The Theological Declaration of Barmen 1934

5 07 2009

I. An Appeal to the Evangelical Congregations and Christians in Germany

8.01 The Confessional Synod of the German Evangelical Church met in Barmen, May 29-31, 1934. Here representatives from all the German Confessional Churches met with one accord in a confession of the one Lord of the one, holy, apostolic Church. In fidelity to their Confession of Faith, members of Lutheran, Reformed, and United Churches sought a common message for the need and temptation of the Church in our day. With gratitude to God they are convinced that they have been given a common word to utter. It was not their intention to found a new Church or to form a union. For nothing was farther from their minds than the abolition of the confessional status of our Churches. Their intention was, rather, to withstand in faith and unanimity the destruction of the Confession of Faith, and thus of the Evangelical Church in Germany. In opposition to attempts to establish the unity of the German Evangelical Church by means of false doctrine, by the use of force and insincere practices, the Confessional Synod insists that the unity of the Evangelical Churches in Germany can come only from the Word of God in faith through the Holy Spirit. Thus alone is the Church renewed.
8.02 Therefore the Confessional Synod calls upon the congregations to range themselves behind it in prayer, and steadfastly to gather around those pastors and teachers who are loyal to the Confessions.
8.03 Be not deceived by loose talk, as if we meant to oppose the unity of the German nation! Do not listen to the seducers who pervert our intentions, as if we wanted to break up the unity of the German Evangelical Church or to forsake the Confessions of the Fathers!
8.04 Try the spirits whether they are of God! Prove also the words of the Confessional Synod of the German Evangelical Church to see whether they agree with Holy Scripture and with the Confessions of the Fathers. If you find that we are speaking contrary to Scripture, then do not listen to us! But if you find that we are taking our stand upon Scripture, then let no fear or temptation keep you from treading with us the path of faith and obedience to the Word of God, in order that God’s people be of one mind upon earth and that we in faith experience what he himself has said: “I will never leave you, nor forsake you.” Therefore, “Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.”

II. Theological Declaration Concerning the Present Situation of the German Evangelical Church

8.05 According to the opening words of its constitution of July 11, 1933, the German Evangelical Church is a federation of Confessional Churches that grew our of the Reformation and that enjoy equal rights. The theological basis for the unification of these Churches is laid down in Article 1 and Article 2(1) of the constitution of the German Evangelical Church that was recognized by the Reich Government on July 14, 1933:

* Article 1. The inviolable foundation of the German Evangelical Church is the gospel of Jesus Christ as it is attested for us in Holy Scripture and brought to light again in the Confessions of the Reformation. The full powers that the Church needs for its mission are hereby determined and limited.
* Article 2 (1). The German Evangelical Church is divided into member Churches Landeskirchen).

8.06 We, the representatives of Lutheran, Reformed, and United Churches, of free synods, Church assemblies, and parish organizations united in the Confessional Synod of the German Evangelical Church, declare that we stand together on the ground of the German Evangelical Church as a federation of German Confessional Churches. We are bound together by the confession of the one Lord of the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church.
8.07 We publicly declare before all evangelical Churches in Germany that what they hold in common in this Confession is grievously imperiled, and with it the unity of the German Evangelical Church. It is threatened by the teaching methods and actions of the ruling Church party of the “German Christians” and of the Church administration carried on by them. These have become more and more apparent during the first year of the existence of the German Evangelical Church. This threat consists in the fact that the theological basis, in which the German Evangelical Church is united, has been continually and systematically thwarted and rendered ineffective by alien principles, on the part of the leaders and spokesmen of the “German Christians” as well as on the part of the Church administration. When these principles are held to be valid, then, according to all the Confessions in force among us, the Church ceases to be the Church and th German Evangelical Church, as a federation of Confessional Churches, becomes intrinsically impossible.
8.08 As members of Lutheran, Reformed, and United Churches we may and must speak with one voice in this matter today. Precisely because we want to be and to remain faithful to our various Confessions, we may not keep silent, since we believe that we have been given a common message to utter in a time of common need and temptation. We commend to God what this may mean for the intrrelations of the Confessional Churches.
8.09 In view of the errors of the “German Christians” of the present Reich Church government which are devastating the Church and also therefore breaking up the unity of the German Evangelical Church, we confess the following evangelical truths:

