Title: I Pledge Allegiance:
A Believer’s Guide to Kingdom Citizenship in 21st-Century America
Author: David Crump
Rating: 2.5 of 5
Future Release Date: 2/1/18 (Thank you to NetGalley for a free eARC!)
This book confronts a pervasive problem in Evangelical churches in America: idolizing the US and prioritizing politics (especially conservative Republican politics) above all else. David Crump calls Christians back to remembering that we are first and foremost citizens of the Kingdom of God, called to live according to the (often counter-intuitive) example and teachings of Jesus. The New Testament does not instruct us to transform society by seizing the levers of power, but pictures us as “strangers and foreigners” in the midst of society that will only be transformed when Christ returns. In this, he has hit the nail on the head! Unfortunately, I have many serious disagreements with how he fleshes out and applies his position, finding his handling of Scripture problematic and inconsistent. For example:
- He claims that the Old Testament has nothing to say about Christian ethics (after all, God sometimes condones violence in the OT)…but makes extensive uses of the poor/welfare laws in the Torah to support some of his social justice arguments.
- He uses some questionable cultural/grammatical arguments to radically reinterprets Romans 13:1-7 so that instead of being primarily about being law-abiding citizens (a face-value reading of the text), it becomes his platform to talk about civil disobedience.
- He interprets Jesus’ teachings on personal non-violence/non-retaliation to a blanket prohibition on serving in the military. He gives some lip service to this being a matter on which Christians disagree, but also paints military service as morally equivalent to helping film a porno or burn a cross for the KKK.
- He all but ignores faith in Jesus’ death and resurrection as the means of salvation (e.g. Ephesians 2:8-9) in favor of salvation maintained by living like Jesus, declaring that “he lived for us to exemplify the way of salvation.”
- While castigating conservative Christians for working together and trying to increase the kingdom via pragmatic politics, he repeatedly brags about being arrested at an anti-NATO rally and states, “disciples can eagerly join hands and collaborate with anyone who shares similar goals for social, cultural, and political transformation.”
…and I could go on. Overall, the basic premise of this book is something that American Christians need to hear and consider (and probably do some repentance), but there is so much cherry-picking, ax-grinding, inconsistency, and other mishandling of Scripture going on throughout the book that I’m not sure if it is worth reading.