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The Lord's Army Wants You!


GeorgeW
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This morning on my around-town bike ride, I saw a big banner in front of a Baptist church. The first line said VACATION BIBLE SCHOOL , the second line said, I'M IN THE LORD'S ARMY. Below, along with dates, phone numbers was a cartoon figure of a young knight with his sword and shield. What a metaphor for followers of a pacifist!

 

Although I don't think this is a reasoned concept, I suppose one could claim that God is a divine warrior (supported by various OT scriptures); Jesus is God; Therefore, Jesus is a warrior.

 

This sign also makes me wonder who or what they are training these young warriors to fight. Islam? Atheists? Christian apostates? Moral relativists?

 

George

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Onward Christian Soldiers. The Battle Hymn of the Republic. Marching for Zion. The list of songs in the Christian Hymnals I grew up with that allude to violent battle and war seemed to me, even as a kid, somehow out of place with the concept of Jesus and His teachings that were early on the core of my faith. Over the years, that has changed little, exceptto grow ever stronger.

Yes, I would agree. It is always "them". "Those people". Just who "them" was could vary widely, for just as many widely varied reasons, but yes, it was always a war of "us" against "them."

How that fits in with our enemy is not flesh and blood, I never quite figured out. "Them," "those people," always seemed as much flesh and blood as anyone.

When "them," "those people," weren't quite specifically identifiable in just how they were different from "us", "they" often took on a faceless, nameless and general difference from us in being "the average man or woman out there." Now I've never met an average man or average woman, but surely they must be out there to draw so much attention from "us," whom I suppose must then be the exceptional people. My secular educators, when they introduced me to the mathmatical concepts of averaging, did a much better job of slaying those "average men and women out there" than I ever saw any of those preachers and church folk do.....Dastardly secular educators!

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This dates back to 1865 and 1871 ... the hymn is no longer in most progressive hymnals (for rather obvious reasons)

 

"Onward, Christian soldiers, marching as to war,

With the cross of Jesus going on before.

Christ, the royal Master, leads against the foe;

Forward into battle see His banners go!

 

Refrain

 

Onward, Christian soldiers, marching as to war,

With the cross of Jesus going on before.

 

At the sign of triumph Satan's host doth flee;

On then, Christian soldiers, on to victory!

Hell's foundations quiver at the shout of praise;

Brothers lift your voices, loud your anthems raise.

 

Refrain

 

Like a mighty army moves the church of God;

Brothers, we are treading where the saints have trod.

We are not divided, all one body we,

One in hope and doctrine, one in charity.

 

Refrain

 

What the saints established that I hold for true.

What the saints believèd, that I believe too.

Long as earth endureth, men the faith will hold,

Kingdoms, nations, empires, in destruction rolled.

 

Refrain

 

Crowns and thrones may perish, kingdoms rise and wane,

But the church of Jesus constant will remain.

Gates of hell can never gainst that church prevail;

We have Christ's own promise, and that cannot fail.

 

Refrain

 

Onward then, ye people, join our happy throng,

Blend with ours your voices in the triumph song.

Glory, laud and honor unto Christ the King,

This through countless ages men and angels sing.

 

Refrain"

 

http://www.cyberhymn.../n/onwardcs.htm

Edited by minsocal
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It seems to me, being a Baptist church, i would think it is more based on the New Testament writing ....

 

Luke 14:23 And the lord said unto the servant, Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel [them] to come in, that my house may be filled.

 

Converting, proselytizing , and supporting the church system would be more likely the motive rather than violence. My one child and granddaughters are practicing Baptists and on my visits to their church on special occasions, presentations, and special entertainment by the children i find they are most effective in brainwashing the children at a very early age in teaching them #1 the bible is the Word of God, #2 We are all sinners in need of saving, #3 it is our duty to testify to others so they can come be saved also.

 

I find the members there exceptionally kind and polite and helpful of each other and guests as long as they are not challenged in their beliefs.

 

Joseph

 

 

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Those of whom I was speaking in my own background, as well as most prevalent among my community and family, were and are Baptists. Don't ever let that soft polite Southern Baptist drawl fool you....They are just more inclined to carry their sword in a velvet sheath than some...

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Converting, proselytizing , and supporting the church system would be more likely the motive rather than violence.

Joseph,

 

I suspect that you are right that the idea is more one of proselytizing than violence. But, military symbolism seems inconsistent with the idea of the Prince of Peace. Also, it is my observation that there is a militaristic attitude of many fundamentalist Christians.

