"The Christian must discover in contemplation, and in the giving of his life, those symbolic actions which will ignite the people's faith to resist injustice with their whole lives, lives coming together as a united force of truth and thus releasing the liberating power of the God within them." - James Douglass, Contemplation and Resistance.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Disarming Our Hearts

On the blog Imitatio Christi (http://imitatiochristi.blogs.com/imitatio_christi/) a controversy about George Bush as Hermaneutic of the Gospel has arisen in which it was stated, "For the sake of the gospel may we - prayerfully, humbly, and with full knowledge of our own failings - have the courage to ask George Bush, as a fellow follower of Jesus, to live out the teachings of Christ."

My response was as follows: "What evidence do we have that George W. is or is not a Christian? Can a man as unquestioningly committed to violence as he apparently is be Christian in any meaningful sense? A Christian profession that requires violence to maintain itself betrays itself by that very commitment. In the words of Stanley Hauerwas, “A truth that must use violence to secure its existence cannot be truth. Rather the truth that moves the sun and the stars is that which is so sure in its power that it refuses to compel compliance or agreement by force. Rather it takes the slow, hard and seemingly unrewarding work of witness which it trusts to prevail even in a fragmented and violent world.” Hauerwas, Stanley. The Peaceable Kingdom. Notre Dame, 1983, p. 15. Of course, to say this does not excuse those of us professing Christians who struggle daily with our own violence, even though it may not be projected onto the world stage. Those who intend seriously to disarm their hearts from the inner rage of self-assertion usually realize that they are quite capable of hearing that rage as the divine voice."

I do not think that we should sit in judgement on individuals, but I think that those who commit themselves to violence which is morally certain to cause widespread death to innocent civilians need to provide an account of their Christian profession. There is a religion in America that calls itself "Christianity" or even "Bible Christianity" that instinctively identifies the interests of the United States with the kingdom of God. In this religion, violence can not only be justified but sanctified when it is carried out in the interests of the "People of God", the good citizens of the United States. To identify Christianity in the traditional sense with this religion seems to me to be highly questionable. This religion is a caricature, a travesty resulting from the betrayal of the Church in favor of a covert spiritually-tinged nationalism, a sanctified moral surrender to one's culture. Seen in this light, George Bush's attack on the "evildoers" of Iraq makes him one of the high priests of this "Christianity". So I join in the call on him and the other members of this church to lay down their arms, to look into their hearts, and examine what the origin is of the violence that drives them.

1 comment:

Darrell Grizzle said...

Great post. The "Bible Christianity" of America today bears little resemblance to the teachings of Jesus. Kierkegaard faced this same problem in his own day and culture, which is why he distinguished between "Christianity" and "Christendom." Christendom today is the civil religion of George W. Bush and others like him.