[An unpublished novel by me treats of violence and nonviolence as a major theme with hell a subtheme. It is entitled Chrysalis Crucible, and tells the story of a young evangelist’s coming of age on the short-term mission field in West Berlin. Following are two chapters on violence and nonviolence. Please also read “Violence and Nonviolence – (Part II)” as a kind of climax of this theme.
If you are interested in dialogue on this, please feel free to contact the web administrator with your e-mail address and comments. I will then respond to you at my discretion. Thanks.
The drive from Bonn through the East German “corridor” (there were only a few designated routes permitted through East Germany) was uneventful for Hans. He arrived, as planned, in time for supper. Together with Sharon, Joanne had prepared a repeat of Andy’s parents’ visit, Rouladen, Rotkohl, and Schwarzwälderkirschtorte. Such a spread from one experience had gone right up there for Andy alongside roast beef. It succeeded again.
After supper, Joanne had suggested an evening of games. She liked she had said a few times how the Team had fun together with Rook, Monopoly, and Stockticker, all brought over by Jack. She said that Hans’ family never played games, that sitting around their table was at times like being at a funeral wake, so serious were they all in discussing “issues”. Hans’ dad was also a physician, his mom a College professor.
Hans was completing his practicum as a doctor, and would begin working in a hospital in mid-October. He and Joanne were also to be married two weeks before, at the end of September and practicum. They were to spend their Flitterwochen in northern Ontario. Janys and Andy had promised to give them some good tips for the early October trip.
Hans had belonged to the SMD, Studentmission Deutschlands, the German counter-part to Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship, an evangelistic student organization found on campuses throughout the world. He had also studied a year at Wheaton College in the States – where he and Joanne had met. His command of English was superb. It helped that his mother was American, and that he read in English voraciously.
At the end of the meal, the conversation turned to biblical infallibility. Andy was remonstrating about the difficulty of getting Germans even to understand what was at stake. Hans’ response was mild enough: “At first when at Wheaton I wasn’t even sure of what the term meant. It’s of course not anywhere in the Bible.”
“Neither is the word ‘Trinity’ ”, Andy came back quickly.
Hans continued: “But as I discovered, it has a long and revered history in North American churches, because in particular of an interesting experience of a major ‘fundamentalist-modernist’ controversy earlier this century.”
Andy was very sketchy on recent, for that matter most, church history, so he remained silent. As did Gary. Andy had however won the History Prize in Grade 13, so was keen.
“How I have come to understand it from my studies in the States, it seeks to affirm that the Bible, in its original manuscripts, is equally accurate in all areas it touches upon: theology, science, history, anthropology, etc.
“The first question that arises is of course about manuscripts. There are no originals in existenz, not even fragments.” Occasionally Hans’ pronunciation took on a German colouring - not unsurprisingly. However, his vocabulary was even better than his usually excellent pronunciation. Andy always felt jealous. There was intense concentration in his knitted eyebrows. Some faces exude intelligence. Hans’ was one. “This doctrine always claims infallibility to be true in ‘the original manuscripts’.
“But if ‘the original manuscripts’ have long-since been lost to history, it’s rather empty to claim anything about something likely forever disappeared. Like the Angel Moroni’s magic glasses and manuscript the Mormons got their Book of Mormon from.
“Second, to say something is true in history is at best only talking probabilities. You weigh many conflicting theories, and opt for what seems most probable. Now, to say for example that the creation story is ‘true history’ immediately raises problems. (Francis Schaeffer claims you could hear a clock ticking in the Genesis story of Adam and Eve.) But the story ‘takes place’ really in the era of pre-history. It is only written down aeons, centuries at least, according to ‘Creationists’, after the purported events, and only after a long process of oral transmission. So there are no comparative records to glean from – except other entirely fanciful accounts of the origins of creation found, I believe, in most cultures throughout the world.
“So to say the creation story is ‘true’ is really to say: ‘I believe for this and that theological reason it is true, though no scientific/historical research can ever touch the issue, and fair enough.’ ”
“That sounds very neo-orthodox to me, Hans.”, Andy chimed in.
“What do you mean by that term, Andy?”
“Francis Schaeffer says neo-orthodox theologians like Karl Barth fall into the Hegelian synthesis by seeking to have the best of both worlds: a religiously true Bible in the area of Geschichte, salvation history, but a higher critical view of the Bible in the area of Historie, what really happened, which allows for the Bible to have mistakes.
Andy continued: “That is really schizophrenic thinking, however, and the dilemma of modern man is that the Bible always stands for the antithesis: there is no ‘leap-of-faith’ truth in the religious realm that is not true in the phenomenological world.
“But”, and he pushed his point hard, “there has never been one proven error in the Bible. Many apparent discrepancies have been dealt with through further diligent research, and those which have not been will no doubt be explained in time.
“That is why infallibility is so meaningful to me. As I mentioned already, the word ‘Trinity’ is not in the Bible either. But the New Testament everywhere reflects the concept. Likewise, whenever the New Testament touches down on Scripture, it implies the concept of infallibility.
“Perhaps the only uniqueness of finding it mainly in North America is, that is where the doctrine especially has been developed – in response to certain historical circumstances. Just as, so I understand, the two-nature aspect of Christ at Chalcedon was developed in response to certain specific circumstances. That makes it no less biblically valid.”
Andy felt fairly satisfied with his response to Hans. He thought he had done with Schaeffer’s material what Bill Gothard encouraged people to do with his Basic Youth Conflict Seminars: so imbibe the teaching that it becomes one’s own.
What had been mainly purely theoretical to Andy back in North America reading Schaeffer’s books had been experienced in Germany. Andy had begun to suspect that behind every thinking German Christian was tragically a Hegelian mind-set. He sensed a need to challenge this wherever he met it. He even felt compelled to elicit it, if it was there, where it perhaps lurked just beneath the surface.
Hans did not look all that impressed, Andy felt. The others listened to the conversation politely, but rather blankly too. Andy wondered why, not once thinking how esoteric it all sounded to “non-intellectual” ears. There was some uncomfortable movement at the table. Was Joanne about to say something?
Hans asked Andy, “Have you ever read Karl Barth?” Andy admitted he had not. “Do you know that Dr. Barth has written far more theology in his lifetime than most Christians read in a lifetime? That he is considered the greatest theologian since Thomas Aquinas, a kind of theological Mount Everest?”
Andy did not feel all that impressed. So what he though, if it is all error? Why scale a man-made mountain like at Disneyland? Why read man-made theology? Ken Kincaide’s point. Hans did not press for a response.
