Bowing Toward Babylon
The Nationalistic Subversion of Christian Worship in America
What is being done in worship when national holidays are celebrated, the American flag is displayed and honored, and songs are sung that extol the nation? Are these benign gestures? Or could they actually be idolatrous? In this insightful and persuasively argued study Craig M. Watts contends the inclusion of elements of American nationalism in worship is detrimental to the integrity of Christian worship. He maintains that in faithful worship the story of Jesus must be re-presented and performed in such a way that the only affections and loyalty that are fostered are those Christians everywhere rightfully share. To do otherwise opens the door to idolatry and leaves the church doing what Watts calls "bowing toward Babylon." He reviews the development of the symbols, songs, and gestures that celebrate America and how they were introduced into worship. Watts concludes that the spirituality of American Christian nationalism does not complement the faith of the church but distorts it, hindering global Christian unity and the peaceable witness of the church in a divided world.
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