Getting the Trinity out of the Ivory Tower

By Mike Kuhn

Are there any “ivory tower theologians” out there?

I’ve never seen an ivory tower…and I suppose that’s the point. Ivory tower theologians are presumably dealing with things nobody cares about, things that make no practical difference in day to day life.

I remember chuckling at “Owl” as I read the Winnie the Pooh books to my children (a long time ago). Poor old Owl, supposedly a symbol of wisdom, was inclined to pontificate in ways that failed to connect with life.

Sometimes I felt a little like Owl with my kids. Maybe that’s why I hesitate to write this blog. I wonder if the Trinity is an “ivory tower” issue in theology that, in reference to the Muslim world, should not be brought into the conversation. However, since my hesitation owes more to the rancor that has dominated the conversation than to conviction, I’ll go with conviction. Continue reading

The US Immigration Ban: A View from the Kingdom

By Mike Kuhn

Thus the so-called outsiders are really only “insiders” who have not yet understood and apprehended themselves as such.
(Karl Barth, ”The Humanity of God”)

“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.”
(Engraved on the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty from “The New Colossus” by Emma Lazarus,1849–1887)

It was a day of jolting irony.  I stood beside Atallah as the priest pronounced the marriage rites. My wife stood beside his bride. Our friends looked on. Together we drank the cup of blessing…just the four of us. Together we clasped hands and processed around the altar of the church nestled in a crowded quarter of Beirut known as the local home to several refugee communities. I was the shabīn—the best man and my wife, the shabīna—the matron of honor. So it goes without saying that we have become close with this special couple. The honor they showed us was almost embarrassing—one of those honors you feel you can never deserve. It’s just given to you. They wanted us to stand beside them on their wedding day in front of their siblings, cousins, parents and friends.

Atallah is from Dara’, Syria. Gladis, his bride, is from Aleppo. Continue reading

The Commodification of Mission in the Muslim World

By Mike Kuhn

A commodity—something that is bought and sold.

Mission—the loving and joyful response of Christ’s followers to disciple the nations, holding forth Jesus’ life and teaching among all the peoples of the world.

In theory the two appear to be very distinct concepts. In reality, mission is intricately related to the resources (finance, personnel and information) that fuel it.

There is much to celebrate in that relationship. The generosity of Christ’s church enables her to assist brothers and sisters throughout the world to make Christ’s love known in seeking assistance to the poor, justice for the oppressed and reconciliation of human beings to God through the gospel.

Despite all the good that has been done by generous giving, there is also a dark side to this inter-dependence between mission and money. Continue reading

Takfīr and Church Unity: A Lesson from an Unlikely Source

 by Mike Kuhn

A new word keeps showing up in the news describing radical Islamic groups—takfīr.  It’s the English transliteration of an Arabic word that means “to anathematize” or “to declare someone apostate or an infidel.”

The ideology of takfīrī groups (e.g. ISIS, al-Qaeda, etc.) draws a very tight circle around what is acceptable belief and practice.  In order to belong to the group, one must repudiate moderate interpretations of the Islamic faith in order to conform to takfīrī values and behaviors which are compulsory with very little room for variance.  Any divergence is “unbelief” and carries the stiff penalty of exclusion at best or death at worst.  Takfīrīs control through power and enforce conformity.

And how is that working for these groups?  Continue reading

The Seduction of Binary Thinking

by Mike Kuhn

“Perhaps what is outside is also somehow inside, what is alien also intimate.“ (Terry Eagleton, Literary Theory: An Introduction)[1]

“There are two kinds of people in the world…”  That’s the opener.  Then a clever, self-appointed guru proceeds to divide the entire population of the world (7.4 billion by the way) into two distinct categories.  The dividing lines could fall at any number of angles depending on the speaker’s point of view—liberals and conservatives, spenders and wasters, gay and straight, embracers and homophobes, blue-collar and white-collar, God-fearers and God-haters, introverts and extroverts, decent citizens and riff-raff, believers and non-believers, righteous and sinners, right and left, haves and have-nots, collectivists and individualists and the list goes on ad nauseam.

