nearly a year later...

if per chance you read this and are wondering where i went.... i went here. and i have a new post.


A Rant (Why I Hate the Happiest Place on Earth)

I don't know if I mentioned it a while back, but Orlando, somewhat under the radar, passed a controversial law concerning feeding the homeless. Now, apparently, for the first time EVER, Orlando is actually enforcing their a law.This is one of the many reasons I hate this corrupt town. The elected officials of this city, conservative or liberal, are crooked to the bone, they break the law nearly every chance they get! (and it's documented!) Still, rather than staking out the officials, as they give tax dollars to strip clubs and illegal drug/prostitution rings and then attempt (half-assed I might add) to launder that money, and arresting them, they arrest subversive feeders of the poor. God bless it! Just remember, the next time you're visiting the happiest place on earth that it's only happy because the poor and needy have been swept under a big mouse head-shaped carpet and that the only reason the streets are so clean is because the drug dealers are chillin' in the courthouses with the elected officials doing blow off of their prostitutes.


On Testing Ethics

So I've been thinking a lot about Joel's question. I've wanted to write about it for quite sometime, but between a baby, catching up on school work, and the numerous different house guests that we've entertained lately, I just haven't had the time to type out my thoughts. Now the task seems so daunting that I'm afraid to start. When I re-started the blog I said that I wanted to seek out other writers and so I think I'm going to do that. Still, I don't want to completely blow off the topic at hand. Bethany, Melissa, Kat, Laura Kate, Gina, and I had a interesting discussion about the role of Christians in culture (specifically the state) that seemed to begin to help flesh why Christian pacifism still works, but I wonder if the test of an ethic should even be situational. I have a coworker who said he doesn't believe the Bible because the ethical propositions of the ten commandments "don't work in real life" and I've got former professors who somehow think that love should be this flexible ethic in which right and wrong should flow forth from the situation. Granted the situations presented here are far more "real life" than anything my coworker or professors stated, but they present the same dilemma. The test of an ethic should be Scripture. The test of an ethic should be kingdom. I think that, properly examined, Scripture tends toward pacifism (which is altogether different from passivity). It tends toward peace-making. It tends toward the putting away of swords. Our weaponry is spiritual as is our enemy. As we actively pursue peace, we fight that spiritual battle and live out the end goal of "Thy Kingdom come."

Perhaps when I have more time I will delve into the spheres of government and the battling civilizations and Christ in culture, which would further my arguments for pacifism, but right now I have reading to do.

Sorry if this seems like a cop out.

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On Christian Pacifism, pt. 2

[As I said, I intend to create my argument for CP by answering some of the more frequent questions I hear. I will however take the time to answer Joel's specific question from the last post next, it is a follow up to this post, but I feel this post wouldn't nearly settle anybody's mind (especially mine) when it comes to his question. For now though...]

As Doyle asked, what do you do in the case where you need to defend yourself? The question I had planned was similar, what if your (insert loved one here) was/is being attacked? Either way, we see a sort of existential question here, a question that, I believe, finds its answer in the Biblical motif of the Kingdom of God.

The Biblical motif of the Kingdom of God does not find its roots in Jesus, nor does it start with the anointing of Saul. The motif of the Kingdom of God finds its roots in Adam. It could (and should I would contend) be said that the original task of humanity (ADAM) was to be priest-kings. Genesis 1 sets up the kingly motif, where God builds a kingdom and then sets Adam (humanity) in it to have dominion over it. Genesis two sets up the priestly motif, where God creates a temple in that Kingdom and sets Adam in it in order to cultivate it, to grow it through out the kingdom. (More on that in the next post) For now, look at (in a new window) Genesis 1:26-30). Terms that should jump out are dominion, subdue, given to you, etc. These terms are terms used with kings and kingdoms throughout the Scriptures.

In "The Kingdom of God", Geerhardus Vos argues that eschatology, the doctrine of the last things, precedes soteriology, the doctrine of our salvation. I completely agree and would like to add, therefore eschatology precedes ethics. What does that have to do with the Kingdom motif in Genesis? Well, it forces us to ask the question, what was the God's original goal for Adam (humanity)? The answer is rest. The eschaton of creation was (and is) to be a humanity that has subdued and cultivated the earth into God's temple-kingdom, filled with his image-bearers, reflecting God's glory in every corner and sharing with God in eternal Sabbath rest. Put a little more confessional, the chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy him forever. This is achieved in a Kingdom of God that fills the earth with God's rest. Now, fast forward a epoch. Adam (is it clear yet that I'm equating Adam with all of humanity) has failed in bringing forth the Kingdom unto Sabbath rest, therefore he has been cursed. His task has been made impossible. Enter Jesus, the seed of the woman, the second Adam and with him a radical proclamation "REPENT! For the Kingdom of God is at hand!" Biblical scholars pretty much agree that Jesus inaugurates the Kingdom on earth, but I would like to modify that statement by saying that Jesus inaugurates the consummation of the Kingdom that Adam was originally created to advance. Jesus inaugurates the eschaton and, as the perfect Adam, guarantees its fulfillment. Therefore, the end result of Jesus' kingdom is the same as Adam's, because it is the same Kingdom! So as I said before, eschatology precedes ethics. That is to say that any ethic that would be called "Christian" must conform to the Christian eschaton, Kingdom. So in some ways, the eschatology and ethic of Christians are the same, "Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven." [After reading this a second time, I would like to say that this most likely will be the heart of most of my arguments in the next couple posts]

