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babelMy children will not grow up in a country where race is considered a barrier to the presidency.

That fact by itself made me glad as I watched Barack Obama sworn in as the 44th president of the United States yesterday. It gave me a great sense of satisfaction to think about how far our country has come from the days of separate water fountains and lynch mobs.

But the thrill of seeing an era of sinful racism put behind us has faded quickly, for me at least. I hate to be the one to pop the balloon of our collective national pride in this historic moment, but I sense that we as Americans are facing the rise of a new national sin – one that is more subtle and even deadlier than the sins of our past – one that is common to all other empires that have risen and fallen throughout the ages:

A smug sense of self-righteous superiority that usurps the rightful throne of God.

Watching the news over the past few days has been almost sickening. No, it’s not the average citizens fawning over Obama as if he were the Messiah. Or the over-hyped statements from reporters trying in some way to capture the “historic nature” of the events and speeches taking place. Annoying as the now blatantly subjective news coverage has been, that is not what has bothered me the most.

Instead, the truly troubling aspect of the new era we have just inaugurated is the underlying assumption among so many in our country that now, finally, we have truly arrived. A new age has dawned!

We are now above racism in our land. We have put behind us the terrible sins of our past and we are moving forward into a new world of hope and peace. We have recaptured the moral high ground in our world. We are unstoppable, unbeatable, unassailable!

We deceive ourselves. Our rhetoric reveals an imperalistic mindset grounded in smug self-righteousness and a false sense of superiority.

World, look at us now! We are the biggest. We are the best. And we are nice now. We are above racism. We are above the sins of our forefathers. We are above the notion of sin itself.

We are so enlightened that the writers of our newsweeklies can thumb their noses at six thousand years of human history (and almost every other civilization in the world today) and decide that same-sex marriage should be legalized.

We are so enlightened that we can eliminate whatever might stand in the way of our sexual exploits or prosperity-seeking, even if that means the sacrifice of another 50 million unborn children.

We are so enlightened that we can restore Science back in its proper place (meaning that it’s okay to create human life in order to destroy it, as long as we, the powerful, can benefit somehow).

We are the enlightened ones who bring justice and freedom and peace to the world.

You could hear it in Bush’s audacious speech after 9/11, in which he claimed that “we will eliminate evil from the world.”

You could hear it in John McCain’s claim at one of the 2008 debates that the “United States of America is the greatest force for good in the world.”

You can hear it even now in the speeches of Barack Obama: We are the world-changers.

Behind the clamor of the adoring media and the sight of swooning fans in Washington, D.C. – we can see that what truly unites us as a nation is a sense of superiority over the rest of the world, a belief in America as our savior, a naïve assumption that our cause is always right.

The Tower of Babel is going up right before our eyes.

But how many leaders have to come and go before we realize the truth that only Jesus Christ is Lord?

How many examples of government injustice have to take place before we realize that Christ’s Church is still the greatest force for good in the world?

How many towers have to fall before we realize the truth that his kingdom is the one that will never fail?

We live in a day when hope has dawned, yes. But not because we have elected a new president. Let the Church never forget:

Peace has broken out because of the cross – God’s resolution to our war against him. Hope has dawned because the tomb of a certain first-century Jew has been emptied of its contents. Justice will reign because of the Church who anticipates his return and dominion.

Nations rise and fall, but the Word of the Lord stands firm forever.

Click here to listen to Bill Feltner’s radio interview with Trevin regarding this post.

written by Trevin Wax  © 2009 Kingdom People blog


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36 thoughts on “Echoes of Babel: Our New National Sin”

  1. C. Holland says:

    My sentiments exactly! I was thinking the same thing yesterday as I watched the inauguration but wondered if the fact that I’m living in Western Europe had changed my perception (I am American). It came across as very arrogant, especially the phrase “only peaceful transfer of power in the world”–it happens all the time here in the EU, and it must in other places. Attitudes like the ones you describe are duly noted by Europeans, and they do not look upon this kindly. People have been treating us better now that there has been a presidential change, but the American bravado still grates over here.

