Why I believe the US is the Beast: Beast #3

Why I believe the US is the Beast: Beast #3 October 2, 2023

The Apotheosis of Washington adorns the ceiling of the rotunda in the US Congress. It depicts the rising of Washington to heaven flanked by Lady Liberty and Lady Victory.

In my last 2 posts, I suggested that the Western (American) church is in bed with the Beast. Of course, I wish to reiterate that I am not saying that all Christians in America are bad, corrupt, or unbelievers. What I am saying is that the American church has largely (and “largely” is a relative term) fallen prey to the Beast.

In my first post, I gave 4 reasons why I believe that we are in bed with the Beast: which, in summary form are:

  1. As Ezekiel says, “We are wealthy and comfortable and we neglect the poor and the needy.”
  2. We justify our wealth as something we earned and deserve, and we condemn those who have nothing as lazy.
  3. Our condemnation of the poor is used as a justification for our lack of care for them.
  4. We have aligned ourselves with the Beast.

You might find my list of 4 items odd. But I assure you that they are vital elements of Empire—which I am calling “the Beast.”

In my last post, I responded to some potential criticisms: such as, I must hate the church; and, I must hate America—both of which are ludicrous—especially the notion that I hate the church (see my book Understanding the NT and the End Times for evidence of my extremely high view of the Church).

in this book, I propose that the end times have begun in Jesus and why this matters for us today

The US is the Beast?

What about the assertion that the US is the Beast? In this post and the ones to follow, I will attempt to point out why I believe that the US is the Beast.

Of course, I should be clear: the US is not the only Beast. As I have written, (see blog post, “Who/what is the Beast”) all nations are ultimately the Beast. The US, in other words, is the Beast because it is a nation. It is, in one sense, no more the Beast than Chile.

Therefore, we align ourselves with the Beast when we align ourselves with the US.

Now, in saying this, there is again much to clarify. Risking misunderstanding, I will resist chasing all the various sidebars and simply note that we must maintain the distinction between patriotism and nationalism. I am certainly not denying the former and I am definitely warning against the latter.

The US is the Beast and it is far worse than you might have thought.

Now, I said earlier that the US is just as much the Beast as Chile. The reality, however, is that the US, especially on the global stage, is far more beastly than Chile.

NB: I realize that I am a biblical scholar and that issues of modern geopolitics are not my expertise. I also realize that this may be one of the reasons why many biblical scholars have not spoken up on such matters—it is outside their field of expertise. Btw, many biblical scholars have spoken up and I intend to interact with them in subsequent posts.

I have come to the conviction, however, that more of us must speak up. It seems to me that many who are experts in the fields of geopolitics, sociology, militarism, human rights, and a host of other such fields, are speaking up. The problem is that many in the Church are not listening to them. Consequently, I believe that it is time for more voices to bridge the gap between the biblical, prophetic call of following Jesus in the way of cross-bearing love and the current geopolitical realities.

To give a hint as to how Beastly the US is here are the thoughts of a Central American biblical scholar, “Our countries live in oppression and exclusion by an economic, cultural, and military system of globalization led by the United States government operating as an imperial, arrogant, and cruel power”(Richard, Apocalypse, 147).

The US has all the features of the Beast

What does it mean to be an empire? Noted NT scholar Michael Gorman defines empire as,

An entity that has come to widespread (global or nearly global) dominance through deliberate expansion by means of the extreme exercise of some form(s) of power—economic, political, military, and/or religious—resulting in the creation of colony-like clients of the entity and enemies who perceive the entity as oppressive” (Gorman, Reading Revelation Responsibly, 45).

It is “empire,” along the lines that Gorman has defined it, that the book of Revelation sharply warns its readers about.

One of the problems that I see in the American church (and I am sure this is true for Christians in other nations as well) is that we have too closely aligned our Christian faith with our nation.

Christian nationalism

Although this is a topic for another series of posts, you might garner from what I have already said as to why Christian nationalism is such a danger.

NB: by nationalism I mean, as dictionary.com says, the “Identification with one’s own nation and support for its interests, especially to the exclusion or detriment of the interests of other nations.”

The danger is the combination of nationalism with Christianity.

The idea that any nation could be Christian is anathema in light of Jesus’ proclamation of the kingdom. This doesn’t mean that all nations are inherently evil. Neither does it mean that everyone in power within a nation is inherently evil or corrupt.

NB: on the determinetruth podcast (Oct 2, 2023), we discuss the first 4 Seals in Revelation 6. In the episode, I note that the first Seal represents false teaching, which serves as the basis for the establishment of empire.

It simply means that followers of Christ are to give allegiance to the Lamb that was slain and not any other empire.

And yes, the US is the epitome of empire.

The US as empire

I realize that some readers may not consider the US as an empire and, as a result, might be hesitant, or more than hesitant, to agree with my assessment.

Let me begin by referring you to the picture at the top of this post. This picture represents the “Apotheosis of [George] Washington” and it is found in the rotunda of the US capital building. This is not some label given to it by others. This title is found on an official US government website.

This may not seem like much but one of the key features of civil religion is that it borrows, or shall we say it incorporates, religious language into its nationalistic identity. That this is a fabric of the American civil religion is more than evident from the widespread use of biblical language employed by the colonial settlers during the formation of the US.

The Puritans, in fact, believed that the land of the US was the new land of Israel, they themselves were the true Israelites, and the native Americans were the evil Canaanites

This is one of the first keys to establishing empire. Empires need a religious justification as to why they are divinely sanctioned and worthy of allegiance.

NB: I recommend Nelson Kraybill’s Apocalypse and Allegiance).

Once the citizens of the empire acquiesce to the ideological and religious basis for the nation’s existence, it is quite simple for the empire to act brutally—as empires do—and all the while receive little objection from those within the empire. After all, their acts of brutality are deemed divinely sanctioned or they are viewed as the means of defending what God has divinely sanctioned.

This is one reason why the American empire, which began with the slaughtering of the natives, received only minor objections from those within the empire. After all, if the empire was divinely sanctioned, then the extension of the empire must be also.

In addition, the American national ideology further justified its brutal treatment of the natives under the pretense that it provided them with the option of joining us. Those who failed to join our cause, especially those who violently opposed it, only proved that they were, as the Declaration of Independence states, “merciless Indian savages,” and, therefore, worthy of their destruction.

. . . to be continued.

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About Rob Dalrymple
Rob Dalrymple is married to his wife Toni and is the father of four fabulous children, and two grandchildren. He has been teaching and pastoring for over 34 years at colleges, seminaries, and the local church. He has a PhD in biblical interpretation. He is the author of four books (including Follow the Lamb: A Guide to Reading, Understanding, and Applying the Book of Revelation & Understanding the New Testament and the End Times: Why it Matters) as well as numerous articles and other publications. He is currently completing a commentary on the book of Revelation titled, “Revelation: a Love Story” (Cascade Books, pending 2025). You can read more about the author here.

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