Just Jesus and Unjust July 4th – Why I Don't Celebrate Independence Day (Annual Unpopular Post)

That's for sure...photo © 2009 Alessandro Valli | more info (via: Wylio)

Guys can be stupid.  Add explosives to the equation and the idiocy quotient increases exponentially.  Such was the case every 4th of July during High school.  A group of about 20 guys would get together to BBQ and play with illegal fireworks.  At any unsuspected moment while taking a bite out of a burger, an M-80 could be lit under your seat, a sparkler thrown at your bare chest like a dart, or a mortar could be shot like a bazooka, catching bushes on fire.

Then, there was the “bottle rocket game.”  Us guys would stand in a circle with our arms locked in a tight circle.  Following this precise formation, the bottle rocket was lit and dropped in the middle of the circle.  Adrenaline pumping and terrified adolescents jumping, we’d pray like heck that the flying explosive wouldn’t impact and explode on our legs… and yes, some jeans did catch on fire.  These chaotically stupid memories simultaneously serve as some of the most fun I can recall experiencing.  So, for me, Independence Day equals fun.

However, there’s a deeper reality to which this holiday points.  Only about three years ago did I realize that in celebrating Independence Day I’m also glorifying the pagan roots on which this nation was founded: an unjust war. The “rockets red glare” and “the bombs bursting in air” remind us not of the day God liberated the colonies, but of the moment in history when our forefathers stole the rhetoric of God from authentic Christianity to justify killing fellow Christians. There’s two reasons I’m convinced that celebrating Independence Day celebrates an unjust war.

2 Reasons: Unjust Cause & Hypocrisy

First, nonviolence was normative prior to Constantine.  However, even if you believe that there are moments when violence is justifiable by classical “just war” criteria, the Revolutionary War does not meet those standards.[1] Consider this summary: “Wars, to be just, must be fought under established governments, they must restore justice or preserve peace, they must be a last resort after exhausting peaceful means to solve a conflict, and they must be fought with the minimum of violence necessary and with proper safeguards for noncombatants.”[2]

Dunlap Broadside [Declaration of Independence]photo © 2009 The U.S. National Archives | more info (via: WylioThe Declaration states that “when a long train of abuses and usurpations… design to reduce them under absolute despotism…” it’s right to “throw off such a government.” [3] The document goes on to list about twenty grievances including: frustrations with taxation, troops quartered, ignoring murder, lack of Parliamentary representation, and more.  Most historians agree that the Revolution was a “tax revolt, first and foremost.”[4]

In regards to taxes, the mantra “no taxation without representation” rings in our social studies books.  The question to ask is the nature of the taxes leading up to the war.  These taxes are connected to another war: the French and Indian War (1754-1763).  When the colonists were threatened in conflict, who came to save the day???  The British!!! So much, that the debt of England had increased by £130,000,000 during the war.

To alleviate the heavy burden, Parliament passed the Stamp Act.  Later, the Tea tax was added to help the importer who was facing financial difficulties.  Oddly enough, even during the events leading up to the Revolution taxes were significantly lower and tea cheaper in the Colonies than in England! “The tax burden of the nearly two million colonists was per capita only one twenty-fifth of the roughly 8.5 million residents of Britain.”[5] Does that change your view of taxation and the Revolution?[6]

Unfortunately, the reality that Parliament could impose taxes, led the colonists to fear that further controls would be taken.  This led the famous Boston Tea Party, which then led England sending troops to regulate the lawlessness.[7] Sadly, as history shows, some colonists believed that this was all part of some conspiracy to eventually eliminate all liberty, so they took up arms and fired the first shot at Lexington.  No such thing was ever discussed by Parliament. Not only so, but the relationship between the Colonies and England were no different than modern U.S. policy in Puerto Rico – who get taxed without representation.
IMG_0057.JPGphoto © 2007 CODEPINK Women For Peace | more info (via: Wylio)

The second reason that the Revolution clearly doesn’t fit the category of “just war” is hypocrisy.  Instead of going into details, let’s go to one of the most credible Christian voices in history, John Wesley:

Look into America… see that Negro, fainting under the load, bleeding under the lash! He is a slave. And is there ‘no difference’ between him and his master? Yes; the one is screaming ‘Murder! Slavery!’ the other silently bleeds and dies!  ‘But wherein then consists the difference between liberty and slavery?’ Herein: You and I, and the English in general, go where we will, and enjoy the fruits of our labours: This is liberty. The Negro does not: This is slavery. Is not then all this outcry about liberty and slavery mere rant, and playing upon words?[8]

The very men that worried about becoming the slaves of ol’ King George, perpetuated one of the worst systems of slavery in the world!  Consider the words of historian, Mark Noll:

Only one population in the colonies clearly was justified by classical Christian reasoning in taking up arms to defend itself—the half-million or so enslaved African Americans who were held in bondage as the result of armed attacks upon peaceful noncombatants.[9]

Just Jesus

If ever there was a situation that called for “just war,” it was the first century.  The Roman Empire oppressed and killed people in Israel.  There was no liberty for the Jewish people.  Yet, Jesus taught the exact opposite of revolution – “But I say to you: don’t use violence to resist evil!” (Matthew 5.39, Kingdom New Testament).[10] Even if one holds to the possibility of a “just war,” historically, the victory we celebrate as Americans every 4th of July, does not count.  May we quit appealing to pseudo “just war” theories and start appealing to just Jesus, because the only Independence Day worth celebrating is Easter – which reminds us that violence doesn’t win because the tomb is empty!


[1] 1) Just Cause: War is allowed only “to protect innocent life, to preserve conditions necessary for decent human existence, and basic human rights.”  2) Proportionate Cause: Damage inflicted must be proportionate to the good of the outcome.  3) Right Intention: “Requires the pursuit of peace and reconciliation.”  4) Competent Authority: War is “declared by those with responsibility for public order, not by private groups or individuals.”  5)Probability of Success: “Serious prospects of success” that violence will be worth it.  6) Last Resort: “All peaceful alternatives must [be] exhausted.”  7)Comparative Justice: “No state should act on the basis that it has absolute justice on its side.”

[2] The Search For Christian America by Mark A. Noll, Nathan O. Hatch, and George M. Marsden, 95.

[3] All facts come from the following source or the previous one: America’s War for Independence: Just or Unjust? by John Keown of Georgetown University.

[4] Keown, 288.

[5] Keown, 285.

[6] Interestingly, taxes went up by nearly 300% shortly after the close of the War. (see: Keown, 286).

[7] It’s worth noting that England could have been better at diplomacy.  The confusion caused by their poor response certainly added to the conspiracy theories.

[8] Keown, 292.

[10] For more on this passage and nonviolence in general, go here.

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  • Anonymous

    Amen.

  • http://real.uwaterloo.ca/~mboos Mike Boos

    Needs to be heard. Good job.

  • http://www.facebook.com/james.enns James Enns

    I have mixed feelings on this subject.  On one hand, many of my forebears fled Russia and what would later become the “Eastern Bloc” in search of tolerance, freedom, and a new beginning.  They found that in America, and the rest we say is history.

    At the same time, many of my other forebears went on to Canada, Mexico, and South America and found much of the same.  Don’t get me wrong; I do greatly appreciate and care for the country I live in.  But, I don’t find it to be some sort of “godly Kingdom” on Earth.

    • AmyS

      Should we assume that this tolerance and freedom was only achievable through violent means? Observing the fruit of our violent roots, it seems to me that the U.S. is enslaved to war.

  • Andrew

    Fascinating thoughts. Re:slavery: Thomas Jefferson’s first draft of the Declaration climaxed with the thought that King George’s policies had pushed Americans into that abhorrent practice. This was later stripped out by his fellow southern delegates.

    What about the issue of religious freedom? While arguable only a side-effect (and not a cause), we broke away from a nation with a state church and became the first of many countries to offer religious freedom.

    Thanks for the original thoughts.

