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Encouragement for America

Updated on March 10, 2016

What claims do we make?

Sermon by Author A, notes by Author B

Encouragement for America

Author A gave sermon July 1, 2012 for Veteran's Day. Author B responds.

Author A

On this special Sunday morning as we celebrate the birth of our nation, I want to bring to you a very brief pastoral word of encouragement – encouragement for us gathered here, encouragement for those worshipping with us by television or radio, encouragement for America.

You and I gather this day in a moment of national insecurity, with so much anxiety and so many loud voices being raised, in a nation facing so many challenges. I want to invite you to join with me in remembering the vision of those who built this nation and who, with that vision in their hearts and minds, were able to meet all the challenges of their day, enabling us to have this celebration in ours.

Author B

We are not in a situation of national insecurity. There are levels and degrees of paranoia and I suggest that taking this point of view is at least neurotic fear. This issue is best addressed by a professional in mental health.

Author A

“Be of good courage, be strong, do not be frightened or dismayed; for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” If you know your Bibles, you know those words are from Joshua 1:9. God gave them to the Hebrews as they were going forth to build in this land a new nation under God in Palestine. What you may not know is that the first colonists here, the Puritans, claimed those words, as they were stepping forth to build in this land a new nation under God. They held fast to those words so that, with all the challenges facing them, they would stand secure in the providence of God. For they believed that as they were faithful to the task of building a nation truly under God, God would be with them even as He had been with the Hebrews. And they knew that where God is, power follows.

Author B

God was not in the Book of Joshua because God would not take sides in battle or command or condone violence, especially the killing of women and children. God did not hire one group of people (Hebrews) to kill another (Canaanites). The Hebrews claim a divine right to kill others, but be protected by God. This is a false claim because God does not condone violence.

And they utterly destroyed all that was in the city (Jericho), both man and woman, young and old, and ox, and sheep, and ass, with the edge of the sword. Joshua 6:21.

And it came to pass, as they fled from before Israel, and were in the going down to Beth-horon, that the LORD cast down great stones from heaven upon them unto Azekah, and they died: they were more which died with hailstones than they whom the children of Israel slew with the sword. Joshua 10:11.

And there was no day like that before it or after it that the LORD hearkened unto the voice of a man: for the LORD fought for Israel. Joshua 10:14.

So Joshua smote all the country of the hills, and of the south, and of the vale, and of the springs, and all their kings: he left none remaining, but utterly destroyed all that breathed, as the LORD God of Israel commanded. Joshua 10:40.

And the LORD said unto Joshua, Be not afraid because of them: for tomorrow about this time will I deliver them up all slain before Israel: thou shalt hough their horses, and burn their chariots with fire. Joshua 11:6.

So we can conclude that God was not in the Book of Joshua. God did not have a covenant with Joshua or the Hebrews because killing was involved. The Hebrews were not chosen by God to kill anyone. Joshua is not inspired of God, not sacred, and therefore not scripture.

If the Puritans claimed what Joshua claimed, it was a false claim. Author A is perpetuating a false claim.

Author A

Now, this coming week we’re going to read many articles containing false information about the beginning of America. So, let’s just be very clear about how this nation was born. 52 of the 55 signers of the Declaration of Independence were committed, orthodox Christians. The other 3 believed in God and in God’s intervening activity in the affairs of humankind. Then after those 55 signed the Declaration of Independence in 1776, do you know one of the first things they did? They formed the American Bible Society. Since this nation was so strapped for cash, they took up a collection from their own pockets to buy 20,000 Bibles to distribute to the colonists. For they were sure that this nation, however high or lofty its ideals, could never begin to accomplish those ideals unless the lives of its citizens were built upon the truth of the God contained in the Scriptures.

I do not mean that this nation has ever been perfect in following god’s commands or in living up to all the Biblical precepts. Romans 3:23 says “All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God,” and that’s true for all people, not just some. You cannot read the history of this nation without reading chapters that make you hang you head in shame. That’s just the way it is. Over time we have had to learn how to live into the understanding more deeply what it means to be a nation under God, and we’re still on the journey.

