Yet, I do not wish to become distracted by the political punditry, to which I will readily conclude there are a number of valid perspectives and voices which are clamoring to be heard. My point here is to evaluate a metanarrative by using one or two of Mclaren's points.
Perhaps the most disturbing feature of his 'open letter' (and I noticed that when he did the same for the previous President, it was then called a 'sermon') is that he too closely acquaints murderers with the military. And this is inexcusable. Because there remains a valuable entity in this world known as honor, and our military has it. People who do nothing more than criticize our men and women in uniform without walking in their shoes demonstrate their lack of honor. And comments which in any way attempt to link the integrity of military service to murder reek of dishonor. So I challenge Mclaren to rethink his position and reword his sentiments, even if they are essentially anti-military.
This is a growing trend in our culture, but also (even more disheartening) among the Christian community. For it has become trendy to take a "Jesus-stand" against all things violent and military regardless of the absurdity or ineptitude of the position. For instance, there are many who take the position of pure pacifism while comfortably resting under the shelter of those who fight for their peace and freedom thousands of miles away. It is always easier to be a pacifist when you live in relative peace and comfort. Yet these men and women know their fight, they understand the risk, and they know that many people they work to defend will seek to undermine them out of an ignorant lack of appreciation.
They do so anyway.
And now I am curious if our spirituality is not taking on a similar journey. In the past few years the trendiness of the evangelical subculture has also led to the ongoing attacks of the work of individuals such as Dobson and Colson (to name two). We enjoy the benefits of their work (yes, even when we may disagree with some of the finer points of their positions), and criticize them from a comfortable distance. The work of this previous generation was not without fault, but it was effective. As they prepare to fade into the pages of history, we can rest assured that they will go with the full confidence of faithful stewardship in the calling of our God. But who among us is stepping up to fulfill their role?
Most would answer this question with a quick look to the emergent leadership. But they are still struggling to figure out their own beliefs, let alone challenge and guide the culture of Christianity into the future. Theologies such as Mclaren has presented here are shallow and do not present a challenge of the kingdom so much as it presents an accommodation of the kingdom to an already preconceived political agenda. And although I recognize (and have some small hope) that Mclaren's thoughts here are a small portion of an overall kingdom-work which does not reflect these trends, the truth of the matter is that I have seen numerous emergent leaders take the same road of eisegetical theology within the framework of modern social liberalism.
I return to the notion that we have incorrectly and inappropriately understood the relationship of church and state as defined and asserted by the Founding Fathers of our nation. As we have strayed from their concept of a divinely inspired national experiment we have lost the honor that also kept us as believers holding to a standard. And now there are Christians who want the benefit of freedom and life, blessing and prosperity without ever enduring the passion of the cross, the lonely hours of prayer, the distinguishing lifestyle of a believer, or the cost of discipleship in the face of a culture.
And there is no honor found here.
Honor is found in sacrifice. Sacrifice is embracing the cross of Christ. Christ demands a surrender of everything to his will, and the establishment of a kingdom agenda. We all agree that God comes before country . . . the Marines also acknowledge that. But to assume that the two are then disconnected is just as fatal a flaw in our thinking. For the amount of good that has come to and through this country - because of its continuing commitment to 'in God we trust' thinking - is truly a divine accomplishment to which no culture or nation or leader or generation could take credit. The same is true of the church. Not faultless, but effective.
On all battlefields there can be found honor.