Monday, October 12, 2015

An Important Post On American Civil Religion

Dan Edelen put out a pretty solid post today on something I rail against on a regular basis, namely the civil religion of America that masquerades as Christianity among many (most?) religious Americans. His post, American Civil Religion vs. True Christianity breaks down the multiple points where what he abbreviates ACR stands in stark contrast and in fact opposition to actual Christianity. Here are his opening paragraphs...
In my previous post, “The Only Martyr’s Death Worth Dying,” I began to explore differences that exist between true Christian faith and the mishmash we often practice in America. A fancy word for this melange exists, syncretism, which is the blending of two different ideas or practices into one. Often those ideas or practices are contradictory, yet the practitioner cannot recognize the inherent contradictions.
Nowhere is this syncretism more apparent than in America. The narrative of our country and the narrative of the Kingdom of God have syncretized so profoundly that the religion far too many self-proclaimed Christians in America practice isn’t true Christianity at all but something I like to call American Civil Religion.

You should read the whole thing

The biggest problem with ACR, other than the matter of it being a different gospel, is that it envisions Christianity in an indistinguishable way apart from American religious practice. Most religious, church-going folks can't imagine a Christianity without the comfortable trappings of ACR: convenient and comfy buildings to meet in, professional entertainers called clergy to keep us interested for half an hour, religious teaching that does nothing to challenge or offend us and that never interferes with our way of life. I don't think it is a stretch to say that in the absence of these features, an absence that is fast approaching, most religious, church-going Americans will stop attending entirely. That will leave the actual church, which has largely bought into this model except in rare cases where it has retreated and bunkered up, similarly lost and confused. 

You really can't shout the warning about this too often or too loudly. The greatest challenge  the church faces in the coming years is not "gay marriage" or the removal of Ten Commandments monuments from Caesar's buildings or even ISIS or whatever iteration of Islamic terrorism  the U.S.will help to create in the future. No, it is the collapse of the religious system that has kept us disengaged and soporific for centuries. As I have been saying until I am blue in the face the time for preparing for these days and disentangling from the American civil religion is now, not ten years from now when the state padlocks church doors. I am going to keep on banging this drum because the church needs to wake up, like right now.

1 comment:

Dan Edelen said...

Thanks for the link and the expansion of the ideas in my post, Arthur.

The genesis was a response to this:

The sense of perpetual fear that leads to outrage is inherent in ACR, and it cannot be reasoned with.