Friday, April 25, 2008

REVOLUTION

a Biblical thought...
Now it's up to you. Be on your toes—both for yourselves and your congregation of sheep. The Holy Spirit has put you in charge of these people—God's people they are—to guard and protect them. God himself thought they were worth dying for. (Acts 20:28)

a Book thought...
The church should not be about winning people like themselves to themselves, but sharing the good news that Jesus has shattered the barriers that divide the human race and has created a new community. (p112 Frost)
a Dave thought...
Well the last 24 hours has certainly been eventful here in Adelaide. After the camp closing early we have continued to hear reports of others vomiting and going down with this Noro virus. My visit certainly hasn't been unproductive as it has been great to spend the past day conversing with Aaron White, Stephen Court, Grant Whitehead & Rowan Castle. The fruit of this camp continues to amaze me as I heard last night that the CO of Ingle Farm has asked for nine A1 forms so campers can follow through with their commitment to become officers of The Salvation Army.
Large focused gatherings of youth continue to be a way God uses to speak to many and challenge us each to live a life completely sold out to Him.

Just a thought.

47 comments:

Anonymous said...

that is fabulous news - we are in for a revolution - may we prepare the way

Anonymous said...

Lets pray that the revolution is allowed to happen it may take a deal of changing and shaking people up. Let us not continue to keep doing the same thing because it makes us comfortable. May we all be prepared to be uncomfortable for the sake of those who need to be part of the kingdom and allow those whom God has placed his hand upon to be able to make the difference that is needed.

Anonymous said...

Quick, get the kids signed up while they are still hyped up on an emotional high from a camp. Don't give them much opportunity to think through the ramifications of their 'decision'. Get them into training college as quickly as possible so that they can come under the dubious teachings of Stephen Court (being a fan of Toronto Blessing type of 'christianity').

My advice to you is this if you think you want to become a Salvation Army officer - take your time, seek out a broad range of opinions on the matter, go to a reputable bible college that will give you sound teaching and then go into officership via the backdoor approach (envoy etc). Dave, you should be able to advise them on how to get in this way seeing you managed to avoid the training college.

Anonymous said...

Dear Anon (3)

I am not sure where you are coming from however, sounds like you are full of some negativity.

We should be rejoicing that these young lives have been challenged and that they want to dedicate their lives to officership.

the first officers in TSA many very young, many great women, many uneducated, they relied on the power of the Holy Spirit to equip them and I am so glad that we are returning to this reliance.

There are so many lost people in this world and they need each and everyone of us to put down our own agendas and keep our eyes focused on the main purpose that we as Christians are in this world.

It doesnt matter if officers have come in through the so called "backdoor" what matters is the condition of their hearts.

I would challenge you to put your energies into praying for these young people and that they will be where God wants them to be.

Let the revolution begin and may we not get in the way.

Blessings

KLT

Anonymous said...

One must really question the use of posters such as this one and the images it portrays. Doesn't anybody check the message? Images of militaristic revolution led by look alike Che Guevars, behind the red flag, bombers in the sky threatening all. The shaping of the mission after miltary models, whether it be crsades or 'revolutions' tends to be a disasterous model. As a model it has constantly led the Christian church to move far from the gospel in its appropriation and use of power. One might well say that the most telling form of institutional reductionism in our history reside at this point. WJE

Anonymous said...

Revolution - what revolution are we getting all so fired up about? Revolution in the image of God kind of doesn't work. Enthusiasm and passion is also fine but neither of them makes for a sound foundation for officership. Not does have a sound theological education mean one does not rely on the Spirit. Graeme

War Room 614 said...

Questioning the imagery of Che and militarism was one of the big questions asked at the Revolution Camp. It was a great opportunity to dig into why we use the imagery we do, and to ask what presentation of Jesus we give the world. The Way that was presented was one of weakness, suffering, incarnation, solidarity with the poor, and victory. Some on here seem to assume that the sum total of the messages are "Hey, we have a cool graphic, be revolutionary, yay yay!" Please.

Ultimately, the picture of Jesus we need to be worried about is the one people are seeing in us. It frustrates me when people freak out about militant language, but don't care about, for example, the Salvation Army's complicity in actual warfare, or the fact that we aren't prepared to risk our lives for the gospel anymore. The language is a (biblically appropriate) tool to motivate people into a deeper and fuller imitation of Christ (in his suffering, his defiance, his compassionate love and in his victory), and a reflection of the reality of spiritual warfare. And it is very much part of who The Salvation Army has been and still is.

Incidentally, it's pretty easy to sling darts at an event or a speaker when you haven't been there. There has been, for example, a charge of emotionalism leading to conversions and officership. Not true. I've been to lots of events, and this one was one of the most measured and careful events designed for youth I've seen. So have a care before you try and tear up the body based on your assumptions.

Grace,

Aaron

War Room 614 said...

