Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Are we Americans first and then Christians?

...Or are we Christians who just happen to have been born in America?

There is a lot of talk about Romans 13:1-7 and usage of that passage to call for docile conformity to the will of America. In the video in the link below, Hauerwas asks us to read 13:1-7 in the context of 12, and, I would add, in the context of the following verses 13:8-10. If one part of this passage (don't harm enemies) requires us to violate other parts of this passage (submit to the government), which part should have priority?

What do you think? Click the link to watch the 3 minutes video.  It is from a panel at Duke University on Religious Speech and Public Discourse.

Stanley Hauerwas Resources from Jesus Radicals

Post your reactions below.


  1. There is nothing more controversial in a church setting as this topic. As you know, I've read, discussed, and written a great deal on the topic and it doesn't get any easier. Want someone to forget whatever the latest controversy is you're having to deal with? Suggest that saying the "Pledge of Allegiance" could be nationalistic idolatry. That usually makes everything else seem like small potatoes for folks.

    Dr. Richard Goode presented an incredible paper a couples of years ago at the Christian Scholar's Conference at Lipscomb University entitled "The Heresy of Teaching U. S. History." It was incredible. I have a e-copy if you want it - give me a shout Really well done.

    I suppose broaching this topic is just about the easiest way to get fired and make a lot of enemies. It's a very difficult area to traverse with humility, patience, and, especially, wisdom. Thanks for the post.

    Also, nice work on the site.

  2. I guess if we need practice in loving enemies, then speaking of the idolatry of nationalism is a way to get sure fire opportunities! Thanks for your comments. I wish the church could talk more peacefully about this. Simply posing the question of our ultimate allegiance should be welcomed. I had a conversation with a friend recent where we noted that perhaps the greatest place where the church needs to experience "spiritual formation" is in the way we conceive of our citizenship and how we engage in the public sphere. Often we think techniques of prayer is what we need for advancing spirituality, but these questions - as proved by the emotion and division they create - are one of the most important places we need to turn our attention to. Those areas that we avoid and that stir the most emotion are the ones we most need to address and those we most tend to ignore.

    I'd love to read that paper! Thanks! Keeping doing what you're doing. Know you have a brother proud of what you are doing and here to encourage and listen!