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Old 01-28-2003, 11:33 AM   #1
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Deeply committed Christians, yet so out of step

i got this from brettig last night, and i thought it was worth sharing here.

http://216.33.236.250/cgi-bin/linkrd...3952026%2ehtml

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Deeply committed Christians, yet so out of step
January 27 2003




Bush, Blair and Howard say they are Christian. So why won't they listen to the churches - and the gospel? Peter Matheson asks.



With rare unanimity, religious leaders across the world have condemned the proposed war against Iraq. The Pope, Eastern patriarchs, the Archbishop of Canterbury, American and Australian religious leaders have all spoken out in unmistakeable terms.

Yet George Bush and Tony Blair are deeply committed Christians. The same may well be true of John Howard. So what is going on? Why are Western church leaders and political leaders so out of step?

There will be purely secular factors. The military tail is wagging the political dog. The urgent, quite hysterical note to be heard from the White House these days reflects the exigencies of a military timetable that is already set in concrete. The logic of military events drives the political lunacy.

But there are deeper issues. One is reminded of the icy fury of Mrs Thatcher when the churches dared criticise her intervention in the Falklands.

The assumption of such leaders as Bush is obvious: the role of the Christian churches is to provide moral legitimacy and pastoral support for the "national interest". And when Christians decline to be instrumentalised in this way, such leaders are outraged.

We are standing in vigil in Melbourne because, as people of faith, we feel closer to the likely victims of a pre-emptive strike than to our political leaders.

One reason, as our posters illustrate, is that we put people first - the Iraqi people in the first instance. Where humanity is to be trampled on, the warning signs flash on.

But it goes much deeper than that. This is an outrageously unjust war. By every criterion laid down by the churches over the centuries, this pre-emptive strike has to be condemned.

We fear it will ignite tension and hatred and a string of other wars. World War I was hailed as the war to end all wars. This will be the war to start all wars. Its destabilising potential is alarming for all with eyes to see.

In his rhetoric, President Bush often uses the prayer: God bless America. We have no difficulty with that. The trouble is that he appears unable to distinguish between God and America. It is not just the churches that Bush and Blair want to put in their pocket but the God of all times and nations - ludicrous as that would seem.

So we stand today in the ancient, Judaeo-Christian prophetic tradition to warn that God is not mocked, and that blessing can swiftly change into cursing.

Our worst fear is that there will be a terrible curse on this enterprise. Imagine what would happen if other major nations - China, for example - arrogated to themselves the right to such pre-emptive strikes.

In God's world - and there is no other - security cannot be secured by military superiority, however overwhelming, but only by respecting mutuality of interests.

For all its religious rhetoric, this market-driven war amounts to practical atheism. Charlton Heston ideology. It believes in nothing but overwhelming force and self-interest and is unfortunately right in line with the ravaging of the environment and the polarisation of rich and poor with which this US Government is identified.

We are not anti-American. We stand, however, for humanity and common sense. This fear-driven slide towards war flies in the face of the Christian Gospel of hope and reconciliation and justice. It also happens to betray the best in the noble US traditions of enlightenment and freedom.

We are not fatalists. Even now, hoping against hope, we call in the name of God for a halt to this war. We cannot wash our hands of it, because it will sully us all, but at the least we want it to be crystal clear to our Islamic sisters and brothers that this is not our war.

God bless Iraq.

Reverend Dr Peter Matheson is principal of the Uniting Church Theological Hall in Melbourne. This is an edited text of his address at the weekend to the peace vigil at St Paul's Cathedral.

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great points to consider. what do you think?
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Old 01-28-2003, 11:47 AM   #2
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A couple of thoughts:

First, I strongly believe it is an abuse of the pulpit to promote a political agenda on either side.

Second, we have no idea of the nature of Bush and Blair's spiritual walk during these times. Some leaders go to church for the photo op, others spend time on their knees every morning. I doubt other believers, liberal or conservative, would approve of rating an individuals committment to Christ by a few broad generalizations.

I can't imagine a more difficult task than to hold a secular position of unspeakable power, yet recognize that you will stand before a Holy God and give account of how you used all that was given to you.

Pray for a peaceful resolution to this conflict.

Pray for the wisdom of our leaders.

Pray for the protection of personnel in the region, military and civilian.
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Old 01-28-2003, 11:56 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally posted by nbcrusader
A couple of thoughts:

First, I strongly believe it is an abuse of the pulpit to promote a political agenda on either side.

Second, we have no idea of the nature of Bush and Blair's spiritual walk during these times. Some leaders go to church for the photo op, others spend time on their knees every morning. I doubt other believers, liberal or conservative, would approve of rating an individuals committment to Christ by a few broad generalizations.

I can't imagine a more difficult task than to hold a secular position of unspeakable power, yet recognize that you will stand before a Holy God and give account of how you used all that was given to you.

Pray for a peaceful resolution to this conflict.

Pray for the wisdom of our leaders.

Pray for the protection of personnel in the region, military and civilian.
that is a very respectable post, and point of view nbcrusader.
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Old 01-28-2003, 12:00 PM   #4
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Re: Deeply committed Christians, yet so out of step

Quote:
Originally posted by Cow of the Seas
In his rhetoric, President Bush often uses the prayer: God bless America. We have no difficulty with that. The trouble is that he appears unable to distinguish between God and America.
Yes.

Quote:
God bless Iraq.
If this blessing incenses you then you haven't read the article, or you haven't paid attention to what you've read. Or you simply refuse to consider it. The article may be too "un-American" for you.

I think Matheson's essay is brilliant.
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Old 01-28-2003, 12:04 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally posted by nbcrusader

First, I strongly believe it is an abuse of the pulpit to promote a political agenda on either side.
Wow, I missed it. What was the political agenda? I thought it Matheson's call was a call to follow Christ.

Quote:
I can't imagine a more difficult task than to hold a secular position of unspeakable power, yet recognize that you will stand before a Holy God and give account of how you used all that was given to you.
Here's the thing: I don't think Bush ever thinks for a moment about accountability to God. I think he thinks about his place in history, and his family's place in history.
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Old 01-28-2003, 09:20 PM   #6
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What about the separation of church and state?
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Old 01-28-2003, 09:25 PM   #7
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I don't know if anyone else has noticed, but it has seemed to me that ever since September 11, 2001, Bush has been considerably *less* open about his faith in an effort to avoid alienating Muslims across the globe.
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Old 01-28-2003, 09:27 PM   #8
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It should also be noted that opinions of the Pope, the Eastern bishops and other religious leaders are *not* the opinions of all Christians around the world.
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Old 01-28-2003, 09:30 PM   #9
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Re: Deeply committed Christians, yet so out of step

Quote:
Originally posted by Cow of the Seas


For all its religious rhetoric, this market-driven war amounts to practical atheism. Charlton Heston ideology. It believes in nothing but overwhelming force and self-interest and is unfortunately right in line with the ravaging of the environment and the polarisation of rich and poor with which this US Government is identified.

Huh??? I thought Peter Matheson was supposed to be discussing the prospect of war against Iraq...

I would wager that this statement led nbcrusader to make the comment about using the pulpit to advance a political agenda.
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