Graeme,

You make the mistake of assuming that Revolution is based only on enthusiasm and passion. This is incorrect, even in secular, violent revolutions.

One solid definition of "revolution" is the returning of power to it's rightful authority. Sounds like the Kingdom of God to me.

Grace,

Aaron

Anonymous said...

THE OBSERVATIONS/CRITICISMS RECORDED HERE ARE MERELY ASSUMPTIONS. THE CONCERNS EXPRESSED ARE SO IRRELEVANT THAT IT IS A LITTLE EMBARASSING TO READ.

I SUSPECT (READ ASSUME IF YOU LIKE) THAT THESE OPINIONS HAVE BEEN LONG HELD AND ARE NOW PROJECTED ON THIS EVENT/TESTIMONY.

Anonymous said...

LOL. and we wonder why youth don't wanna hang around.

radical discipleship - BA HUMBUG!

I think that the mr, mrs, captain and major scrooges have a lot to answer for as their navel gazing and ecclesiological self-loathing has founded a new form of organizational paralysis.

Being a thinking people does not justify being a cynical people.

hot tip - being prophetic never justifies eating your young!

Anonymous said...

I am unsure why people become so scepticle when great things happen. I was having this discussion with my teenage son last night about the tall poppy syndrome, when we have this terrible habbit of knocking people off their perch when they are achieving something great and perhaps we are not. We are all about the business of building God's Kingdom and not our own empires may we rejoice and be glad when an Officer requests 9 A1's I am sure this Officer is not uniformed about the character and commitment of those who are wishing to apply.

It is exciting we have been praying 24/7 for a movement of God's Spirit in TSA now it is starting to happen let us not wonder why it is happening. We prayed and God is answering our prayers.

May God bless and protect all these precious young people that God has placed his hand upon, may God also bless the rest of us so that we may embrace the moving of Gods HOly Spirit once again in our movement.

GBL

Anonymous said...

This so ridiculous! What amazing camp! That complaints originate with people who weren't there says it all.

Revolution: a restoring of authority to God - never through violence, never through rebbellion but always through God, his grace and always in Love. The messages given where the most beautiful, sensitive and intelligent renderings of our salvationist mandate that I've ever heard.

As for the call to officership - I wish that the tempered manner in which these were conducted were offered in my day.

As for the charge of hype and emotionalism? I'm inclined to agree with the response above. (all caps) Could it be that this event has been judged on the basis of unrelated historical events? I would wish to congratulate those leading this camp. I'm not sure that the criticism here is measured or relevant.

Saddening to see something so wholesome be smeared here.

Anonymous said...

Images have undeniable power to evoke new ideas and emotions in people’s minds and hearts, both good and bad. Images work at a nonconscious level and so we need to remind ourselves that images can overpower words. And yet we seem to inclined to underestimate the power of images in religion. The issue is not that while the poster may have been discussed at the camp, I am pleased it was. In today’s society, does military language and imagery conjure thoughts of pride and heroism, or, with all the violence, war and suffering in our world, does it accomplish the opposite? Therefore one must ask, how effective is this particular image? We must have the courage to ask if, in our day and age, the military metaphor hinders or helps Christian mission?
What image is more readily brought to mind when we look at this poster? I don’t think it portrays an image of a powerless suffering Christ who is bringing peace and reconciliation. Rather it portrays Christ as powerful and leading powerful forces (eg bombers). Where does that idea comes from? Well do some study on war propaganda posters and you will see the same imagery and background being used.
Such words and images long employed to all the church to mission are increasingly causing offense to the very people with whom we are seeking to share the Good News. Some of these words and images are biblical; some are motivational tools from the secular arena that we use to inspire involvement and action. Many are military in nature: "target," "conquer," "army," "crusade," "mobilize," "beachhead," "advance," "enemy," "battle."
Can we not find more reconciling, redemptive words and images in Scripture and elsewhere that will aid us in expressing love, respect and effective witness for Christ, rather than creating an atmosphere of adversarial confrontation? I think it is time we re-examine scripture and restate their global task in terms consistent with the teaching and mission of Christ. Alternate words and images including blessing, healing, inviting, sowing and reaping, fishing, restoring family relationships, becoming reconcilers, peacemakers and ambassadors. WJE

War Room 614 said...

WJE,

I am sympathetic to what you say, in a certain sense. If we are using these images and not being clear about they mean through our lives, then they can certainly be damaging.

Jesus used militant language, and imagery, as did his followers. The terms "Son of Man", "Kingdom of God", even "LORD" all had very defined meanings in a Roman empire inspired world. Christ's use of them was subversive and true. (Kind of like how Vietnam protesters tended to wear military fatigues).

If we are truly known to be revolutionary in the way we live our lives, truly subversive towards the kingdom of the world and all it's violence, then I think we can use these images fairly and truly. Yes, there will still be misunderstandings, but this is because the words and images are jarring and powerful, as we would want them to be.