The discussion with Hans would have ended then had Gary, who was not put off by the rarified tenor of conversation, not asked Hans to state his own view of Scripture. Andy thought Joanne was again about to interject. She was keen on a Games night, he knew. He looked at her. Was there a slight deflated countenance?
Hans responded calmly by telling briefly his own testimony. “I like all youth in Germany who reached the draft age knew I would have to do service soon in the army. I had been a fairly nominal Lutheran until then. But someone had passed on to me a small book entitled Militia Christi by Adolf von Harnack, a German theologian. I became intrigued by his discovery that early Christians opposed war, and that the war imagery of the New Testament had to do with spiritual, not earthly, matters.
“This New Testament understanding is summed up in Paul’s words in II Corinthians. Can someone please pass me a Bible? Moment mal... Here it is, chapter 10, verses 3 and following: ‘For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds.)’.
“I think that sounds too old-fashioned. Any modern translation around?”
Peter went to his room and returned with J.B. Phillips’ paraphrase. Andy was amazed to hear the Scripture raised he had just discussed with the Americans.
“Here: ‘The truth is that, although of course we lead normal human lives, the battle we are fighting is on the spiritual level. The very weapons we use are not those of human warfare but powerful in God’s warfare for the destruction of the enemy’s strongholds.’ This of course is why Ephesians 6:12 and following says our ‘whole armour’ is for fighting spiritual battles.
“And by the way, early Christians understood Ephesians 6 to be the passage concerned with the State, not Romans 13, where exactly the same Greek for ‘authorities’ appears. From Ephesians 6, it is clear that the ‘authorities’ are part of the spiritual enemies of Christ and his church – and not a benign, or more, since Constantine, benevolent, State which Christians should obey uncritically and benefit from in its wielding the sword, as Evangelicals usually interpret Romans 13:4. This view of the benevolent state is especially demonstrated by Reinhold Niebuhr, a great 20th century American political ethicist and advisor to presidents, since democracy for him is nearly kingdom come. Interesting that Niebuhr, who genuinely did not take Scripture normatively, and was truly “neo-orthodox”, should articulate by far the dominant North American Evangelical position on such a crucial matter as the State. Ironically, I argue in line with John Howard Yoder, this position is profoundly unbiblical.”
Andy felt the point was somewhat arcane. “Do you mean,” Andy asked, “that God did not ordain the State, let’s say especially one with Western-style democracy like the United States and Canada, as a ‘good’ automatically, by virtue of its being a constituted State?”
Hans said, “Yes.
“And incidentally, the violence of the State, claimed as divine right and mandate in the ‘sword’ language of verse 4, is only extended, by Evangelical interpreters ever since Saint Augustine, to the nation state, but never to ‘revolutionaries’, or other kinds of ‘Robin Hood’ do-gooders, which are likewise ‘constituted authorities’. The text never mentions ‘state’ as the only kind of legitimate ‘authority’. Revolutionaries of course are self-appointed, but such is the history of all royalty – and through invariable vanquishing violence. Often, as in South America, revolutionaries’ causes may be vastly more righteous than the state they are subverting or overthrowing. And for that matter, of course, the United States was born of a revolutionary deposing of Britain’s power in the New World – for very questionable ‘righteous’ reasons. For all intents, the War of Independence was a mutiny against the legitimate (according to most Evangelicals’ interpretation of Romans 13) prerogatives of the then God-ordained ‘authority’ in North America: the British Crown. ‘Captain America’, George Washington, John Adams, etc., by Evangelicals’ account of Romans 13 is in fact a “pirate” deserving the very sword used to overthrow British rule!
“Ironically again, most American Evangelicals indulge in histrionic hagiography about the great Christian ‘founding fathers’ of America. Most were Deists in fact. And George Washington amongst others was indeed ‘father’ of the nation in ways generally disapproved of by Evangelicals today.”
Andy felt shocked by these assertions, which at points he barely followed. He fully expected an outburst from Fiona, maybe even Jack or the Collins’, but it never came, surprisingly.
Andy could not resist: “Hans, what does ‘histrionic’ mean?” Andy learned a new word that day in contemplating Evangelicals putting on a kind of theatre about the mythology of “Christian” origins of America, when it was so patently prevaricated; at least seriously skewed.
Hans was very patient. He paused as if waiting for other questions or challenges. Joanne finally said, “I was really hoping we could play some games tonight. Anyone else game.” All but Andy, Janys, Gary and Hans put up hands.
Gary piped up. “I really want to hear Hans out some more. But if some of you are game – ahem! – to clear the table at least, that will get us started.” Peter and Jean immediately offered. Joanne might have, Andy wondered, but perhaps stayed to watch over what Hans would say next. Andy looked at his watch. It was only a little after 7:00. What was the big rush, he wondered impatiently.
“Continue, Hans.”, Gary said. “Though I have some real questions about your interpretation of American founding history. And I have one clarification question, What is a Deist?”
“At the time of the founding of the United States,” Hans explained, “many of the intellectual elite imbued with the Enlightenment spirit of skepticism towards the truth claims of Christianity turned to Deism as a kind of way-station enroute to atheism or secularism. Deism in brief believes in a Clockmaker for the universe, but one who wound it all up ‘in the beginning’, and lets it all slowly unwind without interfering. No Revelation. No Incarnation. No Resurrection. God as Ultimate Non-Interventionist.” He waited. Peter and Jean had moved everything from the table to the kitchen. Would they come back to hear more? Andy heard water being run. Not likely.
Hans continued by saying he went through a re-conversion, ended up joining the SMD, then applied for alternative military service. He was accepted at Wheaton College. While there, the major project to which he devoted himself was a research essay on the early church period, and its applicability to the church today.
“Through authors such as Jean-Michel Hornus, C.J. Cadoux, Jean Lasserre and others, not to mention the church Fathers themselves, I concluded that the early church was in fact mainly pacifist.
“There was further a new theological study about to be published by Eerdmans, called The Politics of Jesus, which developed this theme extensively from Luke’s Gospel. I was shown a copy in manuscript form through a student of Stanley Hauerwas, a young theologian. I drew on that a lot. It was written by a Mennonite theologian, John Howard Yoder. I also read other writings by him, including one on the state. He had in fact studied under Karl Barth, and, like Barth, was a committed Biblicist.”
“It seems that the early church underwent a ‘Great Reversal’ at the time of Emperor Constantine more far-reaching arguably in outcome in Western history ethically, or in terms of ‘justice/righteousness’, than the negative effects of the Enlightenment and modernity. The so-called ‘Great Reversal’ was a triumph of an alien (non)Christian ethical ideology.
