Last Sunday I preached a message about politics and the Kingdom of God. You can read the original message here. During both services I received a number of texts, and following the service a few more questions came to the surface through various mediums.
I figured I’d try to answer them here as best I could.
What would you say to those that say “religion” causes so many wars (The Crusades, ISIS, etc.) These people say that “religion” is bad because of this so they don’t want anything to do with it.
People have claimed the name of Christ while doing all kinds of terrible, terrible things — sometimes even under the direction of religious leaders. It was Pope Urban II who gave the directive to war which unfortunately led to the Crusade. Admittedly, things got waaay out of hand and exceeded the scope of what Urban was trying to accomplish. Nonetheless it is something of a deep blemish on Church history that cannot be easily dismissed. The Just War Theory that emerged by the 16th century was influenced more by Roman Law than it was by Scripture. As author John Ferguson describes: “there is nothing distinctively Christian about it (Just War Theory), yet these are the considerations which have dominated the majority of Christians for most of the history of the church.” Hmm… something to chew on there.
Indeed there have been times and perhaps there would be a time where war is “the answer”, though it was Christ Himself who called not for a violent revolt to His arrest but rather a peaceful humility. Christians are people who go to the greatest lengths to pursue peace. The taking of life is a costly and painful way to accomplish peace, if it could even be accomplished in that way.
The same thing happens in other religions, too, much to the regret of leaders and followers alike. ISIS is an example of an extreme misread and application of what Muslims believe. At its core, Islam truly is a religion of peace. This statement, ironically, infuriates some people 🙂
By our nature, we humans corrupt everything. The church is comprised of humans. Ergo, the church is bound for corruption, except for the purifying and sustaining work of the Holy Spirit.
All that to say this: Their criticism of religion and war is fair yet makes a shaky case for the outright rejection of Christianity. I can’t speak for all religions, but I can speak humbly for my faith in Christ, knowing that His believers have blundered and misrepresented His love and peace to egregious extremes. For some reason He still loves us and offers us grace.
Deciding you individual religious fate based on gross misrepresentations in history is like proclaiming that you won’t ever be treated by a doctor because you heard of a botched routine operation that led to the untimely death of a patient. Well, okay, but… you probably won’t like how your Pneumonia ends.
One of the finest books on the history of Religious war is Charles Kimball’s When Religion Becomes Evi. It helped me understand this issue quite a bit and informed much of what I’ve said above. Credit given, and then some. I highly recommend it.
So Bonhoeffer was wrong for his Nazi opposition?
Bonhoeffer was right. Any follower of Christ would oppose such an evil regime, perhaps even being persecuted for their stance. Respect for authority is the top priority, but the Kingdom of God wins the day.
Bonhoeffer sought to stop the execution of millions by trying to kill Hitler. Is it okay to break a commandment to save lives? Was Bonhoeffer wrong to try? He didn’t succeed in killing Hitler, yet I wish he had. Does that mean I’m wrong?
Hmm… I guess I’d like to ask Bonhoeffer that question.
So should Christians not protest or take a stand?
They should — within the context of federal, state, and local law. Citizens in the US are afforded plentiful opportunities for their voices to be heard. I for one take this for granted. A protest is fine as long as it’s not done to disable the governmental structure. That’s where we get into trouble and squelch our witness to make the wrong point.
Today, millions of Americans are voting. This is a political miracle. Thank God for this and make it count.
As a Christian our first response is to want a moral Christian leader. But what scripture has shown is (that) we should seek a lack of corruption and pure ethics and leave the rest in God’s good and protective hands.
Absolutely true, as long as we aren’t setting up a hierarchy of morality that mimics or replaces the church. The United States of America is a wonderful place to live, and I thank God for the freedoms we have here. But the US is not His chosen land populated by His chosen people. That’s the Kingdom of God. These two are different. At the end of the day, we want to elect the ideal candidate who is able to govern well — and I believe the scripture, in Christ, illustrates what an ideal human should be and do.
I am still not sure how to justify Romans 13 with Pol Pot, Mao, Stalin, Hitler.
Me neither. I am thankful to be a citizen of the Kingdom of God, and that I share this citizenship with brothers and sisters who lived under far more evil regimes than I will ever know. I look forward to meeting them someday.