  • Megan

    Kurt, I gotta tell you: Usually you say lots of things I already know and/or have thought about extensively. Such is the nature of the seminary beast. But today, you taught me some things I did not know, and for that I am very grateful. Thanks for the good work friend.

  • http://www.tonyjalicea.com Tony Alicea

    So you don’t celebrate Independence Day because you don’t believe the war was just?

    But isn’t Independence Day a celebration of freedom and our country?

    Using your logic, couldn’t one say that they don’t celebrate Christianity (or any associated holidays) because of the Crusades or any other number of atrocities done in the name of religion?

    • AmyS

       From my perspective, Independence Day is a high holy day of U.S. civic religion. Despite the human mistakes made in the service of “Christianity” in history, which are many and deplorable, the festivals of the church celebrate Christ and the kingdom of heaven. Compare the rhetoric of both faith systems (U.S. Nationalism and Christianity) and the difference is clear.

      The U.S. citizenry celebrates our wars and perpetuates hatred for the nation’s enemies, while simultaneously attempting to win their affections. How crazy is that?

      The church does not celebrate the crusades or the inquisitions, but is growing in repentance for them (and many other corporate crimes which are as wrong and crazy as those of the U.S.) throughout the world.

      Kurt’s so-called liberalism (@22865dbfa32b9dbda7846c4e4573a334:disqus ) is one example of repentance toward reconciliation of the church with our neighbors, who are too often called our enemies.

  • http://www.facebook.com/lisa.loewen3 Lisa Loewen

    WOW – thanks for this perspective.  I LOVE the “Just Jesus” part!  The older I get, the more pacifist I become, and this just reinforces that belief for me.  Again, thx!  :)

  • http://twitter.com/JeremyCushman Jeremy Cushman

    I like this because I have a lot of similar criticisms, but yet there is one thing I can’t get past. The very ability to criticize the American mythology was enabled by that mythology being carried out. What I mean is, I’m inclined to critique the American way of hijacking Christian language in order to advance selfish motives, but yet I cannot ignore the freedom I have to criticize and what it cost. No, not all wars throughout American history were for this purpose (it’s difficult for me to believe that our wars in Afghanistan are somehow protecting our freedom back home). But some of them were. And if our American ideals had not been in place, then I might not even be here, or if I was, I might be speaking German.

    My brother is in the Air Force and all of my relatives have served in some branch except for me. All throughout my childhood I was raised to believe in the American way of putting boots in the rear-ends of terrorists, but since I’ve grown with the Lord, I’ve come to a point where I don’t want to believe any of that. I’m kind of torn between the two because I have family on one side and Jesus on the other. Just frustrating to wrestle with…

  • http://twitter.com/pyritedreamer Eric Hamilton

    I’ve been following your blog for only a few weeks, and this post finally compelled a comment out of me. I think in part it is because this combines my two favorite fields of study: religion and political science.

    If I try to boil down your post, it seems to me you’re saying that the American war for Independence was unjust because some people who fought in it or supported it were hypocrites, and that British reactions to American rebelliousness leading up to the war was in some ways justified.

    Does this not describe almost every human conflict (whether violent or nonviolent)? Even the ones that we may feel were justified? There are possibly some conflicts where one party is completely innocent of moral corruption, but those have to be numbering in the very few. Are not we all on some level hypocrites, or fail to live up to the standards we set for ourselves (not even including a divine standard of righteousness)?

    If the standard by which I can accept something as worthy of remembering or celebrating must be 100% moral perfection of people with 200+ years of hindsight that they were no privy to, then that means I must throw out every human achievement, every human milestone, every human action no matter how much good it may have done from my consideration.

    I think it IS important to recognize that American Independence was not without it’s moral failings. And it is equally important to recognize that the British were not tyrannical monsters without any justification for their actions, either. It is a conflict like many other conflicts, one that is morally ambiguous, and (especially from an outside perspective) can be understood from multiple points of view, all having their positive and negative attributes.