  2. lucianreign says:

    So very true – i am going to write a post on this very thing soon. The remaking of this Babylonian arrogance is yet another brick in the wall of humanist/post-modernism deceit. How dare such faith be placed in sinful man in need of redeeming grace…

  3. Dr. Paul W. Foltz says:

    Trevin,
    Once again, a most excellent post. You hit the nail, squarely on its head.

    Man’s conceit has deceived him. He is his own god.

    Mat God awaken our country before it’s too late……

  4. sibbesian says:

    As a non- American I’m glad to hear a note of sanity and a note of biblical reality on this whole matter from a Christian.. Rick Warren’s prayer– which was really a speech- smacked of the same liberal rhetoric. as Obama’s rather intellectually incoherent speech.

  5. Brance says:

    Great comments Trevin. I have been sickened during this entire presidential election cycle by the “government as savior” mentality, even among those who claim the name of the Lord of Lords!

    You said it well. Thanks for distilling and express it like this.

  6. Dennis Muse says:

    I agree with Brance comment above. I was thinking yesterday as I watched the inauguration and heard interviews with people who where there. About how much this whole campaign for this election, and the whole Obama craze, fever shows just how much the church in America, and ultimately Christians have failed, dropped the ball. That in the country with the most Christians and churches. That the people of the country have to look to a man, the government for hope, and not the church, not to Christ, because the church and Christians of this country have failed to left up present the true and only hope for them, Jesus in a way that they can see that, see that He is. They have not seen or heard anything in or from the church or lives of Christians that would cause them to come to or seek out Jesus as the answer, believe He is The hope, the One to go to, the answer.

  7. Mason says:

    Deeply challenging post Trevin, and well said.

    “Our rhetoric reveals an imperialistic mindset grounded in smug self-righteousness and a false sense of superiority.”

    I too see this imperialist mindset here in the States, taking many forms both liberal and conservative.
    Though I am deeply touched by the true historic nature of Obama’s inauguration and what it means for race in our nation, I still find myself feeling increasingly uncomfortable in the American empire.
    Uncomfortable because though there is much to be thankful for in America, there is also much to critique.
    Uncomfortable because my loyalty is not to this or any state but to Jesus as the world’s true lord, and I think in a lot of ways the goals and values of this state do not line up with the mission of Jesus and his kingdom.
    Uncomfortable because 2000 years ago it was the massive super-power of Rome, which brought “peace and security and freedom” that was truly on the wrong side of history.

    I’m thankful for many things about our nation, but as citizens of Jesus’ kingdom we must not allow ourselves to be taken in by the rhetoric and seduction of empire, in whatever form it appears.

  8. Thank you for putting into words the struggle within my heart. I have been frustrated and uneasy about this whole ordeal, and it seems I’m not the only one. Soli Deo Gloria!

  9. weston says:

    A thought provoking post Trevin. I find that this smug sense of superiority crosses over the lines of liberalism and conservatism. It is found in most Americans in general. Like you said, it is a subtle yet deadly sin.

    I pray for revival. I pray that the Christians in our nation are preparing themselves to be used by God.

  10. It truly is unfortunate that our nation continues to invoke the name of Christ, because we sully it every time. It is an insult to the one true, Holy God to have His impeccable name associated with America. It saddens me to have to say so, but it’s true, and loyalty to God trumps loyalty to nation any day.

    An excellent post. I’m glad to have found my way over here.

  11. Maria says:

    After reading your post this morning, I saw a video in an article on World Net Daily (www.wnd.com) that proves you are right in your thinking about this. I hope it’s okay to list the link here. May God have mercy upon us! http://www.worldnetdaily.com/index.php?fa=PAGE.view&pageId=86695

  12. Christine says:

    Excellent post. It put very well the distaste I’m feeling but never actually took the time to articulate for myself. Historical day and all that yes, I can appreciate that. I am delighted that we have our first black president. But there was something deeper there on the mall yesterday, something that just made me shake my head and think “these people just don’t get it…”

  13. Cliff says:

    I remember reading a recent article by RC Sproul which recounted a conversation he had with the late Frances Schaeffer in the 1970’s. Sproul asked Schaeffer what he saw as the greatest forseeable threat to the American culture. Schaeffer remarked, “statism”. And now almost forty years later, here we are blogging about how so many have made government the god in which they trust. Tragic, really.

