaning, as we saw in the previous chapter—appear there some one hundred times. The mere frequency of those phrases suggests that it...

  9. Chapter 4 Why Do We Think of America as a Christian Nation?
    (pp. 105-135)

    As we have made our way through earlier chapters of this book, it has become increasingly clear that the idea of Christian America is an oxymoron. But if that is true, how and why did the notion of Christian America develop in the first place? How and why have Christians sought to promote that notion? What purpose did that understanding serve? And how have Christians sought to link the nation with the biblical vision of the kingdom of God? Answers to these questions, which we explore in this chapter, inevitably lead us to periods and events in western history that...

  10. Chapter 5 A Fundamentalist Vision for Christian America: From the Scopes Trial to George W. Bush
    (pp. 136-186)

    Journalists and historians often use the termfundamentalismto describe a conservative, intolerant, and embattled form of religion that appears in many cultures and many religious traditions worldwide. In the American context, however, the term has a specific historic meaning and points to a religious movement that emerged in the United States in the early years of the twentieth century.¹

    While American fundamentalism has gone through several incarnations, it emerged during the waning years of the twentieth century as a religious and political force that could not be ignored. And by the early twenty-first century, fundamentalist movements on opposite sides...

  11. NOTES
    (pp. 187-204)
  12. INDEX
    (pp. 205-212)
  13. Back Matter
    (pp. 213-214)