During the Lebanese Civil War back in the 1980's I can remember very clearly that when the Maronite Christians were mentioned in the news…they were one of the sides in that complex struggle….American Christians did not in any way view those people as being Christians… in the Biblical sense.
They're an ethnic group. They're Syriac Christians who antedate Islam and hold to an ancient but unbiblical form of Christianity. In fact they renewed ties with the Roman See during the Crusades and though they use a different liturgy, they are Roman Catholics.
Today in church we were urged to pray for the Copts in Egypt. Since FOX news is the source of choice for most Christians, the events in Egypt....are pretty scary stuff. The Copts are in danger from Islamic fanatics and Israel of course is in huge danger because the 30 year arrangement in the Middle East is in doubt. The local Christian radio station turned to yes, the expert of all experts on Middle Eastern affairs, Mike Huckabee for some analysis the other day. He said, yes, we need to remember that Mubarak was a good ally and he kept the Muslim Brotherhood in a weakened state.
I wish they'd play that audio clip in the square in Cairo. That would put an end to Huckabee's presidential aspirations once for all.
You can't stand up and pretend to preach values when your geo-politic reeks of The End Justifies the Means.
Maybe a Realpolitik is what's needed in the world….Nixon and Kissinger thought so and that's why they went and shook hand with Mao despite the protests on the Right in the United States. But now we're into muddy waters aren't we? Pretty difficult to be a principled Christian and live in a geo-political world…and stay alive.
I would assert that we need to expect Realpolitik from rulers of nations, but because that law (pragmatism) dominates the Common Order….maybe our involvement will have limits? Speak out, warn, criticize, discern….but Mike Huckabee's statement is a perfect example of what happens….The 'Christian' view ends up supporting evil. The real world is ugly. You stand for what’s right and yet get trampled, or you compromise like the Imperialist Mike Huckabee and you call evil good and good evil. Sacralist doctrine gives the church the tools to explain away the evil…and call it good.
And despite all their protests otherwise…it was this Sacralism applied… that led to the Church supporting the Third Reich. The German Church like Mike Huckabee, lost its identity and to borrow one of their catch-phrases, its moral compass.
In the 1980's I don't believe Bible-based Protestants would have declared the Copts to be Christians either. An amazing transformation in thought has occurred. Francis Schaeffer, Chuck Colson and others have brought this about…a complete redefinition of what the very word Christian even means. Sacralist theology in the form of Dominionism has transformed American Christianity.
We have a new second tier definition….Cultural Christians or Ethnic Christians. They can completely deny the gospel but because they retain some kind of sacrilegious liturgy in a Muslim setting, or because they're Western in outlook…they are our brethren. The Biblical concept of the Visible Church is hyper-expanded and made meaningless just adding to the confusion.
The present Evangelical definition of Christian is more akin to Medieval Catholic notions than anything from the Bible.
I feel nothing but sympathy for these people in the Middle East as they are feeling the effects of Western Imperial blowback. The Middle East has been turned on its head for the last 100 years and all too often these people, these Ethnic Christian groups are suffering as a result.
Now it's quite helpful to American Conservative Political interests to have the American Church supporting them in their agenda. What a clever means they've devised….make these geo-political strategies into Christian issues. Our brethren are being persecuted. So now it's a duty to have Christian America back dictators who will oppress the public in order to protect our brethren….right.
Under this logic all the Orthodox in Russia…they're Christians too!
All the Roman Catholics in Italy and Spain…they're Christians too!
That's right. Call back your missionaries. We didn't realize it…all those countries are already Christian. Whew, good thing to know. We don't have to send money over there anymore.
Of course those who are Christians in those lands will laugh at the mere suggestion of such a thing, or grow very angry with their American 'brethren'.
And of course it's not really pushed in the American Church or media that these Orthodox and Catholic 'believers' are our 'brethren,' because, well, it's not really expedient to foreign policy is it? We don't want the Church to worry about them. Those Orthodox in Russia…they like Putin, so they must not be Christians. If they didn’t like Putin….they’d be our brethren.
While the Copts are certainly fearful of what may occur in Egypt, the events of this Sunday morning which were reported very soberly from the pulpit….that is, that the military has dissolved Parliament and the constitution has been scrapped….can only come from American interests. America's grip on Egypt is through the army. Where are the Copts? It's well known and reported in real media…they're out on the square with the other protestors. This isn't an Islamic revolt…there are Copts and women out there. This is a secular rejection of an American Puppet. The Rook (Egypt) guarding America's Queen (Israel) was just taken. The Queen will have to re-adjust and the King….is quite upset.
But this morning it was reported with ominous tones…oh, bad things are happening. It was even suggested that Satan is on the ground in Cairo right now…
His agents are CIA assets and I'm sure they're hard at work.
Sacralism changes everything…changes how we view the church, how we read history and we understand the world. I was thinking of that this morning as I listened to the pastor report this and then pray for the soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines, who are protecting, defending, and serving 'us'…….protecting us from persecution….what 'us' is he talking about?
It's the American military that's using its assets in the Egyptian military to retain control of the country now that Mubarak has fled. Everyone knows this….except Americans and especially American Christians. We’re troubled by events in Egypt brought about by our policy but then we pray for those who are implementing the policy….all the while not really understanding if the pronouns we’re using pertain to the Church or the nation.
It occurred to me that what I witnessed this morning was a pretty good example in a just a few minutes of what motivated me to start this project last summer.
The church is gripped by delusion and it's making it so that people cannot understand the world around them. We're supposed to be the ones who see!
And we're the blindest of the blind.