I’m a little more than half-way through Jesus For President. It’s rough, for a variety of reasons, but I’m pressing onward. Here’s something that struck me as rather poignant today:

These religiously inspired settlers, instead of embodying Jesus’ peculiar society, which is both revolutionary and subordinate, aimed to be solely revolutionary by creating a competing state that would exist on the world’s terms of power and violence. They eschewed the upside down politics of the mustard seed kingdom of God, while retaining the language of piety. They refused Jesus’ call to be a humble people (to the surrounding natives, to say the least!) and instead seized land to colonize. If we look hard, we might find some sincere Puritans with admirable qualities (as with any person or group), but essentially their identity was less in being the church and more in becoming a state with church words and practices sprinkled in.

Some congregations have identified this historical mistake and attempted to correct it. But in many cases, the treatment doesn’t get to the root of power. Take the great project to ‘take back America for God’ as an example. This project, of course, is rooted in the thought that the United States was initially founded ‘on God,’ a seriously contested claim. But even more, this grand goal, while it sounds pious, attempts to grasp power the same way the world does. The American project may have been a result not so much of malicious people as of bad theology–or wanting the right thing but pursuing it by the wrong means.–Shane Claiborne & Chris Haw, Jesus For President, 173*

Indeed. The church must not become a ’state’ with a few church words and practices sprinkled in. The church must be the church, the body of Christ. Nothing more. Nothing less.

_____________________________

*Unless everything all of us have ever been taught about the founding of America and the Puritan ‘conquest’ and the rather ‘gentle’ nature of the indigenous inhabitants of this place, then there is not a little revisionism in Claiborne and Haw’s words.  Or, to put it another way, while I happen to agree in principle with their thoughts on power, bad theology, and the upside down nature of the kingdom of God, I think that for the most part their interpretation of American history is weak at best. And for all their eschewing of the distinctively American politic that is the democratic process, they seem to fall with a resounding thud on the side of the ‘left’ and are far, far too critical of those, and the positions of those, on the ‘right’. This seriously, seriously impedes the flow of the book and the validity of their argument.

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88 Comments(+Add)

1   Neil    
October 21st, 2009 at 12:51 am

If we look hard, we might find some sincere Puritans with admirable qualities (as with any person or group), but essentially their identity was less in being the church and more in becoming a state with church words and practices sprinkled in.

I find this particularity unfortunate. “If we look hard we might find some…” (emphasis mine) – this is rather arrogant and condescending… as well as unprovable.

It is also rather uncharitable to completely ignore the time in which they lived. Certainly the mix of church and state that existed when Christendom was at it’s height in lamentable – as is many Evangelical attempts to reinstate it… but let’s cut them some slack/grace.

2   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
October 21st, 2009 at 6:45 am

If the flavor of the book is as Jerry suggests, that is unfortunate. There is no “left/right” in God’s kingdom. The Pilgrims were legalistic, but they were not as the book portrays them. It took much courage and conviction to do what they did.

The Puritans left England rather than join a government sponsored church. But if we see clearly, the church has found a way to join the government without making it “official”. We weren’t forced, we were deceived.

But our calling is not to castigate the system – it is what it is. We are called to the gospel, but becoming entangled with the system compromises our time, our integrity, our humility, and most grevious of all, the gospel.

3   Pastorboy    http://crninfo.wordpress.com
October 21st, 2009 at 7:44 am

Bravo, Jerry.

You have exposed this book for what it is.

While Claibourne’s life is to be admired, The moralism of his way is best subverts the point he is trying to make as the clear liberal revisionist view of history does.

While Shane is to be admired for living in the way he feels called to, the Moralistic Phariseeism in the way he (more specifically others who follow him) believes it is the only way to live for God is nauseating. How about the faithful rural pastor and his family that live simply, far away from family and the spotlight to love and serve the Lord in their context?

4   Scotty    http://scottysplace-scotty.blogspot.com/
October 21st, 2009 at 8:23 am

I don’t think we can fault Shane Claiborne totally for his views on this subject. I raised two kids in the same era, one being born in 1974 and the next in 1976. To a generation like Claiborne it isn’t necessarily being a revisionist, it is/was being taught in the schools. I’m giving him a bit a grace on this.

As a parent it was hard to battle the establishment and tell my children that what they were being taught, at times, was not true. The wife and I did our best. Some of it sunk in and some not.

Of course I can’t read Shane’s heart but I would lean towards that he’s not necessarily being a revisionist, he’s speaking the history that he was taught.

Don’t be so quick to condemn, pastorboy! I’ve watched my kids mature and at the same time their views change, I would like to think it was because of my wife’s and my prayer.
Shane needs prayer…..

5   Phil Miller    http://pmwords.blogspot.com
October 21st, 2009 at 8:44 am

I have to say that when I read the book, I didn’t get the idea that he was spending a lot of time misrepresenting American history. I guess whatever he said wasn’t enough to make me pause, because I heartily recommended the book to some of my closest friends. I actually wrote a review of the book here (which I forgot about until just now).

I did go to a public school, so maybe my view of American history is warped, too. Although, I did grow up in a very conservative house, and my dad was in the military as well. I guess my view is that the US has gotten a lot of stuff right, but it is still deeply flawed, and there’s nothing wrong with talking about that stuff.

The one thing I do find rather ironic is that the things that most Christians find good in American today such as personal liberty, government for and by people etc. are really products of the Enlightenment, and at the time, that sort of thinking was really held in deep suspicion, if not contempt, by large portions of the Church. So the notion that America owes all of its freedoms to a Christian heritage deserves to be questioned.

6   M.G.    
October 21st, 2009 at 8:54 am

How many people know the basic outlines of the first Thanksgiving?

And how many people know about Standish’s raid?

I think the view is tilted more towards “noble, religious folk” and less towards “a bunch of insufferable radicals who thought they could sail anywhere they want and take people’s land.”

The truth, of course, is somewhere in the middle.

7   M.G.    
October 21st, 2009 at 8:57 am

And speaking to Claiborn’s original point… yes, I think that coming to America armed and ready to kill is more the “world’s way” of doing things.

