Location: Irvine, California, United States

E-mail Me

My Blog Profile

Technorati search

    WWW the outer...

My Amazon Wish List

    Search Now:


Help fuel my writing dream...

My Bloglines Subs & Stuff

    Listed by category are subscriptions to blogs I monitor and read. Check them out!

    Note: Sites listed by this blog does not imply endorsement of anything except when they promote this site.

Other Cool Sites I Visit

Recommended for your Library

    Ethics: The Heart of Leadership

    Edited by Joanne Ciulla. An important collection of essays by philosophers, leadership and management thinkers considering the role of ethics in leadership

    Servant Leadership: A Journey into the Nature of Legitimate Power and Greatness

    By Robert K. Greenleaf, Larry C. Spears, Stephen R. Covey. Servant and leader--can these two roles be fused in one real person in all levels of status and calling?

    Warranted Christian Belief

    By Alvin Plantinga. Third in a trilogy of works on the issue of warrant - the basis of the rationality of Christian beliefs written by arguably the most important philosopher of religion alive today

    Renovation of the Heart

    By Dallas Willard. A philosopher and quintessential Christian teacher relates and reflects on what it means to put on the character of Christ.

    Foreign Bodies

    By Hwee Hwee Tan. An impressive first novel by young new author from Singapore acclaimed as an up and coming Pulitzer Prize winner

    Mammon Inc.

    By Hwee-Hwee Tan. Second novel by this very important young new author from Singapore applauded the world over, including The Times in London and the New York Times

    Three Philosophies of Life

    By Peter Kreeft. Three life philosophies presented through the works of three of Scriptures most beautiful poetry books, Job, Ecclesiastes and Songs of Solomon

    Horrendous Evil and the Goodness of God

    By Marilyn McCord-Adams. A seminal response to the age-old problem of evil which attempts to take seriously the theological ramifications of the character of God


    By Malcolm Gladwell. Blink is about the first two seconds of looking--the decisive glance that knows in an instant.

    Smart Mobs

    By Howard Rheingold. A social commentary about how "sophisticated mobile Internet access is allowing people who don't know each other to act in concert".


    By Albert-Laszlo Barabasi. An engaging treatise about the fundamentals of interconnectedness and complexity that underlies neurology, epidemiology, Internet traffic, and many other fields.

    The Peaceable Kingdom

    By Stanley Hauerwas. A clear explication of a Christian ethic based upon the meaning of the gospel, highlighting virtues and character, and narrative as a mode of ethical reflection.

    The Goldsworthy Trilogy: Gospel & Kingdom, Gospel & Wisdom, Gospel & Revelation

    By Graeme Goldsworthy. A collection of masterful works expositing on the centrality of the Scriptures: the gospel of Jesus Christ.

    Grace and Law: St. Paul, Kant, and the Hebrew Prophets

    By Heinz Cassirer. A Kantian scholar looks at the Old Testament Law, and Paul's understanding of it, concluding that Kant's delimma is answered by the gospel of grace.

The Un-Right Christians

Progressive Christian Blogger Network

Church Directory of Evangelical Blogs

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

When the Bishop Brought the Emperor to His Knees

While enjoying my morning cuppa today, I was doing a little blog-hopping through my long neglected bloglines subscriptions. I found a very interesting piece on taking up one's cross at a time of war posted by Kevin Poorman at the Ekklesia Project referenced in this post by The Gutless Pacifist.

While I am not sure if I'd call myself a pacifist, I do have quite a lot of sympathies to the call to nonviolence for Christians.

What I did find was a well balanced plea for the Christian to take up his or her cross seriously and a consideration of what that means in light of a nation waging a "just war" against so-called terrorist-supporting enemy nations and regimes.

Matt Gunther, the author of the sermon on which the post is based, wondered if
the religious lackeys of the left don't have their parallel among some conservatives who have never seen a war waged by their own country that they could not justify.
Gunther bemoans the fact that Christians seem to be entangled in this political divisions between political liberalism and conservatism. For the Christian, Gunther believes
the way of the cross means a commitment to peace.
He further examines how the way of the cross look like at a time of war.

1) Taking up the cross in a time of war means getting our loyalties straight.
The Gutless Pacifist quoted Gunther's story here about a tee-shirt that promotes both that Jesus saves and also, troublingly, that USA saves!

2) Taking up the cross in a time of war means the way of humility
It means being prepared to entertain the possibility that we are wrong. It means asking, why does most of the rest of the world disagree with us? Even those governments that support the United States' invasion of Iraq do so against the will of the overwhelming majority of their people. Right and wrong are not determined by majority vote. But, it is arrogant to presume that everyone else is automatically wrong because they don't see it our way.

3) Taking up the cross in a time of war means we must recognize our own sin.
Recognizing our sin means we need to be suspicious of our own motives. Can it be that every country that opposes war with Iraq has mixed motives, but the United States does not?

We need to deny ourselves the indulgence of self-justification and recognize that this is neither accidental nor simply a matter of colossal misunderstanding. There are reasons many in the world do not trust us. I am very concerned that as a result of this war and our behavior leading up to it we will be living with the deep resentment of much of the rest of the world for a long time.

(4) Taking up the cross in a time of war means repentance.
We need be prepared to repent of sins we commit as individuals and as a nation. And if sometimes we decide we must resort to violence, we need to repent for that violence. Some have suggested that the classic just war approach does not presume that violence is wrong. I do not know if that is true. If it is the just war theory needs to be rethought in light of Jesus and the cross. Killing some people for the sake of other people is always a devil's bargain - even if we decide it is the only bargain we can make.
So, what has the bishop or the emperor has to do with all this? Actually, Gunther began his sermon with a story from the Roman Empire:
In the year 390, Ambrose, Bishop of Milan, sent a letter to one of his parishioners. Ambrose was convinced that this parishioner had committed a grievous and public sin. In his letter, Ambrose told the parishioner that until he repented publicly he would not be allowed to receive Communion. Ambrose had excommunicated him. But this was no ordinary church member. It was Theodosius, emperor of the Roman Empire. It seems one of Theodosius' officials had been murdered in the Greek city of Thessalonica. The exact circumstances are unclear. Perhaps it was a tax revolt. Perhaps it was a random terrorist attack. In any event, Theodosius had done what emperors always do. He sent in the army to teach the people of Thessalonica, and by extension the rest of the empire, a lesson. Some 7,000 people - men, women, and children - were killed, the vast majority of whom had had nothing to do with the death of the official. Ambrose was not a pacifist, but he knew that the emperor's actions needed to be condemned even if it meant the very real possibility of being sent to prison or killed. Emperors don't usually like to be challenged. Against all odds, Emperor Theodosius repented and publicly sought absolution from his bishop. I've been thinking a lot about Ambrose and Theodosius lately. What would Ambrose say about the looming invasion of Iraq? Would it make any difference?
(Even though I have quoted extensively from his post, you've got to read his entire post for the context)

Gunther ends his sermon with these words:
Lent is about taking up the cross, denying ourselves, and following Jesus. It includes denying our tendency toward self-justification - as individuals, as a church, and as a nation. It means dying to other loyalties. It means humility. It means acknowledging our own sinfulness. It means repentance. It is a way of martyrdom. If any want to be my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow. I can't say whether, if he were here, Ambrose would oppose war with Iraq. What disturbs me more is that for many Christians in America - it wouldn't matter.