Monday, October 21, 2013

'Merica, We Don't Dial 911

Sooner or later I'm bound to make someone angry. I don't want to, honest to goodness. However, I feel strong conviction about certain things and how Christians sometimes handle them and I must voice that. So, if this rubs you the wrong way, let's dialogue about that in a loving way. I have seen many of these signs like the one above in my life. It's usually laughed at or played off as humorous. I see many Christians who have used this sign as well, sometimes there is even a Christian message attached to these types of messages like below. 

Somehow I don't think that this is what Jesus meant when He said "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God." In fact, I'm rather certain of it. Just ask yourself this question and really think about it: Who Would Jesus Bomb? I don't ask this to be sarcastic as much as to jar you a bit. Images like the one above severely disturb me. Now don't jump to conclusions, posts like this tend to make people think that I hate guns, hate veterans, hate the flag, and all those types of things. I'll save my opinions unless asked on most of those things, because that's not the point, but I promise you that I will never intentionally treat a person poorly because they hold a different opinion than me. That is also not very Jesus like. Despite how much I think Jesus would disagree with someone hosting a sign or shirt with one of the images above, I also know that He loves them dearly, and so do I. 

However, when did the church get so wrapped up in nationalism? When did being Christian equate to loving the Red, White, and Blue and all of the "Kicking Butt and Taking Names" that comes with that? When did Christian Evangelicals become the single most supportive group of war (Fact: without the support of Christian Evangelicals, the war in Iraq might never have started)? When did it become churches that were the most likely place to hear things like "nuke 'um all" when we are attacked? Why are Christians some of the first to want to assign the death penalty for criminals, creating the "eye for and eye" atmosphere?  Why are some more vocal about being able to own assault weapons than they are about Jesus's love for all people? Why are we the LOUDEST when it comes to these things?

I said this in my last post, but America is not God's nation. We are not, I repeat NOT, the new Israel. The book of Ephesians lets us know that the Church is the new Israel, God's chosen people are no longer associated with a nation. The U.S. is not a holy nation, set apart by God. If it were though, IF IT WERE, things would look differently. Perhaps we'd follow the warfare policy set forth by God for Israel where there is no standing army, no taxation would fund the army, there would be no superior weapons (Israel was prohibited from having horses and chariots, the tanks of the day) - so no tanks, drones, and certainly no nukes, there would be no bootcamp - the only way soldiers would prepare for battle would be to pray, fast, and sing worship songs, and we would in general allow God to fight for us most of the time, being undermanned and undergunned (Sprinkle, 68-71). 

As I said, we're not God's nation, and all of the previous will certainly not happen. However, God does have something to say about trusting in superior fire power as His people (not dialing 911), He calls it idolatry according to the book of Isaiah. (I talk greatly of the U.S., for it is where I am, but I know that I have readers in many, many countries, so apply this to wherever you are).

I don't intend to answer questions of ethical warfare and defense of one's family in such a short post, but I do think that there is some serious disconnect between Jesus's command to love our enemies (the word for enemy indicating the strong possibility of conflict greater than your uncle you don't like) and the claim that my automatic go-to is going to be to shoot anyone I have the right by law to shoot. Somehow our first response is to shoot our enemy, not love them. Somehow American Christians see themselves as on some sort of Holy Crusade to rid the world on injustice through force.

In a game of rock, paper, scissors, Self-Defense and even Property-Defense seem to trump Enemy Love a good deal of the time. And I think that's a tragedy. I used this quote in a post this last summer, and I re-use it for it's appropriateness now - "
On that cross at Golgotha was nailed the One who was unjustly abused, tried, and murdered - and in His dying words He prayed that the Father would forgive those who killed Him. But instead, imagine the result if Jesus had lived in Kentucky, and just before they nailed Him to a cross, He claimed his rights as a citizen and pulled out a .38" (Camp, 44). 

Despite how far one decides to take these ideas I've set forth, perhaps I can inspire you to take a few steps to what I consider a more Jesus like way...a way where this - 

Is not your automatic dualistic mindset. A way where you preach love and grace FAR more than you preach about 2nd Amendment Rights. A way where when you say "God Bless America", you remember to ask for blessings on everyone else too. A way where when you pray for troops, you don't pray for "Our Troops", for the church has none, but instead pray for troops everywhere and on every side (fulfilling Christ's commandment to pray for your enemies [Luke 6:28]). A way where retaliation is not praised, but mourned, for it goes against what Jesus said. And ultimately, a way where Life is cherished, and we mourn when it is lost in any capacity, friend or foe. 

Nationalism is usually only beautiful in the eye of the beholder. Christians went to war during World War II in the name of their Christian nation. The thing is, people did this in the U.S. and in Germany, and had the exact same mindset. During the Civil War, both sides prayed to the same God for victory for their noble cause. One cannot assume that their side is righteous. 

If you're in the army, marines, navy, air force, etc...I love ya. If you want to be in the armed forces, I love ya. If you own a small armory and are easily the safest place to go in case the zombie apocalypse occurs, I love ya, and perhaps we can go shoot some clay pigeons or vermin or something (not human). I'll shake your hand and call you friend. But I do want to challenge your thinking as you challenge mine, and may we ever sharpen each other like iron sharpens iron. 

Let your citizenship in the Kingdom of Heaven supersede any and all earthly citizenships that you may have. Be a Christian American, not an American Christian (or wherever you might be). 

Works Cited

Camp, Lee C. Mere Discipleship: Radical Christianity in a Rebellious World. Grand Rapids: Brazos Press, 2003. Print. 

Sprinkle, Preston. Fight: A Christian Case for Nonviolence. Colorado Springs, CO: David C Cook, 2013. Print. 


  1. Nice read Spencer. I posted something similar on my blog just a few days ago but you've done a great job of communicating our ideas more clearly here. HOWEVEA, reading this brought a question to mind: Looking at the way Israel conducts it's self militarily, what do you see as America's role in it's alliance with Israel? Has America not, in a way, protected Israel from destruction on many occasions and enabled them to hold such lax standards for their military?

    1. My answer to that would have to do more with ideas of military and war than political stance. That being said, it would be more complicated. However, I'd be more than happy to dialogue on that with you.

  2. Love is a powerful thing! But I have a large buck knife ready for any man who wants to come in my house, rape my wife, abuse my child, and I will forgive him while my family is safe.

    1. I understand that. I readily admit that it is alot easier to write big, bold statements as a single guy living alone. I strongly suggest the book I referenced in this post by Preston Sprinkle. It is an easy, yet extremely informative read.

  3. I like your post, and I agree with a lot of it. I think it's something people need to open their eyes to, and I'm glad you're broaching the subject. I want to love in illogical ways and with abandon. At the same time, I am someone who rarely takes ideology to the extreme in either direction. It got the Pharisees and Sadducees in trouble. In my opinion, it gets Calvinists and Universalists in trouble today. I don't claim to know 100% right or wrong on this particular issue, but my heart says there are times to protect your family without violence, and there are times when you gotta be brave and stand up against the extremely dark and evil people of this world.

    I'll keep that book in mind and when I run across it, I'll take a gander.

    1. And I should say that it's not be the people who are evil, but their actions.

    2. I can understand that. And that is a particular reason that I think you may like this guy alot. He tries to address the subject in scriptural, non-idealogical ways. And he comes down to a less than idealogical point of view.

      And I also very much understand your lack of complete understanding. Even the best have come against the same questions and had extreme trouble, Bonhoeffer being the primary one that comes to mind.