[forthright] Militant Christianity

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From: Forthright Magazine <forthright@...>
Date: Sat, 22 Apr 2006 19:28:11 -0500
Forthright Magazine
http://www.forthright.net
Straight to the Cross


COLUMN: Field Notes

Militant Christianity
by Michael Brooks

"In this manner, therefore, pray: Our Father in
heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come.
Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven"
(Matthew 6:9,10).

Radical, fundamentalist, and militant religions
have gotten a lot of bad press in our generation.
Much attention is given to acts of violence,
terrorism, warfare, and atrocity done in the name
of religion. This has become so much the case that
even persuasive evangelism is criticized and
frequently condemned in the public arena. The
prevailing attitude is that one should keep his
religious opinions to himself, that no one has any
right, much less obligation, to attempt to
"proselytize" others to his faith. And, of course,
any suggestion of force or coercion is received
with outrage. While the latter reaction is
justified, the current popular antipathy towards
evangelistic efforts is certainly not.

There is more than one kind of militancy. The
sword-point conversions of seventh-century Islam,
the rack and tortures of the medieval Inquisition,
and the invasion fleets of the Crusades represent
"Holy War" at its worst. Nowhere in the New
Testament is it even suggested that such tactics
are permissible within Christianity, nor that
"conversions" so obtained are effectual. The
Biblical method of conversion is:

"For whoever calls upon the name of the Lord will
be saved. How then shall they call on him in whom
they have not believed? And how shall they believe
in him of whom they have not heard? And how shall
they hear without a preacher? And how shall they
preach unless they are sent?" (Romans 10:13-15).

However, when we have established that
Christianity does not permit coercion and force as
evangelistic methods, we have not discredited the
adjective "militant." Consider Jesus' prayer in
Matthew 6. "Your Kingdom come. Your will be done
on earth as it is in heaven" is certainly a
statement which suggests conquest. The goal of
Christ and of Christians was and is to spread the
Gospel and the rule of God throughout our world in
every generation. It is to bring other cultures,
religions, and philosophies under subjection to
the true God and Creator. Not by sword, gun, or
bomb. Rather through love, truth, and sincerity.
But though our methods are not that of the
traditional military, our commitment must be just
as strong, and our attitude as zealous.

"You therefore endure hardship as a good soldier
of Jesus Christ. No one engaged in warfare
entangles himself with the affairs of this life,
that he may please him who enlisted him as a
soldier" (2 Timothy 2:3,4).

We have a precious gift –- the Gospel -- entrusted
to us by our God and Savior. We are commanded to
share that gift with others. We must never allow
unpopularity or the label of "political
incorrectness" to deter us from our efforts to
achieve the goal of Jesus' prayer; God's will
being done on earth as it is in heaven.

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