  14. Roger says:

    Interesting thoughts. It didn’t ring that way to me because my impression of most liberals is that they’re coming from a deep distrust and dissatisfaction with the government. All the hype and excitement felt to me more like “now we can start over”, rather than “now we have arrived”.

  15. RJ Walters says:

    Trevin: As usual I will take a somewhat contrarian view of some of your statements on this post. Before I start I want to acknowledge that I agree with you on much of the beliefs underlying your message. But I do take exceptions with the examples you use to justify them. Let me comment on your direct words.

    • “I sense that we as Americans are facing the rise of a new national sin – one that is more subtle and even deadlier than the sins of our past – one that is common to all other empires that have risen and fallen throughout the ages ….. “I hate to be the one to pop the balloon of our collective national pride in this historic moment, but I sense that we as Americans are facing the rise of a new national sin…. A smug sense of self-righteous superiority that usurps the rightful throne of God.”

    Yes, you are the party pooper aren’t you (ha). If you see a smug sense of self-righteous superiority then you must be looking at the last eight years not the coming years. Mr. Bush’s black and white worldview certainly had a smug sense of self-righteousness about it. “We will bring all the nations of the world, kicking and screaming if necessary, into the fold of democracy” Now that is I call smug and totally naive.
    What do I see for the coming eight years? I see a country that will finally restore a sense of the “common good” which Catholics are the long term standard bearers (I do admire them for that). I see a government that will return to trying to unify us as citizens of the United States but even more importantly of the world. If only there were the same drive of unity among us Christians maybe we could begin unifying the 35,000 different denominations and seeking the Lords will to be one and He and the Father are one. I see a nation that will strive to be “our brother’s keeper” not one that pushes “ownership” meaning you are on your own.

    • “the average citizens fawning over Obama as if he were the Messiah”

    I think you are confusing the man with the message. I don’t think the average citizen sees Obama as anything other than a man with inspiring goals for us as a country. There is nothing wrong with attempting, even in the smallest degree, to make God’s kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven. The Lord tells us all to do that and it certainly refreshing to see our civil leaders following that theme. After the arrogance of the last eight years it is certainly refreshing indeed!

    I could say that reading your daily blog and all the “right on” comments you receive almost every day that your readers are fawning over you as if you were the Messiah. That would be unfair to you just as it is unfair to put that tag on President Obama.

    • “we can see that what truly unites us as a nation is a sense of superiority over the rest of the world, a belief in America as our savior, a naïve assumption that our cause is always right.”

    Again, I assume you are critiquing the last eight years and not foreseeing the coming years? Is there anything wrong with having a hope and a desire to see a better world than what we have seen in the recent, and even distant’ past? If I approach the world totally in the Pauline mode of being a poor miserable sinner unable to do absolutely anything right then I would say yes any hope is smug superiority. I instead choose to say that through the Lord we can make the world a better place. I don’t call that a “sense of superiority”, I call it a dream to be chased. There is certainly nothing wrong with having dreams especially when they are centered around Jesus and Isaiah’s’ words.

    • “How many examples of government injustice have to take place before we realize that Christ’s Church is still the greatest force for good in the world?”

    I only wish that Christ’s Church were the greatest force for good in the world. If that were true we certainly wouldn’t have to rely on civil government to promote the common good and to make sure our ‘brothers’ are taken care of. But instead what we see is that churches today spend more than 90% of their donations on themselves. They buy ever bigger and bigger temples while the least of these are suffering and dying in our own streets and in most third world countries. You might say that is NOT Christ’s Church and I would certainly agree with you. But that is the face of Christianity today, like it or not.

    • “Nations rise and fall, but the Word of the Lord stands firm forever”

    This is one point that we are in total agreement on. That is a nice way to end this discussion so I will stop here. Thank you for your blogs. They are certainly thought provoking.

