Theocracy, that form of government in which God governs a nation directly through divine command, is hot again. Think for instance of Iran, al-Qaeda or ISIS. Closer to home, American evangelicals are busy using the White House to get a firm grip on politics and legislation. For them, Trump is God’s man who will ensure that the US will be governed again according to the moral values once established by God.
Theocratie, de regeringsvorm waarbij God direct regeert, is weer helemaal terug van weggeweest. Denk bijvoorbeeld aan Iran, Al Qaida of IS. En op dit moment zijn Amerikaanse evangelicals bezig om via het Witte Huis stevig grip te krijgen op politiek en wetgeving. Ze zien in Trump een man van God die er voor zal zorgen dat het land weer volgens Gods morele normen bestuurd wordt.
A God in the Hands of Angry Sinners: How the Evangelical Misconstrual of God and Politics Spells Doom
Many people in the United States are familiar with the famous sermon Jonathan Edwards, the Puritan preacher and scholar in the Massachusetts of the 1700s, preached on the 8th of July 1741. The title of his sermon was “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God.” As was his custom, Edwards read his sermon out loud. An utterly boring routine for a spiritually inert congregation. But something weird happened. People started shaking and trembling. Some fell to the ground sobbing and moaning. Edwards’ sermon is a good example of the theology of the Great Awakening, a movement of religious fervor and repentance that swept through the thirteen colonies of America and left a permanent mark on the Protestant faith in the North American continent.
Vanaf het moment dat de moderne wereld van zich liet horen is christelijke theologie in de verdediging geweest. Gaandeweg nam die verdediging steeds meer het karakter aan van crisismanagement. Steeds meer mensen vonden dat God niet incarneert, geen wonderen doet, en geen historische realiteit kan zijn. De bijbelse God werd alsmaar meer terrein ontnomen. De resulterende “God of the gaps” had steeds minder onverklaarbare zaken waar die garant voor kon staan en zo de toevlucht toe kon nemen.
Vrijheid is mooi. Vrijheid is moeilijk. Allebei de uitspraken zijn waar. Er is geen groter goed dan de menselijke vrijheid. Het is bijna een open deur intrappen dat te zeggen. En toch is vrijheid tegelijk heel erg kwetsbaar. De vrijheid die wij nu al enkele honderden jaren mogen genieten in het Westen is maar een korte bliep in de geschiedenis van de mensheid. En zelfs dan is die vrijheid vaak ten koste gegaan van de vrijheid van anderen. Denk aan bijvoorbeeld de Afrikanen die als slaven naar de America’s verscheept werden of de zgn. “inheemse” bevolking van de landen die door het Westen gekoloniseerd waren. Vaak ook werd onze vrijheid bedreigd of zelfs onderbroken. Terecht gaat in Nederland Bevrijdingsdag vaak over hoe onze vrijheid als een kostbaar maar kwetsbaar geschenk beschermd moet worden.
A long time ago, there was peace between God and humanity. They were happy together. In fact, you could hardly distinguish one from the other, for God walked among her people as one of them. She loved them as though they were her own children which, in a way, they were. God took care of the people to the best of her abilities and the people worshiped and thanked her for all she did to the measure of their blessedness and gratitude. The latter never quite measured up to the former, of course, but God was ok with that. After all, it is human to fall short of expectations.
While the United States celebrates the relocation of the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, the Israeli army shot and murdered 58 Palestinians. Yesterday Israel celebrated its 70th anniversary while Palestinians commemorated the great tragedy of the Nakba, their violent displacement that to this day has not ended and has resulted in refugee camps outside Israeli territory and two separated enclaves where Palestinians struggle for survival under economic hardship.
Europe has abandoned religion at a very fundamental level and on a widespread scale. Religion no longer provides an interpretive framework for how the world fits together. It no longer informs social, economic, or political ethics. Religion is still present but either as a largely irrelevant entity that has absolutely no impact on lawmaking, politics, or economy (Christianity) or as a menace that needs to be contained before the genie gets out of the bottle (Islam).
Why is it so hard to overcome racism? It is strange that in a world where most people tend to agree that racism is a bad thing, there is still is so much left of it. It is incomprehensible that in our civilized societies the specter of fascism is looming again. Most people don’t want to be racist, so why are so many driven by racist motivations of hatred for the racial other? Apparently declaring it a thing of the past is not enough. Education is barely making enough of an impression in order to train us to be good citizens.
I’ve been an evangelical Christian all of my life. Though I’ve drifted away from much of what goes under the flag of evangelicalism certain emphases of the movement will remain dear to me. One of these is the centrality of the person and work of Jesus Christ. For evangelicals, the personal relationship with Christ matters more than anything. It starts with the question whether one has accepted Jesus Christ as savior and lord in one’s life. The direct unmitigated relationship with Christ is at the center of the evangelical experience. I still resonate with what theologians call a Christocentric emphasis. It’s all about Christ; nothing else matters.