I am not one for gloom and doom hypothesizing so I hope this post does not come off as such. I am writing about my increasing concern for American Christians turning Christianity into nationalistic idolatry, if it has not already came to that point. Before I say why, let me say a few words about idolatry.
Since the beginning of history, we humans have been very good at erecting idols and worshiping them as though they are God. It is by nature inconceivable as to how we could be guilty of such tragedy, even though it makes perfect sense to us why others could fall into such trappings. The reason for this is because the very nature of idolatry is that we do not think of our idols as such or else we would not worship them as such. Who among the people of God would knowingly worship what is believed to believe an idol? Thus, just because we label something as being the capitol “G” God or of that capitol “G” God, does not make it so. The very nature of idolatry is that we call an idol “God” or claim it belongs to the cause of “God.”
Furthermore, idolatry seems rooted in our quest for a secure and stable life. If we think the god of Mars can provide such life then we erect an image to represent the god of Mars and worship it. If we think the vision of Marxism holds the key to life then we might enjoin ourselves to the cause of Marxism and to those leaders who champion its cause. If we believe that the dream of Americanism is…
This past weekend thousands rallied in Washington D.C. Many of them gathered around an event sponsored by political commentator Glenn Beck to support the cause of God and Country cloaked in the language of “restoring honor to America.” A smaller but nonetheless substantial crowd gathered around political activist and clergyman, the Rev. Al Sharpton. I am sure both Beck and Sharpton mean well. I am sure both of them believe their cause is in some way of God. I am also sure that both believe their two different visions embrace the dream of Americanism even though they often appear to be at odds with each other. What I question is whether both Beck and Sharpton and the causes they represent are truly interested in the life for which God has created and seeks to redeem humanity to? If they are not, then their causes seem to be nothing other than another incarnation of idolatry.
But here is why I raise the question, the life God has created us for and seeks to redeem us to is revealed to us in the person of Jesus Christ. We learn of this life within the larger biblical canon that points us toward Jesus Christ. This is a life that has the cross – the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus – at the center of its story. It is a life that is not about nation or tribe, ethnic or social status, privatized security, or citizenship in this world. Rather, it is a life that remakes all people as one in Christ, calling them into a life of submission in obedience to God and in doing so, trusts in God alone to the point that it can sacrifice self for the sake of others (which includes acts of social-justice). It is a life that proclaims, along with Jesus, the kingdom of God. And that is what Beck, Sharpton, and so many other quasi-politicians seem to be missing…all the while, so do many Christians who are increasingly appealing to these leaders as though they point the way to the redemptive call of God in Jesus Christ..
I mean no ill will to Glenn Beck or Al Sharpton, I just simply don’t see how they represent the call of God to follow and be a disciple of Jesus Christ.
My prayer is that the many Christians I know of who share this concern of mine will find venues to speak up because the beginning of liberation from idolatry is to point it out and call it for what it is.
And by the way…here is a link to a great article that speaks in regards to Evangelical Christianity’s love affair with Glenn Beck.