Man, Myth & Magic Volume 1

Perambulations

When I first venture into a new library I like to peruse the shelves and just get a feel for where everything is and what gems lie in wait for me.

Recently I visited the Mary Jacobs Library in Rocky Hill, NJ. During my perambulations1Yes, I used that word just because it was fun to do so. 😛 through their facilities I stumbled across the ten volume encyclopedia Man, Myth & Magic.

Editions

John William Waterhouse's Magic Circle (Dec. 31, 1885).
John William Waterhouse’s Magic Circle (Dec. 31, 1885).

Originally published as a series of periodicals in 1970 it was compiled into an encyclopedia in 1983 and 1985 and had further revisions in 1995 and 1997. It is to this most recent edition I refer (unfortunately, there has not been any further updates to this series).

Quality

I wasn’t sure what to expect, volumes of this sort tend to vary widely in quality. Some are reliable, academic works while others are unsubstantiated ramblings. This volume falls more in the former than latter.

Contributors

Its contributors are widely varied and a fascinating lot in and of themselves. A few names I recognized:

  • Roland H. Bainton – Professor of Ecclesiastical History (Yale); author.
  • F.F. Bruce – Professor of Biblical Criticism and Exegesis (Manchester); author.
  • William Sargant – physician in charge of the Department of Psychological Medicine, St. Thomas’ Hospital; author.
  • M.C. Tenney – Professor of Theology (Wheaton); author.

There are brief summaries regarding each author and editor in the book which I found delightful to read in and of themselves.

Bibliography

This first volume contains a bibliography-to-die-for covering the subject material of all ten volumes. A few volumes that stuck out to me at first glance as being potentially fascinating:2Okay, I wrote this out largely for my own benefit…in case one day I think, “I really wish I could remember the name of that book on x I thought would be interesting to read.”

