Thursday, October 13, 2011

An Invitation to Discussion

Today, Christians are very divided about raising their voice in the public arena. Some see our calling as simply a matter of preaching the Gospel and performing works of love. Others claim that we are also to be prophetic, calling individuals and groups to repent of their sins – that we are called to be the “salt and the light,” standing for justice and against injustice, virtue against sin. I think that the words of General Jerry Boykin well illustrate the divide.

I am copying them below in order to provoke conversation within the church regarding this very key question – “Who are we and to what are we called?”

• One of America’s most seasoned war generals expressed frustration at the silence of Christian churches as the U.S. military’s ban on open homosexuality fell to a repeal effort earlier this year.

• Lieutenant General Jerry Boykin described at the Values Voter Summit on Saturday the exasperation of pro-family leaders in Washington who found themselves abandoned by church leaders unwilling to make a stand for the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy.

• “John McCain kept turning to Tony Perkins saying, ‘Where’s the church? Where are the spiritual leaders?” said Boykin. “The answer was, they were silent. The church was silent.”

• Besides a large number of military chaplains, few church leaders in America spoke up publicly against the Obama administration’s campaign last year to pass the repeal in Congress.

• Notably, while the Vatican had released a statement in 1992 supporting a ban on open homosexuality in the military, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops remained silent on the repeal effort, leaving military Archbishop Timothy Broglio to defend the ban alone. When questioned on the controversy in December 2010, Washington’s Cardinal Donald Wuerl demurred, saying “there isn’t a specific Catholic Church position” on the issue.

• Boykin, a former Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence, told his conservative audience, “Christians have to rise up like a mighty army to be the salt and light.”

• “Today, the church has lost its moral authority. The church has ceded its authority to the ACLU, and CODEPINK and They’re the ones with the real influence today,” he said. The veteran pointed to Europe as a good example of what will happen if America continues to lose sight of its identity as “founded on Judaeo-Christian principles.”

• “Europe is hopelessly lost,” he said. “Folks, this could happen in America if we continue to be asleep, if the church does not rise up. The church has to get back to the fundamentals ... of the gospel of Jesus Christ.”

• “We have to stop compromising on the gospel of Christ because ... we’re afraid somebody’s gonna be offended. Let me tell you something: when the Gospel of Jesus Christ offends people, that’s exactly when they need to hear it.”

What do you think?

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