I was leafing through Newsweek earlier this week and found an article about Chriistian Universities and their debate teams. The article mentioned how Liberty University had the #1 debate team in the country, which is intresting. The authour went on to say how many Christian universities are pouring more money into debate teams and how their are more scholarships now going to those who have performed well in high school debates.
So what was is the reason for this? Acoording to the article universities like Liberty and Cedarville think that if they can train their students to be good debators, they can then be sent out to the world to make a greater impact. They can become prominent lawyers, judges, etc and have a larger role in the laws that shape society. All in all, nothing wrong so far. It all seems to be pretty logical.
Here, however is where I wish I wasn't so innept when it comes to using internet search engines. I copied the following quote from the article onto a piece of paper, you will have to take my word for it, from the Rev Jerry Fallwell, of Liberty University...
"We are training debators who can perform assault ministry. So while preaching the gospel on one side - certainly a priority - we have confronting of the culture of moral default on the other side."
First off, I am admittedly not a fan of Jerry Fallwell, but still, assault ministry? Does that strike anyone else as odd. He may have mispoken, or he may have this as part of his repatoire. Who knows? Regardless, it didn't sit with me well.
In church service Sunday evening I heard a message from Ephesians chapter 6 where Paul is talking about the armor of God. Some verses...
Verse 11, Put on the whole armor of God that ye may stand against the wiles of the devil.
Verse 12, For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of darkness, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
There is a ton in the bible about warfare, spiritual and otherwise. In the New Testament, and here in Chapter 6 of Ephesians I definately believe that it is talking about spiritual warfare.
Why do I bring up these verses? It seems to me that many inside the Church, and those who we let speak for Christianity as talking heads on CNN or the 300 other news channels, talk about or reference some sort of "culture war." And there is always mentioning about how Christians may be on the losing end of said "culture war." Maybe because maybe abortion is legal, or because Massachussetts has allowed civil unions for gay couples.
Now, to me, in 2006 given all that is happening around us war metaphors are tiresome and I really don't care them. It's difficult to swallow, I guess. However, I do believe that their is a such a thing as spiritual warfare. I do believe Jesus is who he claims he is, and that Satan exists and is the enemy. And I believe that the above verses from Ephesians refer to the ongoing struggle between God and Satan for humankind and for our souls. But as it says in verse 12 above, we wrestle not against flesh and blood.
Perhaps I am reading to much into Falwell's quote. Maybe I was too turned off by the phrase "assault ministry". The judges are not the enemies. Opposing lawyers are not the enemies. Clinton, Bush, Howard Stern, Ellen Degeneres, and even regretably to say the Dallas Cowboys are not the enemy. The enemy is real, and is Satan. Can we focus on that instead? In our own lives and in our communities? Whether it be manifested in poverty, hatred, or crime. Perhaps try to live our own lives differently and be an example, and a force for change in that way?
I just wish at some point we could move beyond ideas such as culture war. Or "assault ministry." Why would it need to be called that anyway. It may be too late, but why can't we drop war metaphors for what's going on inside our culture and actually try having normal dialogue?