Many American Christians are ambivalent about their homeland. We are citizens of another kingdom, after all, so sometimes it's hard to work up enthusiasm for this one. Besides, we're told the church is called to take a prophetic stance against the culture, pointing out its immorality and injustice. We certainly don't want to be caught celebrating America—we may be accused of mixing God and country.
Irishman Os Guinness suggests a fresh path to this conundrum in his A Free People's Suicide: Sustainable Freedom and the American Future (IVP, August). Perhaps we can celebrate the American experiment and hold it accountable to its founding ideals in a way that doesn't compromise our loyalty to the kingdom of God. CT senior managing editor Mark Galli sat down with Guinness in the Christianity Today offices to explore themes from his latest book.
You argue in this book that Americans need to step up to the task of sustaining freedom. Why this book? Why now?
Augustine says that you don't understand a nation by the throw weight of its military or the strength of its research universities or the size of its population, but by looking at what it loves in common. To assess a nation, you look at the health and strength of its ideals. And there's no question that the common love in America is freedom. It is the unarguable universal thing shared by all Americans. The question is, do you want to keep it going? I'm not an American, but I presume most Americans would.
But you think there are some serious misunderstandings of the word freedom now.
Your founders were primarily interested in political freedom, and they had a vision of it that was both negative and positive, to use philosopher ...1
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