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Preview: Comments on Vanguard Church: The Myth of a Christian Nation, Ch 1

Comments on Vanguard Church - Bob Robinson: The Myth of a Christian Nation, Ch 1

Updated: 2017-12-18T08:56:14.172-05:00


I own the book and and love it's content. Have ne...


I own the book and and love it's content. Have never met the author but he speaks much that I sense to be true. Most poignant are his admonitions about the true message of Jesus and inconsistence with religion and politics. Great book! Linda

Bob,I have been raised in an anabaptist background...



I have been raised in an anabaptist background and I don't think I ever truly understood it. I always thought the difference between Mennonites and mainline denominations was just the peace issue. Now I realize that it is more than that. It is the theology of the kingdom of God. I am just learning this. This book has been helpful in learning about it.

By the way, we are having lunch today with chad. I'll meet you for the first time then!

Consider these scriptures in the light of this con...


Consider these scriptures in the light of this conversation.Matthew 4:8-10 8 Again, the devil took Him up on an exceedingly high mountain, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. 9 And he said to Him, “All these things I will give You if You will fall down and worship me.” 10 Then Jesus said to him, “Begone Satan! For it is written, ‘YOU SHALL WORSHIP THE LORD, YOUR GOD, AND HIM ONLY YOU SHALL SERVE’” Do Not Love the World __________________________1st John 2:15-17 15 Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For everything in the world—the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does—comes not from the Father but from the world. 17 The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever. The Church and the State (or nation-states) are in many ways incompatible. States are part of the world and its value systems and the Church's business is none other than to be the CHURCH...not to run the world....not to assist God in directing human history. The Church and "civilization" (the World) are (or are supposed to be) two mutually exclusive entities. Human civilization and the Kingdom of God are not synonymous. On Romans 13 which is popularly taken out of context with Romans 12 and the rest of the Bible is understood by Christians in different ways. As noted in the study helps of my life application study Bible: "All Christians agree that we are to live at peace with the state as long as the state allows us to live by our religious convictions. For hundreds of years, however, there have been at least three interpretations of how we are to do this:(1) Some Christians believe that the state is so corrupt that Christians should have as little to do with it as possible. Although they should be good citizens as long as they can do so without compromising their beliefs, they should not work for the government, vote in elections, or serve in the military.(2) Others believe that God has given the state authority in certain areas and the church authority in others. Christians can be loyal to both and can work for either. They should not, however, confuse the two. In this view, church and state are concerned with two totally different spheres--the spiritual and the physical--and thus complement each other but do not work together.(3) Still others believe that Christians have a responsibility to make the state better. They can do this politically, by electing Christian or other high-principled leaders. They can also do this morally, by serving as an influence for good in society. In this view, church and state ideally work together for the good of all.None of these views advocate rebelling against or refusing to obey the government's laws or regulations unless those laws clearly require you to violate the moral standards revealed by God. Wherever we find ourselves, we must be responsible citizens, as well as responsible Christians." For a clearer understanding of what Romans 13 actually means- read the book of Habbakuk and notice how God "orders" nation-states. It will give you a a clearer than ever view of how God "orders" nations and punishes them...yet the wickedness in the world is not authored by God or from his is from our own freewill, pride and selfishness that brings about the consequences ...God just permits and sometimes punishes.Habbakuk will help you understand how on the one hand we are to not love the world or anything in it...and at the same time be at peace with the way God is handling human history...and trust him that even if the wicked prosper now...they will not escape justice....all we have to do is TRUST and leave vengeance to him...and stand for Truth and right....fully prepared to pay the cost even unto death... A nation that rises to power does not necessarily have God's approval It is popular right now to refer to the conflicts in the Middle East [...]

caucazhin,As caustic as ever, man! Tone it down a ...



As caustic as ever, man! Tone it down a bit!!


Marc and I don't think that Jesus is going to give us the power to completely transform all of creation, including government. We do, though, think we have a mandate to do what we can to redeem all aspects of this world for the glory of Christ. This, we know, can never be done in totality. We know that we await for the Lord to return in order for that to happen. But that does not mean we wait around for Christ to do that work in the last day.

"For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him (Christ), and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven." (Col 1:19-20)

"Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation." (2 Cor 5:18-19)

What we see our mandate being is this: Participating in Christ's reconciliation with all things here on earth (yes, including government).

MARC SAID:and our goal is to redeem all of creatio...


MARC SAID:and our goal is to redeem all of creation, including human government:

Your kidding yourself your DOMONION theology is a joke.If you think your intellectual cemetary (OH sorry I meant seminary)Jesus is going to give you the power to completely transform ("all of creation,including government")as you put it,you are a fool.

Here's a reminder to pray for Greg Boyd in this ti...


Here's a reminder to pray for Greg Boyd in this time...

Marc, yes I've grown to appreciate the importance of local alternative community far more since I went from a political-economist to becoming a seminarian/writer. One idea I've had would be for a local group to set up a simple rule for determining their votes in the nat'l election(like say, let's vote for the candidate of the party that got at least 5% of the vote in the last election who has accepted the least amount in donations of more than 50 dollars) and then focusing on their local ministry and elections, as well as strategically encouraging a higher turnout at election time.

I like this idea, but I think too many specific issues and reforms are also important and so I believe in the need for a generous orthopraxy when it comes to Christian Political Activism. So long as activists accept the democratic process and do not decry or deny the faith of others who do not share their strategies or goals and are open to listening to and learning from others then people shd set their own political priorities and strategies. Though, there needs to be more humility in activism and discussion about the effectiveness of their activism, both in terms of its intended goals and other unintended effects.


