This is the beginning of what will likely be a regular feature on JMBzine.com in the future, in which I’ll review some of the best articles and commentary from some of the Mennonite periodicals (mostly Mennonite Weekly Review, an inter-Mennonite weekly newspaper and The Mennonite, a semi-monthly magazine published by Mennonite Church USA)
Like so many Christians of my generation, my relationship with the Bible began with a rather fundamentalist approach, including memorizing key verses of the King James Version and accepting every word of the text without question
or reservation. However, just as friendships remain dormant without deep inquiry and progressive understanding of each other, so, too, our relationship with Scripture should be dynamic, engaging and perhaps even controversial at times. . .
This author really hit the nail on the head. His questions are the same questions that trouble me, and his response is also similar to mine; asking the questions but also not giving up on the idea that truth is there either; Or maybe better, rethinking what “truth” means.
. . . “Life is not a mad race for money, pleasure or success,” the community, which has about 20 members, declares online. “Life has a meaning that is far above these things. The meaning of life lies in relationships: love for God and love for each other. Each generation has to learn that truth and thus find the secret of happiness.”
Though claiming to know the secret of happiness might be presumptuous, the people of Courtiron say they take this mutual love as a fundamental article of their faith. Showing this love to others is one of the community’s basic goals. . .
I always enjoy the MWR editorials, as they seem to speak from the core of what it really means to be Mennonite. This editorial is no exception. I was struck particularly by this description of the Community of Courtiron Anabaptists and their statement that “mutual love” is a fundamental article of faith. It is hard to even imagine what the world would look like if Christians really took this statement to heart.
. . . I don’t know how to answer all these questions, but I do know that they make it difficult for me to fly a flag. As North American Christians, we must disentangle ourselves from civil religion, the fusion of Christianity and patriotism, invoking God’s name to bless our nation and all its actions. Civil religion helps politicians because it turns critique of governmental actions into sin, or a sign of disrespect for God.
We must always be cautious when Caesar quotes Scripture. If God is on our side, we can justify killing Afghans, starving Iraqi babies, and consuming more than our fair share of global resources. If God is on our side, we can justify just about anything. Patriotic religion nurtures an unquestioning narcissism of nation-love, not the costly discipleship of Christ.
Churches, then, should be a haven from the kind of nationalism that flares up during times of war. We declare allegiance, not to a god of tribal loyalty, who fights on the side of “us” against “them,” but to a God who embraces all people. So although the flag represents different things to different people, an America flag in a church sanctuary signals a dangerous brew of nation and faith. . .