Wednesday, August 09, 2006


One of the greatest (and saddest) ironies in the world is how those who shout the loudest about upholding "God's standards" while working to force others to adhere to them almost inevitably come to view their cause as one that's so overridingly imperative that it justifies the use of any and all means to achieve it.

Such individuals rarely pause to consider whether the use of such worldly tactics as deception, slanderous and hateful rhetoric and even physical violence could ever be pleasing to a God who calls his followers to a life of honesty, love and peace, no matter how "good" or "just" the projected outcome will supposedly be. And yet "Christian" political groups engage in such tactics on an almost daily basis, all the while proclaiming themselves to be on God's side.

As Gregory Boyd reflects in The Myth of a Christian Nation, this is, unfortunately, nothing new:

It [church history] has been a profoundly sad and ironic history. In the interest of effectively accomplishing what it thought was an immediate and discernible good thing, the church often forsook its kingdom-of-God call. As a result, it frequently justified doing tremendously evil things. The moment worldly effectiveness replaces faithfulness as the motive for an individual's or institution's behavior, they are no longer acting on behalf of the kingdom of God but are participating in the kingdom of the world. The so-called good end will always be used to justify the evil means for those thinking with a kingdom-of-the-world mindset, and in doing this, the church succumbed to the very temptation Jesus resisted. It wanted to fix the world with its superior wisdom and run the world with the sword because it naively believed it could do so better than secular authorities. So, submitting itself to the cosmic "power over" god, it established itself as the ruling Caesar of the West. Far from improving on the old version of the kingdom of the world, however, it brought about a regime that was often worse than the version it replaced.

In fact, a kingdom-of-God citizen could (and should) argue that the Christian version of the kingdom of the world was actually the worst version the world has ever seen. For this was the version of the kingdom of the world that did the most harm to the kingdom of God. Not only did it torture and kill, as versions of the kingdom of the world frequently do - it did this under the banner of Christ. If violence and oppression are demonic, violence and oppression "in the name of Jesus" is far more so. The church of Christendom thereby brought disrepute to the name of Christ, associating his kingdom with the atrocities it carried out for centuries. The resistance most Islamic countries have to Christianity today, in fact, is partly to be explained by the vicious behavior of Christians toward Muslims throughout history.

This tragic history has to be considered one of Satan's greatest victories, and the demonic ironies abound. In the name of the one who taught us not to lord over others but rather to serve them (Matt. 20:25-28), the church often lorded over others with a vengeance as ruthless as any version of the kingdom of the world ever has. In the name of the one who taught us to turn the other cheek, the church often cut off people's heads. In the name of the one who taught us to love our enemies, the church often burned its enemies alive. In the name of the one who taught us to bless those who persecute us, the church often became a ruthless persecutor. In the name of the one who taught us to take up the cross, the church often took up the sword and nailed others to the cross. Hence, in the name of winning the world for Jesus Christ, the church often became the main obstacle to believing in Jesus Christ.
(pgs. 80-81)

Those who advocate that Christians should fight to "take America back for God" might argue that the church no longer uses violence to impose "Christian values" on others, but one need look no further than the religious right's wholehearted support for invading other countries that don't share our values, or their unabashed use of hyperbole and outright falsehoods in the fight against the "gay agenda," to realize what a fine hair they're splitting.

The verbal abuse that Christianists are so quick to dish out to 'sinners' these days may seem less abusive than physical violence, but in the end such emotional violence is no less damaging to the Kingdom of God that they claim to be defending. God has promised that his kingdom will ultimately prevail, but it will be in spite of his followers' political crusades, if in fact those crusaders don't end up on the wrong side of that spiritual battle entirely.

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