Friday, November 03, 2006

Kingdom of God and Terror - A Reponse

I think my brother hit the nail on the head when he asked the question, "Are the teachings of Christ scalable?" According to the Tech Dictionary Scalable means: "Able to be changed in size or configuration to suit changing conditions." We agree that Christ teachings were for his disciples, but the debate at hand is would they work as principle model in other situations.

I want to begin the discussion by comparing the Operating Systems made by Apple and Microsoft . Apple disciples claim that the Macintosh operating system is a much better user experience. However it is not scalable software since it works only on a specific set of 6-10 computer models. Microsoft's operating system has MUCH GREATER scalability since Windows is used on a virtually infinite variations of hardware. This means for the issue at hand my brother feels Christ's teachings are like the Macintosh operating system. If you accept Christ then you will be blessed by following his teachings. If you are not a Mac (a Christian) then as a PC (a Muslim, a Buddhist, an atheist, or a national entity) the principles of Christ bear no value to you since they can not run on your spiritual architecture. This is where I find myself in deep disagreement with my brother. I believe we were created to follow the principles of Christ: therefore when we follow those principles there will be a consequential blessing. In example, if I have eyes only for the wife of my youth and keep my eyes and my mind sexually pure that is a spiritual blessing to my wife despite our relationship with God. Or as another example, if I choose to harbor bitterness there is a physical penalty to that choice to my body despite my affiliation with or without God. My spiritual choices do not have an impact on the results of following the principles of Christ.

So therefore how does this play out on a Geo-Political scale? In order to answer this question most honestly I need to clarify a few things about myself. Firstly, I am not a pacifist but I do support the Non-Aggression Axiom of Libertarianism . Secondly, I do believe my brother, who this post is directed to, makes a well thought out and well argued point for Iraq as a an aggressor and enemy. Finally, I believe "We The People" can act and should act independently of our national policy in matters of conscience. In addition to those three points I also believe one should clarify that a major point of disagreement in these matters seems to be in the doctrine of interpreting what Christ means when he speaks of the "Kingdom of God ." There are three views on the "Kingdom of God." There is the Theocratic Kingdom, the Apolyptic Kingdom, and the Universal Kingdom. Many evangelicals in America today subscribe to the Theocratic Kingdom of God. Their view is that America is the sword of God and should nationally submit to the laws of God. Augustine agreed with this idea (not America) and it has surfaced from time to time throughout the history of the church. To a certain point the Crusades, and the Kingdom of Jerusalem are a direct result of this ideology. I do not believe this is the idea my brother presents in his comment s on my Amish and Terror -4 Questions post. Instead my brother presents the second idea of the Kingdom of God. This idea draws heavily from the Revelation of John and teaches that Christ will one day establish a true, permanent kingdom on earth where he will sit as the literal physical king of the earth. This kingdom is in contrast to the current kingdom of the earth which is ruled by Satan. Although I do believe in an ultimate sense this idea is Biblically sound, I think Jesus presents a third idea of the kingdom of God in his own words that differs from the final kingdom John speaks about in the Revelation. Jesus speaks of his kingdom in such a way that the original church fathers defined it as, "The kingdom of god means, then, the ruling of God in our hearts; it means those principles which separate us off from the kingdom of the world and the devil; it means the benign sway of grace; it means the Church as that Divine institution whereby we may make sure of attaining the spirit of Christ and so win that ultimate kingdom of God Where He reigns without end in "the holy city, the New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God." This idea means that each member of the church universally has the responsibility to understand that he bears the weight of the kingdom of God on daily basis. The Kingdom of God is in any place and in every place where God's people are.

