Archive for Evangelicalism
This guest article is by Jeff Wright. Jeff is the founder of the Evangelicals for Liberty blog. He is a Chaplain in a "city of lost souls" and holds a Master of Theology (ThM) from Dallas Theological Seminary. You can also find him on Twitter at @jeffwrightjr.
The idea that America is the last, best hope of the world is the spirit that animates a great deal of political activity in our country. The “last, best hope” is one of the most enduring rallying cries preached to garner support and enthusiasm for major government initiatives throughout American history. It has become such a widely accepted notion that its veracity and relevance for lawmaking and executive action is simply assumed, even among Christians.
In his first inaugural address in 1801, Thomas Jefferson reasoned, “I know, indeed, that some honest men fear that a republican government cannot be strong, that this Government is not strong enough; but would the honest patriot, in the full tide of successful experiment, abandon a government which has so far kept us free and firm on the theoretic and visionary fear that this Government, the world’s best hope, may by possibility want [lack] energy to preserve itself? I trust not.” Jefferson lifted America’s republican form of government up as the world’s best hope.
Recapping interesting and significant news stories and media from the past weeks…
Chuck Baldwin asks some very pointed questions to evangelicals everywhere about war and their faith.
To those evangelicals disheartened by this past week’s elections results, Tim Suttle has a few words for you as well.
They could use a lesson from Bob Murphy as well regarding the futility of politics, and from Brian Cole on why libertarianism is the only political ideology that should make sense to Christians.
Four more years of Obama? Time for some nullification. (Note: Any president requires us to practice nullification, I don’t care who.) Make sure to get the documentary (I was involved in the production!) and watch for the efforts of good folks like David Simpson standing up to the Feds. Even now, we know we are having an effect.
Republicans miss the point of tax cuts, says LCC writer Laurence Vance at the Future of Freedom Foundation.
Iran seems to be on the short list for the next victim of American interventionism, and economic sanctions are already having a major effect on their population. It is incredibly important for libertarians to oppose all such interventionist policy.
Gary North emphasizes how important homeschooling is to the future of liberty.
You think the current voting machines are bad? Check out what they are considering in Florida! (Alert: Satirical)
Have you been to LCC recently? If not, here are a few posts you may have missed:
- Are there any notable Christian libertarian scholars?
- Obama wins, celebrates by bombing another country
- My View of Politics
- Live Blog of 2012 Election Results
- News of the Week, November 5th, 2012 Edition: Remember, Remember?
Have something you want to share? Please let us know in the comments. I read every comment and respond to most of them. Thanks for your support!
I am excited to announce an exciting new summit that will occur this September, called Evangelicals for Peace. I’ve had some wonderful discussions with one of the main organizers Aaron Taylor about the event, and I am going to do my best to attend. Here is what Aaron had to say in his announcement:
Billy Sunday was the most famous evangelist in America during the first two decades of the 20th century. Without the aid of loudspeakers, TV or radio, Sunday preached to over 100 million people the classic evangelical gospel that remains familiar to many people today. Repent and believe in Jesus, who died on the cross for your sins, and be saved from eternal damnation. The simplicity of Sunday’s message prompted millions of early 20th century Americans to examine the state of their souls and consider their eternal fates. Yet when it came to conscientious objectors during World War I, Sunday spared no mercy:
The man who breaks all the rules but at last dies fighting in the trenches is better than you God-forsaken mutts who won’t enlist.
Throughout our nation’s history, it’s been an axiom that Presidents lead us into wars, while Christians provide the flags and the crosses. Barring a few notable exceptions—Anabaptists, Quakers, and early Pentecostals—evangelical fervor has often promoted an uncritical nationalism that baptizes American military adventures with religious legitimacy. It’s no coincidence that the setting of Mark Twain’s famous War Prayer —in which Twain delivers a devastating critique of the use of religion to justify imperialism—is a Protestant Christian church. Given the historical record, it may seem the deck is stacked against American evangelicals organizing into a comprehensive peace movement—yet that’s exactly what’s happening.
Enter: Evangelicals for Peace.
