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It has been a while since I've blogged, but, as this entry title indicates, I bear great news!  My Division General approved my noncombatant status, and the paperwork is now in the hands of Department of the Army Headquarters.  The official bestowal of noncombatant status upon myself is eminent.  But in the meantime, while waiting for the administrative particulars to come into effect, my unit leadership has agreed to relieve me of my weapon.  So, I've actually been without a weapon for... I'm not sure exactly... a few months, now?  It required some persistence to be rewarded with such practical noncombatant status from the people I work with, but I had the backing of the official army regulations as well as the highest levels of the Theater's legal team.  It's interesting how much this process has involved extremely high ranking personnel.

But why did I not share this earlier?  To be sure, it has since been a season of skepticism.  I allowed myself to share celebratory joy with those from my unit who were happy to see me released of my rifle.  But in private, I checked my initial emotional response.  In doing so, it began to seem to me that continuing to wear this uniform (officially called the Army Combat Uniform) was now as condemning as carrying an unused rifle had been.  It seemed that I had not entirely repented, and thus had not repented, of my variation of true Christian discipleship.  What to do, then?  Accepting that I was not a Christian, and more fully that I had not been a Christian for years, was miserable, but true to my conscience.  Having admitted that, I was desperate to become a Christian again.  Such a thing could be done the very day it is considered, but I was tortured by the hole I had dug myself in.  I had asked much of my unit and the greater Army, in enlisting, in re-enlisting, in deciding I need to be disarmed, in allowing myself to become part of the deployment team, and now, to frustrate it all, to decide that disarming is not enough, but only an immediate refusal to participate at all.  So, I concluded that, out of basic decency to my unit and the Army, I should not outright quit my services until my unit had returned from the deployment.  This would at least make their administrations easier, besides demonstrating that my latest decision is at least not a fit unable to outlast the deployment mission.

This was a miserable time.  I had little hope for myself, should I die and be returned to my Lord before I had reached the time when I was willing to fully repent.  But I had grown so disgusted with the accumulative disregard for others that I had gained over my lifetime.  I refused the cost of repentance on others until I could reasonably and substantially reduce it (by allowing the deployment some months to finish).  My prayers to God were confused, unsure of their own sincerity or motivations, desperate but resolute in disregarding self, even personal salvation, should it cause others to righteously bemoan the burden of survival-centric Christianity.  Looking, back, I can only admire God for his patience and affection throughout this whole ordeal, besides my greater lifetime.

Things began to improve only after I opened up to those around me.  My chaplain and social worker served as sounding boards as I voiced my intent to respectfully refuse to work, once we had all returned from the deployment, come what may.  After that (although I should have done it long before) I shared an e-mail exchange with D-Rock, which also seemed to serve foremost as merely a sounding board.  It was my own blundering through the issues that confronted me with the latest satisfying truth:  Jesus paid taxes.

The implications were mind-blowing.  Jesus paid taxes to the Roman empire.  The Roman empire slew Jesus and countless of his followers in the Preconstantinian Church.  The Roman empire slew countless gentiles within and without its citizenship.  And yet Jesus, who knew best, dutifully paid taxes without incurring guilt.  By God's standard then, one can generally fund whatever government and not need to be identified with and condemned with its specific policies and executions.  I could resist this incredible compromise on God's part
no longer.  And with this submission to the wisdom and courage of God (though they confound me), I find the strong implication that being a noncombatant in an army, offering the medical services that anyone needs, while being an open enemy to the cause of war, and being recognized and defended as such, is quite acceptable.

As a measure to safeguard my motives, and also to keep faith with statements I have made in the past, I will continue my recent commitment (it came in full strength in January of this year) to give away the great majority of my military salary (after bills) to charities.  Further, I won't use my GI Bill, among other benefits (though I wouldn't mind transferring them a stranger, if I had the opportunity), will refuse promotion (as I had been doing thus far for professional reasons), and will not acknowledge any decorations or awards earned.

So, it's pretty great to be a Christian again- and to know it!



( 16 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 31st, 2010 10:56 pm (UTC)
Welcome back!

I am so glad this has worked out for you. No believer should have to violate their conscience.