Do I take it that you are committed to a non-violent lifestyle, if you are committed to non-violent imagery?

Grace,

Aaron

Anonymous said...

Mission images drawn from warfare, even when attempts are made to spiritualize them, inevitably communicate values at odds with Gospel. Linking the mission of the church to acts of coercion and violence strikes at the integrity of what we attempt to do in the name of Christ is at stake. Thus, the once venerable conceptual foundations on which TSA images once rested have substantially eroded over the past fifty years and so the key assumptions of these images expressed so vividly then, but no longer seem to fit. An interesting take on ‘Son of Man’ ‘Kingdom of God” and “LORD’. Yes, the last two were very political, and still are – but to militarize them, I don’t think so. The discussion with Pilate may have been different if this was the case. The Kingdom would have been of this world rather than ‘not’ of this world. Maybe the images are jarring because of the horror they invoke. Consequently we spend too much time trying to explain ourselves. I do believe in non-violence and endeavour to live that way. WJE

War Room 614 said...

Glad to hear you are trying to live consistently in a non-violent way. It frustrates me when people knock the militant language but are happy to bless the bullets before they fly.

I disagree with your take on military language always being bad - Paul certainly used it, it's in Revelation, and Kingdom of God was a political and military term (there was very little distinction, if any.)

I'm not sure what you mean about TSA's venerable conceptual foundations - they were militant, and revolutionary. Warfare was still horrific then. Yes, people were more comfortable with it (in some places, in many places they are still comfortable with it today) but I don't think that's what really recommends it.

I use the imagery and language because I hold it to be biblically appropriate, and because it is subversive. It's not sacred, it's just a tool. I use it as a tool (and not the only tool) to communicate the kingdom of God, which I hold to be non-violent, but still aggressive and world-changing. And my aggressively non-violent activist friends love the imagery, when and where it is used in such a way.

But we also use gardening imagery, and run a community garden. And that works too.

Grace,

Aaron

Anonymous said...

We need to be able to give the young people of this generation something to be challenged about - a course to fight for - many of the previous generation grew up in a Salvation Army that was happy to just maintain the status quo - therefore we are now left with the results of this. We need this passionate movement of young people to take our Army into the next generation and once again win the world for Jesus (oh, and not so young I dont want to be left out)

GB

Anonymous said...

Mission is not essentially a human activity undertaken by TSA out of obligation to the Great Commission, gratitude for what God has done for us, or the desperate plight of the world. It is God’s own mission in we are invited to participate. TSA is not as much a sending agency as it is a sent agency. We are sent because the Triune God is Sender. To participate in mission is to participate in the movement of God’s love toward people, since God is a fountain of sending love. Thus God’s mission flows out of love; our mission, which patterned after and participates in God’s must too. Consequently, mission is more caught than taught, more divinely imparted than humanly initiated. As we participate in the divine dance of love, we are captured by the divine mission. War and military images are used by Paul - often in ways that subvert them. The Divine Warrior theme is in Revelation but it is Christ not us who is that Warrior. Peter's use of the sword, the discussion with Pilate and the discussion in Mark 10:35-45 seems to also subvert it all. WJE

Anonymous said...

When Jesus called his first disciples he also handed them an image that was symbolic of their future task: I will make you fish for people” (Mk.1:17. In this way Jesus created the crucial link that continues to hold together figurative language and Christian mission. Subsequent teaching would be infused with the terminology of comparison, eg the parables, as Jesus explained and illustrated the significance of his words and deeds in ways that could connect with his hearers. I don’t remember a parable that says “the kingdom of God is like a soldier or mighty army or revolution”. I would agree with WJE that the poster is inappropriate and gives the wrong message. KL

Anonymous said...

I pray that the young person who drew the picture that has been attacked does not come across these criticisms. It will be taken personal and could result in the further marginalisation of yet another young person.

Anonymous said...

Once again the minor details detract from the bigger picture.

It never ceases to amaze me how well the devil can plant seeds inside people's minds - that make them see the small detail that is in need of criticism whilst the bigger picture escapes the attention. In this case the bigger picture is that:

People have been saved (PRAISE GOD)
Lives have been changed (Amen)
People have put themselves forward for officership (Great Stuff)

we will never get anywhere whilst we focus on the small details and fail to see the bigger picture God has painted for us.

Anonymous said...

"War and military images are used by Paul - often in ways that subvert them. The Divine Warrior theme is in Revelation but it is Christ not us who is that Warrior. Peter's use of the sword, the discussion with Pilate and the discussion in Mark 10:35-45 seems to also subvert it all."

Yes, subversion. So we agree? I am all for using these images for the purposes of subversion. I thought I made that clear. And yes, Jesus is the revolutionary, the warrior, and this was made utterly clear at the camp as well. We are to imitate Jesus in his revolutionary way.