It’s tricky though, isn’t it?  Continue reading

Rethinking Hospitality: Pondering the Sexual Harassment Scandal in Germany

By Mike Kuhn

[1]Germany photo

 

Not that long ago, German Chancellor Merkel made news by flinging the door open to immigrants seeking refuge from the Syrian war and the pandemonium unleashed by ISIS in Iraq and Syria.  In an ironic twist, the sexual harassment fiasco of Cologne (also Stuttgart and Hamburg) has refocused media attention on this policy and ignited a tinderbox of reaction to immigration in Germany and throughout Europe.[2]   The reaction, by any analysis, is justified—European women accosted by immigrant males shooting fireworks into a public square while surrounding the women, overpowering them, stalking, robbing, groping, raping…  It is difficult to imagine a more repugnant scene—immigrants finding a new home in Europe and returning the favor by unbridled sexual deviance directed toward the citizens of their new homeland!

Surely, in the name of decency, Germany should close the doors of hospitality to these intruders who show no respect for her dignity and civility.  If hospitality to migrants and asylum seekers comes at the price of sexual violation of young women, then better to leave the doors closed!  The open door policy was a tragic mistake and the evidence is Cologne.

As we would expect, demonstrators are asking Germany to revoke the open door policy and embark on a new path of protecting her own from the menace of intrusion.  Time for Germany to rethink hospitality!  Right? Continue reading

Jesus and the Overthrow of Religion

by Mike Kuhn

Having grown up in the West, I was aware that a trend emerged in the post-World Wars era towards a rejection of religion.  The brutality and sheer evil of the World Wars led many to reject belief in God.  If God is good and all-powerful, how could such evil proliferate in the world this God created?  Much of the debate with atheism in the West has centered on this “problem of evil.”   Though Christian intellectuals have responded, the hemorrhaging of mainline churches in the West demonstrates that skepticism is here to stay and too obvious to be denied.  A culture that recoils from faith in God has increasingly become the environment in which we live and move.

Then I relocated to the Middle East and learned that in this culture, religious faith is ubiquitous.  Continue reading

The New Face of ISIS

Things are not always as they seem…

A recent article in Spiegel sheds new and significant light on the inner workings of ISIS.  The article is based on documentation discovered in the home of one of the Islamic State’s chief architects—Haji Bakr—a former Colonel in Saddam’s Air Defense Forces—after his demise at the hands of Syrian rebels.[1]  Based on new evidence presented in the article, it seems that the prevailing narrative of ISIS as an offshoot of al-Qaeda whose top leaders are deeply motivated by religion must be revisited and indeed revised.  Read the article to fill in the gaps, but to summarize briefly…ISIS’ highest echelon of leadership may be a cadre of elite Iraqi former military whose dismissal after the American invasion resulted in their captivity and eventual release.  Haji Bakr was one of these who later moved into the anarchy of Syria to establish a beachhead from which to attack Iraq.  The flowchart of ISIS leadership is inspired by totalitarian regimes such as the former East German domestic intelligence agency—“Stasi”.  To be sure, the architects realize the power of religion to mobilize fighters and strike fear into the hearts of dissenters.  They also exploit the Islamic system of jurisprudence to manipulate and control the population.  Thus the name “Islamic State”—a rebirth of the ancient Caliphate of Islam complete with a Caliph who becomes the visible spokesperson.  However, if Spiegel’s report is accurate, the Islamic identity of ISIS is a tactic carefully crafted by former leaders of Saddam Hussein’s military.

Admittedly, the leadership structure of the Islamic State is not altogether clear.  Nevertheless, in light of these new findings, perhaps it is time for a few penetrating questions.  I ask them as a Jesus-follower whose primary concern is how Jesus is understood among Muslims.  First and foremost, I ask these questions of myself.

First question: Have I at any time smugly congratulated myself that I do not belong to a religion that beheads Christians, slaughters Yazidis and other minorities, displaces thousands and mercilessly annihilates even other Muslims who dissent? 

I have a tendency to compare the worst aspects of Islam with the best aspects of my faith.  Over quite a few years of interacting with Muslims, I’ve realized how harmful that tendency can be.  So when I hear the news of the most recent beheadings, how do I react?  Do I succumb to the effect of the media tidal wave and simply castigate Islam as the culprit for this senseless perversion?  If I have done so, I must now realize that identifying the culprit requires a more nuanced understanding.  It is certainly true that crimes have been perpetrated in the name of Islam and sometimes the perpetrators draw their inspiration form the core texts of the religion.  However, in this particular case, the masterminds of terror and fear-mongering—the brains behind the operation—do not appear to be religiously inspired.  Rather they are attempting to regain the power base they lost when Saddam’s regime fell.  To do so, they strike fear into the hearts of millions in order to dominate and subjugate anyone who resists them, including Muslims.  Of course, they have successfully recruited a band of disenchanted warriors, possessed by a passion to re-establish the religious, social and economic superiority of Islam.  Still, if the Spiegel article gives us an accurate picture, we can see the militancy of misguided individuals as a pawn on the chessboard of regional power-play and political machination.

