by Bob Wickizer

The Love Letter
Bob Wickizer
Jeremiah 31:7-14 ; Ephesians 1:3-6,15-19a ; Matthew 2:13-15,19-23 ; Psalm 84

I want to talk about a love letter today. After all, we have only 46 more shopping days until Valentine's Day. But this is a love letter from God to us. It is however a letter with a history and some challenges to untangle first.

In the beginning of Paul's letter to the Ephesians, you can clearly discern the texture of ''Us versus Them'' throughout the passage. ''God… who has blessed US in Christ … just as he chose US in Christ… destined US for adoption.'' Who is Paul referring to in this passage? If the ''US'' in here is baptized followers of the Way who will later be called ''Christians'' then we have some work to do.

We have work to do because this innocent word ''us'' in the Bible becomes changed and amplified into a doctrine causing nothing but harm and destruction as it sweeps through history. The doctrine is referred to formally as the ''Doctrine of Election'' meaning that people who belong to a particular religious framework whether it is Hindu, Buddhist, Jewish, Christian or Muslim are somehow informed by their scripture and belief systems to understand that their belief makes them special and therefore everyone else becomes NOT special.

In 19th century American expansion, this Christian doctrine was married to political enthusiasm in the form of American ''manifest destiny.'' Somehow the idea of US Christians was welded into the idea of Christian America so that God's destiny for a great America was explicitly cited as the rationale for the Spanish-American war of 1898. Of course who can forget that the religious impulse behind the Crusades and the Inquisition was based upon the idea that God's chosen were western Christians and we were somehow mandated by our belief to forcibly convert others to Christian faith?

You can Google it or you can talk to religious leaders but it seems pretty clear that every religion thinks that they are ...

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