Civil Religion (again)–and an Antidote from Allan Bevere

On a church sign in rural Delaware (seen returning from a day at the beach):

Jesus is the only way to salvation.
Thank you, troops.

Thank God (literally) for the new little (in size, not impact) book by Allan Bevere, a Methodist pastor with a Ph.D. in NT from Durham (England), called The Politics of Witness: The Character of the Church in the World.

It’s published by a small press but will, I hope, get some significant attention in the church. Here’s the text of my endorsement for the book:

Allan Bevere has written a timely, eye-opening, and thought-provoking book for Christians, whether they consider themselves conservative or progressive. He calls on us to forsake the seductive, insidious error of Christendom and civil religion in order to follow Jesus and bear witness to the reign of God. May this book contribute to the renewal of the church for the sake of the world and the glory of God.

Tolle, lege!

7 Responses to “Civil Religion (again)–and an Antidote from Allan Bevere”

  1. Luke says:

    Thanks for highlighting this Dr. Gorman. Just today my wife and I were visiting a church (we recently moved & are trying to find a local community of faith) and as a welcome gift to visitors they were giving away a sermon called “Free Indeed” with a picture of the American Flag on the cover. I listened to about the first 12 minutes when I got home and almost puked. Among the nonsensical things said were: America is the best nation in history, all of America’s founders were Christians, there is no such thing as separation of church & state in America, church is the only place to hear accurate history, school textbooks, cnn, & other news outlets propagate revisionist history of America and we shouldn’t believe anything they say. I’m sure there were many other crazy things said, but I just couldn’t stomach any more. Email me if you want the link to it & I’ll send it to you. The funny thing is the guy was a Fuller Seminary ThM grad, so this was the last thing I expected!

    Good to see you post again. I must say that you’re one of my favorite authors to read (no flattery intended), but I’m a little disappointed about the infrequency of posts! I’m sure you’re terribly busy so I’m thankful when I see something new. Perhaps next post you can update us about upcoming writing projects? Hope all is well. New school year coming up!

  2. MJG says:

    Thanks for the encouragement to blog more! Time has been short this summer, for reasons of family and administration. I also edited a few articles that are coming out very soon, and I’ll list them in a blog post along with a heads-up on my next books.

    I’m sorry–for lots of reason–about your (so-called) church experience. One does not expect that from a Fuller grad, but I learned a long time ago not to blame any school for all of its grads! But now you know why I use terms like “seductive” and “insidious” to describe American civil religion.


  3. Luke says:

    Good point about not blaming the institution. I was just surprised that a person could graduate Fuller with these views given how Fuller is seen as more of a “progressive” institution. The pastor is probably in his mid-30s (which was another surprise because civil religion junk typically comes from the older crowd), so he couldn’t have graduated long ago. Oh well. Suffice it to say, it was an easy decision for my wife and I not to attend again! I have a heart for reforming such places but figured this was beyond hope! Hopefully we’ll find somewhere soon. I must say this is the first time finding a church has provided any type of stress for us…

  4. Travis says:


    What is the link? I’d like to listen to it. It’s been a while since I’ve had a cleansing puke! Seriously, although it will probably infurate me, I’d like to here it if you dont mind sharing the link. Thanks.

  5. MJG says:


    I share your surprise, but still…. As for age, I’m finding a new hyper-patriotism/nationalism among the younger folks in response to 9/11.

  6. Luke says:


    Follow the link below to the message entitled “Free Indeed.” If you listen to it let me know how it progressive after 10 minutes or so. I couldn’t stomach it any longer. Something I forgot to mention was that he portrays Columbus as an amazing Christian seeking God’s will, when he was instead an incredibly brutal & evil man. I think I hit the stop button after I heard that garbage because then I knew his history was revisionist hagiography bull.

  7. Alex says:

    Haha, I made it 8 minutes and 36 seconds in before I turned it off. I don’t know whether to laugh or to cry.

Leave a Reply