We are on the brink of Memorial Day Weekend. As with the 4th of July this is a time where pastors all across the United States of America must make a decision regarding how much civil religion will come from the pulpit. I am grateful that I don’t have a role where I have to listen to the various opinions of parishioners on this subject, but for those who do, let me recommend these four conversations.
(1) Over at The Pangea Blog there are three guest posts from one Dan Martin addressing the following:
– The Kingdom of Jesus Christ and the USA (Introduction) here.
– The Kingdom of Jesus Christ and the USA (Citizenship) here.
– The Kingdom of Jesus Christ and the USA (The Sanctuary and the Flag) here.
Every since I read an essay by Stan Hauerwaus a few years ago I have been convinced that national flags should not be visible in the sanctuary of a Christian church. Martin’s final post suggest that very thing. It is worth reading.
(2) Michael J. Gorman has written a short post providing six tips for avoiding civil religion this Sunday. You can find that here. I think all of his points are adhering or at least seriously pondering. At the end he writes, “Make sure everyone leaves the church knowing it is Easter season and Pentecost is around the corner! It is the season of life and peace and promise.” To that I say, “Amen”.
(3) Kevin DeYoung guides us in “thinking theologically about Memorial Day” in this post here. He holds a more openly nuanced view, but at the end he reaches the same conclusion writing, “while patriotism can be good, the church is not a good place for patriotism”. Once you’ve read DeYoung’s post I recommend also reading Aaron Rathbun’s ruminations on it here.
(4) W. Bradford Littlejohn has done us all a great favor by outlining posts from Ben Witherington and Peter Leithart where Witherington reviews Leithart’s book Defending Constantine and Leithart responds. The links can be found here. I haven’t read this book, but if I do I assume this will be a valuable source for further thought on the thesis presented.
What are your thoughts on the interaction between Civil Religion and Christianity? Where are they compatible if at all? What are some areas of change that the church in the United States should make? Do you have any thoughts on the aforementioned conversations?