    However, Romans 13:1 says there is no governing authority except from God. And when Paul is saying that, he’s including the pagan, corrupt, and sometimes evil Roman Empire. I don’t think that Paul is justifying any wrong-doings of government, but that there is a whole realm of God’s interaction with people on national levels that we don’t fully know. And every authority is established by God, and that would include the United States government.

    The Continental Congress, which was made up of delegates that were duly appointed by the various colonial legislatures declared the colonies free and independent states having done a lot to avoid war, including the “Olive Branch Petition” among other things. A lot of the things that happened in the Revolutionary War were rebellious and unlawful acts, like the Boston Tea Party, like the attack of British soldiers that led to the Boston Massacre, like the shootings at Lexington, and we could debate about the moral rightness or wrongness of each event from the comfort of the future. But at some point, the war became one between two governments, both declaring the other to have no authority in the Americas. And whether that is right or wrong, whenever that happens, governments tend to fight.

    I don’t want to give the impression that I think you should start celebrating Independence Day now. I respect whatever decisions you make, especially if they are done for conscience sake. It’s just that this post sparked a lot of thought on my end.

  • RobS

    I’ll still celebrate the holiday… but I’ll remind my kids that because they live in a great country, they’ll need to steward those potential blessings with wisdom and do what they can to still live out the Great Commission of Jesus.  But…. certainly no firecracker throwing at anyone!  :)

  • Jonathan Aigner

    This is so important, especially for the evangelical Christian.  Our country, in concept and practice, has never been a “Christian” one.  And the slaughtering of thousands of British image-bearers is not, even these hundreds of years later, a reason to celebrate.  The U.S. (by the way, Canada is also in “America”) definitely has a long and sordid past of injustice, oppression and, well, sin. 

    This nation will crumble, as has every other that has claimed “the Lord is on our side.”  We serve a higher throne. 

    My very practical problem as a church music director is how to teach this to the people I’m called to serve.  It’s hard to explain why people will get so up in arms about not singing patriotic hymns.  It’s also very hard to explain why we don’t sing those songs.  It’s almost as if Christ worship falls under country worship.  Very grieving.

    Blessings for your courage in writing these words, Kurt.  Well done.

    http://togodallpraiseandglory.blogspot.com/

  • http://twitter.com/stjohnofpetra John Underdown

    good thoughts and well argued. Though I’d say that you need to find a good way of addressing Christians in the military today.

  • Ian

    I definitely agree with your sentiments here. You’ve given me some points to point out to others, “The tax burden of the nearly two million colonists was per capita only one twenty-fifth of the roughly 8.5 million residents of Britain.” and “Not only so, but the relationship between the Colonies and England were no different than modern U.S. policy in Puerto Rico – who get taxed without representation.” Never hear about that in history text books.

    But in much the same way that people celebrate Christmas without celebrating Jesus, I will celebrate the forth (my freedom and not the war) and especially enjoy blowing my friends to smithereens.

  • Anonymous

    Love the photo of Jesus! Couldn’t get away with saying something like this at my church but bless you for being a prophet.

    • AmyS

      Martin Luther couldn’t get away with saying certain things in “his church” either. Neither could the Radical Reformers. Neither could Jesus.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=665989684 Jason Lacoss-Arnold

    Some nice info, thanks.

    I had a communion thought in my church a few years back on the 4th and it gave me another idea:  The whole concept of “Independence Day” isn’t very Christ like.  We should instead by celebrating our dependence on God.  Glorifying independence just further exacerbates our individualism at the expense of community with God and our fellow image bearers.

  • Driveway

    Hi there, interesting read. I’ve come via Carson to occasionally read your blog. I do have some questions for you.

    If we are to say no war is allowable unless all criteria of the the Just War theory how does one account for the Israelites who were told to wipe out all of the the Cannanites? That doesn’t allow for a clean or “just” war. Also, let’s not kid ourselves, when it comes time to fight, it ain’t pretty and we need to go get it done and over with yesterday. (WWII was not very clean, and innocent civilians were indiscriminately killed on both sides. London, Coventry, Hamburg, Dresden, to name a few.) Do I think we ought to turn the mid-east into glass, no, but that’s another issue. None of this fair fight bit. And none of this giving them a chance on anything except to surrender and be peaceful.

