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Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Liberal Christians II

2) The Theologically Ignorant – the anti-War crowd, the Christ came to bring peace crowd, and ‘high church’ members.

This second group of liberal Christians may or may not be politically ignorant. Their lack of understanding of scripture is the primary reason behind their support of the liberal agenda. Also, they may or may not support all of the agenda, but their votes advance all of it!

He three sub-categories of the typically theologically ignorant are neither all-inclusive nor mutually exclusive. By themselves, this is how they break down:

The Anti-War Christians: Many of these have seen the ravages of war firsthand, and know its horrors. Others are relying upon the honest word of those who have seen war’s effects upon people and take it to heart. These experiences or accounts of them have moved the person to oppose war on the legitimate grounds of the harm it does to others.

So where does theology come in here? The Old Testament is full of accounts of God sending the Israelites to war, and Revelation tells of wars to come in which some fight for the Lamb. That simple fact establishes that there are wars that are right and just. Anti-war Christians who oppose all war ignore God’s unchanging identity. The right cause of Christians is not to oppose all war, but to oppose unjust wars – which are, truthfully, most of them.

The “Christ came to bring peace” Christians: These have taken to heart that we are to be peacemakers, to have peace with one another, and that Christ brings everlasting peace. They know that we are to avoid divisions within the church when possible, and that Christ gives his peace to us.

What they fail to see is that Christ promised that he would give us peace, but not that we would have peace if we lived for him – that he came not to bring peace, but a sword (Matt 10:34) and division (Luke 12:51). He promises tribulation for Christians in John 16:33 with his promise of individual peace. Christ’s redemption was to give peace to the soul, not to humanity. Service in his name produces contention and persecution. There is much to be said for those who can serve Christ faithfully and cause little disturbance – but that is the call of only some. Boldness in the cause of Christ is not peaceful!

The ‘high church’: This disease is not limited to high churches (or ‘mainline denominations), because the problem is not a function of the denomination – it is a function of wrong priorities. However, the high churches are, as a group, suffering from decaying membership and are seeking to bring and or keep more people in the pews through increased liberalization of their doctrines. Chasing numbers will always lead to compromises in doctrine.

The churches who are accepting homosexual conduct as just, who are in favor of pre-birth infanticide, who do not support public displays of religious faith (in God We Trust, the Ten Commandments) and who do not support our military are trying not to chase people away. Think about it – what fence sitter is dissuaded by acceptance? If you want to attract people, a tried and true method is to tell them that everything they are doing is ok, demand nothing of them, and offer them forgiveness of sin without repentance. No sacrifice, no holiness, no taking up of their cross and dying to themselves daily.

The theologically ignorant are more culpable for their error than the politically ignorant – after all, there is not command to understand politics and political positions! Theological ignorance begins with a failure to conduct regular, personal Bible study on our own, and is fostered by the pulpit preachers who refuse to preach those parts of the Bible that my offend. Those preachers will have much to answer for when they stand before the throne – whether it is the Great White Throne or the Judgment Seat of Christ.

Next – the final group.


  • Erm - the "anti-war crowd" (whether they be liberal, evangelical, catholic or whatever) are "theologically ignorant"? I am sorry but I have to differ - this is, in the first place, a huge generalisation given the range of objections to war, and, in the second, dubious in and of itself. You even touch on the debate by saying that most wars are unjust and certainly should be opposed by all Christians. The debate is thus about what conditions must be satisfied if we are to go to war - we will differ about those conditions, even to holding them impossible to satisfy, but painting all "anti-war" Christians (which, by implication, includes those opposed to the Iraq wars) as "theologically ignorant" is collossally arrogant and unhelpful. "Supporting our military" is not a Christian doctrine even for Americans. It's not even a defensible Christian doctrine in general - even if we admit the legitimacy of having an army to defend ourselves, that in no way implies that we must support all wars that politicians drag us into and means that we will often find ourselves in the "anti-war" camp.

    I'll not even touch on what you mean by "the high-church crowd" beyond to say that you cannot possibly justify condemning our high brothers and sisters for their "high-ness" on any Biblical grounds.

    pax et bonum

    By Anonymous John, at 6/16/2005 06:09:00 AM  

  • John,
    You showed me that I wasn't clear enough. By antiwar crowd, I mean those that say that we should never go to war unless attacked. One can be Christian and not support lots of wars, including the war in Iraq.
    I agree on what your categorization must be of the war debate - 100%.

    It looks like you may not have read what I said about high churches. There is nothing wrong at all with the methods of worship that I use to define a high vs low church. In some ways, I prefer them! I was just indicating that the high churches in the US have tended to abandon full theological and doctrinal instruction for the purposes of gaining or maintaining membership. I'm sorry if I implied something else.

    By Blogger Hammertime, at 6/16/2005 11:44:00 PM  

  • I still don't think that counting war as only justified in self-defence is "theologically aberrant", unless you just mean that they disagree with you. Total pacifism has a sound Christian heritage and excellent theological backing.

    If you want to say that war is acceptable not merely in self-defence but also as the aggressor, the weight of proof is on your side for any particular case, to show that the huge cost in death, misery and economic damage is worth whatever gains we claim the war will bring. Christians do not have the option of being unquestioningly pro-war; we must always be sceptical until convinced otherwise.

    pax et bonum

    By Anonymous John, at 6/17/2005 09:05:00 AM  

  • John,

    Your two paragraphs are contradictory thoughts. agree with the second.

    The response to the first is in the post - God had Israel carry out wars that were 'aggressive' in nature. Therefore, there are obviously 'aggressive' wars that are just. The weight is indeed upon us to make sure they are.

    Your first paragraph insinuates that the US should not have gone to war with Germany in either World War. Is that the required Christian position? Certainly not. Equally clearly, we must be skeptical until proved otherwise.

    By Blogger Hammertime, at 6/18/2005 11:46:00 PM  

  • Hammer,
    They don't contradict, they're just addressing different points. First, I am not saying that pacifism is the only Christian position (I'm not sure that it is), only that it is also not true that militarism is the only Christian position - and therefore that saying that pacifists are "theologically ignorant" is simply wrong. They may be very devout, holy and theologically able - they just happen to hold different opinions because of their own insights into God's nature. So, in the second paragraph, I then address the problem facing non-pacifists, which is the question of just war. There are certainly people who say that WWI and WWII were morally wrong; while I can sympathise with this position, I'm not sure that it's right - but nor am I *sure* that was can be justified, although I am open to be convinced.

    The problem with using Israel's conduct in the OT as justification is that the whole basis for moral action has been updated in the NT. The New Covenant replaces law with love and grace, which changes things rather!

    pax et bonum

    By Anonymous John, at 6/19/2005 08:47:00 AM  

  • John,
    I don't purport to use Israel's conduct as justification for anything! Those sermons which take a promise to Israel from God and apply it to us today are often misplaced.

    It is the nature of God that I appeal to. Simply put:

    1) God has declared previous ars and at least one future war to be just.

    2) God is unchanging

    3) Therefore, there are just wars.

    The law has been fulfilled, but God has not changed.

    Great contributions! I hope you stay around!

    By Blogger Hammertime, at 6/22/2005 12:31:00 AM  

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