Second question: Have ISIS’ antics in any way contributed to my reluctance to personally relate to and interact with Muslim people?

Stereotyping: “to believe unfairly that all people or things with a particular characteristic are the same.”[2] I tend to think I know them all because I have a general impression.  In our media-driven age the impression is usually based on news reports or documentary, not personal encounter.  Right?  Consider Jesus.  How did he respond to the stereotyped peoples of his day?  The dreaded Roman military occupiers—“I have never seen such faith, no, not in Israel.”  The religiously deviant and ethnically compromised Samaritans—“My food is to do the will of him who sent me.  Look at these fields!  They are white—ready to harvest.”  The despised and impure woman—“Take heart, daughter.  Your faith has made you well.”  The turncoat Jewish tax collector: “Come down from there.  I need to stay at your house.”  The Pharisee persecutor of the Way: “I’d like you to represent me!”

Even though Jesus had some tough words for the religious elite of his own people, it seems he never succumbed to the stereotype.  He always overcame it, saw things differently, looked into people’s souls, not their religious affiliations or ethnic features.

Let’s make it clear…that Muslim guy who stocks the shelves at the local big box store, he just may have a delightful sense of humor.  The veiled woman waiting in front of you in line may have a very interesting story to tell.  The student, son of a refugee, may be inspired by a keen sense of social justice.  But we’ll never know if we can’t get beyond the stereotypes to interact with them in a personal way.   Jesus’ method for interacting with a prejudiced people group is simple, direct and personal.  He lingered by the well.  He had a conversation.

Third question: Am I willing to critique my own religious heritage first before criticizing the religion of others?

Over-familiarity has perhaps robbed us of the humor of Jesus’ imagery.  “How can you say ‘let me take the speck out of your eye’ when there is a plank protruding from your own eye?  You hypocrite!  Get the plank out of your own eye and then you can see to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.”  Jesus’ use of metaphor makes his point with stunning clarity.  Appropriate self-critique can spare us the deep embarrassment of falsely and ignorantly critiquing others.  If Islam, as a religious system, bears some guilt for perpetrating violence, it is not the first religion to do so.  In fact, as I call myself a Christian, I need look no further than the protracted wars of religion in Europe or the Inquisition to find a plank about three meters long jutting out of my eye socket.  Yes, I hear your protest “but that’s not what Jesus taught!”  You’re right.  He didn’t.  So why do we—his followers—get it so wrong, so often, even to this very day?

Please don’t misunderstand me.  The questions I ask are not meant to absolve the Islamic State of its atrocities.  Justice should be served.  My concern is how the identification of ISIS with the religion of Islam is impacting our active engagement in representing Jesus’ kingdom fairly and honestly amongst Muslim peoples in the entire world.  While the Islamic State has taken the religion of Islam as its tactic, its front, we must realize that Islam is every bit as diverse and multi-faceted as Christianity and other world faiths and philosophies.  The radical posture adopted by ISIS fighters represents the extreme right side of the socio-political-religious spectrum of Islam.   In fact it seems fair to say that Islam is experiencing a unique moment in history in which many of the foundational tenets of the faith adopted in medieval times are being questioned openly and forcefully.

I contend that this moment of transition and re-evaluation presents a unique window of opportunity to Jesus-followers.  Islam is in the throes of change, as indeed is our world.  A survey of the history of Muslim-Christian relations reveals embarrassing episodes when Christians were so caught up in the power struggles of their day that they failed to understand the importance of representing the Lord they professed before their Muslim contemporaries.  Our era is similar to those early centuries of the Islamic empire when Muslims and Christians were mingling in the great cities of the Middle East.  Today, however, Muslims live beside us on a world-wide scale.  We attend the same schools, work in the same businesses, view the same social media and download the same books and movies.  Never has the interpenetration of Christians and Muslims throughout the world reached such global proportions.  Never before has the need for honest and humble face to face conversation been greater.  Are we seizing the moment?  Are we lingering by the well?

