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American Idolatry: How Christian Nationalism…

American Idolatry: How Christian Nationalism Betrays the Gospel and Threatens the Church (edição: 2023)

de Andrew L. Whitehead (Autor)

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"An expert on Christian nationalism identifies three areas-power, fear, and violence-where nationalism conflicts with core gospel beliefs and reveals its theological and spiritual costs in the church before pointing a way forward"--
Título:American Idolatry: How Christian Nationalism Betrays the Gospel and Threatens the Church
Autores:Andrew L. Whitehead (Autor)
Informação:Brazos Press (2023), 240 pages
Coleções:Sua biblioteca
Etiquetas:Christianity and Politics - History, Christianity and Culture, Nationalism - Religious Aspects

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American Idolatry: How Christian Nationalism Betrays the Gospel and Threatens the Church de Andrew L. Whitehead


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Exibindo 5 de 5
Esta resenha foi escrita no âmbito dos Primeiros Resenhistas do LibraryThing.
Whitehead writes from the perspective of both a sociologist and a scholar. He believes that "Christian nationalism betrays the gospel and threatens the church." The power, fear, and violence associated with Christian nationalism are corrupting Christian theology. He focuses on 2 specific areas - xenophobia and racism. It's a very readable book - well organized and clear. Each chapter has a specific title, then there are further subdivisions within the chapters. There are many examples of each topic from Whitehead's own experience, other writers, and the Bible. ( )
  HAUMC | Sep 18, 2023 |
Esta resenha foi escrita no âmbito dos Primeiros Resenhistas do LibraryThing.
I found this to be a very well-written book on an important subject. The combination of personal experience growing up in the evangelical church together with the hard evidence from sociology research is powerful. So is the thoughtful manner in which Whitehead avoids polemical categorization and focuses on the positive steps a church or community can take to reduce the influence of power, fear and violence on the expression of the Gospel message. ( )
  ronincats | Sep 17, 2023 |
Esta resenha foi escrita no âmbito dos Primeiros Resenhistas do LibraryThing.
This book is sound not only as an academic work; it's also full of heartfelt entreaties and spiritual power as well. I recommend this for anyone living in the United States no matter your religious affiliation, for those interested in interfaith conversations, for those interested in saving democracy in the United States, and so many more. As Whitehead himself says, "...we can and will remake American Christianity to look a lot more like Christ than a servant of empire." This is something we can all stand behind especially if we read the book and realize what will happen if we don't.

Growing up as a Catholic immigrant in New York City, I didn't encounter overt discrimination until I moved to the suburbs of Staten Island. We were the first Hispanic family in our neighborhood. Known as the red borough amongst the blue of New York City, it was the first time I was called a racial slur to my face. A lot of the people I encountered went to church every Sunday, blue collar workers, decent people they seemed. Then 9/11 happened and all of New York City, not just Staten Island, felt unsafe for my darker skinned relatives and even those of us who passed if people were aware of our immigrant past.

I share this because until I read "American Idolatry", I hadn't realized how much Christian Nationalism I had experienced in my life already. I had thought it was just after Trump was running for President that it was in my face. Thanks to Andrew Whitehead's beautifully written and emotionally powerful book, I realize that Mr. Whitehead is right. Christian Nationalism, White Christian Nationalism to be exact, has been a part of the American tapestry for a very long time. I appreciated how he even connected it as far back as the Roman times when Christianity first joined forces with those in power.

I'm no longer a Catholic or Christian. However this book was still important for me to read. It was an eye opener for me and I hope it will be for my friends & family who are still Christian. I appreciated how Andrew Whitehead broke down what Christian Nationalism is and how it stands diametrically opposed to Jesus Christ's true teachings. I appreciated how Whitehead didn't leave me feeling hopeless about the influence of Christian Nationalism in the USA. Instead he gave me so much hope and so many action items we can all take to work against it. ( )
  paolasp | Sep 13, 2023 |
Summary: Drawing on sociological research showing the association of racism and xenophobia with Christian nationalism, argues of the dangers of the idolatries of power, fear and violence to the American church.

My exposures to Christian nationalism are of the anecdotal character–the heartbreak of pastors whose people forsake sound teaching for a message of nationalism laced with fear and calls to the assertion of power or even to violent uprising. I also know the heartbreaking work of walking alongside young people “de-constructing” their faith because of alienation from churches that have become captive to such messages, which seems so unlike what they’ve encountered of Jesus in the gospels.

Andrew Whitehead articulates with academic rigor the concerns I have in my personal encounters. He writes as someone growing up within evangelicalism who wrestles with whether it is possible to be both Christian and patriot (yes) and how Christian nationalism is different from both. As a Christian, he argues that Christian nationalism is an empty, hollow philosophy rooted in idolatries of power, fear, and violence. As a sociologist, he notes studies that show how the embrace of Christian nationalism is one of the best predictors of both racist and anti-immigrant attitudes.

