Though Jeffress and other evangelical triumphalists want to ascribe unqualified fealty to the state, they repeatedly do a very poor job of exegeting Romans 13. But Jeffress is unfortunately not alone. Jeffress joins a long line of palace prophets throughout history who have used (abused is more like it) Romans 13 to justify oppression, murder, war, and other human rights abuses.
It is terrorism, rooted in centuries of internalized belief and externalized violence that white people and a myth of a white nation are inherently superior, and all people who we deem not "white," especially those with black and brown skin, are not fully human, not fully deserving, and not worthy of full empathy. "Both sides" is garbage. Worse, it is dangerous fuel on the fire of white supremacy.
I recently had an online conversation with a long-time friend of mine who serves children in a non-Christian-dominant country. The leader of the country is a mean-spirited, nationalistic bigot who hates everyone who doesn’t match his religion, ethnicity, and particularly his nationality. Sound like anyone you and I know? Yes, he is that’s country’s donald trump.
By A Loving Mother
Where my daughter have you gone?
I have loved you since before I knew you
Your spirit, your heart, your grace, and your empathy
You are like a bright morning star and the fresh dew on the grass
You believe the world rejected you – it has hurt you and made you afraid
You have protected yourself by building a wall around your heart
You defend your wall with slings and arrows
You are quick to repel and reject - even those who love you
You have hardened your heart
The Evil One has fed your fear and your hurt
He has whispered in your ear schemes and lies
He constantly surrounds you with hate and deceit
He leads you into the wilderness and tells you that you are alone
I wish that you knew that you were a child of God - loved with a passion and intensity that you cannot fathom
You are not alone in the wilderness – God is with you
God sacrificed His only Son just to be with you
He will never abandon you
I wish that you understood that you are our child and our love knows no bounds
You are not alone in the wilderness – we are there, calling your name
We cover you with love when the world covers you with hate
We long for the day when we are reconciled
Until that time, know that we are there
We will never cease searching for you, praying for you, and loving you
We will be there when your walls come down
Where, my daughter, have you gone?
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For too long progressive Christians have tried to marry prophetic, truth-telling with institutional ownership. Stephen's blasting of the religious leaders of his day show that truth-telling must begin with one's own house. Institutional ownership comes with a price and the cost is often in the ability to prophetically speak truth to power.
Chapter six shows us that revolutions are not smoothly-run, linear movements where actions build neatly one upon another to be ultimately completed in a pristine picture of what was originally predicted. Revolutions are never neat and clean. Revolutions are giant leaps forward and, all too often, several steps back. Chapter six is more about the several steps back.
Like the overall atmospheric tension, the specific topic of the death penalty remains mostly in the ether. It is on everyone's minds, but the actual execution is mostly unspoken. Often, it passes lips only because it cannot be ignored, like when its occurrence pops up on the news of the pod TV. There is an entirely surreal feeling that occurs when this prison, where we are isolated and forgotten, never spoken of as human beings, suddenly shows up on the news that all the state's "normal" people watch.
The problem is that, like Ananias and Sapphira, the institutional church continues to hold back part of its earnings for its own affluence and security while it wants desperately to be seen as faithful. And like Ananias and Sapphira, the institutional church in the global North is indeed facing death.
Since most United Methodist churches are held captive to an aged building at a fixed address local churches need institutional support to justify the ever-increasing expenses of building maintenance. Even more, for those very few growing United Methodist churches, we must cover building expansion as well.
So yes, I will probably cook out on July 4th and will venture into crowded Washington DC to watch some pretty amazing fireworks. But I refuse to view this country as exceptional above all others or rewrite history to wash away the enormous injustices this country has committed against so vulnerable groups and countries. I will thank God for the United States on her birthday just as I will thank God for Kenya, India, Belgium, the Philippines, Canada, Mexico, etc.
I went to church a couple of Sundays ago in a beautiful, traditional church in small town America where the music was good and the people were friendly. There was a guest pastor that day who spoke on “Dream Big.” A perfectly lovely sermon topic, but I don’t remember much because all I felt was an emptiness inside. I knew that there was a broken, suffering, hurting world outside that door and that I was going to have to go back out there in a very short hour.
Too many middle-class churches have become so detached from the revolutionary New Testament church that we like to talk about our ministry "to" poor people more than among the poor. Our ministries never address the causes of poverty and never result in concrete social change. Thus, the poor become objectified, poverty continues, the delusion of the church "caring for its community" continues, detachment between the church and the most vulnerable in the community continues, faithlessness continues.
Right now, after a large scale raid in Detroit, 114 people are awaiting deportation to Iraq. Because many of them are Chaldean Christians, they have had some advocacy from Christian organizations. These organizations are joining the families in concern that their loved ones might be targeted for violence by ISIS because of their faith.