8.10 – 1. “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but by me.” (John 14.6). “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door, but climbs in by another way, that man is a thief and a robber. . . . I am the door; if anyone enters by me, he will be saved.” (John 10:1, 9.)
8.11 Jesus Christ, as he is attested for us in Holy Scripture, is the one Word of God which we have to hear and which we have to trust and obey in life and in death.
8.12 We reiect the false doctrine, as though the church could and would have to acknowledge as a source of its proclamation, apart from and besides this one Word of God, still other events and powers, figures and truths, as God’s revelation.

8.13 – 2. “Christ Jesus, whom God has made our wisdom, our righteousness and sanctification and redemption.” (1 Cor. 1:30.)
8.14 As Jesus Christ is God’s assurance of the forgiveness of all our sins, so, in the same way and with the same seriousness he is also God’s mighty claim upon our whole life. Through him befalls us a joyful deliverance from the godless fetters of this world for a free, grateful service to his creatures.
8.15 We reiect the false doctrine, as though there were areas of our life in which we would not belong to Jesus Christ, but to other lords–areas in which we would not need justification and sanctification through him.

8.16 – 3. “Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body [is] joined and knit together.” (Eph. 4:15,16.)
8.17 The Christian Church is the congregation of the brethren in which Jesus Christ acts presently as the Lord in Word and sacrament through the Holy Spirit. As the Church of pardoned sinners, it has to testify in the midst of a sinful world, with its faith as with its obedience, with its message as with its order, that it is solely his property, and that it lives and wants to live solely from his comfort and from his direction in the expectation of his appearance.
8.18 We reject the false doctrine, as though the Church were permitted to abandon the form of its message and order to its own pleasure or to changes in prevailing ideological and political convictions.

8.19 – 4. “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men excercise authority over them. It shall not be so among you; but whoever would be great among you must be your srvant.” (Matt. 20:25,26.)
8.20 The various offices in the Church do not establish a dominion of some over the others; on the contrary, they are for the excercise of the ministry entrusted to and enjoined upon the whole congregation.
8.21 We reject the false doctrine, as though the Church, apart from this ministry, could and were permitted to give itself, or allow to be given to it, special leaders vested with ruling powers.

8.22 – 5. “Fear God. Honor the emperor.” (1 Peter 2:17.)
Scripture tells us that, in the as yet unredeemed world in which the Church also exists, the State has by divine appointment the task of providing for justice and peace. [It fulfills this task] by means of the threat and exercise of force, according to the measure of human judgment and human ability. The Church acknowledges the benefit of this divine appointment in gratitude and reverence before him. It calls to mind the Kingdom of God, God’s commandment and righteousness, and thereby the responsibility both of rulers and of the ruled. It trusts and obeys the power of the Word by which God upholds all things.
8.23 We reject the false doctrine, as though the State, over and beyond its special commision, should and could become the single and totalitarian order of human life, thus fulfilling the Church’s vocation as well.
8.24 We reject the false doctrine, as though the Church, over and beyond its special commission, should and could appropriate the characteristics, the tasks, and the dignity of the State, thus itself becoming an organ of the State.

8.25 – 6. “Lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age.” (Matt. 28:20.) “The word of God is not fettered.” (2 Tim. 2:9.)
8.26 The Church’s commission, upon which its freedom is founded, consists in delivering the message of th free grace of God to all people in Christ’s stead, and therefore in the ministry of his own Word and work through sermon and sacrament.
8.27 We reject the false doctrine, as though the Church in human arrogance could place the Word and work of the Lord in the service of any arbitrarily chosen desires, purposes, and plans.
8.28 The Confessional Synod of the German Evangelical Church declares that it sees in the acknowledgment of these truths and in the rejection of these errors the indispensable theological basis of the German Evangelical Church as a federation of Confessional Churches. It invites all who are able to accept its declaration to be mindful of these theological principles in their decisions in Church politics. It entreats all whom it concerns to return to the unity of faith, love, and hope.

