God's Politics

God's Politics


Rich Nathan: Three Principles for Christian Dual Citizens

posted by God's Politics

Sometimes we can best understand the role of faith in politics by listening to the way people of faith responded to crises in their day. Nearly 1,600 years ago, in the year 410 AD, the city of Rome was invaded by an army of 40,000 led by a general named Alaric. The attack on Rome sent a shockwave through the world that was much greater than the Sept. 11 attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Many Christians believed that the fall of Rome signaled the end of the world, or at least the end of Christendom, since Christianity was the established religion in Rome.
The great St. Augustine responded to this equation of the fortunes of Rome with the fortunes of God’s kingdom by writing his immensely important philosophy of history called The City of God. In it, he distinguished between Rome, which he called “the city of man,” and the heavenly kingdom, which Augustine called “the city of God. The city of man, he said, was enamored with its own strength; the city of God is enamored with God and says, “I love you, my Lord, because you are my strength.”
Now, the person of faith is a resident of both cities. We live in time, but we belong to eternity. We are deeply engaged in this world, doing all we can to love our neighbor and work for justice while we acknowledge that we don’t ultimately belong to this world. According to Augustine, people of faith hold dual citizenships; we are resident aliens, or in the words of Jim Wallis’ magazine, we are sojourners.
It is precisely the dual citizenship of people of faith that both the secular left and the religious right deny. And in one of the strangest ironies in contemporary politics, the secular left and the religious right end up in precisely the same place. The secular left denies that there is a city of God to which they are morally accountable. There is only the city of man – utterly autonomous, self-confident, answerable only to itself. The religious right equates the city of God with the city of man. America is God’s chosen nation, our perspectives are God’s perspectives, our fights are God’s fights. So in its triumphalist self-confidence, “because God is always on our side,” the religious right also ends up unaccountable to God.
How can we, as people of faith, carve out a space that rejects both the secular left and its ideological twin, the religious right; one that recognizes our dual citizenship? How can we create a society that sees itself as morally accountable to God and God’s kingdom?
We can start by asking President Lincoln’s great question: Not “Is God on our side?”, but “Are we on God’s side?”
Let me suggest three simple guiding principles to assist us in determining if our political choices are on the side of the city of God.


First, how does this political choice play out for the marginalized? The Hebrew Bible reminds us over and over again to remember the widow, the orphan, and the alien; to remember the widow, the orphan, and the alien – the most dependent, the most vulnerable, the ones living closest to the edge.
Today we would say that the most dependent, and the most vulnerable, certainly include the immigrant, the uninsured, and the hungry, the unborn in the womb and their mothers, the residents in the Darfur and the victims of AIDS around the globe. When we stand before the God of history, he will not ask us about our GPA or our incomes, or what political party we supported. The God of history will ask us what we did for the least of his brethren. As Jesus said, “As you did for the least of these my brethren, you did it unto me.”
So, how does this political choice play out for the marginalized? That’s the first principle in deciding if we are on God’s side.
Second, how does this political choice support global peace? The Hebrew Bible speaks of a day when we will beat our swords into plowshares. Jesus, the Messiah, is called the Prince of Peace. The first thing Jesus said following his resurrection was “Peace be with you!” The Eucharist Christians share is called, in Roman Catholic tradition, the “Peace.” The church is always called to be a peace movement. That is why Augustine, who originated the just-war tradition, said that Christians ought to be the most reluctant to go to war – and that when we do, we always go with tears.
As I’ve said to the church I pastor, how did it come to be that we evangelicals have become the chief advocates of war of any demographic in the country? We Christians ought to be the hardest to convince; we ought to require the highest burden of proof; we ought to demand the most evidence before we support any military action. The church is always a peace movement.
Third, and finally, in deciding if we are on the side of God, we must always ask, “Do we see ourselves as answerable to God?” God forbid that we should project evil onto the other – onto the Arab, or the Persian, or the North Korean – still less onto the secular left or the religious right. As Solzhenitsyn said as he was lying on a rotting bed of straw in a Soviet Gulag,

The line separating good and evil passes not through states, nor between classes, nor between political parties either, but right through every human heart, and through all human hearts. This line shifts. Inside us, it oscillates with the years. Even within hearts overwhelmed by evil, one small bridgehead of good is retained; and even in the best of all hearts, there remains a small corner of evil.

