Thursday, February 24, 2005

United States Military Sponsors Porter Memorial Baptist Church Event

Porter Memorial and the Powers that Be

Look at the pictures. All of them.

See the sanctuary bedecked with military regalia.

See the American flag covering the cross.

See Porter Memorial's own program for the recruiting drive.

Baptists historically have taken stands against this sort of horror.

I could talk to you about the idolatry that is so obvious in this cheap, easy patriotism. About how these people offer the Body of Christ to be raped by the State. But I won't bother. These are not churches. They are basilicas draped with the Imperial colors, dedicated to Mars, the god of war.

So go on, you adulterers. Sell out your baptism and deny the Maker of heaven and earth.

We're reading Bonhoeffer this semester: The Cost of Discipleship. Christ bids us to come and die, not wrap ourselves in the rhetoric and protections of the State. The German church (so-called) stood by while the German State claimed divine sanction to grind people up in its gears. The churches gave their blessing.

You give the State carte blanche, merrily treading on the blood of Christ and his martyrs.

Whether American flags or Nazi swastikas, it makes no difference to you people, does it?

Does it?

Continue in this and be damned.

These people make their first allegiance to the god of the United States. Not the God of the cross. Not Jesus Christ.

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25 comments:

The Archer of the Forest said...
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The Archer of the Forest said...

That is disturbing. I am fairly pro-military, but even I can't handle this.

You are right on...Baptists have historically had to stand up against this because they were on the political margin (thanks to us Anglicans I might add).

Darth Vader: I find your lack of faith disturbing.

Allison said...

Porter is a good church. I know the pastor, Dr. Henard and he's a good man.

Porter is showing their support for the troops. They're not necessarily showing support of President Bush or of the war in Iraq. I see nothing wrong with that. It has nothing to do with the separation of church and state...This isn't a political ploy; it's patriotism. The church can't be patriotic and still remain separate?! I think they can.

It's not as if they were purposely covering up the cross and baptismal with the flag. Just because they're Baptist, doesn't mean they're sacrilegious.

"These people make their first allegiance to the god of the United States. Not the God of the cross. Not Jesus Christ."
How can you know this? How can you make this assumption from something like this? This wasn't a Sunday service. Holding this type of program in Porter's building doesn't negate the fact that it is also a place of worship...and not worship of the government but of the Jesus Christ that both you and I know.

Opinion: I find no basis for your post, Kyle. That was pretty hardcore.

Aspiring Nomadic Doc said...

Hi Kyle. I'm a Gtown alum as well, and I think I know you, but if not, we certainly have mutual friends.

Anyways, Allison is right. This hyperbole does nothing but detriment to the Church as a whole as well as Porter and without good reason. This was not a "Church Service" in the traditional sense. This was a "Men's Night Out." An opportunity for men of the church, and their friends/family/colleagues, to get together to get to hear a patriotic program.

Personally, I would have loved to hear the person's testimony and story. The Black Hawk Down incident fascinates me on many levels. If there was one person that was brought into the church because he is a war-buff or a very Patriotic man, and was reached on a personal level and started going to church regularly, Wouldn't that be worth it??

You make it sound as if they were desecrating the church, but honestly I think this is the only place they logistically have to carry on this sort of program.
(I'm a member there, but due to personal family matters, I have had to travel the majority of weekends and have not gotten as involved as much I would like--so please forgive me if i'm mistaken about that last point)

I wish I had been there. I REALLY wish I had taken my brother there. This is not selling out to the US Armed Forces or any sort of priority problem. This is a fact that many times there are other ways to get people to church to help them meet people and feel involved....

...But I think you know this. I also hope you realize that this sort of "shock-factor" blogging is detrimental to our Cause and uncalled for given the circumstances. Making a problem where there is not one will only turn more people off.

Of course, if this were a regular occurence or there actually WERE recruiter pressuring people into signing up for the military, then I would have a problem too...

Allison said...
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Allison said...

I need to say something else. *gasp*
"Aspiring Nomadic Doc", I wish you knew me...because this comment may seem harsh, but I don't mean for it to be. You're sixth paragraph block was honestly uncalled for. I wish you knew Kyle a little better...If you did, you'd know he doesn't do things for shock value. I don't think his opinions are "detrimental to our Cause". Kyle, I'm not trying to speak for you because I think you're more than capable of defending yourself when you feel the need...BUT...Kyle has a passion for the church and for finding some kind of purity in it and holding onto it. There are certain things that "push his buttons"...I think that's fair to say for all of us. This particular deal at Porter "set him off"...whereas, a comment from a Seminarian such as, "Yeah, I figured she'd end up at UofL...She seemed like the 'worldly' type" may piss me off...and I may vent for several lines, not about that specific comment, but about what I believe is at the heart of the comment: COMPLETE AND TOTAL RELIGIOUS ARROGANCE.