  • E.M. Butler’s Ritual Magic (Cambridge University Press).
  • Joan Evans’ Magical Jewels of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, Particularly in England (Gale).
  • C.G. Jung’s Psychology and Alchemy (Princeton University Press).
  • J. Read’s Prelude to Chemistry: An outline of Alchemy (MIT Press).
  • J.C. Baroja’s The World of Witches (University of Chicago Press).
  • H.C. Lea’s Materials Towards a History of Witchcraft (AMS Press).
  • Margaret A. Murray’s The God of the Witches (Oxford University Press).
  • Montague Summers’ History of Witchcraft and Demonology (Routledge & Kegan Paul).
  • H.R. Trevor-Roper’s The European Witch-Craze in the 16th and 17th Centuries (Peregrine).
  • Paul Boyer and Stephen Nisssenbaum’s Salem Possessed: The Social Origins of Witchcraft (Harvard University Press).
  • John Demos’ Entertaining Satan: Witchcraft and the Early Culture of New England (Oxford).
  • R.E.L. Masters’ Eros and Evil: the Sexual Psychopathology of Witchcraft (Penguin).
  • Aldous Huxley’s The Devils of Loudon (Harper & Row).3Okay, I’m just a sucker for Aldous Huxley.
  • St. Elmo Nauman’s Exorcism Through the Ages (Philosophical Library).
  • Paul Carus’ History of the Devil and the Idea of Evil (Open Court).
  • Richard Emmerson’s Antichrist in the Middle Ages (University of Washington Press).
  • F.R. Johnson’s Witches & Demons in History and Folklore (Johnson N.C.).
  • Jeffrey Russell’s Lucifer: the Devil in the Middle Ages (Cornell).
  • Jeffrey Russell’s Satan: the Early Christian Tradition (Cornell).
  • William Howard Woods’ History of the Devil (Putnam).
  • Reginald Thompson’s The Devils and Evil Spirits of Babylonia (AMS Press).
  • A.L. Herman’s The Problem of Evil and Indian Thought (Orient Bk. Dist.).
  • Wendy O’Flaherty’s The Origins of Evil in Hindu Mythology (University of California Press).
  • Richard Stivers’ Evil in Modern Myth and Ritual (University of Georgia Press).
  • K. Amis’ New Maps of Hell (Arno).
  • R. Cavendish’s Visions of Heaven & Hell (Harmony/Crown).
  • Kaufman Kohler’s Heaven and Hell in Comparative Religion (Folcroft).
  • Jacques Le Goff’s The Birth of Purgatory (Chicago University Press).
  • John Macculluch’s The Harrowing of Hell: a Comparative Study of an Early Christian Doctrine (AMS Press).
  • Bernard McGinn’s Visions of the End: Apocalyptic Traditions in the Middle Ages (Columbia University Press).
  • James Mew’s Traditional Aspects of Hell (Gale).
  • D.L. Sayers’ Hell, Purgatory (Penguin).
  • H.B. Swete’s The Apocalypse in the Ancient Church (Macmillan).
  • Daniel P. Walker’s Decline of Hell: Seventeenth Century Discussions of Eternal Torment (University of Chicago Press).
  • David Aune’s Prophecy in Early Christianity and the Ancient Mediterranean World (Eerdmans).
  • A. Guillaume’s Prophecy and Divination among the Hebrews and Semites (Harper & Row).
  • E. Howe’s Astrology: The Story of its Role in World War II (Walker).
  • Wilhelm Wulff’s Zodiac and the Swatsika: How Astrology Guided Hitler’s Germany (Arthur Barker).
  • C.G. Jung and R. Wilhelm’s The Secret of the Golden Flower (Harcourt, Brace and World).
  • Carl Jung’s Synchronicity: an Acausal Connecting Principle (Routledge & Kegan Paul).4If you haven’t noticed, Jung fascinates me.
  • F. Altheim’s A History of Roman Religion (Dutton).
  • Henri Frankfort’s Ancient Egyptian Religion (Harper & Row).
  • W.K.C. Guthrie’s The Greeks and their Gods (Beacon Press).
  • Georgia Pesek-Marous’ The Bull: A Religious and Secular History of Phallus Worship and Male Homosexuality (Tau Press).
  • L. Spence’s Myths and Legends of Ancient Egypt (Harrap).
  • George W. Cox’s Mythology of the Aryan Nations (Kennikat).
  • E.A.W. Budge’s The Book of the Dead (Universal Books Company).
  • J.G. Griffiths’ The Origins of Osiris (Argonaut).
  • E.O. James’ The Cult of the Mother Goddess (Praeger).
  • H. Licht’s Sexual Life in Ancient Greece (Greenwood).
  • S.G.F. Brandon’s Creation Legends of the Ancient Near East (Verry).
  • S. Langdon’s The Babylonian Epic of Creation (Clarendon Press).
  • Joan O’Brien and Wilfred Major’s In the Beginning: Creation Myths from Ancient Mesopotamia, Israel, and Greece (Scholars Press).
  • Edward Westermarck’s A Short History of Marriage (Humanities).
  • Philippe Aries’ Western Attitudes Towards Death: from the Middle Ages to the Present (Johns Hopkins).
  • S.G.F. Brandon’s The Judgment of the Dead (Scribner).
  • John Hick’s Death and Eternal Life (Harper & Row).
  • J.M. Clark’s The Dance of Death in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance (Jackson).
  • L.P. Kurtz’s The Dance of Death and the Macabre Spirit in European Literature (Gordon Press).