Only if we as individuals and as a nation retain the capacity to be self-critical, to see evil in ourselves, to see ourselves as ultimately answerable and morally accountable to the city of God and to the God of that city, can we have any hope that we, as people of faith, are on the side of God.
Rich Nathan is the pastor of the Vineyard Church in Columbus, Ohio. He delivered these remarks to the audience at George Washington University’s Lisner Auditorium before the broadcast of last week’s presidential candidates forum on faith, values, and poverty.



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Payshun

posted June 13, 2007 at 3:53 pm


I am not sure how to respond to this. I think it’s a bit reductionist for my tastes.
p



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Eric

posted June 13, 2007 at 5:01 pm


Agreed Payshun. This is one of the most simplistic descriptions of the “religious right” I’ve ever read. I don’t know if it’s even worth commenting beyond that.



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bren

posted June 13, 2007 at 5:54 pm


I am very excited by this piece because it is a message for all people of faith and not simply for the religious right or left or those in the middle.
Do we add our voices to those of the marginalized in our cities so that they know they are not outsiders, that they count every bit as much as those who have the appearance of power? Do we add our voices to those who reject war and military service because of their belief in God? I find these questions much more helpful than reducing the question to: is God on our side, not least because there are so many occasions when people–convinced that God is on their side–assume this gives them the right to judge others who don’t share their particular conviction. I believe that God is much bigger than a political policy, or even a political point of view.
Rather than judging others whose understanding of their faith differs from mine, I believe we need to remember that we are all seekers, none of us having arrived yet at the total truth. By our actions will our love of Christ be made evident–a good place to start is to end the appalling level of poverty amongst children in the U.S.



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kevin s.

posted June 13, 2007 at 10:59 pm


“The religious right equates the city of God with the city of man.”
No it doesn’t. Next.



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Mike Hayes

posted June 13, 2007 at 11:55 pm


Rich Nation,
I think you concisely summarized political decision making by us all.
Faced with a decision, we should be thinking: how does this choice reflect the charge that we care for those who are “thirsty”, “hungry”, naked”; how does this choice reflect the charge that we bring peace to others; how does this choice square with an objective (conscience) evaluation of the outcome of our decision?
That in itself is a pretty big challenge.
Beyond that, how do those of us who support the values in “God’s Politics” unite and communicate with the white house and our respective members of congress? And our respective governors and members of our state legislatures?



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Amazon Creek

posted June 14, 2007 at 1:01 am


I liked the article in general.
Do I think the religious right equates the city of God with the city of man? Hmmm…. Hmmmm….. I think that idea would need to be fleshed out a lot. Mr. Nation just lets that statement sit there. And we are sensing the vagueness of that. Me-thinks Mr. Nation most likely had a case of the problem “all-who-post-on-messageboards” have – the never-ending struggle to describe our perceptions in the clearest language that exactly describes what we are seeing and sensing. And often, that aspiration eludes all of us. Yes?
But despite the vagueness of the idea…I see a semblance of what he is trying to say.
I don’t think the religious right consciously believes that the city of God is the same as the city of man . And I’m sure they’d deny it. And sincerely.
Because me-thinks it’s more of a seductive thing, a deception and blinding by the unseen forces of darkness that constantly seek to deceive and blind us all.
More a case of the frog in the tepid kettle of water…sincerely asserting his dislike of boiling water and proclaiming he never wants to wind up in a kettle of boiling water – but unaware that the temperature of his kettle is ever-so-slowly rising.
Am I making any sense?
I don’t think the religious right MEANS to equate the city of God with the city of man. But since they so often operate on the wisdom of this world….rather than God’s….they find themselves slowly drifting away from the truth.
I’ve hung around with those kind of people. It’s more THAT type of thing.
But I LOVE this article! It is teeming with great insights. Yes…would we really WANT God to be on any of OUR sides? Nobody who makes a habit of being honest with themself would! We are EACH such a mix-bag of good and evil in our minds.
We would have to be perfect like God. And we can’t be. How can we be a standard? Only God can be the standard. And we must seek to learn to be on His side.



