Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Faith, Government, and Political Obsession

Satan, Government and Christian Anarchy
by Greg Boyd

Inspired by my reading of Jacque Ellul, I've been talking about Christian Anarchy the last couple posts. I want to remind folks that "anarchy" used in this way does not denote chaos. It rather means "without (an) rule (archy)." It refers to the belief that people who are under the rule of God are not under any human rule. We are to obey the laws of the land insofar as they are consistent with Gods' will, but we do this because it is God's will for us to do so. (One person who wrote me, Jason Barr, has suggested the label Christ-archist rather than Anarchist. While it's true Kingdom people are not under the rule of governing authorities in this view, we are under Christ's rule. It's an interesting suggestion).

According to the Christian Anarchist (or Christ-archist) therefore, human governments have no significance for Kingdom people. We are citizens of the Kingdom of God and are “foreigners,” “exiles” and “strangers” in this world (Phil 1:27; 3:20; Heb 11:13; 1 Pet 1:17; 2:21).

I also want to be clear that I'm exploring this train of thought in these blogs. I'm reviewing what Scripture says about God and government and finding, thus far, that it supports the view of Christian Anarchy. But I want to be clear that I'm still in process on this topic.

So far I've tried to establish that, according to the Bible, earthly governments are premised on mistrust of the rule of God (I Sam. 8). It was not part of God's original plan for humans, but rather exists as a way of God accommodating himself to human sin. I've also tried to establish that, from God's perspective, all governments are "less than nothing" (Isa 40:15-17). Since our trust is exclusively in this God, the "ruler of the nations," we should adopt this same perspective. To live under the reign of God is to live solely under the reign of God and to therefore regard earthly government as insignificant.

What I now want to argue is that all human governments are not only premised on mistrust: they are actually ruled by Satan. In Luke 4:5-7 Satan offered Jesus all the authority of the governments of the world, for he claimed to own all this authority and claimed that he could give it to whoever he wanted. What's amazing is that Jesus does not dispute his claim. He granted that Satan owned this authority and thus could give it to whoever he wanted. But he refused to put himself under Satan's rule to acquire governmental authority.

Everything else the New Testament says about Satan and governments confirms that Satan was, in fact, not exaggerating his power. Jesus three times refers to Satan as the “ruler (arche) of this world” (Jn 12:31; 14:30; 16;11). An arche referred to the highest ruling authority (the "boss") in any particular region. Satan is also referred as the “the god of this age” and “the principality and power of the air” (2 Cor 4:4; Eph 2:2). And John goes so far as to claim that, “The whole world lies under the power of the evil one” (I Jn 5:19). If the whole world is under the power of the evil one, it hardly seems Satan was exaggerating in claiming all government was under his power.

Not only this, but Satan is referred to as “the destroyer” who “deceives the nations” (Rev. 9:11; 20:3, 8 cf. 13:14) . All earthly governments are depicted as belonging to a single Kingdom that is under Satan's rule but which is now being delivered over to Jesus (Rev. 11:15). Consistent with this, scholars agree that “Babylon” in Revelation symbolizes earthly government under Satan's authority. Babylon rules “all nations," all of which are “deceived” by her “sorcery," which appears to be the deceptive lure of power. (Rev. 18:23).

Just to be clear, this obviously doesn't mean that all leaders in earthly governments are under Satan's rule. Many leaders are God-loving people who are sincerely trying to serve their society and the world. But these passages suggest that the whole power-over system that constitutes human government is under Satan's oppressive influence. I see no way around this conclusion.

Given this clear and consistent witness in the New Testament, followers of Jesus have to seriously question how much confidence we should ever have in any government and how preoccupied we should be with their innumerable fights and problems. We must remember that we are not only "foreigners" and "exiles" in this land; we are soldiers stationed in enemy occupied territory. We are not to become preoccupied with "civilian affairs" and are to "always seek to please our commanding officer" (2 Tim. 2:4).

What our commanding officer tells us to be is fully invested in living under the reign of God, yielding to the Spirit who continually works to conform us to the image of Jesus Christ. We are to live Spirit-led, radically counter-cultural lives. And we're to collectively form a contrast society that puts the beauty of God's self-sacrificial character on display in the midst of a world that has grown profoundly ugly.

To live this way is to revolt against everything in our lives, society, government and the world that is inconsistent with the reign of God. To live this way is to revolt against Satan and the Powers that empower all that is inconsistent with the reign of God. To live this way, in other words, is to be a revolutionary.

Viva la revolution!

Ephesians 5:1-2


Thursday, January 17, 2008

Repost from Greg Boyd - Huckabee on Amending the Constitution

Huckabee on Amending the Constitution
by Greg Boyd

Well, you may have already heard about it. Huckabee publicly proclaimed that we need to amend the constitution to bring it into conformity with "God's standards."

You can check out the minute and a half clip HERE.

Man, is he going after the evangelical vote, or what?!