So we see Jesus inaugurate a Kingdom eschatology, "The Kingdom of God is at hand." He then spends the majority of his life teaching the ethic of this Kingdom. The most obvious thesis coming in the sermon on the Mount accounts in where Jesus simultaneously teaches us how to live and what the Kingdom will look like. All of this is to say that I do believe that since Constantine, something catastrophic has happened. The church has traded building THE Kingdom for building a kingdom. The ethics and the politic of the Kingdom of God has become wedded to the ethics and politics of whichever kingdom was most powerful in the West. It's easy to say that individualism and self-preservation are ideals of the enlightenment, but I think the truth is they are the ideals of the kingdoms of the world, or as Augustine put it, the city of man. Easier still, would be to say that these are ideals of America which has imposed itself on Christianity when the truth is that these are the ideals of the city of man and that America is, simply put, the greatest model of humanism, liberalism, and materialism (I mean these all in their classic understandings) today. So the question becomes when we divorce ourselves, as Christians, from the ethos of the world and look only to the example of the King, how are we to act? (more specifically in this case with regards to self-defense) You must then answer a few more specific questions:

What is the general ethos of the world today? I would argue that the great guiding principle of the post-enlightenment world is individualism. That individualism is characterized by self-preservation and self-prosperity. That individualism is already, at its core, opposed to the creative order imposed by God wherein it is not suiting for man to be alone. Further still, the precipitate ethics of self-preservation and self-proseperity find themselves in direct contradiction not only to the teachings, but the life of Jesus and His Kingdom. As it turns out, whoever would seek to save his own life would lose it. Jesus, when attacked and hated, retaliated not by force, but by the way of suffering and the cross. Jesus lived and died the command to love your enemies.

Pacifism and non-violence when a loved one has been placed in danger is, however, a wholly different matter. The command is to turn your other cheek, not someone else's. Self-preservation is out, but what of the preservation of another. This is one that presents, for me, the greatest amount of existential doubt. To be honest, I don't know how I would react, God forbid, if the rubber was ever forced to hit the road on this one. Right now I think my reaction would be one of violence, but I don't always react the way I ought, and the discussion at hand is one of oughts. I find my only case for pacifism under this circumstance in Jesus' reaction to Peter in the Garden. For Peter, still unaware that Jesus would need to be the suffering servant before he became the triumphant King, the lesson learned was that even when the one you loved was being attacked, live by the sword, die by the sword. It comes as no coincidence that Paul later calls the word of God a sword. It seems that we have two means we can live and die by. We can choose the sword of the world or the sword of the Spirit. The Kingdom ethic is that we ought always choose the sword of the Spirit. We are working towards a peaceable Kingdom (eschatology). The only way we can do that is by peacemaking (ethics) especially in the most counter-intuitive situations.



On the Founding Fathers

I'm still in the process of completing my next post on CP (which actually addresses Doyle's first question. The following two posts will address the points in the second question. (Those were questions I had intended to answer anyway) For now though, I just want to address the question 2C, "Did the Christian Founding Fathers go against God's will when they started the Revolutionary War?" Without going into the particulars of God's eternal will versus God's temporal will, I will say that the actions leading to the colonization and the independence of the United States were, in my opinion, contrary to the teachings of Jesus in Scripture and more in line with the greater ethos of the enlightenment. This becomes my trouble when I hear people say "America is, or at least was, a Christian nation, founded originally on Christian principles." I'm just not sure what exactly that means. Does that mean that America was built on the assurance of the resurrection and submission to King Jesus? Or was it built on some sort of neo-legislative moralism? But let me, at least a little bit, unpack my answer with a very (very) brief synopsis of American history from colonization to independence.

The colonists came from Europe to America for several reasons, but these are the two main reasons (as I recall from school). First, some wanted money. It's okay, we can say it. The Europeans didn't have noble intentions of spreading civilization (whatever that means) they were entrepreneurs. That is, by the enlightenment ethos, a good thing. Scripture, however, presents a different view of the lengths Christians should go to make money.

Other colonists wanted to escape the religious persecution they were facing in Europe. It seems to me that here some of the early American heroes "of the faith" come into play. However, Jesus said that you're blessed if your persecuted and your reaction should not be to flee, but rather to rejoice. I think there may be a direct correlation between that and why now we praise God for our religious pluralism (aka "freedom") and pray that he keeps America free of persecution as opposed to Christians in China who have praise God and pray for their continual persecution. Who knows?

Let's skip the Native American and slave trade issues and go right to the battle for Independence. It's obvious that the colonists had different economic and political views from England, but what was the great powder-keg of the revolution? Correct me if I'm wrong, but if I recall, it was "taxation without representation." The line that was crossed was that the founding fathers didn't want to render unto Caesar what was his because they didn't get a say in it. Again, quite contrary to the direct teaching of Jesus. Yet still, for this they went to war.

So to reword the question, while God's will was accomplished by the Revolutionary War, were the Christian founding fathers of the United States acting out of the Christian ethos when they waged war against, killed, and defeated British loyalists (some of whom were probably Christians too) in order to ease persecution,secure their right to private property, and to bring forth a new more enlightened form of humanist materialism? I would say no, but that's not just because I'm a pacifist.

"Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves."
Romans 13:1-2

CP pt. 2 coming soon.

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