Any worldly power, be it Nazi Germany, the British crown or the American empire, cannot ally itself with the Church of Jesus Christ. The reign of God is present in us to cast down every pretension to significance that these temporal powers may have. I can entertain the idea that allegiance to Jesus will not always stand over against every action by every empire, and that the Church may praise and commend some actions of some governments, and of course be thankful for the blessing of peace that God grants through their rule.
But whenever the Church considers allegiance to Jesus and the State to be somehow equivalent, she loses her critical eye for the policies of the State that are destructive of human dignity, and in its unchecked, unchallenged rule, the State will turn on the people of God. It happened in Germany, and it may well happen here.
The Church of Jesus Christ does not have the luxury of patriotism. (Read Wednesday's post for more support on this!)
If one wishes to “support the troops” (which ones?) one ought to pray for them, send care packages, and take particular care to look after the families of those serving abroad. A believer does not have the luxury of throwing big parties about how wonderful it is that so many brave young men and women are working to execute the policies of the State and how the Church ought to bless that state of affairs.
With that said, I’d like to respond to a few specific arguments:
I agree with Alan. While it might be significant to some of you that this was not an “official church service,” that means nothing to me, and I don’t think it would mean much to “the world out there.” This local manifestation of the Body of Christ did something as the Body of Christ (even calling it a “ministry”). That’s the important thing. Also note that even though they may not have “meant anything” by all of that stuff, the fact that they didn’t might make it even more dangerous. It’s about the attitudes, those of offering allegiance and alliance to the State, that make it “not mean anything” to them.
I don’t understand the “distraction” objection. This is about “being the Church.” It’s about being faithful to the gospel of Jesus Christ, and about understanding that no temporal State power can receive the Church’s allegiance – nor an alliance. Discussing such issues can’t be a distraction to anything, because there is nothing I consider more important.
As far as “not letting the heathen” see? (This is my shorthand, not a phrase anybody used) If we believe in the forgiveness of sin, and we believe in who we’re called to be, I have no problem with calls to repentance, and subsequent repentant gestures being public. The sin is obviously very public.
Finally, I was not using hyperbole. A building has not been defiled. The Body of Christ is being defiled. I used the word “rape” for a reason. Because theologically, that’s what is happening. This stuff is dangerous, those folks’ souls are in peril, and I meant every word. I’m certain they have good intentions, but that doesn’t count for a good deal. (“We just kind of fell into bed together, we didn’t mean for anything to happen”).
I am a believer, and I intend this as a clear and unequivocal indictment of this kind of church.
I don’t think their cause is mine, or that of Christ. I would invite them to change their cause…
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