Tag Archives: america

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


Quotable Quotes-Jesus for President

4 Apr

Jesus for President-Shane Claiborne
Section III When the Empire got Baptized part IV

What was so evil about Sodom? “now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy” (Ezek. 16:49). That’s not what we learned in Sunday school.p187

When we are talking about a baptized empire, one that has dazzled the church into fonformity, we are not just talking about the violent militarism of Rome or the United States or Iran or North Korea. We are also talking about a much more prevalent, subtle, and powerful empire that seeps into every home – our daily global lifestyle.188

But wait, there’s more!

Quotable Quotes-Jesus for President

22 Mar

Jesus for President-Shane Claiborne

Section III: When the Empire Got Baptized pII

On the Political Fringes of Empire p156

“Martyr means “witness.” Just as Christians wanted to live like Christ, they also wanted to die like Christ. This meant loving their enemies, even as their enemies fed them to beasts. There was no greater honor than to show the world what love looks like in the face of tremendous evil.”

“Wish yourself a martyr’s death. Blushing for shame you will be dragged before the public. That is good for you, for he who is not publicly exposed like this before people will be publicly exposed before God. Power streams forth when you are seen by men.”-Maximilla

Rome was not just an “evil empire.” It was dazzling, magical – the world stood in awe of her. Rome was known for her roads, progress, culture arc, architecture, and security. She was the best empire there ever was, some might say. Christians longing for the world to be God’s began to think maybe Rome’s hands would be the next best thing. There was no questions that there was a great splendor in Rome. The question was, what is the cost of that splendor? p158

An inscription in Halicarnassus, in Asia Minor, celebrates Augustus as “Savior of the whole human race.” “Land and sea have peace, the cities flourish under a good legal system, in harmony and with an abundance of food, there is an abundance of all good things, people are filed with happy hopes for the future and with delight at the present.” Jesus lived during the “golden age” of Rome. p159

“If anyone wants to see the beauty of the earth, he should travel the world or just come to Rome. For what grows and is produced among individual people is always here and here in abundance…Anything that you do not see here does not count among what exist or has existed.”-Aristides

Constantine and the “Fall” of the Church

[Constantine] emerged from the imperial tumult through several military conquests, the most popular of which was the Battle of the Milvian Bridge in the year 312. Before he entered into battle, so the legend goes, he saw a sign of the cross and heard a voice saying, “In this you will conquer.” Hmm…ironic, considering that for Jesus the cross meant refusal of worldly ways of conquering. Nevertheless, Constantine’s army won the battle, with crosses painted on their shields, securing Constantine’s power as the Western Roman emperor. With his gained appreciation for Jesus [or noticing that he must coopt Christianity because it was sweeping the empire] helping him with the war, he later passed the Edict of Milan, which granted tolerance to all relgiouns, especially Christianity.pp162-3

Theodosius proclaimed Christianity as the state religion of the empire, making it a crime not to be a Christian. That’s when things got even messier. The first recorded instance of Christians killings pagans occurred shortly after and before long, the militant church conquered lands and people throughout Europe, compelling them to be baptized or die.p163

The kingdom of God that had been known through a king who rules with a towel, a donkey, and a cross had become the empire of Christendom. In the name of the one who taught us to love our enemies, the church burned its enemies alive.p163

Imperial Christianity grew quickly from five million to twenty-five million people. Constantine flung open the doors of the church to the rich and powerful, but it was at a great cost. Repentance, rebirth, and conversion were exchanged for cheap grace, and the integrity of what it means to be a disciple of Jesus faded. People joined the church in droves, but Christain disciples were hard to come by. Christianity had an identity crises.p165

The history of the church has been largely a history of “believers” refusing to believe in the way of the crucified Nazarene and instead giving in to the very temptations he resisted – power, relevancy, spectacle…To say that we must kill our enemies and join the popular project to “rid the world of evil” is to call Jesus unrealistic. And this is possibly desirable for many; surely his ideas do not resonate with any common wisdom. But can you call Jesus the Son of God and also say, “He just doesn’t understand the world today”? p166

Another Exodus

“It is hard to imagine a gospel that is more of an antitheses of Jesus’ gospel and the Beatitudes than what we hear today in the church: “Blessed are the rich”; “Blessed are the troops”; “We will have no mercy on the evildoers.”

…about every five hundred years there has been another exodus. During the crisis of the Roman Empire’s crumbling, there were the desert fathers and mothers and the Benedictines. And during the difficulties of the Crusades and the split between East and West in the church, orders like the Franciscans, Poor Clares, and Dominicans were birthed. p169

Fast-forward from Constantine in the 300s to the Conquistadors invading (or settling, depending on your perspective) North American, circa 1600s…The Americas were soon violently swiped from the native inhabitants. This pillaging was powered largely by Christains, who often inerpreted their “success” as a reenactment of the Israelite conquest of Canaan.p171

The American project may have been a result not so much of malicious people as of bad theology – or wanting the right thing but pursuing it by the wrong ways.p173

So are we saying the United States of America is not a Christian nation? The United States is Christian inasmuch as it looks like Christ.p174

“Between the Christianity of this land, and the Christianity of Christ, I recognize the widest possible difference – so wide, that to receive the one as good, pure, and holy is of necessity to reject the other as bad, corrupt, and wicked. …I love the pure, peaceable and impartial Christianity of Christ; I therefore hate the corrupt, alaveholding, women-whipping, cradle-plundering, partial and hypocritical Christianity of this land. Indeed, I can see no reason, but the most deceitful one, for calling the religion of this land Christianity.”-Former slave, Frederick Douglass