This letter from a father to his son, which the recipient shared online, has been getting a lot of attention:
I was struck by the language used on the blog Unreasonable Faith, which shared the letter and offered some reflections on it. The author suggested that this is a Christian mindset that says “It’s a battle between Christianity and the forces of darkness, and some sacrifices have to be made.”
My response is to suggest that some Christians are gung-ho about the notion of being in a battle against the forces of darkness. And what they do is take their own personal enemies and assume that the appropriate thing to do is to wage holy war against them in Jesus’ name.Any authentic Christianity, one that is in keeping with Jesus’ own teaching about introspection, taking the splinter out of our own eye, loving our enemies, and so on, cannot do that.
Authentic Christianity is about realizing that you are and may at any point end up being the forces of darkness. You yourself are the one with the penchant to condemn others but not yourself, to allow justified indignation to turn into hatred, to demonize your enemies in a way that turns you into a demon yourself.
James’ father may think he is fighting a battle for Jesus. But in fact, he himself has become a warrior of the forces of darkness, fighting against love, against family, against compassion, against all that is good.
Any so-called Christianity that fails to have at its central point the cross, with its message that victory is achieved not by defeating enemies, but somehow through allowing oneself to be defeated by them, and loving and forgiving them in the midst of it all, is not Christianity in any meaningful sense of the word.