Christo-Americanism the foundation of Dominionist Cooperation
In the United States the final straw was the decade of the 1960's. Sweeping legislative and social changes left conservative Protestants (loosely labeled Evangelicals) in a state of shock. Men like Francis Schaeffer stepped into the gap and began to re-teach many things that had been forgotten and even frowned upon from the glory days of old Christendom. Even as late as the 1980's, the Middle Ages were frowned upon as...a spiritual Dark Age. But to Dominionists like Schaeffer, the Middle Ages were an almost-glory, a period of Ecclesiastical triumph, clouded not by the cultural hegemony and holocaust of Roman Catholicism, but simply by Rome's lack of understanding regarding Justification by Faith Alone. If Rome had retained the Protestant formulation, then more or less, all would have been well. If this vision wasn't re-captured and all of modern life evaluated in light of it...the Church would fall to its great enemy, Secular Humanism.
And standing on Kuyper's shoulders, he provided a new theological impetus for action. He provided inspiration for a whole generation of Transformationalists. Not all subscribed to the jots and tittles of his theology. No, many in fact still embraced Dispensationalism, a theology which found its genesis in the 19th century. Often fused with Charles Finney's Pelagian theology and practices, this new 'old time' religion wasn't very consisted with Schaeffer's ideas at all. But Nationalism (a religion, an idolatry in itself) trumps all and since the late 1970's, Evangelicalism has been undergoing a rapid modification on several fronts.
Before this time, Christianity was largely syncretized with American Culture. Christo-Americanism we might call it. Many cultural practices and norms were integrated with Christianity, and that with little thought about it. Since Schaeffer, this syncretism has taken on a deliberate agenda. They would deny this, because they fight particular American cultural currents. But, in response they offer another set of American cultural currents regarding economics and sociological issues. Supposedly Biblical arguments are given for these fusions and many political and cultural viewpoints (resting in the American context rather than the New Testament) are essentially baptized and made into tenets of orthodoxy.
Others have just continued the Americanist trend, and as we have become obese in our consumerism, they have integrated this into the American Church...if we can even still call it that.
Though many don't know of Schaeffer, nor have read his works, his ideas have trickled down to the pew and have been heartily embraced. The common church attendee has little interest in theology, but a great deal of interest in culture, politics, and economics. This theology vindicates many conservative Americanist tendencies. If you grew up in a conservative Protestant family, these things are practically in your genes. Now you have arguments which can be called 'Biblical' to back them up.
Many of our modern Conservative, Right-wing politicians have cited Francis Schaeffer as an inspiration. I don't know to what extent George Bush, Michelle Bachmann or Mike Huckabee understand Dominionism. Regardless of their acumen or lack thereof, this theology provides for them a divine impetus to do what they're doing. It's not mere conviction, it is absolute certainty that they are standing for the kingdom and their political and cultural positions are both advancing it and defending it.
You cannot understand contemporary Evangelical Christianity apart from this. This is driving 99% of what the churches are doing. It's affecting American politics and to lesser or greater degrees it has blended with other cultural forces to shape the history of the American Empire over the last century.
Christo-Americanism, that is Christianity melded with American Nationalism is actually the religion of the American Church. That's why Postmillennial Theonomists, Premillennial Dispensationalists, and Charismatic Dominionists can all find common cause. They share a common religious foundation, rooted in American Imperial idolatry.
The issues here are not merely an internal debate. We have yet another religion masquerading as Christianity. There are no doubt Christians within these folds, but I honestly have to believe if the Holy Spirit is indwelling them and they are studying their Bibles, they will (perhaps slowly) abandon this theology. At least I hope so.
----to be continued-----