But I'm really confused about the part where you were "not a Christian." Are you saying that you possess the power to remove yourself from God's grace?
Sep. 1st, 2010 02:10 pm (UTC)
Thanks for the welcome!

You ask whether I believe one can remove himself from God's grace. In the most general sense, no I don't believe there is any existence that can be entirely separated from the grace of God, as existence itself is a grace. However, in the specific soteriological sense, yes, I am sure as Hell that you can step out of God's grace, and that I did so for an uncertain period of time now concluded. You'll find I am no Calvinist or similar reformer.
Sep. 1st, 2010 11:18 pm (UTC)
What do you believe can a person do to lose their salvation?

(I have my problems with Calvin, but I do believe in assurance of salvation.)
Sep. 2nd, 2010 01:10 pm (UTC)
I absolutely believe a person can lose his salvation. I wish Judas had stuck around and accepted the path of repentance as Peter did, when he returned to the faith. The idea that you cannot lose your salvation is so riddled with inconsistencies that I see no reason to concede it. Further, the overwhelming tone of the NT indicates strongly that Christians are freely participating agents who need to be warned against the real option of falling away.

It seems to me that the best points to be offered on the side of static salvation are those which appeal to extra-biblical philosophy (allying themselves with the ancient Greeks in no small way). And I simply don't find those arguments compelling, once compared against the revelation of Christ.
Sep. 2nd, 2010 11:53 pm (UTC)
Now I really want to hear your argument!

It seems to me that the best points to be offered on the side of static salvation are those which appeal to extra-biblical philosophy (allying themselves with the ancient Greeks in no small way). And I simply don't find those arguments compelling, once compared against the revelation of Christ.

What do you mean by that?
Sep. 3rd, 2010 01:12 pm (UTC)
It seems to me that when the doctrine known as "the perseverance of the saints" is adopted, it is usually simply because it is a necessary implication of an extended theological concept of God that goes beyond the specifications of the Bible. This happens when the sovereignty of God, or the parameters of divinity, or whatever you want to call it, is allowed to be defined by imperfect cultures over and against the appropriate biblical text. And, as I said in the first sentence, this fundamental theological kink eventually affects the finer, more practical doctrines, such as those dealing with the parameters for salvation.

Anyway, take the Early Church. It existed in a significantly Greek cultural environment. In time, the Church began to compromise its integrity in many areas. Naturally, such deviations from orthodoxy will tend to be merely adoptions of what worldly norms are already (and have been already) all around. So then, it seems the Early Church adopted much of the Greek concept of monotheism.

The Greek classical monotheists had defined God by certain parameters, with specific definitions for such concepts as "all-powerful," "omnipresent," "omniscient," omnibenevolent," etc.. These concepts have been taken for granted. It was easy for the early Christians to simply transfer these cultural ideas onto their revelations- especially when the language seemed complimentary and when the cultural concepts filled in gaps the Christians wished had been filled more directly by revelation. You can still see this today, fairly directly, in the phenomenon of modern Calvinists' fascination with Plato's views on the divine. Some go so far as to say that Plato essentially bore the gospel.

So, I've written a lot, but I'm not sure how effectively I've communicated here. What are your thoughts, friend?
Sep. 3rd, 2010 10:00 pm (UTC)
Well, I don't know terribly much about Greek philosophy, to be honest. And you haven't given any of the arguments for either side, so it's hard to respond.

I admit I'm one who's always assumed God was omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent. What basis do you have in Scripture that the early Church was (and is) wrong about this?
Sep. 4th, 2010 12:48 pm (UTC)
I don't know terribly much about Greek philosophy either. The point I'm trying to make is how natural corruption has been (and still is) in Christianity, by means of a relative culture reinventing that which is supposed to be permanent orthodoxy, or, at least, replacing the original cultural context. To begin with, it is enough to understand that the Hellenistic culture of the Early Church was always offering an inappropriate compromise to the revelation owned by the Church (as any give culture does at any given time). I think we already agree on all that is said in this paragraph (correct me if I'm mistaken); I am simply affording it my emphasis.

