Monday, November 10, 2008

American Idolatry

On my break last week I was unable to link from here to one of my SearchWarp pieces:

There is Only One Messiah and America Isn't His Kingdom

An excerpt:
Politicizing and nationalizing the kingdom of God is as ancient as Christ's proclamation of the countercultural kingdom itself. In the first century plenty of Jews expected a flag-waving messiah who would reestablish the nation of Israel as the preeminent empire on the earth, and they had only inherited this expectation from their patriarchs. The American flavor of this expectation has been employed since before the American Revolution.

But it is idolatry. Always has been, always will be.

Our hope is neither Republican nor Democrat, neither black nor white, neither liberal nor conservative, neither foreign security nor domestic tranquility. It is Jesus.

What is interesting in this last election cycle is the adoption of this idolatry by many younger evangelicals who hated it in the political stances of their parents and grandparents. After all the (well earned) criticism of years of conservative politicizing "Christian values" and trusting in "God's man in the White House," the critics have turned around and done the same thing. The issues are different -- the ethereal "social justice" replaces the illusory "Judeo-Christian morality" -- but the fundamental philosophy and theological bankruptcy are the same.

Let us not make this a young/old or liberal/conservative thing. It is a human thing, as all sin is. As all idolatrous hopes are.

Whether you are disappointed in the results of the recent election or elated by them, if you are a follower of Jesus, your allegiance is due Christ's kingdom, your hope is to be in his governance. The government shall be on his shoulders, the prophet tells us.

We only need one messiah.


Anonymous said...

This was so awesome! I read it last night on Search Warp and I really have to say THANK YOU. Yesterday morning I was forced to sit through a guest speaker at church who ranted on and on about Barack Obama, how bad he is for America, the culture war, etc. It was horrible. My husband and I fumed all day because we felt it was a desecration of the Sunday morning pulpit. Where was the gospel? Where was scripture? Where was Jesus? When we read your post later we both jumped up and said "That's what we WANTED the guest speaker to say!" Thank you for writing so clearly about this thing nagging on our hearts. We only need one Messiah! Let's give Him the honor He deserves.

Bob said...

I wonder how many articles like this (and this isn't the only one I've seen of its ilk) would be kicking around if McCain won...

Jared said...

Its "ilk"? Seriously?

Fwiw, I wrote a piece very similar to this a few weeks ago at the same place. Before the election.

Tim said...

As much as I agree with the premise of this article, I have not seen the actual "hailing of a messiah" in Obama. There have been many mutterings that he will be "the one" to put the country on the right track and to "save" the world from many of its problems. However, this very different from putting a religious mandate on the man. I think it is important to make a distinction between a secular hero or even "savior" and a religious leader or "messiah". Thank you for the article.

Jared said...

Tim, thanks for your comment.

Was referring primarily to evangelical sons committing the sins of their fathers, only for a different political party.

"God's will be done via the government" is either wrong for both parties or neither, is all I'm saying.

Bob said...

Jared, can you remember the circumstances that prompted you to write something similar before the election?

IMO, the outcome of the election was "known" long before Election Day and it was just then that those who had been falling prey to this form of idolatry were already resigning themselves to reality by falling back on the "its God's Kingdom that matters anyways".

Not that this is was a conscious action in all cases...

Jared said...

I read quite a bit of "it's God's kingdom that matters anyways" stuff for quite a while. And most of it, yes, was coming from political conservatives.

I'm not sure what you'd prefer? Is it not true?
Are you saying you'd rather they grumble and be apoplectic? Act like its the apocalpyse?

Isn't a good thing that the political losers are championing peace and God's sovereignty?

Or are you just saying they're (I'm?) lying and don't mean it and are just saying b/c our guy didn't win?

Here's my earlier piece:

It's more related to the demonizing of candidates.
But I've written on the non-politicization of the kingdom and preached on it for quite some time, even before the election season and before I had a guy to root for for the presidency.

Sorry the losers are being nice. :-)

Bob said...

I most certainly think it's true and the point you bring out that it has been going on since Christ walked the earth is a great one.

I'm not saying they (or you) are lying--more just that they are reminding themselves of the trap we have fallen in to. The same trap Peter fell in to and countless others who wage war in the name of God.