Jesus for President

30 Apr

Jesus for President-Shane Claiborne
Section III: When the Empire Got Baptized Part V

God Bless America (This ought to be fun since I work with a 501c3 non-profit church that has this painted on the side of their building)

Ched Myers does great work with the idea of “God Bless America” in his article “Mixed Blessing: A Theological Inquiry into a Patriotic Cant,…

In the Hebrew Bible, the imperative “Bless!” occurs only thirty out of the several hundred times the verb barak (“to kneel,” as before a king) appears. OF those thirty occurrences, the majority are liturgical exhortations to “bless the Lord,” mostly in the Psalter (e.g. Ps. 66:8; 96:2; 104:1). In other words, the act of blessing is most often directed toward heaven, not solicited from it! Only four times in the entire Hebrew scriptural tradition do we find requests in the imperative for divine blessing. Even more intersting (or troubling, from the point of view of the “patriots”) is the use of blessing in the New Testament. Of the forty-one appearances of the Greek verb eulogeoo (“speaking a good word”), only twice do we find it in the imperative mood. In neither case does it involve God. It does, however, involve us–and our enemies. In his famous sermon on the Plain, Jesus invites his disciples to “bless those who curse you”. These instructions are later echoed by the apostle Paul: “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse”. The lesson is unmistakable: we would do much better to ask God’s blessing on the world, and to bless God by loving our enemies.p199

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