The 2014 mid-term elections continue to underscore the influence of religious beliefs upon public policy. Christians, Muslims, Jews, and even atheists demand to be heard in debates about terrorism, immigration, gun control, health insurance, and other hot button issues. But how does American political ideology influence its religious beliefs, especially in the evangelical Christian community? Patrick Nachtigall, a missiologist living in Berlin, believes American culture has shaped American evangelicalism so decisively that evangelicals are ill-prepared to face the economic and spiritual challenges ahead.
“The unique mix of democratic politics and religion in the United States has instilled in us a strong sense of destiny and optimism that is missing from many other cultures in the world,” he writes. “Our sense of destiny and optimism is easily jarred when we hit difficult times…”
Global events suggest that we are entering such difficult times. Nachtigall believes American Christians must set aside the false gods of materialism and individualism or they will not survive. “Our primary citizenship is as the people of God, not as Americans,” he says. “What does that allegiance require of us in the years ahead?”
A native of Costa Rica, Nachtigall became a naturalized American citizen at the age of fourteen. He went on to receive his master’s degree from Yale University and write several books on mission trends in the global church. He calls himself a “kingdom-first evangelical.” He says, “I always ask myself whether my evangelical beliefs take into account God’s thousands of years of working through all cultures, or whether I am looking only through the prism of one culture: my own.”
Nachtigall makes the case for this globally conscious faith in a new book titled In God We Trust? (Warner Press, 2014). Now serving as regional director of missions for the Church of God in Europe and the Middle East, he was stationed previously in Hong Kong and traveled extensively in Asia, Africa, and Latin America. His earlier books include Passport of Faith (Warner Press: 2006) and Faith in the Future (Warner Press: 2008).
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