Tag Archives: american christianity

Romans 13: The Patriotic Version

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1 Everyone must give full support to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The government that exists has been established by the Almighty.

2 Consequently, he who rebels against the government is rebelling against what God has divinely instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. a

3 For rulers hold no threat to those who do what they deem as right, but for those who do what they deem as wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then pledge your full allegiance and do not ask questions, then he will protect you.

4 For the government is God’s servant to do only good. But if you do wrong, be very afraid, for the government does not kill and blow people away for nothing. The government is God’s servant, an agent of truth, justice, and the American way for all those who need democracy.

5 Therefore, it is necessary to fully support the government, not only because of the fear of being blown off the map, but because everyone would despise you if you didn’t.

6 This is also why you pay taxes, for the government is God’s missionaries, who give their full time to spreading the gospel of God’s peace by violence and oppression in the name of democracy.

7 Give everything you have to the government because “Caesar is Lord.” If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor then honor; if killing for the government, then kill for the government. b Freedom is not free!

8 Let some debts remain outstanding, especially if it is for your comforts and hedonistic lifestyles, for he who kills for the sake of worldly comforts has fulfilled the law.

9 The commandments, “Do not have only one wife,” “Do not leave your family helpless,” “Do not be content,” and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this one rule: “Do what thou wilt in the name of love.”

10 Love means you may have to kill your neighbor. Therefore this kind of love is the fulfillment of the law.

11 And do this, understanding the present time. The hour has come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our freedoms are always being threatened by the axis of evil that have breached the peace on our sacred soil.  12 The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us vote the Democrats out of office with their secular laws and place conservative Christian Republicans in their rightful place of power.

13 Let us behave decently, as in the days of our forefathers, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in treason and rebellion. 14 Rather, clothe yourselves with the red, white, and blue as the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to live like Christ in every way. c

footnotes:

a This does not apply to the American Revolution. The Word of God does not apply when chains of tyranny are placed upon free people who have been endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights.

b Our own Lord Jesus said we are to “give to Caesars what is Caesars.” Give him your taxes and your whole being for his worldly kingdom purposes. The Kingdom of God and the kingdoms of this world are one. War is a necessary evil. It must be done. We should be proud we killed people for our freedoms, but we should not feel like we have to talk about the gruesome effects of war. We should be proud, but we should find little pleasure in killing innocent civilians. If you are feeling guilty and ashamed for your actions just read Augustine’s Just War principles. “Blessed is the man who lays his life down for his brother in arms.” There is power in the blood of soldiers and in the blood of Jesus.

c 1 John 2:6 does not mean that we should really live like Jesus. Some people believe we should live like Christ and the apostles, but this is a common misconception. There is no way we can live like Christ. Therefore, we conclude that we try to live like Jesus as best as we can. This is where we learn to compartmentalize our faith and not become so heavenly minded that we are no earthly good. Praise God for the illumination of our forefathers and their documents (The Declaration of Independence, The Constitution, the Jefferson Bible, and the writings of Benjamin Franklin). We reject any claim that the God of our founding fathers was the god of deism. These men were good men that read their Old Testament and the history of the Holy Roman Empire. If the Son has set you free . . . you are free to do whatever you want in the name of peace.

 

This was first published in Christian Ethics Today, Issue 65, p.8


Jesus: Change We Have A Hard Time Believing In

jesuspres08If you follow my blog, you know I believe there is something terribly wrong with the Christianity that we have embraced in America. And I wanted to share some quick thoughts particularly on our misplaced confidence in government and our so-called “duty” to vote. Just some thoughts really. Take it or leave it.

Please be forewarned that his one has a bit of a “tone.” You know, a “tone” that is interpreted as “angry” or “anti-American” or something like that. So please read knowing that I am in-fact a bit… hmm… how do you say… fed up. But, I assure you my sorrow far outweighs any sort of anger.

I am working on it. I still haven’t managed to dress up all of my actions in the garb of the hippy Jesus who wears the façade that says, “I am holy because I do not get angry.” I prefer the stance that says, “I am angry because I am holy.”

In other words, I believe any frustration and concern that I express ought to be shared among all who call themselves “disciples of Jesus.” Hopefully, this momentary expression of anger and sorrow will mature into a renewed Christology that will give us all more reason to trust in Jesus instead of ourselves.

And so I give you my thoughts.

Jesus: Change We Have a Hard Time Believing In

I am convinced that our political “freedoms” are instead a bondage that leads us to reject Christ’s methods of change… only to turn and accept the world’s methods of exhorting power over people. I can see that this marriage of the church to the state by acceptance of its methods only produces a nominal Christian “religion” where we can all live comfortable while we overcome evil with a vote.

We can walk away feeling like we have done someone a favor with our vote. Like we have made a difference by playing in to the system of suppressing evil through law and violence. As if we have been called to confront evil in this manner.

Mark my words:

The intermarriage of church and state is the greatest tragedy in the history of Christianity. It violates the heart of the Gospel of Christ.

The church has been sidetracked. Duped is more like it. We have been misled to believe that we have been called to save the culture and remind the sinners that God is watching them like a drunk abusive Santa Claus figure.

Somehow the mentioning of God on monuments, money, and in our many assemblies means that God is pleased. I just don’t get it. You took prayer out of schools? Well, God is ticked now. Watch out! The culture will go to hell in a hand basket because you have quit stamping the god of deism on worldly institutions for political reasons.

Clearly, we have been deceived into thinking our God “blesses” nations when they talk about him and he “curses” when they don’t. I’m not buying this anymore. It is no longer consistent with the Jesus I know. Shouldn’t we have learned this lesson with Israel in the Old Testament through the prophets like Amos and Jeremiah?

