A Lesson from Ethiopia
This will come as no surprise to any of you, but I must say that I was delighted to see the absence of the national flag in any of the evangelical churches we visited when we were in Ethiopia recently.
In America, Christianity has become almost totally absorbed into our national identity. Now we even have a Bible devoted exclusively to “Patriotism.” Something similar was true in America and Germany during Word War I. Churches on both sides of the Atlantic identified the cause of Christ with their own national causes. The scandal of that situation shocked a young pastor from Switzerland named Karl Barth into realizing that German Christianity was guilty of base idolatry and a fatal syncretism. (See Scott Lenger’s excellent discussion.)
The Gospel endorses no such false allegiances.
I wonder: Can the church in America learn a lesson from its sister church in Ethiopia?
When we absolutize earthly powers, they become demonic. Romans 13 degenerates into Revelation 13. The good news is that in the cross Christ has disarmed the powers. But He has done more than that: He has unmasked them. Nothing is now absolutized except God.
I wonder: How can we American believers whose sole allegiance is to the King of kings and Lord of lords in good conscience continue to fly the national flag in our churches?
June 15, 2009
David Alan Black is the editor of www.daveblackonline.com.