In my last post I quoted a few helpful comments by Michael Gorman in his Reading Revelation Responsibly (Eugene: Cascade, 2011). As an American, Gorman also has interesting things to say about how the message of Revelation may be relevant to his country (in comparison with the Roman Empire when Revelation was written).
More broadly, then, Revelation is a critique of civil religion (first of all, but not only, Roman civil religion), that is, the sacralization of secular political, economic, and military power through various mythologies and practices—creeds and liturgies, we might say—and the corollary demand for allegiance to that power. (p 47)
I am not American and so I won’t comment further on the above, except to say that Gorman’s book is really worth reading for us who live in the West.
At any rate, the following words in Gorman’s book regarding Revelation are well noting.
Revelation is a sustained stripping of the sacred from secular power—military, political, economic—and a parallel sustained recognition of God and the Lamb as the rightful bearers of sacred claims, the only worthy recipients of divine accolades… Thus one of the main purposes of Revelation is to challenge sacralized imperial power—and its seductive allure—with an alternative vision of power that will give believers comfort, assurance, hope, and especially courage to resist in accord with the paradigm of Jesus… Revelation is therefore a prophetic, pastoral, visionary guide to worshiping and following the Lamb, a template for faithful witness against civil religion and for true worship of the true God. (p. 55)