You don’t get points for looking religious and embracing sin in your hearts. You don’t escape the judgment of Christ and receive his blessings just because a worldly empire decides to speak Christianese and mix its agenda with God’s plan through the church. How have we missed this?

Is a worldly kingdom “blessed” because it has material abundance? Does it cease to be “blessed” because it stops using the generic name “God” around town? What sort of God in Christ do we have? It’s time we see things rightly about how God deals with worldly kingdoms and how he deals separately with his church. We need to apply his Word appropriately.

God has always used worldly kingdoms to suppress evil and judge other nations who have become corrupt. They are agents of wrath (Rom. 13:4). God then turns around and judges that nation for its own sin and corruption. Assyria, in the 8th century BC, is a perfect example of God using worldly empires as a “rod” of his wrath. He then punished Assyria and held her responsible for her actions and all of the iniquities found in her.

The story of Israel in the Old Testament, and the church in the New Testament today, is to be set apart and to operate under a different set of rules—to count yourself as a citizen of another other-worldly kingdom with a King who is jealous for our allegiance. All along he has wanted his people to recognize that there is no other King beside him. Jesus is Lord, not Caesar.

If Caesar wants your taxes and you are required to carry a drivers license and obey the laws of the land, fine! But give to God what is God’s. Your spirit, soul, and body belong to him. Your efforts and energies are to be spent investing in a Kingdom that is eternal. Kingdoms of the world are temporary systems that are on their way out. Their methods of changing the world are coming to an end.

The church should not be a part of this endless cycle of worldly kingdom violence and her partisan politics of corruption.

The church’s work should engage the injustices of the world in ways that do not violate the principles of the Kingdom of God. This is what we should be discussing in the forums. This is what ought to be on our minds. Forget the glory of Rome and his Caesar. Sure, honor him, but fear God only (1 Pet. 2:13-17).

Of course, pray for these worldly leaders, but do not concern yourself with putting your hand to the political plow of power. It will take your heart captive and sow evil where pride, arrogance, and all forms of hatred hide (Titus 3:1-7; 2 Pet. 2:11-12). We must give ourselves fully to Christ’s manner of engaging the injustices of this cruel world. This means we recognize that Christ is the only candidate worthy of our campaigning.

Therefore, how ridiculous is it to talk about “our country” and use language only reserved for the church as if it applies to nations that have been instituted by God for the sole purpose of executing wrath. God “bless” America? I’m sorry, I have a hard time hearing the apostle Paul say, “God bless Rome.” And apparently, many Christians can’t understand the absurdity in a statement that takes such pride in the kingdoms of this world.

Are we really prepared to say that the answer to the failing economy and the culture wars is to vote the all-inclusive “God” back in to the world’s vernacular? Sorry, don’t buy that at all. The Christianizing of a pagan culture by worldly methods will only produce a pagan “Christian” culture that knows how to talk religious and make a profit off of religious products.

Which is what we have done in the past. We have a luxury Jesus didn’t have? Times are different? I have a duty to vote and play a role in this mess? I think it is time to question these clichés and begin a revolution back to the Gospel of the New Testament.

I am convinced it is time for Christians to lose these “rights” they are told to “exercise” and be left with nothing but the wealth and security of Christ.

It doesn’t seem to bother many of us that Christianity has found favor among the God-haters. As long as we can rest easy at night knowing we still have our “rights” and that gays won’t be able to marry, who cares about the status of their hearts and reaching out to them as Christ would. I guess it doesn’t really matter that the pregnant teenager really needs someone to take her in, not a picket sign in her face telling her she is going to hell or a meaningless vote in a private booth that you were told makes you a “good” citizen.

It’s much easier to believe in a version of the Kingdom of God that is able to advance through politics; that way we don’t have to get our hands dirty—at least not in the sense of touching people who are in spiritual and physical need. Besides, if we take Jesus seriously, we may actually have to talk to some of those folks. We might be asked to love them to change and stop relying on the methods of the world to stir up their flesh to sin more.

It really is a matter of overcoming evil instead of suppressing it. Laws don’t save people. They only provoke the sinful nature of man. Those without Christ need them, but it is the purpose of those institutions of man to use those methods. You think we would have learned that by now.

It is the world that looks for change through politics.

It is the world that believes that peace will come by legislation and the wisdom of generals and political orators. Who are we to mingle with that rabble? What business is it of ours to hop in the very vehicle that will rise against Christ and make its final stand on that last day.

You know the last time I checked, politicians make great anti-christs. Keep that in mind when you are tempted to join in the partisan politics and play this silly game leading up to November 4th 2008. Where is Christ in it all? How did he engage the worldly systems of his day? I’m willing to bet the answer is much clearer than we would like it to be.

Why then? Why so blurry? Because we have grown accustomed to our life here in Corinth. And as Paul said to the original Corinthians, he would say to us, “the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God” (1 Cor. 1:18).

Will we trust the way of the cross? The kind of winning that happens by dying? The battle plan that calls for everyone to lay down their arms and fight with love? Will we reconcile ourselves to a Gospel that demands we operate in an upside-down Kingdom or will we call it foolishness and forfeit our inheritance? How will the church respond in my generation?

I believe she will have that opportunity in this country real soon. Many will be unprepared, I fear. They will be shocked when the veil falls from their eyes and they actually are given no choice but to stare into the blinding light of Christ’s Gospel in the midst of suffering.

I am nervous at the thought of it. Yet, I am confident that our faith will undergo a great transformation. We will tap into a power we have not been acquainted with in these worldly chains we have prematurely dubbed “freedom.” I long for that day. Come Lord Jesus, come!

“And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth. People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. Instead, they were longing for a better country– a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.” Hebrews 11:13-16


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