    Also, having a serious prospect of success…. little bit of a different aspect, but if I were to have a wife and we were walking along somewhere, and through no fault of my own we were surrounded by a group of people, intent on molesting her, it would be over my dead body. I would try every avenue of escape, etc., but even that were not possible I would fight like a cornered bobcat.

    Maybe I am arguing more against the just war theory, than whether the American Revolution was a just war, but there are times when violence is necessary to protect ourselves and families.

    Also, your statement:

    The very men that worried about becoming the slaves of ol’ King George, perpetuated the worst system of slavery in the world!

    I take exception to that statement. That some had slaves is indisputable. But what is often missed is that the draft of the Declaration first presented to the congress had a statement about slavery being wrong. I forget the exact wording right now. It was stricken because South Carolina (surprise, surprise…) would not agree to that and would not sign the Declaration because of it. The representatives wanted to present a united front to King George, and thus eliminated it. Those representatives knew that slavery was a problem, and that it would have to be dealt with soon, but they didn’t have any answers at the time. Slavery was an economic problem as much as anything. Again, another discussion. 

    As to being the worst system of slavery, I don’t follow that. What about German “work camps”? Or Russian, or…. Or how about Assyrian? Or how about current day slavery?  While I do not advocate slavery, in the American South, a slave was considered property along the lines of a horse. Don’t misunderstand me here, they did not consider them to be a full person, see the 3/5 comprimise. But one usually doesn’t mistreat your horse if you expect to get good work out of it for many years. You feed it, shelter, and generally care for it. The whole beating of slaves day in and out is a myth perpetuated by the anti-slave propaganda of the 1800′s. Were there some owners that did beat their slaves like that? Yes, but they were the exception rather than the rule.

    A question that I don’t completely know the answer, is if slavery is so bad, why are slave owners in the NT told to treat their slaves well, and not told to free their slaves? I don’t want to be a slave, nor think anyone else should be, but it is an interesting question.

    Also, a nitpicky detail, but one cannot really prove that the colonists fired the first shot. Who actually did no one really knows.

    As Carson has said, we have become too much of AMERICAN christians, and not CHRISTIAN Americans. I agree with that. But that doesn’t rule out that 4th is Un-Christian if you observe it. There are several places about God directing the nations (ISA 40 is one if I am not mistaken). If it were such a bad thing, why did it succeed when it never should have?

    Driveway

    • http://thepangeablog.com Kurt Willems

      Short answer- if u don’t hold to either nonviolence or just war, u stand outside of orthodoxy Christianity. Violence, for new testament Christians, can never be justified beyond the just war ethic. Going beyond this is not Christian.

      KURT WILLEMS
      http://twitter.com/kurtwillems
      http://facebook.com/kurtwillems

  • Anonymous

    Excellent post Kurt

  • Soprano116

    So using your logic, the oppressed peoples in the Middle East who are currently being maimed, tortured and systematically slaughtered by their own brutal governments should just lay down and give up the fight for freedom? Or ask nicely to be treated more humanely? Give me a break. FYI: British soldiers, prior to the start of the Revolutionary War, were
    burning homes and villages, raping women, and otherwise having a grand
    old time oppressing their subjects until the colonists had finally had
    enough and went to war to claim their independence. Your interpretation of “history” is laughably inaccurate, and you put forward a wholly unrealistic standard for celebrating holidays (we should, then, also not observe most Christian Holy Days, since the Church carried out unjust Crusades in the name of Christ).

    I have no idea where you found that Just War Theory summary, but the criteria for a Just War is that it is necessary either to protect the oppressed, end an injustice, or defend one’s people or property (if you’re a believer in the Old Testament God, war can also be used to carry out divine justice on earth against those who do evil).

