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Theological quote for the day ...

by Bill Osler / May 16, 2010 10:26 AM PDT

From: Jesus Wants to Save Christians

... when the commander in chief of the most powerful armed forces humanity has ever seen uotes the prophet Isaiah from the Bible in celebration of a military victory, we must ask, 'Is this what Isaiah had in mind?'

A Christian should get very nervous when the flag and the Bible start holding hands. This is not a romance we want to encourage.

It's not that I think Christianity and loyalty to Caesar are ALWAYS mutually incompatible, but I have always been uncomfortable with the presumption that the intersection of the set of things Christian and the set up things patriotic is large. God is not on our side. It may occasionally happen that a specific country is briefly on God's side, but it is never a long lasting or inevitable alliance.

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(NT) Be glad he's not quoting the Koran
by James Denison / May 16, 2010 12:31 PM PDT
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From someone much wiser than us:
by Paul C / May 16, 2010 6:32 PM PDT
Sir, my concern is not whether God is on our side; my greatest concern is to be on God's side, for God is always right.

- Abraham Lincoln
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(NT) Abe says it all!
by EdHannigan / May 16, 2010 10:34 PM PDT
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i was expecting Colin Powell
by jonah jones / May 16, 2010 9:14 PM PDT

and got Velvet Elvis and Sex God


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I haven't read those ...
by Bill Osler / May 17, 2010 9:53 AM PDT

They do have some unconventional sounding titles. That's not necessarily a bad thing. So much of theology is sterile and rather pointless.

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I'd think God would have no interest in intervening
by Steven Haninger / May 16, 2010 9:25 PM PDT

to take or preserve anyone's earthly life...or at least that's what my own logic extracts from what I've been taught. That it would be "God's will" to make war on anyone is a poor alibi for taking up arms.

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Well, there went the OT!
by James Denison / May 16, 2010 11:56 PM PDT

NT soon to follow?

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The whole is the sum of its parts
by Steven Haninger / May 17, 2010 12:44 AM PDT

and no one part is greater than the other in what it contributes to the whole.

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The bold-face in your post was likely a quote,
by drpruner / June 16, 2010 8:09 AM PDT

but I don't find it on the Bell page. Was it Obama? What was the Isaiah quote?

FWIW Grand Rapids has always been an evangelical 'home'; something like Colorado Springs these days. (E.g. GR is the place to go for bibles and church seating.) Usually that's associated with America-first attitudes, but Bell is against that grain, I guess.

"Christianity and loyalty to Caesar ..."
John 17:9-16, esp. v. 14,16 seem clear enough about getting involved, especially in the world's wars.

"It may occasionally happen that a specific country is briefly on God's side..."
That I would like to see from a bible; so would the grateful dead, no doubt.

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I guess this is it, from a General, not the CinC:
by drpruner / June 16, 2010 9:06 AM PDT

?Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?? Then I said, ?Here am I! Send me.? -Isaiah 6:8 Spoke (sic) by Gen George Casey U.S. Army 10 Nov 2009

Nov 10 is the Marine Corps birthday, and the day before the old Armistice Day. Either way, I'm guessing Casey's meaning was, 'These men went, and sacrificed' or some such. The context, though, shows Jehovah was telling the prophet that his preaching would be in vain because the people would refuse to listen, continuing their bad ways. Jesus said similarly at Mt 7:13,14. Paul quoted Isaiah at Acts 28, when he found the leaders of the day's mainstream religion unwilling to pay attention to God's word.

Perhaps Gates meant, 'We keep sending soldiers overseas - in God's name - but the heathen refuse to learn from it.'
Or not.

Modern-day JWs apply it the same way Paul did, to the preaching work vice "shock and awe".

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Nope. It was G.W.B.
by Bill Osler / June 16, 2010 10:37 AM PDT
Text Of Bush Speech - CBS News
And wherever you go, you carry a message of hope ? a message that is ancient, and ever new. In the words of the prophet Isaiah: "To the captives, 'Come out!' and to those in darkness, 'Be free!"'

