Saturday, 31 March 2007

Why bother with Easter?

It's easy to think that all religious festivals and celebrations are unnecessary for the Christian. After all, we're no longer bound to celebrate days and seasons, as the New Testament makes clear. We have the Spirit and so every day is full of Christ. Now, this is an amazing reality and yet, there is a danger for us here. For, if we take this to mean that we abandon any kind of religious calendar, we may well simply be accepting our culture's secularization of time. Our culture sees time purely in abstract, solar/scientific terms (seconds, hours, days, years etc). It has no meaning - it is empty. But when we look at the OT we see that their calendar was structured around festivals centred on the LORD: Passover, Pentecost, Day of Atonement etc. And, of course, the very notion of a 'week' continually echoes His creation. Thus, the LORD defined their time and calendar. Time was not an empty thing but was centred on the LORD and His salvation.

Given that we cannot avoid structuring and defining time, how shall we do it? Are we in danger of simply following our culture's secularization of time? Do we see time as empty or filled by the LORD? Easter can simply be a holiday for us i.e. defined by work and my interests. But, surely, it is a way of defining time by the cross and resurrection. Rest from work is not for ourselves but for celebrating the LORD and His salvation. Surely, that's a good reason to bother with Easter.

Friday, 30 March 2007


I listened to the Guardian science podcast interview with AC Grayling (well-known philosopher and atheistic sceptic) today. Find it here. It is basically a discussion on science and religion.

Now, my point here is not to disagree with everything that was said, for there is much that was said about science that any Christian would be happy with. But, on the other hand, the whole tone of it was militantly atheist.

1. The whole discussion was undergirded by the very typical secular atheistic assumption that it is only 'religious people' who have beliefs in need of any justification. It is almost as if atheism/naturalism just 'is' and needs no justification. It is de facto true. It is the 'religious person' who is biased, who must explain himself and who must give evidence. This kind of reasoning is so common that we don't really notice it - and as Christians we even accept it and scurry to defend ourselves. Reasons are demanded for belief in Christ, while no kind of justification for any other worldview/values is really offered. There is a kind of blindness to one's own assumptions as assumptions. They remain unquestioned even though they serve as the basis on which one doubts the gospel. I take this simply to be the extension of a sociological reality. It is always the minority who must justify themselves over against the majority secular culture. I think we need to be bolder at turning the argument around and asking "why is atheism etc so reasonable?"

2. At one point in the interview Grayling dismisses the need for morality to be based on religious belief. His criticism is directed against a command ethic i.e. do good so as to avoid punishment and gain a reward. He argues that many people do good without any notions of reward/punishment and, therefore, God must therefore be unnecessary and irrelevant. Now, the problem is that Christians can be prone to use this kind of argument. That is: 1. if there is no God then we can get away with anything 2. therefore, we need God. It's a kind of argument you find in Dostoyevsky's "Brothers Karamazov". I think that Christians must be careful here because a crude form of the command ethic is susceptible to Grayling's (and Kant's) criticism. If you only do good out of fear then really in what sense are you really doing good?

I think my response to Grayling would be more along the lines of how to coherently explain morality. If it's simply the result of evolution, how can it be anything but arbitrary? Yet, the whole force of ethics/morality is precisely that: it isn't arbitrary. A Christian, on the other hand, can point out that 1. we feel the absoluteness of right/wrong cos the universe is ultimately made by a moral God 2. the doctrine of creation explains why people do good without any explicit faith - we are made in God's image, live in God's world and can no more be totally amoral than we can be totally alogical 3. we are not saying that simply believing in God is a basis for goodness in a Biblical sense, as that can be mere religiousness (which will breed its own sin) 4. rather, living a 'good' life is not rooted in knowing what to do but in the Spirit and being supernaturally changed.

3. Scientific method works brilliantly in certain areas and poorly in others. It's great for shooting rockets into space and growing crops, but not great at giving meaning to life or telling me what is good/not good. Grayling seems to think that science is the greatest good we have ever had. He has great confidence in the scientific method - but science has given us Hiroshima as well as a cure for smallpox. Science tells us how stuff works but cannot tell us whether it is beautiful or kind or good.

Thursday, 29 March 2007

How important is joy?