Jim Elliott also traveled to a foreign land once, ready not to kill, but to be killed.

I happen to think he was closer to the heart of Christ than the Pilgrims…

8   Scotty    http://scottysplace-scotty.blogspot.com/
October 21st, 2009 at 9:02 am

#6 As to the two questions, M.G., I would again think that it would be a generational thing. The answers directly ties to when one was born.

I think the view is tilted more towards “noble, religious folk” and less towards “a bunch of insufferable radicals who thought they could sail anywhere they want and take people’s land.”

Again, a generational answer.

The truth, of course, is somewhere in the middle.

I also agree, somewhere inbetween…..

9   corey    
October 21st, 2009 at 9:06 am

Jerry,
I wonder if the critique of the right has more to do with the fact that the right was in power when this book was written. I have heard Claiborne speak just as critically of the left since Obama has been president. Just a thought.

10   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
October 21st, 2009 at 9:13 am

The entire American history is revisionist. But so is Luther’s life, Calvin’s life, Emgland’s history, my life, etc., you get the picture.

Picture this: A large group of Americans grow disenchanted with their government. So they take boats to the Congo, set up cities, and in the process kill off most of the indigenous peoples there. The people that are left they section off in minute pieces of land and allow them cigareete sales and gambling rights.

Then you suggest that Jesus was completely in agreement with your actions and in fact organized the entire thing. Oh, you say, but the America Indians were savages and uncivilized!

I did not realize that acting in accordance with the teachings of Jesus were conditioned upon your asessment of their “civilized” status.

It’s not only Clairborne that needs prayer so he might mature and become like us, perhaps a little of the reverse is in order as well. What a thought…

11   Jerry    http://www.dongoldfish.wordpress.com
October 21st, 2009 at 9:17 am

Corey,

Here’s what Claiborne says about that subject: “We would pick on Democrats too, but they just don’t happen to have their theology yet. (But be warned, they sure are working on it.)”–180

There are one or two quotes from Obama in the book, but by and large this book is anti-’right’ and soft on the left at best. The paragraph preceding what I just quoted mentions the following names: George W Bush, Dick Cheney, Karl Rove, Donald Rumsfeld, Jeb Bush, Paul Wolfowitz, and Lewis Libby. The only ‘liberal’ mentioned so far in the book is Obama. (And maybe Jesus.)

Phil, I guess I sort of disagree with your point. There is a lot of revisionism going on in the book in order for them to make their point (a point which, by the way, I’m not sure I yet agree with). I’m only half-way through, so we’ll see if it balances out by the end.

John,

Save your ‘bravo.’ I haven’t exposed anything. I simply stated that, at this point in the book, their take on history is flawed (unless all we have been taught is wrong at best and lies at worst). It’s clear that they are not on the ‘right’, but it’s not entirely clear they are on the ‘left’ either (although I think they tilt that way politically).

jerrry

12   Pastorboy    http://crninfo.wordpress.com
October 21st, 2009 at 9:19 am

I think we all could be more Christlike, and less in love with the world.

13   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
October 21st, 2009 at 9:21 am

I forgot to mention that when those Americans took over the Congo, they realized they needed help to build up their nation’s economy. So they went to Brazil, captured millions of people and brought them forcibly by boat to the Congo. Of course the living conditions in those boats resulted in a 20-30% collateral death rate, but that’s the price of business.

Later, your country went to war concerning the status of those slaves. 500,000 people died in that war. The southern portion of the Congo relunctantly gave up their slaves, however those Brazilians were still seriously treated like second class citizens, and some of that still is alive today.

The good news?? Thanks in no small part to the Indians and the blacks, most of us enjoy a significant level of prosperity. To our credit, we only complain when any of our comforts cost more. Then even the Christians will become hostile and complaining.

14   M.G.    
October 21st, 2009 at 9:22 am

There is one, big for me at least, distinction between the”religious left” and “religious right” that leaves me with certain sympathies to the former.

There are many, but not all, voices on the right who make it explicit that the Republican national platform must be believed in order to be saved (see, e.g., Crosstalk blog for that mentality).

I’ve never seen a left-leaning Christian say the same thing about the Democratic National Platform.

And I think there is nothing more pernicious than adding a list of requirements to the gospel.

15   Phil Miller    http://pmwords.blogspot.com
October 21st, 2009 at 9:28 am

Phil, I guess I sort of disagree with your point. There is a lot of revisionism going on in the book in order for them to make their point (a point which, by the way, I’m not sure I yet agree with). I’m only half-way through, so we’ll see if it balances out by the end.

Oh no, you sort of disagree. I don’t think I’ll be able to sleep tonight… :-) I’m glad you don’t fully disagree…

Actually, Jerry, I may be way off base, too. I just don’t remember those things in the book. Perhaps I was just numb to them at the point I read it. I’d have to take another look at it to refresh my memory. I think a big part of it is probably what Corey mentioned. The Republicans were in power at the time, so they were the ones blamed.

It’s been interesting to me to see what’s been happening with the Obama administration and Afghanistan lately. Obama is quickly learning that it’s easy to criticize when you aren’t one responsible for making decisions. Presidents don’t get to vote “present”.

16   Jerry    http://www.dongoldfish.wordpress.com
October 21st, 2009 at 9:30 am

Thanks in no small part to the Indians and the blacks, most of us enjoy a significant level of prosperity.

I disagree. This is the sort of revisionism that is patently false. I have never owned a slave, black, indigenous, white, or otherwise. What I have, what I am, is because I have worked hard, gone into debt, paid off my debt, and worked harder. The only person I owe anything to is Jesus Christ.

17   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
October 21st, 2009 at 9:31 am

MG – If you will read the crosstalk post about Sen. Snowe here, you will see they question Sen. Snowe’s Republican status because she voted for Obama’s healthcare plan. And they castigate anyone who shows any compassion for illegal aliens.

Verum Serum is no better.

