American Empire, War Jesus Christ Nazism, Fascism Religious Right

Confessing Christ Against America’s ‘Theology of War’ – The Barmen Declaration

In Germany in the 20’s and 30’s many “German Christians” sold their hearts to unquestioning support of the German state and it’s aggressive foreign policy. Some more attentive Christians felt they had to make a “confession” of their allegiance to Christ and Biblical morality rather than endorse that nation-worshiping perversion of the Gospel. It cost many of them their lives.

American Christians today may need to follow that example by making a renewal of their confession of Christ – to make clear that Jesus does not really speak directly through George Bush, and the US is not God’s Kingdom. Sojourners has produced just such a document. Here are some excerpts, and the main outline.

  • A “theology of war,” emanating from the highest circles of American government, is seeping into our churches.
  • The language of “righteous empire” is employed with growing frequency.
  • The roles of God, church, and nation are confused by talk of an American “mission” and “divine appointment” to “rid the world of evil.”

We reject the false teaching that a war on terrorism takes precedence over ethical and legal norms. Some things ought never be done – torture, the deliberate bombing of civilians, the use of indiscriminate weapons of mass destruction – regardless of the consequences.

Whenever Christianity compromises with empire, the gospel of Christ is discredited. We reject the false teaching that any nation-state can ever be described with the words, “the light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it.” These words, used in scripture, apply only to Christ. No political or religious leader has the right to twist them in the service of war.

  1. Jesus Christ, as attested in Holy Scripture, knows no national boundaries.
  2. Christ commits Christians to a strong presumption against war.
  3. Christ commands us to see not only the splinter in our adversary’s eye, but also the beam in our own.
  4. Christ shows us that enemy-love is the heart of the gospel.
  5. Christ teaches us that humility is the virtue befitting forgiven sinners.

The distinction between good and evil does not run between one nation and another, or one group and another. It runs straight through every human heart. We reject the false teaching that America is a “Christian nation,” representing only virtue, while its adversaries are nothing but vicious.

Standing in the shadow of the Cross, Christians have a responsibility to count the cost, speak out for the victims, and explore every alternative before a nation goes to war. We are committed to international cooperation rather than unilateral policies.

We reject the false teaching that any human being can be defined as outside the law’s protection. We reject the demonization of perceived enemies, which only paves the way to abuse; and we reject the mistreatment of prisoners, regardless of supposed benefits to their captors.

The Lord Jesus Christ is either authoritative for Christians, or he is not. His Lordship cannot be set aside by any earthly power. His words may not be distorted for propagandistic purposes. No nation-state may usurp the place of God.

We believe that acknowledging these truths is indispensable for followers of Christ.

Do you think that qualifies as a truly Christian confession?

See the whole “Confession” here.

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