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Dave Baylor

posted June 14, 2007 at 8:40 am


This is very thought provoking piece. However, I think perhaps the key point for everyone is the issue of extremes, especially as Christians. I know for myself, over the years I have often viewed the world and Christianity in as straight back and white or in Mr. Nation’s parlance, the City of God or the City of Man. However, the more I have grown in my faith, the more I have found that the truth in found more often in the contradictions than in the extremes. In order to illustrate what I mean here are two examples.
First, in the NT God’s kingdom (the City of God) is portrayed as already here, but not its fullness. Jesus inaugurated the Kingdom, but the fruit is yet to be seen. I believe, the truth of the Kingdom and how live in it is to be found in this tension.
Likewise the paradox of the God-man. Jesus, fully human and fully divine. How does this work? In the early Church the problems arose when some tried to tie the truth to either extreme. All human, no divinity => Arius. All divinity, no human => Gnostics & Doceticists.
I think the issue that the religious right and all Christians need to address is that as soon as we think that we have everything solidified and our enemies identified, that is when the problems begin. In contrast, living in the paradoxes forces us to be humble because we do not have all the answers. Living in the paradoxes allows us the freedom to freely love and work in this already/not yet Kingdom doing the best we can while being open to God transforming our outlook from time to time.



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moderatelad

posted June 14, 2007 at 9:30 am


Interesting article, well written.
reductionist – could be.
revisionist – right up there.
expand this to a book – I would put it in the fiction section.
Have a great day –
.



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Wolverine

posted June 14, 2007 at 9:43 am


Rich Nathan wrote:
The religious right equates the city of God with the city of man.
Kevin’s right, Nathan isn’t even close.
The entire point of evangelical eschatology is that this current world will be thoroughly trashed before Christ himself returns to establish the true Kingdom of Heaven.
Now one can argue that the Religious Right still gives too much credit to the usefulness of political activism as a means to advance God’s kingdom, but a similar accusation can be made of the Christian left.
At any rate, to the extent that they do, it is in spite of theology that foresees a sharp and rather bloody line between this world and “Kingdom Come”.
Wolverine



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Ben Wheaton

posted June 14, 2007 at 9:46 am


Ah, I get it. In order to be true ‘dual citizens’ of the world and god’s kingdom, we need to support left-wing ideas. Swell.



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Anonymous

posted June 14, 2007 at 9:54 am


This section strikes me as rather simplistic:
We Christians ought to be the hardest to convince; we ought to require the highest burden of proof; we ought to demand the most evidence before we support any military action. The church is always a peace movement.
Always? Once again, Sojourners is trying to convert just way theory into practical pacifism.
In a democratic society, there will be those who dismiss legitimate national interests for the sake of an illusory “peace”. Think of the English pacifists in the late thirties who would have allowed Germany a free rein in Europe. Is the church obligated to join any peace movement, no matter how disconnected from reality?
As Christians we ought to demand solid evidence and be less influenced by appeals to nationalism. But to say that the church must always be a peace movement is to negate the principles of just war.
Wolverine



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moderatelad

posted June 14, 2007 at 10:17 am


Posted by: | June 14, 2007 9:54 AM
Wolverine
I think that they want conservitives to be pacifists so that liberals can be the activists without any challenges that they want to be. There are very few on this site that want to find middle ground between a Wallis and a Robertson.
Celebrate –
.



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Anonymous

posted June 14, 2007 at 2:09 pm


Posted by: | June 14, 2007 9:54 AM – Wolverine
Well stated my friend…
.



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moderatelad

posted June 14, 2007 at 2:10 pm


Posted by: | June 14, 2007 9:54 AM – Wolverine
Well stated my friend…
.



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John Golden

posted June 14, 2007 at 3:15 pm


This would have been a much stronger article without the characterization of the left and the caricature of the right. No one’s paying much attention to the article’s heart, which is ‘Christian’s should be like _this_’
He seems to be saying: Christians should
1) remember and take care of the powerless
2) be peacemakers
3) self-examine for sin
I think most would agree those are good things. If you claim they are required, the argument starts.