So as we come back to the Geo-Political question at hand, can the principles of the Kingdom of God be present in our "War on Terror ?" I answer a most resounding Yes! Christ taught that each person in need is my neighbor. That means if I have affluence and I encounter a person whether here in America, or in Africa, or in the Islamic Middle East who is suffering from the kinds of radical poverty where Islamofascism is growing our response to that on a personal should be deep sorrow and a deep need to respond to that suffering. We should on a personal level see these enemies as failures to love like Christ loved rather than as evil psychopaths. On a personal level we should be challenged to respond in the kind of sacrificial love that the early church demonstrated in their own economic care of their "cultural" enemies. Our response must be two fold, as a national government employed to "promote the common defense" our military must do precisely that against those forces currently presenting formidable aggression against our nation and our national interest. However the second side, that would be a much more long term and much more difficult road to walk would be to respond to the forces of poverty that open doors to this ideology of hate. If the Islamofascist were telling young boys they could leave poverty by entering their world of hate, and the Christian response to the poverty present present in these region was showers of love through the distribution of water and food, there would be no growth in the Islamofascist camps. This movement grows because it promises a better hope for the future, we should be using our wealth to present that better hope for the future in the name of love not hate. This can be the American response. If the people of America, outside of sectarian lines, poured hope in the form of food, water, and medicines into the Islamofascist controlled regions of the world Christ's principles WOULD SCALE to eliminate the recruiting tools of our enemies. Our enemies would become our brothers. An understanding of history teaches us that Christ's methodology would work, since previous nation states have built revolutions on meeting the basic needs of their constituents.

So how would the Amish response look to the war on terror. I believe a delegation of Ambassadors, Anthropologist, Economist, and Sociologist could go to these parts of the world and find REAL answers to meeting these needs. I believe this delegation would repent to the people of these parts for our previous exploitation of their people and their resources. We would find mutually amenable solutions for using their resources in ways that build their communities rather than destroy them. If we took these actions we would eviscerate the political strength of the Islamofascist. If we treated the people of these parts of the world as our neighbors the terms of this war would be radically altered.

So this brings us to our LAST and final question, which my brother redefined to "Was Jesus concerned with Politics?" I agree with him that Christ would not have been in the "Political" arena. Jesus would not have encouraged the Roman government to have an "Office of Faith Based Iniatives" The church in Acts did not from a Political Action Commitee and hire lobbyist to bring the issue Jewish Widow Poverty before the republic's senate. However that was not the question I asked. "Was his (Christ) language a poignantly social and political praxis illustrated by an intentional counter-cultural lifestyle?" The answer to this question is another resounding yes. Jesus challenged every political idea and every social boundary of his day. Christ ate meals with the Mafia Dons, Homeless Schizophrenics, and $2 Hookers of his day, an act which no respectable Rabbi would tolerate, let alone be involved in. Jesus did not tell others to respond to the very different the needs of the tax collectors, lame, demon possessed, and prostitutes. Christ responded, getting his hands dirty with the mud that made a blind man see, getting his nose full of the rotting smell of flesh as he healed a band of lepers, and suffering a cruel agonizing death. Christ's setting aside of self-interest for the sake of others was the complete antithesis of any political or spiritual leader of his day, and for that matter of any day. The people of Christ should be acting in direct step with Christ in these matters. It is our responsibility to find sustainable answers to meeting these needs. We do not need to change the "Politics" of our nation by encouraging our government to send these "delegations of hope" instead we need a MASSIVE effort to unite our the kingdom of God to provide these answers and resources.

Our immediate National response (Big N) was correct to the aggression against our nation on September 11th from a Political perspective. Our national response (small n) was abhorrent and should have been far more in line with the response molded by the Amish in their response to the terror against their community. A concerted effort to follow the principles of Christ responding on a macro scale to the most poverty stricken areas of the world would have drastically reshaped the five years since that dark day entered our memories. The only sustainable force of change in the Middle East will not be Political nation building, it will be instead for the Kingdom of God present in the western world to respond to the actual needs of the suffering in the Middle East. That is the lesson we can learn from the Amish.

P.S. - My brother linked to an article by Orson Scott Card on this issue as well. I do not agree with everything Orson Scott Card writes in the article but it is well worth the read.

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