Posts Tagged With: war

World-Shaking Evils and the Entertainment-Driven Church

Some ugly facts, some pointing of fingers, some suggested solutions:

As an example of why American Christians probably ought to sober up and look outside ourselves (brace yourself)… perhaps second only to child exploitation in horrific, ugly, beyond-words evil, the mass rape of women is often used as a means of demoralizing the enemy in modern war. See here for an example from the Bosnian-Serbian conflict in the 1990’s where of an estimated 35,000 rapes, only 40 have been prosecuted in a court of law. There is no way around this most dark of human tendencies: war makes way for men to carry out the evil fantasies of their inner-teenager.

What do we do with this reality? You and I cannot physically relocate to central Europe or Congo to protect the women and children. We don’t have the power to lock up and/or execute the millions of potential rapists in war-heavy lands.

Yet there are a few things we can all do to expose this wicked darkness, and I think my own points here will be slightly different than your average social-justice suggestions.

  • Christian churches need to repent of easy-believism, entertainment driven Sunday morning shows, and anything unbiblical and man-centered in doctrine.

That’s right. All of the problems in the world, including the very worst of them, stem from Christian people neglecting the world-saving truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ. It should look like this:

1) the Church stays on task, meaning we are going into all the nations preaching the gospel, baptizing people in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and teaching them to observe all things that Jesus commanded.

2) the culture of every nation is transformed by the pervasive work of the Holy Spirit in saving many people for the glory of Christ, transforming many people in all different stations in life.

3) the attitudes and desires of the nations change according to the desire to be like Christ – to love God first and to love your neighbor as yourself.

4) wars are no longer necessary, and rape becomes a shameful memory. Women and children are treasured, protected, and loved with the love of Christ through His Church.

Surface-level Christianity leaves billions of people without hope, while we decide how big of an entertainment screen to install in our suburban spaceship… I mean, “church.”

EHWC

Come fly away to Six Flags over Jesus-land!

The distraction of the Christian people in the world is the greatest enemy of women and children. While our mega-celebrity pastors are busy entertaining rich American people on their way to hell, poor, defenselessness women and children around the world are being raped and killed by Christ-less men. We here in American, rich churches have the information and resources to evangelize the world… but are much more comfortable playing with ourselves. Oh sure, there are the token missions trips we take, but most of that is laden with false, man-centered theology anyways. They are ultimately useless without the centrality of the liberating gospel of the forgiveness of sins by grace alone, through faith alone in Jesus alone.

  • For those who are Christian, take the words of Jesus literally, and seriously.

He is the light of the world. We are not. Preach Him. He is the world-changer, not us!

He is the Good Shepherd. Bring people to Him – not ourselves.

He is the way, the truth, and the life: make people disciples of Him. These believers should be passionate about making Him known, and by nature of our regeneration, speaking up in the public square for justice and peace among all people.

Through faith in Jesus, know that your life is His, and that when you die, you will be raised again on the last day, unto eternal life with Him. Knowing and believing this fuels the self-sacrificing life of the Christian.

  • Read the stories of the martyrs. Be inspired to, if necessary, die while spreading the true gospel.
  • Be free of the love of this world system. Our banner is not first of all the U.S. Constitution, or capitalism, or military might. It is meekness, care for the poor, and surrounding all of it, the preaching of Christ and Him crucified.
  • Stop supporting the pornography industry. 

I am a hypocrite, for I am an AT&T customer, and they are one of the world’s largest suppliers of pornography (I need to change this). This means that AT&T is one of the world’s largest enablers of exploitation of the weak and defenseless. The porn industry feeds on broken people, and it feeds the fires of lust – the very fires which flame out in rape and torture of the world’s impoverished women. Before you click on porn, make sure you are consciously willing to enable rape and torture through financially feeding the monstrous darkness of men’s hearts.

On the flip-side, the porn addict needs more gospel, not behavior modification. Jesus died to save pornographers and their customers.

Disconnect the demand for porn, and you disconnect the greatest tool of the demonic power of sexual violence in the world.

  • I note Exodus Cry as one of the most hopeful looking anti-sex-slavery organizations. Check them out!
  • Pray for the return of Christ.

There is one event which promises the end of earthly human misery: the Day of our Lord… when He returns He will judge the living and the dead, and put an end to injustices everywhere.

