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A Gentle God
I was in my late teens when I first read Henry Barbusse's Under Fire, a novel set in the first world war trenches. It led me to consider the question: who does God listen to when He is bombarded with the prayers of different nations and religions, all equally convinced that He is on their side?
As I grew up, the questions became more problematic: what kind of god are we talking about? Who would want to follow a supposedly supreme being whose followers regularly take up arms in his name?
While Muslim leaders are urging their followers to look honestly at the health of their faith, Christian bishops are silent. There is almost a total lack of prophetic critique of the west's way of waging war on terrorism and no cries for the Israeli government to end its oppression of the Palestinian people. The Judaeo-Christian religion has evidently nothing to repent. God is on our side. Victory is assured. Or, in the words of President Bush: "We will not falter and we will not fail." The western coalition consists of secular states, and yet we are suddenly hearing a great deal about God from some of our politicians.
American currency bears the words "in God we trust". God Bless America is almost a second anthem. Early on in the recent conflict in Iraq, the press was allowed to photograph US pilots praying together before taking off on a mission. But who are they praying to? Bush even summed up his speech to the US congress on September 20 2001 with the prayer: "In all that lies before us, may God grant us wisdom." What is this wisdom that he invokes?
Bush is still a president with a mission in his second term. The leader of the world's only superpower has a divine vocation to "defend freedom". Prior to his speech to Congress, Bush was blessed by another president, this time of the Southern Baptist convention, with the words: "I believe you are God's man for this war. God's hand is on you." Bush is no Christian fundamentalist. His religion appears to be a primitive kind of theism, popular among many in mainstream American religion. Bush's agenda, sanctioned by his God, is to root out the evil one(s), with salvation in the guise of America close at hand. He declared in a TV interview, soon after the September 11 attack, that "America is the greatest source of good in the whole of human history". But it is humility that helps to build bridges in times of crisis, not self-righteousness.
Human sacrifice, once an integral part of religious expression, gradually gave way to animal sacrifice as a means of placating or pleasing an angry god. We like to think that we in the enlightened west have long since left such practices behind. But we have not. Perverse ideologies spawned by the Judaeo-Christian heritage still accept as inevitable the sacrifice of innocent people for the common good.
Allied soldiers, who have after all been trained to kill, are in "civilised warfare" and protected at all costs, while civilians (and proxy soldiers) are not granted such luxury. God, forever waiting in the wings, has an insatiable appetite for human blood, and he is not fussy what race, creed or ideology supplies it.
Texts celebrating the cruel demands and exploits of this god abound in Jewish, Christian and Muslim holy books. It is incumbent on their teachers to look again at how to deal with scripture that preaches intolerance, violence and oppression. We have seen how divisive religions can be. The challenge is to to discover that which unites religious people, and to act upon it.
We need to rediscover the alternatives to the myth of redemptive violence - the belief that violence saves, war brings peace, might is right. According to the Christian scriptures the crucified Jew challenges us to "love our enemies" (Matthew 5). The Jewish teacher, Paul, in his letter to the Romans, declares: "Do not overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good" (12). This kind of love makes "the other", be they friend or foe, a brother or sister.
Such practice is subversive, because in doing away with an "us-them" mentality, my shelter becomes my enemies' shelter, my food a shared meal with another who could be a criminal or a terrorist. A love that is unconditional is exactly what it says. It is that love that builds a firm foundation for peace with justice, a peace that is the dynamic of operation infinite forgiveness. Herein lies the essence of the life and teaching of the Crucified Jew.
President Bush challenged the world with the words, "are you for us or for our enemies?" Words that were in fact first uttered by Joshua, in the Jewish scriptures (Joshua 5) when confronted by a divine messenger holding a sword. The latter replied: "Neither." On hearing this unexpected reply, Joshua knelt in humility. My hope is that all of us, along with President Bush and his supporters, are doing the same as 2005 continues to unfold.
In search of a gentle God -Geraint ap Iorwerth
Call No Man Father
Matthew 23:5-23:10Call no man Father A look at deception and Consequences. The institution of the Christian religion was and is still based on the words of Jesus and the Holy Spirit directing men to put forth laws and statutes that are pleasing to the Father.
