Several months ago I was introduced to Bowing Toward Babylon by Craig M. Watts. This offering came at a time when I was wrestling with how to make sense of the political rhetoric being shared on Facebook and news outlets. I am troubled by the desire to co-mingle patriotism and God. Friends were speaking of God and country as though they are equal. Even some religious leaders were thumping Bible and flag together. These people seemed to imply that in order to be a faithful Christian one must also be a true patriot. I know this theme isn’t new but the voices have become so loud and repugnant that I find them difficult to turn off.
What was it that disturbed me so? Why was I hooked on this particular issue? I’m as patriotic as the next person. I volunteered to serve in the Marine Corps and am proud of my service to the country I live in. However, I’m also an ordained minister who made vows to God and promised to teach others the ways of God. So what’s the problem? In one word: idolatry.
In Bowing Toward Babylon, Watts describes what idolatry is and what it looks like when churches elevate the flag, country and even sports teams as something to be worshiped. His book has awakened within me an awareness of how easy it is to slip into the language of religious patriotism. The American church has been seduced into believing that God and country are equal. This is idolatry.
Here are a few questions (p. 24) to ask yourself as you read Bowing Toward Babylon:
Where do you look for security and happiness?
Whom do you expect to guarantee your future?
Whom do you believe on the subject of truth?
It is my hope that this study helps us cultivate a deeper relationship with God, where true life is birthed and lived.
The Rt. Rev. Morris K. Thompson, Jr.Bishop of Louisiana
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