I understand that the classical Greek view of God is one that is immovable, unaffected, unmotivated. At least one of the reasons God turns out this way is it is necessitated by certain takes on the classical concepts of being almighty, omnipresent, omniscient, etc.. (Further, this classical Greek view seems to be echoed by many other non-Christian takes on monotheism, including certain monotheistic manifestations of Hinduism.)

If God is all-powerful, then he would not suffer (as that would indicate weakness), according to very present classical definitions. And if God were to do such a thing as to desire, then he would likewise be shown to be weak, as, in a fallen world, there are clearly desires not being met (unless you take the "hyper-Calvinist" view that every event in the history of the universe has been exactly as God has ultimately desired, and thus there has never been any real rebellion or deviation from holiness of any kind).

This non-Biblical view of God does not allow the God of the Bible to be who He is and do what He does. Therefore, it should be scrapped, if one is concerned with being true to the Bible. After all, if it's not from the Bible, then what is its authoritative source? All it can ultimately claim is the heritage of the pagan/ non-revelatory culture of a depraved humanity. Sure, the Church accepted these modes, in part, but the Church was only able to do so in a compromised state.

The Christian revelation insists that God is not so almighty that He would not suffer death, humiliation, abandonment, and heartbreak out of wondrous love for a fallen creation. It insists that God's omniscience is not such that creation is no longer capable of rebellion, though it be foreseen. It insists that God is not so omnipresent that there is no room for something to exist which is not God.

So then, these issues stretch all the way to postures of salvation. Is creation free to embrace or reject salvation? I don't think you'll respond "no," and if you do, then the conversation needs to take some serious steps backwards. If you say, "yes" then when is this freedom removed, so that one cannot fall out of salvation? If freedom is removed as soon as one joins the salvation community, then I ask why? Where does scripture teach us that we cannot fall out of discipleship? Why should we assume our freedom in the situation has changed, unless we are told otherwise by revelation?

It seems to me that we have reason to believe that salvation is static only if we believe that it was always static- that creation was never free, but doomed from the beginning for either salvation or condemnation, with no input from the creation.
Sep. 4th, 2010 05:07 pm (UTC)
Do you want to take this to email? I've got a reply, and more questions, but LJ is unwieldy for such things.

Sep. 4th, 2010 01:05 pm (UTC)
Ah ha! I misread this the first time... I thought you were asking "What, you believe a person can lose their salvation?" But, on re-reading it, I think you were meaning to ask, "What do you believe a person ca do to lose their salvation?" If that's the case, I never directly answered that question.

I believe a sinful person must be repentant in order to be a Christian. If you are unashamed of your sin, you forfeit your discipleship. Thus, Paul insists to the Corinthians that they hand over their unashamed sinful brother to Satan, in the hopes that this will help him eventually return to the fold. And, if he doesn't, then no longer considering him Christian is the truthful thing to do, and even a matter of respect for the rebel, in that it acknowledges his freedom to do what he wants (Even if God hates any deviation from perfection, He clearly insists on us having the freedom to choose. God clearly thinks the freedom is worth the foreseen evil of bad choices).

Obviously, this is not something that we limited humans can perfectly monitor, and neither is it our role to absolutely do so. In many cases, it is easy to discern that a person is no longer to be considered a Christian (such as the Corinthian case, where the guy was boasting about his escapades). In other cases we cannot be as sure. It seems to me it would be better to err on the side of grace than integrity.
Sep. 4th, 2010 05:08 pm (UTC)
We're gonna get onto two different tracks here. Do you have a preference for which we should tackle first?

(And again, email instead?)
Sep. 9th, 2010 06:02 pm (UTC)
Starting with one is as good as the other. I suppose e-mail would be better. You can hit me at JakeUnderGod@gmail.com
Sep. 1st, 2010 12:38 am (UTC)
Hey, I had been wondering what happened to you. Glad to see you've resolved your issues and are satisfied with life once again. ^_^
Sep. 1st, 2010 02:01 pm (UTC)
Thanks! It's good to be back.
Sep. 2nd, 2010 06:11 pm (UTC)
welcome back
Sep. 3rd, 2010 12:38 pm (UTC)
Thank you.
( 16 comments — Leave a comment )

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