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Elephant and Ass: A Rant

21 07 2008

Seems to me the more I hear terms like “Conservative Christians” and “Liberal Christians” the more worthless the terms “liberal” and “conservative” come to be in describing what kind of Christian a Christian is. What exactly makes someone liberal or conservative as a Christian?

I understand the use of these terms in political dialogue, but have a harder time understanding them in inter-Christian dialogue.

Is John Spong a liberal Christian because he is both politically and theologically “liberal”? Because he rejects traditional Christian ideas, I think, doesn’t make him liberal, it makes him heterodox.

One reason I’ve found these terms to be essentially useless is that in my own experience, some of the most theologically articulate, devout and firmly orthodox Christians I’ve had the pleasure of knowing have been called “liberal”; whereas I’ve met plenty of so-called “conservative” Christians who wouldn’t know traditional Christian faith if it fell on their head like a ton of bricks.

I’ve met plenty of “conservative” Evangelicals who certainly fit the mold of stereotypical American Evangelicalism who, in my discussions with them over theology, come across as holding to fairly heterodox positions. A classic case-in-point are “conservative” Evangelicals who are either completely ignorant of, or sometimes even actively hostile to the orthodox, traditional Christian belief in the resurrection of the dead.

In recent years I’ve increasingly been told that I’m among these “liberal” Christians, though I’m not sure how. My faith has always–and no doubt will continue to be–a work in progress. My aim, however continues to be consistent, to follow Christ, to challenge my preconceived ideas, and be willing to study, read, pray and seek the guiding of the Holy Spirit and the counsel of the Christian Church. I’m not content assuming I have everything figured out, but I am ardent about seeking to be faithful.

I don’t consider myself “liberal”, but I have over the years lost interest in identifying myself as “conservative”. Any allegiance I once had to the Theo-Political machine of the American Religious Right has thoroughly vanished, though I hold no ill will toward those who are part of this organism, I do see the ideology and policies of the Religious Right as viral and infectious, and not to mention fatal to the spiritual health of the Christian Church in America.

So exactly what function or purpose do terms like “liberal” or “conservative” have in inter-Christian discussion? What does it even matter? Is faithfulness to Christ circumscribed by fidelity to conservative American politics? When so much about conservative American politics seems to be deeply antagonistic against the ethos and ministry of Jesus, how can this be so? This is not to say that liberal American politics are any better, seems like both sides of the political divide are pretty problematic insofar as what Jesus has to say. Wouldn’t a better, and far more Christian, politic be to take what Jesus has to say, even if Jesus forces us to repent of our most strongly cherished ideas, and work from there?

I’m not advocating Christian politics in the typical sense, but rather a Christian alternative to American politics that is still quite political. Christianity is political. Not because it’s liberal or conservative, but because it’s Christian. Shouldn’t a Christian response to those things happening in our culture be, in fact, Christian? Neither conservative nor liberal, but Christian. Following the Way of Christ, even if that means forsaking the idols of Elephant and Ass.





1) The Culture War

5 11 2007

1) The Culture War

Here in America the concept of the “Culture War” has been going on for the past few decades. Right vs. Left. Lines have been drawn and both sides have, in the world of politics and culture said, “You must stand either here or there.”

In America you must either be liberal or conservative; Democrat or Republican.

And Christians have absorbed themselves into this, becoming a leading set of soldiers in this fight for, in the words of Pat Buchanan, “America’s Soul”.

In the 1960’s Jerry Falwell helped organize what became the Moral Majority, which became a significant religio-political force in America: The Religious Right. Its agenda was simple, to “take back” America from “godless liberals”. It was easy enough for many Christians who already held to many so-called conservative ideals to join the cause and combine their love of God and their love of country into a single religio-political ideology. The Moral Majority and the Religious Right became that religio-political force which many already conservative-minded Christians could side with.

