Letter from the Editor: Loving God, Then Country

Independence Day celebrations this year will be strikingly similar to other years, replete with parades, fireworks, and cookouts. Perhaps more so than any other year in recent history, festivities will likely be tinged with the unrest our country currently faces. The political hustling, terrorism, and cultural discord are taking their toll.

We have much to celebrate as Americans and even more to celebrate as Christians.

Finding ways to love our nation, despite its warts, is a challenge. Our emotions run hot, then cold. We waffle between disdain and hopelessness to reverence and optimism.

Today’s emotional turmoil may not be comfortable, but it is churning up the deep waters of heart and soul, causing us to see what has been lurking in the dark. For many Christians, the unrest is a purification of sorts. It is causing us to assess that our love of God and country is primarily a love of country alone.

This special issue of Christ and Pop Culture Magazine presents reflections from various writers about how we can love our country without it usurping our heavenly home allegiance.

Kaitlyn Schiess provides great insight with her article, “A Country Rightly Loved”:

“Many American Christians struggle with discerning how their patriotism should operate when followers of Christ are called to work for the advancement of a Kingdom greater than any earthly nation. Is America such a ‘Christian nation’ that our loyalty to our God and our country are fundamentally compatible? Or are we to disavow all earthly allegiances, including nationality, in favor of a different kind of citizenship all together?”

These are the questions we must ask ourselves as we live with dual citizenship. It also helps us maintain godly attitudes toward the lesser kingdom while highlighting the ultimate beauty of the eternal one. In “Loving My Prodigal Country,” Gina Dalfonzo helps us to respond in love when things in our country are anything but lovely:

“It’s so easy, in this often-poisonous political atmosphere, to grow jaded and cynical about this country. But love doesn’t do that. Love doesn’t forget what it saw in the beloved.”

We need this admonition to let love and hope rule us. We must not be so easily pushed toward fear, anger, frustration, and hopelessness. These are not befitting the people of God. We can draw upon the greater story God is weaving throughout history, full of redemption and hope even in the darkest of circumstances.

The stories we live from inform us from the core of our being, which is what Andrew Whitworth explores in “The Stories Our Churches Tell”:

“While the story of scripture and the story of America are not always in conflict, they are not the same story. The end goal of America is not the Kingdom of God. The Christian story, the story of God’s redemption of the world through the person of Jesus and the work of the Spirit, forms us toward a different way of life than the story of America does. Celebrations in our Christian communities should lead to our citizenship in the Kingdom of God informing our Earthly citizenship, rather than the other way around.”

We have much to celebrate as Americans and even more to celebrate as Christians. When these are rightly informed and rightly applied, God is honored and His Kingdom is elevated to its rightful place.

In This Issue

A Country Rightly Loved

Rightly ordering our loves allows for patriotism and love of country, but it prevents nationalism and idolization of country.

by Kaitlyn Schiess

Loving My Prodigal Country

How, in the face of such divisiveness, rage, resentment, and hatred, does one go on loving the country where it’s all taking place?

by Gina Dalfonzo

The Stories Our Churches Tell

While the story of scripture and the story of America are not always in conflict, they are not the same story.

by Andrew Whitworth

Huckabee and the Heresy of Americanism

America might have providential historical significance, but according to the Scriptures it has no redemptive-historical significance.

by Derek Rishmawy

On July 4, Celebrate America, But Don’t Worship It

Our nation’s history has a track record for taking patriotism beyond gratitude and into nationalist idolatry.

by Ryan Hoselton

The Moviegoer: How Captain America Does Patriotism Right

“Captain America avoids straw-man enemies, nationalism, and celebration of independent self-reliance.”

by Nick Olson

Under the Sun: Depoliticizing the Pulpit

“These historical complications do not on their own invalidate Olasky and Piper’s position. They do, however, call into question the stories these men are telling about their positions.”

by Jonathan Sircy

Independence Day Staple, the “1812 Overture” is a Story of God’s Sovereignty Over Human History

“The 1812 Overture then, is not a story of American patriotism and triumph but the story of a God Who is sovereign and provident over all of human history.”

by Matthew Linder