  • Peter Armour’s The Door of Purgatory: a Study of Multiple Symbolism in Dante’s Purgatorio (Oxford University Press).
  • E.G. Gardner’s Dante and the Mystics: a Study of the Mystical Aspect of the Divina Commedia (Haskell).
  • R.D. Gray’s Goethe the Alchemist (AMS Press).
  • David Bindman’s William Blake: His Art and Times (Thames & Hudson).
  • Ronald Grimes’ The Divine Imagination: William Blake’s Major Prophetic Visions (Scarecrow).
  • Richard Carlisle’s (editor) The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Mankind (Marshall Cavendish).
  • R. Cavendish’s King Arthur and the Grail: The Arthurian Legends and Their Meaning (Taplinger).
  • Sabine Baring-Gould’s Curious Myths of the Middle Ages (Oxford University Press).
  • K.M. Briggs’ An Encyclopedia of Faeries (Pantheon).
  • Basil Cooper’s The Vampire: in Legend, Fact, and Art (Robert Hale).
  • Basil Cooper’s The Werewolf: in Legend, Fact, and Art (Robert Hale).
  • Paul Newman’s The Hill of the Dragon: an Enquiry into the Nature of Dragon Legends (Rowman).
  • W.F. Albright’s Yahweh and the Gods of Creation (Eisenbrauns).
  • Alexander Heidel’s Gilgamesh Epic and Old Testament Parallels (University of Chicago Press).
  • Donald Leslie’s The Survival of the Chinese Jews (Humanities).
  • James H. Lord’s The Jews in India and the Far East (Greenwood).
  • D.S. Bailey’s The Sexual Relation in Christian Thought (Harper & Row).
  • Lawrence Besserman’s The Legend of Job in the Middle Ages (Harvard University Press).
  • James Gaffney’s Sin Reconsidered (Paulist Press).
  • A.D. Nock’s Early Gentile Christianity and its Hellenistic Background (Harper & Row).
  • J.A. Phillips’ Eve: The History of an Idea (Harper & Row).
  • Norman Powell-Williams’ The Ideas of the Fall and of Original Sin (Longmans).
  • Bruce Vawter’s Job and Jonah: Questioning the Hidden God (Paulist Press).
  • I. Engnell’s Studies in Divine Kingship in the Ancient Near East (Allenson).
  • Heinrich Dumoulin’s A History of Zen Buddhism (Pantheon Books).
  • Mary Boyce’s (editor) Zoroastrianism (Barnes & Nobles Imports).
  • M. Anesaki’s History of Japanese Religion (Tuttle).
  • C.H. Gordon’s Ugaritic Literature (Argonaut).
  • M.P. Nilsson’s History of Greek Religion (Greenwood).
  • H.J. Rose’s Ancient Roman Relgiion (Hutchinson).
  • T.C. Allen’s The Egyptian Book of the Dead (Chicago University Press).
  • J.H. Breasted’s Development of Religion and Thought in Ancient Egypt (Peter Smith).
  • E.A.W. Budge’s Egyptian Heaven and Hell (Open Court).
  • J.C. Gibson’s Canaanite Myths & Legends (Attic Press).
  • Brian Branston’s Gods and Heroes from Viking Mythology (Schocken).
  • E.O. James’ The Ancient Gods (Putnam).
  • Gilbert Murray’s A History of Ancient Greek Literature (Folcroft).
  • Slater Brown’s The Heyday of Spiritualism (Hawthorn).
  • C.E. Hansel’s ESP & Parapsychology: A Critical Re-evaluation (Prometheus Books).
  • F. Pdomore’s Modern Spiritualism (E.J. Dingwall).
  • Morton Kelsey’s God, Dreams and Revelation: a Christian Interpretation of Dreams (Augsburg).
  • Leo Oppenheim’s The Interpretation of Dreams in the Ancient Near East (American Philosophical Society).
  • F. Fordham’s An Introduction to Jung’s Psychology (Gannon).
  • Erich Fromm’s The Greatness and Limitations of Freud’s Thought (Harper & Row).
  • E.J. Dingwall’s (editor) Abnormal Hypnotic Phenomena: a Survey of Nineteenth Century Cases (Barnes & Noble).
  • Stefan Zweig’s Mental Healers: Franz Anton Mesmer, Mary Baker Eddy, Sigmund Freud (Ungar).
  • Shane Leslie’s St. Patrick’s Purgatory (Burns and Oates).
  • J. Ancelet-Hustache’s Master Eckhart and the Rhineland Mystics (Harper & Row).
  • Edmund Beaman’s Swedenborg and the New Age (AMS Press).
  • Robert L. Moore’s (editor) Carl Jung and Christian Spirituality (Paulist Press).
  • F. Neilson’s Teilhard de Chardin’s Vision of the Future (Revisionist Press).
  • David Bakan’s Sigmund Freud and the Jewish Mystical Tradition (Schocken Books).
  • Ernest Bates and J.V. Dittermore’s Mary Baker Eddy: The Truth and the Tradition (Halsted Press).
  • Lawrence Foster’s Religion and Sexuality: Three American Communal Experiments of the Nineteenth Century (Oxford University Press).
  • Handbook of the Oneida Community (AMS Press).
  • H. Henson’s Oxford Group Movement.
  • Tom Driberg’s The Mystery of Moral Re-Armament (Knopf).
  • George R. Scott’s The History of Corporal Punishment: a Survey of Flagellation in its Historical, Anthropological and Sociological Aspects (Gale).
  • George H. Williams’ The Radical Reformation (Westminster Press).
  • Lynn Dumenil’s Freemasonry and American Culture, 1880-1930 (Princeton University Press).

