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Christian America and the Kingdom of God Hardcover – June 25, 2009


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 232 pages
  • Publisher: University of Illinois Press; 1st Edition edition (June 25, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0252032853
  • ISBN-13: 978-0252032851
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,204,385 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"Hughes busts the myth of America as a Christian nation by quoting widely from the Bible and showing how American actions since the founding of the republic have often contradicted the central scriptural teaching of peace on earth and goodwill to man. . . . A genuinely thought-provoking read, Christian America and the Kingdom of God makes one wonder if those who wage wars and bloodshed in the name of God do really know the holy canon."--Chicago Sun-Times
 
"As evangelicals continues to struggle with their identify in the post-George W. Bush era, let us hope that gentler, more reasonable voices like that of Richard Hughes prevail over those that prefer stridency and partisanship."--Huffington Post


“Hughes provides a solid, scripturally based explanation of the kingdom of God--a kingdom defined by love, peace, patience and generosity.”--Peoria Journal Star



“In this timely contribution to widespread discussion about the United States as a Christian nation, Hughes offers a concise history of the cultural influence of the idea, a critique based on careful reading of the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament, an interpretation of the appeal of religious fundamentalism to Americans, and an answer to the question, why do we think of the US as a Christian nation? . . . Highly recommended.”--Choice

 
"An important sign of the times. Its passion, clarity and critical piety make it the kind of book that could build a movement."--The Christian Century
 

Book Description

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.

 

Timely and provocative, Christian America and the Kingdom of God illuminates the devastating irony of a "Christian America" that so often behaves in unchristian ways.

--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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See all 11 customer reviews
An excellent source for a study of the subject.
Robert O. Weitzeil
For those of who you cannot understand the idea that Conservative Christians are Liberal politically, this is the book for you.
Joel L. Watts
I sincerely hope this book will serve to dispell that destructive illusion.
C. Repp

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Wonder on August 10, 2009
Format: Hardcover
At a time when we are being challenged to rethink and reshape our economic, political and social values, Richard Hughes offers this timely, insightful and challenging book on how some American values and policies are unchristian and even anti-Christian.

Is America a Christian nation? On one hand, over 80% of Americans say they are Christian. Christian customs and holidays help shape our society. On the other hand, many key American policies and actions directly contradict the Bible's teaching on the Kingdom of God, "from Indian removal and extermination to African slavery to racial segregation to state-sanctioned killing in wars for dominance and profit to state-sanctioned torture of enemy combatants." A great part of the book shows how the Bible's teaching on the Kingdom of God focuses on peace and justice and not on power and dominance.

Very troubling, Hughes traces the influence that some evangelical and fundamentalist values have on America's unchristian and anti-Christian behavior. Hughes builds on his previous book, Myths Americans Live By. Myths that some Christians foster include: America is 1) a Chosen Nation (so we must show our values to the world, even at times, force them upon others), 2) a Christian Nation (despite our secular Constitution), and 3) an Innocent Nation (we're right and those who disagree with us are wrong).

Hughes shows how the Bush administration bought into these myths, e.g., re: Iraq, and thereby implies how much work must be done to undo the damage done by that administration.

He laments the Biblical and theological illiteracy that runs rampant throughout the U. S.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Joel L. Watts VINE VOICE on October 10, 2009
Format: Hardcover
The author, far from disparaging those sincere believers in the myth of the Christian nation, does his best to set guidelines, and to reinforce the idea that his goal is to call attention to what it means to move past America's current civil religion to something more closely resembling the biblical ideal for the kingdom of God while acknowledging the Constitutional restriction on legalization of such a program.

Throughout this book, the reader will encounter the phrase "the myth of Christian America." When I use the term myth, I don't have in mind something that is fundamentally untrue. (p1)

This book does not argue that the United States should seek to become more faithful to the Christian religion or that the nation should embrace as its norm the biblical vision of the kingdom of God... But I do argue - and this is the third important thesis of this book - that Christians should behave in ways that are consistent with their profession of faith, especially in American's public square.(p4)

Hughes, in the introduction, explores recent political history and the intrusion of this myth into the American political scene. He mentions the stark differences between the biblical ideal of the kingdom of God and what has been created in the American mindset. He does not shy away from naming names, such as Ann Coulter, taking time to compare her insistent statements that she is in line with the Judeo-Christian tradition and those of Tony Norman who concluded, "I can't be a Christian in a world where Ann Coulter can call herself a Christian without fear of contradiction." He sets the tone of the book as defending biblical Christianity against political, or civil, Christianity in these few chapters.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By C. Repp on June 7, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Richard Hughes has made a clear exposition of the origins of the idea of a Christian America as well as the biblical image of the kingdom of God. Christians of any stripe would be well-served by studying this book. Students would be well-served by such study as well. The work is clearly organized, well-written, and well-documented.

His book is also a clear challenge to the 'God & Country' nonsense that seems to be accepted by so many segments of our society, from the Christian right to the Boy Scouts, and in the political arena. I sincerely hope this book will serve to dispell that destructive illusion.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Robert O. Weitzeil on February 6, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Hughes offers an insightful understanding of the roles of Christianity and politics in the U.S. This is a must read for those who believe that the U.S. is a "Christian" country or who believe that this country is based on so called "Christian" principals. An excellent source for a study of the subject. This is an easy to read and understand book and one that needs to be read by a wide audience.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Randall Balmer on November 24, 2009
Format: Hardcover
This is a superb book, a welcome and thoughtful antidote to the ahistorical arguments coming from the hard right that America is a "Christian nation." Yes, it's Christian, but only in the numerical sense that a majority of Americans identify themselves as Christians. The founders explicitly fashioned the new nation without a state church or established religion. Richard Hughes's book sheds new and important light on these issues.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Tom Fisher on April 18, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Dr. Hughes understands and expresses what has happened for the past 50 years to degrade America and diminish the power of the church. Many true Christians understand this, but Dr. Hughes expresses it so well. As a general statement the leaders in religion, government and industry have become more greedy, hateful, divisive, and self centered. These people on the Christian Right claim to be Christians but the evidence of how they live their lives says the opposite. Their hearts are hardened and they miss the point of Christianity.

If America were a Christian Nation our leaders would be trying to help and find justice for the poor. War would not be an issue. Health care would not be an issue. Education would not be an issue. Gun control would not be an issue. Violence in the media would not be an issue. We would be loving, compassionate, and seeking to help the poor and powerless. Then we would see a glimpse of the "Kingdom of God".
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