This is from the HBO show Generation Kill. The scene, which contains some adult language, is about what role, if any, a clergy-man should have among Marines. The last line – “Now Brad has just pissed off God” – follows a series of amusing events.
[Update: it seems to me that the shirtless soldier’s comments are an effective and ideal secular critique of the clergyman’s place in the military].
As we enter the twenty-first century, we are at a crossroads on the issue of military service and Christian service. Can a church that sees itself as a “contrast society” accept the values and activities of the political status quo and its military machinery? Can a church that acknowledges the centrality of nonviolence in the New Testament accept the use of violence to defend or extend an empire that it exists to replace as the world’s guiding light?If we accept this new understanding of the church’s vocation—which is not new at all—then we must be courageous enough to accept the theological and practical consequences of it—divorcing Christian faith and military service. Carrying out this divorce will take creativity and energy, so much so that some will claim that the divorce is impossible even if it is right. After a century of horrific violence and bloodshed, and careful consideration of the New Testament texts, we need finally as a church to recognize that those who seek justification in the New Testament for Christian participation in violence of any kind, including military action, will always seek in vain. Why? Because violence is part of the false gospel of the world’s counterfeit lords and empires—Herod, Pilate, Nero, Domitian, and the like. It is not the way of the true Lord, whose gospel and empire give to us—and demand from us—an alternative allegiance and vocation.
The question this editorial also raises is what connection, if any, do reformers within religion have with secularists.
(Btw: Hi! I’m going to be contributing pseudonymously).