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Between Babel and Beast: America and Empires in Biblical Perspective (Theopolitical Visions) Paperback – July 6, 2012


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Between Babel and Beast: America and Empires in Biblical Perspective (Theopolitical Visions) + Defending Constantine: The Twilight of an Empire and the Dawn of Christendom
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Product Details

  • Series: Theopolitical Visions
  • Paperback: 214 pages
  • Publisher: Wipf & Stock Pub (July 6, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1608998177
  • ISBN-13: 978-1608998173
  • Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 5.8 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #795,333 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

''When I read a critique of the heresy of 'Americanism' from someone who nonetheless 'loves America,' I take notice: this is not the usual predictable boilerplate. In this important book, Leithart brings his usual verve, erudition, and nuance to bear on one of the central idolatries of our age.''
--James K. A. Smith, Calvin College --Wipf and Stock Publishers

'''Between Babel and Beast' offers a bracing critique of American political history and a pastoral call for repentance from imperial 'Americanism.' But Leithart's distinctive analysis provides a more complex--and potentially more constructive--biblical perspective on international politics than can be found in the many ecclesial critics of empire. This crisply argued and highly readable companion to Defending Constantine confirms that Leithart is one of the most interesting voices in theology today.''
--Eric Gregory, Princeton University --Wipf and Stock Publishers

'''Between Babel and Beast' offers a bracing critique of American political history and a pastoral call for repentance from imperial 'Americanism.' But Leithart's distinctive analysis provides a more complex--and potentially more constructive--biblical perspective on international politics than can be found in the many ecclesial critics of empire. This crisply argued and highly readable companion to Defending Constantine confirms that Leithart is one of the most interesting voices in theology today.''
--Eric Gregory, Princeton University --Wipf and Stock Publishers

'''Between Babel and Beast' offers a bracing critique of American political history and a pastoral call for repentance from imperial 'Americanism.' But Leithart's distinctive analysis provides a more complex--and potentially more constructive--biblical perspective on international politics than can be found in the many ecclesial critics of empire. This crisply argued and highly readable companion to Defending Constantine confirms that Leithart is one of the most interesting voices in theology today.''
--Eric Gregory, Princeton University --Wipf and Stock Publishers

'''Between Babel and Beast' offers a bracing critique of American political history and a pastoral call for repentance from imperial 'Americanism.' But Leithart's distinctive analysis provides a more complex--and potentially more constructive--biblical perspective on international politics than can be found in the many ecclesial critics of empire. This crisply argued and highly readable companion to Defending Constantine confirms that Leithart is one of the most interesting voices in theology today.''
--Eric Gregory, Princeton University --Wipf and Stock Publishers

About the Author

Peter J. Leithart is a Senior Fellow of Theology and Literature at New St. Andrews College, Moscow, Idaho, and serves on the pastoral staff of Trinity Reformed Church. He is the author most recently of "Athanasius" (2011). He and his wife, Noel, have ten children.

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Customer Reviews

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I, for one, think he has and the evidence is quite sturdy for Leithart's thesis.
David George Moore
Part III of the book, labeled between Babel and Beast, everything is attempted to be put into context of how Christians should view America.
K. Feucht
He then goes on to look at America as empire and the fourth great monotheistic religion, Americanism.
J P Romack

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 19 people found the following review helpful By K. Feucht on October 14, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is one of the better books that I've read in a while, and so a lengthy review is in order.

I've been interested in the dynamics and politics and religion since it is an election year, and the politicians are out selling themselves. Some would argue that there is no difference between politics and religion (such as Rushdooney), since the only legitimate government is a Christian government that follows the civil law of Moses. Such a situation will be the case when the saints rule the earth in their original condition absent of original sin. Until then, we must always differentiate between the kingdom of God and the kingdom of man. Leithart asks a penetrating question as to how the kingdom(s) of man treats those of a Christian faith. Do the various nations of the world act against God's kingdom or in support of it?

The introduction to the book first explains the purpose of Leithart writing the book. In a way, it is a sequel to another book he wrote titled "Constantine". This book was reviewed by me previously. Before beginning the book, Leithart gently reminds the reader that he (assuming that the reader is an American Christian) is first and foremost a Christian, but also a reminder that America is a part of the city of man. He will elaborate on that much further in the book.

The first three chapters with its conclusion are a history of empires from a biblical perspective. Beginning with the first empire ever, Babel, Leithart outlines in the first chapter the evolution and children of Babel through the book of Genesis. Babel is not used in a particularly perjorative sense, but simply to define an institution that is the "city of man", a political state or empire established on earth.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By A. Smith on January 1, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
In Between Babel and Beast, Peter Leithart shows how American love for God overlapped American love for country so that the two became one and the same. America's mission was God's mission, so we were taught, and since the missions were identical, Americans want to remake the world in America's image. At some point, true, orthodox love for God was eclipsed by a nationalism that merely retained the religious trappings - Americanism. Americanism uses Biblical language and promotes a Messianic America. Instead of America offering salvation to the world through Christ, America offers salvation to the world through American ideals (e.g. democracy).

Despite Americanism's rhetoric, however, Leithart reveals the practice and impact of modern American political, economic, and military policies. While the language of Americanism is saturated with the goals of supporting democracy and freedom throughout the world, the reality is more complex and often contradictory. Sometimes supporting democratic governments or religious freedoms abroad doesn't promote American interests, but that hasn't deterred America from intervening even if it means contradicting the presumed tenets of Americanism. "Americanism fools us into thinking that we are acting for high-minded ideals rather than for grubby national advantage" (p. 134).

The sacrifices we make to Americanism should startle Christians. At minimum, it should be clear after reading Leithart's book that defending American interests around the world is not the same thing as defending Christianity. Christians should look past their love for country, and examine America's behavior throughout the world from a Biblical perspective.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful By C. Fred Smith on December 15, 2012
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Peter Leithart offers Christians a challenge to abandon the effort to "run" the world--or this nation--and instead to live godly lives within our given situation. Babel--the OT tower of Babel--was a religious/political alliance to create "justice" and "true religion" apart from the living God. God came down and confused that effort. The Beast--of revelation--will be another such attempt. Between the two lies Babylon--a pagan nation and government, in which Israel flourished and actually grew spiritually. (Another religio-political alliance in defiance of God was that between Roman Governor Pilate and the Sanhedrin--and they crucified Jesus Christ!).

Can we live in the modern Babylon of Western Culture and flourish as the Body of Christ within it? Or must we "take over" and impose "Judeo-Christian values" through a religio-political alliance if the Church is to flourish. Leithart challenges us to consider these questions in light of what the Bible says about politics and religion.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful By David George Moore on September 24, 2012
Format: Paperback
This is a hard hitting book. The reader will need to wrestle with whether Leithart has raised valid concerns over "Americanism." I, for one, think he has and the evidence is quite sturdy for Leithart's thesis.

What to do? Neither the hand wringing of some or simply touting our exceptional status in the world are helpful ways forward. We desperately need genuine humility coupled with a desire for justice.
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