I also agree about the Missio Dei stuff. It is God's activity in the world, and our responsibility is to serve him and worship him. So we serve Christ when we serve the poor, when we go out into all the world, when we stand in solidarity with the suffering. We don't initiate this stuff, and that is made manifestly clear in the Revolution teaching.

KE - There is blatant "army" references in Revelation 19. Jesus makes war with the enemy army, and his army trails after him. This is spiritual warfare, yes, but the imagery is decidedly militant.

Hey, end of the day I'm not that bothered about the poster. I even cut it up somewhat as I preached at Revolution (asking people to examine what kind of message it portrays, and what kind of message we portray as carriers of Christ). The poster is not the event, the image is not the revolution. It's a very small matter compared to all the good that happened at the event, and is happening in that territory. As before, I contend that the militant language and images used in the Salvation Army reflect a spiritual reality, are a tool that can be used well or poorly, and that the lived-out revolutionary lives that we are called to are inestimably more important.

I'll Fight (with love),

Aaron

Anonymous said...

WJE.
What would your response have been if you where in Whitby in 1878 and saw the following poster 'Hallelujah Army' declares 'War in Whitby' under the command of 'Captain Cadman'?
Apparently 3000 wanted to find out what the poster was all about.
Limo

Anonymous said...

Wow, this is intense! Though I really can't go past Anon 3. The 'ramifications' of signing up for college! Hilarious! The ramifications for signing up to an all expenses paid life of serving our amazing God in the greatest denomination raised up. Yeah, let's continue to plant the seed that Officership is a bad life. That will grow our denomination. Young people, please don't listen! Officership is fantastic! Get your form today and don't let anyone hold you back.
As for your slander of Captain Stephen Court, he is your appointed Training College Principal, show some respect. Let's give the guy a few years to raise up a few 'emotionally hyped' young leaders and see if it makes a difference to our aging and dying Army in Australia.
All this time I've heard officers trying desperately to get young people into college. It starts to happen and you get scared. Dear me.

Anonymous said...

1878 - the poster may have been appropriate. But since then the world had radically changed. Let me share the Statement made by the Evangelical Fellowship of India concerning Mission Language. Nov. 2001. Lets hear the voice of other fellow believers and their experience.
We accept the need to be sensitive in our language to show consideration for other and how they may perceive our words. This applies to what we say or write for any medium at all, including letters, reports, songs, prayers, and material on the Internet, for boundaries between in-house and public domain are disappearing. We acknowledge that some churches and Christian missions have borrowed offensive secular terms, and over-extended military metaphors from the Bible. For example, the Bibles uses “soldier” to illustrate how we should obey God, but not to encourage an aggressive attitude to other people. While we want to avoid inappropriate military language, we profit from Bible metaphors that call us to respect and obey God and those in authority. However, warfare words, such as “army”, “advance”, “attack”, “battle”, “campaign”, “crusade”, “conquer”, “commandos”, ‘enemy”, “foe”, “forces”, “marching orders”, “mobilize”, “soldier”, “tactical plan”, “target”, “victory”, “weapons”, have been wrongly used as motivational tools for missions. Other offensive words include “pagan”, “darkness” and “heathen”. Emphasis on such vocabulary is unloving, inappropriate and counter-productive. Language that excludes women also offends. We must continuously examine both our attitudes and our language. We believe evil in all its forms is in conflict with the rule of god. Evil is our enemy and not people. We object to language that can wrongly label people as enemies, or appear aggressive. Although the gospel call to follow Christ may cause offence and be opposed by some, we must take care to void vocabulary than can be distorted to justify that position. Warfare language is not our motivation for mission. We share Christ because we experience the love and grace of God, leading us to worship and proclamation. As God loves all people without discrimination, so should we. We respect and serve all in words, attitudes and actions, regardless of caste, race, class, creed and gender. We call upon our brothers and sisters to take care not to offend with words. We also ask the church outside India to be aware that inappropriate mission language not only offends people of other faiths but also brings harm to Christians here. Let us draw our mission terms from Biblical concepts. Let us use words like family, relationship, love, welcome, embrace, reconcile, hope, service, peace with God, promoting justice, offering gifts of life and blessing.
Makes you think. WJE

Anonymous said...

When I signed my Articles of War, I signed my life away in a fight for mercy, justice and love. To propose now that as the Salvation Army, we forgo our very foundation and calling to be an Army suggests that we deny our identity. To suggest that we water down our calling is a scary concept to me. Praise God that we wage war against the enemy, fight with light against darkness, and claim victory in His name! God bless the Salvation Army!

We are in a battle for the salvation of the world. When I see a family struggling to make ends meet, it makes me angry that there is injustice in the world and I want to fight for that family. When I talk to a friend who's life is so messed up because it's clogged with sin, I want to fight for their freedom!

