Thursday, September 2, 2010

Inglorious Pastors

I've recently come across a sermon series on Jesus' teachings on nonviolence and few pastors who have the guts to call Christians to live by those teachings entitled Inglorious Pastors. I don't get too caught up in catchy sermon titles anymore but I think that might be the best one I've every heard. Of course, it's a play upon a Quintin Tarantino movie that provides a perfect foil for Jesus' teachings on loving and forgiving our enemies. By the way, the sermon series' subtitle is Waging Peace in a World of War.

If you'd like to listen to any of the sermons and / or read any of the sermon notes and quotes, you can do so at this link.

I've only listened to the first sermon so far but it seems like one of the main ideas is that we're not to limit our relationship with Jesus as simply our Savior but to make our relationship with Jesus one in which he is our Lord. Savior means we've asked him to forgive us of our sins, Lord means we're actually doing what he commanded us to do. The Inglorious Pastors are radical enough to believe that when Jesus told us to love our enemies, forgive those who hurt us and to not resist (the greek word refers to violent, military-style resistance) evildoers, he ACTUALLY MEANT IT!!!! And when we live with Jesus as Lord, we get the added bonus of having him as Savior, too.

And to whet your appetite, here are some quotes from the first sermon.

How we got from Enemy Love to Just War
The Anabaptists are beginning to make more and more sense to a world that is increasingly aware of the emptiness of materialism and the ugliness of militarism. Anabaptist logic is rooted in the wisdom of the cross of Jesus, which Scripture says confounds the wisdom of this world. It seems the world is poised for a new Anabaptist movement.
~ Shane Claiborne, Brethren In Christ author

I am finding a growing hunger for a more authentic, whole-life faith that makes a difference in the lives of others. Many are discovering their answer in the Anabaptist witness, as I did 30 years ago. ~ Tom Sine, author of The New Conspirators

The overwhelming evidence suggests that the followers of Jesus were pacifists for the first three centuries. Many early church leaders and documents underscore the unwavering commitment to nonviolence.
~ Charles Kimball, When Religion Becomes Evil

As the early Christians knew, the rejection of war is not an optional ethical issue. Rather, it is the clearest indication of the church’s calling to be a community free from nationalist and other forms of domination.
~ Richard Deats, Active Nonviolence:
A Way of Life, A Strategy for Change

How do you defeat a movement that defines defeat as victory? … Constantine.
~ James Carroll, Constantine’s Sword

The Constantinian Shift amounted to a fundamental reorientation in the relationship of church and world.
~ John Howard Yoder, Christian Attitudes to War,
Peace, and Revolution

In a way, the story of Constantine is the second-greatest story ever told, at least concerning what we think of as Western civilization. After the death and resurrection of Jesus, the conversion of Constantine may have been the most implication-laden event in Western history.
~ James Carroll, Constantine’s Sword

Judging from his actions during the earlier part of his rule, one can conclude that Constantine at least completely misunderstood Jesus’ teaching about love, or more likely, didn’t even think about Jesus’ teachings at all.
~ Daniel Best, Anabaptist Scholar

When the power of the empire became joined to the ideology of the Church, the empire was immediately recast and reenergized, and the Church became an entity so different from what had preceded it as to be almost unrecognizable.
~ James Carroll, Constantine’s Sword

Whenever the church and the state enter into a relationship, inevitably the church ends up becoming the state’s whore. She is used for the political expedience of the state and the state is inevitably an abusive spouse.
~ Emir Fethi Caner, Christian Jihad

Let us keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, on whom our faith depends from beginning to end.
~ Hebrews 12:2 (TEV)

And Here are the later sermons:

How we got from Enemy Love to Just War
Week 2: THE RADICAL REFORMATION - Introducing the Anabaptists
Week 3: WHAT DID JESUS TEACH? - An Honest Look at a Radical Message
Week 4: JUST WAR - Busting the Myth of Redemptive Violence
Week 5: BUT WHAT ABOUT...? - Responding to a Thousand Objections
Week 6: JESUS VS JEHOVAH - War & Peace in the Old Testament (with Greg Boyd)
Week 7: SO WHAT? - Moving from Basic Training to the Front Lines
INTRODUCTION – Starting With Jesus
Matthew 5:38-48
Clarifying Terms... PEACE – A way of living, not just a goal to be fought for.
PACIFISM – Not being passive, but living the way of peace, reconciliation, and creative non-violence. A commitment to pacify, to peace-making and peace-living.
JUST WAR – a theory or collection of theories developed by Christians to justify war and selective use of violence. Held by the vast majority of Christians today and ever since Constantine.
ANABAPTISTS – 16th century radical Christians who called the church back to the way of Jesus. Reflected today in movements like Mennonites, Amish, Quakers, Hutterites, and Brethren In Christ.

How Constantine Changed the Church
For the first three centuries of Christianity, all Christian leaders, without exception, were pacifists and called all Christians to live the way of peace. Military service is seen as wrong for 3 reasons: a) ETHICAL: Violence is not an option for Christians; b) PHILOSOPHICAL: War is based on the State’s goal of self-preservation or self-advancement rather than the Christian’s goal of self-sacrifice. c) SPIRITUAL: Military service demands too much loyalty, leading to idolatry. Early in the fourth century, Constantine declares Christianity a religio licita (a legal religion) through the Edict of Milan, immediately reversing any ongoing persecution. Instead, he lavishes gifts upon all Church leaders (e.g., increasing their salary, making them exempt from paying taxes, building church buildings, funding Bible copying, etc.). Crucifixion and gladiatorial games are abolished due to the traumatic connection with Christian victimization. Sunday is declared a weekly holiday for all people. Pagan holidays are absorbed into the Christian calendar. Pagan temples are converted into Church buildings, with statues of Roman gods replaced with statues of the Apostles and other biblical characters. The Church is now friends with the State. Augustine (354 – 430 C.E.) & later Aquinas (1225 – 1274 C.E.) develop and defend a “justified war” theory for Christians, based on existing Roman and Greek thought. Christians are now encouraged to join the army and be involved in government. Violence is to be used as God’s instrument to “punish” evildoers (e.g., Romans 13:1-7). Augustine sees punishment as a more justifiable motive than self-defence. By 416 C.E., all Roman soldiers are required to be Christian. Note: “Pagan” (Latin, paganus) means civilian as opposed to soldier. It now comes to mean non-Christian as opposed to believer.

Today, Christians live in the echo of “the Constantinian shift” (Yoder). We have to work hard to step back, gain perspective, and shake off the influence of centuries of thinking that has eclipsed the plain teaching of Jesus. We invite all Christians to reject Constantinian Christianity. This is not a matter of rejecting one denomination in preference for another, but rejecting a mentality that has gone unchallenged for too long. This may or may not lead to someone becoming a pacifist, but at least we will all be agreeing together that Jesus – and not philosophy, politics, tradition or the impulse toward self-preservation – must be our Lord.
Luke 6:5, 46; Romans 10:9; 1 Corinthians 12:3


Derin Beechner (Durk Niblick) said...

I had to post Emir Fethi Caner's quote on

Donnie Miller said...

When you consider all the whoring you see Christians on FB doing, that's an appropriate place to post that quote. Christians are always whoring themselves out to the State as a whole or to certain political views on how the state should be governed.