Author: Gregory A. Boyd
ISBN: 13: 978-0-310-26730-0
Should American evangelicals be attempting to "take America back for God"
through political means? Evangelical pastor Gregory Boyd doesn't think so.
In the months preceding the 2004 election, when he was being pressured to
"shepherd" his congregation into "correct" voting, he did something quite
the opposite: he began a sermon series entitled "The Cross and the Sword,"
which outlined the wrongheadedness of seeking political power in the name
Boyd's book, "The Myth of a Christian Nation, which is an expanded version
of his sermon series, presents the vast difference between the kingdom that
Christ preached and its polar opposite - the kingdom of the world. In the
first three chapters, Boyd lays out his basic premise, which is echoed
throughout the book: that of "power over" vs. "power under." "Power over"
is what the proverbial "kingdom of the world" will always practice: coerced
compliance to exterior rules. "Power under," on the other hand, is what
Christ preached, demonstrated and intended to be the foundation of his new
kingdom: sacrificial love.
Although Boyd quotes other Christian writers - both past and present - and
also presents a plethora of scripture references to back up all of his
points, he often peppers "Myth" with his own brilliantly original
deductions For instance, he points out that among Jesus' twelve disciples
were two who hailed from diametrically opposing political philosophies:
Matthew the tax collector and Simon the zealot. "To compare [Simon and
Matthew]," writes Boyd, "to, say, Ralph Nader and Rush Limbaugh wouldn't
even come close." Although Boyd postulates that these two disciples
probably had some interesting conversatios, it is telling that scripture
doesn't record them or anything Jesus had to say regarding their
antithetical philosophies. Boyd's conclusion? "This silence points to
the all-important distinctness of the kingdom of God from every version of
the kingdom of the world," a distinction which Boyd seeks to illustrate
repeatedly throughout the book.
Another brilliant insight is presented in the chapter entitled "From
Resident Aliens to Conquering Warlords" which details the church's violent
warfare in the name of Christ (which began approximately 70 years after
Constantine legalized Christianity in 313 A.D.). While relating that
"people were [often] . . . tortured and killed for disagreeing on matters
of doctrine" Boyd is amazed that "no one in church history has ever been
considered a heretic for being unloving." Quite a material point since the
foundation of Christianity, as Christ originally presented it, is
In the chapter titled "When Chief Sinners Become Moral Guardians," Boyd
points out the blatant hypocrisy in the current "sanctity of marriage"
movement. How is it that American evangelicals -- who Boyd contests have
an extremely high divorce rate - repeatedly sidestep the Biblical
injunctions against divorce and remarriage and choose instead to focus
only on those verses which forbid homosexuality? Because "by drawing a
line in the sand on this point," says Boyd, "we can feel that we're doing
something righteous . . . we're playing the role of moral guardian that (we
believe) God has called us to play." Christians realize that they are
supposed to make a difference for God in the world but since it's much
easier to utilize earthly weapons than spiritual ones, there is more
Christian voting going on than there is sacrificial loving.
Not that Boyd would consider it wrong for Christians to vote or even to
seek political office, but to do so in order to advance God's kingdom on
earth is the error which his book seeks to correct. Rather than fall prey
to a "Crusades" mentality, Boyd's book calls American evangelicals to take
a serious look at the powerful words and example of Christianity's
The above review was contributed by: Kathryn Atwood: Click Here To View More Of Kathryn's Reviews:
Kathryn Atwood's poetry, reviews and essays have appeared in numerous online and print journals, including "The Aurora Review,", "Afterimage," "Void Magazine," "Wild Violet," and "PopMatters." When she's not writing or driving her three kids around somewhere, she's usually teaching at a local music studio or givng vocal performances with her husband on the subject of American Song.