18   corey    
October 21st, 2009 at 9:31 am

M.G.,
I don’t know. I’ve heard Jim Wallis say some pretty harsh things toward the ‘religious right’ and seems to be a ‘my way or the highway’ kind of person. To me, he’s just as distasteful as James Dobson or anyone else on the right. That’s why I’m not sure lumping in Claiborne with the religious left makes sense because he clearly believes government is not the answer for problems of poverty, which I can’t say for the religious left.

19   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
October 21st, 2009 at 9:35 am

Jerry – You missed the point completely, possibly on purpose?

Question: If someone made a car that got 100 miles to the gallon, and it was on sale for $1000.00, would you buy it with your hard earned money.

Caveat – The car was made in a factory with 100% slave workers.

20   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
October 21st, 2009 at 9:37 am

Historical note:

The White House was made overwhelmingly by SLAVES.

21   Jerry    http://www.dongoldfish.wordpress.com
October 21st, 2009 at 9:39 am

Phil,

And, to be sure, the reason I may be seeing it is because the ‘left’ is in power. When I see sentences like this, “The US has claimed lands far and wide (Alaska, Puerto Rico, Hawaii, Guam, Guantanamo Bay [in a country it explicitly opposes through sanctions], the Virgin Islands, American Samoa, etc.)” I see not a little revisionism.

Alaska and Hawaii were purchased, legally. They were not claimed or seized. Guantanamo Bay is occupied for obvious reasons–and Cuba can have sanctions removed as soon as Castro is removed from power and his communist, anti-American regime is undone, and his people enjoy freedom, etc. (How quickly we forget about those missiles.) Peurto Rico is not ‘claimed’ either. It exists under our protection, yet remains free.

That’s what I’m talking about. It’s one thing to say that the US has imperially seized properties and another thing to state why ‘we’ live there. It’s the same with military bases that exist in other countries: why are we there? Oh, I don’t know, because all of those places have at one time or another threatened us with or gone to war against ‘us’?

BTW, Phil, I could never totally disagree with you. Don’t you know about the code? I’d surely be banned for life if I totally disagreed with another writer. :)

jerry

22   M.G.    
October 21st, 2009 at 9:40 am

RE:16

Two simple questions:

1.) Could you have gotten as far as you have living in Ethiopia instead of the United States?

2.) If not, is *part* of the reason why America is so prosperous–and rewarding to those who work hard–the value added by hundreds of thousands of free laborers toiling for many years?

Success is not merely a function of the labor an individual expends to get somewhere. It’s also the social capital and institutions that permit someone to succeed.

It’s pride to suggest otherwise.

23   Jerry    http://www.dongoldfish.wordpress.com
October 21st, 2009 at 9:42 am

Jerry – You missed the point completely, possibly on purpose?

Question: If someone made a car that got 100 miles to the gallon, and it was on sale for $1000.00, would you buy it with your hard earned money.

Caveat – The car was made in a factory with 100% slave workers.

I’m not in the mood to argue with you. I own a 2005 car and a 2000 van. I paid for them with money I earned at my job. I cannot afford a 100000 car.

I don’t own a factory. I don’t own slaves. I’ve never lived or been in the white house.

I will be in debt until the day I die. I do not own any significant level of prosperity at my own hands or on the backs of others. So I can’t begin to imagine what you are talking about or what 100000 cars have to do with anything. Sorry.

jerry

24   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
October 21st, 2009 at 9:43 am

“So I can’t begin to imagine what you are talking about or what 100000 cars have to do with anything. Sorry.”

I realize that. You are not alone.

25   Jerry    http://www.dongoldfish.wordpress.com
October 21st, 2009 at 9:46 am

MG,

Thanks for the pick me up. You can live in your guilt if you choose to. Maybe you, Rick, and a few others can start your own country.

The fact is, I was not born in Ethiopia and what is considered success here is not considered success there. Truth is, there are successful people in Ethiopia who enjoy a fine life.

By the standards of America, I am a lower class, poor white man. I’m hardly successful when you consider that one missed paycheck could potentially cause me to lose every single thing I own that you think grants me the title ’successful.’

jerry

26   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
October 21st, 2009 at 9:48 am

Jerry – No one was making you the issue. We are speaking of issues of truth and the kingdom of God. You said:

“By the standards of America”.

Therin lies the problem.

27   Jerry    http://www.dongoldfish.wordpress.com
October 21st, 2009 at 9:49 am

Rick,

Oh exalted one. Please explain to us how now you’re wisdom has transcended even the ranks of CRN.info. Please, get over it. Neither you nor anyone is going to make me feel guilty for being 1000’s of dollars in debt because the church, which you hold in such high esteem, has, over the last 15 years, starved my family by not paying us a living wage while we served them. Please. Spare me the white angst.

jerry

28   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
October 21st, 2009 at 9:52 am

You are not the issue, again. I will refrian from interacting with you on this because I sense you are wounded.

I am sorry.

29   Jerry    http://www.dongoldfish.wordpress.com
October 21st, 2009 at 9:54 am

Rick,

you addressed #19 directly to me. i answered it.

#22 was addressed directly to me.

then you told me i missed the point.

i understand your point. you want me to feel guilty for being a white american man who works hard to provide for my family.

what else were you trying to say?

jerry

30   Chris L    http://www.fishingtheabyss.com/
October 21st, 2009 at 9:58 am

PB: While Shane is to be admired for living in the way he feels called to, the Moralistic Phariseeism in the way he (more specifically others who follow him) believes it is the only way to live for God is nauseating.

I find Phariseeism – whether it comes from the left or the right (*cough* ODM’s *cough*) to be nauseating.

31   Chris L    http://www.fishingtheabyss.com/
October 21st, 2009 at 10:06 am

Question: If someone made a car that got 100 miles to the gallon, and it was on sale for $1000.00, would you buy it with your hard earned money.

Caveat – The car was made in a factory with 100% slave workers.

Answer: It depends.

If they were truly slave workers, then no.

However, if they worked for $0.50/hour (in a country where the standard of living was 5% of what it is in the US) or weren’t unionized, or didn’t follow US labor law, etc. (those things that US unions tend to brand as “slave labor” when defending their turf), then maybe.

