Monday, May 4, 2020

A "useful" gospel

Russell Moore's newest "Moore to the Point" newsletter includes his reaction to reading that a new Russian Orthodox cathedral will include an image of Josef Stalin:
.... In this case, the fervor for national identity has meant that a cathedral dedicated to Jesus Christ celebrates mass murderers. That can happen anytime that Christianity is a means to an end, and it can happen anywhere—and does.

Anytime a gospel becomes “useful” to a ruler or to a culture or to a subculture, it becomes a tool. That’s why Jesus declared emphatically “My kingdom is not of this world” (Jn 18:36). And it’s why Jesus warned his disciples to “Watch out; beware the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod” (Mk. 8:15). Jesus uses that language of leaven (“yeast”) in the same way he does of the kingdom of God. It works invisibly and, before you know it, it is all through the loaf.

That’s how you can end up with churches ignoring the sinful injustices of the slave-owning and Jim Crow-enacting South, all the while pretending to believe in the authority of Scripture. That’s how you can have churches that pretend not to notice a prominent member’s adultery or other moral scandal. And that’s how you can end up with a bloodthirsty dictator or two etched in your stained glass. If the Christianity is useful in propping up a regime—any regime—it will soon become something other than the gospel of Jesus Christ. ....
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Cynicism, Sincerity, and Parks and Recreation

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