Friday, December 23, 2005

Highlights of a heartwarming Christmas message from Russell D. Moore, dean of the school of theology at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary:

The Apocalypse at Christmastime

At the outset of the Christmas season a few Sundays ago, I was preparing to teach a Sunday School class in a series from Revelation on Jesus as a conquering Warrior Messiah, dripped in blood and destroying His enemies. Somehow it seemed a little inappropriate for this time of year.

Shouldn't I take a break from the Apocalypse to highlight the little Lord Jesus asleep on the hay? Isn't there something kind of, well, unseasonable about teaching, at this time of year, about a Christ who bears a sword and a cosmic entourage, who prepares His people a messianic banquet and then prepares for the birds a banquet of the flesh and blood of His enemies (Revelation 19:17-19)?

... As a matter of fact, the sentimental Jesus of the Christmas season often chills our evangelistic fervor because we forget that the Bethlehem event is the exact opposite of blessing the good feelings of contemporary American culture.... the angel tells Mary not just that she will bear a holy Child but that he will sit on the throne of His father David (Luke 1:32-33), a throne it must be remembered that came through the severed head and bloody foreskins of not a few Philistines.... And all of this is rooted in an ancient promise that the son of the woman would crush the head of the serpent of Eden (Genesis 3:15).

...With Bethlehem before her, Mary ... had Armageddon on her mind. So should we.

He's not completely off base, obviously -- the Bible isn't all sweetness and light. But I think this message points up the difference between Christianist conservatives and everyone else in America, including Christians who aren't of this stripe: The conservatives are really obsessed with their own rightness (as in "Get right with God") and with the deficiency of others, who, because they're not right, are the enemy in the battle of all battles. This way of looking at things has drifted over into the secular world; if you want to know why liberals and conservatives, Democrats and Republicans, can't seem to compromise anymore in Washington, this is a big reason why -- for quite a while now, conservatives have said that non-conservatives are not just wrong, but evil. If some Democrats are digging in their heels a bit more, and if lefties outside the process of formal politics -- like us bloggers -- seem more and more absolutist, this is why. We're just fighting fire with fire.

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