  • Be willing to go to the worst places on earth to bring the light of the gospel. Rapists in the armies of the world need Christ, and will never stop raping until His power and forgiveness reaches them.
  • Raise awareness in Congress, and in your social media interactions. Speak up to expose the unfruitful works of darkness. Whether or not we can see the effects of our efforts, we must make noise against war and rape as a tool of war.

Our intelligence agencies feed weapons to many war zones, while doing little to nothing to protect innocent life in the path of the many evil men we are arming. In all of our wealth, we have the power to do good, and have chosen to instead have more and more war in every corner of the earth. Why do Republicans insist on $700 billion+ Pentagon budgets?

While our American military has done good things, and is necessary; in general today we are feeding the furnace of world violence, and need to reign in our use of force. At the least, Christians should withdraw our political support of war candidates, and influence our representatives to scale down our war machine.

There is only one hope, one cure for a world in darkness: Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. All the earth needs to hear His gospel. Without Him, without the preaching of Him and baptizing in His name, violence can only grow and darken throughout the world.

Come alive to your Lord, dear Christian, and let us make Him known in all the earth. When you see horrific things happening, respond with gospel preaching and the support of missionaries – and respond by meeting material needs. Don’t think the government will do your giving for you, let alone the true compassion that has to be behind charity.

Let us repent of our own sinful selfishness, and confess our sins to the Lord Jesus Christ. Let’s be serious minded Christians – it’s a serious world.

Thanks for reading,

-Justin

Categories: Interpreting Christian Hypocrisy, Understanding the Culture | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Israel and Gaza at War

Three years ago I had the privilege of visiting Israel and the West Bank.

It is a fantastic land full of the world’s most important history, and having visited I will never be the same. As an American Christian, I also must say I will never understand the mindset of the Jews and Muslims in the land of Israel.To be clear, I believe Israel has the right of a nation to defend her citizens against legitimate threats. Rocket attacks from nearby is a legitimate threat.

I have been following the Twitter account of the Israeli Defense Forces, and they make it out to be like they are on a humanitarian mission in the dropping of bombs all over Gaza City – and in their minds they may be. The Palestinians don’t see it that way. If Hamas truly is hiding their weapons and personnel nearby schools, hospitals, and residences, then they are bringing the carnage upon their own people. Knowing a little about the mindset of Islam, there is little value placed on human life in comparison with the urgency of Jihad.

So what is to be our worldview conclusion as we watch this war?

Probably sympathy and grieving for both sides, but for slightly different reasons. We are to sympathize and pray for Israel in their spiritual darkness. They missed their Messiah now almost 20 centuries ago. They need to be grafted back into the tree of Abraham and the blessings of covenant with God. In their land today, they are surrounded by enemies and have nothing except military might. They need the good news of the risen Messiah! Pray for our Israeli friends (both Jew and Arab).

For the Arabs, it’s got to be a hellish life in the Gaza Strip. It is poor, isolated, and infested with terrorists. The population there is at the mercy of a big, angry military in Israel, and a small, crazy band of terrorists within them. There is a sizable Christian community within the borders of Gaza as well – they need our prayers and love. Who are we to condemn these fellow humans in any way? I am rarely more ashamed of American evangelicals than when I hear ignorant war talk about beating down and/or wiping out the Palestinians. Have the heart of Christ, friends, and pray for both sides.

Both people groups are made in God’s image; the lost Muslims in Gaza who are dying and entering God’s presence without a mediator, and the lost Jews who are lording their military might in paranoid fits – as is understandable in light of the, you know, whole thing 70 years ago in Europe where 6 million of them were murdered… but neither side is “on God’s side” here, friends. There is only a broken, cursed human order of nations which cries out for redemption.

For every people group, there is only one Mediator between God and man, the Man Christ Jesus, and there is only one hope for all of war-impoverished humanity: the gospel of Jesus Christ.

And by the way, for Christians there is only one concern in any turmoil between nations: that the gospel and glory of Jesus Christ be made known. Rooting for Israel to flatten and destroy the Palestinians is the quickest way to dishonor and conceal the glory and gospel of Christ. I hope each of Christ’s sheep is praying for the peace and redemption of all people in this conflict.

Thanks for reading,

-Justin

Categories: Understanding the Culture | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Cozying up to Goliath: Evangelicals & the Military

Evangelicals in America, according to my own personal observations, have a mighty, powerful love of the United States military. I have been in any number of churches from a few different denominations and have seen multiple times worship services become mingled with homage to the military. This disturbs me. What is the military? It is the physical force of the government manifested in the earth. What is military propaganda doing in a church service?

