Earlier today I was reading over some of my highlights in Carl Trueman’s book, Republocrat: Confessions of a Liberal Conservative. I had forgotten how much I appreciated it! One section that stuck out to me was Trueman’s helpful criticism of “The Patriot’s Bible.” Here’s what he wrote:
…Patriotism, love for one’s homeland, is generally a good thing as long as it does not morph into an uncritical nationalism or racism. What concerns me is the so-called extreme wing of the ‘Christian America’ -type movements, where the boundary between church and state, and sometimes even biblical history, becomes rather dangerously blurred. An extreme example is provided by the editors of The Patriot’s Bible, an edition of God’s Word that is sold on the basis of its connection to the founding of the USA. Even if we set aside the problem of connecting the American revolution to Paul’s teaching on civil obedience in Romans 13, the promotional video for the Bible is stunning. Series of images and captions makes the point: Adam and Eve, George and Martha Washington — first families; Moses and Lincoln — freedom fighters; Jesus and the disciples, and the Continental Congress — founding fathers. In case anyone has missed the point, the video ends with a statement, “Sometimes history does repeat itself.” Really? Well, no, in this case it actually doesn’t repeat itself. Biblical, salvation history is not repeated or recapitulated in the history of the USA or any other nation, for that matter. To make such a claim is puerile, blasphemous nonsense, as bad as, if not worse than, anything Osteen might say in a sermon; and it represents nothing other than the secularization of the gospel message to an idolatrous degree.
Yet even The Patriot’s Bible pales in comparison with a painting entitled One Nation Under God, which portrays Jesus (not a great second commandment move) in the center, holding the U.S. Constitution, surrounded by figures from American history, including the noted deists Thomas Jefferson and Thomas Paine. Now, I am a personal admirer of a number of aspects of Jefferson and Paine, but orthodox Christians they emphatically were not, and to include them pictorially in some nostalgic plea for a Christian nation is historically ignorant, blasphemous, and quite frankly risible. It would be fascinating to know what the artist’s view of the faith is – presumably some form of Unitarianism? Patriotism is a civic virtue, and certainly not in itself sinful; but make no mistake, notions of patriotism, so dear to the American Right, can also stand alongside the most secular and heretical versions of Christianity, and can even co-opt such visions as part of their agenda.
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