Friday, January 03, 2014

So Much For Loving One Another

I started digging into Fight last night and came across a lot of pretty solid stuff. We read in the New Testament that Jesus said that all men will know that we are His disciples because of our love for one another. Does anyone really believe that when the world looks at American style "Christianity" that the defining attribute they see is love? If you believe that is the case I have some ocean front property in Arizona to sell you. I think what we are really known for has little to do with love. Preston Sprinkle writes:

Being an evangelical has become synonymous with being pro-family, anti-abortion, pro-Republican, and pro-war. All protesting voices are declared liberal or anti-Christian. In fact, when America went to war in Iraq, a flurry of protest arose. Even though the Iraq war was the most opposed war in America’s history— even more than Vietnam—“ churchgoers were more supportive than non-churchgoers and evangelicals were the most supportive of all.” Military historian and Vietnam vet Andrew Bacevich wrote, “Were it not for the support offered by several tens of millions of evangelicals, militarism in this deeply and genuinely religious country becomes inconceivable.”

Sprinkle, Preston (2013-08-01). Fight: A Christian Case for Non-Violence (Kindle Locations 207-212). David C. Cook. Kindle Edition.  

That is a pretty searing indictment but I can't fault him for his words. Being insufficiently pro-military and patriotic will get you called a liberal. As Sprinkle notes, conversations about Christians and our involvement in warfare and nationalism are some of the most heated.....

I’ve dealt with many issues over the years— free will and election, spiritual gifts, the end times— but I have never seen such heated discussions erupt as when issues of war, violence, and nationalism come up. Never. Disagreement over these issues pricks something deep in the heart of us.

Sprinkle, Preston (2013-08-01). Fight: A Christian Case for Non-Violence (Kindle Locations 143-145). David C. Cook. Kindle Edition.

I can speak from experience here, people who agree with me on almost everything else get really bent out of shape and hostile when I suggest that Christians shouldn't serve in the military. Other than posts about gender, posts about non-resistance get the most comments and the most negative comments. Why?

Why are Christians who follow a Savior who said "blessed are the peacemakers", who rebuked Peter for his use of a sword to defend Jesus. who went meekly without so much as a word of defense, so wedded to warfare? It is certainly not from reading the Bible. No, our obsession is in spite of and not because of what Scripture teaches. To make matters worse, the conversation on this topic usually devolves into "what about Hitler?" and "what if someone was going to hurt your family", as if the hypothetical situation trumps the Biblical imperative.

Anyway, good stuff so far.


Chris Jefferies said...

Absolutely right, Arthur. Well written, well meant - and right.

Thanks for posting.

I wonder if you saw this article?

James said...

or... so wedded to Patriarchy.


Arthur Sido said...

I haven't Chris but I will check it out, thanks! I don't read a lot of British posts because of he language barrier.

Arthur Sido said...


I reject gender difference deniers for the same reason I reject "just war theory", namely that neither is drawn from a plain reading of the comprehensive revelation of Scripture and instead rely on extra-Biblical supposition.

Marshall said...

early followers of Christ didn't follow after the military solution...

"I decline military command; I detest fornication; I am not impelled by an insatiable love of gain to go to sea; I do not contend for chaplets; I am free from a mad thirst for fame; I despise death; I am superior to every kind of disease; grief does not consume my soul. Am I a slave, I endure servitude. Am I free, I do not make a vaunt of my good birth. I see that the same sun is for all, and one death for all, whether they live in pleasure or destitution."
[from Tatian To The Greeks 11]

"To begin with the real ground of the military crown, I think we must first inquire whether warfare is proper at all for Christians. What sense is there in discussing the merely accidental, when that on which it rests is to be condemned? Do we believe it lawful for a human oath to be superadded to one divine, for a man to come under promise to another master after Christ, and to abjure father, mother, and all near kinsfolk, whom even the law has commanded us to honor and love next to God Himself, to whom the gospel, too, holding them only of less account than Christ, has in like manner rendered honor? Shall it be held lawful to make an occupation of the sword, when the Lord proclaims that he who uses the sword shall perish by the sword?... yet, at the same time, when a man has become a believer, and faith has been sealed, there must be either an immediate abandonment of it, which has been the course with many; or all sorts of quibbling will have to be resorted to in order to avoid offending God, and that is not allowed even outside of military service; or, last of all, for God the fate must be endured which a citizen-faith has been no less ready to accept. Neither does military service hold out escape from punishment of sins, or exemption from martyrdom. Nowhere does the Christian change his character. There is one gospel, and the same Jesus, who will one day deny every one who denies, and acknowledge every one who acknowledges God, -- who will save, too, the life which has been lost for His sake; but, on the other hand, destroy that which for gain has been saved to His dishonor. With Him the faithful citizen is a soldier, just as the faithful soldier is a citizen. A state of faith admits no plea of necessity; they are under no necessity to sin, whose one necessity is, that they do not sin. For if one is pressed to the offering of sacrifice and the sheer denial of Christ by the necessity of torture or of punishment, yet discipline does not connive even at that necessity; because there is a higher necessity to dread denying and to undergo martyrdom, than to escape from suffering, and to render the homage required. In fact, an excuse of this sort overturns the entire essence of our sacrament, removing even the obstacle to voluntary sins; for it will be possible also to maintain that inclination is a necessity, as involving in it, forsooth, a sort of compulsion. I have, in fact, disposed of this very allegation of necessity with reference to the pleas by which crowns connected with official position are vindicated, in support of which it is in common use, since for this very reason offices must be either refused, that we may not fall into acts of sin, or martyrdoms endured that we may get quit of offices."
[from Tertullian's Chaplet 11]