Scripture: Romans 14:19
Let us then pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding.
Thought for the Day: On this day in 1148AD, the Siege on Damascus came to an end during what would be known as the Second Crusade. The Crusaders went to the Holy Land under the direction of Pope Eugene III, believing that God would provide them a victory. The attack on Damascus was far from a victory, and would be one of the factors that made the Second Crusade a failure. The Pope offered Indulgences like his predecessor, Pope Urban II, did in the First Crusade. These Indulgences offered forgiveness of sin and entry into heaven for those who would go to battle or for their loved ones.
It is difficult to understand how we went from the Jesus of the First Century – the Prince of Peace – to a Holy Warrior within a short period of time. Christianity wasn’t simply a silent partner in the Crusades, but the authority and provider of justification. Our Sunday morning focus is currently on 2nd Samuel, and like many books in the Bible that deal with the monarchy, there appears to be a belief that the Lord God was the means of victory in battle. But if Jesus is the Incarnation of God, the visible sign of the invisible God, who was and is and shall be the same, then how exactly do we make sense of this tension?
Could it be that some of the Biblical claims of a God who provides victory in battle are simply the victor seeking blessing on what was really not God’s doing in the first place? How often in history has the victor claimed God as the source, even when the victory included horrific suffering of innocent lives. My theological starting place is Jesus, and though I take seriously the stories of violence in the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament), I must make theological sense of them in light of the Jesus I know. And simply saying that God changed -or- that God is just as violent now, but Jesus has placated the Lord’s anger, only raises more and more unsettling questions.
I don’t want to arrogantly pretend that my thoughts are correct or even a good answer for others, but in a world in which people are yearning for a faith that makes sense, simplistic answers that crumble under even the slightest scrutiny will leave these yearnings unfulfilled.
Prayer: You are good, Gracious Lord, and I make that claim through the Jesus I meet in scripture and the Christ I meet through your Spirit. Continue to encourage my questioning so that the faith I claim and the faith I share are worthy of the conversations I have. Amen.
STARTING THIS WEDNESDAY
Study at 6:30pm
Rev. Dr. Mark Whitten
Critical Christian Thinking
About Homosexuality and Gay Rights
For Five Wednesday Evenings
2nd Samuel 5:1-5