    Human liberty is a God-given right worth fighting for. We are made in God’s infinitely creative image, and therefore naturally resist any attempt to stifle that innate freedom. You don’t have to believe that America is a “blessed” nation to understand that. The reason the Founders made claims to “Divine Providence” was because ours was the FIRST nation ever to guarantee such freedom to its citizens. The natural state of man is to be free, and the price of protecting or reclaiming freedom is often high. Such endeavors are never, however, unjust.

    Whether you agree with the reasons our predecessors went to war to establish a new nation, and whether you want to admit it despite your (I’m assuming) extremely liberal worldview, America, for all its faults, has objectively been a massive force for good and justice in the world since its inception. We have liberated countless millions of people around the world from oppressive regimes, fed and clothed the hungry, cared for the sick, and brought widespread prosperity and peace to nearly every corner of the world. I am proud and grateful to be an American, and I plan to celebrate that this Independence Day.

    • Ian

      First I’m gonna point out that the hostile tone you’ve used isn’t to your credit.

      “So using your logic, the oppressed peoples in the Middle East who are currently being maimed, tortured and systematically slaughtered by their own brutal governments should just lay down and give up the fight for freedom? Or ask nicely to be treated more humanely? Give me a break.” 

      Jesus was maimed, tortured and systematically slaughtered by His own brutal government and He did not rise up with violence. He even teaches us to do the same. “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also.” Matthew 5:43-44
      He also says in Matthew 10:28 “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.”
      Don’t get me wrong I sincerely hope that they can enjoy the same earthly freedoms that we do over here in the states, but it’s not what they will have to deal with forever.

      “FYI: British soldiers, prior to the start of the Revolutionary War, were
      burning homes and villages, raping women, and otherwise having a grand 
      old time oppressing their subjects until the colonists had finally had 
      enough and went to war to claim their independence. Your interpretation of “history” is laughably inaccurate,”

      Then why wasn’t this the main cry of the people fighting for freedom? But it doesn’t really matter anyway to the point Kurt is trying to make.

      “and you put forward a wholly unrealistic standard for celebrating holidays (we should, then, also not observe most Christian Holy Days, since the Church carried out unjust Crusades in the name of Christ).” 

      Notice that celebrating Christmas is not celebrating the history of the church, but Independence Day is a celebration of the history of America. I still celebrate the 4th of July though. See what I did there?

      “I have no idea where you found that Just War Theory summary, but the criteria for a Just War is that it is necessary either to protect the oppressed, end an injustice, or defend one’s people or property”

      I’ll point to my previous arguments, but I will also say that I’m not against self-defense entirely. If someone comes at me in a dark alley I will restrain them, especially if someone else’s safety is involved, but I won’t go past what is neccesary to stop them.

      “(if you’re a believer in the Old Testament God, war can also be used to carry out divine justice on earth against those who do evil). ”

      And who is to be the judge of that? Maybe you’ll notice that the evil people being judged are the people of Israel every time, and the army that comes against them is even more evil. 
      “For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.” Ephesians 6:12
      “We are human, but we don’t wage war as humans do. ” 2Corinthians 10:3
      “Human liberty is a God-given right worth fighting for. We are made in God’s infinitely creative image, and therefore naturally resist any attempt to stifle that innate freedom. You don’t have to believe that America is a “blessed” nation to understand that.”

      Where in our covenant with God are we ever promised earthly freedom? The Bible promises us we will be persecuted. The only freedom we truly have is the freedom Christ purchased for us, and that is a spiritual freedom. And despite what you may believe, there is no “Christian nation”, only Christian people.

      ” The reason the Founders made claims to “Divine Providence” was because ours was the FIRST nation ever to guarantee such freedom to its citizens.”
      1) They refer to “Divine Providence”, but never Jesus.
      2) Native Americans and many other tribal cultures have had just as much liberty as the United States. We are not the first.

      “Whether you agree with the reasons our predecessors went to war to establish a new nation, and whether you want to admit it despite your (I’m assuming) extremely liberal worldview, America, for all its faults, has objectively been a massive force for good and justice in the world since its inception. We have liberated countless millions of people around the world from oppressive regimes, fed and clothed the hungry, cared for the sick, and brought widespread prosperity and peace to nearly every corner of the world. I am proud and grateful to be an American, and I plan to celebrate that this Independence Day.”

