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March 19, 2014

Over the past 15 years or so, I have seen something in the American evangelical church which tended to bother me. The problem one I could not put my finger what it was. At the time I was in the Air Force and was frequently deployed. Whatever it was, I could not determine what it was. It was not until after I was discharged from the Air Force that I caught on to what the uncomfortable feeling was.

The feeling has since been well described by Preston Sprinkle: “I think that a large portion of the American evangelical church has been seduced, whether knowingly or not, by nationalistic militarism.”[1] While I had figured out what bothered me before Sprinkle penned this statement, that statement summarizes what I had been feeling deep down inside me for years.

I have spoken of it here before, the unholy union between the church and the government and it’s military in the United States. The church in American has become a cheerleader of the state instead of God’s prophetic voice. The church has become a driver in the vehicle of war instead of a brakeman calling for talks and peace. While the majority of America is tired of war, the evangelical church seems to have an insatiable thirst for it. This must change.

Am I a pacifist? I cannot say I am, although I will admit to leaning that way. As I understood better what a church was supposed to look like and act like in times of hostility the more I realized there must be a better way. For the church, that means they need to quit being nationalist entities flying the American Flag and singing songs from the “Patriotic” section of the hymnal. They need to be critical of the government’s actions, both domestically and internationally. They need to hold officials accountable using the freedoms afforded them – speech, religion, the press – and educate themselves on the candidates so they can vote accordingly. The church needs to find a balance between supporting the men and women of the armed forces while critiquing the government the troops work for.

[1] Preston Sprinkle. Fight: A Christian Case for Nonviolence. (Colorado Springs, CO: David C Cook, 2013). 24

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