  16. Dan Martin says:

    RJ, you put into words almost my exact response. Trevin, you are right on in pointing out that American triumphalism is hubris that does not belong in a Christian world view, but if “A smug sense of self-righteous superiority that usurps the rightful throne of God” is not a spot-on description of George W. Bush (who blasphemously applied John’s “a light shines in darkness, but the darkness has not overcome it” to America rather than Jesus), then I don’t know what is.

    But I have one bone to pick with you, RJ. You said “There is nothing wrong with attempting, even in the smallest degree, to make God’s kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven.” We can’t make God’s kingdom come on earth–God himself began that process with the resurrection of Jesus, is continuing it now, and will finish it some day when, as N.T. Wright says it, he returns to “put everything to rights.” In the meantime we are to work, as Wright so aptly describes it, to build FOR that kingdom, but not to confuse our work with that of the one who’s actually building the Kingdom itself.

    Nevertheless, Trevin, while the celebration may be over the top, there are still a lot of us who are just relieved to have a leader who realizes that not conducting ourselves as jerks and bullies might actually be a worthwhile enterprise. That’s not the kingdom of heaven on earth, but it’s still progress!

  17. RJ says:

    Dan, I beg to differ with you about God’s kingdom coming to earth. Yes, it was certainly started by Jesus but it is further fulfilled by each and every Christian on this earth. Martin Luther put it this way on his explanation of the second petition of the Lord’s prayer. “God’s kingdom comes when our heavenly Father gives his Holy Spirit, so that by his grace we believe his holy Word and lead a godly life now and forever in heaven” Leading a godly life is key to me.

    But, the Arminian side of me wants to take that a step further. It is up to all us Christians, using our free will, to do what we can to further God’s kingdom on earth. Part of that includes doing what Jesus commanded and that is to love one another. Of course included in that love is to take care of the least of these and to be our brother’s keeper. By doing these things we help God’s kingdom come.

  18. I’m with you. The rhetoric is disgusting. Immature. Petty. And so much of what is said is based on Bush’s performance versus Obama’s intentions. Naturally any time there’s a change in leadership, there’s a change in the air. Whether it’s going to be good is debatable. And at any angle, everyone has a bad track record. Good post.

  19. Jimmy Fine says:

    Great post Trevin. MSNBC has reported that Obama turned water into wine at an inaugural ball last night. NY Times, cBS and rest of mainstream media has confirmed.

    On a serious note, you are right on the money about the fawning press coverage. Obama received 35x more inaugural coverage than Bush, according to Reuters. http://www.reuters.com/article/newsOne/idUSTRE50K6E320090121

  20. Dan Martin says:

    Actually, RJ, I don’t know that we’re really differing. My only quibble was with semantics. We are clearly called to live the Kingdom and seek the Kingdom, and it is certainly arguable that following the Way is furthering the Kingdom. I’m just not sure we can “build” the Kingdom as I suspect that’s (1) what we’re praying for our Father to accomplish (Matt 6:10).

    I’m really not trying to pick a fight with you and I hope that’s not how I’m coming across. I just want to be clear that the earthly good we seek–while it is incumbent upon us as Jesus’ followers to seek it–has to be kept in perspective. Not to absolve us of responsibility, but rather to avoid the very thing Trevin is warning us about, which is assigning eschatological value to the work of any earthly system, even ours. In this vein, the words we choose can matter more because of how they are heard than how we intended them.

    Peace,

    Dan

  21. Steve says:

    Once again thanks for the post – the more i read it the more I weep for nations like the USA. The power of deception goes so deep in the falleness of humanity. We think we are so good, so powerful, so wise and so clever. We are, in reality so naked, so foolish, so intoxicated with a sense of self importance that the best thing that could happen is a healthy abhorrence of self and despising of oneself in dust and ashes.

    Keep up the good work Trevin – I have now finished a similiar article in which I quote you extensively. I had the thoughts, you were the catalyst for my pen…

    Blessings

  22. Wendy says:

    Are you seriously suggesting that racism has been conquered? A majority vote does not mean that it has been conqurerd… no, it means that certain factions were won over and the die was cast.

