Twelve Lies that Hold America Captive and the Truth that Sets Us Free

Reviewed by:  Connor Salter, a Professional Writing student at Taylor University in Upland, IN.



Title: Twelve Lies that Hold America Captive and the Truth that Sets Us Free

Author: Jonathon Walton

Publisher: InterVarsity Press

Publication Date: January 8, 2019

Format: Paperback

Length: 224 pages


“Hold your gaze on the picture I am painting,” Walton writes in the introduction, “and consider its implications for how you think, speak, pray, and act.” The picture he paints focuses on twelve popular American ideas:

  • America is a Christian nation
  • All Americans are immigrants
  • America is a melting pot
  • All men are created equal
  • America is a great democracy
  • The American dream is alive and well
  • America is the most prosperous nation in the world
  • Americans are the most generous people in the world
  • America is the land of the free
  • America is the home of the brave
  • America is the greatest country on earth
  • Americans are one nation


With each of the twelve ideas, Walton looks at American history to show how people have applied those ideas to mean something very harmful and biblically inaccurate. Having shown that cultural American Christianity doesn’t hold up to scrutiny, he turns to Scripture to show what God calls Christians to do instead.


Walton chooses a writing style reminiscent of an opinion piece – direct, assertive, and unafraid to call out individuals he believes have sacrificed biblical values in the name of patriotism. Ultimately, this style hurts the book’s appeal, making it hard to appreciate Walton’s arguments unless they already agree with him. At times, Walton even becomes so assertive he underexplains things a little. For example, he makes a valid argument that self-obsessed materialism is rooted in the Declaration of Independence’s argument for “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,” but doesn’t connect all the dots to make the argument clear.


These issues aside, Walton presents excellent reasons why these twelve ideas create problems and how Scripture provides something better. Readers willing to be confronted but learn something will enjoy this book.



Rating (1 to 5 stars)

4 stars

Suggested Audience

American Christians trying to figure out how patriotism and faith connect, what it looks like to live genuine faith in American culture.

Christian Impact

This book will touch many readers’ nerves, but in the process push them to think about how their faith really applies to living in America.



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Twelve Lies That Hold America Captive: And the Truth That Sets Us Free

About Ceil Carey

The Evangelical Church Library Association, founded in 1970, is a fellowship of Christian churches, schools, and individuals.

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