The Editor-in-Chief of SOJOURNERS Magazine, the Evangelical Jim Wallis, has released a new book, The Great Awakening, written with hope to wake up American institutionalized Christians to be a part of the rebirth and renewal to heal, mend and transform "the biblical scandal of poverty around the globe and here at home, the crisis of environmental degradation and climate change that pose a threat to God's creation, and to the multiple assaults on human life and dignity that shame our world." [Page 12, Feb. 2008, SOJOURNERS]
Wallis is seeking revival, but this non-institutional Christian of The Beatitudes is calling for a revolution. He begins with common sense and goes retro, back to the voices of wisdom that founded this nation.
"Soon after I had published the pamphlet "Common Sense" [on Feb. 14, 1776] in America, I saw the exceeding probability that a revolution in the system of government would be followed by a revolution in the system of religion... The world is my country, all mankind are my brethren, and to do good is my religion." -Tom Paine
Wallis proposes Seven Principals and Rules of Engagement for Christian political involvement in the world:
1. God hates injustice.
2. The kingdom of God is a new order.
3. The church is an alternative community
4. The kingdom of God transforms the world by addressing the specifics of injustice.
5. The church is the conscience of the state, holding it accountable for upholding justice and restraining its violence.
6. Take a global perspective.
7. Seek the common good.
All seven points are well and good; I wish Jim luck and pray he does indeed arouse the sleeping Christians since the western institutions have failed at its commission. Too many churches in the USA have become places to socialize and be entertained; to be patted on the back just for doing the minimum of what is required if one claims to be a Christian; and churches have become businesses that maintain the status quo, rather than spread the social gospel.
The gospel -which means good news- that Jesus preached, was very political and a direct challenge to the politically powerful and the arrogant, self-satisfied, self-righteous teachers of the law.
Two thousand years ago the Cross had NO symbolic religious meaning and was not a piece of jewelry. When Jesus said: "Pick up your cross and follow me," everyone back then understood he was issuing a POLITICAL statement, for the main roads in Jerusalem were lined with crucified agitators, rebels, dissidents and any others who disturbed the status quo of the Roman Occupying Forces.
In the latter days of Nero's reign [54-68 AD] through the domination of Domitian [81-96 AD], Christians were persecuted for following the nonviolent, loving and forgiving Jesus. That Jesus was first left behind when Augustine penned the Just War Theory.
Before Emperor Constantine brought Christianity into the mainstream, all the early Church Fathers taught that Christians should not serve in the army but instead willingly suffer rather than inflict harm on any other. St. Augustine was the first Church Father to consider the concept of a Just War.
In 313 AD, Emperor Constantine legitimized Christianity and thus, those who had been considered rebels and outlaws began to enjoy political power and prestige. Within 100 years of Constantine, the Empire required all soldiers in the army to be baptized as Christians and, thus, the decline of Christianity began in earnest.
With the justification of war and violence supplied by Augustine’s Just War theory, wrong became right. Nothing much has changed in two millennia, for in today’s Orwellian world, politicians claim the way to peace is through war and that nuclear weapons provide protection. American money claims 'In God We Trust,' but the truth is America's faith is in an out-of-control Military Industrial Media Complex that seeks domination, power and control over any who would defy and challenge the American status quo. Eisenhower warned America not to bind our economy to the Industrial Military Complex and like most prophets, he was ignored.
Jesus’ other name is The Prince of Peace, and with the marriage of church and state, his true teachings were reinterpreted. The justification of warfare and the use of state sponsored violence corrupted what Christ modeled and taught. Jesus was always on about WAKE UP! The Divine already dwells within you and all others. Christ taught that to follow him requires that one must love one’s enemies; one must forgive those who hate, curse and revile them, without even a thought of payback.
Christ lived a life that proved evil can be opposed without being mirrored, and that the cycle of a “tooth for a tooth, an eye for an eye”, will never bring peace and justice. Before Emperor Constantine brought Christianity into the mainstream, all the early Church Fathers taught Christians not to serve in the army but instead willingly suffer rather than inflict harm on any other.
The term Christianity was not coined until three decades after Christ walked the earth. Until the day of Paul, followers of Christ were called members of The Way; the way being what he taught!
Christ was never a Christian, but he was a social justice, radical revolutionary, Palestinian, devout, Jewish road warrior who rose up [intifada in Arabic] for he challenged the job security of the Temple authorities by teaching the people they did NOT need to pay the priests for ritual baths or sacrificing livestock to be OK with God; for God already LOVED them just as they were: sinners, poor, diseased, outcasts, widows, orphans, refugees and prisoners all living under Roman Military Occupation.