“Take the Red Pill and you wake up back in your nice little church world believing whatever it is you want to believe”
“Take the Blue Pill and I’ll show you how far down this rabbit hole really goes.”
And this rabbit hole goes deep!
Starting with Cain slaying his brother Abel , Zahnd pulls back the curtain on the ancient system of this world.
A system built on power and sustained through violence.
A system founded on being “my brother’s murderer” rather than “my brother’s keeper”
A system that lies to itself that such killing is needed in order to advance freedom.
A system that is in constant need of “the other”, a scapegoat , that can be sacrificed to bring unity to the group, tribe, or nation.
A system that will ridicule, persecute, and ultimately sacrifice anyone who refuses to participate in the system.
A system to which the American church is fully complicit.
A World Without Christ
What would society be like today if Jesus had never lived? What would we consider normal or just the way it is? How would people view and treat each other?
Zahnd argues that the incarnation of Christ began the process of providing an alternative way of ordering society in opposition to the entrenched power system of the world:
If God can become human, then we must reconsider how we treat other humans. The incarnation has, without question, made the world a more humane place by raising the dignity of every individual.
Of course I can hear the skeptics howl! They will point out that the world has seen plenty of atrocities since the advent of Christ. Indeed. But what skeptics often fail to realize is that it is precisely because of Calvary that we call these things atrocities and not normalcy. Without the life of Christ, would we call massacres and genocide atrocities, or would we call them just the way things are?
Brian Zahnd – A Farewell to Mars, Loc 545
Because of the life and death that Christ demonstrated we can now look at the injustices, poverty, and horrors this world produces and say, “That is not the way it is supposed to be.”
Zahnd suggests that there is now, through Jesus, an alternative way of looking at the world. An alternative that is an antidote to the empires and power structures that seek to shape humanity and culture to their will.
God Bless America?
In interviews Brian Zahnd has admitted this is a deeply personal book for him to write. He confesses and chronicles his own history as a church pastor complicit in the system of scapegoating and violence.
Zahnd admits to cringing now at some of the sermons he preached after 9/11. Sermons which galvanized his flock with talk about America’s enemy…the other…the scapegoat!
The brothers we are obliged to slay in order to defend freedom!
a few years later when I encountered Jesus in a fresh way, when I began to take the “words in red” seriously, when I repented for my war prayers and war sermons, when I began preaching peace sermons, then the criticism came…People left the church over my “new direction.”
My new direction was that I began to take the Sermon on the Mount seriously. My new direction was that I began to see the Kingdom of Christ as God’s alternative society. My new direction was to believe that peacemakers are the children of God. And I learned a bitter lesson. I learned it was much easier to unite people around a Jesus who hates our enemies and blesses our wars than it is to unite people around a Jesus who calls us to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us…Believing in a war waging Messiah is easy. Believing in the Prince of Peace is hard.
Brian Zahnd- A Farewell to Mars, Loc 1058
For American Christians these are hard words. Our churches are adorned with flags, patriotism, and chants of God Bless America! Honestly, how many of us are able to “pledge allegiance to flag of the United States of America”, because deep down we don’t really believe the Kingdom of God actually exists.
What do you do though on that day you realize that Christ’s Kingdom does exist and it is founded on, and advancing, a system in direct opposition to the one you just pledged allegiance to?
Zahnd has a suggestion…and it’s Jesus!
A t this point you may be thinking I can’t do this. I can’t re-think everything I’ve ever believed about patriotism and war, and freedom, and manifest destiny and “God Bless America.” …it may not be easy, but it’s not that hard either-as long as you are willing to reexamine everything in the light of Christ. Once you extricate Jesus from the subservience to a nationalistic agenda, you can rethink everything…
Brian Zahnd- A Farewell to Mars Loc 255
Hard words that fly in the face of almost everything we’ve been taught. Words I still wrestle with. Words that I wish I didn’t have to face because if I’m honest… a portion of me still wants the war raging Messiah…the Avenging Christ!
Peace through the sword!
It’s all I’ve ever known.
But Jesus promises a better “way” and its to him and that system that I make my allegiance.
In A Farewell to Mars Brian Zahnd stands with hands extended offering two options. You can
* ignore what you have read, go back to your church world, and continue to be a cheerleader and chaplain to a system that has wrecked havoc on humanity since Cain slew Abel
* begin to take the words of Jesus seriously and be a part of an alternative system that Christ established with his birth, death, and resurrection. A system of compassion reenforced by mercy and forgiveness which stands in opposition to the ancient system of this world which is power established through violence.
The decision is yours!