Christian America and the Kingdom of God

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University of Illinois Press, Oct 1, 2010 - History - 232 pages
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The idea of the United States as a Christian nation is a powerful, seductive, and potentially destructive theme in American life, culture, and politics. Many fundamentalist and evangelical leaders routinely promote this notion, and millions of Americans simply assume the Christian character of the United States. And yet, as Richard T. Hughes reveals in this powerful book, the biblical vision of the "kingdom of God" stands at odds with the values and actions of an American empire that sanctions war instead of peace, promotes dominance and oppression instead of reconciliation, and exalts wealth and power instead of justice for the poor and needy.   With conviction and careful consideration, Hughes reviews the myth of Christian America from its earliest history in the founding of the republic to the present day. Extensively analyzing the Old and New Testaments, Hughes provides a solid, scripturally-based explanation of the kingdom of God--a kingdom defined by love, peace, patience, and generosity. Throughout American history, however, this concept has been appropriated by religious and political leaders and distorted into a messianic nationalism that champions the United States as God's "chosen nation" and bears little resemblance to the teachings of Jesus.   Pointing to a systemic biblical and theological illiteracy running rampant in the United States, Hughes investigates the reasons why so many Americans think of the United States as a Christian nation despite the Constitution's outright prohibition against establishing any national religion by law or coercion. He traces the development of fundamentalist Christianity throughout American history, noting especially the increased power and widespread influence of fundamentalism at the dawn of the twenty-first century, embodied and enacted by the administration of President George W. Bush and America's reaction to the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001.
 

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Contents

Getting Our Bearings
1
1 Christian America As Gods Chosen People
15
2 The Witness of the Hebrew Bible
30
3 The Witness of the New Testament
50
4 Why Do We Think of America as a Christian Nation?
105
From the Scopes Trial to George W Bush
136
Notes
187
Index
205
Copyright

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About the author (2010)

Richard T. Hughes is Director of the Sider Institute for Anabaptist, Pietist, and Wesleyan Studies and Distinguished Professor of Religion at Messiah College in Grantham, Pennsylvania, and author or editor of more than a dozen books, including Myths America Lives By and How Christian Faith Can Sustain the Life of the Mind.

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