I also do not mean that this nation was ever intended to be exclusively or oppressively Christian. We weren’t, and frankly we do a better job of welcoming people of all faith backgrounds into this nation than many other nations do in welcoming Christians.

Author B

We should welcome new religious ideas, discuss them, clarify them and absorb them if they resonate with us. That is what this rebuttal is about. I propose several different beliefs for review.

First is reincarnation. Once we accept the idea that we are spirits, it makes more sense to have several lifetimes to work on ourselves rather than just one life. The one life theory does not explain the inequities of birth. Some people are born blind or mentally or physically ill or underdeveloped. Reincarnation explains birth defects. A “Cast” is simply one lifetime in which you progress as much as you can. We choose the body and circumstances of each incarnation to educate ourselves as needed.

The knowledge that one can be born Jewish in one lifetime and Christian in another could have prevented the Holocaust. Similarly, if Israelis knew they might be born Palestinian and Sunnis knew they could be re-born Shiite, conflicts based on these cultural differences would diminish.

Second, we should record our dreams for analysis. Accept the explanation which resonates with self. Dreams are statements from our subconscious minds. We need to pay attention to them. Use Jung as a guide.

Third, we should meditate at least a few minutes a day. Meditation is listening to God. Prayer is talking to God. Prayer should be silent to avoid manipulation. No one should be allowed to pray out loud which others are trying to pray.

Fourth, we are energy. Everyone is spirit or energy attached to an animal body. Evolution exists for the physical body because it is subject to physical laws. What is important is to know we are the spirit and not the physical body.

All of the above suggestions are in conformity with the teachings of Jesus.

"Kill all the Canaanites?" You just said, "Thou shalt not kill."

Joshua
Joshua

Depict God like Jesus, not as a War God.

Author A

But what I do mean is that, in the words of Dr. Sydney Ahlstrom, one of the leading modern historians of America, you misunderstand the birthing of this nation if you do not understand that by 1776, 75% of all the residents of the colonies had a dream for this nation shaped by that original Puritan vision of a nation that would be God-honoring and God-pleasing; providing justice for all and expecting righteousness from all. And because it would be a blessing to God it would be blessed by God. I defy you to look at this nation’s history and not see that expectation working out as, pursuing that vision, our ancestors found a courage and a clarity and a unity and a blessing from God that back in 1776 no one could have dreamed possible. Were they perfect? As we have already said, of course not. But they seriously sought with all they could to build a nation under god that could show all other nations what human society could be if it was truly accountable to the God of the Scriptures.

Author B

The God of the Scriptures should be depicted like Jesus, not as depicted in the Book of Joshua. It should be noted that the Quakers lived in peace with the Indians, whereas the Puritans did not. The Puritans did not practice toleration very well. As stated earlier, Joshua is not scriptural because it depicts God as violent.

Author A

I lift this dynamic before you, because I believe that that original vision for too many modern Americans has been lost. We have fixed the eyes of our hearts on lower things and, in so many ways, that loss is at the root of our problems.

Author B

This is correct. We have fixed our minds on lower things. We should raise our awareness or ideal of God and deny the false claims of the past (Old Testament) and pass into a new era where God is depicted as peaceful (New Testament). Follow a higher ideal. To be Christian one must deny the Old Testament depiction of God as jealous, vengeful or wrathful.

Author A

Many of the you in our church do their best to keep me current on what’s important in the culture today. Part of that is suggesting movies Karin and I should see. One of those movies is the Avengers. It’s a great movie, filled with comic book heroes from my day, Captain America and the Hulk and others. In one scene, the Hulk is battling Loki, the Norse god of mischief and malevolence. Some of the characters tell the Hulk to be careful, after all, he’s going up against a god! The battle begins, and the Hulk goes forward and smashes Loki. He throws Loki up one wall and then against another. He leaves Loki battered and broken and stunned and lying flat on the floor. Then, as he steps out of the room, the Hulk says simply, “Puny god.”

