Still, We Preach

Each man will judge himself. Gathered there together will be those we met and helped. Also present will be those we scorned and denied. There will be no need to call for witnesses, because our own life will be there as evidence of what we did. No other charge–apart from a lack of Love—will be laid upon us. Be quite sure, the words we will hear on that day will come not from theology, not from the saints, not from the churches. They will come from the hungry and from the poor. They will come not from creeds and doctrines. They will come from the naked and the homeless. They will come not from Bibles and books of prayer. They will come from the glasses of water that we gave or did not give.

— Unknown

Most of these people cannot be saved. You know what I mean. They’ve gone inch by inch into the tar pit of empire worship until they’re in up to their necks, and there’s no way out. A Damascus Road moment maybe; but few will have such an experience.

It’s a great tragedy that has fallen upon the American evangelical-charismatic church. The handwriting is on the wall. It’s the “Mene, Mene, Tekel, Upharsin” moment in American Christianity.

There are only two sins: Idolatry (the rejection of the great command to love God) and injustice (the rejection of the second command, to have no other gods). Injustice springs from idolatry. When we worship an idol, we are formed in the ways of injustice. And injustice always carries the seeds of eventual self-destruction … even in an empire. or especially in an empire. The Bible calls this the judgment of God. John the Beloved said, “Children, beware of idols,” because idolatry always has dire consequences.

For all their talk about Jesus, God, the Bible, most American evangelicals are so infected with the idolatry of empire that they’re incapable of discernment or repentance. Many Christians have tied their faith to their flag in a Gordian Knot. Their teachers (mis)used the Scriptures to tie the knot. It’s nearly a hopeless situation.

Still, we preach. Those with ears will hear. And if they hear, they can liberate their faith.

— Brian Zahnd

Ironically (and disturbingly), idols can be present in overtly “religious” people and environments. When learning about the work of idols in our lives I only gradually began to discover my own idols and turn from them. But the truth is I still have them. I still want to be accepted. I still want approval. As Calvin described it, the heart is an idol factory. The difference for me now is I’m at least somewhat aware of this hunger for acceptance that I have.

— Max Anderson

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