Billy Graham- America Salutes You
America has had its great share of renowned preachers, missionaries and evangelists but none can hold a candle to the Reverend Billy Graham. His influence is worldwide but for Americans his life and ministry have been both influential and a matter of pride.
Brief History of Jerusalem; Part 1
Jerusalem is the eternal capital of Israel..
What Is True Egalitarianism?
Why did the founding fathers of the United States consider egalitarianism to be such a necessary value? True egalitarianism is based on tolerance for differences. It is a principle of integrity much more than a rule of law.
In The Beginning Christ!
As I was doing my studies, the Lord put something on my heart that really took me by surprise. He dropped a little bit of revelation knowledge into my mind, and it took me on a great ride.
Here are a few pomes that may encourage you to read your Bible. I hope you enjoy these pomes, and I pray that it bring light into your life.
Church Building and Church Buildings
Church building is a term used to designate both the physical building of a church facility, and the spiritual building of a group of people into a unified body of believers. The physical church buildings are made of wood, stone, mortar, and brick, but the act of spiritual church building comes at the cost of evangelism, preaching, and teaching.
Heretical Chinese House Churches
One of the more insightful warnings Christians can receive bears on relationships with other Christians. It goes something like this: Do you want to ignore what other Christians say and do? That's like giving your charitable donations to donkeys and reindeer.
The Spreading of the Not-So-Good News
PART 1: Another Gospel?The influence of the occult upon our everyday lives is staggering. An African missionary from the Mandinka tribe of West Africa, once asked a congregation a question similar to that asked by the Apostle Paul of the Galatians.
Gay Marriage Hitting Resistance
Gay marriage is hitting significant resistance in Washington D.C.
Rebuilding Society and The Tax Protest Movement
Rebuilding society and the tax protest movement: A Biblical Opinion and Strategy By Jack KettlerI have sympathy and am grateful that many tax protestors are concerned enough with the unjust tax system to educate themselves beyond the great majority of their fellow citizens. Nevertheless, I disagree with many of the tax protest arguments and strategies.
Spiritual Healing: Jesus Christ in the Flesh
Does Jesus Christ live in heaven today in the flesh as a man? And if so, how does His living in the flesh relate to the physical reality of spiritual healing today?Christians live in faith that Jesus Christ is the Word that became a human being (John1:1,14). We believe that just as death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead also comes through a man (I Corinthians 15:21).
What If We Are Getting Paid For Prayer (Salat)...
What will be the effect on general public if the constitution of our country pass a rule as:Section #___It is hereby submitted that from 10, July, 2005 , everybody will get 27 rupees for saying his prayer , provided , he must have to say his prayer (Salat) in the main mosque of the living area.Provided further that he must have to come on his feets by walking.
Why Go To Church - Want To Know 13 Reasons?
It's not necessary to go to church in order to get saved and therefore go to heaven, but going to church still has very important benefits that can help improve your life and keep it in order.Below are 13 reasons why we should attend church services on a regular basis.
Fall of a Nation
Jeremiah 51:6-51:18 Babylon is Fallen. Is the United States, Spiritual Babylon?Jer.
Mexican Catholics Forgotten
Many Mexican and Latin Catholics are dismayed that the Cardinals picked a German Pope, Benedict XVI, over a Latin Pope. Latin and Mexican Catholics are some of the biggest supporters of the Catholic Church.
Rebuilding Society and The Tax Protest Movement: Part Three
Part Three continuedIt is important to recover and relearn the "original intent" of the founding fathers. Study in this area is valuable.
Accountability and Such Nonsense
From the late 1970's through the 1980's, my wife and I were members of an authoritarian Bible cult. Not only were we members, but we were full time, unpaid leaders.
The Kabbalah of Love: Part One
(This is the first article in a new series on the Kabbalah of Love - stay tuned for upcoming articles!)Intimate Love.What feelings do these words stir up in you? Longing? Excitement? Pleasure? Fear?Whatever the feeling, if thinking about intimate love makes your heart beat faster, I'm not surprised.
Thank Catholic Schools For Faith in Every Student
Their high achievement comes as they spend half the money of Indiana's public schoolsWhile government schools scream about small cuts in their state funding, Catholic schools will celebrate the great work they do with half the per-student spending of their counterparts.This is Catholic Schools Week, when schools nationwide will showcase what they do for millions of children.
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