On September 14th, a group of Evangelical scholars, pastors, journalists, and activists are gathering together for a summit at Georgetown University to discuss how evangelicals can work together to reduce violence and prevent war. Titled Evangelicals for Peace: A Summit on Christian Moral Responsibility in the 21st Century, the stated goals of the summit are:
• To build and birth a network of evangelical scholars and activists committed to the pursuit of a Biblical, comprehensive, and proactive peace
• To reduce violence, work toward human flourishing, and prevent war
• To mobilize and educate a new generation of evangelicals committed to the pursuit of peace
• To convene a gathering of non-profit and pastoral leaders who are actively working for peace with justice throughout the world
• To give a special focus on peace as it relates to U.S. foreign policy
The vision for Evangelicals for Peace is to educate and mobilize American evangelicals into proactive and comprehensive peacemaking. However, Evangelicals for Peace is not a pacifist-only movement. There are evangelicals in the “just war” camp who agree with many of the stated goals of the summit and want to pursue peace within that paradigm. Rick Love, the co-founder of Peace-Catalyst International, the organization launching the network, who himself is a self-described Just-war theorist leaning towards pacifism, says, “For too long, evangelical theology in America has had the tendency to view peacemaking as a distraction from the ‘pure’ work of preaching the gospel, or as a slippery-slope towards secular humanism. We want to change this paradigm. We want the average evangelical in America to view peacemaking in the same way that they view feeding the hungry or serving the poor—as a demonstration of the good works of the Gospel of the Kingdom.”
It’s been a pleasure of mine to work with Rick Love, as well as the other partner organizations, in thinking through the dynamics of putting this summit together. When it comes to how evangelicals can best draw from the resources of our faith in order to work for peace, many questions naturally arise: questions about the Christian witness to the state, Muslim/Christian relations, the impact of Christian Zionism on U.S. foreign policy, the possibility of Just Peace theory as a middle ground between Pacifism and Just-War theory, the relationship between dispensationalism and peace theology, how the various theological traditions within evangelicalism can create a space for a peace-theology within their existing paradigms.
Very few of these questions lend themselves to easy answers; which is why we need your input. It will take a robust effort to construct an evangelical peace witness to the media, the political powers, and the culture at large, and we need your help to make it happen. We are calling evangelicals from all types of persuasions and agendas to find those areas of common ground where we can work for peace together.
Hopefully I will see you there!
It seems sensible and logical that followers of someone called the Prince of Peace would not act like they are following Mars, the Roman god of war.
As I have maintained whenever I speak about Christianity and war, if there is any group of people that should be opposed to war, empire, militarism, the warfare state, an imperial presidency, blind nationalism, government war propaganda, and an aggressive foreign policy it is Christians, and especially conservative, evangelical, and fundamentalist Christians who claim to strictly follow the dictates of Scripture and worship the Prince of Peace.
I have also maintained throughout these wars in Iraq and Afghanistan that, even though it is Christianity above all religions that should be opposed to the evils of war and militarism, in the Church will be found some of the greatest supporters of the military and the current wars.
The "criminality of war," as Howard Malcom, president of Georgetown College, wrote in 1845, is not "that tyrants should lead men into wars of pride and conquest," but that "the people, in governments comparatively free, should so readily lend themselves to a business in which they bear all the sufferings, can gain nothing, and may lose all." That people would act this way, Malcom says, is an "astonishment indeed." "But," he continues, "the chief wonder is that Christians, followers of the Prince of Peace, should have concurred in this mad idolatry of strife, and thus been inconsistent not only with themselves, but with the very genius of their system."
I have heard and read many Christians criticize Obama – and rightly so – for his horrendous policies, but I have heard and read little or nothing from Christians of how Obama has continued the war in Iraq, escalated the war in Afghanistan, and expanded the bogus war on terror to other countries.
The above sign from a church in Maryland can unfortunately be seen almost anywhere in the United States. Although some Christians have begun to criticize Obama and the Democrats for the things that only a short time ago they were silent about when perpetrated by Bush and the Republicans, support for the military among Christians – no matter where it goes, why it goes, what it does, how much it costs, how long it stays, and how many foreigners it kills – is so entrenched, so sacrosanct, that I am at the same time bewildered and embarrassed, angered and ashamed.
The result of this mindset is a perversion of the very Scriptures that Christians claim to believe and follow. So, just as Christian warmongers would, if they were honest, recite The Warmonger’s Psalm (Psalm 23), assent to The Warmonger’s Beatitudes (Matthew 5:3-12), and pray The President’s Prayer (Matthew 6:9-13), so they would acknowledge that they manifest The Warmonger’s Fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23).
In contrast to the works of the flesh (adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, and revellings), the Apostle Paul in the Book of Galatians mentions the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance.
