Claiborne and Haw have presented the vital information about the state of the church and American people. Even though there is a separation of state and the church, one cannot run away from the fact that America as a nation is established and founded on biblical principles, and that nearly all of America profess Christian faith, whether actively or in passing. Suffice to say, therefore, that America’s ideologies on political, socio-cultural and economic matters have a bearing on the Christian principles. It is from this background that Claiborne and Haw seek to examine whether the same principles in the nation’s founding documents hold sway on the face of the current state of affairs, both in the foreign relations’ domain, as well as in the homeland. Claiborne and Haw interrogate what they call idolatry in the church, as well as the way America conducts its business inside the state and elsewhere in the world, particularly in the area of war.
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Claiborne and Haw (2008) speak of an empire, and in other places imperial systems or acquisitions that have lorded over people and enslaved them from leading honest and down-to-earth lives. (p. 142)
Claiborne and Haw confuse wealth and richness as a sign of arrogance, and they imagine that rich Christians are not enthusiastic about giving alms to the poor. Claiborne and Haw walk all over the doctrine of prosperity, especially with heavy backing of passages in the bible that condemn riches of the present world. Claiborne’s excitement over the issue does not allow him to fully contextualize grounds for wealth and its purpose, as far as edifying the body of Christ is concerned.
The radicalism with which Claiborne and Haw present their arguments is to the effect that time and culture of the bible in the Apostle’s era should be extrapolated on the Christian lives, regardless of the current dynamics. While Claiborne and Haw present staying truths about the manner in which a Christian ought to live in relation with scripture, they fail to see that this too must be put in the context, as well. Claiborne and Haw argue that possessions, which they enumerate as empires that Christians may have are a snare to them, and even go on to quote from the first church’s practice that “To enter the church, many converts even went through a process of “exorcisms” to cast out the empires within”. (Claiborne and Haw, 2008, p. 144)
The American ideology of war is a form of enslavement to empires that Claiborne and Haw have examined in this chapter. The one idea that stands out, however, is that Claiborne and Haw are not against the war, but rather what the war stands for and what it has come to mean for the American people. Throughout the chapter, their reference to war and the identity it has given the American people before a watching world is notionally presented through stories and experiences of war veterans. Claiborne and Haw endeavor to show that some soldiers have lost faith in the American ideology of war on terror. To this end, they give an illustration of the story of a soldier who refuses to carry any weapon to the battle front for he claims that his faith is against the murder. The soldier is punished, ridiculed, stripped of his medals and imprisoned by his sergeant and fellow soldiers (Claiborne and Haw, 2008, p. 127).
Claiborne and Haw extensively show how the church has been caught in the crossfire between the politics of the day and their duty to God. They show that it is a battle of faith and loyalty to the state. However, according to Claiborne and Haw, the church can no longer draw the line of leaving alone, and sput her foot down on matters that contradict or overbear the duty of a Christian to the state. They ask “Has Caesar colonized your imagination?” (Claiborne and Haw, 2008, p. 197)
War campaigns and political crusades that drum support for them have, according to Claiborne and Haw, marred Christian stand on the issue. They opine that “Many Americans cannot see the beauty of the cross because everything the American flag represents to them is in the way” (Claiborne and Haw, 2008, p. 196) and also that “the American flag has smothered the glory of the cross” (Claiborne and Haw, 2008, p. 195)
Their stand on the issue is that Christians should leave the politics of the day to politicians and get on with their duty of service to God. To this end, they allude to the reverence of the early church that “the early churches were not trying to overthrow or reform the empire but they also were not going along with it either” (Claiborne and Haw, 2008, p. 141). Claiborne and Haw forsake the duty the church has of providing direction and counsel to the state, as both a stakeholder and a spiritual caretaker for the nation.
Claiborne and Haw pursue the issue further with a declaration that comes in a form of a cartoon depicting a soldier holding a rocket launcher and riding on a frazzled cross-wearing Jesus with the words “Dear world this is not my Jesus” (Claiborne and Haw, 2008, p. 210)
Claiborne and Haw correctly identify issues that have gone wrong in the America’s pursuit of sovereignty and the right to defend itself from its enemies and the costs it has brought on its people. (Claiborne and Haw, 2008, p. 184, 185 and 193) They talk about the economic harm and the obsession that has become America’s idolatry in the process. They correctly and commendably call on the church to exercise their vote to reign in order and put to prospective ‘empires’ that have gone wrong.