All posts by admin

Five Books to Read for Election Year

christian archy6:30 AM This morning I read a post called 5 Books You Should Read This Election Year. Were I to draw up my own list, it would look a bit different. These books will make you laugh as much as they will make you cry. They will stir your soul and leave you feeling like their authors were patting you on the back, encouraging you to leave status quo thinking about politics behind and step into all that God has for you in the upside-down kingdom He is establishing. Believe me, each book is a breath of fresh air.

1) Jacque Ellul, The Politics of God and the Politics of Man.

2) Jacque Ellul, The Subversion of Christianity.

3) Jacque Ellul, The Presence of the Kingdom.

4) Vernard Eller, Christian Anarchy: Jesus’ Primacy over the Powers.

5) John Howard Yoder, The Politics of Jesus.

Grab these books, dear reader, and you’ll discover how amazing the kingdom is and how shockingly gracious God is. (Oh! I discussed all of this in a little book I published a few years ago called Christian Archy.)

Reading books in an election year. This is going to be so fun!

(From Dave Black Online. Used by permission. Linked added for purchase of Dave’s book Christian Archy.)

Is an Agrarian Lifestyle the Only Option?

(From Dave Black Online. Used by permission.)

8:40 AM …

This morning I was reading some of the “Christian agrarianism” blogs and stumbled across a post that basically called for everyone to leave their jobs and begin farming. After all, doesn’t Paul tell us to “work with our own hands”? Think about it. I run a 123-acre farm but I’m not an “agrarian” because I don’t see this is as the only legitimate Christian lifestyle. I enjoy it. It’s healthy. It’s hard! All well and good. But I am not an advocate, if you know what I mean.

Of course, all of this is to miss the larger point, the elephant in the room if you will. You see, regardless of the work we do or where we live, we forget that the main purpose of work has nothing to do with us. Note what Paul says in Eph. 4:28:

Did you use to make ends meet by stealing? Well, no more! Get an honest job so that you can help others who can’t work.

That’s The Message. The NLT puts it this way:

If you are a thief, quit stealing. Instead, use your hands for good hard work, and then give generously to others in need.

Sadly, instead of confessing that the real purpose of our work is to help others, we idealize a particular lifestyle that enables us to be “fulfilled” or to home school or to never retire, etc. I suspect that even the Christian agrarian movement has been influenced by narcissism and greed every bit as much as capitalism. Related to this, I think we’ve relinquished the care of the needy to the government for so long that most Americans can’t picture themselves as doing anything to help them or taking responsibility for the social needs all around them. Due to this faulty way of thinking, we sadly imagine that our greatest duty in life to work the soil and we tend to avoid the messy realities of poverty and need all around us.

I know this issue is terribly complex and ambiguous, but I think it’s clear that once we “take a stand” for any kind of “Christian” lifestyle we miss the point. We become Christian archists (and the “archy”/”rule” we are defending can be any number of things) instead of anarchists whose only concern is with expanding the kingdom of God. (See my book Christian Archy.)

The real divisive issue is not the way we earn our living but the way we polarize around our belief systems to the neglect of what is of most importance. As citizens of the kingdom of heaven our concerned isn’t to criticize what Caesar does so poorly or even to eschew the “American Dream” of bigger and better, but to try and understand the needs all around us (both in our families and in our world) and do whatever we can to help others through making radical sacrifices with our own earthly goods. If we would learn to do this, then the glory would go to God (where it belongs) instead of to us (and our paltry little “movements”), and the kingdom would advance. And we would keep the kingdom holy. Now, I’ll admit that I’m not great at doing this. But I’m trying. When I see genuine unmet needs in my family, if I can meet them (and if it is right for me to do so), I will try and meet them. Ditto for the work of the Lord in other nations. You see, the cross of Christ revolts against all that is self-centered. But you’ll have to work against going with the flow of our culture.

“Give generously to others in need.” This is where Christianity really shines. But it means that we will have to give up our platforms and get off our soap boxes and put our arms around this confused and dangerous world. I’m proud to know several Christians who live this way. They are a model of the kingdom for me and others. To them I say, thank you!

Christians, Silence, and Protest

8:58 AM Good morning, cyber geeks of the world. I feel a need to respond briefly to the pushback I’m seeing in the evangelical world against the federal government’s incursion into our personal affairs through reading our private emails, monitoring our website usage, etc. One of the essays I read yesterday made much of our “Founding Fathers” and their concern about government “overreach and abuse.” The author suspected that had the Founders lived in the 21st century they would have called a new constitutional convention to “deal with the erosion of our freedoms.” I’ve also noticed a sort of cynicism toward “silent” Christians who sit idly by and say nothing. One author said that “there will simply be no privacy unless someone speaks up. That someone should be Christians.”

I understand where these evangelical patriots are coming from. America once seemed invincible. After all, we were founded on principles of personal liberty and a high work ethic. When our freedoms are being eroded, we Christians cannot remain silent.

Or can we?

