“The church has a checkered history in its relationship to the state. Some have followed Amaziah [see Amos 7] and traded religious legitimation for security, power and privilege – the German Christian movement that supported Nazi ideology, the Dutch Reformed church that supported apartheid in South Africa, and Russian Orthodox priests who collaborated with the Soviet KGB. But there are also many inspirational examples. The Archbishop and martyr of San Salvador, Óscar Romero (d. 1980), wrote a letter to President Jimmy Carter that he could have sent to any number of our military or political leaders: ‘You say that you are Christian. If you are really Christian, please stop sending military aid to the military here, because they use it only to kill my people.’ Romero is only one of many brave saints who chose Amos over Amaziah. Consider the Confessing Church in Germany that opposed Hitler, nationalism, and anti-Semitism; the black pentecostal pastor Frank Chikane who in 1985 gathered more than 150 clergy from 20 denominations to draft the Kairos Document that protested South African apartheid; father Gleb Yakunin who insisted that the Russian Orthodox Church publicly repent of its ties to the Soviet regime; the culturally marginal and politically powerless Quakers who helped to abolish the British slave trade in the 19th century; and Morgan Tsvangirai who sought ‘divine intervention’ to end Robert Mugabe’s three decades of thugocracy in Zimbabwe. There’s the Jesuit priest Daniel Berrigan (b. 1921), who did time in prison for his civil disobedience against American policies on racism, nuclear proliferation, and Vietnam…. When asked by Nora Gallagher how many times he had been jailed for subverting caesar because of Jesus, Berrigan responded, ‘Not enough.'” Dan Clendenin
“Righteousness and justice
are the foundation of your throne.”
Moving From the Head to the Heart
- In the moment, it can be hard to know who is “on the right side of history.” God often uses outsiders–unexpected and despised voices–and we often embrace the biases and accept the rationalizations of our culture. Are you striving to know who speaks for God today? . . . and who is being sinfully silent?
- The Biblical pattern is for God to be against Empire since the absolute power of empires predictably leads to profound corruption. Do we need prophetic voices to speak against Empire today? If so, against what “Empire” and for what reasons?
- Who is speaking out for God today? From where would you expect to find such voices–conservatives/liberals? . . . insiders/outsiders? . . . admired/despised? . . . . . . . marginalized/prominent?
Abba, give us your eyes to see our world, and your loving heart to care for it.
For More: “Journey With Jesus” by Dan Clendenin
I hope you’ll follow my blog, and share it I appreciate your interest! – Bill
Dear Brother Bill,
I SO love what you do with your blog (so much so, in fact, I created a WordPress account just so I could say thank you once again). I asked my wife to buy a copy of your book for me soon (she handles our digital purchases), but I’d also love to see your list of favorite/must-read books — I searched for you on Goodreads, to no avail. God bless you for this ministry — I love to see emails from your account!
Love in Christ,
Hi Brian, thanks for the enthusiastic note! I’m honored and happy to have you reading the blog, and if you like it, I know you will like the book. The book serves as a good guide to my favorite authors and books. I would hardly know where to begin – to try to list a few would be unfair to so many others. I am on goodreads, but probably just under the radar. This year I will be approaching reading 70 books – another reason hard to list them. (Merton, Rohr, Nouwen, Bonhoeffer). Stay in touch. As soon as I send this note I know I’ll be saying, “How could have I forgot to mention X?!” Thanks again for the encouragement.