Author B

This story can be used to illustrate that the God of the Old Testament (Loki) is a puny god because he commands and condones violence. The God of the New Testament (The Hulk) would never have participated in a fight in the first place. We should use media to educate children to avoid fighting. We are to set a good example and walk away from a fight. We are not super heroes nor presidents nor kings. We do not represent others, so we do not fight for others. We represent ourselves only and will be held accountable for our own actions. Do not allow someone (even a president) to talk you into fighting for them. Over identification with people in power (superheroes, presidents or kings) raises a question of megalomania.

You have the following choices.

Fight for someone else and their glory or fortune. (not recommended)

Walk away from a fight and seek alternatives (move if needed).

Turn the other cheek (actively show the other person you are not his enemy).

Author A

Sisters and brothers, as tenderly as I can, I want to say to you today: I believe that if those old Puritans and patriots were here in our midst, they would say the problem with modern America is that too many of us have started worshipping puny gods! It’s time and past time for us to fix the eyes of our hearts once again upon the God of the prophets and the apostles, the God of the Puritans and the patriots, the God who has called us to build a nation so filled with justice and compassion and righteousness and hope that it shall be, in the words of Jesus from the Sermon on the Mount, like a city set upon a hill, a model to all the rest of the world of what human beings can be with lives truly surrendered to the guidance and goodness of their Heavenly Father!

In this moment of national insecurity, we need to remember the meaning of Joshua 1:9. “Be of good courage; be not afraid,” the Lord said, “for wherever you go I am with you.” In other words, as we are faithful to Him, He is with us and where god is, power follows. Therefore, in this day of anxiety with our fixation upon so many challenges, I believe we need to remember and proclaim, because it’s true, that in the power of god the faithfulness of His people, the greatest days of the United States of America are still ahead!

Author B

Again, we are not in a situation of national insecurity therefore we should not be afraid. Seek help from a mental health care professional. Work to change or remove leaders who are unstable mentally.

Joshua 1:9 is taken out of context to promote war or fighting. When we place it back in context we find that God does not and never has promoted war or fighting.

Author A

For all of you who have the courage to ask not what’s in it for me, but what is pleasing to God, God bless you. God is with you. Do not be weary in your well doing. For all of you who have the courage to ask not what’s the easiest way, but what can help this community, this state and this nation be its own best self, giving honor to god, God bless you. The future will be driven by you.

Author B

This rebuttal is being presented with the highest ideals and I hope it is pleasing to God and will be of benefit to this community.

Author A

For all of you who were not born in America, but who’ve had the courage to come here, God bless you. God is with you. We need you, for as you give your best, you will make this great nation even greater.

For all of you who’ve had the courage to stand on a wall or sent loved ones to stand on that wall to defend this nation, God bless you. God is with you. Without you, nothing else would be possible in this land. In fact, in just a moment as the choir sings, as your hear the theme of your area of service play, we ask that you stand so we can honor you. And for all of us, may we claim the courage of those who have gone before us to live in our day, even as they did in theirs, with faithfulness: building lives, communities and a nation that is a blessing to God. And as we do, may god bless America.

Author B

By “stand on a wall” it means to go to war with the foreknowledge that you may kill another human being. Think back to Vietnam, Korea, WWI, the Civil War and the Revolutionary War and ask yourself whether the war was really necessary. What was really accomplished by killing millions of people? Could the goals have been reached differently? Remember, Canada and India obtained their independence peacefully. The Underground Railroad moved slaves to freedom. America entered WWI to collect banking debts, not based on a high ideal.

What we need to teach in this age is that violence should be avoided and the techniques to avoid it. Anger management courses exist and should be taught from an early age.

God will bless those who follow the peaceful teachings of Jesus. God does not take sides in war. Land does not become holy because someone kills for it. People may be more or less holy, but not land. There is no holy land.

Original Sermon

Study on attitudes

Do you agree more with Author A or Author B?

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    • Donna Suthard profile image

      Donna Suthard 3 years ago

      This is a great article!! i was so impressed with both arguments.. You presented both sides with great thought and depth..How convincing either side can be!! How easy a person can be swayed, by sweet talk, yet still teaching violence is acceptable.. Indeed, though, I must take the side of non-violence.. I know what violence does to a person..Makes them less human..in their dealings with others.... This article needs to be seen by everyone..Great writing, thank you!!