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Jennifer

posted June 14, 2007 at 3:17 pm


Thank you, bren; thank you, Amazon Creek, thank you Dave Baylor. You took the core theme and worked with it and encouraged us all to do likewise. Very little is simplistic; discernment and growth are integral to living Christian faith (and perhaps life in general?). Keep the conversation going — and faithful steps of action as well, that are not immune to re-evaluation and re-charted course as we continue learning, acting, growing.



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Teri

posted June 14, 2007 at 4:44 pm


The “secular left” and the “religious right” as ideological twins???? What??? Mr Nathan, this is just one more “conversation” where you use a whole lot of double speak to take a swipe at those who do not fall into line with the idea that we must be “pacifist” christians as you percieve Jesus would have us all be. I’m surprised you didn’t just out and call the “religious right” fascists!



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Teri

posted June 14, 2007 at 4:44 pm


The “secular left” and the “religious right” as ideological twins???? What??? Mr Nathan, this is just one more “conversation” where you use a whole lot of double speak to take a swipe at those who do not fall into line with the idea that we must be “pacifist” christians as you percieve Jesus would have us all be. I’m surprised you didn’t just out and call the “religious right” fascists!



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Rick Nowlin

posted June 14, 2007 at 11:17 pm


As Christians we ought to demand solid evidence and be less influenced by appeals to nationalism. But to say that the church must always be a peace movement is to negate the principles of just war.

Unfortunately, so-called “just war” advocates in practice often see war as a first resort, not a last one, because of the “triumphalist” mentality referred to in the piece. In other words, “might makes right.” That has never been the Christian way.

I think that they want conservitives to be pacifists so that liberals can be the activists without any challenges that they want to be. There are very few on this site that want to find middle ground between a Wallis and a Robertson.

Evangelicalism, until recently, has been so far to the right ideologically over the past couple of decades that Wallis actually does represent a moderate view. So that comment makes little sense.



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Brent

posted June 14, 2007 at 11:44 pm


A Secular Response from the City of Man
As a “secular Christian”, that is, as one who lives in Rome but espouses what some would characterize as a centrist Christian political agenda, I would like to defend the typical secularist claim that in our times man–not God-is and indeed has to be, the measure of human actions.
In a world of intractable religious pluralism, advocates who invoke God’s point of view imperil the very peace and goodness they advocate. For whose interpretation, whose revelation shall be the basis for judging “God’s point of view”? Will it be Catholic, Baptist, Lutheran, Jewish, Moslem, or Buddhist? While the temptation is great to lionize our points of view at the expense of other perspectives, the moment we define faith as a set of universally true propositions about our beliefs and traditions that are sanctioned by God we create conditions that can, and often do, lead to strife. A secularist would argue that we would be better off not insisting that our interpretations are inviolate. In the name of peace, it would be better to claim that my beliefs are true for me and for my tradition, because it is just the way our diverse world is built.
The same argument can be made against the high priests of secularism who claim, like Dennett and others, that all truth claims must pass through their Inquisitorial Office of Empirical Truth. However, this view is but a mere dogma of those who have reified the belief that empirical evidence is the sole criterion of knowledge and that therefore since the claims of faith exceed the purview of science religion is but a form of perverse poetry. In its logic, this theory is identical to those who claim they know God’s viewpoint. In short, neither revelation, intuition, logic, nor the findings of science establish-in our world today-uncontestable truth claims, but note, the lived reality of a life of faith is not thereby contested for it is deeper and goes beyond mere doctrine because it is less a matter of universal truth and more a matter of a way of life. To contest one’s faith would be to violate a person’s most inner being.
So, in a world where pluralist dissent within and among religious and secular partisans (and within many persons for that matter) is the watchword and the contestability of any viewpoint is a given, a this-worldly strategy to seek some sort of reflective and practical equilibrium on important issues that most of us can live with would seem to have survival value. As some have argued we need on-going, comprehensive and coercion free discussions about what policies we should pursue along with best reasons we can muster to support them so that we can build a minimal set of rules for conviviality. In open discussions, there would be, by definition, no artificial exclusion of any reason due to its provenance, religious or otherwise.
At these roundtables those with religious and secular viewpoints should both participate, for equal access to decision processes is a prerequisite for reaching a consensus on common policies. This approach implies that the all would be welcome at the table. It also implies that the secular dogma that religion should be private and left at home is an illiberal ruse that falsely elevates their secularism to a unwarranted privileged position. All points of view, from the banal to the sublime would be welcome since in the City of Man no one is the gatekeeper of the truth.
Thus in this particular version of the City of Man, secularism is not of the left but of a center that picks no sides and excludes no participants in the governance of its city.