Interesting Articles

Of the articles contained in this first volume I find the following particularly interesting:

  • Aberdeen Witches – Witches in Scotland, what is myth, what is fact, executions.
  • Agrippa – Involved in the occult.
  • Ahriman – The evil god of Zoroastrianism.
  • Aix-En-Provence Nuns – A group of nuns in the 17th century allegedly possessed by demons.
  • Alchemy – Attempts to turn base metals into gold and to perfect the individual.
  • Alexander the Great – The facts and the legend.
  • Angels – From Jewish and Christian belief.
  • Animals – All about their relationships with the spiritual – e.g., those that are sacred.
  • St. Anthony – Experienced apparent demonic attacks.
  • Aphrodite – Greek Goddess of love.
  • Apollo – Greek god, the oracle at Delphi was his.
  • Apple – It’s religious meaning goes far beyond Jewish/Christian thought.
  • Arthur: The Once and Future King – You know, King Arthur.
  • Asmodeus – A demon found in the book of Tobit.
  • Astarte – Queen of Heaven, regularly led Jews away from Yahweh, also known as Ishtar and Aphrodite.
  • Astrology – Predicting the future from the sky.

Grumblings

Overall I was happy with the Encyclopedia, but let me note two areas of disgruntlement.

The more minor involves the section on Astrology, which while decently long was still fairly confusing as far as how the system worked. I could have spent more time in it figuring it out, but I wasn’t that interested.

The more major one is the tendency of some secular historians to recast religious beliefs from their own perspective. I can’t remember where, but at least once (it may have been in angels) I noticed a significant disconnect from what those who practice Christianity would say about a belief and how it was presented.

This sort of playing loose and reinterpreting religious beliefs in a way that is outside what the practitioners of that religion would state as their belief is disconcerting. I don’t mind if it is done with a disclaimer and an explanation of how those within the religion would have viewed the matter, but when the external view is imposed without disclaimer it raises concerns for me – namely, how can I trust that you (the author) are providing me with a real account of other religions? If you cannot represent the beliefs of a major, well-known religion accurately, how do I know you have not misrepresented other, lesser-known religions?

This is a major concern – but it is something found in so many books that I can’t write the volume off for this reason alone – I simply take the article with a grain of salt…kind of like Wikipedia.

This trend seems to be most pronounced among scholarly authors (who, imho, sometimes get too big for their britches) but, thankfully, it appears to be a declining trend (from my subjective experience) – that is, academia seems more inclined to write objectively than it did for much of the 20th century when at least some authors felt the need to reinterpret instead of report.5Again, I have no issues with reinterpretation, I am interested in postmodern thought, etc., I only complain when the interpretation given is stated as if it where the de facto interpretation and thus the belief is significantly misrepresented.

Book Review: Eros Defiled (Author: John White).

