I and a bunch of friends just finished watching Christiane Amanpour’s CNN documentary entitled “God’s Christian Warriors.” I honestly thought the whole three-part series was simply fantastic. Each segment was well done, balanced, and over all enlightening. Mike Mocklar, the producer, and Christiane, along with the rest of their team, are to be commended.
On a personal note, I have to say that I found Christiane and her team to be a delight to work with. Christiane in particular was a joy to interview with. She’s just an honest, inquisitive human being who happens to be one of the world’s greatest reporters. Some might assume that a person with her notoriety might be a bit big on herself, but nothing could be further from the truth. Christiane is as real and humble as they come. This is probably why she’s so good at what she does. I feel honored to have been asked to be part of this enlightening documentary.
When I and my friends saw that the segment on me was entitled “The Heretic,” we laughed so hard we had to pause the documentary (fortunately, we had recorded it). Given all that had preceded this segment, we considered it a supreme compliment.
I felt the documentary captured the essence of my interview with Christiane. The team clearly wanted to sharply contrast my vision of the movement Jesus came to establish with the vision of “God’s Christian Warriors” who think Christianity is centrally concerned with winning political battles. They did this well.
Yet, some may have gotten the impression from the documentary that I think the Kingdom of God is only about having a personal relationship with Jesus. If you’ve read my book, The Myth of a Christian Nation, or if you’ve listened to any of my sermons, you know I have a much broader understanding of the Kingdom.
In my view, followers of Jesus are to be concerned with everything Jesus was concerned with – and Jesus was obviously concerned with more than people having a relationsip with himself.
Jesus was a revolutionary on social issues, so his followers are to be revolutionaries on social issues. Jesus entered into solidarity with the poor, so his followers are to enter into solidarity with the poor. Jesus revolted against racism by the countercultural way he treated and spoke about non-Jews , so his followers are to revolt against all forms of racism. Jesus revolted against classism by the way he embraced social and religious “rejects,” so his followers are to revolt against classism. Jesus revolted against sexism by the counter-cultural way he treated women -- even women of ill-repute -- so his followers are to revolt against sexism. Jesus revolted against legalistic religion that oppressed people, so his followers are to revolt against legalistic religion that oppresses people.
Jesus was a radical social activist, so his followers must be the same. It’s just that Jesus never once placed any trust in the government of his day to address social issues. He rather just addressed social issues by how he lived and taught. So too, we who are Jesus' followers are to place no trust in government to address social issues. We’re simply called to address them by how we live.
Following Jesus’ example, we’re to place our trust in the power of the cross – the power of self-sacrificial love – not the power of the sword. We’re to trust the power of Calvary, not Caesar. And this is why I believe those who spend their time and energy trying to control the political arena “in Jesus' name” are profoundly missing the point. Our job is to love, serve and sacrifice for sinners – not argue about passing laws against them. For we are to know that, whatever sin we see in others, our sin is much worse (Mt. 7:1-3).
Thank you Christiane, Mike, and the whole CNN team for giving me a chance to contrast the Jesus of the New Testament with the ugly, politicized Jesus of far too much of American Evangelicalism.
Keep his kingdom holy.