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The Church in Exile


I first encountered Brian Zahnd in 2014 after I watched a debate about Calvanism online. Brian was representing the side that argued that unconditional predestination is incongruent with the way God is revealed in the Bible. Although I haven't watched that debate in almost five years, I remember thinking that Brian made some great points and came across well. I've been following him on twitter ever since. Since that time, he has written a few books, but I have never felt compelled to read any of them until now.

Postcards from Babylon was just released a week ago (1/14/19). The book's main thesis is that America is more of a modern Babylon than a modern Israel. Brian cites many examples from history and the Bible to support his position. His views are based largely on Jesus' Sermon on the Mount, which he refers to throughout the book. That sermon was not easy to hear at the time it was delivered, and should make modern American Christians reflect whether we are living up to its words and mandates.

Mr. Zahnd quotes Stanley Hauerwas several times in this book, and Resident Aliens seems to be this book's prequel in some ways. This book will not be comfortable for many readers, especially if you have come to conflate modern Christianity as an arm of American politics. He asserts that "every western power after Constantine has at some point succumbed to the Siren seduction of empire and has conflated Christianity and nationalism into a single syncretic religion."

It's no good trying to figure out which side of the political aisle the author represents. The fact is that, like Hauerwas, he attempts to be separate from the culture -- like an Israelite in exile in Babylon. He favors peace, life, forgiveness, and healing.

My views may never completely line up with the author's, but he certainly made me think about my loyalties and what really matters -- God's kingdom.
This perspective doesn't mean we have to have a disdainful antagonism toward America any more than it meant Daniel had to have a disdainful antagonism toward Babylon. But it does mean we must always be prepared to spend a night in the lion's den if our allegiance to national interest comes into conflict with our allegiance to God's kingdom -- and we should operate from the assumption that from time to time these allegiances will come into conflict. 
 For those keeping track:
-I bought this book using the Kindle app for my tablet
-I heard about this book on twitter

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