Sunday, July 30, 2006

Jesus Vs. America

Posted by codemorse

From the NY Times:

Like most pastors who lead thriving evangelical megachurches, the Rev. Gregory A. Boyd was asked frequently to give his blessing — and the church’s — to conservative political candidates and causes.

The requests came from church members and visitors alike: Would he please announce a rally against gay marriage during services? Would he introduce a politician from the pulpit? Could members set up a table in the lobby promoting their anti-
abortion work? Would the church distribute “voters’ guides” that all but endorsed Republican candidates? And with the country at war, please couldn’t the church hang an American flag in the sanctuary?

After refusing each time, Mr. Boyd finally became fed up, he said. Before the last presidential election, he preached six sermons called “The Cross and the Sword” in which he said the church should steer clear of politics, give up moralizing on sexual issues, stop claiming the United States as a “Christian nation” and stop glorifying American military campaigns....

....Mr. Boyd says he is no liberal. He is opposed to abortion and thinks homosexuality is not God’s ideal. The response from his congregation at Woodland Hills Church here in suburban St. Paul — packed mostly with politically and theologically conservative, middle-class evangelicals — was passionate. Some members walked out of a sermon and never returned. By the time the dust had settled, Woodland Hills, which Mr. Boyd founded in 1992, had lost about 1,000 of its 5,000 members.

But there were also congregants who thanked Mr. Boyd, telling him they were moved to tears to hear him voice concerns they had been too afraid to share....

....Mr. Boyd said he never intended his sermons to be taken as merely a critique of the Republican Party or the religious right. He refuses to share his party affiliation, or whether he has one, for that reason. He said there were Christians on both the left and the right who had turned politics and patriotism into “idolatry.”

He said he first became alarmed while visiting another megachurch’s worship service on a Fourth of July years ago. The service finished with the chorus singing “God Bless America” and a video of fighter jets flying over a hill silhouetted with crosses....

....Patriotic displays are still a mainstay in some evangelical churches. Across town from Mr. Boyd’s church, the sanctuary of North Heights Lutheran Church was draped in bunting on the Sunday before the Fourth of July this year for a “freedom celebration.” Military veterans and flag twirlers paraded into the sanctuary, an enormous American flag rose slowly behind the stage, and a Marine major who had served in Afghanistan preached that the military was spending “your hard earned money” on good causes.

In his six sermons, Mr. Boyd laid out a broad argument that the role of Christians was not to seek “power over” others — by controlling governments, passing legislation or fighting wars. Christians should instead seek to have “power under” others — “winning people’s hearts” by sacrificing for those in need, as Jesus did, Mr. Boyd said.

“America wasn’t founded as a theocracy,” he said. “America was founded by people trying to escape theocracies. Never in history have we had a Christian theocracy where it wasn’t bloody and barbaric. That’s why our Constitution wisely put in a separation of church and state.

“I am sorry to tell you,” he continued, “that America is not the light of the world and the hope of the world. The light of the world and the hope of the world is Jesus Christ.”

It's a fascinating story, and the above quotes are just a portion of it. I encourage you to click over to the Times' site and give it a read.

What's nice about faith in something unquantifiable is that it leaves people free to believe what they'd like. That's also, pretty much, what's not so nice about faith.

You can certainly make the argument (as one impassioned parishioner does) that Christians should be actively involved in the world around them; that such involvement necessitates the political.

You can also make the argument that Christianity is a religion specifically founded to resist and reject the earth-bound political hypocrisies of the Pharisees.

What you really can't argue against are the words and actions of Jesus Christ. If you're going to call yourself "Christian," then you really ought to be paying attention to Christ, no?

So, for argument's sake, let's assume that God exists and that Jesus was his only Son.

Where was Jesus born? It certainly wasn't America, either North or South, though there were already people there to have recieved his words. A lot of people, actually.

What is the great Truth of Christianity? Jesus came for all people. Not just or most 'specially for the American people.

What was Jesus' action upon entering the temple of the Pharisees? He overturned the money-lenders' tables, scattered the vendors, and shamed all for turning a House of God into a marketplace.

Were Jesus to return today and stumble into one of these "MEGACHURCHES" that are all the rage now, I do wonder what his reaction would be. Would he be happy to see so many people congregated together? Or would he rip the enormous American flag down from behind the altar in a rage of disbelief?


At 8:45 AM, Blogger Scott Roche said...

Is that fresh air I smell?

At 2:45 PM, Blogger codemorse said...

As in "what a breath of fresh air this post is!"? Or as in "I'm making a mocking reference and Morse isn't getting it!"?

At 3:39 PM, Blogger Scott Roche said...

Your post and the quotes. I love knowing that there are pators like this.

At 3:48 PM, Blogger codemorse said...

Me too. Mostly, and unsurprisingly, because I agree with them.


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