    • lone77star profile image

      Rod Martin Jr 3 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

      Jay, a very interesting comparison of ideas. I find things with both that I agree with and things with both that I disagree with. As for the survey, it was a toss-up. I couldn't say which one.

      My worldview keeps changing. Some things stay the same longer than others, and some things have remained constant throughout my life. One of those constants has been a belief in God, even while studying Buddhism, which some claim to be atheistic. I have found Buddhism to be equivalent to Christianity in so many ways. You have to be able to see the patterns and motivation.

      I don't condone violence, but God has used violence. And yet, God is love. Even Noah's Flood was an act of love. God moved King David to great violence, and because of it David was not allowed to build the Temple in Jerusalem. That was left to his son. Moses was not allowed into the promised land for his own violence. And even though Jesus said that those who live by the sword shall die by the sword, he asked his disciples to buy swords just before his betrayal. Yet there is no contradiction. Just as he used the selfishness of Judas to deliver the needed betrayal, he used the violence of one disciple to harden the hearts of the priesthood against him, thus fulfilling his mission.

      Things make much more sense when you have the right distinctions. Viewing the Bible through the lens of "God is evil" makes for a very dark vision. When you view the Bible through the lens of "God is love," then everything starts to make sense.

      One of the biggest barriers is that of taking everything in the Bible literally, but 2 Cor. 3:6 warns against this. Literal reading is the easy way, but easy is lazy, and God never admired laziness. Jesus said that the way is difficult, not easy.

      And the biggest barrier for all of us is Ego. Even today, I found myself falling into the trap of Ego, becoming indignant of someone else's insensitive attitude, instead of showing love and generous humility.

      Still learning.

      Thanks for sharing your insights and wisdom. Most thought provoking.

    • Jay C OBrien profile image
      Author

      Jay C OBrien 3 years ago from Houston, TX USA

      Thank you for your comments. The real question is: What is your ideal? is God Peaceful, Violent or Vacillating?

      I subscribe to the ideal that God is always peaceful. I propose that any story which is read by ordinary common sense which depicts God as being violent is a mistake. Perhaps the story was written by a person who had low understanding or was just trying to explain natural events (the flood).

      A Vacillating God is akin to have a God who is Schizophrenic. That is really a bad outcome.

      Buddhism is a great moral way to think. Original Buddhism is atheistic. "What is the sound of one hand clapping?" This means there is nothing beyond the material world because one hand cannot clap or make a sound. Several types of Buddhism have developed since the original.

      Lastly, see "Atlantians to the Mideast," for another explanation of the Old Testament. Thanks again.

    • lone77star profile image

      Rod Martin Jr 3 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

      Very nice, Jay.

      Peaceful? No! Even Jesus said he did not come to bring peace. We humans value peace, because our bodies are vulnerable. But God knows that we are not our bodies. As spirit, we are invulnerable. So, peace is not an issue. Rescuing (waking up) His lost children is the issue and war, the Flood and Armageddon are part of the formula. Many won't come to the proper realization until all their worldly attachments are ripped away from them. The best we can do is be compassionate and help to relieve the suffering.

      I applaud your "non-standard" approach to interpretation, though. This shows true "spirit," rather than literalism. That's the only way to interpret the spiritual world. The languages of this world can only approximate those things.

      The Zen Buddhist "one hand clapping," if I understand it does not mean that there is nothing beyond the material world. I think I understand your viewpoint on it, but from my years of study in Buddhism and experience with miracles, the "one hand clapping" is also the "one-sided coin" -- the paramitas, or "perfections" of the earthly dichotomies. This is one reason I tend to dismiss the purely "atheistic" view of Buddhism. They don't talk of God, just as they don't view "I" as real, either. Identities are equivalent to ignorance = selfishness = ego. From a purely Buddhist viewpoint, God, if He is considered at all, would be a non-identity, which also kind of fits the Judeo-Christian take on His unknowability.

      For instance, earthly (suffering-type) struggles with confidence have high confidence on one end of the scale and doubt on the other. Paramita (or "one hand clapping") confidence is confidence without any hint of doubt to pollute it. It is perfected; it is the essence or quintessence of confidence from which walking on water is possible.

