American Christianity

In today’s world it is an easy thing to criticize American Christianity.   In fact the phrase “American Christianity” seems to have been loaded down with such negative connotations that you have to say it with a scowl on your face.  Many of these negative connotations are self imposed.  However, I am not ready to throw the baby out with the bath water.  There are a lot of things that the the Church here in the States needs to reform (or it will be enveloped by the culture), but there are also a lot of good things about the Church here in the States. 

Along these lines, an interesting question to consider is what has been America’s greatest contribution to Christianity?  Our roots are in the East, Europe gave us the Reformation, but what has America done for the Church?  In response to this very question Christopher Catherwood poses an interesting response.  Here is an excerpt from his book Church History: a crash course for the curious on the subject:

…We forget that the Reformers tool a long time to realize that state power should not be used coercively in Christian doctrinal disputes. (This is, I think, a discovery that is perhaps one of America’s greatest contributions to Christianity.) pg. 89

Could it be as Catherwood says?  Or, maybe its the modern missions movement that came from America?  Could it possibly be a resurgence of expository preaching (If it is going to be this then we still have some work to do)?  What do you think?   

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2 Comments

  1. I think the phrase American Christianity is another way of saying (to Americans) the inability to separate your culture from your faith to the point that you confuse the two.

    Ironically, many of the Jews dealt with this in Jesus’ era on earth – thinking that they were superior because of family pedigrees versus grace.

    Can’t overlook that.

  2. Tony thanks for the comment.

    I agree that many people see Amercian Christianity as the “gold standard.” However, that is not how I am referring to it. Maybe it would have been more helpful if I would have said “Christianity in America” rather than “American Christianity.” I know that there are a lot of negative things about the church here in the States what I want to know is: looking back over church history what has been the greatest contribution to Christianity by the church in America?

    As an example, I would say that Germany’s greatest contribution was its part in the Reformation (i.e. Luther’s role).

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