There’s a sound of discontent among Christians this past week. Oh, come on—we’re always discontent about something.
So what is it this time?
This time it’s because of First Baptist Church in Dallas. They held a “Celebrate Freedom Rally” during the Fourth of July weekend.
And during this 2-hour glut fest of raw patriotism and nationalism, the choir unveiled a new anthem called “Make America Great Again.” That’s really not what has people so upset—churches do patriotic services all the time. I think what really got people’s knickers in a twist was how fast the song was copyrighted and listed on CCLI (Christian Copyright Licensing International), the organization that “provides information and resources for churches and copyright owners around the world, relating to copyrights of Christian worship songs” (their words, not mine).
Their launch screen is all about worship!
Worship planning starts here?
But “Make America Great Again” is not about God.
Like, not at all. It’s only about the country and restoring it’s greatness and glory.
In a word, it’s idolatry. Any time you elevate something and worship it as equal to, or in place of, God you’re committing idolatry. Sure, it wasn’t a “worship service.” Well, it was—just not a worship service where God was the object of worship. Evangelicals have a bad habit of conflating patriotism and faith. Loving America does not make us better Christians. Loving God does not mean we’re going to love America (otherwise, Christians all over the world in foreign countries are in for a world of disappointment when they reach heaven).
America has become our Golden Calf.
And, sadly, this is not new. A quick search for the word “America” on CCLI and I have a results list of 192 songs.
This is supposed to be our worship archive, guys! The Bible is pretty clear that our worship belongs to God and God alone. He got pretty ticked with that whole calf in the wilderness incident. And if this idolatry has become the norm for evangelicalism, then I am ready to call American Evangelicalism a dead religion. I’m done with it and all of the garbage that comes with it.
Jesus transcends nations. His worship demands we transcend nations. I’m not saying we shouldn’t be patriotic. I’m saying we’ve lost the ability to see the line between patriotism and idolatry.
Chris Linzey is husband to Tené, father to the three most beautiful children in the world, movie addict (seriously, if it’s on a screen he'll watch it—doesn’t matter how crummy or low-budget), and a Navy Chaplain, currently assigned to Naval Air Station, Meridian. Chris has a deep desire to help people live lives of faith where the Bible is more than mere words on a page, but the way we live everyday. His undergrad and Master’s studies were in Biblical Studies and he focused on the New Testament (his mentor was a Gospel of Mark scholar). He went on to get a Master of Divinity (MDiv) in Pastoral Preaching. Follow him at @chrislinzey.