Cover of Eros Defiled
Cover via Amazon

Warning: This post contains a review and discussion of White’s book Eros Defiled. As such it includes some fairly frank discussion of sexual sin and is inappropriate for some younger audiences. The book itself is much more frank than this post and should be read by the discerning and mature reader. White has no desire to titillate but writes with a medical doctor’s frank honesty and clarity about numerous topics which we frequently keep behind closed doors.

Introduction

I loved Dr. John White’s classic book on depression entitled the Masks of Melancholy and so when I saw a copy of Eros Defiled in a used bookstore for $.50, I had to buy it. It is a small volume – 169 pages in length – but one that is packed with honesty, controversy, and humble thought and reflection upon the dilemmas of human sexuality and the Christian.

This is one of those books that feels like a surgeon’s knife cutting through the soul. At turns White comforts, exposes, and confronts our deepest beliefs and natures. It is the pain which one both cringes from and at the same time recognizes as the conduit of healing. These are the sort of books I love to read – the ones that challenge me to grow and respond, that tear apart my false beliefs and force me to admit my inability and God’s ability.

White’s book is divided into three parts: “Sin, Sex & You”, “Sexual Sins”, and “The Church & Sexual Sin.” In the following sections I’ll provide a brief overview of each along with some running commentary, but let us begin with a few challenging quotations from White’s introductory materials:

Introductory Materials

  • “Nothing so liberates a man from the grip of sin as the intoxicating discover that he is freely accepted and forgiven. We have an altogether unscriptural fear that easy forgiveness makes a man think lightly of sin. God’s forgiveness is not ‘easy,’ it cost the death of his Son. It costs the sinner the admission of his own guilt and helplessness. Mediated by the Spirit through a helping brother or sister, a grasp, a dawning awareness, of that forgiveness sets a man free to be holy.” – Introduction, pg. 10.
  • “Pleasure, as C. S. Lewis once pointed out, is God’s invention, not the devil’s.” – Introduction, pg. 10.
  • “We do not marry in order to copulate. If this were so, marriage would indeed be ‘legalized prostitution.’ Marriages founded on physical sex quickly pall. We marry to make an alliance of mutual help and service, as an expression of love. Intimacy in such a context is the seal of commitment.” – Introduction, pg. 12.

Part I: Sin, Sex & You

In Chapter 1: Sex, Science and Morality Dr. White looks at the three lenses through which we can view sexuality: science, society (law), and religion. In general, science is the most general in what it considers normative and acceptable behavior (as it is based upon statistical analysis rather than moral rules), society is generally more restricted, and it is in religion that the strictest confines for appropriate sexual practice are outlined.

In Chapter 2: Your Urges & How You Experience Them Dr. White attempts to separate our physiological urges from sin. That is, he explains physiological urges as being part of God’s natural created order, which can be brought forth at the wrong time due to the presence of sin in the world – but that are yet given of God. He suggests that the physiological should not result in guilt or shame, but the decision to act inappropriately upon these desires.

Part II: Sexual Sins

In Chapter 3: Sex on a Desert Island White tackles the subject of masturbation. He suggests that while masturbation should be avoided that the guilt and shame which have been associated with this behavior is of much graver concern and causes much more severe damage than the behavior itself. White notes the silence of Scripture upon the topic and uses general principles from Scripture to derive his position on masturbation – finding the text itself to be silent on the matter.

In Chapter 4: The Freedom That Enslaves the subject of sexual freedom is discussed – particularly in the context of fornication. White suggests that the creation of rules around premarital sexual behavior have been misguided. That a hand hold can be erotic and thus that one must aim at not creating “rules” demonstrating how far is acceptable behavior but rather addressing the heart intents of the individuals involved in a relationship. White is firmly opposed to premarital sex, yet at the same time expresses a deep concern that the focus on premarital sex is unhealthy – that there needs to be a more general concern for the sexual integrity of individuals in romantic relationships.

Chapter 5: The Scarlet Letter addresses two topics, first that of marital infidelity (adultery) and secondly that of divorce and remarriage. While at times Dr. White’s positions are less strict that those found in evangelical and conservative Christianity, in this case we find his beliefs more strict than those currently held in most areas. To Dr. White remarriage after divorce is never acceptable (though he leaves open that he may be wrong in this matter). White takes time to explain what leads to the infidelity within marriages and also why he believes that remarriage is not an option for the Christian after a divorce.

