If I were a Christian, I might have to change my fife-and-drum tune. Pastor Shel Boese warns his fellow believers to watch what the worship this Sunday. Pastor Shel refers us to Pastor Bob Wyatt of Oregon, who questions the compatibility of national patriotism and Christianity:
Tony Campolo puts it this way: “America may be the best Babylon the world has, but it is still Babylon nonetheless.”
We are exiles living in Babylon, folks. Our corner may be called “America,” or “Canada,” or “France,” but it’s still all a part of the same thing: a world system that transcends borders, is dominated by materialistic consumerism and exploitation, and is fundamentally opposed to the Kingdom of God. And while love and affection for the people living in that system is entirely necessary, and while we should certainly pray for the peace and well-being of the place where God has set us, we need to avoid the mistake we see over and over in Scripture: becoming so enamored with our temporary dwelling—whether that’s called Egypt, Babylon, or even America—that we lose sight of what Hebrews calls “a better place” [Pastor Bob Wyatt, "Be Careful What You Worship on July 4," Out of Ur, 2010.07.01]
Lest you revert to conflating piety and patriotism, take a couple more swigs of that Campolo quote:
- "America is the best Babylon in the world. But Babylon is a whore. Whores seduce. Babylon consumes all the resources on the earth, and eats up the souls of men (Rev 18)."
- “As the system was collapsing, as Babylon was going down the tubes, this other group of people was saying, 'hallelujah, Babylon is no more! The great whore is dying'.... Don’t get me wrong, I love the United States of America. It’s the best Babylon on the face of the earth, but it’s still Babylon and it’s not the kingdom of God.”
As some of my more enlightened Christian friends would say, God Bless America... and the rest of the world, too!