Inherent to the human condition is a narcissism that co-opts the Good News of redemption, of reconciliation and tells us it’s only value is in what have you done for me lately, that whispers in our ears that God helps those who help themselves. It’s no wonder that we’ve become moralists, that we testify to the worthiness of Christianity by pointing to the project of western civilization as an alchemical wonder wrought by spiritual powers. We’re scared, scared that a visible loss of our influence in the culture of the Greatest Nation on Earth is a witness that stands accusing the truthfulness of our story of the human condition. We have done the unthinkable, we have so woven our understanding of national identity and our heavenly citizenship that it has become impossible for many to conceive of the one without the other. To be a Christian means to be a great American and to assign your loyalties to anything that puts to the question democracy or free enterprise is apostasy. Word and Sacrament has taken a back seat to an ethical and moral agenda that demands the jettisoning of eschatological hope for the immediacy of power and stoic virtue. Christ is simply not enough, so the great commission has been amended to legitimize a mandate of conquest disguising our will to power with the connotations of religious language.
The ranting and raving about prayer in school, the fear of Muslims, of the godless; it’s all really about control. So fearful have we become with regards to our own right to believe what we want and to tell others about it, that we have ceased to ask ourselves what Christ has to do with Obama, or any other figure of political authority. The civil and the redemptive have become so conflated that it becomes difficult to ascertain what exactly it is that we must be saved from. I fear that western Christians have become more fearful of persecution and less faithful to the cross of Christ. We have misplaced our conviction that the Gospel is no respecter of birth or estate, of whether one is born free or under the yoke of temporal oppression. Our position an priveledge has become our new faith and we let slip the dogs of war in response.
What are we afraid of?