In the World

Just in time for Reign of Christ Sunday

Has the lion been considering lying down with the lamb in Washington DC? If so I missed it--but this seems to be the assumption behind a couple recent commentaries.

There's been some to-do over Bryan Fischer's assertion that the congressional Medal of Honor has been "feminized"--of late it's been awarded for saving other good guys but not for taking out bad ones. Fischer points out that he never said that Salvatore Giunta, who took a bullet performing a guns-blazing rescue, is himself an undeserving girly man. It's the institution of the Medal of Honor that's gone soft, failing to honor as well those whose kill counts saved America, not just fellow American soldiers.

Noted. But for crying out loud, people still think it's okay to say "feminine" to mean "weak and squeamish"? I'm sure our women in uniform will be interested to learn that killing enemies (which many of them have done) is masculine, while the Medal of Honor (which only one woman has ever received, and she was ordered to return it) is regrettably feminine.

Even more troubling is Fischer's theological rationale: he argues that, while it's true that Jesus laid down his life for his friends, he also defeated his enemy. Therefore we need to honor heroic sacrifice and heroic violence alike, lest we miss the full picture. It's a strangely literalized Christus Victor, suggesting a physical Satan whom Jesus personally kills. The Christ-like soldier doesn't just throw himself on a grenade to save his buddies, thereby overcoming the enemy's violence. He does so after firing off a grenade of his own and taking out a group of Taliban fighters.

Fischer's concern is this: that Americans are insufficiently steely in our commitment to necessary righteous violence. You don't have to be a pacifist to find this flatly absurd, what with our general apathy toward multiple unending wars of choice. But it fits in with Mark Tooley's alarm at the "ascendancy" of Anabaptist thought among U.S. evangelicals.

According to Tooley, "neo-Anabaptists now politically overshadow some of the 'Constantinian' Protestant forces that once persecuted them." His evidence: the Lutheran World Federation's apology for historical persecution of Anabaptists, along with the influence of Stanley Hauerwas, Greg Boyd, Shane Claiborne and Jim Wallis. This allegedly powerful movement "demand[s] that all Christians, and society, including the state, bend to pacifism."

Tooley's anxiety about the influence of nonviolence is astonishing--he seems to see this as a serious and immediate threat to the American political status quo. Would that it were so.

Steve Thorngate

The Century managing editor is also a church musician and songwriter.

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