"According to my judgment the most important point to be attended to is this: above all things see to it that your souls are happy in the Lord. Other things may press upon you, the Lord's work may even have urgent claims upon your attention, but I deliberately repeat, it is of supreme and paramount importance that you should seek above all things to have your souls truly happy in God Himself! Day by day seek to make this the most important business of your life." (George Mueller)

"I hold myself bound in conscience and in honor, not even to imagine that I have attained a proper knowledge of any one article of truth, much less to publish it, unless through the Holy Spirit I have had such a taste of it, in its spiritual sense, that I may be able, from the heart, to say with the psalmist, 'I have believed, and therefore I have spoken." (John Owen)

Wednesday, 28 March 2007

Jonathan Edwards had slaves

I've been reading a book on the theology and life of Jonathan Edwards (major evangelical theologian, pastor and leader of revival in 18th century N America), and was very disappointed to learn that while he condemned the slave trade, he also owned slaves. Edwards has been something of a theological mentor for me, so I felt pretty sad that he was so inconsistent and, to be honest, ungodly at that point. The surprising thing about this is that Edwards was, otherwise, so distinctive, holy and willing to challenge the culture of his day. But, he was also a man of his time and, though unworldly in so may ways, he was very worldly at that point (interestingly, his son was an abolitionist). What does one do with that?

1. Realize that we are all over-contextualized at some points to our culture. Normally, it is precisely at those points where we are least aware! Even the most godly and distinctive amongst us will have real, glaring sin (even if its less obvious than Edward's owning slaves). Everyone needs the cross - and desperately so.

2. We desperately need good, well-thought out social ethics. So much of our preaching and Christian living is focused on the individual, but holiness must also involve living out the social consequences of the gospel. We must work out what the gospel means for "us" and not just "me": our church, our culture, our society.

3. Edward's inconsistency (denunication of the slave trade and yet owning slaves) cannot help but echo some of the issues of global justice today. So, we denounce slave labour but wear clothes and use products made in sweat shops. We find ourselves caught in a conflict between our values, the complexity of the world and our immediate desires. We need to pray for grace that we might know the Lord's will in this situation.

4. Working out the consequences of the gospel takes time in a fallen world. This is not an excuse, but it seems that understanding how to live for Christ is not always immediately apparent or obvious at every point. Each age and culture has its particular sins and complexities which need several generations to work through.

May God be merciful to our generation and give us wisdom to live rightly!


I heard a good talk today on the tabernacle of the Old Testament, and it got me thinking about a number of things.

1. The tabernacle promised the presence of God at the same time as it preached distance. It was the place to meet the LORD at the same time as the holiness of the place was a constant 'danger' e.g. Moses could not enter in Exod 40. This is, actually, a bit paradoxical because the tabernacle is both an invitation and a rebuttal, an open door to God and a closed door. Grace welcomes us in, but holiness tells us to stay away. We might say that the tabernacle is designed to shield God, to protect the people from His holiness. This is so different to 'normal' temples or religious artefacts, which always promise mediation. The tabernacle, though, is a dangerous place to come even as it is also a gracious place. Of course, this reveals the superificiality our thinking about the LORD, and forces us to think more deeply about who He is. Most of all, it points us to Jesus and the profound reconciliation of these things at the cross.

2. Though it had a lot of ornamentation, the tabernacle was not really all that impressive. Compared to the great structures of Egypt, it was severely lacking. It speaks of the God who 'humbles' Himself to dwell not only among a people, but among a refugee people. God makes himself into a 'refugee God' for the sake of His people. God dwells in an 'asylum centre', and not in a 'cathedral'.

3. Further, the very 'weakness' of the tabernacle preaches its own inadequacy. It can only be properly understood as part of a developing narrative of how we are to approach God. It points beyond itself to Christ and the heavenly tabernacle that Hebrews speaks of.

4. Lastly, we cannot worship God any way we like. The very details of the construction of the tabernacle reveal that we cannot just do whatever we like in coming to the LORD. God does not say, "build a tent, but you pick the colour." He is a God of detail and precision and we must come to Him as He designs - for there is no other way to come to Him. God is in the details, and not just the drama.

Tuesday, 27 March 2007

Citizen Kane

Having wanted to see the film CItizen Kane for ages, I finally got round to watching it just the other day. If you've never heard of it see here for a plot summary. Many buffs reckon it to be one of the best films ever made.