One final question:  Am I terrorized by the terrorists?

Jesus has something to say about that:

“Fear not.”

_____________________________

[1] Haji Bakr is pseudonym.  The article records his real name as Samir Abd Muhammad Al Khlifawi.  Read the article  here:  Also for another article describing the Baathist roots of the Islamic State, click here.

[2] http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/stereotype

ISIS and the Apocalypse

By Mike Kuhn

Recently our community had the privilege of hearing a lecture by New Testament scholar David deSilva based on his book on John’s Apocalypse titled Unholy Allegiances: Heeding Revelation’s Warning.  The thrust of the lecture was a challenge to read John’s apocalyptic message in light of events transpiring in the lifetime of John and his readers.  Revelation is a letter to specific churches in John’s day, according to Professor deSilva.  What is more, it is not about emerging powers in our day or the distant future.  It concerns primarily the prominent power in John’s day—the Roman Empire.  Its message urges early Christ-followers not to be co-opted by the Empire’s seduction, to have no other loyalties than Christ and his Kingdom even though the price for faithfulness be martyrdom.

The author’s point of view inspired some lively conversation as two Middle Eastern scholars responded to him and he also fielded questions from the listening audience.  One respondent asked the American professor to help the Middle Eastern church make sense of the current blood-letting of Christians and others at the hands of the Islamic State (ISIS) and the culture of death that seems to grow unabated in our Middle Eastern context.  Another respondent asked flatly what Christians should do to stop the death machine’s relentless march.

Our visiting lecturer wisely avoided prescribing a path of action for the Middle Eastern church but he did have a response for us to contemplate.  As an exegete his comfort zone was deciphering what the text of the Apocalypse was saying to its audience.  He avowed that he was not particularly fond of John’s approach to discipleship, which seemed to him, to exhort Christians to be ready to shed their blood in resistance of the empire’s forceful grip of corruption and exploitation.  Putting it bluntly, John called his readers to death in their pursuit of Christ’s Kingdom on earth.

ISIS CopticSome of us in attendance were struggling.  It just doesn’t seem right!  Those twenty-one orange-clad Egyptian Copts herded out on the beaches of Libya to be beheaded by practitioners of a repugnant ideology…and it’s impossible to count the number of those who have been exterminated in Iraq and Syria.  What a waste of life!  And all of it filmed and posted to the internet to slake the curious eyes of a watching world.

In fact, one of the speakers captured the sense of meaninglessness as he pointed out that the deaths of these cannot be construed to carry the same significance as the death of their Master.  These are lambs helpless, defenseless.  They die at the whim of men driven mad by a demonic ideology repudiated and condemned by people of all faiths.

Was John (the Apostle)[1] weird?  Was he so caught up in the sufferings of his own day that he became morose, morbid, promoting a senseless willingness to die?  Certainly some of the audience in our lecture didn’t want to hear one more exhortation to die for the sake of religious faith…any religious faith.  Enough is enough!

John’s proclivity might seem weird to us…out of touch, excessive.

But isn’t this the very same apostle who recorded Jesus saying “I am come that they might have life and have it abundantly.”

“Whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life.”

“I am the resurrection and the life.  Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live.”

“He who believes in me, from his innermost being shall flow rivers of living water.”

Wasn’t he called “the one Jesus loved’, the one to whom Jesus entrusted the care of his own mother?

Isn’t this the guy who leaned on Jesus’ chest and asked “who is it Lord?”—which one of us will be the cause of your senseless murder?

My point is simply this:  John is an Apostle of Christ.  He carries Jesus’ authority, and for good reason, because he knew Jesus intimately, walked with him closely and imbibed the truth that Jesus taught and embodied.  When John calls us to be willing to die in pursuit of Jesus’ Kingdom, it may seem overwhelming—something like a culture of death, but it is not that.  We need a vision reorientation.  That’s what apostles do for us.  John is calling us to embrace the true life offered to us in union with Jesus.  He beckons us to lose what is ephemeral and fading and soon to be lost anyway in order to gain what can never be lost.

Maybe, just maybe, instead of trying to squeeze the Bible into the mold of what we find most accommodating to our lifestyle, John is doing exactly what Jesus did—calling us to squeeze ourselves and our attachments and preferences into a mold that has very little in common with our consumer society.

