America: Empire in Denial?

In the most recent edition of World that I have (Feb. 26), Andree Seu summarizes the views of Niall Ferguson, author of a book named Colossus: The Price of America’s Empire. It is difficult to know how much of Ferguson’s view Seu actually endorses, but the impression left is that of clear support and go-team-go-ism.

I am grateful that World is addressing this indisputable fact of America entering her imperium, and I agree with the point that being an empire in denial serves no good whatever. Clear-headed empire is better than muddled empire. And on pragmatic grounds, I have no problem acknowledging that empires can do a lot of practical good (comparatively speaking). But empires are not the kingdom of God, and empires are constantly tempted to think that they are the kingdom of God.

This means the central temptation for empires is always a religious temptation. And consequently the central issue for Christians must always be that of keeping their religious categories distinct, and their allegiances rightly ordered. I recently ordered a new book by Marvin Olasky (World’s editor-in-chief) that appears to be a pointed critique of religious syncretism, which is very encouraging. But the circle needs to be closed. Important Christian voices (like World) must also do far more than they have done to challenge the political expression of our current syncretistic, polytheistic multi-culturalism, and that expression is empire, brought to us by syncretistic Republicans. Columns like Seu’s leave this issue in the shadow when it ought to be under the spotlight.

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