"While women weep, as they do now, I'll fight; while children go hungry, as they do now I'll fight; while men go to prison, in and out, in and out, as they do now, I'll fight; while there is a drunkard left, while there is a poor lost girl upon the streets, while there remains one dark soul without the light of God, I'll fight, I'll fight to the very end!” (William Booth)

I pray that kids attending this camp, as I did, are not disheartened by reading some of the points discussed here. Keep fighting for mercy, justice and love, and do so in His name.

Anonymous said...

Have been following the discussion. Seems some people don't want to engage with the issue raise concerning the message of the poster and the images it portrays.

Anonymous said...

Really Anonymous? It seems all we've been doing is addressing the issue of the poster. It could be said that all this talk has actually been distracting people from the incredible things that happened at the camp, which is what the original post was about. It is entirely incorrect to say that people have been "ducking" this issue.

As I've said a few times, this is an important issue, and one we even dealt with it at the camp. There is a need to be sensitive, and the language is not sacred (except of course the biblical imagery). We talked at length about what kind of picture of Jesus the world is seeing through us. But I assert it would be less of an issue (and should be less of one) if we bothered to actually get down to the business of fighting evil and sin and darkness in our world. In my neck of the woods people know what we mean by Revolution, because they see us trying to actually get on with it. We sing songs about fighting, and then we fight. But people see how we fight, and it makes sense.

WJE - If using warfare imagery is always wrong, as you have asserted, why would it then be appropriate in 1874, but not now? War was horrific in the 19th century as well. And I was in Australia for Anzac day - it seems as if there is still a great "honour" given to the act of war, not least by The Salvation Army.

I feel there is still a great opportunity to subvert the language, to take what is used for evil and use it for good. Shane Clairborne (a noted pacifist) does this very effectively in his book "Irresistible Revolution". I remember him being asked about the militant language and structure of TSA, and whether he thought it was ok. He said he thought it was ok, so long as people were in on the joke. By which he meant we have to ensure people understand the subversive nature of the language, just as Christ used very subversive political and military references.

Now, if what you assert is true, we should have to change the name of The Salvation Army. To be truly consistent, you should probably not associate yourself with such an militaristic organisation. Blood and Fire is terribly wrong if all violent imagery is wrong. I'm not by any means taking a shot at you, by the way, just wondering how you reconcile your involvement with your views.

I use all the terms suggested in that Indian piece (I have seen that before) as well as using the term revolution, and talking about the fight. Why? Because I don't want to reconcile with sin and evil, I want to fight it. I'm not okay with tolerating child poverty or human trafficking, it needs to be overcome (another aggressive term). We are called more than conquerors, and I believe it. The Bible uses the language of resistance, or swords, or armour, or training and discipline, and I think there is a reason for that. And I think there is a good reason for us to continue to "fight".

Still, at the end of the day, I would far rather us not use the language and actually fight, than use the language and do nothing.

There is a great piece on this by Rob Perry on The Rubicon: http://www.therubicon.org/index.
php?s=heroes

Grace,

Aaron

Anonymous said...

If using warfare imagery is always wrong, as you have asserted, why would it then be appropriate in 1878, but not now? Appropriate to the day of Empire and when Britain was involved in the Afghanistan and the Zulu wars. War is always hell and we have many who have fled to this country for safety and shelter. Nice to know there was discussion concerning the picture of Jesus the world is seeing through us. This takes us back to the poster –What does the collection of images suggest about the nature of TSA mission. What is the dominant theme – certainly not the cross and what is the image of Jesus being portrayed?
If we have to go to great lengths to subvert language and explain what we mean in order for them to get the ‘joke’, then it tends to defeat the purpose. I don’t think anyone is saying we are to compromise with evil or work to change that which is wrong in any given culture or society. Just may be there is a better way and better images for a shattered world
Having seen the India statement – how do you respond to their concerns?
As for the name – it was changed once before – who is to say it’s not time for another change? After all its not sacred – or is it?
As for ANZAC I believe someone else has had something to say about that. Sacralization of violence – mm, I wonder if the same if not happening in this debate. WJE

Anonymous said...

No, I can say confidently the same thing is not happening in this debate. I use the language as a tool against violence, and against kingdom of the world. And I have repeatedly said that the language is not sacred.

How was the language appropriate when Britain was involved in Empire building at the expense of indigenous people? If it was appropriate then, it is appropriate now.

I would be uncomfortable with the unthinking use of violent themes in the 1800s, 1900s, and 2000s. But I am fine with the language of the fight and revolution, if we really mean what we say and understand it in terms of sin and injustice.

I spoke with Salvation Army officers from India, in particular about what it would mean to take on systemic poverty there, to fight the evil of the caste system. They very much understood that terminology, and came to the conclusion that to fight that system would mean they would have to die, The Salvation Army would have to die. Then one of the officers said, "yes, the Salvation Army has to die."

That is sacred, not the language used. That is in the spirit of the fight, of sacrifice, of revolution.