“You want to know why the Muslim world to this day cannot see a loving Jesus? Because they see the sword of the Crusaders ever in Jesus’ hand. They only hear the words of Constantine’s vision: ‘In hoc signo vinceres’. They know that they were direct targets of that vision: ‘In this sign you will conquer’ – the sign of the labarum – for all intents, the sword. How Billy Graham incidentally can continue to use the term “Crusades” for his Einsätze astounds me utterly. There could not be a more offensive term imaginable for the Muslim. It totally drives them away from Christ. Is that what he, what America, wants subconsciously, still to declare war on Islam? One wonders that when considering near universal American Christian support for Israel…”
Andy looked over at Fiona. Her face was clouded. Sharon’s nose wrinkled in concentration. Jack appeared to be taking it all in. Janys was inscrutable. Did Hans remind her of her brother? Gary seemed right on the edge of more questions. And Andy? Frankly confused. He suspected Hans would have facts and figures to support his interpretations. Why then so at variance with American Evangelicals? Ideology. There must be underlying ideology at work. Could one look at anything without that sieve? Lessing’s “necessary truths of reason” given the prior ideological set of coloured glasses. Put on a different pair, and Kant’s “categorical imperatives” are suddenly less of the essence, perhaps even to the contrary.
Hans was on a roll. “You want to know why I believe Europe so quickly secularized and is so incredibly resistant to the Gospel today? It’s not all that unlike Muslims.
“You North Americans are so hung up about the Enlightenment and its disparagement of the ‘foolishness’ of the Gospel. But you fail to understand that Western Europe simply became utterly sick of the endless and horrendous bloodshed blessed or instigated by the church: the Crusades; the Inquisition; the (what’s that word in English?) pogroms against Jews; the Holy Wars; the witch-hunts; the burning of thousands of heretics by the Catholics; the drowning of similar thousands of Anabaptists by Protestants; the incredibly retributive penal justice system modelled after church canon law, and universal support of the death penalty; the church’s blessing both sides of every war in Europe since Constantine; and on and on and on ad infinitum, ad nauseum.
“If I just had majority church history to go on, I’d be a raving atheist too. There has been arguably no more bloody institution in Western history than the church since the fourth century! If this is what Paul meant by ‘Christ, the power of God’, then frankly, ‘the revolt of atheism is pure religion’ by contrast. (I heard an American theologian named Walter Wink once say that at Wheaton.) Ironically, however, that very revolt is instigated in the first place by biblical revelation. Jesus first elicited the Western atheistic philosophical tradition with his cry from the cross, ‘My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?’ Jürgen Moltmann, and I’ve also heard him say this, observes that this indeed is either the end of all religion, and therefore the atheists are right, and likely the anarchists too, or the beginning of a whole new way of understanding ‘the executed God’.
“There’s a line from a German poem, I forget by whom, that goes: “Die Gerechtigkeit der Erde O Herr hat Dich getötet!” The moral righteousness of the Earth, O Lord, has killed You! The blood spilled on the ground in the name of Christ for nearly two thousand years is by far the strongest counter-evangelistic argument I know. Why should any morally sensitive person want to align with such an insatiably blood-drenched institution? I’ve never thought of this, but it would be like, like evangelizing for membership in the Mafia!
“And it continues. To this day, missionaries either follow the gunboats as Hudson Taylor did in evangelizing China, or they benefit from the violence of the colonizing powers. One reason that missionaries in this century came to be hated in so much if the Third World was their complete identification with Empire – British or American, these past two centuries. Hudson Taylor’s ‘spiritual secret’ was in reality a ‘military not-so-strictly kept secret’.
“Contrary to all that, I argue in my paper, if Christ is the foolishness of God in response to the Enlightenment, but really God’s ultimate wisdom, he is likewise the weakness of God in answer to violence and war, but really his is the way of self-giving, nonviolent sacrificial love which is truly God’s revolutionary power. Jesus the (Other) Way, right?
“A lot of what I’m saying now comes from my paper, which gets quite technical, sometimes. Sorry….
“I’ll stop now.” He did. Noises of dishes and pots came from the kitchen. There was muted conversation. Andy asked: “How can you appraise the Enlightenment so positively, calling it God-ordained?”
Gary added, “Hans, I learned at Bible School that the Enlightenment was the real enemy today of Christianity. Yet you paint it as almost from God.”
Hans responded: “The Enlightenment was in part an understandable reactionary celebration of the brilliance and goodness of man over against a church perceived to exist to glorify violence through its belief in ‘god’ and a doctrine of ‘original sin’ that leads directly to a hell of eternal conscious torment and the ultimate degradation of man. ‘Wretched worm’ theology is handmaiden to a hell of eternal conscious torment. How does the King James go?: “Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.”
“The reason the Enlightenment took such root in the first place was the valid revulsion towards the ‘god’ of the churches: a ‘god’ who blessed war, bloodshed and everlasting punishment in Jesus’ name on a massive scale. Did you ever read Voltaire’s Candide?”
“I did – in French.”, Andy replied. But got no further.
Gary snapped back: “Hans, this all sounds not just neo-orthodox, but even heterodox! How do you justify all this biblically?”
Hans paused for some time. Then, “Perhaps hear me out a little more, and see whether you still think that. You’ve gotten me going. I’ll summarize a little more my paper, which, by the way, won the theological prize at Wheaton College last year.”
Andy felt impressed. Joanne excused herself from the table, saying she’d help Peter and Jean. Couldn’t she handle it anymore? What?, Andy wondered. Peter had come out at one point to turn on the lights. The entire apartment building was quiet. Not even street sounds invaded. Andy looked over. The French doors were closed.
“In my paper, I suggested that North Americans positively worship at an alternative ‘god’s’ shrine, which is Mars, god of Violence. Ironically, while you defeated the Nazis in World War II, you Americans have become increasingly more like them ever since! ‘In God we trust’, I wrote, is a lie. ‘In Violence – supremely bombs, bullets and missiles – We Trust’ is the real truth. Bombs built by taking bread from the mouths of the poor. That’s what President Eisenhower once claimed. Most Christians worship this ‘god’ every bit as much as secular people.
“In Germany there was only a small ‘confessing church’ which refused to bow the knee to Hitler, while the majority of Germany’s Christians totally supported the entire Nazi enterprise. Karl Barth, incidentally, was primary author of the Barmen Declaration that denounced Hitler. He was forced out of the university he taught at in Germany to Basel, Switzerland. He was one of the few theologians in Germany to oppose Hitler. Another was of course Dietrich Bonhoeffer.
“I personally think it is somewhat similar in America today. And few of those refusing to bow the knee to America’s devotion to violence and the military are in the Evangelical churches. They are Quakers, Catholics, Mennonites, and others. Not Evangelicals. Not Billy Graham. Not Leighton Ford. Not Bill Bright. And not Francis Schaeffer, Andy! Not the rank and file in the pews either. Ever heard of Dorothy Day? William Stringfellow? Jim Wallis? They all draw blanks, don’t they?
