Standardizing the Narrative of Violence

liberty-university-gun-range. There's no violence here, I can assure you.
Real Liberty students, real guns! What could be better?

So Liberty University will let students pack heat on campus. As ‘The Blaze’ reports:

“As Liberty built more residence halls, our residents were having to park further from their rooms,” David Corry, Liberty’s general counsel, told Yahoo, adding that students said they “would feel safer if they didn’t have to leave their weapons locked in their glove compartments when walking from their cars to the residence halls, especially at night.”

It makes perfect sense that fundie students should pack heat, especially if they feel less than safe in the dark. The Washington Post adds:

Falwell said that one of the reasons for the university’s aggressive posture on carrying firearms is so that the campus will be prepared in the event of an “active shooter” scenario.

Thinking This Through

A shot rings out and twenty people simultaneously draw a sidearm, how do you know who was the original shooter? Maybe the first shooter a good guy who meant to stop someone [s]he thought was a real mass shooter. It seems to me that the split-second outcome such situations depends on whatever heat-packing person in the vicinity is least stable.

However ‘safe’ this makes some feel, I’d not want my daughter or son there. Still, Falwell reports strong support for LU’s Second Amendment direction. If this seems weird, remember that this is Liberty University.

Colloquial Translations

Others have their thoughts on allowing guns on campus and in residents. this also. These may or may not reflect student attitudes:

liberty-university-dead-end-shooting-range

liberty-university-locked-and-loaded-shooting-range

liberty-university-place-your-bet-shooting-range

Liberty’s Counter-Kingdom Perspective

Mr. Falwell may see himself as an informed expert on Islamic terrorism and how to end it, but not everyone wants to return to the Wild West. And I for one certainly do not want overlaid on the Gospel the sick narratives shapong the direction of LU. Some of us fail to see how the weaponization of society in any way resembles the teachings of Amos and Micah. Some don’t even see how the elevation of Emperor-elect Caligula in any way enhances the Glory/Presence of Jesus Christ in the world.

All around us, weaponry/conflict/militarism/redemptive_violence are normalized and standardized as the central narrative of the life, heart and soul of American civil religion. This all looks much more like conformity to the Rev 13 beastly powers and principalities of this age, than it does the kingdom of God in Christ. I question the wisdom of Liberty’s decision as a means of keeping the campus community safe. And given the poverty that can be found in the region, this seems a poor use of money.

The Heart of It

But my real problem with the Liberty decision is that it offers no challenge to what I see as the rise of beastly powers, and no challenge to overlaying a very backward, reactionary and divisive social-economic political agenda on top of the Gospel message. This obscures the Glory of Christ. What I see is rank conformity to the powers of this age even as the beast/Christ brand is sold as faithful Christian practice under the banner of fundamentalism.

In the apocalypse of Jesus Christ, Saint John the Theologian places the Spirit’s Seal [which is baptism – Ep 1:13, 4:30] and the Mark of the Beast in parody. So it is one or the other. To concur with the existing earthly order of demonic powers bears that mark on the forehead. To labor for the existing earthly order of demonic powers bears that mark on the hand.

Separation that Isn’t Separation

From where I sit, what is often passed off as fundamental faithfulness means paying lip-service to evangelical christology while the incarnation negligibly shapes Christian faith or practice. This is not fidelity to Christ; it is a Gnosticized and therefore blasphemous [per]version of it.

Liberty and the broader culture of which it is a part are tied far too closely to the principalities and powers of this age to make a credible profession of faithfulness to the Gospel of Jesus Christ however their ‘orthodox’ their paraded christology and soteriology otherwise claim to be.

Your Faith Has Made You Well!

Separated Faith Made You Well

Independent Fundamental Baptist preaching has an astonishing ability to take a text into so many odd directions. Take the ten cleansed lepers. One returns to give Jesus thanks. Clearly, it’s a message about soul-winning. On the other hand, this can be a message about the ten converts, only one of which joins the church and becomes a good tither. Or, perhaps this is a message about the ten people whose lives are changed, but whereas nine become critical of the pastor’s failings, only one supports him as he ought.

It occurs to me that the ten healed lepers account holds insight to how Independent Fundamental Baptist preachers handle the canonical text. From Lu 17:11-19, we find the following themes [Large, bold text].

Keeping their Distance:

And so they should! No one actually wants Hansen’s Disease. Separation is always in order! And keeping their distance obeys Is 65:5 which says:

‘Keep to yourself, do not come near me, For I am holier than you!’

Is it just me, or does this sound much like IFB ‘separation’? Of course in Is 65:5, the separated, ‘holier than thou’ ones are described as a stench in God’s nostrils. In fact, Is 65 says a number of less than flattering things about people who have been compared to IFBs. But this sermon concerns Luke 17, not Isaiah 65. So Is 65 doesn’t matter this morning…

Show yourself to the Priest:

Because this recognizes the pastor’s authority and wisdom. The pastor is the one who knows and must therefore be heard on all matters of faith and practice. Pastor is the decider. Don’t you forget it!

Turned Back:

This one is good because it gets you coming and going. You can ‘turn back’ TO the pastor. You can also turn back AWAY FROM the pastor. Of course it is always best if you return TO the pastor. But it’s good to know that the pastor has you covered either way.

Prostrated Himself:

No arguments. No exemptions. No excuses. No explanations. No conditions or strings. This establishes a right relationship WITH the pastor. And a right relationship with the pastor becomes a picture of your right relationship with God. The reason your pastor looks so much like God is because your pastor is so much like God.