Continue reading Christians, Silence, and Protest

Was America Founded as a Christian-Agrarian Nation?

8:52 AM Last night I was perusing some of the agrarian websites and was surprised to see that the argument is still being made that our country was founded as a “Christian-agrarian” nation. I empathize with this view. After all, I am an agrarian. But if I am honest with myself, this seems to be exactly what Jesus and others in the New Testament are ruling out. To the best of my knowledge, nowhere in the New Testament do we find anything that comes close to supporting an agrarian lifestyle. Every person who has pledged allegiance to live in the way of Jesus has to wrestle with the issue of what they will become apologists for. I cannot judge the motives of those who espouse an agrarian lifestyle as being “biblical.” But neither can I claim to understand how they can reconcile this point of view with the constant kingdom focus of the New Testament. Yes, I enjoy the agrarian life. On our farm we have

  • processed our own chicken
  • slaughtered and butchered our own beef and goat meat
  • raised our own vegetables
  • canned our own fruit and jam
  • fertilized our fields with natural manure

Yet I want to say that this doesn’t mean I’m an apologist for agrarianism as a “Christian” lifestyle. Jesus can use us wherever we live and however we live. In short, I want to be known as an apologist for the Gospel, plain and simple. Why, I even wrote a book on this subject. I urge all of us to live for the upside kingdom of God by leveraging whatever we have for the Gospel, whether or not you ever you get your hands dirty working in God’s good earth.

(From Dave Black Online. Used by permission. David Alan Black is author of Energion titles The Jesus Paradigm, Christian Archy, Why Four Gospels?, and Will You Join the Cause of Global Missions?)

The Church, Christians, and Politics

7:02 AM Memorial Day is fast approaching. Years ago Jacque Ellul warned us that the greatest danger to liberty in Western society proceeds from the military-political state born of a dream of utopian perfection on earth. It seems clear to me that Ellul has touched on something of very great importance. As one who rejected out of hand the para-Marxist realism of my practical theology professors in Basel, I find it just as easy to part company with those on the theological right who argue that evangelicals should inject Christianity into politics. A close reading of the Gospels would show that the opposite is true. Continue reading The Church, Christians, and Politics

Christian Defense for Invasion of Iraq?

Yesterday I read a “Christian” defense of the invasion of Iraq, a defense partly based on a positive comparison of the Iraq War with the Crusades during the Middle Ages. Honestly, I do not see how followers of the Prince of Peace can say that they “like the Crusades.” Jesus’ teaching about radical love of enemies should make us pause when we read such statements. In my opinion, a defense of “just war” that ignores Jesus’ unconditional refusal to engage in violence fails to wrestle with both the example and teachings of Jesus – which is ironic because we live in a day when millions of people are waking up to the truth that the kingdom of God is trans-national, and that followers of Jesus don’t need to practice power other than the power of self-sacrificing love, even for their enemies. Millions are abandoning the Constantine paradigm and taking up their towels and basins, recognizing that the heart of Christianity is loving the unlovable and laying down our lives for others. Millions are recognizing the danger of mixing the kingdom with nationalism, and some churches have even been willing to rethink their views about “just” war.

Our commitment as followers of King Jesus is to advance His peaceable reign throughout the earth by non-violent means. The unmistakable message of the New Testament is that Jesus is the unsurpassable definition and revelation of God, who is the “exact representation of God’s own being.” So, whatever position you take on the Iraq War, whatever else is at stake in America’s projection of military power abroad, be sure you’re fixing your eyes on Jesus. The question is not whether the church should be profoundly affecting society. The question is how. We must remember that we are only foreigners and exiles in a strange land, and that we are to “please our commanding officer” (2 Tim. 2:4), Jesus. Yes, we are called to be warriors, but soldiers who conquer by living Spirit-led, counter-cultural lives and by putting Christ’s self-sacrificial character on display. Our soldiers in the Middle East display incredible courage. I pray that we as Christian warriors would have the same kind of courage, realizing that violence only begets more violence. (We armed Saddam in his fight against Iran and bin Laden in his fight against the Soviets.)

Anyway, I encourage you to join the Christian Archy movement. Hold your political allegiances if you wish, but do not label your party as distinctively “Christian.” Get involved in politics if you feel so led, but be careful not to divide your loyalties between God and your political views. Our only loyalty and our only trust must be placed squarely in a God who uses Jesus-like actions to expand His rule in this fallen world of ours. Our job is simply to imitate Him.

This year, let’s commit to doing that 24/7.

(From Dave Black Online. Used by permission. David Alan Black is author of Energion titles The Jesus Paradigm, Christian Archy, Why Four Gospels?, and Will You Join the Cause of Global Missions?)

Is There a Distinctively Christian Political Position?

6:10 AM Most of you are aware of my conviction that there is no distinctively “Christian” position on political issues. In this light, it seems to me that in principle there is no inconsistency in being a Christian and voting for a non-Christian (or a Mormon) for political office. (I’m not saying I would do this, only that I see no inconsistency in acting this way.) As I pointed out in my book Christian Archy, followers of Jesus aren’t called to get (overly) involved in political causes or disputes. Continue reading Is There a Distinctively Christian Political Position?