“You know the famous statement by Pastor Martin Niemoeller after the War? Probably not. Another name Evangelicals have never heard of.
“He spent seven years in Dachau Concentration Camp. He said something like, more or less verbatim, translated: ‘In Germany, the Nazis first came for the Communists, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Communist. Then they came for the Jews, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a trade unionist. Then they came for the Catholics, but I didn’t speak up because I was a Protestant. Then they came for me, and by that time there was no one left to speak for me.’ ” Hans paused. He deliberately looked at each person at the table, as if asking, were they comprehending?
Andy found this very troubling. He had gone over to Germany convinced of the need to show German Christians biblically their wrong allegiance to Enlightenment “modernist” theology. Now, somehow, the very Bible he most wanted to defend was being turned back on him. This was not right! He did not have a ready response. He said nonetheless: “But divine violence is the stuff of the Old Testament. It’s also central to the atonement, God’s demand for penal substitution and satisfaction. And the Book of Revelation is all about the Lamb who conquers all foes and violently tosses his enemies into the Lake of Fire.”
“Andy”, Hans came back, “you might read New Testament theologian C.F.D. Moule’s article sometime that I came across in a Swedish theological journal, entitled “Punishment and Retribution: An Attempt to Delimit Their Scope in New Testament Thought”. He directly challenges the violent theories of the atonement, and argues that God never intended the dire consequences that ensue upon sin punitively, retributively. I’ve also heard American theologian Donald Bloesch in a lecture at Wheaton argue that the traditional doctrine of hell as eternal conscious torment is not biblically God’s final word. Love is. As to the Old Testament, you’d find quite entertaining Vernard Eller’s romp through the Scriptures that says the Hebrew people set out heading north by going south on the issue of violence. It’s due out next year, and is going to be called King Jesus’ Manual of Arms for the ‘Armless: War and Peace from Genesis to Revelation. Just the thing for all the new Jesus People.
Andy was mystified at how readily this was all rolling off Hans’ tongue. He felt at a loss. He’d never had time to do that kind of study.
Hans asked. “Shall I continue?” No one spoke.
Finally, Gary said flatly, “I think we owe it to hear you through.”
“You got me started on this, Gary. I’ll try to bring home a few points.
“You have a CIA which engages in the same amount of deception, assassination, destabilization, torture, covert – and overt – war, and blatantly immoral activities of every kind imaginable, as the SS ever did, or the KGB does today. And you have CIA directors for instance, who, according to some stories, would make inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah blush, their personal lives are so immoral. You also have nuclear war preparation and stockpiling that is responsible already for incalculable numbers of deaths, maimings, and diseases the world over. The environmental damage to the good Creation by military build-up in which America is massively front-runner, is overwhelming worldwide. You are the only country to have actually dropped atomic bombs, not once, but twice! – and on defenceless civilians, and when Japanese surrender was imminent. They claim it was to protect up to a million GI’s lives in a potentially protracted land invasion. Just as likely it was to say to Moscow à la Wild West: ‘Watch out! We have the Biggest Guns!’ It was doubtless the first salvo of the Cold War. And besides, these were innocent civilians! Do we now justify as well the Aztecs for their human sacrifices of innocents?
“But, ‘if it’s good for American security it’s good for Evangelicals’ is the seeming Evangelical norm. ‘America The Beautiful’, right? Just like Israel The Virtuous. In both cases, they can do no wrong for they are God’s ‘Chosen People’. Evangelicals subscribe to that throughout North America. I’ve heard the sermons July 4th Sunday. I’ve listened, even in one year, to innumerable prophetic teachings about modern Israel. Hal Lindsay’s The Late Great Planet Earth is as you know an American best-seller. With all due respect, what a piece of garbage! And though it will be discredited eventually in its prophetic specifics in favour of endlessly shifting theories about contemporary application to world events and figures, as all others have been for the last 100 years, you can bet there will be an endless crop of these, ever best-sellers, since they not only work to get people saved, even closer to the American Evangelical and secular dream, they sell!”
Andy looked around him. He suddenly thought of Jesus, whip in hand, clearing out money changers in the Temple. The image suited. What could he say?
Hans continued. “What Evangelical has raised any questions about the CIA – whose top boss is ultimately the President? If the buck for a kind of wickedness – on a level though perhaps not yet the scale of the worst the Nazis ever did – stops with the President of the United States, amongst the main ‘money lenders’ and advisers to that President are Evangelicals across the nation. They elevate ‘Nation and President’ to the status of Deities. ‘God and Flag’ right? Not ‘Jesus and Resurrection’ as Paul preached on Mars Hill so that to some they sounded like two new gods for the Pantheon. Rather, ‘God and Flag’, which are American ultimate idols. Evangelicals like Billy Graham have repeatedly been in bed with the President. Billy Graham by Evangelicals is compared to a Daniel. The more valid comparison is to the Whore of Babylon or the Antichrist!” Hans’ nostrils flared. He was worked up at last.
Fiona, though not understanding it all, exploded. “Billy Graham is a great man of God!, who has told more people in this century about Jesus than any before him. How dare you question his faith?!” Andy had never seen her so angry. Her beauty if anything was only enhanced, at least he could not miss the rapid rise and fall of her bosom. Norton’s Notion came to mind; a midnight skating lesson. His chest heaved too. He too was an enormous fan of Dr. Graham, but waited for Hans’ response.
Hans fell silent again. Then: “Fiona, let me try to explain what I mean. First though, I’m sorry. I’m not against Billy Graham’s faith – as far as it goes. I fully affirm it, as far as it goes. I’m just questioning some of where his and other Evangelicals’ faith has taken them – and has not taken them. They tell me every word of the Bible is infallible. But they apparently don’t apply that infallibility doctrine to one of Jesus’ main teachings, and certainly his premier ethical instruction, which he also lived out, and other New Testament writers consistently theologized about: ‘Love your neighbour/enemies’.
“Billy Graham published his first book entitled Peace With God. But that, according to Jesus, is only half the Gospel. Dr. Graham has yet to publish the sequel, which should not even be such, rather it should have appeared simultaneously with his first publication, namely, Peace With Man. Peace with God is religious sham if it is not demonstrated in peace with man. What were the Apostles’ words? Just a minute, I’ll quote them exactly from the King James…
“Here: ‘If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.’ That’s Paul. Then John: ‘If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?’ That means the enemy too, Fiona! And that’s why Jesus, when asked for the Greatest Commandment, gave two together for the price of one. Peace with God, he consistently said, is a religious ‘crock’, I love that word!, if not demonstrated in peace towards man. It is only half the Gospel and a heresy, baldly put. It is clear everywhere in the New Testament that the litmus test for love of God is love of neighbour. And the litmus test for love of neighbour is love of enemy. To the extent we fail to love the enemy, precisely to that extent our love for God is phony – whatever our religious protestations and observances otherwise.”