But in place of these virtues, warmongers have substituted pride, indifference, vengeance, ignorance, malice, arrogance, lust, foolishness, and blasphemy.
Christian warmongers have pride in the U.S. military – the greatest cause of terrorism and instability in the world. They are indifferent to the tremendous suffering of foreigners who get in the way of the U.S. military. They want vengeance for 9/11 now matter how many innocent Muslims have to die. They have a tremendous and willful ignorance of the true nature of U.S. foreign policy. They have malice toward foreigners who never harmed Americans until the U.S. military starting bombing them. They have an arrogant "USA, USA" patriotism that supports an interventionist and militaristic foreign policy. They lust for the blood of foreigners by supporting bombing, drone attacks, torture, and indiscriminate killing. They make foolish statements like the military is defending our freedoms by fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. They blaspheme God by asking him to bless and protect U.S. soldiers.
I realize that I am making some serious accusations, but the truth is simply that most Christian warmongers don’t care whether there are Predator drone attacks against Afghan and Pakistani peasants as long as a Republican-controlled government gets to conduct the attacks.
Originally published on LewRockwell.com on June 23, 2011.
The Sunday before Memorial Day is not one of my favorites. The "patriotic" things that go on in churches in celebration or acknowledgment of Memorial Day are downright sickening.
Churches encourage their veterans to wear their military uniforms. Special recognition is given to those who "served." Prayers are offered on behalf of the troops, not that they would cease fighting foreign wars, but for God to keep them out of harm’s way and protect them. Mention is made of the troops defending our freedoms.
Churches decorate their grounds and the inside of their buildings with U.S. flags. Sometimes it is a few large flags hanging from the ceiling or adorning the walls. Sometimes it is many small flags stuck in the ground near the church entrance. Sometimes it is both. Some congregations are asked to recite the pledge of allegiance.
Churches sing hymns of worship to the state instead of hymns of worship about the person of Christ and his work. Songs like "My Country, ‘Tis of Thee," "America the Beautiful," "We Salute You, Land of Liberty," and "This Is My Country." Some churches go even farther and sing "God Bless the U.S.A." or "God Bless America." Too many churches sing the blasphemous "Battle Hymn of the Republic."
I know these practices are widespread because of the scores of people that have e-mailed me in disgust about what occurred in their churches on the Sunday before Memorial Day.
In most cases it is not even necessary to visit a church on the Sunday preceding Memorial Day to know what goes on inside. Just look at the sign outside of the church. Instead of a verse of Scripture or an announcement of an upcoming event, you are more likely to see some patriotic slogan, often with a Christian theme.
I have personally seen two signs this year that I find particularly offensive, not only to my Christian faith, but to reality:
Pray for the Troops,
God be with them.
The American soldier and Jesus Christ,
one gives his life for your freedom,
the other for your soul.
Yes, we should pray for the troops. The Bible tells us in 1 Timothy 2:1 that "supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men." But what should we pray? That God would bless the troops while they injure, maim, kill, and destroy property where they have no business being in the first place? That God would be with them while they wage unjust and immoral foreign wars? Since when does wearing a military uniform excuse killing someone you don’t know in his own territory that was no threat to any American until the U.S. military invaded and occupied his country? How about instead praying that the troops come home where they belong or that Christian families stop supplying cannon fodder to the military?
That Christ gave his life for our souls is indisputable, but do American soldiers give their lives for our freedoms? You know, the freedoms we have steadily lost since the troops starting defending our freedoms after 9/11? Has there been in American history any foreign war, military action, CIA covert action, or intervention of any kind in any country that was for the purpose of defending our freedoms mentioned in the Bill of Rights? Of course not. Not one Iraqi or Afghan killed by U.S. forces was ever a threat to our freedoms. The troops don’t defend our freedoms, and neither do they fight "over there" so we don’t have to fight "over here." And I can’t think of anything more blasphemous than mentioning Jesus Christ, the Lord, the Son of God, the Prince of Peace in the same breath as a U.S. soldier who unjustly bombs, maims, kills, and then dies in vain and for a lie.
It is time for Christians to slay the golden calf of the military. Christians should stop joining the military. They should stop encouraging their young men to enlist. They should stop being military chaplains and medics. American churches must be demilitarized.
It is a terrible blight on evangelical Christianity that our churches have sent more soldiers to the Middle East than missionaries. If Christians are so concerned about the threat of Islamofascism, then what better way to confront it than with the Gospel of Christ?
Originally posted on LewRockwell.com on May 30th, 2011.