I recently finished a book for a class in seminary that is entitled “Fundamentalism and American Culture.” In it, scholar George Marsden paints the historic rise of fundamentalism in American society, tracing it back to the 19th Century and moving it up to nearly modern day. In his concluding thoughts of modern-day fundamentalism (read: Religious Right under Reagan through George W. Bush) Marsden points at the contradiction in their global understanding. Fundamentalists often viewed American society as a decaying carcass in the world, incapable of hope as “liberalism” continued to root out its Biblically-centered core. This view is also coupled with a rampant nationalism when it comes to foreign policy related ventures, especially military efforts. Marsden pointed out this and one can only think back a few years ago when anyone could venture into a Bible church parking lot and see the wide array of patriotic stickers on every bumper. Running into a Christian who opposed the war meant that they were not patriotic, forget about the historic pacifistic denominations!
Marsden wrote an insightful sentence clearing this up saying,
“And although in domestic affairs fundamentalistic American Protestants clearly distinguish between the far-too-secular nation and their churches, in foreign policy they often seem uncritical of American nationalism and treat the United States as though it were unquestionably on God’s side in warfare against the forces of evil.”
It is my hope that evangelicals, to distinguish from militant fundamentalists, will not follow along the same blind mistakes and be nationalistic in any area, especially foreign policy. America is a force for good in the world but it also has perpetrated some rather negative acts as well. “America right or wrong” is not a proper response for an individual who is ultimately loyal to the Kingdom of God.