Causes and Movements in the Church

7:57 AM Good morning, thoughtful bloggers!

This Wednesday in our New Testament class we’ll be discussing my book Christian Archy, whose premise is simply that all of our proud substitutions for Christianity are but false Christianities. Whenever we put our petty gods above Christ, we reject Christ’s archy (rule). These include all of our “good” archys that rely on our own moral competence to “fix” our problems or “advance” the kingdom of God. Any Christian movement or ideology that takes the place of the cross has absolutely no biblical or theological foundation for its existence.

This is one reason I am reticent to identify myself with the “homeschool” movement or the “agrarian” movement or the “church growth” movement or other similar movements. Dietrich Bonhoeffer stated a beautiful spiritual truth when he wrote, “The person who loves their dream of community will destroy community, but the person who loves those around them will create community.” Many modern evangelical “causes” or “movements” are, frankly, in love with their causes and movements. We are tempted to enshrine our programs in golden calves and “Christian” bureaucracies. Indeed, once you start a 501(c)3 you feel obligated to do all you can to perpetuate your organization. You fight for the limited resources that are out there while forgetting that God is bigger than our petty organizations. Bonhoeffer was right. When we love our “dream” or “vision” more than the reality, we end up destroying both.

I want to make a modest suggestion: Our goal should not be to establish our majestic mega-church models but to embrace a “movement-less” kingdom that grows by simply caring for those around us sacrificially. I take great courage from the fact that I meet students who are beginning to study the earliest believers in the book of Acts, people whom Paul could describe as “the scum of the earth, the garbage of the world” (1 Cor. 4:13). In my opinion, we need more little people in our churches today, people who are taking steps to grow a more humble kingdom. The Jesus Revolution is a celebration of Christ’s archy. It stands in awe of no man’s “system” or “movement” or “program.” We are nothing but a ragtag bunch of Jesus-followers who are quite content to be ragtags. Or at least we ought to be!

Your fellow nobody,


(From Dave Black Online. Used by permission. David Alan Black is author of Energion titles The Jesus Paradigm, Christian Archy, Why Four Gospels?, and Will You Join the Cause of Global Missions?)

How Far Can We Go for Unity?

3:23 PM Hey folks. Sorry I’m not blogging as much as I used to. I’ve been overwhelmed with teaching responsibilities this week and other “stuff” (if you know what I mean). A week ago Monday I spoke to a group of pastors in Annapolis about the need for unity in the cause of the Gospel. My text was the entire book of Philippians! One pastor asked me a very good question: “How far can we go, Dave? We can’t compromise basic doctrines of the Christian faith in order to cooperate with others, can we?”

The answer is simple. I think the New Testament is very clear about this. The fact is that you can attend churches in America today where the ministers are traitors to the cause of Christ. Jesus described them as wolves (heretics) in sheep’s clothing. Paul told the Ephesian elders, “Even from your own numbers men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away the disciples after them” (Acts 20:30). It’s a tremendous strategy of the Evil One – angels of light appealing to us through deception. No doubt about it. Philippians does not teach unity at all costs. So please do not say that I teach we are to put our brains in park or neutral when we become followers of Jesus. Pastoral ministry begins with an inventory of the enemy’s strength and tactics. So says Paul in Phil. 1:9 (love must be controlled by knowledge and full discernment). So if we desire true Christian unity, we must stand up and fight for the truth, taking the great doctrines of God out of mothballs and hurling them back at Satan.

As all of you know, there’s a trend among evangelicals to “seek first the kingdom of America” rather than “the kingdom of God.” I encourage us all to be true defenders of doctrine by refusing to put our faith in anything other than Jesus and the radical, self-sacrificing, Calvary-style mustard seed kingdom that He established through His blood. It is absolutely scary to hear the things certain evangelicals are saying about their favorite candidate for president. No doubt about it – the nation is looking for a savior, a messiah to bail us out of our ills. Every candidate who is vying for the nation’s top job claims to have THE answers to all of life’s questions. “Our opponents say this, but the REAL answer is ….” Folks, I’m a citizen of a different country (Phil. 3:20), and I am here for only one purpose, and that is to be a full time ambassador of the King of kings and the Lord of lords. He is the hope of the world. Our only real security is in Yahweh. As I mentioned at the outset, I have a hard time justifying all the pom-pom waving I see in light of Philippians’ call for all Christians to humble themselves and put their complete faith and trust in King Jesus. I’m convinced that it is only when we foreswear all nationalism and ANY human means of advancing God’s kingdom that we will find our true identify as followers of Jesus.

Live for the kingdom!


(From Dave Black Online. Used by permission. David Alan Black is author of Energion titles The Jesus Paradigm, Christian Archy, Why Four Gospels?, and Will You Join the Cause of Global Missions?)