Book Reviews

Book Review: “The Religion of American Greatness” by Paul D. Miller

Paul D. Miller’s The Religion of American Greatness is a conservative pushback against Christian Nationalism. Miller is a professor at Georgetown, was on staff for the National Security Council, served in the Army, and has background in a number of related topics. He’s written for The Gospel Coalition, The Washington Post, and others.

Miller’s perspective is valuable because he’s a sympathetic reader. He clearly understands and has read the material related to Christian nationalism, but as a conservative he doesn’t just remain unconvinced, but rather clearly believes that Christian nationalism is fatally flawed on a number of levels.

Chapters in the book explore cases for and against Christian nationalism, look into the Bible and nationalism, and even explore more current events like the Trump phenomenon. Miller’s views on things like identity politics reflect his more conservative starting point, which may make him more sympathetic to readers already starting on the right end of the political spectrum. Yet even for readers of a more liberal bent, this book serves up a number of excellent analyses and insights into Christian nationalism that will provide them with discussion points that may resonate with those with whom they disagree.

There are numerous excellent insights found throughout the book. For example, Miller notes repeatedly that one issue with nationalism is that it tends to define nation states by shared cultural heritage, but this does not reflect the actual composition of nations that exist. That means that Christian nationalism must either advocate for a kind of voluntary or force dividing of people along preconceived cultural lineages or modify its proposals related to nationalism (see, for example, page 33ff). Some readers may wish Miller would drill down into that argument further–after all, the Christian nationalist definition of nations seems to almost demand a kind of ethnocentric division of humanity and, combining that with its belief that Christian culture would be some kind of inherent feature of some nations, would inevitably yield ethnic hierarchy–but Miller’s argument is more focused than that, and, as noted above, is directed in such a way as to convince some who might not listen to those arguments from implication. Miller does, however, note many of the difficulties inherent in such definitions, such as the existence of people who cannot be placed neatly within any of the broad cultural categories nationalists use. Of course, on this latter point, one again may wish for some kind of note that nationalists then almost have to be forced to a kind of kin-ism, in which only people from certain ethno-cultural groups should interact or, at the least, have children together. But what Miller does is place the arguments of nationalists on the table, where the implications can be drawn out. He nails them down with words from their own writings, and notes the problems even from within their own perspectives. Miller’s analysis thus avoids the head on [and, in my opinion, accurate] accusations of racism and related problems that may drive off some readers while still showing the implications are there.

Another excellent section is Miller’s chapter on the Bible and nationalism. Here, for example, he analyzes the claims of nationalists related to the nation of Israel, often seen as a kind of model for what Christian nationalism ought to be. The Bible itself vitiates against Christian nationalism, for it undercuts the very definitions nationalists attempt to use in order to construct their perspectives. Israel, the Bible teaches us, was a mixed multitude from the time it emerged from Egypt (121). This directly contradicts nationalist tendencies to demand shared cultural background for the formation of nation states and identity. Going on, Israel intermingled languages (Hebrew and Aramaic, among others), mixed familial bonds, and more. The thing that set it apart was merely its relationship to its God; not any kind of shared cultural background (121-122). Insights like this can be found throughout the chapter, and, indeed, the book.

The Religion of American Greatness is a needed response to Nationalism from a background that at least some people within that movement will listen to. It’s the kind of book well-worth reading for people of any background, and certainly could be recommended or bought and given to people who are interested in the topic. I recommend those interested in the topic have a copy on their shelf for reference or lending whenever possible.

All Links to Amazon are Affiliates links

Links

Be sure to check out the page for this site on Facebook and Twitter for discussion of posts, links to other pages of interest, random talk about theology/philosophy/apologetics/movies and more!

Book Reviews– There are plenty more book reviews to read! Read like crazy! (Scroll down for more, and click at bottom for even more!)

SDG.

——

The preceding post is the property of J.W. Wartick (apart from quotations, which are the property of their respective owners, and works of art as credited; images are often freely available to the public and J.W. Wartick makes no claims of owning rights to the images unless he makes that explicit) and should not be reproduced in part or in whole without the expressed consent of the author. All content on this site is the property of J.W. Wartick and is made available for individual and personal usage. If you cite from these documents, whether for personal or professional purposes, please give appropriate citation with both the name of the author (J.W. Wartick) and a link to the original URL. If you’d like to repost a post, you may do so, provided you show less than half of the original post on your own site and link to the original post for the rest. You must also appropriately cite the post as noted above. This blog is protected by Creative Commons licensing. By viewing any part of this site, you are agreeing to this usage policy.

About J.W. Wartick

J.W. Wartick is a Lutheran, feminist, Christ-follower. A Science Fiction snob, Bonhoeffer fan, Paleontology fanboy and RPG nerd.

Discussion

One thought on “Book Review: “The Religion of American Greatness” by Paul D. Miller

  1. Thank you for sharing these great treasures and pearls of wisdom

    Posted by Donna Covello | December 5, 2022, 2:42 PM

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 2,859 other subscribers

Archives

Like me on Facebook: Always Have a Reason
%d bloggers like this: