[Vision2020] worldviews, war, and worship

keely emerinemix kjajmix1 at msn.com
Fri Sep 7 17:28:10 PDT 2007

First, a long-overdue thanks to Ted, from whom I learn something almost daily.  Most of the time, I agree with him politically; even when I don't, I'm provoked to think about assumptions and conclusions I've made.  Lord knows the last six years of cowboy diplomacy in service of a "christianish," but not at all Christian, worldview has given all of us food for thought.  I'm grateful to Ted and to others who help to keep us wrestling with things.

I'm entirely supportive of efforts to impeach Cheney, and I'm eagerly counting down the days 'til someone better becomes president.  The evils of the Cheney/Bush administration -- are horrifying in their nature, execution, and legacy, and all the more so given that our Commander in Chief has become in some circles our Worshiper in Chief, too.  I can't comment on the veracity of Bush's conversion and spiritual walk, but the fruit is evident.  And it pretty much stinks. 

Bush has made much of his theology of freedom as God's intention for humankind, and of the United States' responsibility to secure it for the rest of the world.  It sounds noble, but clearly has resulted in devastation abroad while ignoring those at home and elsewhere who are shackled in ways not as evident to Bush -- and whose "liberation" is not as economically advantageous to his cronies.  And so I was pleased to run into an essay by Ted Olsen in this month's Christianity Today, which I hope stimulates some reflection on the part of those of us who try to follow the person and teachings of Christ:
". . . Freedom isn't God's only good gift.  He also gives peace.  And life.  And order.   And justice.  And mercy.  And many other good gifts with both spiritual and political implications.  Should any of these gifts become the basis of U.S. policy in Iraq?  This hits on what I think is the biggest political question for Western Christians right now:  Should Christians in democracies work to make governmental actions reflect "high-minded" biblical priorities?  Does God's love for human freedom require us to get the government to act for freedom worldwide?  Does God's love for the poor require us to get the government to act for economic justice domestically and abroad?  President Bush once said, "Government can pass laws and it can hand out money, but it cannot love."  But without love, can it still do good, or can it merely avoid doing evil?"

Two points:  Concern for the poor and for justice throughout the world obviously isn't just the provence of Christianity, but when an avowedly Christian president in a self-proclaimed "Christian" nation intervenes in the affairs of the nations, its involvement ought to -- has to -- reflect the teachings of Christ.  Further, while recognizing that human effort will never result in the abolition of inhumanity, violence, hatred and injustice, it is imperative that efforts to end those things in the name of Jesus Christ be reasonably consistent.  Putting it simply, it means that liberty and security and justice for countries not sitting atop oil has to be as important as liberty, security, and justice for those countries whose security enhances U.S. coffers and U.S. dominance in the world.  

It's easy for Christians to focus on "righteousness" as individual morality -- and too often yours, not mine -- while largely ignoring matters of "justice" by assigning them to nations, institutions, or corporations that present a larger evangelistic, moralistic challenge.  But most translators agree that in Scripture, "justice" and "righteousness" generally are represented by the same words and are intended to be synonymous expressions of God's will for individuals and for nations.  The clear testimony of Scripture is God's concern for righteousness, period.  It's the Church that's decided to root out unrighteousness in the bedroom while blithely ignoring -- or applauding -- unrighteousness in the boardroom.  After all, who wants to go after their pals?  Christians today have fallen into lockstep with the rich, the powerful, and the lofty and have called it "blessing" when they've been courted.  As for the poor and the disenfranchised . . . well, they may not have the Church on their side, but they're in good company.  It doesn't seem that God has Christians on his side, either.


"God works patiently and deeply, but often in hidden ways, in the mess of our humanity and history."
--Eugene Peterson

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