As I used to say as a toddler: “I don’t sure, Mom.”

In the case of this country, the military has served to protect our freedoms and way of life, has in many places freed people from oppression, and in others kept horrific despots from taking power. I would not denigrate the service of our soldiers who have fought and died for us; for me to be able to sit here and write this blog post. I have dear friends who are active duty or retired, and my own dad is a Vietnam veteran. Thank you, Dad.

Here’s the rub: the military is a morally neutral force. It is pure power without brains or heart. The moral quality of it is determined by the commanders who utilize it in action, and in America the will of the people which should in theory be the will of the commanders. We could review various wars the U.S. military has conducted and judge the good or evil means and ends of each, but I ask a different question: why are Evangelicals so deeply loyal to the military? Is it as an institution beyond criticism per Romans 13? (Obey the government and submit to the authorities, Paul teaches us). I believe there is something more behind this than just biblical loyalty and submission to authority.

My thoughts are complex, but to boil it down, I am afraid we, as theologically conservative Christians are wedded to the military in such a way that we readily excuse anything done in the name of the United States of America by the military, especially when there is a Republican in the White House. I fear we have been mute in the face of atrocity and injustice perpetrated by the Pentagon. I fear we can justify any bullet, any bomb as being “a fight for our freedoms.”

If you are a Christian, have you stopped to ask questions about our national use of force in the world? Would you be willing to speak against injustices committed in your name, as so many in the world think of us as a “Christian nation?” Where are the lines drawn between moral and immoral use of force? Are unmanned drone attacks warranted simply because there are terrorists out there? What about when we consistently take the lives of civilians inside of countries which we have never declared war against? What if Yemen launched an unmanned drone attack on someone in Nebraska and killed 15 school children? What would be our response?

What happened in your heart and mind when our government announced it would help out Al-Qaeda in Libya to overthrow Muammar Qaddafi? Things getting blurry yet? Why is it that our nation spent $768,000,000,000 on the military last year, almost $600,000,000,000 more than the next country on the list?

I believe this is one place where American Christians are far off of the message of Jesus, whose focus was not a kingdom of this world, but rather the restoration and redemption of people and cosmos – healing the broken and preaching the gospel. What is our focus, my fellow American Christians?

One more question: when the modern, secular, godless State of Israel lobs missiles into Palestinian areas which are upwards of 8% Christian, do you mourn for the deaths of your Christian brothers, sisters, and their children who have died by explosions your tax dollars paid for? We must stop to weigh the nuances of our national actions, and decry those that are unnecessary or unjust.

It grieves me to think of any use of deadly force. It grieves me when some Evangelicals seem to laud the military without even a hint of agony for what it truly is: a necessary but terrible part of life in our fallen world.

This world was made for us to cultivate, beautify, and steward. The Church is meant to help restore those things to humanity, to shed light on Christ’s redemption of the cosmos – and in reality the military breaks, destroys, and pollutes the earth. Totally different missions, hm?

Thanks for reading,

-Justin

Categories: Interpreting Christian Hypocrisy, Understanding the Culture | Tags: , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Of NASCAR and Nukes: What of Islam?

Americans, broadly speaking as a culture, tip-toe like chubby Athenians at the Old Country Buffet of news and philosophy. We fill our plates with some CNN, a bit of Fox News, a spoonful of Rush Limbaugh, NPR, and for dessert whatever the latest rage is on The New York Times best-seller list. We’re airport news-stand learners.

The once great pillars of intellectual and theological depth in our colleges and churches have been traded for “if it feels good do it” – just ask the average Vanderbilt University senior some basic questions about their world, or the average evangelical to articulate a Christian worldview.

Sex with every other person on campus? Yes, please! Detailed statistics on every member of the Boston Red Sox for the past 58 years? Oh my, yes! Critical thought and a mature understanding of society and life? Well, I do read Time at the doctor’s office… whenever NASCAR isn’t on the TV in the corner.

This ought not to be so for Americans – a once educated and formidable people.

Yet this ought not to be so for Christians, especially. We are entertained to death, and frankly, we have little patience to wade in above our ankles when it comes to the difficult work of analyzing and understanding our world and the doctrine of Scripture. It’s all too confusing and crazy – who can keep up with it all? Let’s keep things light!

I like Budweiser!

The Bachelorette!

Obamney!

