God's Politics

God's Politics


Franz Jagerstatter and Nagasaki by Bill Wylie-Kellermann

posted by God's Politics

Franz Jagerstatter, Austrian peasant and church janitor, is honored on August 9, the day he was executed in 1943 for his refusal to fight in Hitler’s army. As a Roman Catholic he has been declared a “martyr of the faith” and is expected to be “beatified” this October. Franz lived the gospel that the church proclaims. He is a solitary witness of nonviolence from whom the community can learn.


Today we also remember the people of Nagasaki—victims of U.S. Weapons of Mass Destruction. We recall that city turned to ash and rubble. In Iraq, cities are also turned to radioactive rubble and ash, by the U.S. invasion and continuing occupation.


My city of Detroit is under military assault. Its resources are stripped by a war that has cost the citizens of Michigan $12 billion, and city residents $767 million in tax dollars. Why is money lacking for schools, clinics, community developments?


Moreover, the young people of our city are conscripted into the military by false promises, outright lies, and an economic draft which seems to offer no alternative living. We recall that the first soldier killed in Iraq was Marine Lance Cpl. Jose Gutierrez, a 28-year-old undocumented immigrant who was posthumously awarded U.S. citizenship.


We offer this prayer:



To the church we say:
Speak out and act against this war, from the pulpits (especially on August 1-19), from offices high and low. Read and live the gospel.
Lift up nonviolence; Honor Jagerstatter; remember the victims; repent our silence.


To the Pentagon and its recruiters we say:
End this war now. Obey international law. Leave our young people alone.


To the young people of our city we say:
There is hope in the communities of this city.
There is a future, economic and social, but we must make it ourselves.
We need one another; we need you here in the struggle for life and community.


To the dead of Nagasaki we say:
Forgive us even now. We commit ourselves to putting an end to these weapons.


To the people of Iraq, we say:
Forgive our silence and our complicity. Forgive our submission to these leaders.
We pledge to end this war. Refuse to pay for it. Refuse to fight in it.


Bill Wylie-Kellermann, a United Methodist pastor, is currently serving at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Detroit, Mich. He is author of Seasons of Faith and Conscience (Orbis), which explores the biblical and theological bases for nonviolent resistance and “liturgical direct action,” and has edited an anthology, A Keeper of the Word: Selected Writings of William Stringfellow (Eerdmans).



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kevin s.

posted August 9, 2007 at 12:45 pm


“Why is money lacking for schools, clinics, community developments?”
Because nobody wanted to live there 30 years ago and nobody wants to live there now.
And no, I am not going to ask the military to cease recruitment.



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Moderatelad

posted August 9, 2007 at 1:54 pm


Speak out and act against this war, from the pulpits…
But let us remember who is attacking innocent men, women and children all around the world. If they would stop – I believe that we could stop.
Obey international law.
Yes – and let us look at the others ability to observe international law. What clause is ‘cutting off the heads of innocent non-millitary personnel’ covered under.
Leave our young people alone.
What young people are you refering to? The majority of the men and women who are college educated.
There is hope in the communities of this city.
There is a future, economic and social, but we must make it ourselves.

Yes – there is hope but it dose not come from a gov’t handout. Develope a vision and then work to achieve it. There are many people out there in churches and schools that are wonderful mentors – find them and make it happen.
Nagasaki – Forgive us even now.
May we never use nuclear weapons again!
Iraq – Forgive our silence and our complicity.
We should have come to your aid years ago so that 100,000’s of your relatives and friends would still be alive today. We pray that the millitary action currently going on will end soon in victory and you can have a country of your own and collectively make decisions about your future as a country and in the world.
Blessings –
.



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Jon Jernigan

posted August 9, 2007 at 2:23 pm


And let us continue to base our actions on what others do. How juvenile! Is this what Christ taught and what God demands of us? American Christians as an ethnic group do not have the intestinal fortitude to do what is right in the eyes of God. Christian nation indeed! I did not know that Americans were a priviledged group in the eyes of God and were exempt from God’s laws.
God have mercy on us.
jj



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kevin s.

posted August 9, 2007 at 2:31 pm


“And let us continue to base our actions on what others do. How juvenile!”
There is nothing juvenile about basing our actions on the actions of others. Neither is there anything unbiblical about it. it’s tough to imagine how foreign policy could function any other way.