Do you not think that teaching young salvationists that kind of revolutionary way of Jesus (and I really can't think of a better way of describing it) is a good thing? Again, there is a lot more than the poster involved here.

Grace,

Aaron

Anonymous said...

A question I have asked a few times, but received no adequate response on (and I'm legitimately asking for people's thoughts):

What do we do with the militant and aggressive images in Scripture?

If it is true that "Mission images drawn from warfare, even when attempts are made to spiritualize them, inevitably communicate values at odds with Gospel", then what do we do with chunks of the Bible?

How can we justify the notion of putting on the full armour of Christ? What do we do with 2 Cor 10:3-6 (violent words like wage war, weapons, fight, demolishing strongholds, taking captive, punish all show up there)? How can we handle Peter suggesting that the "enemy" is "at war" with our souls? How can we put up with Revelation, which blatantly uses images of warfare all throughout to get its message across? It even shows Jesus as a warrior, brandishing a sword! (Sometimes in his mouth no less! Is he a pirate, or what?)

There is lots more. Clearly this is not the only way of describing Jesus or his Kingdom, far from it. But it IS a way, and it does not follow that Jesus or his first disciples were militaristic.

Do we just say that the world was different? Sure it was. They had the Roman Empire, striking violent fear into people's hearts throughout the known world. Could the violent imagery in Scripture have put some Christians in danger? You bet! Could it have angered authorities? Absolutely! But this deliberately provocative language was used by Jesus ("I have come to bring a sword!") and others for a reason. They were describing a spiritual war, and a different reality. The war is not over. and the language should inspire us to continue to fight for that different Kingdom reality, one in which violence is put to death.

I'm not saying we should use it unthinkingly. The images and words are powerful and contain much that could be very harmful to people and to the cause of Christ. I recognise that we live at the other end of a history of the Church being in power and using violence horrifically, and that needs to come into our understanding. And I for one don't really care much for (or about) the poster used for this particular camp. I'm just suggesting that the language is certainly in there, and that to suggest that violent imagery is always opposed to the Kingdom of God suggests we have to edit the Bible for violent content.

Grace,

Aaron

Anonymous said...

Aaron you still want to privilege the Army and its war language and the aggression and violence portrays an ethos that is incongruent to the gospel. Such an approach that fails to acknowledge the problem of such language suffers from the leprosy of arrogance. When as missioners we continue to use such language in the hope that it shares the gospel with those we want to reach, then we have created a completely different set of conditions. In our case, nearly everything connected to the event of Christian mission has to be explained or negotiated, not least the identity of the one bearing witness and that one’s motives. On what grounds does this person presume to speak or act on behalf of the gospel here. Does this one intend good or ill for my community and family when he or she uses war images to describe the mission they are on? Again, why the privileging of military images and the warrior cult which is deeply rooted in western culture and is deeply reductionist. Maybe its time to call all, not just the youth to a radical discipleship and teach them what that means as Jesus taught the Twelve. And by the way, where is Dave on all this? Other than being silent. Graeme

armybarmy said...

Graeme,

I am willing to use all kinds of imagery in the communication of the gospel, and I don't commit the arrogance of refusing to use biblical imagery as part of that. I do not say that this is the only way to communicate discipleship, just that it is one way. I have also been clear that I will use the imagery of the gardener, the Creator, the Judge, the Poet, the Bridegroom, etc...But you will have it that we cannot use some biblical analogies, some descriptions of spiritual warfare.

I am also true to the heritage of which I am a part, and believe there very much is still a space to communicate things in this way. The word "Christian" is offensive to many, as is the word "Salvation". I have to explain those concepts to people as well.

I find that people understand perfectly well what I mean when I talk of the fight against sin and injustice. That is very much the language of the streets where I live, the language of struggle, of resistance, of revolution. It is earthed in the reality of people's experience, whereas a lot of other, more "softened" and lofty language is not.

It is also my experience that where we live out the struggle and the fight, our words and imagery make a great deal more sense, and have more resonance and power. All language is worthless if not accompanied by action. And that is ultimately what I care about, not the imagery. If we will not fight, then the soldiership imagery and language is not offensive, it is ridiculous and wasteful.

Grace,

Aaron

james said...

I was at the camp and it was great!

I'm a youth worker and if I started walking around telling youth me and God love them and wanted to have a relationship with them they would laugh in my face and maybe get the police involved...

What no one is getting is the youth culture and the language they use.

when we use language of war the things that come to their mind is of joining up (9A1 forms hallelujah!) and of fighting for a cause. Nothing wrong with either of those and I find it really shameful that theres people who think the youth are going to get the wrong picture and go kill someone. please, give the youth some credit!

can someone please tell me why they would be in the salvation army even though they disagree with it? I'm finding that really hard to understand. surely there are heaps of other places where you would be free to minister...

Anonymous said...