These Christians honestly feel that they are being targeted as objects of persecution by a conglomerated enemy: The Left. They see “liberals” as a force which has growing power, a power which will ultimately triumph over the good, wholesome, traditional values of America–which “conservatives” (specifically “conservative” Christians) perceive as innately and intrinsically Christian. Thus the destruction of the “Christian Republic” and the cessation of “freedom, liberty and justice for all.”

How are these “liberals” doing this? By taking prayer out of schools, refusing to teach Creationism and/or Intelligent Design as an alternative to Darwinian Evolution, by legalizing abortion and keeping it legal, by supporting the “gay agenda” and legalizing homosexual marriages–“conservatives” even see this this “attack” in things such as substituting “Happy Holidays” in place of “Merry Christmas”.

Now, of course, in this decade, we have seen an increased shift of “conservative voice”, under the Bush administration many “liberals” have become concerned with what they perceive as the dangerous and reactionary tone with which The Right has used in its own rhetoric. If the Right were to succeed, say some in the Left, America would become a theocratic state led by Fundamentalist Christians almost or equally as dangerous as Al-Qaeda. Even left-of-center Christians often feel that the Religious Right pose a danger to everyone, including themselves.

In light of this “culture war”, of liberal vs conservative, there is a quote by the late Pope John Paul II which I feel is poignant: “The Gospel of Jesus Christ is neithe ‘liberal’ nor ‘conservative’, it’s simply true.”

In recent discussions with a good friend of mine he has, though perhaps only in partial jest, called me a “liberal” and a “leftist”. Because of my complete dislike for the Religious Right and particularly for my opposition toward not only the present war, but all war. I oppose violence, because it is my conviction as a Christian that one can not love your neighbor if you are doing your neighbor injury. How can I be a peace-maker if I’m acting like a war-mongerer? How can I believe in both the cross and the sword?

And so I’ve been called a liberal.

I’m neither a liberal nor a conservative, those labels only have meaning if you buy into the American dichotomy.

The great Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, “The church must be reminded that it is not the master or the servant of the state, but rather the conscience of the state. It must be the guide and the critic of the state, and never its tool. If the church does not recapture its prophetic zeal, it will become an irrelevant social club without moral or spiritual authority.”

How does the Church regain its “prophetic zeal”? In today’s dichotomy? The Church certainly must not allow itself to become master of the state, which seems to be the ultimate aim of the the Religious Right, nor can the Church simply become a tool, another arm, of the state by which the state enforces its power through ecclesiastical action.

Rather the Church must stand independant of the State, recognizing that the Church has absolutely no intrinsic relationship to the State. The Church is related to Christ, and therefore doesn’t even comprehend the national powers of the State.

The Church must be the Church, living in communion with God through Christ, with each other in the unity of the Spirit. Tearing down walls of separation which keep men from each other within her Communion.

The Church must recognize herself to be a spiritual force which seeks no temporal gain, but has radical implications within the temporal sphere.

Thus the polorization of “Left” and “Right” are ultimately meaningless in and for the Church. The Church can only be a source of conscience for those outside of her if she becomes more concerned with the log in her own eye than the splinter in another.

Can Christians, instead of focusing on the abortion issue focus on training themselves in a holistically pro-life ethic? An ethic that goes beyond anti-abortion rhetoric into a lifestyle and proactivity of life that seeks the improvement of life for everybody and the renunciation of death even when sanctioned by the state? St. Cyprian of Carthage once said, “They call it homicide when a man kills another man unjustly, but it’s considered a ‘virtue’ when the state ordains killing.” Can anyone really call themselves “pro-life” if they support warfare, capital punishment, and if they refuse to listen to the pains of the hurting and the dying–the widow and the orphan and the foreigner–even those in their own backyard?

Maybe there is a culture war going on in America. But as Christians we don’t have to be a part of it, we can lay down our arms and surrender ourselves to Christ and stop being “left” or “right” and just be Christian.

To love our neighbor, to feed the hungry, to speak out against injustice, to support the widow and the orphan, to welcome the foreigner into our house, to give all our wealth to the poor, to stand and identify ourselves with the oppressed in every circumstance, to preach the Gospel with gentleness, respect and grace. With arms wide open to embrace the poor and poor of spirit whom God brings to us so that we might say the Lord’s Prayer with honesty: “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”

Blessed are the poor.
Blessed are the hungry.
Blessed are those who mourn.
Blessed are the peace-makers.
Blessed are the meek.
Blessed are the oppressed.