Chapter 6: Two Halves Do Not Make One Whole contains a fascinating discussion of homosexuality. It is somewhat dated in some areas of terminology and science, but it becomes extremely fascinating b/c of the then-current diagnosis within the APA’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of homosexuality as a mental disorder. White approaches the topic from this orientation. His language is at times cringe-worthy, as the phrases he uses are now generally associated with degrading implication, but it is evident that this is not his intent and that he writes with great compassion for those who have homosexual attractions.

White includes his personal struggle with homosexual feelings and attractions after having been abused as a child/teenager by a Christian mentor and youth leader and in this way brings a deep honesty and integrity to a difficult chapter.

Chapter 7: Deeds Done in the Dark is quite brief but touches on a number of aberrant forms of sexual behavior including exhibitionism, voyeurism, pedophilia, sadism, incest, and necrophilia. He is not interested in providing detailed descriptions of these but instead desires for there to be more compassion within the church towards even those who commit these sins. He concludes the chapter in part by saying, “I have yet a third purpose in mentioning what is so rarely mentioned in Christian books (except the Bible). I want to defend the victims I have been addressing, to defend them from the Christian public. Such people need Christian forgiveness, acceptance, compassion and professional help. We must insist that they get the latter and we must do all in our power to see they get a Christian friend, with whom they can come clean and with whom they can pray, who can be their trusted entree into Christian society. For such men and women, more than any of us, need both the discipline and the support of the church. They need around them people who know them and love them….Christians tend to react altogether inappropriately when they encounter bizarre sexual sin. Their reaction is not to the gravity of the sin. Rather it is that they fear what they cannot understand…Look at the person through the eyes of Christ and not through the filter of sexual behavior that frightens you. The man or woman before you is not a leper. And even if he were, Christ would have you reach out and touch him. This is what Christian love is all about.” (pg. 146)

Part III: The Church & Sexual Sin

This final portion consists of a single chapter entitled “The Discipline That Heals” and discusses the necessity for the church to not only preach truth and provide the sacraments but also to provide godly and loving discipline. Dr. White believes this is an area in which the church is most grievously failing its duties and brings forth the writings of some Anabaptists upon the topic of discipline as exemplary of his own thoughts. It is a challenging and convicting passage of Scripture which convicts us all of our failures to love well – which includes a faithful and loving discipline.

Review

Dr. John White’s book is a bit dated, it was originally published in 1977 which in terms of psychological theory on sexual behavior is ancient. Yet, his sincere searching of the Word, admission of his own faults and struggles, tackling of the then-current science, and honest and heart-felt recommendations make it a book well worth reading. I am not sure I would recommend it as a first read – there are probably more current books on the subject that would be more helpful…but it is a deep read.

It is the sort of book one might want to use in a men’s or women’s group to foster discussion. One does not have to agree with Dr. White’s ideas to be challenged by them to think through one’s own beliefs about human sexuality.

At the same time, Dr. White’s book is certain to upset conservative, progressive, and liberal Christians. Dr. White at turns take positions represent his commitment to personal honesty which will offend all. His controversial comments include on the topic of abortion, appropriate sexual behavior within the marriage covenant, and the origins and drives of sexual behavior.

Addendum

Dr. John White is a fascinating individual on a personal level. He was a missionary, a psychiatrist, a pastor. He wrote numerous books for InterVarsity Press, a respected and academic Christian publisher. He became associated with the charismatic movement particularly through the Vineyard Churches, something which was a shock and a controversy within his traditional circles. There is an interview, the veracity of which I cannot prove, by Julia Loren available here. As with Eros Defiled, one will find some topics insightful, but there is much which will be deemed strange and somewhat frightening by many evangelicals. I particularly want to highlight that in one section of the interview he repudiates this book – feeling that it was far too much based in psychological theory. I am still researching Dr. White, his works, and his life…I’d like to understand more about the eventual positions he adapted and so on – and whether he did repudiate this volume…I know it is still available from IVP…

Patriotism and the Church.