Andy had seldom listened to a more lucid or fluent, and erudite speaker. And this by someone who had been raised in Germany. Peter and Jean were listening at the kitchen door. Andy had never heard such stuff before. His mind was grasping at anything. He suddenly said: “Hans, this sounds all so works-righteousness! You seem to be adding so much to the simple faith ‘once delivered’. Wasn’t that Luther’s great discovery: sola fide – justification by faith alone?”
Hans hesitated. No one spoke up. He replied: “And what did James say in his rechter strörn Epistel – ‘right strawy epistle’, so designated by Luther? “Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do.”; and “Faith without deeds is dead.” This just after James’ saying: “If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself,’ you are doing right.” – which incidentally St. Paul said summed up the entire Law and Jesus said was the Second Greatest Command just like the first to love God.”
Andy felt hemmed in. How could Hans keep doing that?
Hans continued after a pause: “I’ll add some more from my paper, if you wish, to put the biblical case home. But let me say this: They can talk all they want about Christian revival at the American Army Base. If all those good Christian soldiers do, ‘Onward Christian soldiers’ right?, afterwards is slaughter the enemy in Vietnam, whatever they are worshipping in their newfound religious zeal is alien to the God of the Bible.
“The point of Jesus’ critique of the Pharisees in Matthew 23 was their, yes, spurious, what a word!, faith in God. And he says, to win people over in evangelism to that kind of ‘half-Gospel’ is to make them twice the sons of hell for the effort. That’s very interesting arithmetic. Now that should be very sobering for you in your enterprise in West Berlin – not to mention for Billy Graham Crusades and thousands of similar evangelistic efforts the world over.
“Truth is, though, I argue in my paper, Evangelicals in the main don’t even see that in their Bibles. So, just what are they, just what is Billy Graham, reading anyway?, I ask. Apparently not the Bible. But doesn’t Billy always say, ‘The Bible says!’? Is he, are Evangelicals, after all, only Liberals in disguise, picking and choosing from the biblical witness what they will believe with the best of the ‘classic’ Liberals? Only they never admit it. Vehemently claim the contrary even. Which makes them Liars as well as Liberals!”
Gary said angrily, “How can Evangelicals be ‘Liberals’? That’s a contradiction in terms.”
Andy chimed in, simply befuddled, “And how can they be ‘liars’ when they follow Jesus who is the ‘Truth’?”
Hans responded quietly, “You tell me, you guys, you tell me.”
Then: “As you well know over here, and I illustrate it in my paper, Evangelical military chaplains abound in the armed forces. I know you’ve met some of them here, not to mention thousands of ‘born-again’ Christians engaged in blowing their enemies’ brains out in Vietnam right now – and worse, if you think of napalm, cluster bombs, and saturation bombing of enemy territory. And I’m sure the thousandth of all the horrendous human carnage in Vietnam we know nothing about – yet. Just imagine what we will learn about the effects of Agent Orange alone. Birth defects, I’ve documented the predictions, will be massive. Even if the North Vietnamese right now all deserved to suffer from grotesque deformities, does that mean their children too?!
“You North Americans likewise know so little about the countless atrocities committed by the Allies during both World Wars. Something else I document in my paper. For starters, in the last War the Allies did saturation bombing of civilian targets on at least 42 German cities. Thousands of innocent civilians died and otherwise sustained horrendous maimings and injuries. War is hell, pure and simple! If American authors and movie makers afterwards do other than glorify the slaughter, as they mostly did of the first two wars, you can bet Evangelicals will ban all those books and movies as works of the devil or Communists.
“So where is the Evangelical church right now? Nixon is a ‘Christian’ of course. Billy Graham says so – even if he’s too busy with affairs of state to attend church – and the Republicans are close to ushering in the kingdom of God with their longstanding embrace of ‘Manifest Destiny’ doctrine.
“Meanwhile, Evangelicals go on endlessly about infallibility and the like, while ignoring entirely the eindeutigen – one-voiced, univocal, teachings of Jesus and the rest of the New Testament about how to treat the neighbour/enemy.”
“Hans”, Gary exclaimed in agitation, “this is coming out of nowhere for me. For all of us, likely. You have to understand how hard it is to follow you, let alone agree!
“But, maybe, to draw this to a close, you could say, in your view, what your summation of Evangelicals is?”
“Well I came back to Germany grateful for the good education I got at Wheaton but deeply troubled about where the Evangelical church was at. It has fallen in my view ‘culturally captive’ to a longstanding dominant American warmongering spirituality as surely as Jews were led captive to Babylon, or, more analogously, as the ancient Hebrews engaged in repeatedly the idolatrous activities of their neighbours. Tell me if it is not dangerously close to Jesus’ idea that we should follow what Pharisees, read ‘Evangelicals’, believe – their commitment to Jesus, their love of the Bible – but never do what they do. Their claims about John 3:16 and God’s loving the world are rendered pure, what is reine Entweihung - in English?, sacrilege – that’s it! – in the jungles or skies of Vietnam.”
Joanne emerged from the kitchen with a Black Forest Cherry Cake ablaze with candles, singing robustly, “Happy Birthday to You!” She had told no one except Jean. It was Hans’ 26th birthday that very day, May 26, 1972.
The evening finished off in games and celebration. Nothing more was said about the conversation.
Andy could not write in his diary that night. His mind was churning.
Hans had had an uneventful trip. When they returned to the girls’ apartment, shortly afterwards, they were called to supper. Joanne and Sharon had done the meal together, with Jean’s help on setting up the dining room. It was one of Hans’ favourites. Bratwurst, sauerkraut, and boiled potatoes. Easy to prepare they were assured. Delicious, they all resoundingly approved.
Jack, unintentionally or not, got the conversation going as supper wound down. The four singles had described their day in some detail, and with enthusiasm. “I learned a new word today,” Jack started, “‘ideology’. It means, if I got it correct, that we all have our ideas about what is true and right, and we end up killing for them.
“Interestingly, Janys accused America of being driven by an ‘ideology’ not of good towards the rest of the world, but of greed. Right, Janys? I’d like to know, Hans, in light of our last discussion, what your thoughts are on that? Like, for instance Vietnam. For me it’s black and white. Communism is evil. We’re fighting evil in Vietnam to make the world safe for democracy. What’s your take?”