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Moderatelad

posted August 9, 2007 at 2:45 pm


Posted by: Jon Jernigan | August 9, 2007 2:23 PM
Yes – we are to ‘turn the other cheek’ and to’ walk with them a second mile’ and well as ‘give them our coat too.’
I only have two cheeks – OK four if you count my bottom. But at some point we have fulfilled our obligations and we are allow to protect ourselves and others.
No – I do not believe ‘…that Americans were a priviledged group in the eyes of God…’ and have never said that. I have said ‘where would the poor and frail people and countries of the world be if not for the US.’ We do not do everything correct – but for the most part we do come to the assistance more often than not of those who can not help themselves.
kevin s. – very well stated!
Be blessed.
.



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Jon J

posted August 9, 2007 at 2:56 pm


So when Jesus says “Love others as yourself” thats’s okay by you unless they diss you.
So when we’ve been told to “turn the other cheek”, that’s okay as long as they only do it once. After that I can kick them until they submit because it is my right to retaliate.
What about “loving your enemy”?
How many fights did you ever walk away from?
What would have happened if we did nothing after 9/11 other than denounce those behind it. What if Bush said, we forgive you because you do not know what your are doing?
When it comes to American policy, it appears the Bible is null and void.
j



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Wolverine

posted August 9, 2007 at 3:01 pm


Bill,
I’m not going to say that the condition of Detroit is entirely the fault of the current Democratic administrations in Lansing and at #2 Woodward Ave — that’s an argument for another day. But let’s not kid ourselves, Detroit was a mess looooooong before the Iraq war.
Wolverine



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Anonymous

posted August 9, 2007 at 3:20 pm


Posted by: Jon J | August 9, 2007 2:56 PM
‘…unless they diss you.’
No – I chalk that up to ‘stick and stones…’
‘…it is my right to retaliate.’
No – I more often than not consider the person and most of the time I just walk away because they are not worth it. It they keep coming after me, my mother raised a gentleman. I will respectfully ask them to stop. I will make every effort to defuse the situation. They may have the first hit – but I will have the last.
What about “loving your enemy”?
How many fights did you ever walk away from?

Enemies – personal – not too many and I can give them a wide birth. Loving is a lot easier than liking them.
Fights – never really had one. I have stepped inbetween a few in order to stop them. It most often ended with no punch being thrown. I believe it had something to do with me saying ‘if you want to fight them – you gotta lick me first.’
When it comes to American policy, it appears the Bible is null and void.
We are a secular government. What about the people that have no faith and their understanding is that you take out the evil ones. We as believers are to say they can’t? They have a survival of the fittest mentality – we have no right to impose our convictions on them – do we?
Blessings –
.



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Kevin S.

posted August 9, 2007 at 3:29 pm


Jon J. and others.
Look, I respect the pacifistic position, even though I disagree with it. But if you want to be winsome to your cause, I advise that you can the “don’t you people read the Bible?” Attitude.
When you make that statement that Jesus asked us to love our enemies, then wonder what is wrong with us, you assume one of two things.
1) You assume I have never read the Bible.
2) You assume I am an idiot.
I am well aware the Jesus commands us to love our enemies. But the question of how that ought to relate to pacifism is far from a settled question. Thousands of scholars have weighed in on the debate as to how governments may (or may not) act in accordance with scripture as it relates to war.
Simply telling people that Jesus tells us to turn the other cheek does not shed any light on the conversation.



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Wolverine

posted August 9, 2007 at 3:35 pm


So when Jesus says “Love others as yourself” thats’s okay by you unless they diss you.
We’re talking about more than just a “diss”; I’m not going to declare war because someone refuses to stand for our national anthem. But the real problem as I see it is: you are taking Jesus’ instructions to the church and applying them to the state. I’m just not convinced that was his intention.
Wolverine



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Moderatelad

posted August 9, 2007 at 3:58 pm


Posted by: Kevin S. | August 9, 2007 3:29 PM
Well stated – I like the way you worded your answers.
You assume I am an idiot.
Moderatelad idiot – Kevin good.
(just kidding – _
Have a great day –
.



