According to some Christian outlooks we were made for another world. Perhaps, rather, we were made for this world to recreate, reclaim, redeem, and renew unto God's future aspiration by the power of His Spirit. - R.E. Slater
Secularization theory has been massively falsified. We don't live in an age of secularity. We live in an age of explosive, pervasive religiosity... an age of religious pluralism. - Peter L. Berger
Exploring the edge of life and faith in a post-everything world. - Todd Littleton
I don't need another reason to believe, your love is all around for me to see. – anon
Thou art our need; and in giving us more of thyself thou givest us all. - Khalil Gibran, Prayer XXIII
Be careful what you pretend to be. You become what you pretend to be. - Kurt Vonnegut
Religious beliefs, far from being primary, are often shaped and adjusted by our social goals. - Jim Forest
People, even more than things, need to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone. – anon
Certainly God's love has made fools of us all. - R.E. Slater
An apocalyptic Christian faith doesn't wait for Jesus to come, but for Jesus to become in our midst. - R.E. Slater
Christian belief in God begins with the cross and resurrection of Jesus, not with rational apologetics. - Eberhard Jüngel, Jürgen Moltmann
Our knowledge of God is through the 'I-Thou' encounter, not in finding God at the end of a syllogism or argument. There is a grave danger in any Christian treatment of God as an object. The God of Jesus Christ and Scripture is irreducibly subject and never made as an object, a force, a power, or a principle that can be manipulated. - Emil Brunner
Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh means "I will be that who I have yet to become." - God (Ex 3.14)
Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy. - Thomas Merton
The church is God's world-changing social experiment of bringing unlikes and differents to the Eucharist/Communion table to share life with one another as a new kind of family. When this happens we show to the world what love, justice, peace, reconciliation, and life together is designed by God to be. The church is God's show-and-tell for the world to see how God wants us to live as a blended, global, polypluralistic family united with one will, by one Lord, and baptized by one Spirit. – anon
The cross that is planted at the heart of the history of the world cannot be uprooted. - Jacques Ellul
The Unity in whose loving presence the universe unfolds is inside each person as a call to welcome the stranger, protect animals and the earth, respect the dignity of each person, think new thoughts, and help bring about ecological civilizations. - John Cobb & Farhan A. Shah
If you board the wrong train it is of no use running along the corridors of the train in the other direction. - Dietrich Bonhoeffer
God's justice is restorative rather than punitive; His discipline is merciful rather than punishing; His power is made perfect in weakness; and His grace is sufficient for all. – anon
Our little [biblical] systems have their day; they have their day and cease to be. They are but broken lights of Thee, and Thou, O God art more than they. - Alfred Lord Tennyson

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Reflecting on "A City Upon a Hill." American Exceptionalism, Civil Religion, and True Christianity


A City Upon a Hill

This post today is written to America's Christians whose spiritual religion has become so tightly intertwined with its own concept of state and national politics as to recreate a new kind of "state-based" civil religion vulgarizing the orthodox Christian gospel of God's love through Jesus to mankind.

Its stench rises in the air releasing a putrefying, odorous smell of rot and decay, all the while believing itself to be standing "for God and His Word" but defying the very letters of God's Word and the Spirit of the Law through prosaic interpretations, racist discrimination towards "non-Christians," a woeful ignorance of interpreting the bible, and not knowing how to live out Christ's command to love all mankind over themselves and their self-interests. All this because of their stubborn beliefs unwilling to unlearn a bible they declare in judgment but pale to preach in Love's wisdom and understanding.

Comparatively, an orthodox (world) Christian is one that is at peace with all mankind. It works feverishly towards unity, respect, understanding, and goodwill to all cultures, religions, and nations rather than clinging to a self-consuming fear of "the other" seen in a "Christ-less" Christianity's compassionless shuttering of help to the desperate refugee. Or, inwardly-turned hearts to its own petty congregations worshipping God on the one hand while judging the masses outside as sinners needing God's judgment and wrath. This kind of c-hristian's civil religion is anathema to God. It reeks of sin and evil. And it must be slain for the false gospel that it is no matter the famous name or preacher popularizing its rots and fake gospel. Though they call their post-truth, alternative gospel true, it is false. Though they say "this is God's way," it is not. Though they claim God is here, He is far, far away from their lip service and evil hearts. American Christianity claims Jesus but never has its claims been so un-Jesus-like as it clamors for political power trading racism for security, love for fear, inclusion for exclusion, and bridges for walls. Its civil religion pales to the American Constitution and to the Word of God in every respect.

