5/26/2009

American Patriotism and the Bible - This is Getting Ugly

The American Patriot's Bible from Thomas Nelson Publishers.


In this video, Richard Lee, the editor of The American Patriot's Bible, says,
"I think that most of our hard-working citizens have a belief in their hearts that the Bible certainly has influenced many of our founding documents - documents such as the Declaration of Independence, The Constitution, and numbers of others. But they really can't put their hands on any valid proof or concrete facts concerning what they believe in their hearts about the Bible, about God, and about America. This is what The American Patriot's Bible will provide."
Did he really say that? Did he really admit that? Are Bible publishers going to really produce Bibles so that people will be able to placate what they want to believe in their hearts, rather than what the Bible actually teaches? And... in spite of the lack of "valid proof or concrete facts?"

At the OUT OF UR blog, Greg Boyd rightly skewers The American Patriot’s Bible.

Boyd writes,
"Every special interest Bible imposes a certain agenda that to some degree colors the Word, but the Patriot’s Bible takes this “coloring” to a whole new level. There’s not a single commentary in this Bible that even attempts to shed light on what the biblical text actually means. To the contrary, the text of the Bible is used merely as an excuse to further the patriotic agenda of the commentators...

"What disturbs me more is the way the commentators attempt to give their idealized version of American history divine authority by weaving it into the biblical narrative. The central assumption that undergirds the Patriot’s Bible is that America is, in a unique sense, a nation established, governed, blessed and protected by God. Throughout the Patriot’s Bible, but especially in the Old Testament, an explicit parallel is drawn between Israel and America."

The Kingdom of God is not America. It is, as Boyd says, "God’s trans-national Kingdom."
"The Kingdom that Jesus’ followers are to be committed to is one that expresses the 'one new humanity' Jesus died to create, a humanity for which all dividing walls of nation and race have been abolished (Eph. 2:14). In Christ, we are no longer to relate to each other in terms of nationality, social class or gender (Gal. 3:28-29)."

The three men known in evangelical circles as our best historians wrote an essential book on the issue of America's "Christian heritage." In The Search for Christian America, Mark Noll, Nathan Hatch, and George Marsden pops the balloon of the fallacies that people like Richard Lee are propagating. The fact is that you can count on one hand the number of founding fathers that were Christian. I encourage you to read my post in which I quote some of what Noll, Hatch, and Marsden wrote, and then get the book and read it, and pass this important information along to people in your congregation. We need to help God's people to not get sucked into the syncretism of conflating true biblical belief with "what they want to believe in their hearts" about American patriotism.

In a coming post at Out of Ur, Greg Boyd will offer "Part 2" of his critique. Also, a response from Richard Lee will also be featured on Out of Ur in the coming days. It will be interesting (and most likely infuriating) to hear Lee's defense of the indefensible.

10 comments:

Wickle said...

Sigh ...

Can you say "idolatry"?

I knew you could ...

Byron Harvey said...

What an embarrassment. If I didn't know it was real, I'd think it was a parody. Words fail me...

Jake Belder said...

Bob, thanks for pointing this out and for the helpful critique. This, as Wickle said, is nothing less than idolatry. This kind of thing is precisely why I skipped church this past Sunday.

Ted M. Gossard said...

Bob,
Thanks, much! Will wonders ever cease?

A book that helped me appreciate America in a correct way, is Os Guinness' "The Case for Civility." The Religious Right is taken to task in that book, along with the Secular Left.

Author: Bob Robinson said...

Eye - Doll - Uh - Tree.

Wickle said...

To say a bit more than before ...

I'd actually be interested in this if it was a book (not a Bible) that studied US history in light of Scripture.

I rather suspect, though, that this "Bible" doesn't spend a lot of time discussing the blasphemy that was Manifest Destiny, the role of Christians in defending slavery and genocide against the Natives, or the like.

Libuse said...

I would like to add the following article: http://barnabasnagy.com/2008/10/07/barack-obama-the-american-dream/
It is sooo wrongly misinterpreted that I can hardly express its intensity..

Author: Bob Robinson said...

Libuse,

For a self-proclaimed prophet of God, Barnabas Nagy certainly is very inarticulate in his argument!

Makes me wonder...
Hmmm....

Maybe he's delusional?

The Metzes said...

Very good critique on a sad development. American Christians must be more active in thinking through a post-9/11 theology that is freed of patriotic idolatry. I believe this is the most dangerous heresy facing our churches (and the most pervasive, by far). Any time I venture close to this issue with my church folks, wow, you find out pretty quickly how deeply this treads. Thanks again. Very well stated.

non-metaphysical stephen said...

Blech! You need a barf smiley to go with this topic!

I guess we shouldn't be surprised that someone realized they could make money off of combining bibliolatry with Americolatry. It's more proof that our nation has turned the Declaration, the Constitution and The Wealth of Nations into its secular scriptures.