I just finished the book "Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from The American Dream" by David Platt, and am wondering what exactly is Christian about American values and ideals, like the American Dream. One can argue elements of the Protestant Work Ethic, which fit in, would be able be seen as Christian, like hard work and thift and temperance. These do fit, but how about the others? What is exactly Christian about these?
* Wealth = one standing with God: This will pop up again and again, in that your personal wealth is a measure of your character, and that the successful and rich ended up getting their by their own means and virtue. There are numerous versions in the Old and New Testament that speak against this, from James saying to not give extra regard to rich people, and even Jesus telling a rich young man to give away what he had to the poor and follow him.
* Belief in the "Self-made man": In this, the individual who ended up doing it, did it on their own. All rich people and the powerful worked up by the sweat of their brow, and by sheer talent alone made it. If you don't make it, it is your fault. You do it on your own, and everything is up to you. Oh there is very simple stuff in the gospels about how Jesus said "without me you can do nothing" and also Romans 12 that speaks about many parts and one body. You also see a corporate nature of people doing things, and Proverbs which speaks nations rising and falling based on their collective righteousness also.
* Glorification of celebrities, from Hollywood to sports: This is an offshoot of the self-made man. OBVIOUSLY the individual who is elite and doing box office and know and has fame and money MUST of did something significant, so they need to be idolized and put up on top. We must set them up as examples for others, because they represent the best, and an example of what the self-made person can do. How is this Christian, when Christians are called to put Christ first?
* Elevation of individualism and personal conscience and freedom as the top values: In this, society is to shape itself and bend to whim of every individual and their wants. Society consists of markets pandering to whims and wishes, and the ultimate expression would be a system where every whim of every individual can be met 24 by 7 and no one goes discontented. No one is asked to sacrifice or change themselves in regards to others, but we build a big complicated web of systems that will allow everyone to do and be what they want, without even thinking of anyone else. You have Jesus saying, "Pick up your cross and follow me". So, how is this elevation of individualism exactly Christian? In a society where individualism is elevated, and either you suffer and die alone because people vote you out because they dislike your style, or you build this monster support, where is love and also other things we see as virtuous in moral character?
* America is a special nation blessed by God, and is exceptional. So how exactly is elevating America to the status of Israel, instead of the Church, Christian?
* Perpetual optimism and elevation of happiness and self-esteem as top values: The Sermon on the Mount speaks to blessed are those who mourn, and also there is a call for also weaping, and a call to rightly evaluate oneself in the New Testament texts. But what gets elevated in America now is happiness, feeling good, things are always getting better and so on. So, how is this be happy all the time exactly Christian?
* Flipside to the last point and a dark side of consumerism, which is a to be perpetually discontent with things and need to buy more and more and more to be happy: Contentment obtainment doesn't sell, but being discontent does. We buy happiness in doses, through drugs or whatever, and it wears off and this cycle of consumption continues. America is noted for people buying more, buying new, buying the latest, and acquiring for status. How is this Christian?
* Enshrinement of the U.S Constitution as some divine instrument: One can argue that the U.S Constitution is a fine work, and one of the best constitutions ever made. But, go among Tea Party folks, and it is seen as handed down by Jesus, on part with the Bible. So, exactly how is a work which was created heavily by non-Christian deists exactly Christian?