My dad always used to tell me that “the only person you can control is yourself.” That is also a statement that Greg Boyd would be quick to acknowledge is one of the truths at the core of his newest book. In The Myth Of A Christian Nation, Boyd jumps to the forefront of the growing crowd of evangelicals who are decrying what they see as the political over-involvement of the church. He presents a compelling apologetic to defend and best illustrate his point.

The book begins by speaking as to what a Christian truly is and what living as a Christian should look like. It then speaks of how that true version of life, what Boyd calls “Kingdom of Heaven living”, is incompatible with the politicized version currently found in America. The book goes on to address five specific negative consequences that the mindset which affirms the myth that America is a Christian nation has caused. And lastly, the book answers five specific questions about what this Kingdom of Heaven view means for life.

Boyd speaks of how politics and the church are diametrically opposed, at least in a manner of speaking. In politics, everything is about power. Gaining power, having power, maintaining power. Boyd describes this as the “power-over” method of living life. This is the way the world lives. But Boyd sees the church, the first fruits of the coming Kingdom of God, as living a life he describes as “power-under.” In following the example of Christ, we are to seek to come under others and love them through service. The two ideas could not be more different.

Boyd also states that another area of total disagreement is in the area of control versus transformation. Through politics, no matter how good the laws are, whether they are about abortion or same-sex marriage or maintaining our freedoms, laws are only capable of controlling the outward behavior of people. There is no way to control people into the Kingdom of Heaven. Rather, it is through transformation, Boyd says, a change people become open to when they see the love of Christ, that their lives are changed. In Boyd’s paradigm, it is our selfish desires, and not our love for others, that cause us to vote for moral laws. Therefore, Boyd would say that even though laws can be good, we should sacrifice no part of our faith or witness to bring them about.

Boyd’s main focus is on what he calls, and titles his book, the myth of a Christian nation. This myth states that America was founded as God’s country and that it needs to be taken back. Boyd sees this as a destructive fairy tale which is tearing apart the church and spawning negative consequences which span the globe. Boyd goes on to show that this myth is something which is perpetuated mainly by white middle-to-upper-class Americans and that it victimizes minority group after minority group. This myth is shown as being historically inaccurate, unfair, unjust, and most importantly, blatantly contrary to Scripture.

Boyd calls the church to live a life based on love, not simply on our interpretation of what love is.

There are ways in which this book does fall short, however. One unfortunate part of this book is that it is written from an overwhelmingly North American perspective, even though it is still a fair view. This is forgivable, as Boyd is writing to a North American audience, but he fails to take into consideration many of the political and spiritual dimensions which are found outside of the West. Another slanted view is one in which this book is directed primarily against those who find themselves more a part of the evangelical persuasion and are correspondingly most likely to be politically conservative on down the line to Pat Robertson Land. However, this is also forgivable, as Boyd is once again writing to his audience, one which is much more evangelical and conservative than anything else. The political scene is hardly overrun with liberal Christianity and its henchmen these days.

Boyd convinces more and more with every turn of the page. Hardly a paragraph can be found that does not contain at least one Scripture reference or valid historical reference to buttress his points. Everything he says is endlessly researched and documented. If there is a disagreement that can be had with Boyd in this book, it is not about his sources.

This is a hard book to read, regardless of your political stance. At some point, if they are open and honest in their assessment, every reader is guaranteed to feel the sting of realization that they too have co-opted Jesus to make a political point in their life. Whether conservative or liberal, Boyd cuts to the core of some of some of the closest held beliefs and shows us that we are all missing the point.

Freeing to some and offensive to others, Boyd’s latest work is a glorious masterpiece which cries out for us to regain our true calling as a church. Whether you gladly agree or disagree vehemently, this is a book that should be read, these are issues that should be raised, and these are questions that must be asked. Regardless of what side you will fall on, you must either think about these ideas or continue living a fool’s life.

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