In fact, John is not proffering death.  He is offering life.

So how do the deaths of the twenty-one martyrs of Libya make sense?  Having lived in Egypt for quite a few years, there’s one thing I know about the Coptic Church of Egypt—they don’t forget their martyrs.  Icons are already pressing the images of these departed saints into the minds and hearts of young Egyptian Christians.  If, like me, you grew up in the Protestant Evangelical tradition, icons probably seem strange to you.  But I’ve learned that for Christians in the Middle East, it is holy art—the gospel in living color.  It continues to tell the story of the “great cloud of witnesses.”  It is eternal art because the church keeps it alive integrating it into its worship and prayer.  Yes.  Believe it or not, the martyrs are alive and well in the Coptic Orthodox church.[2]

The “senseless” deaths of the Middle Eastern Christians who have fallen at the hands of ISIS can only become meaningless if you and I let that happen.  Their death is an invitation to us to re-examine our undying commitment to conformity to the world…to press their sacrifice into our hearts and minds…to realize we belong to another Kingdom and we’ll only be home once that Kingdom has come on earth as it is in heaven.

John wasn’t weird.  He was telling us the truth.  His vision of the Apocalypse still speaks in today’s Middle East.

“And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death.”

[Video] A Political Reading of the Book of Revelations: Click here to watch Dr. David deSilva’s Lecture, with responses by Rev. Dr. Hikmat Kashouh (Arab Baptist Theological Seminary) and Rev. Dr. Johnny Awwad (Near East School of Theology).

______________________

[1] I am taking the traditional view that the author of Revelation was John the Son of Zebedee, the beloved disciple. Though some suggest a different author known as John the Elder, the most ancient witnesses in Church history identify the author as John the son of Zebedee who also authored the fourth gospel. These witnesses include Justin Martyr writing c 135-150AD, Melito of Sardis (mid 2nd century) and Irenaeus of Lyons writing c. 185AD. Thematic links between John’s Gospel and Revelation such as Jesus as the Word of God and Lamb of God also favor the authorship of the Apostle John

[2] See this website for the response of the Egyptian Bible Society to the martyrdom:  http://www.darelketab.org/bs3/en/default.aspx

Christians, Culture and Power

By Mike Kuhn

Never ask a fish “how’s the water?”

I know…fish don’t talk so they can’t respond. But the point is that water is the environment the fish lives in and therefore the fish takes it for granted—true of fish and water but also true of people and culture. Unless we’ve had the experience of living outside our culture for some time, we may not be aware of the particularities of our culture and have some difficulty articulating what distinguishes our own culture from any other. Our culture is the air we breathe. It is the water the fish swims in.  It is ubiquitous such that our acquiescence to it is rarely questioned.

Yet many suggest that it is culture, not mere individuals, the gospel aspires to impact and change.  Culture is represented by inherited values, beliefs, practices and even artifacts. The impact of the gospel is to amend, reshape or possibly abandon these, replacing them with new values, beliefs, practices and products that reflect the reality of Christ’s Kingdom. So it stands to reason that if the gospel is being heard and heeded in a given location, the culture represented in that place must also change. Or so it would seem.

Frankly, the gospel does not seem to be making inroads in changing very many cultures these days.  There were some historic revivals which radically impacted a particular culture such as the Welsh Revival or the Great Awakenings. But scanning the horizon today, we are obliged to conclude that the gospel is not profoundly impacting culture. The cultures of Western Europe and North America seem to be morally and ethically adrift. The Middle East is still enduring the “Arab Spring.” The jury is still out on its overall impact on culture, but so far the net effect does not seem too positive.

It’s not that various ways and means of impacting culture have been left untried. In his book, To Change the World (Hunter, 2010), James Davison Hunter assesses attempts from various sectors of the Christian public to impact culture. The first is the so-called “Christian right” which has attempted to mediate the transformation of culture through policy and legislative means. At the other end of the spectrum is the “Christian left” often viewed by the “right” as the liberals who have abandoned propositional truths of the Bible, seeking to effect social change in the arena of public justice.[1] According to Hunter, neither of these sides of the spectrum has been very effective in producing change because both sides have resorted to power through politics as their means of achieving their goals. In Hunter’s view, both sides have acquiesced to a culture that, in the lack of common moral and social consensus, has resorted to an ever-expanding politicization in order to hold society intact. Living in an increasingly politicized culture, Christians have instinctively resorted to the means of political power to effect change in their culture. Hunter contends that this is wrong-headed—not the way Christ intended His people to effect change. In brief: Christians are so surrounded by a politicized culture such that they reflexively resort to political means to effect change.  It’s the old “fish in the water.”