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Donny

posted June 15, 2007 at 9:55 am


Hello!?
The Secular Left is Godless and promotes and encourages sin and sinning. We call it and them “Liberals.”
The religious Left echos and repeats and promtioes the exact same things as the Secular Left.
“By their fruits you will know them.”
The “Religious Right,” or what is called Evangelical Christianity, has always promoted the idea “In the world and not of it.”
While “The Left” tries to build an alternate and perverse version of Christian truth and apply it to accepting sexual perversion and Marxism in the guise of tolerance and diversity, Christians that follow the Gospel and the writings of the Apostles, will know the truth that has set them free in contrast to liberal false teachings that sounds like truth but enslaves the person in sin.
When it comes to “war” against those that will destroy anyone not like them – as in the Case of Islam versus non-Muslims – there is no way to deal with Islamic Sharia law and jihad, other then to go to actual war agaianst it in a country survival way.
It appears that ONLY Christians called Right-Wingers, or Evangelicals, are actually willing to DO Christianity and go to the regions of intense violence and try to convert people to the Gospel of Christ Jesus. Which, is not only a teaching of Christ Jesus but, was actually put into reality by the Apostles.
In modern times, “Liberals” of any religious persuasion, teach that any and all roads lead to heaven. According to Christ and His Apostles, that Liberal position is a lie.
Ceratinly it is because of sloth and cowardice, that Christians “on the Left” are not preaching the Gospel to the Islamic world in truth, no matter the cost, which would in turn end the violence that America and England is fighting with war machines.
I fault the weakness and fasleness of “Liberal” Christianity that there is so much violence in the world.
In places like Nigeria, it is not the Christians that initiate and implement death by weapons on the non-believing populace. As is always the case, it is the Muslims killing non-Muslims.
Until Christians are willing to really live like and be Christians, this world will continue to choose war and death to solve differences between cultures and peoples.
How many denominations are there in the world that are not killing and declaring a holy war on each other?
It is far past time to stand up for the Truth. No martyr dies with a weapon in their bloody hands.
Even if it means the ultimate sacrifice, Christians must re-engage the world with the real Gospel and stop yoking themselves to liars and their lies that present such a watered down and perverted Gospel, as to be no different than the Democrat-Liberal political platform, GOP big business interests or Marxist communism.
None of which have anything to do with Gospel truth.



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Rick Nowlin

posted June 15, 2007 at 10:46 am


The “Religious Right,” or what is called Evangelical Christianity, has always promoted the idea “In the world and not of it.”

Donny, this statement is totally false, and as such you ought not even say it. Even when Jerry Falwell formed Moral Majority in 1979, two of his biggest backers were conservative activists Richard Viguerie and Paul Weyrich, neither of whom I believe are “born-again Christians.” Just watch how many non-believers make appearances on Christian radio and “The 700 Club.” Besides, people who are not part of the “religious right” such as Tony Campolo, Ron Sider or even Billy Graham do consider themselves evangelicals, and theologically they do qualify.

Even if it means the ultimate sacrifice, Christians must re-engage the world with the real Gospel and stop yoking themselves to liars and their lies that present such a watered down and perverted Gospel, as to be no different than the Democrat-Liberal political platform, GOP big business interests or Marxist communism.

