Christian Nationalism, QAnon, and conspiracy theories are in most churches. How should we react?
The January 6, 2021 riot at the US Capitol demonstrated the dangers of extreme Christian nationalism. When we allow our ideas about God and His protection to overrun the Bible, we get into serious trouble. Now, many Christians are questioning their faith. Why does the Jesus of the Bible look so different from us and our country?
In this episode, Chris discusses our strange relationship with the United States. We love it when it affirms us, but we don’t know what to do when the US behaves in an evil manner. How do we unify the Church in an era of division?
Helpful Discussion Questions:
- How have you seen the United States tied to Christianity?
- What do you think people mean when they say the US is a Christian nation?
- When have you seen the US behave in a Christian manner?
- When have you seen it wander from Christian principles?
- Do you follow the Jesus of the Sermon on the Mount, or an economic Jesus?
- How can you love people in your local church who believe different things about Jesus than you do?
- You can learn more about the Virginia Law Codes in Rebecca Cox Richardson’s book “How the South Won the Civil War”.
- In the episode, I reference that the US provided rebels in Afghanistan with copies of the Koran and VHS bootlegs of the movie “Rambo”. You can learn about that in Steve Coll’s book, “Ghost Wars” pages 90 and 194-197.
- Learn about John Adam’s day of fasting
- The Treaty of Tripoli
- More about Dalton Trumbo
- “Trumbo” movie trailer
How should Christians react in a post-Christian society?
Many theologians describe our modern era as being post-Christian. Meaning that religion was once public in the United States, and it is slowly disappearing. Is that okay? Is it possible that now is a great time to be doing ministry?
In this episode Chris interviews pastor/ author/ podcaster Skye Jethani. He’s the author of the book “What if Jesus was Serious?” and co-host of The Holy Post podcast with Phil Vischer. Skye’s wisdom for this time helps Christians put today in perspective.
- What is meant by the term “post-Christian”?
- Do you think we’re living in a post-Christian world?
- How do our environment and culture impact Jesus’ words in the Sermon on the Mount?
- What does it mean to love our neighbors? Turn the other cheek?
- Do you agree with Skye when he says that we are to obey our leaders, and yet we are the leaders in the US?
- If so, how does that impact how you live and work?
- Have you ever lived in an environment that was non-Christian? How does that differ from a culturally Christian area? Was it easier to do ministry in one over another?
When did school prayer become illegal?
American Christians have disagreed about school prayer ever since it was declared illegal in the 1960s by the Supreme Court of the United States. But what were the conditions surrounding that debate?
In this episode of Truce, we break down the debate using Justice Hugo Black’s majority argument against school prayer. It goes all the way back to the founding of the Church of England when Thomas Cranmer wrote the Book of Common Prayer and helped the king solidify his divorce. Thomas Cranmer was Archbishop of Canterbury, the highest role in the Church of England. But when Mary Tudor rose to the role of queen, she executed Cranmer because she was Catholic and he was Protestant.
Justice Black’s decision hinged on the story of Cranmer. England was thrown into turmoil with every new regent because they could change the religion. The US, he argued, was founded on principles that would keep that from happening. The Establishment Clause of the US Constitution prohibits the government from establishing a religion. So… is school prayer a violation of the Establishment Clause?
When did school prayer become illegal? 1962.
What do you think?
- Have you ever used prayer as a weapon like Chris did in the locker room for his school play?
- What are the benefits of prayers that are written down? What are the drawbacks?
- Do you recite written prayers? Why or why not?
- Was the Regent’s Prayer right in being non-specific about which God it referred to?
- Do you think your country would benefit from a national religion? What if that religion could be changed over time?
- Did you ever pray in school?
- Should we pray in schools?
- What did you think of Justice Hugo Black’s majority opinion which used the example of the Church of England in the 1500s as a reason why we should not have school prayer?
Jerry Falwell Sr. had a controversial stance on apartheid segregation in South Africa.
Jerry Falwell Sr. had a controversial stance on apartheid segregation in South Africa. He was one of the most outspoken evangelical Christians in the 1980s. He founded Liberty University and the Moral Majority political movement. In 1985 he went on a trip to visit South Africa, which was then engaged in its apartheid practices. That meant keeping 80% of the land for white use only and moving black people to reservations. It was a black majority country controlled by the white minority.
Upon his return, Falwell made some controversial statements. Including one that American Christians should not protest South Africa or demand sanctions. Seems crazy, right? But South African guerillas were being funded (in part) by the Soviet Union. The worry that communism would take over South Africa was real. Which of the two evils would Christians choose? Backing an apartheid government, or potentially supporting the Soviet-sponsored rebels?
Our guest today is Melani McAlister, author of the excellent book “The Kingdom of God Has No Borders“. She is also professor of American Studies and International Affairs at George Washington University.
- What do you think of Falwell’s position on apartheid?
- Do you think the US concern about communism was appropriate?
- What were Americans afraid of when it came to communism?
- When in history have you or the Church had to choose between the lesser of two evils?
- How could that have been handled differently?
- C-SPAN video of Jerry Falwell (edited for the show)
- George Washington University video featuring Melani
Christian missionaries sometimes export the United States with their messages.
Melani McAlister, author of “The Kingdom of God Has No Borders” and Professor of American Studies and International Affairs at George Washington University, joins us to discuss how we export Christianity. In the 1950s and 1960s, American denominations sent white missionaries to Africa to share the good news. But with them went their bias and racism. This was the era of Jim Crow laws. Some missionaries took those laws to Africa, not allowing black people to eat at their tables.
In this episode, we examine the problem of tying the United States to Christianity. When the US makes mistakes or does evil, how does that reflect back on the church?
Christian missionaries sometimes export the United States with their messages. What else is going with our missionaries?
- Have you ever been on a mission trip before? What was your motivation for going?
- Do you think that it is possible to marginalize the people we are trying to witness to?
- How do you feel about showing pictures of poor people in church presentations? How might that practice encourage churchgoers to marginalize a people group?
- Do you think poor people in other countries are happier?
- Is it okay for us to export the American way with the gospel? If yes, then which things should we export?