Christianity is Empire

Over at The Jesus Manifesto, Mark Van Steenwyk is beginning a four-part series examining the ‘intrinisically oppressive nature of much of traditional Christianity’. Here’s a snippert from his first post – Christianity is Empire, Part 1:

‘The argument that Christianity is intrinsically oppressive is nothing new, but it persists. That’s because it is true. Christianity, at least as it is understood by the majority of Christians throughout the ages is inherently oppressive and will inevitably lead to Empire. A Christianity that is willing to use the Sword will always nurture Empire.

This may not always be the case with all Christians everywhere, and it certainly wasn’t true for the earliest followers of Jesus, but it is such a well-worn pattern of Christian practice that it would be foolish to simply dismiss those who argue that Christianity is inherently oppressive.

Traditional readings of Genesis (about subduing the land) mixed with traditional views of the Lordship of Christ (which gives his followers socio-religious superiority) mixed with the evangelistic impulse of the Great Commission (which gives us a mandate to extend Christ’s rule to the ends of the earth) are problematic enough as they stand. But if you add the willingness to use violence to accomplish these ends, you are creating the perfect empire cocktail.

If we are going to have a faith that resists domination, we need to re-examine our willingness to use the Sword to accomplish any Gospel-inspired goals. If a Christianity that is willing to use the Sword will always nurture Empire, we need to put away the sword’.

Material to evoke some good conversation, not least for those in my part of the world thinking about stuff to do with Anzac Day (a subject which birthed this post of mine last year on Aliens in the Church: A Reflection on ANZAC Day, National Flags and the Church as an Alternative Society).

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