Excerpt from Farewell to Mars by Brian Zahnd
Constantine had a fetish with Christian symbolism, placing them on weapons of warfare and going into battle. Upon his victory he said the victory was the result of the Christian symbols and the Christian God. This see the up Christianity as the religion of the state.
“Almost overnight the church found itself in a chaplaincy role to the empire and on a trajectory that would lead to the catastrophe of a deeply compromised Christianity. The catastrophe of church as vassal to the state would find its most grotesque expression in the medieval crusades when, under the banner of the cross, Christians killed in the name of Christ. The crusades are perhaps the most egregious example of how distorted Christianity can become when we separate Christ from his ideas. Yet we continue to do this—we worship Jesus as Savior while dismissing his ideas about peace.
For seventeen centuries Christianity has offered a gospel where we can accept Jesus as our personal Savior while largely ignoring his ideas about peace, violence, and human society. We have embraced a privatized, postmortem gospel that stresses Jesus dying for our sins but at the same time ignores his political ideas. This leaves us free to run the world the way it has always been run: by the power of the sword. Under pressure from the ideology of empire, concepts like freedom and truth gain radically different meanings than those intended by Christ. Freedom becomes a euphemism for vanquishing (instead of loving) enemies; truth finds its ultimate form in the will to power (expressed in the willingness to kill).
This is a long way from the ideas of peace, love, and forgiveness set forth by Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount. It was Jesus’s ideas about truth and freedom that made him dangerous to the principalities and powers. But today our gospel isn’t very dangerous. It’s been tamed and domesticated. If Jesus of Nazareth had preached the paper-thin version of what passes for the “gospel”today—a shrunken, postmortem promise of going to heaven when you die—Pilate would have shrugged his shoulders and released the Nazarene, warning him not to get mixed up in the affairs of the real world. But that’s not what happened. Why? Because Pilate was smart enough to understand that what Jesus was preaching was a challenge to the philosophy of empire (or as we prefer to call it today, superpower). In making Christ the chaplain-in-chief of Constantinian Christianity, what was unwittingly done was to invent a Manichean Jesus who saves our souls while leaving us free to run the affairs of the world as we see fit.”
This God of love and peace has been morphed into a God of wrath and war.
“words for the first time, it so shocked me, I left my house, book in hand, and walked for a mile pondering what I had just read. It was a “take the red pill”moment for me. What I saw was that great and powerful nations shape God into their own image; great and powerful nations conscript God to do their bidding. Great and powerful nations use the idea and vocabulary of God to legitimize their own agenda. Great and powerful nations project God as a personification of their own national interests. And for the most part, they don’t know they are doing it. This is not to say that everything great and powerful nations do is evil—far from it. They maintain order, provide security, produce industry, maintain civility, educate the populace, preserve culture, and so on. But neither are they to be confused with the kingdom of Christ. And neither can they claim that the God revealed in the crucified and risen Christ is their God, committed to their interests! No! There are no “Christian nations”in the political sense. The risen Christ does have a “nation”(see Matt. 21: 43), but it’s not a nationalized body politic, rather it’s the baptized body of Messiah! This is what I was beginning to see—disturbing yet liberating truth.”
Can a nation claim God’s right and just cause belongs to them and that the nation is carrying out God’s will?