Hunter’s analysis pertains primarily to the United States—my homeland. As I read his book, it seemed to me that the same critique could be made of my newly adopted land—Lebanon. The tendency to resort to Politics to effect change is not only a US problem. The root of the problem is the tendency to use the most prominent power structures (i.e. politics) to accomplish ends.

Hunter: “When one boils it all down, politicization means that the final arbiter within most of social life is the coercive power of the state. When politicization is oriented toward furthering the specific interests of the group without an appeal to the common [well-being], when its means of mobilizing the uncommitted is through fear, and when the pursuit of agendas depends more on the vilification of opponents than on the affirmation of higher ideals, power is stripped to its most elemental forms. Even democratic justifications are not much more than a veneer over a will to power. The actions themselves may be within the bounds of legitimate democratic participation, yet the basic intent and desire is to dominate, control or rule.” (Hunter, 2010, p. 106)

Politics is coercive power—hardly the appropriate means to effect change in Jesus’ Kingdom.  That’s not to say that the gospel should not impact politics (it should and does) or that Christ-followers should not be involved in politics (many are). It is, however, a critique of contemporary Christianity, or should we say “Christendom” pursuing change through coercive political means.

This “will to power” can be detected in the slogans that are tossed about in Christian rhetoric and media—“take back our country, drive out the enemy, recapture the land, extend the Kingdom, etc.” (Similar slogans abound in the rhetoric of the various Middle Eastern factions vying for power.)  Hunter discerns that “what is never challenged is the proclivity to think of the Christian faith and its engagement with the culture around it in political terms.” (pg. 168)  He points out that solutions to the issues we care most about are rarely achieved through political means—issues such as the deterioration of family values, the desire for equity across races, classes and genders, the absence of decency and care for the poor and elderly. Some may respond that political solutions do indeed contribute to resolution of these issues. But is it not true that political changes reflect public values rather than generate them? Is Hunter not correct in stating that “at best, the state’s role addressing human problems is partial and limited?”(Hunter, 2010, p. 171) The author finds it ironic that:

“In the Christian faith, one has the possibility of relatively autonomous institutions and practices that could—in both judgment and affirmation—be a source of ideals and values capable of elevating politics to more than the quest for power. But the consequence of the whole-hearted and uncritical embrace of politics by Christians has been, in effect, to reduce the Christian faith to a political ideology and various Christian denominations and para-church organizations to special interest groups.”(Hunter, 2010, p. 172)

Hunter proffers a different paradigm which he labels “faithful presence within.” Time and space do not allow much elaboration, but suffice to say it is a conscious and intentional pursuit of well-being for all. Much as Jeremiah instructed the exiles to “seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you” (Jer 29:7) so Christians act as a priestly community seeking the well-being of the world—even those considered to be “enemies” of the faith. (Read the book to fill in the details.)

To my mind, this vision has traction in the post-Christian West as well as the Middle East. For far too long, other faiths in the Middle East have perceived Christianity as “Christendom”—a will to power expressed through colonization, wars and cultural and economic dominance. We may well critique this over-simplified view. Nevertheless the perception remains leaving in its wake fallow ground and hardened hearts to anything that connotes the Christian faith. What if the world’s Christians were possessed with a will to transcend political wrangling and offer Muslims and others their best efforts at holistic well-being? What if Christ-followers inserted themselves into the conflicts of the Middle East as givers rather than opportunists, as earnest peace-seekers rather than partisans to the military conflicts? Would it make a difference? Admittedly, any change would be slow, but I think it would be worth a try, not so much because it would work, but because it would be more true to Jesus’ Kingdom and, whether you’re East or West, that’s worth trying.

_____________________

Hunter, J. D. (2010). To Change the World: The Irony, Tragedy and Possibility of Christianity in the Late Modern World. New York: Oxford University Press.

[1] Hunter identifies a third group which he calls the “neoanabaptists.”