Monday, 04 April 2011
I just started reading a book called The Fight of Our Lives by William Bennett and Seth Leibsohn. I got it through the book review blogger program I'm doing through Thomas Nelson Publishing. Thomas Nelson is a Christian publishing company, but normally the books available are kind of "Worldly." The Fight of Our Lives goes way beyond "Worldly" and makes any pro-war person seem non-violent. Now I'm exaggerating a little, but the premise of the book is to paint the picture that we are losing the war on terrorism and we need a call to action. This book is that. The last 10 years have seen the slow decline in the importance of our "war" to the point where it wasn't even a main point in the midterm elections.
There are basically three types of Christians, when it comes to violence. The non-violent, the just-war crowd, and the crusaders. The Methodist Church was a non-violent church until 2000. It wasn't until then that they changed the discipline to reflect that the vast majority of people within the church would agree with just-war theory. The Methodist Church allowed people or the changing culture to make it's theology.
I don't mean to pick on the Methodist Church, because I'm sure every church has done it. It's just the denomination that I happen to know the most about because I attend a Methodist Church and I really like John Wesley. There have been other times through history that it's happened too.
Methodism was always a non-violent denomination and before WWI there was a push to see the conflict resolved through peaceful means. Many clergy and lay persons openly professed pacifism. Once the U.S. entered the war, pacifism faded. The church followed the lead of the nation. The bride of Christ didn't take a stand and push for peace. They allowed their nationalist loyalties to come before their loyalties to Christ.
Some of you aren't non-violent, I understand that. I want you to understand that I'm using the Methodist Church as an example of the Church allowing themselves to be shaped by the nation, or culture. I do believe we should do ministry in a way that is relevant to the people you are ministering to, but I don't think that means changing our theology.
If we allow a book like The Fight of Our Lives to shape our theology, or the way we interact with any global crisis, we have done a great disservice to the Gospel. The book isn't Christian. I don't know if It's supposed to be, but , I haven't read one hint of Christ, God, love, or anything Christendom. I've read a lot about Allah and Islam, but nothing Christian.
I think, as Christians, we could all agree that war isn't a good thing. If you are non-violent it's never OK, and if you are a just-war theorist, then it's rarely OK. But we surely don't need to be energized about a war on terrorism. We don't need to be energized about a war, period. We have allowed our theology as a church to be shaped by what the nation is doing. We went to war with terrorists, our patriotic brothers and sisters thought it best to support that war, because to not support the war would be a slap in the face of all those have gone before us to protect our freedoms.
I want you to know that I mean for this to be a spring board into discussion about the church, not about pacifism. If you want to talk about pacifism, we can, but not here. This is about how the church has been shaped, and persuaded to be anything but the church.
How has the church allowed it's theology to be molded by the nation, culture, people, or whatever name you want to call it?