Thesis 22 is, in effect, a statement about the religious effect of the theology of glory and the wisdom of law upon which it is based. Religious people in particular seem to have difficulty being theologians of the cross. That is because the theology of the cross is quite devastating for our usual religious aspirations under the wisdom of law. The indignation and resentment against God … is aroused not only — perhaps not even principally! — because of the strenuousness and rigor of the life proposed, but finally because in the cross God has literally taken away from us the possibility of doing anything of religious merit. In Jesus God has cut off all such possibility. God, as St. Paul could put it, has made foolish the wisdom of the wise. We are rendered passive over against God’s action. This is always galling for the old being. We adopt a very pious posture. It is, so the protests go, too easy, too cheap, it has no obvious ethical payoff, and so on and on. Religiously we like to look on ourselves as potential spiritual athletes desperately trying to make God’s team, having perhaps just a little problem or two with the training rules. We have a thirst for glory. We feel a certain uneasiness of conscience or even resentment within when the categorical totality of the action of God begins to dawn on us. We are always tempted to return to the safety and assurance of doing something anyway. Generally, it is to be suspected, that is all we planned to do, a little something. But to surrender the “wisdom” of law and works, or better, to have it taken away, is the first indication of what it means to be crucified with Christ. (Gerhard O. Forde, “On Being a Theologian of the Cross: Reflections on Luther’s Heidelberg Disputation, 1518,” 91-93)
Halden has a pretty good quote on Patriotism and Idolatry, it prompted me to post this. This quote comes from The Search For Christian America by Mark A. Noll • Nathan O. Hatch • George M. Marsden. In this quote they speak to the unhealthy level of patriotism associated with some of our early ‘fathers’. What’s more troubling is that this is the attitude we see exemplified by many Christians today, about America; to be thankful to be an American is one thing, to believe that we have ‘special nation status’ with God (vs. the other nations of the world), is another thing and just not Christian. This quote speaks to this, and provides some quotes from early ‘fathers’ that exemplify the idea that America has a special divine origin, and thus sanction in the world . . . again, this is just wrong:
American Christians were also especially susceptible to the lure of legend-building because they inherited a heightened religious interpretation of the nation’s founding. As we have seen in Chapter 2, early New Englanders had determined that they were God’s chosen people because they had such pure religion. By the time of the American Revolution, however, many throughout the colonies were making statements that America was elect because of the heights of civil liberty that it had achieved. This is a significant shift, for it made it possible to express secular purposes in religious terms, as Alan Heimert has indicated:
In the years between the Stamp Act and the Revolution the evangelical ministry often spoke in the phrases of Sam Adams — who in 1772 explained that the religion and public liberty of a people are so intimately connected, their interests are interwoven and cannot exist separately. Not the least of the conseqeunces of such a blending of interests and issues was that elements of the Calvinist populace were allowed to think that they were defending religion when in fact they were doing battle for civil liberties.
The following apocalyptic interpretation of the American Revolution by Samuel Sherwood, whose flaming rhetoric we have sampled before, was not atypical:
God almighty, with all the powers of heaven, is on our side, Great numbers of angels, no doubt, are encamping round our coast for our defense and protection. Michael stands ready, with all the artillery of heaven, to encounter the dragon, and to vanquish this black host. . . . It will soon be said and acknowledged that the kingdom of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ.
Sherwood went on to attack the British as “one of the last efforts and dying struggles of the Man of Sin”; he threatened those hesitant to join the Revolution that the vials of God’s wrath would be poured out on anyone who did not oppose the anti-Christian tyranny of the British.
In this context, where sin became tyranny and righteousness the realization of liberty, it is not hard to understand the heightened millenial expectations that appeared after the Revolution. In earlier chapters we have seen how Christians worked with these visions. But they showed up as well in even the most secular minds in America. The often profane Benjamin Franklin proposed that the seal of the new republic be a picture of Moses with his rod held over the Red Sea. At the time of the Revolution, the vision of America’s sacred destiny remained intense but with an altered foundation. Instead of motivating men to create a Christian society, it encouraged them to bring about a revolution that would ensure the reign of civil liberty. (Noll, Hatch, Marsden, “The Search For Christian America,” 112-13)
I am afraid that too often this mentality has captured the psyche of ‘Christian America’ today. Often times, we hear Glenn Beck (Fox News commentator) appealing to much of this same kind of rhetoric. For him it makes more sense, since he is LDS/Mormon; and his conception of the ‘Republic’ is very horizontal in orientation (i.e. LDSism is very much so an American religion). But this should not have been the case for the Christians mentioned in the quote above, nor should it be the case for Christians now. We are not God’s final instantiation or His kingdom on earth (this is a very post-millennial perspective) — as a ‘nation’ that is — we instead are His ‘city on a hill’; which means that we are advancing a kingdom that transcends national boundaries and any notions of exceptionalism. It’s one thing to be thankful to be an American, it’s another thing to imbue that with divine sanction. Our citizenship is in heaven (cf. Phil. 3:21), we claim the ‘kingdom’ by proclaiming and living the Gospel; and we don’t do that by national identity, but by walking by the ‘Spirit’!
Go to my friend’s Glen site and read this excellent post on living with an eternal perspective in light of the horror that Haiti has portended for the situation of this fallen world:
The Ana-Baptists (lit. Re-baptizers—a sub-division of the “Radical Reformation”) were people who were disatisfied with the “representative” religion of the Reformers (i.e. Luther, Zwingli, Calvin, et al). These people have been broken down as the: Spiritualists (Mennonites, etc.), Evangelicals (Schweckanfeld), and the Unitarian Rationalist branches.
These “Radical Reformers” (the groups noted above) can be reduced down or united on certain core beliefs. Namely, their belief in the separation of church and state. They believed that in order to maintain the purity of the church, that there must be a definite split between the two. This countered the position of the “Reformers” and thus caused strife between the two groups. Conversely, another key belief was that they did not believe in “baby baptism” (viz. paedo-baptism). They believed that Scripture taught that only a “believer” in Christ ought to be baptized. This countered the ideas of the Reformers, like Ulrich Zwingli and others who believed that circumcision of the Old Testament had been replaced by baptism in the New Testament.
A keynote Ana-Baptist was named Conrad Grebel. He was originally a follower of Zwingli, but believed that Zwingli had erred, and was not following his own priniciple of the Reformation by testing all things by Scripture. Therefore in an act of separation Grebel “re-baptized” George Blaurock in an open display of the Ana-baptistic conviction to re-baptize and to show that they were definitely making a split from the Reformers.
Consequently the Ana-baptists were heavily persecuted by the Reformers, and Zwingli had a big part in this. Grebel ultimately was captured and imprisoned, and yet he escaped; but in his escape he died in flight.
The Ana-baptists brought an even more progressive thrust to this time frame; by further throwing off the “shackles” of the authority of the Catholic and even Protestant Proper (i.e. Reformed) churches. They were opposed by the Reformers because of their views on Church and State and baptism. Luther for example believed Church and State should work together–Ana-baptists did not. Ultimately the Ana-Baptists had a hard go of it, but their influence is felt even today (i.e. Mennonites, the Free Church movement, etc.).
Question: How would you identify, Reformed or Radically Reformed?