-Jon





This Kosmos

21 10 2007

When we read the New Testament there can be, sometimes, confusion over what the term “world” means. For example John 3:16 famously says, “God so loved the world,” and yet in 1 John 2:15 we read, “If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” What becomes more confusing is that in Genesis 1 we read that “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth,” and after God surveyed all He had made He declared it all, “exceedingly good,” and yet in 1 Corinthians 4:4 it says, “In whose case the god of this age has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, so that they may not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.”

Furthermore the Prophets speak of a future world where the lion will lay with the lamb, the lion will eat straw like the ox, the child will have no fear of playing near a viper’s den; and yet in the Gospel of John Jesus says to Pilate, “My kingdom is not of this world.” (John 18:36).

Does God love the world or does He hate it? Is God the God of this world or is Satan the god of this world? Will there be a future kingdom present in the tangible reality or will it be a spiritual existence?

The problem, I believe, is two-fold:

1) Many English translations render two Greek words as “world”, kosmos and aion. Which have very different meanings, and, in fact, neither mean (literally) the planet we call Earth. Kosmos means “order” and aion means “age”

2) In the case of the Greek, kosmos, the word has a long history of use as it developed layers of meaning through roughly five hundred years of Greek philosophy prior to the time of Jesus. Originally it simply meant “order”, and it was the opposite of chaos, disorder.

About six hundred years before Jesus, the Ionian philosopher Thales famously said, “The world [kosmos] is water.” Without getting too much into it, the earliest philosophers were deeply interested in what the world–the kosmos–was. In Sicily, the philosopher Pythagoras would, taking a different approach, said that the world–kosmos–was number; being interested in how the world was. The Ionians were interested in matter, the Pythagoreans were interested in function.

However what these two schools had in common was that there was, in fact, an order, a kosmos, that reality was an ordered structure, an orderly unity–some believed that the order was unitary (one thing) others said the order was many pluralistic (many things). So, for example, Thales said the world was water, everything was water, Pythagoras said everything was number. Democritus held that there were only atoms and void, Anaxagoras held there existed only mind and matter. Heraclitus would say that the kosmos is in constant motion under the power of the logos, the creative word, which was like a cosmic fire causing all things to be in perpetual motion. While Parmenides would say that there is no motion, change and motion are illusions, everything is absolute, being has always been and everything is perpetual being.

Through all this was an attempt to grasp what is and how is kosmos. What is the order and how is it ordered? Is it one thing or many, is it in motion or is it motionless?

From this concept of order–of kosmos–the conception of kosmos being “the world” developed, we are in the kosmos, the order, we are part of it. It’s from this idea that we speak of the universe as “the cosmos”–it’s all that is, and all that is an order–a kosmos.

So here is what I propose, that the writers of the New Testament were aware of these layers of meaning as the word kosmos was used in Greek. It could refer to “the world” as might understand it, as creation, the earth, moon, sun, the stars and all that is within them. It could be used to refer to the peoples of the world, but it’s most basic meaning was still “order”, and coulse be used in that sense to refer to how things or something is organized, ordered, or ruled. Thus we can speak of, for example, the Roman Kosmos, the Roman World, specifically the Rule and Order of Rome spread across the Meditareranean; including Roman government and power.

In this sense God can love–agape–the world (kosmos), showing His benevolent grace and compassion through the selfless act of sending His Son into the world. And thus Christians ought to imitate this by loving and being for the world through agape, service and self-sacrifice, loving our neighbor as we would love ourselves. And at the same time if any one loves–agape–the world (kosmos)–that is if they have affection for the way things are done, loving the present order and structure of authority spread across the world, with hate and war and oppression, if anyone loves these things, loving the order of how things are presently run–then the love of the Father is not in them. Because the god of this world(age)–aion–is the ruler which the world–kosmos–follows.

