30 May 2011

Memorial Day 2011

I’ve remarked before how American Evangelicalism is increasingly embracing the Liturgical Calendar with Lent (not to mention Passover) and other Judaizing and Paganizing practices which most Protestants historically rejected.

Of course the American church tends to cast these things in its own narcissistic way, and certainly we’ve developed what might be called the Patriotic Season in the American church. Starting with Memorial Day, this new season extends through Flag Day, Independence Day, and might even be stretched to September 11.

Basically the summer is a time to celebrate being American and being Patriotic. There’s nothing wrong with enjoying the outdoors, picnicking, barbecuing or whatever, but it’s interesting how all of this is tied together into a narrative about how good we are as a nation and our values surrounding material goods, money, food, self-control and the rest. And here’s where the problem arises….it enters the Church and corrupts our doctrine and devotion and shapes our understanding of our place in the world.

Laurence Vance posted the following today at LewRockwell:

Signs of the Times

by Laurence M. Vance

The Sunday before Memorial Day is not one of my favorites. The "patriotic" things that go on in churches in celebration or acknowledgment of Memorial Day are downright sickening.

Churches encourage their veterans to wear their military uniforms. Special recognition is given to those who "served." Prayers are offered on behalf of the troops, not that they would cease fighting foreign wars, but for God to keep them out of harm’s way and protect them. Mention is made of the troops defending our freedoms.

Churches decorate their grounds and the inside of their buildings with U.S. flags. Sometimes it is a few large flags hanging from the ceiling or adorning the walls. Sometimes it is many small flags stuck in the ground near the church entrance. Sometimes it is both. Some congregations are asked to recite the pledge of allegiance.

Churches sing hymns of worship to the state instead of hymns of worship about the person of Christ and his work. Songs like "My Country, ‘Tis of Thee," "America the Beautiful," "We Salute You, Land of Liberty," and "This Is My Country." Some churches go even farther and sing "God Bless the U.S.A." or "God Bless America." Too many churches sing the blasphemous "Battle Hymn of the Republic."

I know these practices are widespread because of the scores of people that have e-mailed me in disgust about what occurred in their churches on the Sunday before Memorial Day.

In most cases it is not even necessary to visit a church on the Sunday preceding Memorial Day to know what goes on inside. Just look at the sign outside of the church. Instead of a verse of Scripture or an announcement of an upcoming event, you are more likely to see some patriotic slogan, often with a Christian theme.

I have personally seen two signs this year that I find particularly offensive, not only to my Christian faith, but to reality:

Pray for the Troops,

God be with them.

The American soldier and Jesus Christ,

one gives his life for your freedom,

the other for your soul.

Yes, we should pray for the troops. The Bible tells us in 1 Timothy 2:1 that "supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men." But what should we pray? That God would bless the troops while they injure, maim, kill, and destroy property where they have no business being in the first place? That God would be with them while they wage unjust and immoral foreign wars? Since when does wearing a military uniform excuse killing someone you don’t know in his own territory that was no threat to any American until the U.S. military invaded and occupied his country? How about instead praying that the troops come home where they belong or that Christian families stop supplying cannon fodder to the military?

That Christ gave his life for our souls is indisputable, but do American soldiers give their lives for our freedoms? You know, the freedoms we have steadily lost since the troops starting defending our freedoms after 9/11? Has there been in American history any foreign war, military action, CIA covert action, or intervention of any kind in any country that was for the purpose of defending our freedoms mentioned in the Bill of Rights? Of course not. Not one Iraqi or Afghan killed by U.S. forces was ever a threat to our freedoms. The troops don’t defend our freedoms, and neither do they fight "over there" so we don’t have to fight "over here." And I can’t think of anything more blasphemous than mentioning Jesus Christ, the Lord, the Son of God, the Prince of Peace in the same breath as a U.S. soldier who unjustly bombs, maims, kills, and then dies in vain and for a lie.

It is time for Christians to slay the golden calf of the military. Christians should stop joining the military. They should stop encouraging their young men to enlist. They should stop being military chaplains and medics. American churches must be demilitarized.

It is a terrible blight on evangelical Christianity that our churches have sent more soldiers to the Middle East than missionaries. If Christians are so concerned about the threat of Islamofascism, then what better way to confront it than with the Gospel of Christ?

May 30, 2011

Laurence M. Vance writes from central Florida. He is the author of Christianity and War and Other Essays Against the Warfare State, The Revolution that Wasn't, and Rethinking the Good War. His latest book is The Quatercentenary of the King James Bible. Visit his website.

Copyright © 2011 by LewRockwell.com. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is gladly granted, provided full credit is given.

I thoroughly agree with what he has written and applaud his courage. He’s one of very few in the Bible-believing sector of America who will speak this way…let alone among those who are in Dispensational circles.

But I would add something.

If you approach the leadership of the church and try to argue the anti-Imperial angle or the ‘let’s not glorify the military’ argument…you will probably get nowhere. The military is viewed as sacrosanct in American Christianity and the Empire rests on a foundation of powerful and ingrained propaganda. You won’t crack that nut with much ease. That will take much work and much time.

Rather I would point out the key issue to ridding your church of these pagan additions is to argue from Sola Scriptura and the Sufficiency of Scripture. That blocks their practices even though private individuals may still embrace the Sacralist paradigm.

Of course for me….these events are times to stay away from the church. I won’t participate in idolatry and it could even be argued if this type of thing is going on in your church….maybe the question should be raised….is this a church at all, or is it a temple to a hybrid religion called Christo-Americanism?

These issues demonstrate quickly and clearly where people’s hearts are at and what is driving the people’s understanding of the Kingdom of God.

I daresay, there are probably very few churches in this country that I would have attended yesterday morning. So between Patriotic Season, Advent, Lent and Easter…..hmmm, it’s getting kind of difficult to find a church I can or want to attend even half the Sundays out of the year.