Get up and Go:

It’s time to win the other nine! Somebody must have counted those ten lepers. They noted the one who returned. And they noted the nine who went blithely on their way, without a word of gratitude [or offering] for the pastor. Since God counts numbers, so do we.

Now go and tell them that your faith has made you well.

Christagelical Evanjihadists

Syrian-refugees. Whose Judgment
Judgment is a hand. But exactly who is it here that stands to be judged?

Judgment and Persecution

Sometimes, fundamentalist Christian are accused of being judgmental of others. That may be. But IFB sects also experience judgment. Except…IFB sects don’t really experience judgment. That’ because when they do, it’s really ‘persecution.’ And IFB’s can be ‘persecuted’ more sharply when they advocate things injurious to others. Instructive in such injurious advocacy this is Paul Chappell’s Sept 21, ’15 article on Syria and Iran.

Mr. Chappell references the iconic Aylan photo, some Aylanrefugee statistics and related vocabulary. The obligatory crocodile tears shed, these matters are set aside. He expresses dismay at the ‘Iran Deal,’ and notes growing unrest in the Middle East. As Chappell sees it, stewardship of the gospel requires Christian involvement. Seemingly, our response must be put in prophetic perspective. Then this:

Decisive Action

I don’t know how or even whether Mr. Chappell addressed the role of our government and its allies in destabilizing the Middle East. But among fundamentalist Christians, the response to the war cry against Iraq/Libya/Afghanistan etc. was pretty much automatic. Writing for the New York Times, Charles Marsh had this to say.

Wayward Christian Soldiers, Chas March

In addition to offering several quotes, Marsh states the following:

‘The war sermons rallied the evangelical congregations behind the invasion of Iraq. An astonishing 87 percent of all white evangelical Christians in the United States supported the president’s decision in April 2003.’

Marsh also quotes an unnamed missionary as saying that the invasion would open closed lands to the gospel. And if not necessarily supporting that, Paul Chappell’s logic feeds into it. He writes:

‘…the millions of people fleeing Syria are Muslim. Most have never heard the gospel. Many are more tender to the gospel at this moment than they have been at any other point in their lives.’

War and Refugees

The intent here is NOT to resurrect discussion over the rightness or wrongness of Western involvement in Iraq and the Middle East.

The issue is the vast discrepancy between our pre-war empowerment and our post-war impotency.

Before the shooting, sermons, prayers, speeches, activism promoted war fervor with religious devotion. Theology be damned — we want war!

After war, all we can do it call officials for ‘decisive action’ against ISIS; ‘that’s about the extent of it.’ Oh yeah — we can give them the gospel!

Sins of Omission

Paul Chappell doesn’t tell us that it is the conditions of warfare which create these human seas called ‘refugees.’ And it isn’t as if no one spoke of the consequences of Western Middle-East involvement, as this was published a fortnight before his article. Much of the mayhem was created by US made munitions delivered by us and our allies. Result?

Water, power and sewage lines are cut. Systems of transportation and communication are destroyed. Hospitals, schools, factories and homes are shelled into oblivion. The economy collapses. Hunger weakens the body and epidemics spread. When infrastructure is destroyed, what then?

Adding Insult to Injury

Mr Chappell’s answer is, his church collected an offering to split between two pastor friends who have Muslims come to them for food.

‘Invest now in gospel ministry to these very needy people.’

Oh, and contact your missionaries in Europe and ask how you can help!

‘We can’t miss our moment to share God’s love and give the gospel.’

Christian fundamentalists were not the only war cheerleaders. But they uniquely failed to make any serious theological inquiry/criticism into the events of the day. To for Christiagelical Evanjihadists to cry ‘persecution’ in the face of their double failure is inexcusable.

Paul Chappell on Peace

Paul Chappell could learn from Paul Chappell. Even if not articulating an expressly Christian conviction, Paul K. Chappell offers an alternative narrative and perspective. Lack of an alternative leaves fundamentalist Christians like Rev. Chappell and others unable to mount any resistance when the next war is proposed.

God help us all.

Friday Challenge: Provide Examples!

nothing-in-common

Example is Important!

We’ve all heard that sermon! Set a good example, be a good example, etc.

Remember those picture puzzles? Two pictures are presented. They are very similar, but as you study them carefully, you begin to notice subtle differences. The ‘challenge’ was to find as many ‘differences’ as you could.

Today’s ‘challenge’ has but one picture. But in it are both Christ and the church. They are SUPPOSED to look the same. In reality, they seem to have very little in common.

Today’s challenge is to illustrate differences between Jesus and church. Examples:

Justice or No?

Jesus’ ministry manifesto proclaimed release to captives, restored sight to the blind and freed the oppressed, etc. That is, justice!

But church is often reactionary and is an obstacle to justice. Some churches opposed slavery, but others supported it. Ditto on civil rights in the 60s.

We’ve heard, ‘all [or the best thing] we can do is save souls and hope people act better. The pictures of Jesus and the church are more than a ‘little’ different … Jesus says ‘yes’ to justice. The church … well …

Here is another example of differing pictures.

Church and Kingdom

Church:  Kingdom is future and Jesus will bring it when he comes. Your concern is the build the church. So get busy!

Jesus: I will build my church, but to YOU I give the keys of the kingdom.

See the difference? Somebody gets church and kingdom backwards! Anyway, this challenge is to provide examples of the cartoon’s point.

Have fun!