“How can we sing the songs of the Lord while in a foreign land?”
The lament of the Israelites exiled to Babylon lies un-articulated behind the real anxiety that many American Christians feel, and the mistrust and even hatred they express toward the raising of mosques and Hindu and Buddhist temples in communities that once took for granted a shared Christian identity. Is America becoming a land foreign to Christianity? Should it be the last bastion of Christendom now that Europe has so decisively fallen to secularism and unbelief? And most importantly, can we be fully Christian if the national culture and even national law do not support our Christian values, if not our Christian beliefs?
In this blog I’ll be sharing some thoughts about Christian identity in a religiously plural world. I’m going to suggest that being fully Christian in no way requires that we live in a Christian land. Nor indeed is living in a nominally Christian nation even particularly helpful to our Christian identity. In the next post I’ll look at scripture – and the birth of the Christian community. For now let me simply remind us that down through the ages a majority, or at least a large minority of Christians, have live in kingdoms and nations that were explicitly pledged to non-Christian religions. Were they, and for that matter the first followers of Christ, living less than fully Christian lives?