Kyle, I was just expressing my disagreement with your post. I think I do understand the heart behind what you said...and I can't say I disagree with that.

Peace.

Aspiring Nomadic Doc said...
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Allison said...

Actually...y'know what? Now that I think about it...I think Kyle does say things sometimes for shock value (and it's ALWAYS hilarious)...But I don't think this post is an example.

Aspiring Nomadic Doc said...

Allison,

I removed the last post because after re-reading your response (for the 3rd or 4th time) I think I misunderstood what you were saying to me...My apologies. Are you calling my comments "COMPLETE AND TOTAL RELIGIOUS ARROGANCE" or just uncalled for?

If it's the latter, I must respectfully disagree. (Of course, if it's the former I suppose I'd have to disagree with a bit more vigor ;) )

Whether it was the purpose of his post or not, it is shocking. As a Believer, if I simply had his post and the post with the pics to go on, I'd be absolutely livid! Just as he is, but without the poignancy of his post. If I were not a Christian, I would look at it as a further indictment of the church.

The rub is this: It's based on misinformation (though I believe it to be unintentional) and we're trying to provide better info. You vouched for Bro. Henard yourself and I am adding my experience as a member (albeit not as involved as I wish to be) of Porter.

So it comes to this... Words have power. They effect perception. If you say something enough, people believe, esp. if they see it in enough places. I was appealing to Kyle because for whatever reason, I believe him to be to be Good man and a Believer. I was trying to put forth this question: How do these words further the Cause for Christ?

If he still believes that Porter was trying recruit for the U.S. Armed Forces, whoring out the pulpit to that purpose, and becoming a false temple, then by all means it is his duty to continue that fight.

If he thinks that perhaps this may not be true, then maybe reconsidering his words may be in better order.

I will admit, there are people that I know personally better who blog on here that I would not challenge like this because it would fall on deaf ears. I don't know why I did this with Kyle on this blog, but I felt that the author is a Believer and a Good man who would at least listen. Also, I would not be able to concentrate on what I'm studying for tomorrow's quiz if I did not.

I completely understand venting and needing to just let it all out. That's perfectly understandable. But as Believers our words have weight. They represent us and our Cause. Kyle's are being linked to from other blogs. Is this a fair representation?

The Chairman said...

"United States Military Sponsors Porter Memorial Baptist Church Event"

Please provide your evidence that this event was sponsored by the U.S. Military.

Allison said...

Aspiring Nomadic Doc --
(just calling it uncalled for).
It's not as if we're hiding anything from unbelievers. All they have to do is look around at our churches...Ask ten different people on the street what they think Christianity is...and you'll get ten different answers (most of them probably negative).

They're not oblivious.

So why should we pretend to be? Kyle was confronting something that he obviously believes is a problem in this particular church. Maybe it wasn't the best way to say it, but at least he has the boldness to say it, whether you and I agree with the words he used or not.

We as Christians, confronting what we believe to be problems in the church is the complete opposite of detrimental.

If we ignore it, we are a part of it. And to the rest of the world, not only are we hateful and elitist...we are also liars.

I won't pretend that the problems in the church are not there...THAT, brother, is detrimental to our cause.

+ Alan said...

Well well, you've stepped in it now haven't you O Kyle? Yes, you have. I'll not go into all my deeply held convictions about this matter - just a few. See, there's an assumption in portions of the Christian world, that patriotism and some alliegence to the State is very appropriate for the Church, or a church. I fully realize this. This is where we live.

I would present, though, that this is not a given. It cannot be assumed so quickly. Realize that there is a very long and deep tradition in Christianity that sees nothing appropriate in these things at all. I would never see it as appropriate for the church to even have the flag of it's host country displayed in the sanctuary in any way, much less in this blatant manner. It really has nothing to do with God. I'm not saying they're "anti-Christ" for doing it. I'm sure they truly believe that what they're doing is right and good. I just happened to deeply disagree.

And really, any event put on in a church-owned facility by that church is a "church service," even if you don't call it that. It is fully perceived as that whatever you call it. Again, I'm sure they feel it's fine. I'm just trying to make the point that to say "it's just being patriotic" doesn't quite make some of us go "oooohhh, is that all, well then.." As I said, it's not a given that being patriotic at that level and a Christian is necessarily compatible. Not saying you can't be "saved" and be a patriot, I just believe it's a distraction and not our part to play in the world. Peace to all in this house.

Jesse said...

Mr. Chairman, regarding "sponsorship":

The supplies used to create the patriotic army backdrop were donated to the church by several military organizations. Refer to this image of the bulletin for more information (top left corner). Please note that "U.S. Army Recruiters" is one of the donors.

General note: doesn't this make the service a "recruitment effort"? This picture would seem to say so.

Allison said...