If not buying such cars meant that the workers who made them would go hungry because they would be without jobs, then would my boycott do any good but to serve my own ego for my supposed “compassion”?

In short – there’s not enough information in your hypothetical to really make a reasoned judgment, because “to buy or not to buy” is so far downstream of what problems may exist that it does not leave room for attending to the root cause issues of the “slavery”…

32   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
October 21st, 2009 at 10:09 am

Chris – I understand, but at least you see an issue. I am not attempting to make people feel guilty about things that have happened in that past, I am attempting to make us see things in a justice/kingdom perspective as opposed to an American perspective.

I would think that those who lean emergent would be seeing things like that already. Guess not. Nationalism is a strong deception.

33   Jerry    http://www.dongoldfish.wordpress.com
October 21st, 2009 at 10:11 am

#31

Your argument is much more reasonable than mine. I guess I get tired of people telling me I should feel guilty for being born in the US. I get tired of being told that any hard work I might have done is meaningless because 200 years ago someone’s grandfather owned a slave or because someone in a distant country currently owns one who made my boxer shorts.

Guilt is as much of a sin as is slavery. I can choose to live in guilt or I can choose to live another way. I am choosing to live another way. White guilt does not a man make.

jerry

34   Phil Miller    http://pmwords.blogspot.com
October 21st, 2009 at 10:14 am

Two simple questions:

1.) Could you have gotten as far as you have living in Ethiopia instead of the United States?

2.) If not, is *part* of the reason why America is so prosperous–and rewarding to those who work hard–the value added by hundreds of thousands of free laborers toiling for many years?

Success is not merely a function of the labor an individual expends to get somewhere. It’s also the social capital and institutions that permit someone to succeed.

It’s pride to suggest otherwise.

I don’t know how much I agree with the statement that “*part* of the reason why America is so prosperous [is] the value added by hundreds of thousands of free laborers toiling for many years?” There may be some truth in that the rich gain something by exploiting the poor, but when you look at the history of slavery in the US, it really did not bring a lot in the way of prosperity to the South. Sure there were wealthy plantation owners who prospered based on the work of slaves, but an argument could be made that the South lagged far behind the North in economic prosperity because of its insistence on keeping slaves.

In a sense, you could say it points to an old lie of the Enemy – the lie that in oppressing others you will gain something. The truth, is though, that in oppressing others, you end up hurting yourself in the long run.

I’m not saying that we don’t acknowledge are past wrongs as a society, but simply looking back and wringing out hands in guilt isn’t the proper response. We need address the structural things that allowed those wrongs to perpetuate, but simply feeling guilty for something from the past isn’t fruitful.

35   Jerry    http://www.dongoldfish.wordpress.com
October 21st, 2009 at 10:15 am

Rick,

The problem with making such a distinction as you claim to have power to do is that you end up hating who you are or feeling guilty for it. You and I may be kingdom people; we may see injustice; we may see corruption in nationalism. But we are still born here. We still live here.

That is the problem I have, so far, with Claiborne’s, and your, point: You seem not to recognize that even at the day of reckoning, you will not cease to be a kingdom person who grew up in America. (See Rev. 7:9).

jerry

36   corey    
October 21st, 2009 at 10:24 am

Jerry (#33),

I agree that ending up in feelings of guilt is not helpful or productive. But could there be a better response to what seems to me to be the pretty indisputable fact that our economy has been built on the back of oppression (historically and today)? Instead of responding out of guilt, couldn’t we respond out of gratitude?

In a bible study I’m part of, we’ve been working through Luke. Last night we reached the story of Simon the Pharisee and the immoral woman who washed Jesus’ feet. Jesus’ parabolic response to Simon’s judgment was the line “He who has been forgiven much, loves much. He who has been forgiven little, loves little.”

I wonder if there’s some applicability to this scenario. We have been forgiven for past wrongs. We continue to be forgiven for even the ways that we participate innocently in a system that oppresses. But our response as we become more aware of what we have been forgiven is love, not guilt. We don’t try to make right the wrongs of the people who have gone before us because we feel obligated by feelings of guilt and shame. We right wrongs out of gratitude for how much we have been forgiven.

37   Jerry    http://www.dongoldfish.wordpress.com
October 21st, 2009 at 10:37 am

That’s nearly my point.

Why should the past be continually brought up and thrown into our faces?

Why keep reliving the past sins?

We are either living in grace or we are not. If we are, then guilt plays no part (and I’ve seen those words written by Rick himself). Acknowledging a problem is profoundly different from wallowing in guilt.

I won’t feel guilt for having a car and driving it whether it was built here or there, costs this much or that. We are what we are because of grace. (And a lot of hard work.)

38   Neil    
October 21st, 2009 at 10:43 am

Jerry,
I wonder if the critique of the right has more to do with the fact that the right was in power when this book was written. I have heard Claiborne speak just as critically of the left since Obama has been president. Just a thought.

That and most evangelicals in America think the right more biblical – often to the point of listing non-biblical issues (like socialism vs captitalism) among the sins of the left.

39   Neil    
October 21st, 2009 at 10:46 am

I think we all could be more Christlike, and less in love with the world.

These are not nessecarily mutually exclusive.

40   Phil Miller    http://pmwords.blogspot.com
October 21st, 2009 at 10:47 am

Getting back to Claiborne’s book, I wasn’t left with impression from Jesus for President nor from Irresistible Revolution that he was trying to make anyone feel guilty. I do think he was trying to make people think about their actions and repercussions.

I’m not saying this is the case with you, Jerry, but sometime when I see people react to Claiborne in a way that’s like, “why are you trying to make me feel guilty?”, I wonder if they aren’t actually feeling the conviction of the Holy Spirit. Because I’ve seen it multiple times where Claiborne or someone like him will say something like, “Americans should really think about whether if they really need to drive an SUV back and forth to their office everyday.” And the reaction I see is along the lines, “quit trying to guilt me…, or I’m free to drive whatever I want”, etc. Why does saying a statement like that about SUVs warrant a reaction like that?