Hans looked over at Joanne. There was a pause. Joanne looked away, and said she’d start clearing the table. Peter got up to help, and soon Jean and Sharon followed. There were signals…
Hans began. “Let’s discuss Billy Graham and ideology. He trained at Wheaton College too. He went once behind the lines to preach to the GI’s about salvation. I’m sure this was at American government expense, if not, at least obviously with full permission. Why? Because Billy Graham was a good propagandist for the ideology of the war America was fighting against the Communists.
“I can guarantee that in no part of Dr. Graham’s gospel message was there a call to ‘love your enemies’. On the contrary, if soldiers became Christians, and proceeded the next day to blow their enemies to bits (there’s another word you use... yes, ‘smithereens’) for love of whom Jesus died too, Rev. Graham would have fully approved. He did in fact, for the record. And that’s ideology at work alien to the Gospel. That’s in fact American anti-Communist ideology triumphing over the Gospel. Or Darkness overcoming the Light, to use biblical language.
“So I ask, where’s the family resemblance to Jesus from Christians in that? Did it ever occur to Evangelicals to go to North Vietnam with the message that God loves the Viet Cong Communists too? And that one should rather lay down one’s life for them, than take theirs? Apparently not. So when Billy Graham goes to the American troops with the ‘Gospel’, should not part of his message be that they should stop the slaughter because God loves the North Vietnamese as much as he does Americans? Or does God not love America’s enemies? And is evangelism only for the ‘Good Guys’ (read: Americans)? Is God the Ultimate American Nepotist?”
Andy strained at “nepotist”. Then he remembered: one out only for kith and kin. Where did Hans get such vocabulary? Andy interrupted to supply that information, for which Jack indicated gratitude.
Hans continued. “My conclusion from simple observation is: Evangelicals routinely practise an under-your-breath ideologized “footnote theology” that reads repeatedly, ‘Except our enemies’, when quoting John 3:16 and all other similar New Testament ethical teachings. How could Billy Graham tell the North Vietnamese that God loves them, when he fully blesses his own country in doing the exact opposite; when Billy Graham is still praying with the President for victory in the War – which means massive carnage and widespread wanton destruction? When he apparently wills the utter inversion of everything Gospel in treatment of neighbour, enemy and creation?
“Remember James’ juxtaposition of ‘saying’ and ‘doing’? Can someone bring me a Bible? Moment mal. Yes: ‘Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.’ The ‘works’ of James, likely Jesus’ half-brother, are found in the Sermon on the Mount, supremely summed up in ‘Love your neighbour/enemies’ which is biblical justice in the raw – without which, Jesus warns the Pharisees, one will never enter the Kingdom! This is what the ‘wise man’ does, Jesus says in Matthew 7, with reference to the vast background Jesus the Sage brings to Hebrew Wisdom literature.
“Which I also discuss in my paper I mentioned last time. This is not ‘works-righteousness’ my predecessor, Luther railed against. No, it is righteousness consummated, in the raw, acted out as ‘living sacrifice’, as ineluctable corollary to ‘justification by faith’, the other side of the two-sided coin of salvation. Salvation embraced, salvation lived. One does not exist – survive – without the other. Trouble is, the first exists in American Evangelicalism all too well in utter disregard of the other.”
Andy realized Hans had obviously thought lots about their last discussion. So had Andy. He was beginning to change, he knew.
Hans stopped completely at that. Joanne had come into the room. She interjected, “Hans can go on like this for hours. My best girlfriend asked me to consider what most would bother me about Hans. This is it!” To Joanne’s credit, she had said nothing about Hans’ predilection since the last discussion. She was feeling her way now.
Fiona almost ignored Joanne’s somewhat remonstrance. She appeared angry, yet tenacious. “But don’t we want this War to end real soon?”
Hans was obviously troubled. He looked at Joanne. She again looked away.
“Yes, Fiona,” he said finally with anguished voice. He looked again at Joanne. “Just like the Americans wanted World War II to end really soon, and incinerated instantaneously through two atomic bombs over 120,000 innocent Japanese civilians – infants, children, middle-aged and elderly. Until the detonations, these civilians were going about their daily lives as normally as anyone else on the planet at that time. Let your mind dwell on that scene. Place yourself in it. Better yet, place any – place all! – your loved ones in Hiroshima or Nagasaki August 6 or 9, 1945. And let your mind imagine the monstrous horror willed upon the Japanese – and your loved ones! – by that Bible-believing President, most Evangelicals, the American people, all the Allies. And tell me that it is other than homicidal madness: premeditated mass murder in the first degree! And utterly wicked and evil.
“The Allies did that repeatedly to over 100 cities in Germany and Japan combined: carpet bombed them with napalm to the tune of over two million innocent civilian casualties! – up to half of some of the metropolitan populations.”
“I make this association in my paper. When the 13th century papal legate in the southern France town of Béziers was asked how to distinguish between Albigensian heretics and ‘real Catholics’, he replied: ‘Kill them all! God will sort out who are his own’.
“There is, I believe, an absolute moral equivalency between that medieval ‘inhuman barbarity’ (they say 20,000 were put to the sword that day) and America’s today. Incidentally, President Roosevelt used that language, ‘inhuman barbarity’, in a memo to all major nations in 1939, with reference to aerial bombing by the Germans of innocent civilians. But America, in sheer numbers, went on under Roosevelt then Truman to vastly outstrip that long-ago body count. Arguably, though I do not have the exact figures to prove it, America is responsible for an annual ‘Holocaust’ that adds up perhaps by now since World War II to that perpetrated against the Jews throughout the time of the Nazi ‘reign of terror’. Most of this is of course kept hidden by the most sophisticated propaganda machine in human history called American corporate mass media, though anything but a ‘free press’: which would do Joseph Goebbels better than proud.
“The sheer wickedness of President Truman’s decision, himself an Evangelical Baptist Sunday School teacher, is so utterly beyond imagining that I think no American Evangelical today even questions the necessity and righteousness of that choice. Those bombs have, what’s the medical term I used in my paper?, cauterized the American collective conscience into spiritual numbness and induced mass moral blindness. It would be like the Mafia massacring dozens of their enemies through a bomb blast, and, because they were all ‘godless Communists’ anyway, the Mafia are unconscionably elevated to hero status! So I ask: Just which ‘sacred text’ was President Truman reading? The Bible or America’s Manifest Destiny, when he authorized full-scale massacre of Japanese civilians? And just what Bible are Evangelicals reading today, when not a question is asked about these horrendous ‘crimes against humanity’ in Vietnam and elsewhere America still is routinely perpetrating?”