Though everyone goes on about the cinematography (which was apparently very innovative), I was most intrigued by the character of Kane himself (a hugely rich business magnate). Kane's character seemed to me a stark portrait of modern identity. We only ever get disconnected snippets of him from acquaintances. So, we're never really sure who he is or what motivates him. And, actually, neither are the characters closest to him really sure of who he is. He is a man who has everything and, yet, he lacks a substantial self. He contradicts himself, is unfaithful and is never really satisfied - in spite of having potentially loving people around him and amazing wealth. He can only ever accept people on his terms. The huge and fabulous estate he builds himself at the end is lonely, empty and dark - in a sense a portrayal of Kane himself. He ultimately rejects every person that gets close to him, remaining unable to properly give or love. And so he dies at the end alone in his huge and empty estate, surrounded by fabulous wealth and artefacts from all around the world. He is known nationally in the film, and his death makes the news, and yet he also remains fundamentally unknown, perhaps unknowable, throughout.

It made me think of several things.

It made me think of how we can never really know people or be known if we demand that people relate on our terms. The world does not revolve around my needs and wants. I may feel my demands are legitimate but I can never really have successful relationships if I demand that others fit in with my needs. Community means I must 'die'.

It also made me think of how we are known by the One who really matters. So often we speak of knowing God, but isn't the deeper truth the fact that we are known by Him (e.g. 1 Cor 13:12)? Aren't we known as sons by our Father? Our emptiness is not filled by us clawing our way up to Him but by Him 'moving into our empty estate' - "we will come to him and make our home with him (Jn 14:23). That will give me a connected self. I find myself not by building an empire but by being known by Him.

Friday, 23 March 2007

Moses and Me (Part 2)

I wrote a post about the law and the OT ("Moses and Me") last month. Now, I'll share a few thoughts about the law and the NT believer.

Some assumptions:

1. My position is probably something of an in-between position between Lutheranism and Reformed theology. As a general point, I think the best way to understand the Law is to see it on a trajectory towards something (i.e. Christ and the life of the Spirit). It is not a final relevation of God's purposes, nor His will. It is a signpost and not a destination.

2. Further, I don't think the division of the Law into ceremonial, civil and moral is a biblical model (it is nowhere mentioned). I think we should take NT's statements about the "Law" as encompassing the whole thing, and not just bits of it.

3. I think the Law has abiding relevance for us when interpreted christologically. It has been fulfilled/completed by Christ and 'taken up' or subsumed into the "law of Christ" (e.g. Gal 6:2). Therefore, the NT believer is not ruled directly by the OT law, but by the law of Christ. On the other hand, though, the Law has great ethical relevance to the believer when looked at through Christ and read through the lens of NT ethics.

4. The Law belongs belongs to a particular administration i.e. Israel, and must be read as such. We have died (to the Law), been raised and belong to the age to come. The NT believer is in Christ and is ruled by the Spirit of God. The Spirit is his authority (as heard through Christ and the apostles) and not the Law (see pt. 2). On the other hand, the Law has relevance to the believer as a part of salvation history. It points us to Christ and our need for Him. The Law is not irrelevant and needs to be fulfilled - but it is fulfilled by Christ so that we are released into a new way of obedience.

5. The Law could never bring righteousness of life. What we need is new birth and the Spirit to live the Christian life. On the other hand, the Law itself points forward to a kind of righteousness that goes beyond it and completes it. We can learn about this righteousness by looking at it 'through the Law'.

This stuff is always controversial, so let me know what you think.

Thursday, 22 March 2007

Spiritual intensity

In using the the images of God as water/food, the Bible is evoking God as the satisfaction of our most intense desires. For, what do we desire more intensely than food/water? It's not just that we need them, but that we need them intensely. We crave them when thay are absent. Now, given that I am made for God, then intensity of desire for God is really one of the most natural things in the world. Spiritual intensity is a work of the Spirit of my life and I need to do everything I can to promote it. For, the intensity of my desire, or lack of intensity, reveals my appreciation, or lack of appreciation, of who the Lord God really is.

"For me, to live is Christ, to die is gain" (Philippians 1:21)

"O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you, in a dry and weary land where there is no water" (Psalm 63:1)

“O my Sweet Saviour! Whom have I in heaven but thee? And there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee. If I had a thousand lives, my soul would gladly have laid them all down at once, to have been with Christ.” (David Brainerd)

Wednesday, 21 March 2007

What is a missional church?