Dear Graeme and WJE

As the parent of four children all raised in tsa. i am so excited that at last our young people are being rallying and called to action. we are in an extreme battle a battle in the heavinlies that has taken many of our precious young people's souls while we stand by idly.

thank goodness there are people who are courageous enough to take on the challenge and call our young people to battle for good, for justice for the souls of those in live in darkness against the evil of this world. calling them once again to holiness, for too long we have watered down the message thinking this will keep our young people but it has had the opposite effect. young people of this generation need a cause to fight for a place to belong and be held accountable. I have watched over the years as my children their ages scattered have grown up with different ideologies and this generation has got it right.

Please dont discourage them.
lets get on the side lines and cheer them along may our hearts be changed also and challenged to a greater level of holliness and commtiment to the battle.

JMC

Anonymous said...

Most of you are so quick to criticise everything yet none of you leave your names. Why are you so scared to actually put your name to what you are stating? Do you actually believe what you are saying or do you just like whinging?

Adam Mackenroth

Anonymous said...

lets call ourselves the Salvation Peace Keeping People?

Anonymous said...

As much as I believe in the right to debate ideas and concepts, some of the ways that brothers and/or sisters in Christ are speaking to each other, such as phrases like "leprosy of arrogance" are far more offensive than any poster images discussed. I think Aaron has clearly shown that he is anything but arrogant in his writings. Please remember that if you are asking others to use images and words of love, the same needs to be applied in your words to each other on this blog. One of the things that Aaron has discussed is being the image of Christ in every area of our lives... perhaps something to be re-examined judging by some of the language shown here. Praise God for the lives that were changed on this camp: I am one of them!!!

Concerned Soldier said...

I normally don't read most blogs or the comments because I think it can be a trap for a misuse of time. In this instance I couldn't help but to see what the "discussion" was all about. After reading the comments it reaffirmed my belief.

In Titus Paul reminds us in Chapter 3 verse 9, “But avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and arguments and quarrels about the law.”

I know what you are arguing about is not the law. What you do argue about is something I feel that is even less important than the law. If we are advised not to argue about the law, how much more so should we not argue about such trivial matters?

I know how easy it is to fall into this type of discussion. I too had a take on this topic, but what does that matter? The human mind is the last thing we should depend on.

Ya’ll (might give you a clue as to my origin) seem very passionate which is awesome. Lets use that energy (all of it) for the Kingdom.

Just a thought.

The Kingdom of God is at hand….

Concerned Soldier
J.A.King

Anonymous said...

Interesting responces - not sure I see the orgins of the discussion as an attack on the youth. Nor that those who are willing to discuss such topics are being disloyal to the Army and so question their place in it. The debate is legitimate. It may help to speak to those who have been on the brutal end of violance in the name of religion. And the reminder by the Indian document that inappropriate mission language..brings harm to Christians in other places (India).Unthinking use of images and language to define mission is not helpful nor are emotive responses. The images we use and the texts we attach to them need to come from sound biblical exegesis and theology. It seems we have forgotten this. GB

Anonymous said...

Remove the cross in the poster and replace it with the cresent and we would all be up in arms.So what's the diff?

Anonymous said...

If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would be fighting, that I might not be delivered over. (Jn.18:36). ...the mystery of the Gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. (Eph.6:20) A demilitarized Jesus and his apostle. Both in a position to threaten no one and so free to declare the truth about the loving gracious God, even in the face of imperial prerogative. Unencumbered by the trappings of power both announced the Good News by means of a vulnerable public witness through the power of the Holy Spirit. Christ Jesus the Lord calls and equips us to become those who not only hear but do the Word of God, and who incarnate the good news of God's healing love for all the world. If we cannot do other than define God's mission in other than warfare terms then I think we are failing to incarnate the gospel of peace and so we betray the gospel and its transforming power. This raises questions that we as an organization need to grapple with. Questions like what are the assumptions and attitudes that shape our definition of the gospel and our the mission we have been called to participate in? Who, for us, is Jesus Christ? What are the assumptions about power which guide us as an institution? H do our assumptions incarnate the gospel of Jesus Christ? If there is to be renewal of mission images then our current images and language needs to come under the scrutiny of Scripture.To do that, we need to hear the voice Christians from other cultures, eg the statement from India. We also need to hear the voice of those within the organization who do not agree with the current images and language. WJE

War Room 614 said...

WJE,

Had you been at Revolution, you would have heard me deliver exactly the message you wrote in the first few lines of your last post. I described the Way of the Revolutionary Jesus as the way of incarnation, weakness, suffering, being crushed, eschewing worldly power and temptation. His throne was the cross, his crown thorns, his charger a donkey, his portrait a slain lamb. That is the Revolutionary Jesus the youth were taught about, and I do not apologise for it.

