In Chapter 11, Andy Alexis-Baker looks at the case study of a Roman Soldier: “What About the Centurion?”
The argument has gone that since the centurion showed great faith, and that Jesus commended him, and did not tell him to leave the service, that it was ok for the centurion to be a soldier, and thus it’s ok for Christians to war.
But if you grew up with the heritage of faith that I did, you are very very familiar with how the whole “making arguments from silence” thing works. I’ve seen whole debates on whether silence is permissive or prohibitive (or either of these exclusively). Baker says “Jesus’ silence on the centurion’s profession has become a tacit endorsement of Christians becoming involved in state-sponsored killing.”
I remember one time we were with some friends watching How to Train Your Dragon with some friends who had children. I said, “I wonder if there’s some critics who say this film is bad because it’s telling us to love terrorists or something.” The guy said, “yeah, can you believe people actually believe that?” I think he meant the loving terrorists thing. Of course the whole point was that the dragons weren’t the real enemy, but the monster they were serving. So is there a kind of person we are not called to love?
While the previous chapter focused on soldiery, in chapter 7 Greg Boyd asks, “Does God Expect Nations to Turn the Other Cheek?” We actually may be surprised by his answer. I had previously read Boyd’s book The Myth of a Christian Nation, a terrific read that asks us to reconsider the naive notion that America is “Christian” in any tangible sense, by looking at scripture.
He reminds us that Jesus’ instructions are unconditional, and that God has even the worst, most violent of our enemies in mind, not just meanies down the block, in Matt.5:38-48; Luke6:27-36; Rom.12:14-21; 1 Peter 3:9,14-18. Imagine, he says, that Al Qaeda ruled America, and you will know the animosity the Jews felt toward Rome. But since what Jesus did for isn’t just what he did, but reflects what he wants us to do (be willing to die innocently loving our enemies and not harming them), Christians don’t have the right to choose who they will and won’t love, will and won’t show loving action toward. Continue reading →
Chapter 6 is a message easier for me to accept up front, and is a conclusion I have already drawn. Justin Bronson Barringer asks, “What About Those Men and Women Who Gave Up their Lives so You and I Could Be Free?” A question which he feels “seems an attempt to shame the one to whom it is directed as one who dishonors soldiers.” As if to say that the people who don’t love soldiers are the ones who want them to come home, not the ones who want to send them out to shoot and get shot on the sender’s behalf. Continue reading →