A Thought For July 4th

In a sermon delivered in the 1980s and reprinted as Chapter 2 “Hope” in the book “God, Christ And Us“, the great Dominican Herbert McCabe writes about how the church doesn’t have to seek out trouble. Loving people in a Jesus way will bring down the wrath of the powerful of this world.

This means that however we may twist and turn to keep in with the people in power, however hard the churches may twist and turn to keep in with the people in power, however hard the churches may even try to sell out to the wealthy and their agents, to collude with the oppressors of the poor – it cannot be done for long. In the end the Church lives by the Holy Spirit and the gates of hell cannot indefinitely prevail. For this we have nowadays the testimony of the men of power themselves: throughout the world, whether it be the businessmen and military dictators of Latin America or the bureaucrats of Eastern Europe, they all agree that the major internal threat to their power comes not from terrorists or political subversives but from those churches that have recovered the gospel. Those who have remembered that the Church is just humankind being drawn towards the Kingdom, and that the Kingdom belongs to the poor. It is these churches that are especially hated by the powers of this world.”

On this July 4th, as my American Christian brothers and sisters celebrate their freedom, it seems proper to suggest that in a nation of totalitarian surveillance, widespread torture and permanent war, the church there won’t know the Kingdom of God until they are known with suspicion by their so called Republic.

Your Correspondent, Offering a suggestion, not a prophetic diktat

6 Replies to “A Thought For July 4th”

  1. My experience of the church in america is that its often hated but rarely looked on as possible traitors to the cause..

  2. Why do you think the Republic of Ireland has never had an independence day?

    And do you think it is wise for Christians to celebrate such a day? I read a post recently which argued that Christians can join in with the celebrations even if they don’t agree with the reasons behind them. Here the good of community/fellowship is worth pursuing without buying into any of the myths. What do you make of that? I recall in one of Tertullian’s works (De spectaculis, I think) that he talks about Christians avoiding the feast days of non-Christians in order to maintain their distinctive witness. Basically, Christians do not find pleasure in the same things as non-Christians, and this must be reflected in our public life.

    I suppose a larger question is, Is the freedom celebrated today a good? And even if it is, can we celebrate it given that it was achieved through enormous violence?

    There is also the question of fellowship for fellowship’s sake versus fellowship that signifies a common bond. The author of the blogpost seems to be arguing for the latter, but I’m not so sure that fellowship in and of itself is a good. anyway, here is that post:


  3. Dec,

    I’m not a Christian, but I would speculate that Matthew 10:35 implies Christians should maintain a counter-cultural stance if the culture is objectionable. There’s not much good in keeping a raft together if the raft is heading over a waterfall.

  4. Thanks, Morbert.

    Perhaps the real problem for Christians is not that the culture is objectionable but that the church is objectionable. By taking a “counter-cultural” stance at this point (and many others) a Christian is seemingly forced into separating him or her self from most other Christians.

    Yet perhaps that gets even closer to the meaning of the passage you refer to.

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