We “progressive evangelicals” do this consistently, speaking truth to power despite being castigated by the likes of you for doing so but not completely falling in line with anyone. We have nothing to lose — no worldly authority, no TV networks, no money — so we have the freedom. And BTW, my evangelical church, which is also not “religious right” (if it were I wouldn’t be there), partners with several ministries actually in the Middle East to do just what you say.



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Wolverine

posted June 15, 2007 at 11:23 am


Rick,
I can’t speak to your second issue, but on the first point Donny’s right. As a recovering evangelical, I can attest to hearing the phrase “in the world but not of it” on numerous occasions. This is not a totally empty phrase, as religious conservatives are among the most generous contributors to charity.
I honestly cannot see what relevance Fallwell’s associations with Viguerie and Weyrich has to this.
Wolverine



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Wolverine

posted June 15, 2007 at 11:31 am


Rick Nowlin wrote:
Unfortunately, so-called “just war” advocates in practice often see war as a first resort, not a last one, because of the “triumphalist” mentality referred to in the piece. In other words, “might makes right.” That has never been the Christian way.
Maybe. But even if this is true, the proper response to extremism is not an equal and opposite extremism, but to restore the proper balance. To cite Augustine to argue that the church must always be a peace movement is a corruption of just war theory every bit as bad as the one attributed to the Christian right.
Wolverine



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Adam

posted June 15, 2007 at 12:01 pm


“But to say that the church must always be a peace movement is to negate the principles of just war.”
Wolverine, to say that the church must always, if ever subject itself to the principles of just war is quite absurd. What is your requisite for Christian ethical response, an imperial credo or the New Testament?



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Anonymous

posted June 15, 2007 at 12:01 pm


I can’t speak to your second issue, but on the first point Donny’s right.

Sorry, but in the context of what he wrote he isn’t even close. Although it would never admit to this, evangelicalism as promoted by the “religious right” always was every bit as “worldly” as the secularists he denounces because it used the world’s weapons to combat world’s “attitude,” real or perceived, toward Christians; thus, we ended up being suckered into the very same game on its terms — and, ultimately, why we ended up having so little influence.

But even if this is true, the proper response to extremism is not an equal and opposite extremism, but to restore the proper balance. To cite Augustine to argue that the church must always be a peace movement is a corruption of just war theory every bit as bad as the one attributed to the Christian right.

“The City of God” is one of those books I want to read but haven’t done so yet, so I don’t know first-hand the context of what Augustine actually wrote. I don’t think anyone in authority really believes in complete pacifism; I certainly don’t because sometimes the “sword” is necessary to ensure justice, which is more important than “peace at any price.” That said, I still believe that war should be an absolute last resort, which can’t happen if your goal is authority.



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Rick Nowlin

posted June 15, 2007 at 12:02 pm


That last post was mine.



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Eric

posted June 15, 2007 at 12:33 pm


Amazon, you wrote that “I don’t think the religious right MEANS to equate the city of God with the city of man. But since they so often operate on the wisdom of this world….rather than God’s….they find themselves slowly drifting away from the truth.”
Can you give some examples? Any does this not apply to the “religious left” as well? Do you mean to say that the religious left doesn’t fall into the same trap of operating in the wisdom of this world?
I would argue this happens all the time. I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard on this blog that because Jesus calls us to help the poor we must support specific wordly policies such as Head Start or SCHIP and if someone doesn’t then they “don’t care about the poor.”



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Rick Nowlin

posted June 15, 2007 at 3:49 pm


Can you give some examples? Any does this not apply to the “religious left” as well? Do you mean to say that the religious left doesn’t fall into the same trap of operating in the wisdom of this world?

It would be tough to give specific examples off the top of my head, but I like to refer to Jesus’ two great commandments, my paraphrase: Worship God with everything you are and have and do right by all. Generally, the “right” does better with the first and the “left,” the second but neither side gets it all right.

That’s why I have trouble referring to non-right-wing evangelicals such as myself as the “evangelical” or “religious left” — it wrongly assumes that we’re mere opposites. Theologically, we share probably about 75 percent of the concerns of the right, but since the right generally doesn’t listen to us (and rarely has done so) it doesn’t realize this.

