Over at the Q: Ideas blog Chris Donato asks Carl Trueman some questions about civil religion, secularization and poli-tainment. I have always been struck myself at the general adolescent impulse that beats beneath American Protestantism, so I found this question and answer edifying:
Donato: “What does a product like The Patriot’s Bible tell us about Christians in America? Why do you argue that the claims made by the publisher of The Patriot’s Bible are puerile and blasphemous?”
Trueman: “It epitomizes the close connection made in certain American Christian minds between the kingdom of God and the American political and social project as they understand it. It generally makes the gospel something which primarily reinforces patriotism and conservative social and moral causes. Neither patriotism nor such causes are necessarily bad; in fact, they can be very good as civic virtues; but they should not be confused with the coming of Christ’s kingdom.
“As to the Patriot Bible’s puerility: when we are children, we believe ourselves to be the centre of the universe; indeed, one could describe the process of growing into adulthood as the slow and steady realization that this belief is a myth, a fairy-story. The Patriot’s Bible is such childishness writ large, identifying America and its institutions with God’s people and kingdom. Of course, other nations have done the same: Britain did it at the height of her imperial power in the nineteenth century; and the process whereby she has been disabused of that has been a painful and traumatic one; the same applies, even more painfully, to Germany.
“As to being blasphemous, you need only to look at one example: the positive comparison of the Last Supper with the Continental Congress, something which the promotional video for the Patriot’s Bible does on its website. Need I say more?”