When the Prophets speak of a future age–aion–where peace exists on earth, with lions and lambs laying together, lions eating straw like an ox and children playing fearlessly around viper nests, this is true; and when Christ says that His kingdom is not of this world–kosmos–He is saying that His authority and dominion is nothing like the authority and dominion of the present order–kosmos. Christ’s kingdom has nothing to do with temporal, “worldly” kingdoms, His is not a kingdom led and governed by the sword, but goverened by the Gospel of Peace. His kingdom is not going to supplant Rome in any usual sense, He wasn’t about leading a zealous revolt against Roman occupation with swords and daggers; His was a kingdom removed from the present order, this present kosmos. His kingdom is above this kosmos, it is something different altogether, and altogether better, and altogether MORE dangerous to the kingdoms of the world and the present order than any insurrection could ever be.

The Way of the Cross is a thousand times more threatening and dangerous to the world and its powers than a rebellion. One kingdom rising against another in war is simply more of the same, it’s the same kind of kingdom simply attacking another, they are ultimately the same kind of kingdom and under the same rule, the same order, the same kosmos. Christ’s Kingdom will ultimately decimate them all, not through sword and war, but through the ultimate destruction of the present kosmos, which St. Peter says, is “reserved for fire.” This is the Fire of God’s Presence, the Fire that burns and purifies, the burns away the chaff and the dross. The all-consuming fire that consumes everything, destroying that which is impure and leaving only the pure, which St. Gregory of Nyssa envisions will mean (at least) the potential for the salvation of all and the restoration of all–apokatastasis. It is this fire, after it has consumed everything, where God is all in all, and makes all things new, where St. John sees a “new heavens and a new earth”, in effect, a new kosmos. A kosmos ordered not under strife and pain, but ordered under love and grace, where every tear is dried, every life made whole, where the lion will lay with the lamb and the child play near the viper’s den.

Christ came to set captives free and proclaim the Jubilee of God (Luke 4:18) and it is within His very Person that the Kingdom of God is manifest (Luke 17:21), the one Proclaiming the Kingdom of God is near, and that it’s the time of change (repentance–metanoia). And this Kingdom is manifest through the Crucified Jesus who then rises from the dead. It is the Christ of the Cross who brings forth God’s Reign, and sets to ruin this present age and kosmos, establishing within it’s crumbling decay a new order, a new kosmos, found structured within His Ekklesia, His Church. While the present kosmos is crumbling in its own self-destruction, Christ having overcome it (John 16:33), and establishing a new world order within His disciples, gathered together as ekklesia–as called community–the new kosmos is being ordered, and will be finally and fully ordered at Christ’s Parousia, His Second Coming.

In this sense the Church is the microcosm of the Age to Come, or in Hebrew, Olam Ha’ba. It’s purpose is the continued ministry of Christ in the present world and age, it is the Presence of Jesus in the world operating under the power of the Promised Comforter–the Holy Spirit–within the Community of God (the Church) through the preaching of the Gospel and the administration of the Sacraments. Through the incorporation of individuals into the Body of Christ, by the Grace of God, through the Mystery of Baptism (death of the old and birth of the new), and called into Communion–koinonia–at the Table of Jesus, i.e. the Eucharistic Supper where the Gathered partake of body and blood of Jesus in and under the elements of bread and wine; which both rekindles the memory of Christ’s Passion which is as much a present reality as it is an historical one, and calls one to meditate upon the fullness of the Coming Time, when all will be gathered with Christ to partake of the Wedding Banquet of the Lamb (Revelation 19:9).

The Church, therefore, exists in the present, with the crumbling of the old order and the dawning of the new to function like Noah’s ark, the only place of refuge against the diluge which is washing away the corrupt things of the present.

It is not a message of condemnation which the Church bears, but of reconciliation and peace. It is not with hellfire on her lips that she speaks, but of persevering grace and a call to come and partake. To welcome all and love all and accept all, with all the insurmountable love of Jesus Christ which is beyond all height, width, length and depth.