I've had a growing awareness, for a while, that our evangelism reaches, for the most part, only a semi-churched/religious segment of the population. This is basically because the culture of church, the way we preach and the questions we raise do not adequately connect with the culture, idolatries and worldview of a post-Christian, post-Christendom society. I can't help feeling that our evangelism is often like a hand-grenade lobbed into an enemy bunker which the enemy left a long time ago. The segment that we are reaching is shrinking all the time, while there are huge swathes of people completely unengaged with church or the gospel. As a result, our culture is becoming increasingly removed from the gospel and the Christian worldview.

The idea of being missional is really about trying to be more radical in the way we engage with our culture in proclaiming Christ. It says that something more profound must happen to church if we are to reach the world. Now, it's easier to critique than it is to give an answer, and I confess that I'm really finding my way forward here. But I want to share some thoughts about what it might mean to be missional:

1. We address the culture's felt needs, stories, questions and preoccupations properly with the gospel. And we take their objections to the gospel seriously.
2. We use normal, everyday language and concepts.
3. We make everything we do (i.e. every service) an opportunity for unbelievers to come in and understand. So, there is an 'evangelistic authenticity' about everything that we do.
4. We see that the gospel is always relevant to believers and unbelievers.
5. We do not make 'Christian assumptions' in church and preaching.
6. We train Christians to live out their faith in every area of their life i.e. work, culture etc. We show how Christ is Lord of the whole of life.
7. We seek to develop a counter-culture (i.e. we have social/community ethics about racism, justice, power etc), and not just Bible studies and 'Christian meetings'.
8. We are humble i.e. repent of derogatory, arrogant ways of referring to non-Christians and the non-Christian culture.
9. We don't define ourselves primarily in relation to other churches/groups, but in relation to 'the world.'
10. We engage in concrete acts of love/service to our community.

Tuesday, 20 March 2007

Missional character

I've always been very intrigued by Jesus's words from the Sermon on the Mount, " Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven." I take Jesus to mean what he says, which means here that our actions/behaviour cause the world to turn to God and praise Him. Now, I guess we would normally say that it is very important that Christians live holy lives that validate the preaching of the gospel. Yet, it seems here that it is the actions themselves that cause the faith/praising in others. The actions themselves are a form of preaching.

Now, what kind of actions are these? It would seem to me they must be actions that are so unusual, so unique, so different, that onlookers must say as a result "wow, this can only be explained by there being a God and this God working among them." This is not just Christians being nice and good. This behaviour must be beyoned ordinary, natural explanation - otherwise unbelievers would not be convicted into praising God. This is unnatural virtue - or supernatural virtue.

What might this be? Well, we find out in the Sermon on the Mount itself. It is love for enemies. It is real forgiveness. It is the courage to take a slap and be mistreated for love. It is the life of the beatitudes and of mercy. These things cannot be explained in any ordinary kind of a way. There is something unworldly about them. This is not natural virtue found simply because we're made in the image of God. It is behaviour that has a gospel shape to it. It reveals extraordinary grace to a world that lives by works righteousness. It is so extraordinary that it preaches the reality of God and the gospel. It causes people to praise God for my life!

I am in no way saying we do not need cogent, clear, powerful preaching of the word, nor am I saying our lives are a replacement for preaching the word, but it would seem to me that we also need cogent, clear, powerful preaching of Christ's grace through our character. And it also seems that we should not underestimate the power of our character to preach the grace and mercy of God. Of course, that will happen only when we demonstrate extraordinary character shaped by extraordinary grace.

Saturday, 17 March 2007

Missional Preaching

Some thoughts about how normal, weekly preaching might win people to Christ.

1. Preaching needs to see an unbelieving world with all its objections and questions as its context, and not just the 'church'. We need to preach 'as if the whole unbelieving society was sat there listening to us'.

2. We need apologetics to be integrated in preaching i.e. taking objections to various elements of a sermon seriously and dealing with them in the sermon.

3. We need to be regularly dealing with the range of objections people have to Christianity.

4. We need to deconstruct the (post) modern world and show how its thought systems, attitudes etc do not work and are incoherent.

5. We need to show how people's longings and stories are truly met only in the gospel.

6. We need to listen very well to our culture before we speak. We need to understand who we are talking to and what their thinking is.

7. We need to show how the gospel defies people's assumptions - and so be counter-intuitive in our approach to people.

Friday, 16 March 2007

Jesus and the Bible

It's easy to confuse ends and means in reading the Bible. The Bible is not the end of the Christian life, but the means. The end of the Christian life can only be Christ - and we love the Scriptures because they get us to Him. The Scriptures are a servant that bring us to the Master. The danger comes either when we think we can get to the Master without the servant, or when we turn the servant into a Master.

