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By Richard John Neuhaus

Christians are by way of their nature a humans misplaced. Their actual house is with God; in civic existence, they're alien electorate “in yet no longer of the world.” In American Babylon, eminent theologian Richard John Neuhaus examines the actual fact of that ambiguity for Catholics in the United States today.Neuhaus addresses the fundamental quandaries of Catholic life—assessing how Catholics can continue their heads above water within the sea of immorality that confronts them on this planet, how they are often patriotic although their precise kingdom isn't really during this global, and the way they could reconcile their tasks as electorate with their dedication to God. Deeply realized, usually combative, and continuously eloquent, American Babylon is Neuhaus’s magnum opus—and should be crucial studying for all Christians.

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At the same time, there were other American Christians who, remembering the words of Jesus that the servant is not above his master, did not aspire to rise above their model. In the latter part of the nineteenth century, when almost all Protestants called themselves evangelicals, the nation witnessed the impressive construction of the “Benevolent Empire” in what is commonly designated the third great awakening. ” Once again, the note was struck that America is not only a nation with the soul of a church, but is the Church.

Thus, again, America itself became by default a de facto church. Indeed, the fundamental complaint of anti-Catholics in American history is that Catholicism requires a “dual loyalty”—an allegiance to America and a prior allegiance to the Church. That was and is exactly right. A prior allegiance is not necessarily a conflicting allegiance. Murray argued that the Catholic allegiance complemented and reinforced the allegiance to the American experiment. In this he agreed with The Letter to Diognetus that America is both homeland and foreign country.

Religious gnosticism goes hand in hand with ecclesiological docetism. Docetism was an early Christian heresy which held that Christ only seemed to have a human body and to have suffered and died on the cross. ” To be sure, the saints who have gone on to glory are not visible to us, and only God knows who among the living are the truly faithful. qxd 1/9/09 1:15 PM Page 39 Meeting God as an American story through the centuries and becomes an ethereal and free-floating community separate from the actual community of the Church in time that is, as Newman would say, not notional but real.

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