Review: Between Babel and Beast: America and Empires in Biblical Perspective
Between Babel and Beast: America and Empires in Biblical Perspective by Peter J. Leithart
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
America is not the savior of the world. But we often assume it to be true, functionally.
Leithart describes Babel and Beast Biblically, showing the pros and cons of empires as a political reality. Part of his point is that empires aren't always bad. Then he fits America onto the grid. The result is fascinating.
The book is a heavily foot-noted footnote itself to "Defending Constantine." Some of his language is deliberately provocative (America is a "heretic nation") designed to get you think. I'm afraid it will turn off and turn away too many.
I found it a helpfully objective view of America, even if one-sidedly critical at times. He will give one paragraph to the merits of America in some aspect, and the rest of the chapter catalogs our violations of justice or Scripture on that point. The section on our foreign policy supporting democracy is excellent, and applies directly to Egypt right now.
As often with Leithart, there is much very insightful Biblically, and then a couple points where he is stretching to make a point that probably isn't there.
Most provocative perhaps is his point that the American experiment stumbled when it put the church in the backseat. The first amendment essentially dilutes the church's needed voice, to speak God's Word to a nation which claims to be "under God." This can sound like he wants the church over the state, which he doesn't. But it's helpful to get us thinking about the role of the church in public policy.
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