Provocative Reading

camp Reading Lee Camp's Mere Discipleship for review in an upcoming edition of the Stone-Campbell Journal, and I am finding it to be great reading. Camp has a fairly keen and direct sense about what discipleship (which is basically what some people call spiritual formation and vice versa) "is" and what it "is not" and the limiting factors upon discipleship from a Western perspective. Strange that I would find any resonance. :) It is an accessible book as well, this being the second edition as well as a glossary and study guide section that will help lead readers through certain difficult theological, historical, and hermeneutical struggles that might come up.

As I read this morning, this passage jumped off the page at me as it elucidated something that I had been thinking on at length a few years ago as well as some current challenges that have arisen through conversations and even more so the most recent election experience and it's resulting thoughts and fallout. Here's the quote in its entirety:

"Shaped by (the nationalistic mold), conformed to the ways of our self-serving world, Christians respond defensively to the notion that the church should challenge the judgments of the nation-state. Ironically, of course, it is not pacifism alone that would require Christians to question the nation-state. The just-war tradition itself requires that the Christian church challenge and weight the judgments of the authorities that call Christians to arms. Yet little to nothing is done to inclucate such moral responsibility. Instead, reflexive nationalism rears its thoughtless head: 'if you don't love it, leave it!'

This is the great irony of American Christianity: exalting the nation that affords us 'freedom of religion,' we set aside the way of Christ in order to preserve the religion we supposedly are free to practice. We kill our alleged enemies in order to 'worship' the God who teaches us to love our enemies." (140)

A stinging critique of the reciprocity that takes place when national interests and the Kingdom of God are swirled together in an unholy and uncritical mix. I wondered what your thoughts on this quote would be. By the by, it's worth the price of the book ($18.99, Brazos Press) just to engage some of his practical illustrations, one of which precedes the second half of this quote. From your vantage point: is it paradoxical this contemporary relationship between America and Christianity? Is there even a parallel between the Biblical world's systems of power and authority that matches the applications made by some of the New Testament to our contemporary social and cultural involvement in the West?