Alan, not sure I understand your "not saying you can't be 'saved' and be a patriot, I just believe it's a distraction and not our part to play in the world" statement...or the rest of your comment, for that matter.

I don't want a debate to come up about patriotism, so I probably shouldn't say this...but I will anyway. There's nothing wrong with being thankful to the branches of our military for their part in fighting for our freedom. How is that a distraction? Right, we are called to concentrate our main attention on the things of Christ and on his plans for the world and our part in it...But we may also love our spouses and families and our country.

Patriotism is NOT the mission of the church...but I don't see how it's a distraction, either.

Jesse said...

Consider this a trackback.Maybe I'm being a bit too ranty.

Isaiah said...

"The mission of Porter Memorial Baptist Church is to worship God, to globally lead people to faith in Christ, and to grow together to be like Him..." - from the website.

hmmmm. globally??

let's have a "sorry-we-bombed-your-village-mother-f***ers" service, with a global altar call.

how kind of them to consider the globe. and the US army. all at once.

-- not isaiah

Allison said...

For what it's worth, Jesse, I don't think you were being too ranty at all. I enjoyed your post.

The thing that stuck out to me in your post was that comment you quoted from Locomono (sp?). True, Jesus was angry that his temple was being defiled by the money changers...But my difficulty is deciding if this "Men's Night Out" thing can be defined as a defilement. As of yet, I haven't seen anything that would make me think it is.

Why again is this such a big deal? I honestly want to know. I'm not trying to be a smart ass. I don't think I'm understanding why this is such a concern. I don't believe they were "covering the alter" and covering the cross and baptismal on purpose to somehow signify that the state is superior to the church...or even that the state has any business as part of the church.

It was just another silly Baptist program.

Jesse said...

Allison: Thank you. I've been reading your blog for a while now; maybe I should comment once in a while ;)

I agree with you; I don't think they were intentionally covering the baptistry, or trying to say something about the flag being bigger than Jesus. But I think the fact that the cross was covered up is important, because it's symbolic of what can happen when the state and the church try to get involved. The church is meant to do away with all nations ("neither Jew nor Greek") and so I think the cross and the flag (any flag) have to ultimately oppose each other. The state is interested in getting power and keeping power. The church should be interested in the powerless. I guess the flag is just too powerful a symbol for me to be comfortable with. Then again, I've always disliked seeing flags in sanctuaries, so this is nothing new to me.

(I'm trying not to sound snide and self-righteous, but I'm afraid it keeps coming off that way. I'm sorry.)

Jesse said...

Err, one more thought--that's not to say that government is bad, or that supporting one's government or liking one's government is bad. It's just that government is a fallen thing, and we've got to keep an eye on it.

Allison said...

I like you, Jesse. I do. I read you blog quite regularly. Maybe I should start leaving comments, too.

You didn't sound snide or self-righteous. I actually understood more where you were coming from than anyone else in this little discussion. I understand the dangers of the church aligning themselves with the state. I think that's a serious thing. I'm just not so sure I can say, with full conviction, that this program at Porter was intended to do such a thing. This deal at Porter may have established a need to confront those dangers, but I don't think that this was an example of it.

Unfortnately, I'm still very much a Baptist in my head. Maybe that has something to do with it. But I don't think so.

Kyle said...

The program itself was not the act of aligning with the State. The fact that it happened reveals how deeply compromised those folks already are. It's the idolatrous attitudes that brought forth the debacle, not the severity of the visual offenses.

Does that help a little?

Allison said...

I feel like I'm back at Ashland. Nothing more. Nothing less.

I don't mean to sound harsh. But I think I can be bluntly honest here. That's what it feels like...whatever that's worth

The Chairman said...

Hmm...that's a valid point, Jesse...though I still think it falls short of it being an event where the military came in to set up the event - the church would have asked for them to donate the materials so they could hold an event they seem to have instigated themselves as a community event.

That said, there's info on another blog that military recruitment is apparently an ongoing effort of the church administrators on a regular basis, and if that is true, that's going beyond what is appropriate.

Without actually being there to observe this in person I don't want to get too extensive with any additional comments beyond that.

+ Alan said...

Here's the thing - for me - I have no relationship to Porter Memorial or anyone there. I mean we share an identity in Christ but there is not real, genuine relationship there. So, I can't speak to them about anything really. I have no ground to do that. This is my ground, the ground of relationship. If I have relationship with you, we have a context in which I can whoop you up side your head. Otherwise, I can speak to general principles and theological dangers, etc. I suppose to use a particular church as an example is fine, but any further than that I can't go. I have no ground to walk on to get there.

And Allison, you have raw wounds, you know that. Sorry your bad memories are flowing. Sometimes these things need to be worked out. Hopefully we can do it without harming each other. Of course we need to be straight-up too and call some things out. Anyway, I hope that made sense. Peace.

Allison said...

Made sense. Hopefully, it'll work itself out.