He begins with defining Christian nationalism as the conviction that civic life should be organized according to a particular form of conservative Christianity. This includes a moral traditionalism that maintains social hierarchies (between men and women, economic classes, races, and outsiders) and supports authoritarian social control to maintain those boundaries, including the threat and use of violence. He spends a chapter defining this, noting that signs of this in churches are American flags in sanctuaries, messages of fear or self-interest from the pulpit, “Celebrate America” services around July 4, defense of seeking access to power, comfort with the use of violence, and us versus them thinking.

The next three chapters look at three manifestations of idolatry, which he describes, quoting Kaitlyn Schiess as the “capitulation to a different story and set of values. Idols make promises of protection and provision, and they require allegiance. He looks at the focus on using power to benefit “us” versus seeking the common good of all, and contrasts this with the approach of a Jesus who “turns the other cheek. For example, are we concerned with defending our religious liberty or protecting the religious liberty of all? Then he looks at how fear becomes an idol attracting followers by evoking fears around race, immigrants, and religion and contrasts this to the teaching of Jesus who calls his disciples to “fear not.” He notes for the example the evoking of the fears of the presence of immigrants leading to higher crime rates when in fact the crime rates among this group are lower. Finally, Whitehead considers how Christians have legitimated the use of violence in the assertion of power to attain the goals of conservative Christianity, as visibly evident in the January 6 effort to seize the Capitol building and prevent the Constitutional certification of the election and succession of the presidency. Whitehead believes this to be deeply embedded in our history both with Indigenous people and Blacks maintaining first slavery, and then racial subordination. Again he contrasts this with the command of Jesus to “lay down your sword.”

Chapters six and seven then discuss how power, fear, and violence associated with Christian nationalism are connected empirically with racism and xenophobia. He offers suggestions for readings and one of the most important suggestions he offers is for white churches to relinquish social control, sharing the example of Shalom Community Church’s reparations efforts and relnquishing all controls of funds collected to Black religious and community leaders. He observes how we will go on short-term mission trips but want to refuse entry of people from the same countries to the US. He profiles the Neighbor to Neighbor ministry that has worked to welcome immigrants and how it has replaced fear with joy.

In his concluding chapter, he speaks of the challenge to tell better stories than the idol stories the Christian nationalism has embraced. I think this is spot on. My sense is that the appeal of Christian nationalism is that it offers both a cause and a sense of being empowered, and yet these are not derived from the gospel of Jesus and his kingdom. I’ve been saddened oftentimes by not only how destructive and divisive is Christian nationalism. I’m saddened by how small it is compared to the grand narrative of the gospel that brings both personal and social transformation, breaking down every barrier, and accomplishing through spiritual power and the power of love what political power and armed violence can never achieve. Whitehead’s use of examples of ministries that are doing this are important–stories that can be seen and not just talk are necessary.

Whitehead’s book is also important in confronting where elements of Christian nationalism have crept into our churches. I wonder, though, how many such churches will read this. I suspect that a more significant audience may be those who have been part of such churches in the past who need to come to terms with this past, and perhaps the unconcious biases that they carry from these, even if they have reacted against the church. Reflection, lament, repentance, and embrace of the gospel offer a path of spiritual reconstruction, and this book can help point the way.


Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary review copy of this book from the publisher. ( )
1 vote BobonBooks | Aug 6, 2023 |
The author's more personal experience and analysis regarding white American Christian nationalism.

The author is a co-writer of a recent work on the subject which approached it primarily in terms of rigorous sociological analysis and evidence. It is important to get that data out there, but the work did suffer from that heavy focus.

What that previous work may have lacked in terms of force and power is more than compensated by what the author has provided in this work. In fact, I would recommend this work as primary for exploring and considering white American Christian nationalism.

The author explains his Evangelical background and how he was immersed in what would become the conditions for white American Christian nationalism and described and explained what white American Christian nationalism is all about. He compares and contrasts the ways of white American Christian nationalism with the ways of the Kingdom of God in Christ not just in terms of the political "culture wars" but specifically in the thoughts, feelings, and actions centering on obtaining and maintaining power, punishing enemies, a militaristic outlook and perspective, and a willingness to remain alienated from those deemed "the Other."

The author does well in delineating what is problematic regarding white American Christian nationalism from what may be simply reflecting a certain religious subculture: the concern is not loving America or patriotism, but elevating and exalting a certain expectation and picture of America to the detriment of what God has made known in Jesus. It's not about supporting America as much as remembering primary loyalty to the Kingdom. It's the recognition the drivers of white American Christian nationalism involve fear of the other, a desire to obtain and maintain power, and a willingness to look the other way in terms of what is done to those ends, none of which well reflect the Reign of God in Jesus.

White American Christian nationalism is very much a thing pervasive in every area of conservative Christendom writ large, and it should be resisted. You do well to consider this.

**-- galley received as part of early review program ( )
  deusvitae | Jul 15, 2023 |
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