      The United States has also done considerable evil as well. Let’s not settle for something that could just as easily deliver evil as good (often at the same time). The Church, the Body of Christ, is the charged by God to do good to the world so let’s hope and pray that it will rise up and take action and do good and ONLY good, something no nation can truly promise to deliver.

      As a final thought….
      “We are human, but we don’t wage war as humans do. We use God’s mighty weapons, not worldly weapons, to knock down the strongholds of human reasoning and to destroy false arguments. We destroy every proud obstacle that keeps people from knowing God. We capture their rebellious thoughts and teach them to obey Christ.” 2Corinthians 10:3-5

      • Ian

        Also on this statement again “(if you’re a believer in the Old Testament God, war can also be used to carry out divine justice on earth against those who do evil). “,this is the same reasoning that justified the crusades, so you might want to be a little more careful in how you throw words like that around, because I sure that wasn’t your intention.

  • David ozab

    Thought about this post as I was driving home yesterday. I drove past a Baptist church with a flagpole out front. The American flag was displayed at the the top of the pole with the Christian flag underneath. Now I’ve never had any attachment to the Christian flag. I was raised Episcopalian and am now Catholic, so I’ve never belonged to a parish that flew it. I also known that displaying the American flag highest is correct according to the U.S. Flag Code. But I couldn’t get past the untended symbolism of the Kingdom of God being subjected to a “Kingdom of This World.” I have to wonder if anyone in that church has taken a second look at that flag pole and the message it conveys, or if they have so conflated love of God with love of Country that they can’t see what’s right in front of them.

    I’ll still go to the parade and fireworks on Monday and I’ll still enjoy the day, but that flagpole’s going to be on my mind too.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=163800401 Carson T. Clark

    A post that goes along well:

    “Debunking the Fourth: Top 10 Unsightly Facts about the American Revolution”
    http://t.co/nvseD1N

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=163800401 Carson T. Clark

      By the way, people have asked me if I consider myself patriotic or if I celebrate
      July 4th. In both cases I reply that this discussion must begin with a
      defining of terms. In this case, what is meant by “patriotic” and
      “celebrate.” Do I love this country? Yes. Will I pledge my allegiance to
      her? No. Will I eat cheeseburgers, watch fireworks, and thankfully
      reflect on the freedoms we have in this country? Yes. Will I practice
      willful self-deception about the supposed purity of the country’s
      origins? No. I suspect that distinguishes Kurt’s and my perspective.

  • Pingback: Just Jesus and True Freedom: Kingdom Ethics and A Response To Kurt Williams : THEOLOGY21 | Renovating Theology for a New Generation

  • http://www.10virgins.blogspot.com Janos T

    Grace and peace from God, our heavenly Father and from and from our Lord Jesus Christ!

    I think Anabaptists was right in the matter of noncombat. Except some radical leaders and their followers. 
    Greetings with Revelation 13:10
    TJ, RO

  • RJ

    Someone complained about Soprano116′s tone in her post.  I would agree with that, but her point is valid.  We have war because people are stupid most of the time.  We live in a fallen world.  There ARE Kingdoms of this world with which we must interact.  I love the thought provoking nature of your post, but in reading all the comments, it seems as if most people just jumped on the “yes, that sounds good, ” bandwagon without stopping to think about the consequences of having no military.  Without military action, this country would not be what it is today (for better and for worse). 

    • http://thepangeablog.com Kurt Willems

      @46098773ac08d92efbf3d6178897b1bb:disqus , this article is in no way suggesting that we ought not have a military.  It is saying that the particular Revolutionary War does not fit the Just War Criteria of the Christian tradition…

    • AmyS

       @46098773ac08d92efbf3d6178897b1bb:disqus,

      First, if I’m on a bandwagon, I jumped on long before Kurt’s post on June 27, 2011. In my experience, most folks who adopt a non-violence or a Just War perspective do so reflectively and with much consideration. Please don’t assume that a minority position on war is something that is chosen without “thinking twice.” In some families and churches, it’s worse to come out of the closet with an attraction to pacifism than with an attraction to members of the same gender.

