In his provocative book “The Myth of a Christian Nation” on the Kingdom of God and the Kingdoms of the world, Greg Boyd argues that the United States is not a Christian nation. When I read his book, I felt there were a lot of good and fairly obvious points, but I did not think he was really addressing the core issues.

Pastor Boyd was stimulated to write the book because he felt that so many Christians were involved in politics to obtain political power, but I think that was a misreading of the intentions of most Christians that I knew and that I read. Although there always is the danger of getting too closely aligned with a political movement, I believe his well intentioned warning was an over reaction and therefore harmful rather than helpful in assisting Christians in finding the right note vis a vis the political process.

I think this corrective was skewed because of a false premise regarding the foundation, purpose and source of the nations of the world and a Christian’s proper role in interacting with those nations.

The title of the book is problematic to begin with, because it states a false premise and then proceeds to debunk that premise. By definition, a Christian is an individual who has confessed their sin to Jesus, repented of that sin and committed their life to Christ as Lord and Savior. It is not possible for a nation to do those things. Moreover, nations were never intended to be “Christian”. Nations are devised to maintain civil order. I will concede however that maybe that is not what Pastor Boyd intended by the title. Maybe this was just a recognition that many people call our nation a Christian nation in a sense different from what an individual Christian is. Regardless the title sets up the book to discredit the United States and set it on a morally equal plane with any other nation. This is a dangerous concept.   

Beyond the title there are other specific areas where I believe Pastor Boyd goes astray. Two of these areas I will address in this piece. The first and most glaring was when Boyd used Satan’s claim to have all authority over the kingdoms of the earth as a primary source to claim that all kingdoms of the world were therefore demonic. The second area of concern was when he repeatedly used the made up term of “power over” as a pejorative to describe any authority.

First in regard to using Satan’s claim to have had all authority over the nations of the earth delivered to him, Wayne Grudem, in his excellent book “Politics According to the Bible” points out the obvious and that is that Satan is a liar. Jesus says in John 8:44 that “there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” The fact that Jesus did not rebut Satan’s claim, does not make the claim true, especially in light of so many other scriptures that indicate Jesus or the Father actually rule over the kingdoms of the world. In Daniel 4:17 it says “The Most High rules the kingdom of men and gives it to whom he will and sets over it the lowliest of men” and Jesus says in John 19:11 in response to Pilate “You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above.”  

There are many other scriptures that indicate pretty clearly that the Lord of all the earth is God and not Satan. With that being said, I do recognize that it is also indicated in scripture that Satan does have influence and in some instances authority among the nations. Acknowledging that however does not prove Boyd’s point, but at best clouds the issue. It does not allow for Boyd to state unequivocally that all civil government is demonic.

The second point of Boyd’s that I would like to address is that all governments are “power over” organizations and since the Kingdom of God is a “power under” model Christians can not really have anything to do with them. Wayne Grudem again has done excellent work in clarifying the error in this position. Boyd’s assertion that all “power over” is part of the demonic kingdom of the world is clearly incorrect in the light of references from Peter (I Peter 2:13-14) and Paul (Romans 13:4). If civil governments are Gods instruments for good, how can they be part of the demonic kingdom of the world? I think Boyd is wrong and the error leads to dangerous ideas.

If we take his argument that all governments are under the authority of Satan and that they are part of the demonic kingdom of the world then what should we conclude? I think this kind of thinking is really an argument of moral equivalency for all nations of the world. This is dangerous. Are we really to believe that? Is North Korea the same as Canada? Was Nazi Germany the same as England? What about the government of Rwanda? If they are,  what is the reason to try to affect the type of government that a nation is ruled by?

Greg Boyd may have been uncomfortable with the approach of the Moral Majority or the approach of Christians involved in the political process today, but his solution is not better than the problem he was trying to provide a corrective to.