I certainly believe there are people who do try to use guilt as a motivator, so perhaps that why we have an instantaneous reaction. But perhaps sometimes we need to be willing to take a step back and ask ourselves why we are reacting the way we are.

41   corey    
October 21st, 2009 at 10:48 am

The problem occurs when, being unaware of how much we have been forgiven, we choose to love little. Awareness of past and present sin is, I think, prerequisite to living in grace and love. I don’t think that grace means pretending those societal sins don’t exist (and I’m not saying you’re doing this, Jerry). I think it means acknowledging the sin, and gratefully living a life of love that seeks to make wrongs right.

42   Neil    
October 21st, 2009 at 10:53 am

To the illustration: I would not buy a car made by slaves. But I would also not hold it against a company, if 150 years ago, they did build buggies using slaves.

It’s not that simple.

43   Neil    
October 21st, 2009 at 10:57 am

Phil,

I started the book and liked the beginings – where he addresses the love affair between evangelicals (historically) and their nation – nationalism.

That said, I responded to the quote Jerry provided (which could be out of context, I admit). but to say we’d have to look hard to find some Puritans with admirable qualities is, as I think, rather arrogant and impossing on them a standard that is not fair.

44   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
October 21st, 2009 at 11:08 am

Corey said:

“The problem occurs when, being unaware of how much we have been forgiven, we choose to love little. Awareness of past and present sin is, I think, prerequisite to living in grace and love.”

I surely wished I had said that. Profound, simply profound.

45   Jerry    http://www.dongoldfish.wordpress.com
October 21st, 2009 at 11:10 am

“Americans should really think about whether if they really need to drive an SUV back and forth to their office everyday.”

How are we to get to work then? This is my point Phil. One is not a ‘guilty american’ because they drive this car or that car. If Claiborne chooses to walk, fine. If Rick choses to ride a bike, find. If i choose to drive a 10 year old minivan, fine. If i chose to eat meat, fine.

Paul the apostle, who is not oft quoted in Claiborne’s book, addresses this very subject. My conscience is not subject to the ideas of another’s conscience. I have no right to cause you to sin, but the nature of the car we drive is not an offense that grieves the Holy Spirit of God.

So it is easy, at least to me, to see why such statements would cause people, like me, to be offended at Claiborne’s statements. That is, his idea of what is right and good being imposed on everyone else is not a good thing. He has an idea; fine. But that does not necessarily mean his idea is the best or that everyone needs to be in love with it.

jerry

46   Jerry    http://www.dongoldfish.wordpress.com
October 21st, 2009 at 11:13 am

Nor, for that matter, does it mean his interpretation of American history is right either.

America is not guilty for being America. Democracy is not wrong for being Democracy. The state does what the state does.

Guilt lies with the church. If that is were Claiborne’s only point, I would be ok with him so far. But I don’t think that is Claiborne’s only point. Far from it.

47   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
October 21st, 2009 at 11:21 am

This is not about personal guilt. This is about personal and collective reflection and have that alter our future behavior according to each man’s own conscience.

48   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
October 21st, 2009 at 11:26 am

“This is not about personal guilt. This is about personal and collective reflection and have that alter our future behavior according to each man’s own conscience.”

Or much more eoquently, reference comment #41.

49   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
October 21st, 2009 at 11:33 am

OK, here is a little piece of profound paradoxical blindness that might lighten us up a little. In today’s crosstalk radio show they will be dealing with how to raise children in the gospel. Ingrid says:

“As parents, we so often focus on external conformity to rules and expectations, while the real heart issues get ignored. It’s a great way to produce a healthy crop of pharisees and legalists.”

Let the music begin because you have now entered the Twilight Zone. More medication, please.

50   Phil Miller    http://pmwords.blogspot.com
October 21st, 2009 at 11:34 am

How are we to get to work then? This is my point Phil. One is not a ‘guilty american’ because they drive this car or that car. If Claiborne chooses to walk, fine. If Rick choses to ride a bike, find. If i choose to drive a 10 year old minivan, fine. If i chose to eat meat, fine.

Paul the apostle, who is not oft quoted in Claiborne’s book, addresses this very subject. My conscience is not subject to the ideas of another’s conscience. I have no right to cause you to sin, but the nature of the car we drive is not an offense that grieves the Holy Spirit of God.

So it is easy, at least to me, to see why such statements would cause people, like me, to be offended at Claiborne’s statements. That is, his idea of what is right and good being imposed on everyone else is not a good thing. He has an idea; fine. But that does not necessarily mean his idea is the best or that everyone needs to be in love with it.

That’s what I’m getting at. I don’t think it’s an issue of guilt. Guilt shouldn’t be the thing that motivates change, but there certainly are things that we should consider when we live the way we live.

The eating meat thing is a good example. I may have been OK eating meat sacrificed to idols when Paul was writing, but my brother may have been bound in a lifestyle where eating this meat was closely associated with pagan worship. So out of deference for him, I change my behavior. It’s not out of personal guilt.

Now jump forward to today. I will admit that my wife I spend a great deal of our income on ourselves. Whether it be food, clothing, entertainment. I don’t feel guilty about it. However, I do know that I have brothers and sisters throughout the world who would feel wealthy if they had the income we have. Should that at least make me pause before I decide to do certain things. I’m saying out of guilt, but out of gratitude for what I have, and realize that what I decide to do with what I’ve been given can greatly impact others.

I realize that it’s hard to not do this out of guilt because that is the natural paradigm the world functions in. But I think I’m slowly learning that freedom is actually the thing that we are to motivated out of.

51   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
October 21st, 2009 at 11:42 am

Sometimes I feel so guilty about my superior intellect because many others are helpless to do anything to change their situation. I must humbly accept my misfortune. :cool:

52   Phil Miller    http://pmwords.blogspot.com
October 21st, 2009 at 11:46 am

Also, Jerry, do you really feel that Claiborne is imposing his ideas on you? I guess in some sense you could argue that anyone who writes anything in a book is trying to impose their ideas on you, but I think we need to take it with a grain of salt. I may have missed it, but I don’t remember Claiborne saying that his lifestyle is the only lifestyle that a person can live to be a Christian.

