Sunday, July 30, 2006

The Word And The World

When blogger Andrew Sullivan comes across politicians who make a standard practice of fusing their ideologies with the Christian Gospels, he labels them Christianists. The term is an intentional play on Islamist--a common label for the violent individuals at the heart of radical Islam.

A few weeks back,
Sully commented on a particularly heinous display of Christianist activity--at Ken Lay's funeral:

In the funeral for corporate thief and crook, Ken Lay, we
have a spectacular display of what is wrong with contemporary Republicanism. We have the famiglia paying their respects to a loyal money-man - Bush senior, Baker, Mosbacher. And we have the exoneration of malfeasance by the Christianist doctrine that if you're on our side, you can do no wrong. Ken Lay up there with Jesus and Martin Luther King Jr? And the amazing thing is that this is sincere. Christianist spiritual hubris - fused with political and financial power - is phariseeism remade.

Which brings me to today's pleasant surprise. A preacher I love to listen to via the Internet is the subject of
a piece in today's New York Times. His name is Greg Boyd. I first encountered him in Lee Strobel's The Case for Christ.

Boyd's an interesting and brilliant character, and I eventually looked him up on the Internet and began listening to his sermons online. More than once over the past few years I've had questions about interpretations of Scripture, and I've e-mailed Greg Boyd with those questions. He has always gotten back to me with extremely helpful thoughts.

One of Boyd's cautionary bits of advice to today's Christian Church is to watch carefully how we mix our politics with our message to the World. His worry is that our message can only be hurt by such a blending. A quote from today's Times piece:

In his six sermons [titled, "The Cross and the Sword"], Mr. Boyd laid out a broad argument that the role of Christians was not to seek “power over” others — by controlling governments, passing legislation or
fighting wars. Christians should instead seek to have “power under” others — “winning people’s hearts” by sacrificing for those in need, as Jesus did, Mr. Boyd said.

“America wasn't founded as a theocracy,” he said. “America was
founded by people trying to escape theocracies. Never in history have we had a Christian theocracy where it wasn't bloody and barbaric. That's why our Constitution wisely put in a separation of church and state.

“I am sorry to tell you,” he continued, “that America is not the light of the world and the hope of the world. The light of the world and the hope of the world is Jesus Christ.”

Mr. Boyd lambasted the “hypocrisy and pettiness” of Christians who focus on “sexual issues” like homosexuality, abortion or Janet Jackson’s breast-revealing performance at the Super Bowl halftime show. He said Christians these days were constantly outraged about sex and perceived violations of their rights to display their faith in public.

“Those are the two buttons to push if you want to get Christians to act,” he said. “And those are the two buttons Jesus never pushed.”

Greg Boyd's sermons can be heard online

1 comment:

Jacksonian said...

Hi Douglas, I watched some great videos on your YouTube page about a couple years ago. Thanks a bunch for uploading all that good stuff.

Anyhow, I figured I should give you a heads up that I've decided to start a blog about Christianity and politics from a very Greg Boyd influenced perspective. Ever since reading his books on the subject I've had lots of my own thoughts and insights on the matter and I figured it'd be nice to have someone like yourself follow along and maybe add to what I'll be saying. I'm JUST starting up but some good posts are coming soon. Check it out at

God bless bro,
Jackson Trigg