Anyway, the reason why conservatives are blasted for not caring about the poor isn’t because they won’t give themselves (because in fact many do) — it’s that they rarely, if ever, support initiatives that might and probably will work well but that may really cost them power. Put another way, they still want to make all the decisions, but that’s not always practical. In many cases poverty requires structural (including political) change, and they oppose that almost reflexively.



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Anonymous

posted June 15, 2007 at 8:26 pm


As regards the ideas of just war and pacifism, the discussion here seems to miss some important points.
1. Despite its advocacy by many Christians and Augustine, there is nothing Christian about the Just War tradition. Its origins are classical– that is, pagan (I intend the meaning to be non-christian synthesis, but that may be too generous.pejorative). The phrase “just war” was coined by Aristotle, and the ideas used by Cicero long before Augustine appropriated them. Use the theory if you like, but no one may truthfully call it Christian. It is at best a pagan-
2. The earliest Christians rejected participation in war. All of the Christians of the 2nd and 3rd centuries who talked about war did so on the basis of another ethic entirely—they used the scriptures and the received traditions
about the teachings of Jesus, (the canon being not yet fully established), something which makes not enough appearance in our modern arguments about war. Significantly, from Justin (2nd century) to Lactantius (early 4th), every Christian who wrote on the issue of war rejected participation in it. And they did so based on Jesus’ teaching in the sermon on the mount, the gospels and the New Testament, with some key Old Testament texts (e.g., Isaiah 2.2-4) thrown in.
3. Ultimately, in my view, to endorse war, even or especially “Just War”, we have to set the teaching of Jesus aside for some other authoritiy. And at that point, any theology or ethics begin to be something other than Christian.
For an interesting critique of recent just war arguments, see Robert Brimlow’s, “What About Hitler?” (Brazos Press).



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neuro_nurse

posted June 15, 2007 at 9:10 pm


Once again, I think some people here have a fundamental misunderstanding of the Just War Doctrine.
Donny,
It sounds to me that you have some very serious concerns about Christianity in the U.S. Personally, it’s sometimes tough for me to read the gospel and wonder if I am living up to the standards that Christ set. It’s too easy to look around at other Christians and think to myself, “well, if they are doing it, then God won’t judge me too harshly if I do it.”
I’m thinking in particular about Matthew 5:21-26 (Jesus teachings about anger), and Matthew 12:36, “But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken.”
I think, however, we need to look a lot farther than the “Christian Left” to find the sources of compromise on the teachings of our Lord. We live in a culture drenched in greed and lust – lust not limited to sexual, but lust for power and influence as well.
How effective has the Christian Right been at evangelism here in this country? How many converts are being won in the U.S.? I’ve seen some statistics that show the number of Christians in the U.S. declining, rather than growing.
Paul, the greatest of all evangelists, was frustrated by the idolatry of the Athenians, but began his address at the Areopagus by acknowledging that the Athenians were in every way, very religious. Some of the Athenians sneered, but a few men became believers. (Acts 17)
Paul spoke the truth, and even though he was greatly distressed by the idolatry of Athens, he did so respectfully and without condemning.
There are grave reasons to be concerned about the church in the United States. Americans are idolatrous, but proud of our accomplishments, and stubborn. For that reason, I think we need to be careful how we as Christians present the message of truth.
Peace!



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Mike Hayes

posted June 15, 2007 at 10:14 pm


The objectors to immigration seem to be ignoring the concept of providing support for those who are marginalized.
I wonder if the members of congress who also see the issue this way will vote their consciences; or, alternatively, do what the majority of their constituents apparently want them to do.
I wonder if my great grandparents would have been alowed to “come to America” under the conditions the immigration opponents want to impose.
My dad’s paternal grandfather arrived here in time to enlist in the Union army and serve at Gettysburg.
My impression is that many immigrants today also serve in the military.
Would your ancestors have been allowed to immigrate, under the restrictions the opponents of immigration want, today?



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Rick Nowlin

posted June 15, 2007 at 10:25 pm


The earliest Christians rejected participation in war. All of the Christians of the 2nd and 3rd centuries who talked about war did so on the basis of another ethic entirely—they used the scriptures and the received traditions
about the teachings of Jesus, (the canon being not yet fully established), something which makes not enough appearance in our modern arguments about war.



