America, Christianity & “Sniper”

on February 3, 2015

John Mark Reynolds of Houston Baptist University has a very good commentary on being Christian as an American.

I fear that the intellectualists have taken global university culture and are trying to colonize the rest of us with it, but I am not a creature of the rootless, nationless elites that deny the mother that bore them.

I am an American.

American culture is not more holy than other cultures, but it is not less so and it is eternal. We end up bringing our American distinctive to the common worship of Heaven. The diversity of the choir there will be glorious, so let’s tune up!

Blessed John put it this way:

After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!”

Someday I will stand before God recognizably still an American and worship Him eternally as an American.

These sentiments recall IRD co-founder Richard Neuhaus in his final book American Babylon, in which he declared: “When I meet God, I expect to meet him as an American.”

Neuhaus and Reynolds explain that as Christians we are not disembodied spirits but placed by God in specific places, cultures and times, with eternal consequence. They also both remind that America, a nation of sinners, has still been a divine instrument for good in countless ways.

In contrast, Evangelical blogger Carl Medearis critiques the film Sniper with these snippy comments:

What I don’t like is the reborn version of Manifest Destiny. That we’re God’s chosen vessel for good in the world. Or that America has some sort of agenda for other countries that’s more pure than what they might have for themselves. It’s simply not true. And really, the problem is idolatry. When we start to pledge our allegiance to anything other than God’s Kingdom, we’re in for trouble. The love of country and the love of flag (and what it stands for) should never be in the same discussion with our devoted love for God. We can talk about country like we talk football or political parties, but be careful that we never give it the same weight as our discussion of what it means to love God and love our neighbors.

Medearis goes on with some dubious implications and assertions: that America’s wars of the last century weren’t just, except possibly WWII, because they weren’t fought directly in defense of U.S. soil, that maybe American conquest of the Indians was not dissimilar to Nazi conquest of Europe, that the 1944 anti-Hitler assassination attempt just spurred Hitler on to murder the Jews, that the U.S. should have avoided war in Afghanistan and Iraq to instead “wage peace” against the Taliban, al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein, and that he, as a “follower of Jesus,” will not honor as a hero “any man with a gun in anybody’s army.”

So Medearis seems to subscribe to some form of pacifism and imagines that militant Islamists can be assuaged by “waging peace.” He also sounds like the “rootless, stateless elites” who look askance at loyalty to and gratitude for that place where God has placed us, especially if that place happens to be America.

Medearis rejects patriotism as a “‘godly’ virtue.” But contempt and cynicism aren’t virtues. Nor are distorting history and truncating historic Christian teaching. More ennobling, and beautiful, are the visions of Reynolds and Neuhaus, that God reaches down into sinful humanity, including even the United States, and achieves His purposes among individuals and nations.

  1. Comment by Greg on February 3, 2015 at 10:05 am

    Medearis and his ilk are like 40 year olds who still live in their parents home while at the same time going to rallies and demanding “freedom!”

  2. Comment by Reality Check on February 3, 2015 at 12:01 pm

    Carl’s commentary has “I” around 45 times. Like his so-called evangelism book – that has “I” over and over and over again – that’s almost all we get with Carl – not “Christ” but “I”. I do believe he is a brother but his view on the gospel, on Islam, on the Jews, on Israel, and so much more is very skewed…however, he should NOT be teaching anyone.

  3. Comment by Mike Ward on February 3, 2015 at 12:07 pm

    I’d never hear of Medearis so I Googled him and found an article he wrote for CNN’s blog a few years ago titled “My Take: Jesus would support Palestinian statehood bid”.

    I found it telling that HIS take wasn’t about what he thought about the political situation in Israel, but what he thought Jesus would think about the political situation in Israel.

    For some Christians the answer to the question, “What would Jesus do?” is “He’d do what I think he should do.”

  4. Comment by Mike Ward on February 3, 2015 at 12:02 pm

    Medearis”s comment:
    “It’s interesting that after Bonhoeffer and his friends tried to assassinate Hitler – and failed – he killed more people than he did before the attempt on his life. He felt invincible once they failed and went into full extermination of the Jews mode and he waged war like a man protected by God.”

    made me think of something Shane Claiborne once said:

    “I think even Bonhoeffer was wrong. There’s an interview with Hitler’s secretary in a movie called Blind Spot, and she tells about when the assassination attempt failed, and Hitler was very interestingly protected from the bomb, he was convinced at that point, more than ever before, that God was protecting him and his mission, and he went forward with renewed vigilence like ever before. So I would say on the day that Bonhoeffer did that, the cross lost, and that violence just perpetuated.”

    Perhaps this is a common sentement among a segment of Christians on the left.

  5. Comment by Pudentiana on February 4, 2015 at 5:57 pm

    I thank God for real patriots who are believers in God and goodness. I am embarrassed by writers like Medearis. I wonder what crosses their minds when they look in the mirror or when they see a child playing with his mother’s hair. I wonder what they are thinking when they see a person salute the flag and wear a cross at the same time. I think it only confuses them more about what is important and who they are.

  6. Comment by MarcoPolo on February 10, 2015 at 8:41 am

    Wow! So God’s responsible for our being American?!
    Who’d a thought?!

    This movie: Sniper, is only going to glorify the things that are already the bane of our sick society, like Guns, Guts, Glory, and hatred of Muslims (or almost anybody with dark skin)!

    Not to mention that NONE of the Iraq tragedy had to happen if Bush&Cheney hadn’t stolen the 2000 election! And all that ensued afterward. Oh well, God help us now, although I don’t know why He would!

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