So, on the one hand, I need to revere the Scriptures cos they alone give me Jesus, and, on the other hand, I need to know that I read the Bible precisely because it gives me Jesus. If I'm not getting Jesus from the Bible but just theological information, then there's something seriously wrong with my Bible reading. “Take Christ from the Scriptures-and what more will you find in them?” (Luther, Bondage of the Will).

10 reasons why Christians still need the Cross

1. My very best days, full of spiritual discipline, love, zeal and sanctification, are still full of sin.

2. Doing better as a Christian will not atone for my sin.

3. It reminds me that we cannot understand wrath without love, nor love without wrath.

4. Suffering will destroy my faith unless I see that Jesus who is inifinitely better than me has endured infinitely more than me.

5. I can only forgive others if I've seen what forgiving me cost God.

6. It stops me being superficial about my sin, and makes me look into the depths of my depravity.

7. We'll still be celebrating and relying upon it in heaven (see Revelation!), so how can I think I'm past it now?

8. It's where I'm to look for the love of God.

9. It levels the playing field between us- it stops me telling everyone off for being bad Christians and reminds me that we're all desperately in need.

10. Gratitude for the cross kills a thousand temptations.

Friday, 9 March 2007

What is the worst thing about sin?

It struck me this week that sin is a double attack on our God. Firstly, and most obviously, it is an attack on Him as our Creator. It is fundamentally a rejection of Him, a turning away to idols and making myself into Lord. Secondly, though, and this is the thing that really hit me, sin is always sin against the cross. Every sin says to Jesus "I don't care what you have done, I don't want to know, I would rather have my little pleasure now". This is the sin that Christians commit most deeply and most consciously. We may call Him Saviour, but when we sin, we reject the blood of Jesus, we reject His death to rescue us from sin. We count his death as nothing. And I have to say, this brings tears to my eyes. To think that I could sin there, against Him as he dies for me. To think that I could be indifferent to His love, even hate His interference there. To sin against grace must be the most wicked thing possible. So, we can see, that all of us were in spirit part of that mob abusing Jesus as He died, we were the disciples denying Him and running away. Our sin mocks Jesus on the cross.

Today I know that I need a Saviour. And today I know my need to make the cross THE centre of my life.

Tuesday, 6 March 2007

Advice from John Newton for doing ministry

1. Do not do nothing until you can do everything.

2. Use what ability you have and use it at once.

3. Be content and labour in your sphere even if it be small.

When life is tough...

Henry Martyn was a young missionary to India and Arabia and Persia in the early 1800's. He had left his fiance Lydia Grenfell behind in England in 1806 and would never see her again — he died at 31.

On the boat he fought back self-pity and discouragement with the promises of God's word. He arrived in Calcutta in May and two months later had a devastating experience. One of the veteran missionaries preached a sermon directed against Henry Martyn and his doctrines. He called his teaching inconsistent, extravagant, and absurd. He accused him of seeking only to "gratify self-sufficiency, pride and uncharitableness."

Martyn's answer comes in his own journal:

"In the multitude of my troubled thoughts I still saw that there is a strong consolation in the hope set before us. Let men do their worst, let me be torn to pieces, and my dear Lydia torn from me; or let me labour for fifty years amidst scorn, and never seeing one soul converted; still it shall not be worse for my soul in eternity, nor worse for it in time. Though the heathen rage and the English people imagine a vain thing, the Lord Jesus, who controls all events, is my friend, my master, my God, my all."

Monday, 5 March 2007

Being super-spiritual with our bodies

I've been thinking about 1 Cor 7 after a sermon at church. There's clearly some negative feelings about the body going on there in Corinth - something which at first seems very far from us. Perhaps in reaction to the licentiousness of their culture and the reality of a fallen world, some people in the church were attracted to a legalistic, blanket 'ban' on the body. Maybe salvation was essentially being viewed as salvation from the body. The hope was of a liberation from the body and the created world, into a 'spiritual world'. The problem Paul is addressing, then, is a hyper-spiritual view that's coming close to denying the hope of resurrection (see 1 Cor 15).

Now, at first glance, this may seem far from us. For, who is tempted to deny himself sex in his marriage because of the impurity of the body?!!! (1 Cor 7:1-6) Yet, the de-prioritization of 'physical things' may well be seen in other ways amongst us. It's one of those ironies of our evangelical culture that we have been very strong on the literal physicality of the resurrection of Jesus, but have often ended up spiritualizing our own resurrection! Our hope is often expressed in terms of 'heaven', but little in terms of recreation and renewal of the world. In other words, it's salvation without resurrection.

