Thursday, September 04, 2008

Idolatrous Nationalism

I was bothered by something in particular which I saw and heard in tonight’s telecast of the Republican Convention. I heard some of what concerns me in Sen. John McCain’s nomination acceptance speech. Here is a small portion of what Sen. McCain said tonight:

“I fell in love with my country when I was a prisoner in someone else’s. I loved it not just for the many comforts of life here. I loved it for its decency; for its faith in the wisdom, justice and goodness of its people. I loved it because it was not just a place, but an idea, a cause worth fighting for. I was never the same again. I wasn’t my own man anymore. I was my country’s.

“I’m not running for president because I think I’m blessed with such personal greatness that history has anointed me to save our country in its hour of need. My country saved me. My country saved me, and I cannot forget it. And I will fight for her for as long as I draw breath, so help me God.”

Does anyone else besides me hear anything idolatrous in these words? “I wasn’t my own man anymore. I was my country’s”? “My country saved me”? I’m sorry, but my country cannot save me; Jesus alone saves. My country doesn’t own me or have the right of lordship over me; I belong to Christ.

Believer in Christ, “You were bought with a price” (1 Corinthians 6:20; 7:23), and the United States of America did not, and could not, pay the price. Only the blood of Jesus could buy me.

What I witnessed on television tonight was a kind of idolatry. It was a flag-waving worship of the United States of America. And, many of us evangelical Christians are caught up in this idolatry. Let’s be real: That’s what it is! Is this acceptable to God? Idolatrous nationalism was on full display at the Republican Convention tonight, and it’s just not right.

The Republican Party may be “pro-life”, “pro-family”, and all that, but we are on the wrong road if we think of a political party or candidate as the hope for our nation. Be very careful, my flag-waving, Republican, evangelical friend. America is not first. God is.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

You are indeed correct...God first...everything else a distant second. No flags in the church. No patriotic songs in the Lord's Day service. AMEN. Of course, it is also a sin to kill unborn babies, bless homosexual marriage, and think that you are the savior too. ;-)

wwdunc said...

Question: Just who is it that thinks they are the Savior? I know I heard someone say (I think it was in the video before McCain's speech; I don't remember) that McCain was the hope for this nation. That's bad enough. However, I don't recall any candidate saying that he or she was the Savior. Do you know who, and do you have the quote handy?

Vaughn said...

Well, while he says it is above his pay grade, his 100% pro-abortion stance (including killing babies who survive abortions) shows that he feels he and others should have the right to decide who lives and who dies.

You can find plenty of quotes at this sight: http://obamamessiah.blogspot.com/

From what I can tell it is just a collection of quotes, artwork and photos from supporters and the media.

His comments quoted on June 3 sound pretty messianic to me: "The journey will be difficult. The road will be long. I face this challenge with profound humility, and knowledge of my own limitations. But I also face it with limitless faith in the capacity of the American people. [who is he worshiping here?] Because if we are willing to work for it, and fight for it, and believe [what is it?] in it, then I am absolutely certain that generations from now, we will be able to look back and tell our children that this was the moment when we began to provide care for the sick and good jobs to the jobless; this was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal; this was the moment when we ended a war and secured our nation and restored our image as the last, best hope on Earth."
[comments in brackets mine]

I appreciate you wrestling with the issues and I am certain that God will raise up whom he will raise up to be our president.

It is probably wise to remember we are electing politicians not theologians. Also, good to remember that we are all idolaters at heart...

Your brother in Christ,

Vaughn

P.S. Didn't mean to make my last one anonymous...

Vaughn said...

Just found a good one:

"... a light will shine through that window, a beam of light will come down upon you, you will experience an epiphany ... and you will suddenly realize that you must go to the polls and vote for Obama" - Barack Obama Lebanon, New Hampshire.
January 7, 2008.

Messianic enough for you? ;^)

~Vaughn

wwdunc said...

In the first quote, it does not appear to me that Sen. Obama is claiming messiahship for himself. Rather he is proclaiming his "faith" in the American people and their ability to change the world. Nevertheless, as you suggest, this is misplaced faith, because people are not truly self-sufficient. People need God. They are not worthy of the kind of faith that Obama is placing in them.

As fas as the second quote (of 1/7/08), I have no idea what that's about. I'd have to see that in context.

Most troubling to me, however (and I remember hearing this one), is where Obama says, "this was the moment when we...restored our image as the last, best hope on Earth." What I said about McCain and the Republican Convention applies here: Obama is making an idol out of our nation.

We're in a spiritually dangerous position when we supplant God with the United States. I also think we've strayed when we start looking to a Presidential candidate or a political party or the Supreme Court or Congress to end abortion and halt the advancement of homosexuality. I really do. After Reagan, G.H.W. Bush and G.W. Bush, has our nation moved in a more Godward direction? Has Roe v Wade been overturned? Sadly, no.

I seriously suspect evangelicals have engaged the "culture wars" in an entirely wrong way. Since the days of the Moral Majority we've tried to fight this spiritual battle with the carnal weapon of politics. Further, we've sold ourselves to a party (the Republicans) whom, I honestly feel, couldn't care less about people.

Vaughn said...

I agree that the only real hope of changing the direction of the country is changing hearts one at a time. Only the work of the Spirit in new birth brings about true "change" and "reform" that is pleasing to God.

I also agree that Republicans have failed in many, many ways over the past couple of decades.

Would you say the same for the Democratic party which makes much of being for minorities, single moms and the working class...but has really exploited these groups for their own gain rather than offering real help?

The longer I am a Christian and the more I see politics the farther apart the two appear.

All that being said, we must all do our part in this fallen world, within the kingdom of man. Acknowledging that the government is not our savior, we still need to prayerfully work for peace in the land. For me this includes supporting a platform that is pro-life and that recognizes and defends marriage as God intended it. Even if the people executing the platform are sinners and will fail, the principals are more in line with Scripture than the alternative. It is against my conscience to support a platform that intentionally seeks to destroy marriage and make the destruction of the unborn a "right" for all.

As for third parties...until our political system is changed dramatically to include more than two parties a vote for a third party is a wasted vote. Not that the people running for office in third parties are bad, but that our current system isn't set up to make them viable. We must vote our conscience, but we must also vote with wisdom.

Thanks for the dialog.

~Vaughn