Friday, July 06, 2012

The Way of the Cross Co-opted By the Way of the Sword

Is there a single instance in all of Scripture where Jesus or even a follower of Jesus took up a sword to fight against another man? Oh yeah, once. Peter drew his sword, and Jesus told him to put it away. And didn't Jesus say things like, "turn the other cheek", and "love your enemy"? I do think He did.  Not exactly the actions and rhetoric of a hawk spouting the doctrine of preemptive military operations.

"And behold, one of those who were with Jesus reached and drew out his sword, and struck the slave of the high priest and cut off his ear. 52Then Jesus said to him, “Put your sword back into its place; for all those who take up the sword shall perish by the sword. 53“Or do you think that I cannot appeal to My Father, and He will at once put at My disposal more than twelve legions of angels? 54“How then will the Scriptures be fulfilled, which say that it must happen this way?” - Matthew 26:51
It's very clear that Jesus' life and teaching were in sharp contrast to the imperial language of war texts, yet, the militarization of Christianity marches on. Since 2004,  the U.S. Military endorsed special soldier bibles, complete with official U.S. military emblems from all four branches circulate as as the official religious text of the military, endorsing a profession that is completely antithetical to the teachings of Jesus. It's called the Holman Christian Standard Bible.

Following a request filed by the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) under the Freedom of Information Act, the foundation discovered that the U.S. Military had given authorization to LifeWay Christian Resources, a subsidiary of the Southern Baptist Convention - the largest Baptist denomination in the world, in 2003 - allowing for reproduction of the emblems, an action that stood in direct violation of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment of the United States Constitution. Upon investigation, each branch of the military responded in succession with the notification that permission to use each branch’s imagery had been revoked.

This HCSB Military Bible contained material merging Evangelical symbolism and theology with national and military iconography and anthems. It also contained “quotations, prayers, and inspiration” from figures ranging from George Washington and President George W. Bush to various historical figures from each of the respective branches of the U.S. Armed Services. It is published by LifeWay Christian Resources’ Holman Bible Publishers, a subsidiary of the Evangelical fundamentalist Southern Baptist Bible Convention.

Official U.S. Military Emblems No Longer Allowed on Holman Military Bibles


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