The website of a local area church recently announced a “Patriotic Weekend” to be held at their campus. I heard from one person who attended that Oliver North was among the speakers featured at the event.
I am thinking about this as the Fourth of July Weekend is upon us. And I thought I would offer a few words from John Howard Yoder to help us ponder what such an event might mean.
In his book, The Priestly Kingdom: Social Ethics as Gospel, Yoder has a chapter titled “Constantinian Sources of Western Social Ethics.” And at one point in this chapter, he explains what he sees as the various stages of Constantinianism down through the ages, describing how Constantinianism progresses to neo-Constantinianism and beyond. Each phase expands on and responds to the one before it. Eventually, he reaches phases which explain certain features of American Christianity. Here is what he says:
“Once the separation of church and state is seen as theologically desirable, a society where this separation is achieved is not a pagan society but a nation structured according to the will of God. American patriotism is highly religious….”
This is neo-neo-Constantinianism. But then Yoder points to what he calls neo-neo-neo-Constantinianism:
“In our own century yet another step is taken. The government may actually oppose Christianity as value system and as institution… Yet even under this reversal of the stream, Christians remain patriotic. Their objection to the disadvantages or even persecution they suffer takes the form of claiming that their faith does not make them disloyal to the nation. In international and ecumenical contacts their national loyalty is professed, and the view of world affairs held in their homeland is shared…”
I’m wondering… How accurately this might describe such things as this “Patriotic Weekend?” Any thoughts?…