This was too much for Fiona. “I believe in ‘Manifest Destiny’ for America. I believe in righteousness that exalteth a nation, our nation, America the Beautiful. I believe in God and Flag!”
Joanne had remained standing throughout this exchange. “Don’t you think you have said enough, Hans?”, she asked. She looked pained. Hans looked pained. Andy quickly surveyed everyone’s face listening in. There was tension everywhere. Maybe it would be best to wind down. But this was fascinating, albeit perilously.
Fiona insisted that they continue. “I want to hear Hans out. I want to, I want to prove you wrong, Hans! You obviously were not raised American, Hans, despite your American mom. I think you are operating under an ideology I can’t quite name. But it is alien to America. I think we are the God-given norm, and what you are saying, even when quoting Scripture, is pure ideology. I want to help name it for you, and then let you see it, if, like Jesus says, ‘you have eyes to see’.”
It was a valiant retaliation. It was fiercely ‘Texan’, typically American Empire Loyalist, standing up for the ‘right’ against all odds. The only problem for Andy was, so far all the “odds” were with Hans, all the ideology with Fiona. He said nothing. He had nothing to say.
Hans again looked at Fiona, and continued. “I grant that by comparison to Stalin and Mao in sheer numbers slaughtered, Truman does look like a Sunday School teacher, which he was! But isn’t that the point? Sunday School teachers should know better. Much better. Or doesn’t that Bible mean a thing even to Evangelicals beyond serving as the central cultural icon of America, all the more, for that honour, to be totally disregarded and trivialized?
“I am not a Marxist-Leninist, if that is what you are alluding to, Fiona. Far from it. I am a committed Christian who have discovered ‘the strange new world of the Bible’ as Karl Barth called it, and I am trying to find my way through its meaning for today. Of course I’m biased. But I’m trying to make my reading of the Bible challenge my biases, rather than my preconceptions filter the Bible, like I believe on this issue Evangelicals largely do. As such, that is my conscious ideological commitment. Consequently, in my reading of the Bible, no matter what, I cannot kill for my ideology, nor bless any state that does. I agree with Gandhi who rightly read the Bible in saying, ‘It seems everyone but Christians knows Jesus was nonviolent.’”
Gary had been listening intently. He suddenly thought of something. “Wasn’t it Christians who not only authorized the atomic bombings, namely President Truman, but also the chaplain who blessed the crew on their mission? Do you claim to know better than millions of believers before you Hans?”
Hans’ eyes narrowed more. “Gary, do you want me to respond?” Fiona and Gary said in unison, “Yes!”
“Father George Zabelka was in fact the Catholic military chaplain who blessed the crew of the Enola Gay that dropped the first atomic bomb, August 6, 1945. He since repented totally, and has been telling the world that there is no moral or Christian justification whatsoever for such a coldly calculated act – and a second one, three days later! – of mass murder. He says the entire Christian church has been utterly brainwashed for almost two millennia to accept war of any description (it always gets called ‘just’ by Christians), not least the deliberate slaughter of innocents. Ten percent civilian deaths in World War I. Fifty percent civilian deaths in World War II. Some claim up to eighty percent in Vietnam. You cannot bomb without huge percentages of civilian deaths. And who said ‘combatants’, even if that’s all you killed, were Christianly fair game anyway? Certainly not Jesus – or any other New Testament writer.
“So you say Fiona, along with High Priest Caiaphas at the Crucifixion of Jesus: ‘It is better that one should die than that the whole nation perish.’ Or in this case, that 120,000 plus innocent Japanese civilians, or several million North Vietnamese must perish, instead of precious American blood being spilled. Or that multiplied millions of innocents had to have been maimed and slaughtered to stop the Nazis and the Japanese.
“Doesn’t matter. That is conventional scapegoat wisdom as old and allgegenwärtig – ubiquitous – as humanity. Of course sacrificial violence always has made perfect cultural sense, and underwrites all rationalizations for immolating scapegoats amongst peoples as diverse as head hunters in New Guinea, cannibals the world over, the ancient Aztecs or Incas of the New World, Nazis in Germany, Whites lynching Blacks in the American South, and Americans slaughtering the Viet Cong in Vietnam, and vice versa of course. It is also utter antithesis of all Gospel logic, though that is emphatically not majority church theory and practice. So much the worse for the church over against the Bible! The Bible may be the church’s Book. It has rarely with reference to state violence been the church’s Guide.
“Sometime, you must all read an unknown French Catholic author working in America: René Girard. I used some of his material in my paper. But it is doubtful Evangelical theologians will ever appreciate him, since he argues theologically and anthropologically the very inversion of the ‘satisfaction theory of the atonement’. Another matter…”
“Hans”, Andy interjected, “I did read some of Girard in university. What I didn’t like about him is his making a theory – scapegoating – fit all, like his own discovery of a revelation. I think life is always more complex than any one metatheory.”
“Heh Andy”, Jack said, “keep the vocabulary simple.” Andy laughed. “I think metatheory means one grand explanation for everything about how violence originates and works itself out in human cultures, past, present, the world over. Right, Hans?” He nodded.
Hans then replied slowly: “Andy, I found I liked Girard because it corroborated and at times elucidated – shed light on, Jack! – the Bible’s own description and response to violence. Not the other way around. I found Girard supplemental, not revelatory.”
“So”, Gary quizzed, “my main question since the last time is, are you saying there is never a place, according to the Gospel, for killing our enemies. Never?
”It seems you are. Not only do I dispute that, but it basically says almost everyone in the church for two thousand years has been wrong. That is pretty arrogant, to say the least! And what about Jesus’ cleaning out the Temple with a whip? What about his positive response to soldiers – and John’s, without ever telling them their killing was wrong? What about the two swords Jesus says were “enough”, when the disciples presented them before his arrest? What about Jesus’ painting God as “Judge” – like a sentencing judge, bringing down the violence of the State? What about a doctrine of hell that is violence in the end, ultimate violence? Etc.?”
The dishes had long since been done. Peter had finally turned on the light switch on his way to his room. Jean, Joanne, and Sharon diffidently had sat down at the table again. Andy felt the vibes from Joanne. Sharon looked, if anything, bored. Jean was just blank, though once again apart from Peter.
Andy suddenly remembered his thinking that very afternoon. He piped up, surprised at his sudden boldness, and in favour of Hans: “Isn’t killing the enemy, Gary, the exact opposite of evangelism – what we Evangelicals say all the time is our main mission on earth? How can we warmly underwrite sewing life-giving seed, evangelism to bring life, on the streets of West Berlin, while equally supporting strewing cluster and conventional bombs – and worse! – on the villages of North Vietnam? Is that not evangelism’s exact inversion – to bring death – as they once did over Berlin?”