Fascinating dialogue here. I really appreciate dtw...


Fascinating dialogue here. I really appreciate dtw's analysis and questions and Ash's humility and honesty. Personally, I like Tim Keller's third way of merging BOTH a anabaptist concern of developing separate, "Kingdom community" that demonstrates Kingdom living to the world. And also a more Reformed view, that engages the world with the understanding that everything ultimately belongs to God and our goal is to redeem all of creation, including human government. I think you are saying the same thing dtw,so I totally track with you brother.

I think it is important to include examples like Wilberforce and the Clapham and how they engaged Great Britain on slavery and public morality in government and in the market place, and by developing deep community with one another.

And thanks again Bob for leading us in this excellent discussion.

Hi BobThank you for a very detailed review. I agr...


Hi Bob
Thank you for a very detailed review. I agree that Romans 13 is the key. I have been wrestling with this passage in detail over the past few months, as it is critical to our understanding of the political space, and I am sure we that we have not got it right.

I agree with Greg Boyd that the traditional interpretation does not work. However, I cannot see how his solution resolves the problem. How can the authorities be servants of God there for our good, if they are tinged by the devil. Why would Paul urge us to submit to them.

I have been working on a much more radical interpretation of Romans 13, that sees it much more in the context of the previous Romans 12. I would be intgerested in any comments.

dlw,I agree wholeheartedly.


I agree wholeheartedly.

When you really take a good look back at history y...


When you really take a good look back at history you see that a very large number of our founders where deists,freemasons and Unitarians.Although the larger population was Christian there was alot of infighting between the different denominations.
All I can say is that His sheep hear his voice and follow him not a religious or political ideology.
Most of Our nations leaders are following another voice.They honor him with their lips but their hearts are far from him. Advantage,wealth and raw political power is what they love far more than God as did all the political and religious leaders of Christs day.
sATAN offered Christ the kingdoms of this world because they are his to offer and Christs kingdom is not of this world.
There's nothing really new under the sun.

Here might be some interesting questions to ask......


Here might be some interesting questions to ask...

Does Boyd interact at all with the impact that the Great Awakenings had on our country? Nobel Prize winner Robert Fogel has documented the ways in which religious awakenings in the US have been critical for bringing about structural/political reforms.

Does Boyd interact with Mark Noll and his historical work on the specific forms of Christianity that were developed in the US and how we as a nation and regions were impacted by the Civil War?

How would someone from the 2/3rds world see Boyd's book? I know famine is attributed strongly to political corruption in the 2/3rds world, as also is the lack of infrastructure key for their underdevelopment. This would seem to suggest that whether political activism may be part of our missional witness to the world could be an even more pressing issue for them. I can also testify that when Christians exerted leadership during the Orange Revolution in Ukraine, many Ukrainians became Christians. I'm hoping and praying that Greg Boyd's Church's denomination, the Minnesota Baptist Conference, will sponsor the translation into Ukrainian tracts on local Christian Community Development based on the writings of John M Perkins. Maybe Boyd will donate a portion of the proceeds to this endeavor as well as translating some of Yoder's "Discipleship as Political Responsibility" into Ukrainian and Russian, we will see...


Ash,I think you ask a great question there! The wh...



I think you ask a great question there! The whole enterprise of defining what is a "Christian" political stance on any given issue gets muddied by our situatedness - our ethnicity, our upbringing, our wealth, our desires, our baggage, our theological hobby-horses, etc., etc. If only we could see all issues as Jesus sees them, without all the fallenness getting in the way. This is the problem with the Religious Right: very little humility when it comes to their ability to discern the righteousness of a party platform.

Scot,It depends on what you mean by missional acti...



It depends on what you mean by missional activism. I have no problems with people valuing more their witness to others than the capture of the government. However, activism that alters the way in which the sword of the state is wielded in our own or other countries also fits within missional activism. It has the potential to lower the barriers to forming relationships with others wherein we may share about our faith. I can testify that my volunteer work as a union organizer during my last two years in grad school, taking time off from my distinguished fellowship, made it possible for me to develop friendships with many non-Christians and liberal Christians that I would never have been able to make otherwise.

It fits as part of carrying our cross, so long as we avoid conflating our political goals with the kingship of God.


it the core of this line of thinking i have begun ...


it the core of this line of thinking i have begun to wonder more and more...WHAT constitutes christian and who would be responsible for defining that in a "christian nation"????

its truly scary when you think about it. because i have a hard time daily coming to christ's table and letting Him identify me among His people. why would we put such power to judge in the hands of man, as we are apt for self deception.

i look forward to reading this book

dlw,Political quietism would be a good thing for C...


Political quietism would be a good thing for Christians, if it leads at the same time to missional activism.

Thanks for this. I wasn't aware Boyd was so anabaptistic -- using Yoder and then appealing to Walter Wink's more recent version of a liberation theology.

I posted a little here, I don't own the book. I t...


I posted a little here, I don't own the book.

I think the notions of Satan being in control and there being one kingdom is more proper for before Jesus's death on the cross and during the Roman Empire. We now live in the age where kingdoms that are mixtures of Iron and Clay exist, as foretold by Daniel in Chapter 2.

As such, it is possible that while Boyd is right on his minimal statement, his political ontotheology is wrong and there is a danger that his book might be successful for the wrong reasons, ie, he may help revive the political quietism that existed among many USEvangelicals thirty plus years ago and perpetuate the myth that the separation of Church and State is something that is clearcut...