A Couple of Things: A Book Update & A Podcast on the Meaning of America
Written by Pastor Jim Law
I want to thank those readers who have followed Drawing Near in 2021. In the last six months, I have laid the groundwork for a book that has been on my mind for some time. The preliminary title is “Life on the Altar: The Life We Are Called to Live.” The theme comes from Paul’s application of the gospel in Romans 12. Following his systematic presentation of the Good News in Romans 1-11, Paul pivots in Romans 12 to begin answering how we are to live as followers of Christ.
Driven by the commands and exhortations of Romans 12, my prayer is to offer a fresh look at a basic command for the Christian. In a time of confusion and chaos across the cultural and evangelical landscape, I hope to bring a simple word for a confused time as we think of what it means to present ourselves to God and live in the obedience of faith.
The Elders of FBCG have given me the month of July to hopefully finish the work. I have begun the writing leave, partially this week ,and in earnest on Monday. It is a thrilling and exhausting experience, and I would appreciate your prayers for the time of July 5 and August 2. I’ll keep you posted.
A Podcast on “The Meaning of America”
RecentIy I have been tuning into the podcast, Life and Books and Everything. This week one of the hosts, Kevin DeYoung, offered a very helpful analysis of how we should view the dual citizenship believers have in this world. How are citizens of heaven (Philippians 3:20,21) to understand their citizenship in the United States of America?
As we approach the 4th of July tomorrow, I found this podcast valuable for several reasons:
1. DeYoung gives a strong and reasoned appeal for us to affirm the blessings of America even with diverse experiences and backgrounds. He does not argue for a perfect history and names the most notable dark blots on our national record. I think he holds up well the tension between harmartiology (sin) and hagiography (holy) in our national recollection. Harmartiology, which comes from the Greek word meaning sin, and represents a view of American history that is all bad and evil. Hagiography, on the other hand, presents history and past leaders only in a positive light. Both are out-of-balance.
He points out corrections that have been made and continue to be made. He offers an evenhanded response to the clamoring of many for the redefinition of our history and to those who insist that our country is rotten to the core and needs to be burned down root and stem.
2. He gives a cursory review of two books which help think through the challenge of living in a divided nation. A nation in which there is not a shared national identity. The first is by Samuel Goldman, After Nationalism: Being American in an Age of Division, and the second is Land of Hope: An Invitation to the Great American Story by Wilfred McClay. McClay’s book (670 pages) can be purchased on Kindle for $1.99 here, https://amzn.to/3wg0cym
3. Several key quotes by DeYoung (from the electronic transcript):
“I think a proper kind of patriotism in its place can be healthy and as we look together and think together about our own history and what it means to be an American and, of course, we’re not going to agree on it, that’s established, but if we can show as Christians a way to love one another, to speak the truth not just to each other but about one another, and perhaps to open the ear to listen, maybe there is just something we can recover about our share history and identity as Americans.”
“To accurately tell history….that’s really going to be beneficial to people or to our country, and then finally should be obvious, but we recall that we’re dual citizens. That means our earthly citizenship is not irrelevant. I am an American. I think it’s good to be proud to be an American… I will enter into heaven as an American and yet that earthly citizenship must pale so much in comparison to my heavenly citizenship…
“The church is the outpost as an embassy of that heavenly kingdom, so the church is to advance the interests of a King (Jesus) from another land abiding by that King’s rules to advance his interest in this foreign land.”
Give it a listen: https://bit.ly/3qJfGK0
Pastor Jim Law