Disclaimer: About This Blog

THIS BLOG IS: my personal journey of how I am rethinking some of my spiritual beliefs.
THIS BLOG IS NOT: intended to point fingers at people who I think are wrong.
I do not believe the final judgement will be based on how many correct answers we get on a theology exam. I believe many people throughout history have had genuine relationships with our Lord and Saviour Jesus, despite holding questionable beliefs and practices. I make no claim to having it all figured out or being your judge. If we end up disagreeing over these topics I pray we can find a way to demonstrate grace.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Unpatriotic Blasphemers and Traitors

Today is Canada Day for me.  I am celebrating by being a bright shade of red - a sunburn from a day at the beach yesterday.  Today we plan to hang out with some friends and go see some fireworks in the evening. South of our border Americans will celebrate in a few days in a similar way, but on a larger scale.

Some food for thought from Tertullian as we join these patriotic celebrations.
We are charged with being irreligious people and, what is more, irreligious in respect to the emperors since we refuse to pay religious homage to their imperial majesties and to their genius and refuse to swear by them. High treason is a crime of offense against the Roman religion. It is a crime of open irreligion, a raising of the hand to injure the deity ... Christians are considered to be enemies of the State ... we do not celebrate the festivals of the Caesars. Guards and informers bring up accusations against the Christians ... blasphemers and traitors ... we are charged with sacrilege and high treason ... we give testimony to the truth.
-Tertullian (c. 160 – c. 225 AD)
The Christians were considered irreligious in their response to the religion of Rome.  They did not worship the Caesar like the nation expected.  They refused to confess that Caesar was Lord.  This is what made them enemies of the state, and they were persecuted for this.

The kingdom that Christians pledged allegiance to was the kingdom of God.  They confessed that Jesus was Lord.

Here are a few more quotes:


    I recognize no empire of this present age.
    -Speratus, from "Acts of the Martyrs"

“I do not wish to be a ruler. I do not strive for wealth. I refuse offices connected with military command” - Tatian (c. 120–180)

"But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light." (1 Peter 2:9 NIV)

So what do I think? You can quote me on these. :)
"I love the people in Canada, but my love for people sees no boundaries of politics or race."

"May God's kingdom come and God's will be done, here and now as it is in heaven."

9 comments:

Steve Martin said...

Our loyalty is first and foremost to Christ. That's for sure.

But we are to love God, and the neighbor as ourselves. So our neighbors (our countrymen and everyone else)are not unimportant.

And we do what we can to make their lives better, in whatever way we see fit. And we live under the law of the government that God ordained for our benefit and safety.

So, it's a 'two kingdoms'(doctrine) issue.

Methinks.

Thanks, Jon.

Greg Gamble said...

My gut reaction is to suggest that this discussion stop right now, for several reasons.
First, Jesus was deliberately vague on a prescription for state/Christian (not church) relations.
Render unto Caesar and God their respective dues leaves interpretation wide open, and like the other ethical value judgments in life, balanced by context, testimony and what you honestly understand God's mind is on the matter.
Let's not be overly righteous and be found to be more clever than God
Second, if the border shifted a bit north at Toronto, I'd have to learn a new anthem,,pledge, geography, history,tax law et al. And then if it shifted back again I'd really have an identity crisis. I'd probably find my only comfort among God's people that are more patriotic about heavenly citizenship that they won't get dragged into a dog fight over nationalism.
And on a brighter (and silly) note Jon, when I sun worship, I too prefer our Cdn sun to the American one. Severe burns are covered by our health plan. Blessings Greg

Jonathan said...

Thanks for the comments. I'm just processing this out loud since I recently came across these quotes. I don't see a problem with loving your country, as long as we also love people of other countries. Our loyalty should be firmly rooted in the kingdom of God, but that doesn't mean we can't also be loyal to our countries in many ways.

Tim Marsh said...

Steve, Greg and Jonathan,

I do not think that Jesus was 'vague' on church/state prescriptions, as Greg indicates. Render to Caesar/God was a response to a trap by the religious leaders. 'Kingdom of God' (or God's reign or God's dominion) would have been understoob by Jesus' followers as a slap in the face toward Rome. Furthermore, Paul's claim that the Roman authority was divinely given, is not to say that God approved of Roman government, but that the Romans had no authority in and of themselves. Again, it was a slap in the face to the Romans, who believed that their Caesar was divine.

Paul encouraged Christians to live peaceably in the midst of their secular world, to pay taxes and intercede for government leaders (who were not elected officials, but appointed and often whimsicle and capricious in their use/abuse of power).