Andy had a whole new insight: “Those same people who send us monthly cheques to support inviting Berliners today into the Kingdom simultaneously underwrite with their patriotism and taxes and sons and daughters consignment to hell of countless Vietnamese. And their parents applauded, participated in, and prayed for the same slaughter of Berliners, parents and grandparents of those we now minister to, barely a generation ago! Isn’t that juxtaposition contradictory of all logic – and that is just human logic?”
Hans agreed, adding: “Adduce Gospel logic, the only Reality Test Christians are to employ, and the unfaithfulness of Christian support of war and capital punishment materializes as surely as acid or alkaline solutions are demonstrated in a litmus test.
“So no, Gary, I see no place for ever legitimating killing one’s enemies. Not in Gospel logic. And there are responses to the exegetical issues – issues of interpretation – that you raise. I’ll ask you: is there ever a place for extra-marital sex in a marriage? Not in New Testament teaching, no matter how rampant the alternative cultural norm. There are no exceptions to Jesus’ call to love neighbour and enemy. On the contrary, see if there is not New Testament consistency that the only way to know I love God is loving the neighbour. And the litmus test for that is loving the enemy.”
Gary said nothing. Hans went on: “Let me add, again about Billy Graham, who so classically is representative of the Evangelical mindset. That’s why I mention him, not otherwise to single him out. I believe he is a great man of God in his own context, utterly sincere.
“According to the Gospel as I read it, what Dr. Graham should be doing in addition to preaching to the American soldiers in Vietnam is going to his own Evangelical churches to challenge them to call for deep nation-wide repentance that would end the war. No war since Christ has ever been God’s will. The American Evangelical church is worshipping an idol, not God, when it participates in war, sends its children to war, blesses America and others in war. All wars, past, present, and future, are unreservedly contradictory to Gospel, its most complete symmetrical inversion. War, all war by all sides, is utter transgression and the greatest heresy, according to biblical revelation.”
Fiona looked nonplussed. Where could she begin, Andy wondered? “But America stands for truth!,” she exclaimed. “The truth that ‘shall set one free.’ Freedom. Truth and freedom. They are America’s birthright and bequeathal to the world. And that’s what Vietnam is all about!
”What do you say to that, Hans? What you are saying is so, is so, untruth!”
Janys, Andy suddenly realized, had listened intently without comment to the entire exchange. Was she feeling repentant for having been too hard on Fiona earlier? He looked at her. She really looked great. She was registering fascination even contentment possibly. Was she wishing Ted might have been there? Was she comparing Ted to Hans? He’d love to have a long talk with her.
“Well?”, Fiona’s challenge was almost shrill.
Hans did not look at Joanne. “The first casualty of all war, of all violence, by the state or the individual, is truth. This is what former U.N. Secretary General U Thant once said and Cain’s religiosity demonstrated. The first casualty of all religion, war’s first cousin, is also truth, Fiona. And that’s why religion and war inevitably intertwine, the one feeding into the other, and looping back again. That’s why all military chaplaincies are about truth’s opposite: violence. Their final word is death. I would add, incidentally, all sports chaplaincies too. That’s why the worst plague on the planet has ever been religious wars; likewise the scourge of Western Christendom.
“Now contrast that with Jesus whom religious people claim to be “the Truth”. Something has to give. If violence is not truth’s casualty, like darkness’ dissipation the sun’s supreme handiwork, then all you have left is Jesus the Untruth. Jesus the Violent. Jesus the Avenger. Jesus the Cosmic Tyrant. Jesus the god of Christendom, ultimate scourge, ultimate violence. Not Jesus the Truth, Jesus the Life of the World, Jesus the Light of the World, Jesus the Prince of Peace. Then Constantine’s in hoc signo vinceres, in this sign you will conquer, rings true to Mars the god of war, to be sure, but utterly false to Jesus the God of love and peace. The contrasts are utterly stark and irreconcilable.
“But most of us prefer our lies, are addicted, as surely as any alcoholic, to prevaricating violence. So it is with dominant American Evangelicalism. This is of course the brilliant point of Hans Christian Andersen’s The Emperor’s New Clothes: as John’s Gospel puts it, ‘men love darkness – lies and violence – rather than light’: Americans, Westerners, most of us, likewise love lies more than truth. This is why Nazi Germany was so successful in liquidating six million Jews. While truth promises to set us free, we fairly grasp instead after our violent addictions: national security; right to private possessions; nationalism; the free enterprise system etc., etc., etc. We thereby negate ‘the mind of Christ’ that didn’t ‘grasp after’ violently Christ’s own prerogatives as deity. Remember, He could have called 10,000 angels, but refrained. Your President calls up 10,000 G.I.’s, hardly angels!, to fight in Vietnam and Billy Graham and American Evangelical leadership, I’m sorry, cheer on the slaughter. Billy even goes to preach in support of them, just like Bob Hope goes to entertain. Same difference. Identical ideology. Both utterly foreign to the Gospel, that’s all.
“ ‘The truth that sets us, sets nations, free’ is nonviolence. In the CIA building is inscribed Jesus’ statement: ‘You shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free’. The irony is palpable. An organization that is committed to covert violence and secret lies on a massive scale, with America in turn dependent upon the CIA to maintain its freedom, claims ‘freedom’ as they lie and murder, kidnap and assassinate, God only knows what else, routinely the world over! This is George Orwell’s haunting double speak; this is Jeremiah’s ‘peace, peace, when there is no peace’. This is what America’s most famous evangelist, and most others, sell to America and to the world as ‘beautiful’ and God-ordained, blessed, demonstrative of a righteous ‘manifest destiny’.”
Fiona looked furious and also near tears. She appeared utterly tongue-tied as well. No one else was saying anything, knew what to say. Andy was feeling sick but speechless.
Hans had more to add. “To resort to violence means to deny God, since we trust in it instead and are bound by the ultimate anti-god, what is the final ‘anti-christ’: Violence. ‘In Guns we Trust’ is America’s de facto motto, what they really believe. ‘One Nation Under the Gun’ is the last truth of American social reality played out in American overt and covert CIA and military interventions the world over, and on the streets of every American city. America was born in violent revolution against a ‘lawful’ state. It proceeded to steal wholesale an entire continent from its rightful occupiers, and now acts as Robber Baron to the rest of the world. The CIA, many say, is about to orchestrate a military coup in Chile, to overthrow a democratically elected leader, Salvador Allende, because of his socialism! And they almost invaded Cuba because Castro is Communist. And so it goes, all over Latin and South America, and Asia – the entire world. But you’ll never hear an American evangelist or Evangelical leader question the righteousness of all this monstrous murder and mayhem. R