Pastor Chris White
The American church of today needs to learn a lesson from the churches of the Civil War era. Now 150+ years past, the conflict between the Blue and the Gray has softened around the edges a lot and we associate the ‘Stars and Bars’ more with the Dukes of Hazzard than the Confederacy. But at the time, there was nothing quaint or homely or laughable about it. It was not merely a war of political differences, it was truly a religious war in a 95% Protestant nation that led to fratricide en masse.. Both sides of the slavery issue had festered since the days of the Constitutional convention and long before the first shot was fired on Ft. Sumter, nearly every American church denomination had divided over the slave issue.
In the Christian debate over the issue, both sides agreed that you could find slavery justified in scripture (and surprisingly, the law of Moses did cite a lot of laws regarding slaves). The crux of the argument lay in whether the race-based chattel slavery of the South was anything akin to the slavery of the Bible. Northern Christians said no, Southern Christians said yes. The Black church of the day argued that Matthew 7:12 (Do unto others as you would have them do unto you), if taken seriously, really ends the discussion. But as we all know, the Civil War, though spiritual, was settled militarily and for the most part “right” was settled by “might”. All told, nearly 620,000 people lost their lives as a result of the war, more than any other in American history. With casualties that numerous, nearly every family in America would have been grieving for a lost son.
So what can the Christian Churches of today learn from this national tragedy?
religious then logically those who disagree with us are not on God’s side and
therefore, if our opponents are fellow Christians, we must break fellowship. This
is just where Satan wants us. This is not to say religion shouldn’t inform our
politics or efforts to reform the ills of society or create a more just society, but we
need to give real care that politics never informs our religion. Politics are restless,
opportunistic, contradictory, complex and only temporal. This should always
remind us as Christians to approach politics with a healthy dose of skepticism and
never as articles faith. Someone once said that he who marries the spirit of the age
(and politics is the embodiment of that spirit) will certainly find themselves a
widow very quickly.
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