Now, I can't help but wonder what this sincere man means when he says he wants to "amend the constitution to fit God's standards." Of course, he probably means he wants to outlaw gay marriage, since the Bible teaches that marriage is between a man and a woman. But if we're going to make our constitution fit "God's standards," as reflected in the Bible, why stop there?

Marriage throughout most of the book of "God's standards" allowed for polygamy and even concubines. If the Bible is to be our standard for marriage in America, perhaps our constitution should be amended to reflect its comprehensive view of marriage.

So too, the Bible allows for (and even occasionally commands) slavery, as the good old pre-abolition Christian South was eager to point out to the liberal secularists in the North. Would Huckabee have us amend our constitution to fit this aspect of the book of "God's standards"? Why not? If our goal is to conform to "God's standards," why be selective?

How about the way women are treated as property throughout much of the Bible? And let's not forget the pervasive "holy wars" we find in the Old Testament. If we want a constitution that truly reflects "God's standards," why not incorporate these as well?

And of course, the Bible knows absolutely nothing of any "inalienable right to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness." This comes out of John Locke, not the Bible. So maybe these pagan concepts should be jettisoned if we're going to seek to have a constitution that conforms to "God's standards."

Then again, for Christians "God's standards" are centered on Jesus Christ and the New Testament. Since Huckabee is appealing to Christian voters, and apparently wants to promote a "Christian America," why shouldn't he center his constitution amending policy on this central aspect of the book of "God's standards"?

Now that would be interesting.

Can you imagine if it was in the U.S. constitution that whenever we as individuals or as a nation were attacked, we by law would have to turn the other cheek, love our enemies, bless our assailants, do good to our persecutors, refuse to retaliate, offer them whatever they ask (expecting nothing in return), offer to feed them, clothe them and provide housing for them, and of course offer our lives up on their behalf, however evil they may be (e.g. Lk 6:27-35; Mt 5:39; Rom. 12:17-21)?

Goodbye to "the right to bear arms"!

If this is the direction Huckabee would like to amend our beloved constitution, I would greatly admire his courage and wish him the best -- because there's no way in perdition Christians would get him elected if that is what he meant! They may want a constitution that "conforms to God's standards," but only certain passages carefully selected out of his book of holy "standards," and certainly not the standards set by Jesus Christ!

Isn't it ironic?

Now please hear me. My point is not to weigh in on the political issue of gay marriage. Vote your faith and values (like anyone doesn't do this). My point is that there's something profoundly naive, if not disingenuous, about trying to pretend like we can resolve this or any other political issue in our pluralistic society by trying to make the Bible law.

Even worse -- much worse -- when Huckabee and other well-intentioned Christians talk this way, they earn the right to be despised by non-Christians, and thus to have the Gospel they claim to represent despised as well. The beauty of God's self-sacrificial love is once again smothered in the ugliness of politics.

Jesus never let politics get in the way of the message he was sent to bring. And the central job of his followers is to simply imitate him (Eph. 5:1-2).

How I'd love it if Huckabee would call on all Christians to consider their own sins to be much worse than the sins of gay people (Mt 7:1-3; I Tim. 1:15-16) and to commit to demonstrating God's love for gay people by sacrificially serving them.

Of course, he'd never get elected.

He might get crucified.

But I'd certainly vote for him!



Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Doing wrong to establish what is right

Wow, are "Christians" so often willing to justify their actions and sacrifice what is their unique place in the world to instead live like the world does.

But lets get this straight about God as written about in the Bible: God doesn't condone actions that are contrary to his ethic of sacrificial and selfless love. God also doesn't do things or condone actions contrary to the covenant that is being established, especially as a means to establish that covenant.

For example, he is not going to have you shoot people to establish peace. He is not going to have you rip someone off to establish a financial blessing. He is not going to have you live and have sex with your girlfriend/boyfriend to establish a marriage (or re-establish a marriage).


Thursday, January 03, 2008

To care or not to care...

The person who cares the least carries the most influence in any relationship. The person who cares the most has the most to lose and is most vulnerable to being hurt. The person who cares the least never has to learn anything to not be hurt. The person who cares the most can choose to not care, or choose to get hurt. What should should you choose? Either lose.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

The Irony of New Years

I think that New Years is sort of an irony in and of itself. Our culture proposes that it is about renewal, change, and good will to each other. However, New Years Eve tends to be one of the worst night for crimes and moral offenses of the whole year. For alcohol abuses, New Years is only rivaled by St. Patrick's Day (which is an irony of its own). In Springfield, St. Pat's and NYE are a couple notable days for police because both holidays do they set up checkpoints to harass everyone, regardless if you drink or not. This night is notorious for starting the year off with the mistake of sleeping with someone. And most 'resolutions' for the new year fail or end nearly as quickly as they are decided on. I'm happy for those who are able to redeem this holiday with good fellowship and actual good will to each other, rather than moral downfall and taking advantage of each other. Otherwise, New Year's Eve and Day are just party holidays, and nothing more.