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Deryll

posted August 9, 2007 at 5:34 pm


[There is nothing juvenile about basing our actions on the actions of others. Neither is there anything unbiblical about it. it’s tough to imagine how foreign policy could function any other way.]
[Simply telling people that Jesus tells us to turn the other cheek does not shed any light on the conversation.]
kevin s.
Basing our actions on the actions of others is entirely unbiblical. While this worlds governments follow this worlds standards; Christ’s followers are called to a different standard.
Reminding those, who call Christ Lord, of his instructions should indeed enlighten the conversation.



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Mick Sheldon

posted August 9, 2007 at 5:51 pm


Reminding those, who call Christ Lord, of his instructions should indeed enlighten the conversation.
Posted by: Deryll
Deryll I think most will agree with you . But we are talking about a belief Christ would have us turn the other cheek when we believe many others will suffer for us doing so . That is a dilema for our conscience , and it is one of those things I wish Christ was next to me so I could ask him about it . We have the scriptures , we have the Holy Spirit , our concience and our culture .
Do we allow police officers to allow murder to occur ?



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kevin s.

posted August 9, 2007 at 5:53 pm


But his instructions were not directed at government. And simply ignoring this fact by pretending this is an open and shut issue certainy doesn’t add any depth to the conversation.
As for basing our actions on the actions of others, if suddenly, there was peace in Darfur, are you seriously suggesting that we ought not change our demeanor toward Darfur?
Unless you presume pacifism (and, IRIC, you are not a Pacifist), then of course the actions of other nations dicatates our military strategy. How could it not? That was the point Modlad was making, not that we ought to look to our enemies for moral guidance.



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Hali

posted August 9, 2007 at 7:22 pm


“But at some point we have fulfilled our obligations and we are allow to protect ourselves and others.”
What did Jesus say about that?



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eileen fleming

posted August 9, 2007 at 10:22 pm


If THAT DAY, we call 9/11 woke us up to anything; I hope it would be that America’s nuclear arsenal cannot keep us safe or secure from the actions of a few violent mad men who target and murder innocent people.
2,000 years ago, a social justice, radical revolutionary Palestinian devout Jewish road warrior and prophet rose up and challenged the job security of the corrupt Temple by teaching the people that they did not have to pay the high priests for ritual baths or to sacrifice livestock to be OK with God; for God already loved them just as they were; sinners, outcasts, diseased, cripples, poor and oppressed common folk, widows, orphans and prisoners enduring under military occupation.
2,000 years ago the Roman Occupying Forces routinely crucified any agitator for disturbing the status quo of the elite. A particular social justice, radical revolutionary Palestinian devout Jewish road warrior and prophet named Jesus, issued a political statement and is quoted in Mark’s Gospel, “If any want to be my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.”-Mark 8:34.
2,000 years ago, “the cross…was neither a religious icon nor metaphor for personal anguish or humility. It had only one meaning: that terrible form of capitol punishment reserved by imperial Rome for political dissenters. The cross was a common sight in the revolutionary Palestine of Mark’s time; in this recruiting call, the disciple is invited to reckon with the consequences facing those who dare to challenge the hegemony of imperial Rome.”-Ched Myers, Sojourners Magazine , August 2007, page 28.
Eileen Fleming,
Reporter and Editor http://www.wearewideawake.org/
Author “Keep Hope Alive” and “Memoirs of a Nice Irish American Girl’s’ Life in Occupied Territory”
Producer “30 Minutes With Vanunu.”



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kevin s.

posted August 9, 2007 at 10:38 pm


“What did Jesus say about that?”
Well, he spoke to Paul, who seemed to have quite a bit to say about that.
Eileen,
What is your point?



