Secular Nations Under New Gods
The ongoing political muscle-flexing of diverse Christian communities in North America raises some deeply troubling questions regarding their roles among us. Earlier analyses including Herberg’s Protestant, Catholic, Jew showed that these three branches of the Judaeo-Christian tradition correspond to three forms of the American way of life; while Kruse’s One Nation Under God showed how Christian America was shaped by corporate America. Willem H. Vanderburg’s Secular Nations under New Gods proceeds based on a dialogue between Jacques Ellul’s interpretation of the task of Christians in the world and Ellul’s interpretation of the roles of technique and the nation-state in individual and collective human life. He then adds new insight into our being a symbolic species dealing with our finitude by living through the myths of our society and building new secular forms of moralities and religions. If everything is political and if everything is amenable to discipline-based scientific and technical approaches, we are perhaps treating these human creations the way earlier societies did their gods, as being omnipotent, without limits. Vanderburg argues that until organized Christianity becomes critically aware of sharing these commitments with their societies, it will remain entrapped in the service of false gods and thereby will continue to turn a message of freedom and love into one of morality and religion.