Posted by Andrew Walker

Andrew T. Walker is an Associate Professor of Christian Ethics at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.


  1. Defining terms is so key. People like to add “olatry” to the end of a noun they don’t like, and then pretend they’ve made some profound point. Well done, Dalrymple.

    On an unrelated note, I may name my firstborn Dalrymple.


  2. “Defining terms is so key.”



  3. Dalrymple brings up some good points. Finely drawn categories are crucial to this discussion, and it can be easy to brandish about terms just because they are currently “sexy” in certain circles. In response to his question #2, my initial thought is that it is unhealthy mixture of politics and religion when we are no longer sure of the potential differences between the two, and/or when we cannot discern which one in our own framework is informing the other. Somewhat related, then, is that it is dangerous when American ideology becomes our supposed starting point for Christianity, because this leads us into the problem of importing ideas into Christianity and the Gospel, rather than interpreting them in light of Christianity and the Gospel.


  4. >> Abandoning the worship of God for the worship of America is a serious and substantial charge.

    Well thank you Dalrymple. It is going nuclear in fact.

    You know what I think? I think it is a proxy argument about American exceptionalism. We wouldn’t be talking about it if American exceptionalism weren’t widely believed by Americans and even others.

    I’m by no means saying everyone who decries civil religion would deny American exceptionalism, no no. I don’t have time to flesh this out now, except to say I think there is a relationship. We’re not the only one with a civil religion (of course all nations have one), but there are some unique features of the U. S. that make this an issue. And no it isn’t because we have so many people who “confuse the reality of the state with the claims of Christ’s Lordship”, otherwise known as “going nuclear”. This is a discomfort or disapproval of some of the unique features of our nation. Which ones are they? Talk amongst yourselves.


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