      You might enjoy a video I saw yesterday and several times again, today. It scratches a spiritual itch quite nicely.

      http://perceivingreality.com/

    • Jay C OBrien profile image
      Author

      Jay C OBrien 3 years ago from Houston, TX USA

      Yes, there is violence in the world and we need to learn to cope with it. No, we should not act violently.

      Did Lord Krishna tell Arguna to kill his family?

      See Hub, "Patrick henry and Mental Health."

    • DaisysJourney profile image

      DaisysJourney 2 years ago from Midwest, USA

      Thanks for the leaving me the trail of breadcrumbs so I could read this. Although I agree more towards Author A's stance, this was well written and I can tell you not only put a lot of thought into it, you also incite us readers to think about it as well.

    • Jay C OBrien profile image
      Author

      Jay C OBrien 2 years ago from Houston, TX USA

      Thank you DaisysJourney. The real question is: What is your ideal? is God Peaceful, Violent or Vacillating?

    • DaisysJourney profile image

      DaisysJourney 2 years ago from Midwest, USA

      Hmm, God is Love. But, He's also wrathful, peaceful, jealous, holy...I don't know if I'd use the word violent, although some of His actions have been violent. Let me think on this some more.

    • Jay C OBrien profile image
      Author

      Jay C OBrien 2 years ago from Houston, TX USA

      DaisysJourney yes, He is wrathful, jealous and even advocates killing babies (Joshua); all in the Old Testament.

      The New Testament depicts God as Jesus; never condemning, healing and forgiving.

      Which kind of God do you follow: OT vs. NT.?

      The god of Israel is a war god vs. the God of Jesus is a God of Peace.

      The OT is incompatible to the NT, one must be renounced. I renounce the OT Judaism for the NT Christianity. Mainstream Christianity tries to tie the OT into the NT and this is not possible.

      Now do you understand?

    • DaisysJourney profile image

      DaisysJourney 2 years ago from Midwest, USA

      I believe the OT and NT are both part of the same Bible and the same God who changed His wrath when he introduced the grace of His son, Jesus. I follow Jesus, but I believe that God is one and the same from OT to NT.

    • Jay C OBrien profile image
      Author

      Jay C OBrien 2 years ago from Houston, TX USA

      I do not understand. Why would can God change His wrath? Why would He be wrathful in the first place? Does God change from wrathful to peaceful and then back to wrathful? Schizophrenic?

      Doesn't it make more sense that the OT is an incorrect depiction of God? The OT is Jewish, not Christian. The God of the OT could not be the God of the NT because of the radical change in action.

      Keep in mind the Bible is a series of books by different authors over a long period of time. They were bound together, edited, translated and published by the Catholic Church. The Protestants took out several books of the canonized Bible. Why? By what authority?

      Alternatively, The God of the OT may have been a human Lord who was misidentified as God.

    • DaisysJourney profile image

      DaisysJourney 2 years ago from Midwest, USA

      This is one of those things I am taking on faith. The Bible says "all scripture is God-breathed", so I accept it to mean that the books chosen to make it into the Bible, both OT and NT, are taken at face value. I can't rationalize it, but I'm okay appearing foolish in my faith.

      As far as wrath to peace: I look at it in this way. God had a plan for the Jews to be His chosen people. I don't know why it's always about blood, but He had his chosen people sacrifice animals to atone for sins. I think in being able to see the future and how humans are all sinful and prone to sin more, He realized there'd be a LOT of dead animals. The Jews, being human, messed up the covenant with God, (please, I'm not knocking Jews!), and God in the OT was wrathful, wiping out nations so the Jews could be powerful. But, they messed things up with their own foolish actions. God opened up "salvation" to the Gentiles and sent His son, Jesus, to be the final sacrifice, so no more animals had to be slaughtered. I think He knew wrath wasn't the way and sacrifice wasn't the way, so he made Jesus the Way, the one propitiation for sin and brought on a new legacy of grace, peace, and love.