    Do you truly consider us the biggest? Get a map…

    The best? Check out the scientific journals coming out…

    The church the greatest force in the world? ….. Which one?

  23. lucianreign says:

    “The church the greatest force in the world? ….. Which one?”

    The Church of Jesus Christ, the King of Glory, Lord of Lord’s and King of Kings. The Church of the Living God.

    not a denomination
    not a Baptist, Methodist, Pentecostal, Reformed or national one
    not a creed
    not a faction
    not a label
    not a signpost
    not a website
    but His Church – visible and invisible

    There is one universal Church, composed of all those, in every time and place,
    who are chosen in Christ and united to Him through faith by the Spirit in one Body.

    Christ Himself is the all-supplying, all-sustaining, all-supreme, and all-authoritative Head of His Church.

  24. Bill says:

    I challange any presumption that Obama’s becoming president means we as a nation have finally dealt with racism. Yes, it is a significant and historic step along that path, but we as a nation are not at the end of the journey. That will only happen when an American of African descent becomes president and his being of African descent is no more newsworthy then if he was an American of Irish or German or British descent… At that point MLK Jr’s dream will acually be realized.

    Yes, America has always had its share of national hubris… Both liberals and conservatives are guilty… I personally am more concerned about how we as a nation have worshiped and continue to worship at the baal of secular matereialism; our true national religion…

    Shalom…

  25. Weston says:

    Wendy,

    The article is not saying that we are the biggest, or the best, or have conquered racism. The article is pointing out the dangers of believing these things. Read the whole article next time, and note the author’s sarcasm.

  26. RA says:

    Let’s get real. America has been full of itself for quite some time now. We have taken a step forward by electing a black president. It is something most of us never thought we would see in our lifetimes. It is an achievement.

    But let’s not forget that hubris was what dealt GW and the Republicans their defeat. The Permanent Majority proved totally temporary and disposable.

    It just stings more when you see the other side celebrating, especially when you thought you didn’t have to worry about them anymore.

  27. Brian says:

    Great comments!

    If anyone wants to delve deep into the depth of the new Babel mindset read the two books by Thomas P.M. Barnett, the military analyst. “The Pentagon’s New Map’ and ‘Blueprint for Action’. His new one ‘Great Powers’ comes out in a few days.

    Barnett is the best example I know of someone influential who has worked out to the last detail the workings of Babel…particularly in global affairs. No conspiracy here, just raw, tasty modernism that reads like some 19th Century parlor banter at National Geographic. Barnett is right on so many of his analysis, but is worldview and framework put it in service of the same old discredited agenda.

    He supported Bush’s War and Democracy push hard until the incompetence took over, then switched to Obama way before he appeared plausible. It is actually easy to track that progresion and see its seamlessness.

    Reading Barnett gives me the language of opp research to effectively counter th current inhabitants of Babel that have overrun the business and technology fields where I work.

  28. Edwin and Kim says:

    Trevin, what a wonderful talent to be able to speak the truth in such an elegant and understandable letter. Please continue to share this gift.
    Edwin

  29. AGB says:

    In the Netherlands. where I live, it seems to be Obamamania all over the place. Nevertheless, following the campaign and yhe inauguration I get the seem -uncomfortable- feeling when seeing the movie ‘Left Behind’ for the first time.

    Even if it is true, it has to happen, but let us pray that Gods greatness, holiness and glory will be proclaimed!

    He alone is the great ‘I am’.

  30. Ali says:

    Trevin, from Australia and New Zealand, I’m seeing the same thing. The American people’s belief in their country’s superiority and position as saviour of the world is really really annoying! Even the phrase “Leader of the Free World” is terrible.

    Having said that, Obama seems to be everybody’s hero in NZ and Aussie too. I can’t help but feel very, very sad.

  31. Marnie says:

    Excellent post! Very, very well written. Thanks for voicing something that has been bothering me for a long time.

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Trevin Wax


​Trevin Wax is Bible and Reference Publisher at LifeWay Christian Resources and managing editor of The Gospel Project. You can follow him on Twitter or receive blog posts via email. Click here for Trevin’s full bio.

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