I didn't attribute it because the point was NOT to make a comment about a specific political figure. Various politicians in both parties have been guilty of trying to link the flag and the cross over the years, and it's always inappropriate.
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I wouldn't say this was necessarily linking flag and cross
by Steven Haninger / June 16, 2010 7:17 PM PDT
In reply to: Nope. It was G.W.B.

as much as using an existing expression and crediting the source. We do the same when quoting or paraphrasing other leaders or thinkers of the past whom we've come to respect. If we can find inspiration in this expression without knowing it's source, why should it change our minds if we are made aware of it? That Mr. Bush took one expression from the Bible, does not have to mean that he was publicly promoting the book.

While I can understand the reason that caution needs to be used in order to avoid perception of 1st Amendment conflicts, I don't see that automatic exclusion of any historical writings are a way to accomplish this. Such thinking could have come from the mouth of anyone who would opine and was probably expressed many times and in many languages over thousands of years...or even felt in the hearts of people who never spoke their thoughts.

I could also think that, those who hate the former president, might consider that expression forever tainted just for the reason that it fell from his lips. Just how absurd would that be? Perhaps we would be better off to let that which inspires us to stand on it's own rather than needing to qualify the source before adopting it.

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My objection runs the other way ...
by Bill Osler / June 16, 2010 8:14 PM PDT

I don't see it as a problem from a Constitutional perspective. It's a problem from a Christian perspective. The use of the quote MIGHT have been just a harmless citation of a respected source as you suggest, but if one looks at the source and the intent, I think it is pretty obvious that Isaiah would be spinning in his grave.

Personally I don't worry a lot about church/state separation from a Constitutional perspective. The laws are pretty explicit and the persistent yammering from hypersensitive atheists will guarantee that the separation is maintained. I don't have to worry much about that. I'm MUCH more worried about the tendency in certain circles (esp conservative protestant circles) to think of uncritical patriotism as one of the duties of faithful Christians. IMO, the underlying assumption in the quote I cited, and in many other situations, is that God is on America's side. Nothing could be further from the truth. From my perspective that linkage does not threaten the Republic, but it DOES threaten Biblical Christianity. It is important to remember that the 'heroes of the faith' were not, in general, flag waving patriots in their own time and place.

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I agree with your ideas except one:
by drpruner / June 25, 2010 5:48 AM PDT

"but it DOES threaten Biblical Christianity."
If there is such a thing, and if there is such a God as the one who claims the Bible as his "autobiography", then there's no 'threat' he can't handle. ("In the beginning God ...")

We think both exist, that we practice the one and worship the other, we've been threatened and worse, yet we're still here. No doubt that's why, in the quote I gave earlier, Jesus prayed to his father ("the only true God") to look after us while we are "in the world". Works for us, as they say.

Another reason we don't look to man for help: "The laws are pretty explicit" about tolerance or oppression, as they are [re]written at any given moment. Times were that JWs were imprisoned by Gov't and harassed by "law-abiding citizens" in most of the Western world. See Minersville School District v. Gobitis, 310 U.S. 586 (1940) and West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette, 319 U.S. 624 (1943), among many.

Following the examples of Jesus, Peter, and Paul, we use the political context we're given, including appeals to worldly courts - then go on preaching regardless.

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"does not have to mean that he was publicly promoting
by drpruner / June 25, 2010 5:28 AM PDT

the book"

Didn't know its sales were down that much. Happy

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You don't believe
by James Denison / June 17, 2010 10:58 AM PDT
In reply to: Nope. It was G.W.B.

there is anything such as a "Christian" nation, or can be? You don't believe the nations are called to follow Christ? You don't believe Christ when he was questioned by a soldier and told him simply not to rob by force? The apostle who said the powers that be are ordained by God? That the nation that follows God will be blessed and the ones that don't will be cursed? That all nations one day will stand before God to be judged? That it's taught that one day all nations will bow before Him? Do you believe a nation should accept something less than what God teaches a nation to be?

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I won't argue with the Scriptural allusions
by Bill Osler / June 17, 2010 12:13 PM PDT
In reply to: You don't believe

I do disagree with your apparent interpretations of what those things mean and their relevance to secular society.