Finally, the book of Revelation is also a politically charged document. After the Romans began persecuting Christians, attitudes toward the state changed. It was no longer a Christian's duty to live at peace with the state, but to resist the intoxicating lure of the state (that is, to deny Christ and participate in Emperor Worship) and to stand firm in the face of certain martyrdom at the hands of the state, or 'the Beast'.

I find that we Americans often confuse church and state - that we do not think through the implications of patriotism. The first and foremost example is how, when posted, the American flag takes the place of honor while the Christian flag is rendered secondary. Some may say "God and Country." Really what they mean is "Country and God".

Jon, great post. And, I've often wondered how strong Canadian patriotism is, and how the church seeks to keep them separate.

Thank you!

Tim Marsh said...

Steve, Greg and Jonathan,

I do not think that Jesus was 'vague' on church/state prescriptions, as Greg indicates. Render to Caesar/God was a response to a trap by the religious leaders. 'Kingdom of God' (or God's reign or God's dominion) would have been understoob by Jesus' followers as a slap in the face toward Rome. Furthermore, Paul's claim that the Roman authority was divinely given, is not to say that God approved of Roman government, but that the Romans had no authority in and of themselves. Again, it was a slap in the face to the Romans, who believed that their Caesar was divine.

Paul encouraged Christians to live peaceably in the midst of their secular world, to pay taxes and intercede for government leaders (who were not elected officials, but appointed and often whimsicle and capricious in their use/abuse of power).

Finally, the book of Revelation is also a politically charged document. After the Romans began persecuting Christians, attitudes toward the state changed. It was no longer a Christian's duty to live at peace with the state, but to resist the intoxicating lure of the state (that is, to deny Christ and participate in Emperor Worship) and to stand firm in the face of certain martyrdom at the hands of the state, or 'the Beast'.

I find that we Americans often confuse church and state - that we do not think through the implications of patriotism. The first and foremost example is how, when posted, the American flag takes the place of honor while the Christian flag is rendered secondary. Some may say "God and Country." Really what they mean is "Country and God".

Jon, great post. And, I've often wondered how strong Canadian patriotism is, and how the church seeks to keep them separate.

Thank you!

Jonathan said...

Thanks Tim, I think I agree with you.

You never pray to live in under a government that is opposed to God's kingdom... but throughout history the church seems to grow best when it is clear that God's kingdom is different than the kingdom that surrounds you.

For example when Rome blurred the lines, and made it seem that the Roman empire was doing the work of God... it produced some of the darkest moments in church history. There may be some of this going on in the USA and Canada today.

On the other hand, the church in China grew strong under opposition from the government.

It may be healthy for us to increase our focus on God's kingdom, and decrease our devotion to our earthly kingdoms.

Thanks for the comment.

Greg Gamble said...

Ive been wrestling with this for some time now. Tim mistakenly re-phrased my position at church vs state, but I was careful to say that I was speaking of state vs christian.
It occurs to me that some don't have such strong distrust of the relationship between a christian and a church that has been infiltrated by the state/world culture.
I dont see the NT writers dealing with any issues that relate to todays versions of church, because they didnt exist.
On the other hand, I do see them speaking to us as christians, individually or as truly constituted churches, which is what I was trying to point to in my comment.
I dont think we will get far on these issues until we are all using words and life experiences that are both similar to one another, as well as similar to scripture.
Clearly we are far from that, which to my mind, sadly reinforces my point about being unable to deduce a clear biblical footing for church/state relations.
Currently the church in general is constructed and run just as the state is: hierarchical, caste ridden and dependent on money and human effort to keep it afloat.
That accounts for most christians inability to be heart broken and terrified about how worldly and occult are church institutions.
Not sure if this clears this up or made it worse, but I tried.
Great topic though Jon.
blessings
Greg

Jonathan said...

Thanks Greg for the comment. Yes, I think that clarifies things. I've just read your comment and Tim's comment, and am having difficulty seeing a disagreement... I'm likely missing someone's point. :)

I agree Scripture is pretty silent on how church institutions should relate to the state... which is where most problems arise with mixing church powers/influence with state powers. When it comes to the church (people as individuals and whenever they gather) relating to the state... there is not the same power struggles at play.

I said to Tim that I think I agreed with him, but I also think I agree with what you just said. I hope that's OK. :) Thanks for discussing this.

Greg Gamble said...

Thanx. I agree with Tim too.I'm eager to
see us all agree with God, at which point we
will agree with one another.
Blessings
Greg