Another thing that I was thinking about is the whole area of ministerial giftings. Have you ever taken any of those tests? One of the categories is “prophetic”, and one of the characteristics of people who have that sort of ministry character is that they see things very much in black and white terms, and they are often seen as harsh in their interactions with people. I could see Claiborne falling into that category (I’m not calling him a prophet, btw). All I’m saying that sometimes it takes more grace when dealing with those people.

53   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
October 21st, 2009 at 11:48 am

From a person who would vehemently disagree with Clairborne’s redemptive theology (I am assuming a lot here), he makes monumental points and does what most conference speakers do not.

He lives them.

54   Neil    
October 21st, 2009 at 11:56 am

re 49 – she is right, of course… but the irony of her addressing it is overwhelming.

55   Phil Miller    http://pmwords.blogspot.com
October 21st, 2009 at 11:58 am

Let the music begin because you have now entered the Twilight Zone. More medication, please.

Yeah, I could rephrase what she said for her – “Do as say, not as I do…”

56   Jerry    http://www.dongoldfish.wordpress.com
October 21st, 2009 at 12:55 pm

#47

There is no such thing as collective anything.

57   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
October 21st, 2009 at 12:58 pm

Collective as in the “church”. The New Testament is written to both personal believers and the collective body of Christ.

58   corey    
October 21st, 2009 at 1:14 pm

Jerry (#56),

Can you flesh out that statement a bit? What do you mean by that?

59   Ian    http://lostintheheartofsomewhere.blogspot.com
October 21st, 2009 at 2:22 pm

Just finished a grad course on the period from the Act of Uniformity through to ‘the wars of the three kingdoms’ (what used to be called the English Civil War till we realised it included Scotland and Ireland). What struck me is that the Puritans were not some anti-establishment christians longing to cast off the cloak of religious oppression at all.

During the Protectorate there were essentially two parties regarding church matters – the presbyterians and the indepndents. The Presbyterians argued for a consistory form of church goverbance, with no interference from Parliament (as per the Scottish model). The Independents were Puritans who argued for congregational autonomy, with their form of worship protected by Parliament. They were not arguing that they should be allowed to choose their form of Church government alongside anything else, they wanted Parliament to legislate against Episcopal and Presbyterian church forms.

Jumping back to before 1620, the Puritans got their name not from a desire to be personally ‘pure’, but from a desire to purify the church from ‘popish’ influence, such as Bishops, kneeling at communion, communion rails, vestments (a HUGE issue in Elizabethan England) etc. The did not, as a body of opinion, want the disestablishment of the church. They wanted to make the established church in the way they thought right – and they were not afraid to use violence to achieve it. They reacted badly to the compromise of the Elizabethan settlement, and even worse to the Stuart dynasty on the throne, with the threat from James that Scottish church forms would be introduced, and real concern over the direction things would take upon the accession of Charles I (which proved true when Laudian reforms were pushed through).

As such, I don’t think Shane Claiborne’s reading is that far off – if deliberately provocative to redress some of the sentimental nonsense written about the so-called pilgrim fathers.

60   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
October 21st, 2009 at 2:32 pm

#59 – Thank you for that information. I guess we can remove the Puritans from the pedestal of idolatry and bring them down to the level of the rest of us.

61   nc    
October 21st, 2009 at 3:50 pm

actually, shane comes from a wealthy family of tennessee bluebloods.

it’s not “revisionist” to want accuracy about our early american myths.

especially how those myths have been used to co-opt the church in the country.

it’s not necessarily “left” to critique what is undoubtedly the dominant pov in US christianity.

we have more choices than “right” and “left”.

I don’t always like shane’s methods, but i do have to say that when you are raised in an evangelicalism that is profoundly unreflective about their wealth, their politics, etc. and then you get to go hang out personally with mother theresa and see first hand the condition of the poor in developing countries it leaves a mark on your soul.

62   nc    
October 21st, 2009 at 3:53 pm

we have to remember too that the church in the USA is really one of the only expressions of Christianity that gets to enjoy the luxury of wrestling with the conundrum of “what car would Jesus own?” or “would Jesus wear designer clothes?” or “fill in the blank”…

that luxury only supports the critique against it.

63   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
October 21st, 2009 at 3:59 pm

nc – You are so Cro-magnum. :cool:

64   nc    
October 21st, 2009 at 5:04 pm

@63

HA!

65   Neil    
October 21st, 2009 at 6:12 pm

Ian,

All that may be true (cf. #59), and I agree with Rick in #60. But I still contend it is improper to say “If we look hard, we might find some sincere Puritans with admirable qualities.”

66   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
October 21st, 2009 at 6:29 pm

#65 – I agree. It is self righteous, and it indicates the temptation of exhibiting a sacrificial lifestyle that seems more spiritual than do others. Clairborne must guard against wrapping a humble lifestyle in self righteousnes.

67   Ian    http://lostintheheartofsomewhere.blogspot.com
October 22nd, 2009 at 1:41 am

#65 et al

I think you may be missing some of the humour in that phrase.

68   John Kenneson    
October 22nd, 2009 at 7:57 am

“The good news?? Thanks in no small part to the Indians and the blacks, most of us enjoy a significant level of prosperity. To our credit, we only complain when any of our comforts cost more. Then even the Christians will become hostile and complaining.”

Over the years Dr Thomas Sowell makes some great points about slavery and its negative economic impact on the United States in general and the South in particular. In particular see chapters in “Black Rednecks and White Liberals”.

69   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
October 22nd, 2009 at 8:12 am

“Over the years Dr Thomas Sowell makes some great points about slavery and its negative economic impact on the United States in general and the South in particular. In particular see chapters in “Black Rednecks and White Liberals”.”

To suggest he was in the minority would be giving him too much weight. The overall economic impact by not having to pay wages for labor was overwhelmingly positive for the slave owners. So much so, that the South was willing to go to war to protect their economic windfall.