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Hali

posted August 10, 2007 at 3:15 am


Kevin,
Paul was not Jesus.



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Moderatelad

posted August 10, 2007 at 8:06 am


Posted by: Hali | August 9, 2007 7:22 PM
What did Jesus say about that?
Why don’t you tell us what you think Jesus said about it? Do your own homework.
Blessings –
.



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Wolverine

posted August 10, 2007 at 9:12 am


Hali,
Sojo is supposed to be an evangelical group, and among evangelicals the words of Paul are as authoritative as the words of Jesus Christ himself. (Something similar goes for theologically conservative mainline Protestants, Catholics, and Eastern Orthodox.)
Now you may question the wisdom of giving St. Paul such respect, but those are the ground rules: you can’t just blow off Paul. When Paul (or any other writer in the bible) and Christ appear to conflict, you try to reconcile the two, you can’t just pick the one you agree with and ignore the other.
Wolverine



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Ross

posted August 10, 2007 at 11:26 am


Hey – Has anyone else gotten the message (below) after they wrote in a comment?
Beliefnet: God’s Politics
Progressive Christian blog by Jim Wallis and friends
Thank you for commenting.
Your comment has been received and held for approval by the blog owner.
Return to the original entry



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squeaky

posted August 10, 2007 at 1:12 pm


Modlad,
Hali’s question:
“What did Jesus say about that?”
was a fair response to your statements:
“Yes – we are to ‘turn the other cheek’ and to’ walk with them a second mile’ and well as ‘give them our coat too.’
I only have two cheeks – OK four if you count my bottom. But at some point we have fulfilled our obligations and we are allow to protect ourselves and others.”
and deserved an honest answer, not this snarky comment:
“Why don’t you tell us what you think Jesus said about it? Do your own homework.”
It’s a serious question, this WWJD question. If He were in a situation where someone brought violence to him, would the following be His response?
“They may have the first hit – but I will have the last.”
Apparently it wasn’t, or there would have been no cross.
In response to your above statements (I only have 2, max 4 cheeks to turn), do you see those commands to give our extra coat or walk the extra mile as the limit of charity we are to give our enemy? Did Jesus command that as our obligation to peace, but beyond that, we are free to respond with violence and hatred? What was Jesus’ response when His disciples asked how many times they were to forgive someone who wronged them?
You seem to take a “yes, but” attitude to the commands of the Lord, and that’s pretty disconcerting, don’t you think?
True, we are only human, and we can only do so much, but to the best of our abilities, we are to take the road of peace. And sometimes that is the same road as martyrdom. I hear too much “yes, but” from you others, but have yet to see you guys honestly reflect on what choosing peace actually means if you take Jesus’ example and word. You’re too quick to say “it won’t work” and very slow to consider it seriously.



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Ross

posted August 10, 2007 at 1:50 pm


Just testing to see if all my comments get “held for approval by the blog owner” or just a particular one.



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Ross

posted August 10, 2007 at 3:55 pm


It’s ridiculous that the author would mention in the same breath the innocents who died in Nagasaki, people suffering and dying in Iraq, and the supposed “military assault” and “conscription” going on in Detroit. Detroit has had numerous problems that many other cities have been able to address over the years. The war in Iraq has had nothing, absolutely nothing, to do with those problems and the inability of Detroit’s leaders to solve them. To say that this is some sort of military assault on the city, while at the same time alluding to Nagasaki and Iraq is outrageous. There is no conscription going on either.



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Ross2

posted August 10, 2007 at 3:55 pm


It’s ridiculous that the author would mention in the same breath the innocents who died in Nagasaki, people suffering and dying in Iraq, and the supposed “military assault” and “conscription” going on in Detroit. Detroit has had numerous problems that many other cities have been able to address over the years. The war in Iraq has had nothing, absolutely nothing, to do with those problems and the inability of Detroit’s leaders to solve them. To say that this is some sort of military assault on the city, while at the same time alluding to Nagasaki and Iraq is outrageous. There is no conscription going on either.



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Ross

posted August 10, 2007 at 3:57 pm


Why is my blog entry being held up??? Why???



