the Gospel argues against war—and yet we make war with … wild enthusiasm

 

The work we know today as the King James Bible (KJV, 1611) was strongly influenced by the first edition of the New Testament to appear in the English language, the work of William Tyndale (1526). In fact, 92% of the wording of Tyndale’s English NT was retained by the KJV’s translators. Tyndale’s English translation was based on the third edition of Desiderius Erasmus’ Greek New Testament (1522).

And so, it is interesting to note the view held by Erasmus – arguably the most learned man of his time in the entire world regarding the Greek NT - concerning Christian faith, the participation of Christians in military service and warfare, and the lust for war. His thoughts on such, quoted below, were penned in 1516 in a work created for the man who came to be known as King Charles V.

“Even if we allow that some wars are just, yet since we see that all mankind is plagued by this madness, it should be the role of wise priests to turn the minds of people and princes to other things. Nowadays we often see them as very firebrands of war. Bishops are not ashamed to frequent the camp; the cross is there, the body of Christ is there, the heavenly sacraments become mixed up in this worse than hellish business, and the symbols of perfect charity are brought into these bloody conflicts. Still more absurd, Christ is present in both camps, as if fighting against himself. It is not enough for war to be permitted between Christians; it must also be accorded the supreme honor.

“The Hebrews were allowed to engage in war, but with God’s permission. On the other hand, our oracle, which re-echoes again and again in the pages of the Gospel, argues against war—and yet we make war with more wild enthusiasm than the Hebrews.

“I would merely exhort the princes who bear the name of Christian to set aside all trumped-up claims and spurious pretexts and apply themselves seriously and whole-heartedly to making an end of this long-standing and terrible mania among Christians for war, and to establishing peace and harmony among those who are united by so many common interests.”

   Desiderius Erasmus (The Education of a Christian Prince)

vertical church: quotes to ponder

 

Following are a few quotes from James McDonald’s thought-provoking book Vertical Church (David C. Cook, 2012).

Maybe the greatest rationality of all is the recognition that rationality itself is incomplete as a way of knowing. (p. 50)

God forgive the church of Jesus Christ for trading its birthright access to the transcendent for the pot of stew that is horizontal helpfulness. (p. 56)

When we ask people what they want in church instead of giving them what they were created to long for, we play into the very idolatry that church was created to dismantle.” (p. 59)

May I ask what has happened in your ministry in the past seven days that would be impossible without God’s active engagement? (p. 71)

When people are taught that their ultimate purpose is reaching the lost or building a church or extending their hands to the poor, they derail during difficult times. (p. 109)

We must stop assuming God’s involvement and start inviting it. (p. 128)

If we think ‘business as usual’ will turn the tide in this tsunami of decline, we need to wear a jacket where the sleeves tie behind us. (p. 131)

When the people of God are not told the works of God, they lose the wonder of God, and everyone does what is right in their own eyes. (p. 133)

Placing evangelistic mission above the mission of God’s glory is the single most destructive error in the church today and the one from which many other errors fall. (p. 140)

Is the coldhearted husband who never loves or cherishes his wife but sleeps beside her with his back turned every night better than the philanderer? (p. 145)

Churches don’t die. God’s voice in them dies. (p. 200)

God uses the circumstances of life to ripen people to the gospel. (p. 257)

If you can’t pick the fruit, don’t bruise it. (p. 261)

The problem in the church today is that we treat God’s glory as a by-product and the missional activities of the church as the primary thing when the opposite is what Scripture demands. (p. 300)

amen

“On 9/11 I thought, For the most powerful, militarized nation in the world also to think of itself as an innocent victim is deadly. It was a rare prophetic moment for me, considering Presidents Bush and Obama have spent billions asking the military to rectify the crime of a small band of lawless individuals, destroying a couple of nations who had little to do with it, in the costliest, longest series of wars in the history of the United States.

“The silence of most Christians and the giddy enthusiasm of a few, as well as the ubiquity of flags and patriotic extravaganzas in allegedly evangelical churches, says to me that American Christians may look back upon our response to 9/11 as our greatest Christological defeat. It was shattering to admit that we had lost the theological means to distinguish between the United States and the kingdom of God. The criminals who perpetrated 9/11 and the flag-waving boosters of our almost exclusively martial response were of one mind: that the nonviolent way of Jesus is stupid. All of us preachers share the shame; when our people felt very vulnerable, they reached for the flag, not the Cross.

“September 11 has changed me. I’m going to preach as never before about Christ crucified as the answer to the question of what’s wrong with the world. I have also resolved to relentlessly reiterate from the pulpit that the worst day in history was not a Tuesday in New York, but a Friday in Jerusalem when a consortium of clergy and politicians colluded to run the world on our own terms by crucifying God’s own Son.” – William Willimon, Christianity Today forum, “How Evangelical Leaders Have Changed Since 9/11,” Sept. 7, 2011

questions and answers (5)

Q. “Is it wrong for a woman who is qualified to teach a class composed of men, women, and children? Please explain 1 Tim. 2:12.”

A. “I see no harm in a woman taking a class and teaching it in a quiet sort of way. To teach a class off to itself is not teaching the whole church, but is very much like Priscilla helping to teach Apollos ‘the way of the Lord more perfectly.’ She and Aquila took him to one side, took him to himself, and taught him the truth, and he went on teaching it. I see very little difference in a woman’s taking a class to itself and quietly teaching it. If a woman cannot teach that way, we would not know where she can teach. We think many good opportunities to teach the word of God are lost by opposing women’s quietly teaching classes.”

Questions Answered by Lipscomb and Sewell edited by M.C. Kurfees (McQuiddy Printing Co, 1921); pp.733-734

Note: “Lipscomb” is “David Lipscomb” and “Sewell” is “Jesse P. Sewell,” prominent leaders in the Restoration Heritage, particularly Churches of Christ, in the late 1800′s and early 1900′s in the United States.