Thursday, October 30, 2008

a response

(a previous response to an open post)


You definitely have some very good insight on what is truly important. I am in complete agreement with you in regards to separation of church and state. Religion should never be concerned with power and hegemony in hope of gaining control and dictating what ‘is’ and ‘is not’. When Christians look at the ‘kingdom of God’ and immediately think of government and politics it becomes very reminiscent of Constantine and his appropriation of laws regarding Christianity as the universal religion which ended up becoming oppressive and violent towards anyone who would oppose specific ‘legislature’; which I hope we all would admit was a grave mistake. (For some further reflection see Stanley Hauerwas...”Resident Aliens”) Jesus Christ came and surprised everyone who was looking and expecting a ‘powerful’ king to reign on the earth with an army and do it by force, but that’s not what happened. Christ came in a different way showing us what ‘greatness’ is. He came born in a ‘Jiffy Lube bathroom’ contra the Hilton, the mansion, the decadent. He hung out with lepers, prostitutes, tax collectors, the despised, the marginalized contra politicians, leaders, and kings. He rode in on a used smelly donkey contra a procession with horses, chariots, and trumpets. Jesus the Messiah shows us that greatness is not being served, but being a servant to all (Mark 9:35).

As we look at the heritage of North America we have become somewhat blind to the reality of its conception. A lot of our founding fathers (wishing I could say fathers/mothers) were not infused into the type of Judeo-Christian belief structure we think they were. Their religious beliefs were formed during the Enlightenment where skepticism and its emphasis on ‘reason’ and ‘natural philosophy’ was extremely prevalent among the upper class. Washington, Jefferson, Franklin, Paine, and Locke to name a few were ‘Deists’. They believed in God who created this world and then removed himself. Within Deism there is no belief in Jesus Christ and subsequently dismisses a lot of what modern Christians find identity in, namely Christ and his atonement. Some such as Franklin do admire some of the ethics in Matthew 5 but by no means hold it as scripture and 'truth' the way some do. This group of men, who I am not speaking of condescendingly, had been products of religious wars erupting out of the Reformation and spilling for hundreds of years; hearing and witnessing the bloodshed of countless people due to contrasting beliefs and values, i.e. Anabaptists, was enough for them. This is relevant because we live in a country that is full of people with different religions, values, interpretations, culture and so on. The birth of this country was to be a place that was free from religious persecution and oppression and is something i commend. I will not go so far to say that I agree with all that these men stood for because of the horrendous involvement in slavery and greed to name a few, but the thought of living in peace without oppression based on religious views is admirable.

Lastly, I completely agree with Danielle when she says that God is strengthening us amidst hardship whatever it may be. Jesus Christ has never co-opted with a government out of necessity, and furthermore is not intending on using government 'control' to do so in the future. His loving message of freedom is spread by a movement of people who are committed to living for a real God who is passionate about all of his children in all of their situations. Contrary to belief, the early church spread like wildfire in the face of a government and political arena fixed on wiping out Christianity. It spread by 1) martyrdom: the dedication that was seen displayed in these so-called “followers of Christ” who were committed to Jesus Christ all the way to their gruesome death; and 2) compassion: the love shown by the monasteries towards the poor, widowed, desolate, marginalized, shunned, etc. As a follower of Christ, I am not dependent and hoping in government because it is a man made structure with the inevitable corruption. Let the followers of Christ come together and be strengthened in love and compassion for all people in all situations holding to our own convictions realizing not all people think and act like we do. Our responsibility is in Christ and not ‘empire’. Feel free to participate in government and do it diligently if you would like but realize that as followers of Christ we put our faith and hope in the transcendence of God and not the murky political scene that is so easily entangled in deceit, pride, malice and so forth. Why not put all of our effort in calling the church to be ‘community’ built around compassion and acceptance in the ‘immediate’ and ‘extended’. Let all Christians look back to the cross as our heritage and not our presidents, kings, queens, bishops, emperors, and empresses.

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