Tuesday, February 12, 2008

The Myth of a Christian Nation, Part 12

The last chapter of Myth... is Greg simply responding to the 5 most common questions he gets in response to these ideas. Bob over at Vanguard Church has done such a great job of capsulizing Greg's answers by compiling quotes that I'm choosing to completely steal his work. The quoted sections below are completely Bob's (and Greg's) genius and not my own.

Before we do that, though, I should offer Greg's disclaimer. Greg ends the book by acknowledging there is always going to be ambiguity and disagreement in this life. "The goal of this book has not been to provide the 'right' answer to ambiguous ethical questions but to help kingdom people appreciate the urgency of preserving the unique kingdom-of-God perspective on all questions and on life as a whole...What follows is my own wrestling with five of the questions I have most frequently been asked whenever I've publicly presented the perspective articulated in this book." (pg 162)

As with anything, even if we can agree on the broad perspectives, the specifics are where the waters can get murky. So, take the following as Greg's perspective and with a grain of salt. Though it may not be clear from the wuotes below, the larger context of this chapter shows that Greg is still wrestling with these issues himself. For the record, I think that is great. I don't want to listen to someone who isn't still wrestling, who think he (or she) has it all figured out, who had God in their little box. Here we go.

1. What about self-defense?

(A Kingdom person) would have cultivated a kind of character and wisdom that wouldn’t automatically default to self-protective violence. Because he would genuinely love his enemy, he would have the desire to look for, and the wisdom to see, any nonviolent alternative to stopping his family’s attacker if one was available. He would want to do good to his attacker.

2. What about Christians in the military?

Do you know—can you know—the myriad of personal, social, political, and historical factors that have led to any particular conflict and that bear upon whether or not it (the war) is justified?...Out of their cultural conditioning, most blindly assume their authorities are trustworthy, that their cause is justified, and that each person they are told to kill is a justified killing…So, while I respect the sincerity and courage of Christians who may disagree and feel it their duty to defend their country with violence, I honestly see no way to condone a Christian’s decision to kill on behalf of any country—or for any other reason.

3. Haven’t some wars resulted in good things?

While military victories tend to be celebrated, nonviolent victories seem to pass without notice. Most knew about Gandhi and Martin Luther king Jr., but the nonviolent revolutions that ended various unjust dictatorships and brought increased freedom for more than three million people in the twentieth century are hardly ever discussed. Consequently, we are conditioned to think violence is the only viable approach to resolving conflict…(As kingdom people), we are called to show by our life that, while violence sometimes brings about positive results, violence is never inevitable—if only kingdom people will live out their unique kingdom call.

4. Don’t your ideas lead to passivity?

We now find ourselves in a version of Christianity where protecting ourselves is one of the main things we stand for—“in Jesus’ name”! In the name of the one who surrendered his rights and died for sinners, we fight against sinners for our rights!...Our call is to simply live in sacrificial love and trust the sovereign God will use our love to further his kingdom, as he did with the love of Jesus expressed to us and all people on Calvary.

5. Don’t we best serve the oppressed by overthrowing their oppressors?

The kingdom person is to remember that it’s still a ‘Good Friday’ world. We are to have faith that things will look different when Easter morning arrives. The ultimate hope of the world is not found in achieving victory now. The ultimate hope of the world is the resurrection, when all things shall be reconciled to God (Col. 1:20). Then we will see that no act of kingdom love has ever been wasted.

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