Facing Koranic, Radical Islam

What does this general unwillingness (or inability) to think critically look like when we examine the relationship between the average American and the bogey-man of radical Islam? Ugly. It’s not a simple challenge.

On the one hand the left wing types generally give radical Islam something of a pass. They are too busy today in their own jihad against Christianity in the West to worry about their kids being beheaded tomorrow.

On the other hand, the right wing types many times would deal with the problem through neo-colonial shock and awe. We see too often the broad-brushing of the Middle East as “the bad guys” so that we can then send our overpriced firepower “over there” to keep us safe “over here.” This is pure Bull-oney, blind pragmatism, and a failed foreign policy, empirically – not to mention at best quasi-constitutional.

Yet Christ’s people ought not to make sense to this secular left-right paradigm. We ought not to be either coddling Islam as if it were an equally valid expression of culture, nor should we be trying to make friends and influence people through deadly drone strikes at Afghani wedding parties.

The Military Church

So what are we doing in evangelicalism? I remember a year or two after we invaded Iraq again, my church brought in a member of the Israeli Mossad pretending to be a Christian convert from Judaism. He preached for an hour about Israel’s special right to be protected by the United States, and very much praised the military, our President, and us churchlings for our unquestioning support of all things war+Israel. After all, we know that God is on our side, right?

I was mortified, but not because of him. Him I could explain. It was the atmosphere of “us vs. them” in the church which made me sick. An atmosphere which mimics the right-wingers on talk radio which barely disguise their most patriotic desire to see the Middle-East dealt with by nuclear glass parking-lot creation.

Out with the Great Commission and up with the conquest of the Muslims! I’m surprised there wasn’t an Army recruiter in the lobby afterwards.

And isn’t this the atmosphere in conservative evangelical churches throughout the land? We salute the new-Christ made in the image of Uncle Sam, and turn to catch a few hours of Sports Center.

What of the wars, though? America has bombed, subverted, toppled, and destroyed Muslim countries for 70 years now – how’s that going for us?

Most of us have also heard the frantic reports of Islam taking over western Europe by sheer breeding capacity. The average Muslim family in western Europe has an average of over 6 children, while the natives top out at about 1.8. Within 40-50 years at this rate, Europe will be a brown, Muslim continent.

I say good. What’s the matter with that? God will make His Church in the beautiful brown and olive people of Europe and dispose of the spoiled, death-loving whites. And what about it? We’ve squandered our heritage as a Christian culture (speaking of the west in general), and we’re dying out accordingly.

Meanwhile today, Muslim countries are the least evangelized in the world. We would much rather send our teenagers on a short-term missions trip to the Bahamas than lose their lives for Christ in Karachi.

So let me see… we will send Americans to Muslim lands as long as they are authorized to kill them to keep us safe over here, but when it comes to missionaries who are authorized to be killed for the sake of the elect, we can’t get volunteers. Well, I shouldn’t say no volunteers. Those who study the numbers report about 1 evangelical missionary for every 1,000,000 Muslims in the world.

Hypocrisy.

And it stems from an ignorance of Scripture. An ignorance of the Author of the Scripture and what He demands. An ignorance of Church history and all that has happened in the cause of Christ. An ignorance of how the world works. A messed-up, self-esteem centered public education system. An unwillingness to interpret the cosmos according to the lens of Jesus Christ crucified, buried, and resurrected for the salvation of Muslims who might cut your head off.

The Biblical Church

…obeying the Lord Jesus Christ for 1,980+ years.

19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (NKJV)

…making every effort in prayer, in fasting, in sacrifice to bring the gospel to our Muslim neighbors, not settling for simplistic “us vs. them” tribal mentalities. Not settling for MSNBC and Fox as our source of worldview. Not settling for church gatherings which look entirely like ourselves – but instead loving some ethnic flavor in the mix.

Let’s be different. Let’s be biblical. Let’s step out of political Christendom and into Christianity. Let’s love those wild sons of Ishmael and give them Christ. Let’s refuse to be understood by the left-right politics in America. Let’s love like Christ.

Thanks for reading,

-Justin

Categories: Comparative Religions, Interpreting Christian Hypocrisy, Understanding the Culture | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Wretched TV Video Clip: Christianity Responsible for War and Violence?

Good wrap-up to our posts on the Crusades.

Happy interpreting!

-Justin

Categories: Interpreting Christian Hypocrisy, The Message of the Bible | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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