 

George

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I guess we are all literalists here but here is the metaphorical song the kids will be singing. :P

 

To the tune of The Old Gray Mare.

 

I may never march in the infantry

Ride in the cavalry

Shoot the artillery

I may never fly o'er the enemy

But I'm in the Lord's army!

 

Yes Sir!

I'm in the Lord's army!

Yes sir!

I'm in the Lord's army!

Yes sir!

 

 

I may never march in the infantry

Ride in the cavalry

Shoot the artillery

I may never fly o'er the enemy

But I'm in the Lord's army!

Yes sir!

 

Yes, the imagery is out of date. Words matter, stories matter and so I wouldn't plan this for kids to sing at Vacation Bible School. It is a fun song to sing.

 

 

George,

 

The church needs help; please make a donation. I can't find a current VBS curriculum by that name. I suspect they are reusing old material or (re)tired staff is making it up. :lol:

 

Dutch

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A major problem using such imagery with children, that involved metaphor, analogy, symbolic meanings, is that in the natural and normal stages of cognitive development, children do not develop the capacity for abstract thought until rather late, many not until well into their 20's. Children's natural stages of cognitive development and thought processes are literal, concrete, and reductionist.

 

Developmental research and studies also indicate there is a signficnat portion of the poluation that even into adulthood, never master that stage of cognitive development, never fully attain the capacity for the abstract.

 

And my own experience and observations lead me to agree with George...yes, there is a definitely militant tone and attitude among many fundamentalists.

 

Jenell

Edited by JenellYB
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Now that I am in my 60's, I am realizing just how powerful early childhood experiences can be. I grew up in a church community where the "Lord's Army" model was inverted. It is based on cooperation rather competition and in this way linked to the teachings of Jesus. Try as I might, I can't shake that model.

 

Myron

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Myron, I too, am in my 60's. The "God's army" theme was much in evidence within the fundamentalist Baptist community I was raised in, but, at least in my own memories, was most often focused very much on "them", "those people out there", the "Naturally depraved average man or woman today." There didn't seem to be a very good distinction between sin and the sinner, at least in practical application.

 

But I've encountered so many like myself, raised in that, that rejected that part of their religious up-bringing early, that are, or are at least moving toward, being in alignment with attitudes and ideas as we find here in this on-line community. I believe there is a strong movement gathering toward a tipping point in turning away from such attitudes.

 

Jenell

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In my experience with VBSes, I think most VBSes use the Lord's army as an allegory for fighting Satan and struggling against sin in general rather than literal violent themes (which is ironic for fundamentalists who claim to be all about being strict literalists and who hate metaphors). I don't think most of them are as extreme as the VBSes you see in the movie Jesus Camp. The military thing is just a way of attracting little kids because action is cool and they're trying to appeal to kids who like stories about kicking bad guys' butts. One thing that disturbs me more is that it seems like most VBSes have a very masculine theme to them. Like they try to excite kids with exciting stories like David and Goliath but all the stories and songs seemed geared towards boys and there's little emphasis on the girls.

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As I read that, I was a little taken aback about what you pointed out about gender bias in VBS, because as a woman, I would have thought I would have noticed that myself, but honestly, until you said it, and I do agree now that you've pointed it out, its seems my mind just hadn't 'gone there' before. The overall big gender biases in that kind of religion, yes, who could miss it, but not at the level you note about VBS. Gender bias, as well as any other form of bias, can be so sublte, it doesn't always present itself up front and in your face..

 

Jenell

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In addition to militarism, I think that a patriarchal inclination is a common feature of a conservative worldview. Therefore, I don't think it would be surprising to find it in a conservative religious context.

 

George

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As I read that, I was a little taken aback about what you pointed out about gender bias in VBS, because as a woman, I would have thought I would have noticed that myself, but honestly, until you said it, and I do agree now that you've pointed it out, its seems my mind just hadn't 'gone there' before. The overall big gender biases in that kind of religion, yes, who could miss it, but not at the level you note about VBS. Gender bias, as well as any other form of bias, can be so sublte, it doesn't always present itself up front and in your face..

 

Jenell

I don't know if they were intentionally being biased against including women but we never did do any VBS themes around the powerful women of the bible like Deborah or Esther. The themes were always centered around men and women were just regulated to the background as minor characters like Mary and Martha or the woman at the well or they were evil villains like Jezebel and Delila. Edited by Neon Genesis
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"I don't know if they were intentionally being biased against including women but "

 

I suspect it was less intentional, or even a conscious choice, as must as simply the model they had been shaped by from even their own childhoods in that environment....