On these things we are not debating. And yet you insist on characterising the use of the terms "Revolution" and "Fight" as always meaning the embrace of worldly power. Of course Jesus rejected worldly power. But in doing so he also used worldly terms, powerful terms, politically and militarily subversive terms to explain what he was doing, to throw his use of left-handed power into sharp contrast with the power of Herod and Rome. It lead to great confusion, to zealots in his own ranks, but it is part of the language that he and his followers employed. Of this there is no doubt.

But you seem to deny this. You have offered no explanation for why it is legitimate in Scripture for Jesus to be portrayed at the head of an army, wielding a sword, declaring a conquering kingdom. I have an explanation for it, and it is not one that involves any Christians taking up swords and lopping off the heads of infidels. But taken at face value, your argument suggests that this Scriptural imagery is inappropriate.

I agree that our view of mission and the images we use must be informed by Scripture. But I only see you avoiding this Scriptural portrayal of Jesus. He is both the slain lamb and the Lion of Judah. He is Christ Crucified and Christus Victor. We must hold onto both, and know that one does not come without the other.

I don't know how many times I have said that this is not the only language we can or must employ when talking about Jesus and mission. You have created a straw man there. But we are not limited from intelligently and carefully using that scriptural imagery, just as we must intelligently and carefully use all scriptural imagery (Whore of Babylon? White-washed tombs? Fishers of Men?

It is actually possible that people can engage with this carefully and intelligently, and that this language actually can speak to people and lead them into sacrifice, compassion and a non-violent (but still aggressive) imitation of Christ. Given that this is our denominational heritage, and that it is drawn from Scripture, one would think you would encourage its intelligent consideration and use, not its outright dismissal.

Grace,

Aaron

P.S. Concerned Soldier - I know who you are and where you're from. :) I take your caution to heart, but I actually do think this can be a fruitful discussion, if entered into generously, intelligently and graciously. Violence is a deep concern of mine. Yet I am starting to lose faith in the fruit of this particular debate, and there is an actual fight out there for us to be involved in, so I will most likely bow out soon.

anthony n castle said...

Wow. Maybe I should post anonymously just to fit in here.

Revolution Camp was fun, challenging and its ministry times were rooted in the working of the Spirit. Kids got saved, sanctified and committed themselves to soldiership and officership. Pretty hard to fault that really...

As for the imagery of the camp poster: it was designed to communicate the militant nature of our movement and the coming of the Kingdom in a manner that teens relate to. It succeeded. If you don't like it, don't look at it.

The 'militant imagery' of our faith and practice is scriptural and at the God given core of our movement. It can't see how its up for debate.

Blessings

Concerned Soldier said...

Aaron,

I completely understand where you are coming from. I think fruitful might have happen several comments ago. The discussion I think is way past fruitful (ex. leprosy of arrogance).

WJE

As for the imagery of a poster I believe there is scriptural backing for both sides.

That leaves us with only one course of action. That is Paul's advice about a believer’s freedom in which Paul uses meat sacrificed to idols as an example. I believe this was given to us as a litmus test. I Corinthians Chapter 10 ver. 23, “Everything is permissible—but not everything is beneficial. Everything is permissible—but not everything is constructive.”

Now was the poster beneficial and/or constructive? I am not sure. I believe the only ones that can answer that are those persons that were involved/attended the event the poster was made for. (I am making the assumption that you did not attend.) Those of us that did not attend (myself included) cannot judge, especially since we were deprived of the totality of the experience.

If the poster was not beneficial or constructive then do not use it of course. I Corinthians Chapter 10 vers. 31, 32. “ So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the Glory of God. 32. Do not cause anyone to stumble…” I will leave that decision to those persons that planned, were involved, and attended the event.

ALL

As for my position on discussion, I believe it is a good thing when done properly. But when you come to a point where opposite sides are not going to budge its time to stop. Believe me when I say this (stopping discussion when there is no longer fruit) is a lot easier for me to say than do. So the comments I give I give for myself first and whoever else wants to listen a distant second.

Love ya’ll Brothers!

The Kingdom of God is at hand...

Concerned Soldier
J.A.King
P.S. Aaron, is this the best way to correspond with you? That was my original motivation for posting a comment. :)

Anonymous said...

In search of an organizing principle that best describes our true vocation in a world that is shattered by oppression and war and the fear of holy war in the name of western imperialism or fundamentalist jihad. Justice attained without violence; peace attained without accompanying tyranny. My friends, the world today is still wondering how to get to that result. No, WJE has not denied the imagery you speak of but as he points out they are not the dominant image. The dominant image of Revelation is the Lamb that was slain, and it is the Lamb rather than the sword wielding Christ who sit upon the throne. What has been pointed out is that there are dialectical truths found in scripture and it would appear these truth are not being held in tension but that one side, ie the militarism, has been sacralized at the expense of other images. It is good to hear some of what was taught. However, I too believe its time for a rethink concerning our interpretation of and use of biblical text so that we may better learn how to carry the eternal, character forming gospel into a world that has been shattered by evil. Brian

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