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Mick Sheldon

posted August 10, 2007 at 4:15 pm


squeaky said
You seem to take a “yes, but” attitude to the commands of the Lord, and that’s pretty disconcerting, don’t you think?
Could you please help me out with your view ,
Is Jesus teaching us this . If a person who is hurting us , and after they are done we know will go to someone elese and hurt them , for us to turn the other cheek ?
Now if you let the person go on and do nothing , are you are not turning your cheek , you are partnering with the victim and attacker if you could have originally done something about it ?
I don’t think Jesus was talking about mass murderers when he spoke about turning the other cheek . Do you ?



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squeaky

posted August 11, 2007 at 12:01 am


Mike–He was often talking about enemies, and in many cases, the Roman government–they weren’t kidding around when it came to oppression and violence. And your response is yet another “yes, but.” I’m really hoping you guys can get creative about this issue and think beyond your first response of reacting with violence when faced with physical threats. I never see Jesus responding with violence. If He is truly our model, what does that mean for OUR response to violence? Be creative! Surely you can think of some ways to counteract violence with non-violence. Get outside the box of “but it isn’t practical”. That was more than likely what first century Jews said, too, when Jesus exhorted them to go the extra mile with the hated Romans.
But more to the point–go back and reread my post, which was a response to Moderatelad. In particular, I was responding to his personal response to threats of violence to him personally, and particularly addressing the limitations he placed on Christ’s mandate to turn the other cheek, etc. If we can’t even follow His mandates as individuals, we have no hope for following them as a nation. And if we can’t follow His mandates as individuals and insist on finding exceptions to His rules, we can’t possibly take Him seriously, can we?



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Mick Sheldon

posted August 11, 2007 at 5:46 am


Squeaky,
I am very disappointed in your your answer. I asked you a question , You are saying I gave a response like others with a ” but “.
You do not actually believe I do not want t be like Jesus or the ones you appear to be able to “teach” ?
Is that not all our goals , left , right , or in the middle and beyond , to be like Jesus . I am not a “you guys” . My name is Mick . I have repeatedly read the Bible and the passages you have . I always took them personally . That the Lord was talking to ME , and he wanted me to be kind to my neigbor . If he tried to take advantage of me , to not make a fuss , to show him I cared about his problems , his life . To show love for his evil . To show the love of Christ , Our Savior and Lord . This was a little new to me , that a believer would promote a view that to turn the cheek when that would cause others to die . Why can you not answer the simple question ?
Again I ask you , do you believe Jesus Christ would advocate the turning of the cheek , if doing so would cause other innocents to die.



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squeaky

posted August 11, 2007 at 2:07 pm


Sorry Mick–didn’t mean to get your name wrong, or lump you in with who I termed “the others.” The reason I responded the way I did was that “the others” respond the way you did, with what I termed a “yes, but” response. The “yes, but” is important, don’t get me wrong. But what I have been seeing in this and other conversations like this, is that those who come up with the “yes, buts” do so to argue AGAINST non-violence. My point is, if we focus on exceptions to Jesus’ words, we shut down thought on how to find the non-violent solutions I think He wants us to find. I apologize if I offended you and lumped you in with those who I described above. I understand now you were trying to be more thoughtful in your response.
I don’t know the answer to your question–I don’t know what I would do, but I hope it would be to find a non-violent solution. I would like to see a conversation begin with “here are possible ways to get out of this situation without causing harm” before people started piping in with exceptions. Once the conversation is started with those premises, with the rule that violence is off the table, then we can re-introduce the exceptions and see how they play into Christ’s mandate. So far, I have seen the discussion go in just the opposite way, with exceptions introduced by some who, from what I can tell, make no effort to find a non-violent solution. For example, some argue the only solution to Darfur is for the U.S. or the U.N. or whoever to go in guns blazing. Is that the only means of resolving the conflict? Does that solution reflect a thoughtful consideration of all the players involved in Darfur and their anticipated reaction to such military action? This is my point–if the exceptions to non-violence are the focus, it shuts down creative thought on how a non-violent solution is attainable.
Do I think Jesus would want us to cause harm by our inaction? Of course not, but what constitutes action? Does it always have to be violence? Certainly the non-violent protest of the Civil Rights Movement resulted in the protestor’s personal harm, and even death. Many in that movement truly turned the other cheek, which sometimes directly resulted in the deaths of loved ones. I also hear of stories of Christian martyrs whose families were killed before their eyes because they refused to renounce Christ. Very few people, even those who lost loved ones or suffered beatings, would say that the Civil Rights Movement wasn’t worth the sacrifice. Very few Christians would say that that martyr did the wrong thing. Non-violence doesn’t mean inaction, but rarely does it come without cost or sacrifice.
Looking more closely at your question, Christ did exactly that. He didn’t have to turn the other cheek and go to the cross. He knew in so doing most of those who followed Him would be martyred. And all of those people turned the other cheek as well…