Simply put: No, I do not believe that the US is a Christian nation or that the US has any special standing before God. I doubt that any truly Christian society is possible this side of the millenial Kingdom. I believe that we should try to create a just society but that our attempts will be flawed and ultimately unsuccessful because of man's fallen nature. I also believe that secular power is inherently corrupt and that attempts to join secular power to the Church will inevitably corrupt the Church.

But you will have to excuse me if I don't want to start proof-texting right now.

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Some think this has already happened
by Steven Haninger / June 17, 2010 7:26 PM PDT

From your post

"I also believe that secular power is inherently corrupt and that attempts to join secular power to the Church will inevitably corrupt the Church."

If my reading is correct, the concept of "Divine Right of Kings" combined with, at times, poor leadership and discipline at within the early church corrupted both the religious and secular sides. Perhaps, were it not for a few within the Christian faith who did (or attempted to) stand firm in what they believed to be true, Christianity might have evaporated. But, that such would happen, was already said and written...just not in detail.

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So many nations, each one with its own view of God's
by drpruner / June 25, 2010 5:51 AM PDT
In reply to: You don't believe


The one "national" reference we stick to - and wait hopefully for - is Dan 2:44.

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I wasn't looking for a bashee -
by drpruner / June 25, 2010 5:27 AM PDT
In reply to: Nope. It was G.W.B.

but I always like to know source and context.
I agree it's an 'equal opportunity opportunity', esp in times of war.

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The odds are that this will be lost in the collection
by Ziks511 / June 26, 2010 6:12 AM PDT

of posts here, but here goes anyway.

Standing the Founding Fathers on Their Heads

Our Founding Fathers were not Christians deriving from the text of the 1796 Tripoli Treaty Article XI of which begins "As the government of the United States is not founded in any sense on the Christian Religion..."

Deism from Wikipedia
"Critical elements of deist thought included:
Rejection of all religions based on books that claim to contain the revealed word of God.
Rejection of reports of miracles, prophecies and religious "mysteries".
Constructive elements of deist thought included:
God exists, created and governs the universe.
God gave humans the ability to reason.
God wants human beings to behave morally."

The Christian Nation Myth
"These beliefs were forcefully articulated by Thomas Paine in Age of Reason, a book that so outraged his contemporaries that he died rejected and despised by the nation that had once revered him as "the father of the American Revolution." To this day, many mistakenly consider him an atheist, even though he was an out spoken defender of the Deistic view of God. Other important founding fathers who espoused Deism were George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, Ethan Allen, James Madison, and James Monroe."
Washington attended an Episcopal Church, but always avoided taking communion.

Founding Fathers Quotations on Religion
Benjamin Franklin's views: "I think vital religion has always suffered when orthodoxy is more regarded than virtue. The scriptures assure me that at the last day we shall not be examined on what we thought but what we did." --- Benjamin Franklin, letter to his father, 1738

"I cannot conceive otherwise than that He, the Infinite Father, expects or requires no worship or praise from us, but that He is even infinitely above it." --- Benjamin Franklin, from "Articles of Belief and Acts of Religion", Nov. 20, 1728

"I wish it (Christianity) were more productive of good works ... I mean real good works ... not holy-day keeping, sermon-hearing ... or making long prayers, filled with flatteries and compliments despised by wise men, and much less capable of pleasing the Deity."--- Benjamin Franklin, Works, Vol. VII, p. 75

"If we look back into history for the character of the present sects in Christianity, we shall find few that have not in their turns been persecutors, and complainers of persecution. The primitive Christians thought persecution extremely wrong in the Pagans, but practiced it on one another. The first Protestants of the Church of England blamed persecution in the Romish Church, but practiced it upon the Puritans. They found it wrong in Bishops, but fell into the practice themselves both there (England) and in New England."--- Benjamin Franklin

This leads me to reiterate my oft stated (and widely held thesis) that the 18th Century Enlightenment of which the Revolution was the pinnacle was based on the previous 3 centuries of Religious Wars, and the desire was to keep religion out of government, not to protect religion from the inroads of government as has been said here.

The phrase regarding a wall between Church and State comes from a letter by Jefferson whose feelings regarding religion and governance are clearly expressed in his work on the Virginia Constitution.

The National Prayer Breakfast was instituted by President Eisenhower. Before that there was no such thing, indeed it was regarded as contrary to the Founding Principles of the US.


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