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canucklehead

posted June 17, 2007 at 12:33 am


The “Religious Right,” or what is called Evangelical Christianity, has always promoted the idea “In the world and not of it.”
AND
How many denominations are there in the world that are not killing and declaring a holy war on each other?
Donny, how do you justify two comments that are inherently contradictory in the same post?



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Amazon Creek

posted June 18, 2007 at 3:01 am


Hi! I see someone posted a response to my comments below. Not ignoring you. Will get to them tomorrow evening. Right now it’s about midnight – and I’m too bleary-eyed to even read straight, let alone type coherently. LOL! And so…I’m getting off the computer – and off to sleep.



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Mick Sheldon

posted June 18, 2007 at 1:54 pm


Its always counter productive when one side chooses to mis represent the viiew of another .
If you are trying to make a point , you end up only speaking to your own choir .
If it makes the Rich Natans of the world happy , most of our Founders were liberal minded men . What made our secular government work so well in my opinion is we had a culture that agreed upon some basic funtamental right and wrongs outside of that government . I really do not see that now , Scooter Libby should be pardoned because of whose side he is on , at one time we all would have though if he lied under oath , he should be punished . Paris Hilton is more important because of the debate of the haves and the have nots , the fact she did something wrong is only part of the debate and her status causes conflicting degrees of guilt for some people .
On my street the kids know where they can score some meth quicker then they can help for their homework assignment . Those kids come from all kinds of homes .
To be able top see evil Rich , starts with the Fear Of God . We are all in this together .



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Amazon Creek

posted June 19, 2007 at 1:26 am


Eric wrote:
Amazon, you wrote that “I don’t think the religious right MEANS to equate the city of God with the city of man. But since they so often operate on the wisdom of this world….rather than God’s….they find themselves slowly drifting away from the truth.”
Can you give some examples? Any does this not apply to the “religious left” as well? Do you mean to say that the religious left doesn’t fall into the same trap of operating in the wisdom of this world?

You and I would be in agreement on that! Near as I can see, I think the religious left is in just as much danger of making a habit of using the wisdom of this world to accomplish what they believe to be noble ends. Me-thinks they miss the message we should be getting in watching the religious right.
In the religious right’s desire to rid the world of a host of ills – godless world philosophies, rampant immorality, abortion, drug abuse, etc – they’ve stopped truly trusting in God and started to depend on their own wisdom.
Have you seen some of the names on the list of people the religious right has cozied up to – all in the hopes of gaining a little more moral ground? These people aren’t believers – they are mere conservative politicists who lacked a strong grassroots base – until the wonderful religious right came along so eager-to-please and be the little “foot-soldiers” and “boot-shiners” who carry out the orders of these men.
These people aren’t interested in Christian values – they just want to control and oppress the masses and amass great wealth. And the religious right has been right there willing to prostitute itself in exchange for the few “Christian values” bones they were willing to throw them.
Can the left do the same thing? You betcha!
We are talking about deception by the unseen forces of darkness – and Satan cares little about what flavor the bait is – as long as he can slowly pry us away from what Jesus said our mission should be.
I’m not against seeking political remedies. In this world, they are necessary. But…we must always realize that we are still living in this world. And it’s broke.
And resorting to the same bag of dirty tricks that the world uses – is trusting in another god. And leaves us wide open vulnerable to Satanic deception because our idolotry.
Sorry not to hang around longer – but morning comes early. And my time on message boards each night is not without limit.



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Anonymous

posted June 19, 2007 at 6:21 am


Donny, how do you justify two comments that are inherently contradictory in the same post?Posted by: canucklehead
Donny doesn’t need to. He is convinced that he holds the ultimate truth so if there are some internal contradictions, what the hey!



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John Timbrell

posted June 19, 2007 at 11:32 am


The author wrote: “…How can we, as people of faith, carve out a space that rejects both the secular left and its ideological twin, the religious right;…”This leaves me wondering where the “secular right” fits in.



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