      Second, when you say “There ARE Kingdoms of this world with which we must interact” I’m wondering who “we” are.

      • http://thepangeablog.com Kurt Willems

        Amen @58757ba8ba47d7e22c9fe13375191e5a:disqus !

  • Pingback: A Few Things You May Not Know About the Revolutionary War | Dale Best

  • http://twitter.com/EarlyChristian Chris DeWeese

    You might want to find a new country, dude.

    • AmyS

      Me too!

      Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and Sarah, “All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth. People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. Instead, they were longing for a better country–a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.” (Hebrews 11:13-16)

  • Matteo

    I agree.

  • Daniel Dyk

    even though i don’t agree with you i like the fact that you post this. 

  • Harlan Carpenter

    Kurt, As much as I respect you and your opinion–and your right to believe what you do–you are dead wrong on this one. Go on-line and find a site which tells about a vision George Washington had during the Continental Army’s  misery at Valley Forge. Just look under “George Washinton–Vision” or something similar, and you can’t miss it. I know your pacifist views and non-violent approach to life and Christianity. I also know that you don’t believe that visions, revelations, etc. continued after the death of Jesus Christ’s apostles–so this should be an eye-opener for you. A lot of people scoff at any such thing–even call it the work of the devil. But you need to pull your head out of the sand and take another look at reality and the world around you, because there is a whole eternity of knowledge from which you are deliberately cutting yourself off…!

    • http://patheos.com/blogs/thepangeablog/ Kurt Willems

      Harlan, you are wrong on the Holy Spirit stuff. I’m a Pentecostal anabaptist Christian… i believe in the full manifestation of the gifts of the Spirit. As far as the USA stuff I will strongly disagree. Peace.
      KURT WILLEMS
      http://twitter.com/kurtwillems
      http://facebook.com/kurtwillems

      • Harlan Carpenter

        Kurt: Why do I get the idea that you can shrug off the fact that generations of Americans paid for your right to post this article with their own precious blood…? Do I correctly recall that the children of Israel also paid for the Promised Land with their own blood–mingled with that of the Philistine owners of the land–whom they slaughtered…? You justify that by saying God commanded it. You believe in “full manifestation of gifts of the Spirit”–yet deny God’s ability to speak just as clearly and directly to men today as He did in times past…?  Where did I read a scripture describing men in the last days as: “having a form of godliness BUT DENYING THE POWER THEREOF.” I believe it is 2 Timothy 3:5.

        Kurt, read the George Washington prophecy–don’t just slough it off…!

  • Harlan Carpenter

    Kurt: I read on one of these evangelical websites the rationalization that American colonists had no need to  claim their independence from England. The excuse used was that if Americans had only waited patiently–as did New Zealand, Australia and Canada–we would have simply been given our freedom. Well, let’s consider New Zealand, where I lived for two years–so I speak with some authority. New Zealand was granted liberty only decades after the British military had all but obliterated the native Maori people–and stolen all their land…! So when we start reasoning in all our righteous indignation about America’s record with minorities vis-a-vis other countries, our record appears just a little less tarnished…!

    The Maori people started to rebound only  after the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints began to work with them and introduced them to the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. Today, they are really blooming, and even their language–which was nearly lost–is now rebounding to the extent that there are Maori language radio and T.V. stations, which was unimaginable even 20 years ago. The ratio of LDS membership versus other Christian denominations is even higher in New Zealand than in the U.S. Many New Zealand anti-LDS evangelicals–even the Anglican Church and other alleged mainstream sects–parrot the thinly veiled racist propoganda that Maoris might benefit from LDS theology, but New Zealanders of more elite genealogy and theology–European–are smarter than that…! Sadly, that is clearly reflected in the statistics which reveal that 70% of LDS membership in New Zealand is Maori and other island ethnicity.


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