This is, of course, totally unBiblical. Our hope is not to become spirits in heaven, but to be risen like Jesus into a renewed world. But what's the result of this 'super-spiritual' thinking? Well, it can't help but lead to an indifference to the body. This may well mean that we end up thinking that concern for people's bodily needs is unspiritual. Caring for the body is seen as of relative unimportance to 'spiritual things'. We encourage people to seek comfort in a disembodied 'spiritual existence' in 'heaven'. The problem is that when we start going down this road we become more 'spiritual' than Paul, or even than the Spirit himself.

Saturday, 3 March 2007

Thoughts on the Lord's Prayer

Some new things I noticed about the Lord's prayer (from Matthew 6) the other day...

1. It is a collective prayer. Everything is in the first person plural, not the singular. We pray this prayer as a people and not so much as individuals. For example, it is striking that we speak to our Father, when our natural bent is always to individualize our relationship with the Father. What difference does it make to be a family relating to our Father together, rather than as individual sons? It's particularly striking when you come to the last 3 petitions. The daily bread is for the people of God, the forgiveness is for the people as a whole (who demonstrate their salvation in reciprocal forgiveness/forgiveness of enemies), and the temptation/testing is of the people. What implications does it have for our praying that the main prayer the Lord Jesus taught us was a collective prayer?

2. The contrast between heaven and earth. We are on earth, our Father's realm is heaven. But the main thrust of the first 3 petitions is that earth and heaven might be fused. There is a strong notion of new creation/renewal of the earth in this prayer. We long for our Father to 'heavenize' earth with his personal presence (i.e. holiness, kingdom, will).

3. While we wait for the 'heavenization' of the earth, we are a pilgrim people. The ideas of daily bread and temptation/testing are very reminiscent of the desert wanderings of Israel. The emphasis upon "our Father" may echo the idea of Israel as the LORD's firstborn son. So, the context of our praying is our collective life on earth as a 'homeless people', harassed by the evil one, but waiting for our Father to renew all things.

Thursday, 1 March 2007

War... what is it good for? (almost absolutely nothing) Part I

Is it OK for a Christian to bomb another Christian if they belong to another country? Is it OK for me to shoot another Christian if they happen to find themselves on the other side of a conflict? Shall I stab another member of the body of Christ with a bayonet? As Paul says, shall I "destroy God's temple"? Is my allegiance to my country/state more important than my allegiance to my brother in Christ? Are we to say that Iraqi Christians killed by Christian American and British pilots, for example, are collateral damage?

Those are far from the only questions for the Christian regarding war and conflict, but they are extremely relevant. So often we remove the debate about war and violence to debates about abstract justice. the good etc. But actually it is as much about to whom we owe allegiance: to the church or the state?

Read these lines from Father George Zabelka, chaplain for the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bomb squadrons in 1945, who later came to repent of his complicity in the bombing of civilians. He describes the bombing of Nagasaki....

"Catholics dropped the A-bomb on top of the largest and first Catholic city in Japan. One would have thought that I, as a Catholic priest, would have spoken out against the atomic bombing of nuns. One would have thought that I would have suggested that as a minimal standard of Catholic morality, Catholics shouldn't bomb Catholic children. I didn't.......I walked though the ruins of Nagasaki right after the war and visited the place where once stood the Ukrami Cathedral...When I look at it today I pray God forgives us for how we have distorted Christ's teaching...."

And he speaks of his conversion to non-violence.....

"I worked with Martin Luther King, Jr. during the Civil Rights struggle in Flint, Michigan. His example and his words of nonviolent action, choosing love instead of hate, truth instead of lies, and nonviolence instead of violence stirred me deeply. This brought me face to face with pacifism—active nonviolent resistance to evil. I recall his words after he was jailed in Montgomery, and this blew my mind. He said, "Blood may flow in the streets of Montgomery before we gain our freedom, but it must be our blood that flows, and not that of the white man. We must not harm a single hair on the head of our white brothers. I struggled. I argued. But yes, there it was in the Sermon on the Mount, very clear: "Love your enemies. Return good for evil." I went through a crisis of faith. Either accept what Christ said, as unpassable and silly as it may seem, or deny him completely."

I can't help thinking we need a crisis of faith as well.