      Of course, the Gentiles mess things up royally, too! Crusades. The Inquisition. The crazies who spout hatred and judgment in small-town Americana churches.

      I think wrath wasn't getting the job done, so grace was introduced. Just my opinion and it could be wrong. /shrug. That's where faith comes in....

    • Jay C OBrien profile image
      Author

      Jay C OBrien 2 years ago from Houston, TX USA

      The above reasoning process is Judaism. What I suggest is Christianity as taught by Jesus. Compare Judaism with the following.

      Premise: God is always Peaceful and always has been. He is at peace in His mind (without negative emotions). Peaceful actions (healing forgiving) come from a peaceful mind.

      Destructive Action (condemnation, fighting) comes from negative emotions. These come from a Separation from God.

      Goal: Acquire a mind like God by healing and forgiveness.

      Faith follows proof. Here is my proof of God, spirituality: see Hub, "My Telepathic Experiences."

      I suggest the Rabbis are controlling Christianity with false doctrine:

      Sacrifice does not and never has removed sin;

      the Hebrews never were chosen because God does not place one group above another.

      The Hebrews never had a covenant because violence was involved.

      In short, the Rabbis lie to maintain control of you. Break out from their control!

    • DaisysJourney profile image

      DaisysJourney 2 years ago from Midwest, USA

      I have never been under the teachership of Rabbis. My Biblical leaders have all been Christians and scholars and never Rabbis. I have to respectfully disagree with you on this one.

    • Jay C OBrien profile image
      Author

      Jay C OBrien 2 years ago from Houston, TX USA

      Let me try again, Mainstream Christianity is controlled by Rabbinic thought. Seminaries teach ministers the thought process you described and in turn ministers teach the Bible through the lens of Judaism to you who receive it.

      My suggestion is simple, remove Judaism from Christianity and teach what Jesus taught: a God of Peace and forgiveness.

      It is the God of Israel in the OT which is wrathful and condemning, Not Jesus. The teachings of Jesus could not be further from the teachings of Judaism.

    • Tamara Moore profile image

      Tamara Yancosky Moore 2 months ago

      I love God

    • Jay C OBrien profile image
      Author

      Jay C OBrien 2 months ago from Houston, TX USA

      Hello Tamara, I love a Good God, Not an Evil God. Joshua never had the blessings of God to enter into Canaan and kill men women and children. The Puritans also did not have Gods' blessings to kill the Native Americans.

      God is Good, Peaceful, Loving, Forgiving, Accepting, not as depicted in the Old Testament.

    • Tamara Moore profile image

      Tamara Yancosky Moore 2 months ago

      Killing is never an act of God. God is love- unconditional love. Yes, God is Good! In the Bible it says: All Good Things Come From God.

      The Old Testament has its place, as it talks about The Coming Birth of The Messiah, and also many there are many beautiful writings in the Old Testament, such as how Job overcame his suffering, stood by God, and ended up with more than ever before due to his faithfulness; Ecclesiastes talks about how "Without God, Everything is Meaningless", Psalms helps us to recognize that others suffer the same emotional struggles and despair that we all do; and, Proverbs teaches us very wise life-lessons. In The Old Testament, we find that King David sinned, as we all do, confessed his sins, and continued to be greatly loved by God, as we all are.

      There is a lot of violence and bloodshed in The Old Testament is true, but in everything The Lord has His Reasons that we do not understand, right now. When I read The Bible, I concentrate on The New Testament, but the Old Testament does have its place, especially in bringing about The New Testament. Jesus makes All Things New, Again,

      (I am still getting use to HubPages; I almost missed your comment; I hope I am not missing others)!

    • Jay C OBrien profile image
      Author

      Jay C OBrien 2 months ago from Houston, TX USA

      Tamara, "There is a lot of violence and bloodshed in The Old Testament is true, but in everything The Lord has His Reasons that we do not understand, right now."

      The Lord is not violent, ever. See Hub, "Atlantians to the Mideast," for another explanation or theory.

    • Tamara Moore profile image

      Tamara Yancosky Moore 2 months ago

      Thank you, Jay :-) I will plan to look at the article you referred me to.

      Tamara

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