I am unsure what your point would be except to soften the moral impact of slavery because they had a negative impact on the economy? Or to relieve us of any retrospective analysis of any positive impact on our economy by slaves that might cause us to understand some implications for today.

Either way, the history of American slavery was morally reprehensible and economoically productive.

70   Phil Miller    http://pmwords.blogspot.com
October 22nd, 2009 at 8:24 am

To suggest he was in the minority would be giving him too much weight. The overall economic impact by not having to pay wages for labor was overwhelmingly positive for the slave owners. So much so, that the South was willing to go to war to protect their economic windfall.

I am unsure what your point would be except to soften the moral impact of slavery because they had a negative impact on the economy? Or to relieve us of any retrospective analysis of any positive impact on our economy by slaves that might cause us to understand some implications for today.

Either way, the history of American slavery was morally reprehensible and economoically productive.

It’s the point I was making before, Rick. Yes, the South believed that slavery was an economic boon for them, but when you “look at the numbers”, as they say, it would have benefited them more economically to release the slaves. So they were, in essence, believing a lie from Satan. It’s just an example of what typically happens. The Enemy convinces us that letting of we have will harm us, but in reality, what we are holding onto is actually hurting us.

No one is denying the moral depravity of slavery or its lingering effects. The only thing I’m saying is that, for the country as a whole, slavery was not a wealth-producing endeavor. Certainly it benefited some, but when a slave is freed the net effect in the long run will be that everyone will be better off.

71   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
October 22nd, 2009 at 8:34 am

I would entertain statistics suggesting that slaves did not produce billions of dollars of free labor. Please show me how paying laborers wages is more economically beneficial that using slave labor.

72   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
October 22nd, 2009 at 8:42 am

The textile industry in the North and world wide was just beginning to explode. The South expoted 60% of the world’s cotton in 1860 and the profits were hude due to the low cost of labor. American slavery contributed greatly to the industrial revolution.

Slavery in the South was economically productive. That is the prevailing opinion based upon facts.

73   Phil Miller    http://pmwords.blogspot.com
October 22nd, 2009 at 8:53 am

The textile industry in the North and world wide was just beginning to explode. The South expoted 60% of the world’s cotton in 1860 and the profits were hude due to the low cost of labor. American slavery contributed greatly to the industrial revolution.

Slavery in the South was economically productive. That is the prevailing opinion based upon facts.

Well, prevailing opinion is often wrong.

For one thing that’s operating under the assumption that forced free laborers will be just as productive than fairly compensated workers. It’s proven time and time again that workers are more productive when they feel they are paid what they deserve and when they can enjoy their work. On a whole, the US economy grew faster after the Civil War than before. Of course, the South suffered, and I don’t doubt that they previously reap benefits from slave labor. But in the long term it’s unsustainable.

The lie of the Enemy is that if I oppress someone, it benefits me. The truth is, though, by freeing someone and serving others, we both benefit.

74   Phil Miller    http://pmwords.blogspot.com
October 22nd, 2009 at 8:59 am

I guess the point I’m trying to get at is that sometimes I think Christians take the tact of thinking that economic prosperity is always wrong, and that it always comes on the backs of the poor. I don’t believe that is the case.

I believe God will prosper people – He promised to bless the Israelites if they obeyed Him. There is always an inherent danger in prosperity, though, and that is that people will get proud and forget how they got where they are. That when they begin oppressing others to maintain their position and stop trusting God. They believe the lie instead.

75   M.G.    
October 22nd, 2009 at 9:35 am

Phil:

I think you’re focused on far too narrow a time period and range of economic effects.

You have to look at the fact that for many years, slaves were a commodity. There was an entire industry built out of the capture, shipment, sale, and exchange of human beings. This created thousands of jobs, from the New York banker who financed the slave trade, to the ship owner who leased the ship, to the auctioneer who sold the slaves.

I guess you could deny that this added no economic value to the early United States, but I would be perplexed to see how.

And for what it’s worth, economic prosperity is not always wrong. But there is no use in denying American history.

76   Chris L    http://www.fishingtheabyss.com/
October 22nd, 2009 at 9:41 am

I guess the point I’m trying to get at is that sometimes I think Christians take the tact of thinking that economic prosperity is always wrong, and that it always comes on the backs of the poor. I don’t believe that is the case.

Well agreed, Phil. When God called Abram, His first promise was “I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing.”

This idea of “being blessed to be a blessing” has been badly twisted (at least) two ways in American/modern Christianity:

1) By the Prosperity Gospel/”Name-it-and-Claim-It” crowd as a selfish desire for wealth
2) By the Fundamentalist crowd as a semi-gnostic “spiritual blessing” – that our blessing is Jesus (and Jesus only) and this is the only blessing we’re called to pass on.

Both are lies on opposite sides of the same coin.

Slavery WAS economically advantageous for a few people for a rather short period of time, but as John K (via Thomas Sowell), Phil and other note, it was an economic disadvantage in the long-term, and trying to play the ‘guilt-trip’ card 150 years later is a non-starter.

77   Chris L    http://www.fishingtheabyss.com/
October 22nd, 2009 at 9:45 am

FYI – I’ve only read excerpts of Black Rednecks and White Liberals by Thomas Sowell (who happens to be black), but I’ve always been impressed with Sowell’s analysis of historical events.

78   Scotty    http://scottysplace-scotty.blogspot.com/
October 22nd, 2009 at 10:23 am

Are we now reaping the harvest with today’s cheap labor, illegal aliens? Just thinkin’ out loud.

If you accept what is being said, are they adding more burden and costs to our health care system?

If you accept what is being said, they being in the workforce keep low paying jobs wages, abnormally lower. Would Americans that need jobs take these jobs if they paid more?

To those that use this labor force, are they much better than a slave owner?

Questions that roll around in my pea brain!

79   Chris    
October 22nd, 2009 at 10:51 am

I guess the point I’m trying to get at is that sometimes I think Christians take the tact of thinking that economic prosperity is always wrong, and that it always comes on the backs of the poor. I don’t believe that is the case.

