According to some Christian outlooks we were made for another world. Perhaps, rather, we were made for this world to recreate, reclaim, redeem, and renew unto God's future aspiration by the power of His Spirit. - R.E. Slater
Secularization theory has been massively falsified. We don't live in an age of secularity. We live in an age of explosive, pervasive religiosity... an age of religious pluralism. - Peter L. Berger
Exploring the edge of life and faith in a post-everything world. - Todd Littleton
I don't need another reason to believe, your love is all around for me to see. – anon
Thou art our need; and in giving us more of thyself thou givest us all. - Khalil Gibran, Prayer XXIII
Be careful what you pretend to be. You become what you pretend to be. - Kurt Vonnegut
Religious beliefs, far from being primary, are often shaped and adjusted by our social goals. - Jim Forest
People, even more than things, need to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone. – anon
Certainly God's love has made fools of us all. - R.E. Slater
An apocalyptic Christian faith doesn't wait for Jesus to come, but for Jesus to become in our midst. - R.E. Slater
Christian belief in God begins with the cross and resurrection of Jesus, not with rational apologetics. - Eberhard Jüngel, Jürgen Moltmann
Our knowledge of God is through the 'I-Thou' encounter, not in finding God at the end of a syllogism or argument. There is a grave danger in any Christian treatment of God as an object. The God of Jesus Christ and Scripture is irreducibly subject and never made as an object, a force, a power, or a principle that can be manipulated. - Emil Brunner
Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh means "I will be that who I have yet to become." - God (Ex 3.14)
Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy. - Thomas Merton
The church is God's world-changing social experiment of bringing unlikes and differents to the Eucharist/Communion table to share life with one another as a new kind of family. When this happens we show to the world what love, justice, peace, reconciliation, and life together is designed by God to be. The church is God's show-and-tell for the world to see how God wants us to live as a blended, global, polypluralistic family united with one will, by one Lord, and baptized by one Spirit. – anon
The cross that is planted at the heart of the history of the world cannot be uprooted. - Jacques Ellul
The Unity in whose loving presence the universe unfolds is inside each person as a call to welcome the stranger, protect animals and the earth, respect the dignity of each person, think new thoughts, and help bring about ecological civilizations. - John Cobb & Farhan A. Shah
If you board the wrong train it is of no use running along the corridors of the train in the other direction. - Dietrich Bonhoeffer
God's justice is restorative rather than punitive; His discipline is merciful rather than punishing; His power is made perfect in weakness; and His grace is sufficient for all. – anon
Our little [biblical] systems have their day; they have their day and cease to be. They are but broken lights of Thee, and Thou, O God art more than they. - Alfred Lord Tennyson
We can’t control God; God is uncontrollable. God can’t control us; God’s love is uncontrolling! - Thomas Jay Oord
Life in perspective but always in process... as we are relational beings in process to one another so life events are in process in relation to each event... as God is to Self, is to world, is to us... like Father, like sons and daughters, like events... life in process yet always in perspective. - R.E. Slater

Saturday, May 14, 2011

The Meaning of Love and Justice, Part 1

Should Christians celebrate death?

by Roger Olson

One thing Yoder (Anabaptist) and Niebuhr (Christian realist) would agree on is that Christians should never celebrate killing–however justified it may be. Anabaptists like Yoder probably think no killing is truly justified. Christian realists like Niebuhr probably think some killing is justified, but no killing is righteous. I find myself leaning toward the Christian realist view on this, but when I read the Sermon on the Mount and think about what Jesus would do I have trouble believing a Christian ought ever to kill.

However, even Anabaptists believe God gave the sword to the state and so some killing is justified even if it is sin. But it is never justifiable for the Jesus follower to kill. It is not God’s will for his people to kill.

Christian realists believe sometimes God’s people must hold their noses and kill. But even when killing is absolutely necessary (e.g., in the case of Bonhoeffer participating in the plot to kill Hitler) the Jesus follower must not celebrate. The appropriate response is instead to repent and trust God for forgiveness.

These last two days America has been in a frenzy of celebration over the killing of one of our and humanity’s worst enemies (Osama Ben Laden). Personally, I’m glad he’s dead IF that is the only alternative to him engineering more horrendous deaths through terrorism. Apparently it is. But I can’t celebrate. And I can’t understand Christians who do celebrate death–especially when there is “collateral damage” as in the case of the woman used as a human shield.

What I can celebrate is the end of terrorism, but I don’t see that coming just because of this one death.

Now, the Niebuhr in me wants to pat the Navy Seal on the back who killed and say “Good job!” “Now let’s pray for forgiveness.”

The Yoder in me wants to say “Now let me talk with you about being a peace maker instead of a killer.”

I live in a city where the majority of people consider themselves serious Christians and where I see lots of bumper stickers that raise doubts about whether all who think they are really are. One that I see a lot says “Thank God for our soldiers–especially the snipers.” I would prefer one that said “Thank God for our soldiers–especially those who do non-combatant alternative service.” (I guess that would make for a big bumper sticker or else print too small to read!)

A few years ago I attended a “God and Country” Sunday morning “worship” service at a large evangelical church. The whole service was devoted to celebrating the military. They sang the “hymns” of the various branches of the military and had people who served in those branches stand as the congregation sang and as an honor guard marched down the center aisle carrying the military flags.

I wondered when they were going to have conscientious objectors who performed alternative or non-combatant service stand to be honored. They didn’t. I can only call that “service” an orgy of militaristic, nationalistic jingoism. There was no hint of sorrow for innocent lives lost in war or repentance for our numerous military incursions into non-combatant countries to defend our “national interests.” (The US has, without invitation by legitimate governments, militarily intervened in Latin American countries about 150 times.)

In conclusion, while I’m glad the snake has been decapitated, as a Christian I can’t celebrate any violent death. I can only breathe a sigh of relief and pray “God have mercy.”

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