As a US citizen, longtime orthodox (progressive) Christian, and church-goer, my disappointment, if not outright anger, struggles to grasp what to say to a Christianity held hostage by a "Christianized" American political fervor divided over two political candidates in the 2016 election year - neither of whom were qualified to run for the American presidency. One because of corruption, the other because of lawlessness and personal bent towards fascism. Each were liars. Each spoke to a hopeful base of their visions for America. And each misled their nation in their own ways making neither qualified for the job of national leadership.

As a result, America today is left deeply divided along any number of socio-economic-religious lines searching for a unity that is fractured and deeply tribal. Progressive voters seek social rightness and justness. Conservative voters seek jobs and security. Each are torn by the other's seemingly insensible view of the world. One calls the other elite. The other calls the other populist. Neither is true nor do either use these words in their truest sense of meaning except to demean the other's view they reject. More simply, they do they like the other's political view and so, must either fail together or together learn to cooperate with each other from both a qualitative (humanitarian) and quantitative (economic security) struggle towards what America is meant to be and can become under its constitutional charters. Will America continue its trend towards being an imperialistic warrior nation or become a nation committed to global partnering, diplomacy, cooperation, and trust? I for one - and there are many like me - vote for the latter while despising the former. As world Christians we must always suit for peace not war. To yearn for Love's graces towards one another. And to passionately partner together in solving humanity's many deep problems - beginning with its heart of darkness.

What a Democracy Is

And so, as a democracy grows so does its instability as it adjusts year-to-year, era-to-era, to a new sense of divisive tribalism attempting to overtake its basic charters pleading we learn to work and live with one another as a people dedicated to one union while rightfully recognizing difference and accepting the difference as a value which can strengthen a nation rather than weaken it. That the "whole empowers its parts" and its "parts creates a greater whole."

This is where America is today in 2017 as yet another pervasive "counter-reality" sets in threatening the democratic ideal of a nation becoming "One United People: E. Pluribus Unum." Meaning, "In One, All. In All, One." And through this intermix of "parts to whole" and "whole to parts" to learn to apply equality, liberty, and freedom equally-and-justly to one another as well as to all peoples of the earth. To resist demeaning another nation's cultures, charters, or religion, and to seek the best from one another. Especially to those who are under-represented and un-empowered in life because of education, geography, class, standing, color, gender, creed, and so on. If an American Christianity means anything than it should mean this, stand for this, and work for this, at its most basic minimum. In a word, we must learn to "love one another."

This is the intent of the Bill of Rights and US Constitution. They were written by a dedicated colonial nation to "get past itself" not fully realising its furthering implications when applied to removing from civil behavior the acceptance of white indentured servitude, black slavery, enjoining the earthy cultures of North America's indigenous tribes, or diverse immigrants streaming in from Europe, Asia, Central and South America. American democratic history has always been a concept in search of volitional public acceptance. Thusly understood, "Hate cannot be legislated out of the heart of man, but Love can change a hateful man's heart." A Christian view so judiciously-centered that when applied equally might disqualify the heart's reigning lusts.

The history of America then is a history of struggle. Of conjoining the high moral concepts it dedicates itself too against the deep vagaries present in the human nature. It has been a 300 year old battle and will probably continue to be a battle years from now. But its important that today's present generations recommit to its founding/binding charters without further deepening the tribal divisions so easily at prey upon democracy's unions being threatened once again by any number of socio-economic-religious forces. It is this struggle which sets apart America as "The City Upon a Hill." A struggle which continually resists, continually confronts, and continually strives for the morally right, the ethically good, and the creational beauty of the human breast against its evil, sins, and lawlessness fighting therein. Peace.

R.E. Slater
January 29, 2017


I Am the God who Heals You.


Related References




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Amazon link


"American Exceptionalism and Civil Religion:
Reassessing the History of an Idea"

by John D. Wilsey

Book Blurb

"Ever since John Winthrop told his fellow colonists in 1630 that they were about to establish a "City upon a Hill," the idea of having a special place in history has captured the American imagination. Through centuries of crises and opportunities, many have taken up this theme to inspire the nation. But others have criticized the notion because it implies a sense of superiority which can fuel racism, warmongering and even idolatry. In this remarkable book, John Wilsey traces the historical development of exceptionalism, including its theological meaning and implications for civil religion. From seventeenth-century Puritans to twentieth-century industrialists, from politicians to educators, exceptionalism does not appear as a monolithic concept to be either totally rejected or devotedly embraced. While it can lead to abuses, it can also point to constructive civil engagement and human flourishing. This book considers historically and theologically what makes the difference."Neither the term nor the idea of American exceptionalism is going away. John Wilsey's careful history and analysis will therefore prove an important touchstone for discussions of American identity in the decades to come."



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