On a purely economic level; the idea that prosperity of a nation is a benefit to everyone in the nation is false. More often than not when someone prospers another person doesn’t. Every system whether economic, political, or religious while benefiting some does not benefit all and in some cases is harmful to those who have the least amount of influence over the system.

No argument about “guilt trip” or “slaves are owed something” needs to be mentioned. Basic economic theory shows that benefit, from whatever system, is not equally distributed.

80   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
October 22nd, 2009 at 11:41 am

It’s not a “guilt trip”, it’s a “truth trip”.

I did not own slaves, but it cannot be denied that the economoy benefited, not to mention the slave labor that built the White House. And to be fair, we white folks have a limited perspective of the risidual effects of slavery that continue today.

Illegal aliens are usually paid. Most of them pay social security from which they will never receive benefits. This is in addition to the fact that God desires his people to witness to them and care for them.

My partner and I do both for a group of Mexicans in Florida. We just feel that the kingdom of God trumps the political football.

81   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
October 22nd, 2009 at 11:52 am

And on a strictly human level, the sociological rise of the black race in America, given the hatred, prejudice, violence, and overt and subliminal contriction of opportunities, is one of the greatest human feats in history.

82   Phil Miller    http://pmwords.blogspot.com
October 22nd, 2009 at 12:00 pm

And for what it’s worth, economic prosperity is not always wrong. But there is no use in denying American history.

I think some people may be reading too much into what I’m saying.

I’m not denying that was economic value added to the nation because of slave labor. What I’m saying is that if you look at the economic effects of slave labor throughout history, it is not the best or quickest way to grow a nation’s economy. Growth on the backs of the poor may seem advantageous to some in the short term, but in the long term it’s not. It’s the same reason why I don’t buy the idea illegal immigrants are good for the US economy because they “do the work Americans won’t do”.

Yes, there are some who are taking advantage of illegal immigrants as a cheap labor force, but I believe these businesses, in the long run, will find themselves in a position that is worse off.

In other words sound economic policy and morality are not at odd with each other. That’s all I’m saying. I haven’t said anything about our collective culpability for slavery.

83   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
October 22nd, 2009 at 12:16 pm

Phil – I am not culpable for slavery, but I am responsible to assist in limiting its effects. And the kingdom of God rises above all historical and political issues and comples us to minister to the least of these.

My point was never guilt by racial association, my point was that we must accept truth, and proceed to be a part of the greatest truth. I do not believe in reparations, I believe in being a repairer of the breach.

84   Eric Van Dyken    
October 22nd, 2009 at 12:26 pm

“More often than not when someone prospers another person doesn’t.” “Basic economic theory shows that benefit, from whatever system, is not equally distributed.”

Chris,

What basic economic theory would that be, and from what school of thought? If it is a basic economic theory, I would imagine it has a name. I have a name for it if it doesn’t already have one: The Covetous/Envious Class Warfare Economic Theory. “Not equally distributed” is code for “you deserve what someone else has.” If it it is accepted that benefit is not “equally distributed”, it does not necessarily follow that this is evil and it does not necessarily follow that the gain of one person was at the expense of another. Some (actually much) gain is a God-ordained benefit of the employment of God-given talents, abilities, and ethic. And, some (actually much) lack of gain is the God-ordained result of the lack of desire and willingness to employ God-given talents and abilities (ref. Proverbs). Of course, this does not mean that those with gain are without accountability (to God, not man) for their gain, and it does not mean that those who have not experienced gain (for whatever reason) are not to be shown mercy and love by Christians (who may or may not have experienced gain of the material sort).

*Disclaimer: Chris, I am not saying that you personally are covetous, envious, or advocating class warfare. I am also not saying that you are (knowingly) advocating for someone to feel that they deserve what someone else has. I am more attempting to comment on the school of thought that generates and forwards such phrases and attitudes.

85   Chris    
October 22nd, 2009 at 1:20 pm

Eric,

It’s the economic theory of poverty.

I’m not advocating for or trying to defend any position. I’m merely saying that “systems” in and of themselves create “class”. Intended or not. There will always be the “haves” and the “have nots”. To assume otherwise is blind to history and human nature.

While some make the argument “If a man will not work he should not eat” to defend why there is poverty I typically find that to be intellectually lazy and ignorant to the facts. Some in this country work very hard and still don’t reap the benefits of the “American Dream”.

86   Eric Van Dyken    
October 22nd, 2009 at 1:37 pm

Chris,

I think that is a very reasonable position to take. I would not dispute that “classes” are somewhat inherent to most systems, given our sinful nature. My comments on class were probably more a reaction to where some chose to take the discussion of class from there.

I would however, dispute the notion that your one comment seems (at least to me) to infer. Namely, you comment that “more often than not when someone prospers another person doesn’t” seems to me to infer a cause and effect relationship. In other words, it has the classic “if this, then that” construction that usually is understood to denote a cause and effect relationship. While I will concur that there are instances of cause and effect class status, I do not agree that it can be characterized as “most often”. Perhaps you did not intend to state or otherwise infer a overwhelming cause and effect relationship, in which case I suspect we are in substantial agreement.

87   Phil Miller    http://pmwords.blogspot.com
October 22nd, 2009 at 1:41 pm

My point was never guilt by racial association, my point was that we must accept truth, and proceed to be a part of the greatest truth. I do not believe in reparations, I believe in being a repairer of the breach.

Yes, exactly. But I’m saying that fact that slavery is part of our collective does not mean that some of benefit from and some of don’t, or anything like that. I’m saying we are all harmed by it. That is the most pervasive and diabolical aspect of sin. It damages both parties – the one responsible for propagating it and the one being sinned against.

So I guess I don’t know we can truly say that any party in America truly benefited from slavery, and I not just trying to parse words. It was a horrible sin for all involved.

88   Joe    
October 24th, 2009 at 11:07 am

Chris,
Can you direct me to some reading on this theory? I’ve done a little research and only f0und one guy with no books.