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Mick Sheldon

posted August 11, 2007 at 3:44 pm


Squeaky ,
Thank you , and apology accepted . You are making perfect sense to me , and I think everybody would agree with you .
The Lord did tell us things to do that take a direct effort to do . They go against our human nature , such as turning the other cheek . Love those that hate you .
I guess I am not as sure as you are in situations such as Darfur . I guess I have to say I don’t know .
You gave a beautiful answer , and Christ like .
I think what happens sometimes is that we have strong opinions based on our sense of right and wrong , and based by our relationship with Christ and understanding of the scriptures . Then we advocate a political position that someone else uses their understanding of right and wrong , based on their relationship with Christ and understanding of the scriptures that conflict . Now its who is the better theologican and who is the better person all wrapped up in one conversation .



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squeaky

posted August 11, 2007 at 11:57 pm


Thanks for your nice and gracious response.
In truth, I was answering Moderatelad, and when you chimed in the conversation, I continued responding to him, even though I was responding to you–I hope that makes sense.
I think your assessment of what happens here is correct. We do get very opinionated, and I think that is especially so when politics is involved. I suppose there is a reason for the old adage–never discuss politics, religion or (I forget the 3rd) when meeting the in-laws for the first time =). I also think, in addition to that, we don’t see or know the person we are writing to, and, just as we yell at cars in traffic forgetting there is an actual person in that car, we do the same in forums like this. but that’s a whole other discussion.
Thanks! Blessings,
Lea



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kevin s.

posted August 13, 2007 at 5:45 pm


“Kevin,
Paul was not Jesus.”
God spoke through him nonetheless. If you believe in a Bible that is absent a new testament, then you are not espousing Christianity, and you are discounting the work of Christ in his early followers. So you believe Jesus, but believe that God the father simply allowed his word to be transformed into lies? Why, then, believe Jesus?
I am curious about this theology wherein Jesus came, helped some poor people, demanded peace of governments going forward (albeit without saying so) and then wandered off, never to be heard from again. If there is a hierarchy of scriptures in terms of what represents God’s word, I would love to see the official rankings.



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Kevin Wayne

posted August 14, 2007 at 4:46 pm


Gotta remind everyone here: My friend’s daughter was told if she entered the National Guard, she wouldn’t have to go to Iraq b/c supposedly, as she was told- the NG is not “1st response.”
So yes, they are lying to get people over there. You have to ask what’s the spiritual forces at work behind it all when you see things like that.
In answer to the question, would Jesus want you to turn the other cheek if it meant others might be harmed? There’s an old hymn that goes “He could have called ten thousand angels” -which basically says Jesus died on the cross rather than rescue himself with the armies of Heaven. And in doing so, that left open the possibility- and actuality- that his followers would be likewise killed for their faith.



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Kevin Wayne

posted August 14, 2007 at 4:49 pm


In answer to the question, would Jesus want you to turn the other cheek if it meant others might be harmed? There’s an old hymn that goes “He could have called ten thousand angels” -which basically says Jesus died on the cross rather than rescue himself with the armies of Heaven. And in doing so, that left open the possibility- and actuality- that his followers would be likewise killed for their faith.



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