Memorial Day Poster
Image by Beverly & Pack via Flickr

[This article is currently in process, but I wanted to share what I’ve gathered thus far…]

Each year we have three holidays which are oftentimes celebrated within the church and which focus on national pride (patriotism) – Memorial Day, Independence Day, and Veterans Day. For some these holidays mesh together, so lets break out the idea behind each holiday:

  • Memorial Day – A day to remember and honor those who have died in combat.
  • Independence Day – Celebration of the American Colonies declaration of independence from Britain.
  • Veterans Day – A day to honor those who have served in the armed forces.

One contentious issue within the church is patriotism. What role should patriotism play within the church, if any? The answer usually depends on the demographics. If we are talking to folks under thirty, patriotism has no place within the church service, but if we are talking to folks over sixty the idea of separating patriotism from our church services may be akin to heresy!

At Calvary (where I attend and am an elder) we traditionally celebrate each of these holidays in our service. One can scrape away the vestiges of patriotism from Memorial Day and Veterans Day – but there is no way to get around the patriotism associated with Independence Day. So, what should we do?

As I write this I don’t have an answer, nor am I convinced in my heart one way or the other…but as is my habit, when I am studying a topic and believe that my research could be of interest and user to others who may desire to ponder this topic I create a post providing the resources and thoughts I have, so here it is…

Articles About Patriotism and the Church

We’ll start with a survey of some of the better materials I’ve found delineating positions within the church on patriotism. Each of these is a thought provoking read and I have curated out the worthless articles so this should be a best-of-breed list. Please let me know if I’ve missed any important discussions on this matter and I’ll add them as appropriate.

  • Colson, Charles W. “On Waving Flags and Washing Feet.” Jubilee, June 1986. – Colson provides a thoughtful and balanced consideration of the role of patriotism in a Christian’s life admitting his own struggles with the seeming tension and the decisions he personally arrived at.
  • Reed, Frank L. (article) and Harold S. Martin (editorial). “Patriotism: An Anabaptist Perspective.BRF Witness, May/June 2003, Vol. 38, No. 3. – Martin comes from a strong traditional Anabaptist position on the topic of patriotism – in other words, Christians should have no part in it. The article provides several good Scriptural references though the arguments are not detailed enough to be convincing, it is a good jumping off place for further research. Most helpfully, Martin notes that this controversy has been the topic of debate between James Dobson and D. James Kennedy (pro-patriotism) and Cal Thomas and Jerry Falwell – all of whom are well respected within the evangelical community.
  • DeYoung, Kevin. “Thinking Theologically About Memorial Day.The Gospel Coalition. May 26, 2011. – DeYoung attempts to provide a moderate position on the patriotism debate, suggesting that patriotism is not evil but should not be part of worship services. Randy Alcorn agrees with DeYoung’s stance.
  • Gushee, David P. “What’s Right About Patriotism.” Christianity Today. 7/01/06. – Gushee provides a philosophical argument for Christians to participate in patriotism.
  • Is Patriotism in the USA Dead?Christianity Today. Originally 1969, reposted 6/29/10. – An old article reposted on the CT website, argues strongly for American patriotism but on an emotional level.
  • Tennant, Christy. “Patriotism and the House of Worship.Conversant Life. 4/4/10. – Tennant offers a heart-felt moderate conversation about patriotism in worship. She reflects on personal qualms about patriotism in the church but at the same time stops short of calling it wrong.
  • Jeter, Jill. “Church and Patriotism.Jill’s Blog. 4/5/10. – Jeter comes from a much more conservative background and is shocked when her Presbyterian church quavers at the thought of singing God Bless America within the service. Provides a good feel for how those who believe patriotism should be part of the service feel when it is not included.

Secondary Articles:

These articles are either on secondary topics or of secondary value in the discussion of patriotism in the church, yet they deserve mentioning.