Removing the Gospel From Our Preaching
I subscribe to many blogs but read few. Sometimes when an post title catches my eye or doesn't get burried in my email inbox I'll take a read. There are two blogs I read regularly: Jason's
Tamed Cynicblog and Tony Jones' Theoblogy.
These two gentlemen have been very influential in my theological development. I take their theologian and book recommendations seriously.
Yesterday Tony posted about a college chaplain, Dr. Randy Beckum, at MidAmerica Nazarene University, who was demoted because of something he said during his weekly chapel sermon. If demotion due to something while preaching was the overwhelming church norm, Jason would be in BIG trouble. The gist of the sermon was that there is a serious problem between America's fixation of guns and war, and our inability to identify heros. I am not suggesting that our military members are not heros, because they are. They stand up for those who are oppressed around the world, and for me, that is a heroic act. But somehow we (a nation) have become obsessed with war and guns. This obsession has slowly made its way into the church too. And this obsession runs dangerously close to be in direct conflict with the proclaimation made by Christians that Jesus is Lord over everything.
Last year I wrote a post for Jason's blog while he was vacationing and if you missed it you can read it here. I want us (the American Church) to realize that our loyalties lay with God over anything and everything.
Our American-Christian identity has begun to focus more on the American part, to the point that the American-Christian identity has little in common with the Jesus that put the Christ in Christian. All too often the gun rights fight is equated as a God given right to bear arms, and while owning guns for sport or self-defense in my opinion is not a bad thing (especially after watching The Walking Dead), I find it hard to imagine Jesus packing an AR15 or Glock 9mm as he entered into Jerusalem on the back of a colt. After all, remember that it was that parade into Jerusalem where Jesus called out the political and religious establishment to the point that the nationalism he was challenging killed him.
What I find really interesting from Tony's post is the school at which Dr. Beckum serves. MidAmerica Nazarene University's mission and vision statements are as follows:
"A transformative university that nurtures Christlike community, pursues academic excellence, and cultivates a passion to serve." And, "to impact the world for Jesus Christ through servant leaders recognized for their excellence, integrity, and spiritual vitality."
Based on MidAmerica's mission and vision statements, one would assume that the University would align itself with Christ's leadership and be willing to put creed before country, which is what ALL Christian's do when they take their bapstimal vows. Instead here is how MidAmerican's mission and vision statemens should read:
"A transformative university that nurtures Christlike community, pursues academic excellence, and cultivates a passion to serve." And, "to impact the world for Jesus Christ through servant leaders recognized for their excellence, integrity, and spiritual vitality unless it irritates, pisses off, or twists the panties of generous alumni donors."
This is an issue that will continue to plague (American) chuches and Christian universities as along as we continue to combine the cross and the flag. Patriotism is a wonderful thing. I am blessed to live in a country where I have the freedom to write this post without fear of men in black suits breaking down my door and taking me away. But, I am worried if we are getting close to the point where lyrics like, "Lift high the cross" will be replaced with "Lift high the flag".