The present order is a dying order, the principalities and authorities, the powers and dominions, are a dying thing. A facade, and coming to an end. Many kingdoms and nations have come and gone in two thousand years, and many more. America will wither away and die and be replaced by another–these are beside the point. It is the order that is itself dying, whether manifest through Rome or Byzantium, China or the Ottoman Turks, Britain or America.

The powers that be are, by the light of Christ, not powers at all, but merely fabrications without permanence.

This kosmos is dying, it has been dying for two thousand years. It is self-destructive and self-destructing.

This is not “end-of-the-world” hysteria, because I’m not saying everything you know will come to an end tomorrow, or even a year from now, I’m saying it’s already been coming to an end for two thousand years and it may continue to be coming to an end for another two thousand.

The present reality, the present kosmos, is one that is ultimately unreal and without permanence, reserved for fire.

Christ has overcome the world, and by His loving grace has saved the world, so that the world can have eternal life in the Shalom–the Peace–of God. Unto the ages of ages. Amen.

-Jon





Fascism

22 07 2007


Fascism is an authoritarian political ideology (generally tied to a mass movement) that considers individual and other societal interests subordinate to the needs of the state, and seeks to forge a type of national unity, usually based on, but not limited to, ethnic, cultural, or racial attributes. Various scholars attribute different characteristics to fascism, but the following elements are usually seen as its integral parts: nationalism, authoritarianism, statism, militarism, corporatism, populism, totalitarianism, anti-communism, racism and opposition to economic and political liberalism.” – Wikipedia

I’m not going to call America a fascist nation, because I don’t think we’re there yet. I think we have a ways to go. But there are definite seeds already planted.

As a general rule, I hate politics. I just do.

But when politics meet religion, or more specifically, when political ideology and Christian theology come into contact, then it becomes more interesting to me.

Let me get this out of the way first.

I believe pretty strongly in the secular liberties upon which this country was founded, notice that I said secular and not Christian. I believe strongly in the concept of personal freedom, civil liberties, in freedom of religion, and speech, and press, and assembly. I believe that a secular nation which strives for humanitarian ideals and as a refuge for people of different races, ideologies and of all sorts of opinions is a good thing.

The United States, as a nation built upon secular liberty is a good thing.

So I’m not Anti-America. I’m not an anarchist. I’m not advocating–as Thomas Jefferson did–that we use violence to overthrow corrupt political power. So, to that end, I can be no more against this nation than Jefferson, if I’m radical and perceived as a threat, then you’ll have to get through the writer of the Declaration of Independence before you can get to me.

Here is what I am against. I’m against mindless nationalism, flag waving people who scream “God bless America!” at every turn. Mindless drones of American Civil Religion. I’m not a Religious American–I’m a Christian. I serve Christ, not Caesar.

There are forces at work which are trying to convert us all to the Religion of American Nationalism, and we even have a group of people to hate, we call them “Terrorists” and “Islamofascists”, many people just hate all Muslims.

In the 1930s there was another country that promoted a Religion of Nationalism, and had a group of people to hate and place all the blame on. Germany.

Using German national symbols, charismatic talk, and converting the masses to hatred of the Jews and blaming them for all that’s wrong. Even using the churches to turn Christians away from Christ and toward Nationalist ideas and ideologies.

In this country we have the American Eagle, the flag (“Old Glory”), in our churches we are turning Christians away from Christ and toward American Nationalism, we sing songs of patriotism in the House of God, we speak of the American flag as being “sacred” in the same way the Cross of Jesus Christ is “sacred”. We listen to people incite our passions for the fatherland–the patria in patriotism–we insist everyone be a “patriot”, and if you dare challenge or question the American Civil Religion, if you don’t conform to the way we think we should do things, you’re unpatriotic. And being unpatriotic in the American Religion is nothing short of being called an apostate, a heretic, an infidel.

We haven’t been exporting Muslims to concentration camps, but we do commit torture in prisons–all the while saying it’s not “really” torture.

Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe America already is there. Maybe we already are a fascist nation.

To that end, I present to you the Declaration of Barmen, which is as relevant for today’s America as it was for 1930’s Germany.

I serve Christ, not Caesar.

Iesou Christou Kuriou.

-Jon