Jenell

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The imagery conjured up to lure unsuspecting little proselytes to a week of free babysitting (in exchange for complete brainwashing) is sad on a couple of levels.

 

First, as mentioned in many posts above, it reinforces a decidedly militaristic bent once common immediately following the second world war (the one we "won."). Most of society moved beyond that simplistic us -vs- them mentality beginning in the 60s and mostly purged by the mid-80s to early 90s with the collapse of Ronald Raygun's Evil Empire.

 

Secondly, it reduces the Big God of the Bible to somewhat of a cartoon character.

 

I recall VBS (and Sunday School in general) the same way I recall watching super hero cartoons as a child. When I grew up, I put away those childish things. Geez, that almost sounds biblical. B)

 

NORM

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A note about sexism in the church.

 

There is a very visible stain upon the church still very evident today in many Gothic cathedrals in England. Along the floor of the Narthex you will find a very bold, stark black line in mosaic tile going the entire circumference. It's purpose? To establish the boundary beyond which the women of the village were forbidden to traverse.

 

In many ways, some Christian churches, while not circumscribing an actual line in their Narthex, severely limit the participation of over half their congregations even to this day.

 

NORM

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In many ways, some Christian churches, while not circumscribing an actual line in their Narthex, severely limit the participation of over half their congregations even to this day.

NORM

Norm,

 

I would point out that sexism, while it does still exist, is not limited to Christianity. In fact, it may be even less than in the other Abrahamic religions. I think it would be the exception to find any Christian church today in which men and women are separated. This would be the standard in Islam and not uncommon in Judaism.

 

George

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This is the voice of the prophets that Whitehead disliked ... when interpreted literally.

 

 

Isaiah 13:4 NIV

"Listen, a noise on the mountains, like that of a great multitude! Listen, an uproar among the kingdoms, like nations massing together! The LORD Almighty is mustering an army for war."

 

 

In Process and Reality, Whitehead claims that passages such as this symbolize the creative nature of G_d. At first I found this a bit of a stretch, but on reflection I see how it fits into his system. It is a matter of interpretation. This is from Joseph Campbell:

 

The early Greek system had two activating principles, love (uniting) and strife (sundering) ... they prevail in turn as the circle comes round ... Heraclitus reaches this conclusion: "We must know that War is common to all, and Strife is Justice, and that all things come into being by Strife (in Campbell, 1974, p. 166."

 

And I do admit, it took nearly a decade for all of this to sink in ...

 

Myron

 

 

 

Edited by minsocal
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Myron, I too, am in my 60's. The "God's army" theme was much in evidence within the fundamentalist Baptist community I was raised in, but, at least in my own memories, was most often focused very much on "them", "those people out there", the "Naturally depraved average man or woman today." There didn't seem to be a very good distinction between sin and the sinner, at least in practical application.

 

But I've encountered so many like myself, raised in that, that rejected that part of their religious up-bringing early, that are, or are at least moving toward, being in alignment with attitudes and ideas as we find here in this on-line community. I believe there is a strong movement gathering toward a tipping point in turning away from such attitudes.

 

Jenell

 

 

Jenell,

 

I'm glad you have found a home here. I like that comment about the lack of distinction between sin and sinner. Great way to put it.

 

Myron

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A defense I've heard many involved in churches where women are still effectively marginalized and their participation limited is that they are not discriminating against women, but applying a "biblically based" practice of "equal but separate/different." It's no surprise this is generally in the same denominations that do or once did preface their denominational name with "Southern", as it is in principleand practice very much like the "equal but separate/different" applied inthe past to justify racial segregation.

 

The argument for this goes along the line that women's roles in the church are as important and valued as men's, just different. Biblical passages used to support this view are those that demonstrate women in service roles such as comforting and ministering to the needs of the sick and poor, sewing clothes for others (Dorcas), or in hostess roles to "godly" men (Jesus, Paul and other apostles and workers in the church) in their travels. Above all, women are cast in supporting roles for the men of the church, first their husbands, then apostles, preachers, and men active in other ways in the church. Something I observed some years ago in these churches is how often the church and/or pastor's secretary positions are occupied by women, while church treasurer most often by men. A subtle yet powerful message about how the valued qualities of men and women differ.

 

Jenell

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