From Cover to Cover The Bible is Anti-Empire by Rocket Kirchner

An old Bible

Image by Kahunapule Michael Johnson via Flickr

by Rocket Kirchner
Writer, Dandelion Salad
Rocket Kirchner (blog)
Rocket Kirchner (youtube channel)
Originally published February 2, 2014
May 14, 2016

I have always found it an interesting contradiction that some of those who oppose empire building also oppose the great document in world history that is anti-empire, namely the Bible. It is also just as contradicting that many who say they believe in the Bible are promoting empire. Something seems out of whack here.

All great literature has a narrative that drives its theme. The theme of the Bible is basically about a small band of people called the Hebrews that through thick and thin have survived and outlasted empires. From the Egyptian, Babylonian, Persian, Greek, and Roman empires, the Hebrews are still around and the empires are gone. The Hebrews of the Old Testament theme was one of not just survival but freedom. “Let my people Go,” was their cry. Or as we say in rock and roll, “Let my people GO-GO”.

In the New Testament under the leadership of Yeshua (Jesus) the Messiah, many Hebrews found their freedom through an inner transformation. “The Kingdom of Heaven is within you,” was their cry. And this brought them martyrdom by the Roman Empire because they rejected the violence and bondage of worshiping Caesar. O.T. theme: survival. N.T. theme: inner freedom. Thematic commonality: resistance to empire.

In regards to imperialism, Nesbit pointed out that the fall of Rome, “Sharpened the imagination of the 5th century Christian intellectuals and the 16th and 17th century neo-Pagan intellectuals.” Since imperialism morphed into the forms of the French Zenith, the British and American Empires, it seems that the modern notion of progress as Lasch points out has become “askewed”. What once was sharp has now become dulled. Why is this?

There seems to be some kind of amnesia, deliberate or not, in regards to the Biblical example to resist empire. Could this be because we live in a very Biblical illiterate society? Maybe. Therefore, many progressives by ignoring this most important document (or misunderstanding it), have seemed to have fallen into the trap of actually supporting imperialism as if it is very progress itself. Those hyper-religious Bible-bangers that are as ignorant of the Bible as the secular progressives in question, call for more military intervention and empire extension, regardless of the fact that the Messianic mandate out of the mouth of Jesus Himself forbids such acts of violence and oppression that empire bring.

As the Modern Age bleeds into the Post Modern, like any empire the next to collapse is the American one. The sun has set on every empire since China in 5,000 B.C. all the way to the British. It is interesting to note that the Book of Revelation is a preview of what is to come in regards to the final collapse of all empires and completes the theme of the Bible. When Saint Augustine was a witness to the fall of the Roman Empire, he said, “The city of man has fallen, but the city of God remains,” (De Civitate Dei), he was referring of the culmination of two different cities, two different ways of thinking; one was imperial, and the other was spiritual. Just minutes before his conversion he had come to terms with the Bible that woke him up to this fact when four words came to him. These four words were: “PICK UP AND READ.” It would not hurt us to do the same.

*

Bruce Cockburn: Use Me While You Can (1999)

tarkineWild on Jun 15, 2008

Suggested links:

God and Empire by John Dominic Crossan

Saving Christianity From Empire by Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer

see

What is Christian Anarchism, and Is It Useful Today? by Rocket Kirchner

Progressives That Became More Progressive After Their Conversion To Christ by Rocket Kirchner

Why the Christ Story is Not a Copycat of Ancient Religious Myths by Rocket Kirchner

Setting the Record Straight About the Apostle Paul by Rocket Kirchner

The Gospel Of Mark VS The Imperial Mindset by Rocket Kirchner (repost)

Noam Chomsky: The Gospels Are Radical Pacifist Documents

Lewis Logan: Jesus was an anti-imperialist

The Bible: Why does it endure?

23 thoughts on “From Cover to Cover The Bible is Anti-Empire by Rocket Kirchner

  1. Pingback: The Gospel of John Annihilates Religious Legalism | Dandelion Salad

  2. Pingback: The Gospel Of Mark VS The Imperial Mindset | Dandelion Salad

    • Thank you for the link! I found it interesting reading and bookmarked it.

      Even before all the Bible verses referenced in the article, it is written about the 1st type of war, when Cain killed his brother Abel. It hard to get around the explicit language;

      And the LORD said to Cain, Where is Abel your brother? And he said, I don’t know: Am I my brother’s keeper?
      And he said, What have you done? the voice of your brother’s blood cries to me from the ground.Genesis 4:9-11

      Again, before Abraham and the Promise, before the Israelites came out of the wilderness and took the land violently from the Canaanites, before the Tower of Babel and the Beginning of Nations it is written, The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence.

      And God looked upon the earth, and, behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth.

      And God said to Noah, The end of all flesh is come before me; for the earth is filled with violence through them; and, behold, I will destroy them with the earth. Genesis 6:11-13

      In the last 6000 years, a lot of human blood must be crying out to God. Maybe there’s more than just fossil fuels affecting the extreme climate change affecting the earth? But then again, a lot of human blood is being spilled over oil. There’s so much money, and jobs devising new way to kill more people, great industries are devoted to the purpose, as we stand idly by like it says in the linked article.

      The fundamental directive of God is that we love one another, not just in word, but in deed. Sometimes that’s hard to do, and if the world doesn’t recognize or appreciate the unselfish act, God who sees in secret does, and we store up riches in heaven.

      I think the corruption and violence in man has come full circle from the original Genesis record. The destruction will not come by a great flood, but from fire from heaven, a.k.a nuclear missiles as the drum beat to war increases in tempo.

  3. “Great read! I hadn’t really thought of the Bible in this context before, but the author definitely uncovered and articulated one of its themes.”

  4. You make some good points, but “cover to cover” is quite misleading. The Bible does have plenty of anti-Emprie bits in it, especially in Exodus – in what scholars call the Jahwist source, written down in around the 10th century BC, and collecting together pre-monarchic folklore. But sources that were added centuries later are often pro-monarchy, and pro-Empire as well. Deuteronomy (Deuteronomy 12, for example) and the Deuteronomistic History (books of Kings and Chronicles) are all about the centralisation of economic and legislative power in Jerusalem.

    Then there is the New Testament which (outside of the Gospels) is mostly pro-empire. Paul and Romans are basically imperial propaganda, and this is Peter:
    “You who are slaves must accept the authority of your masters with all respect. Do what they tell you—not only if they are kind and reasonable, but even if they are cruel. For God is pleased with you when you do what you know is right and patiently endure unfair treatment.”

    • Wrong reading of Paul – Totally wrong . Read my article on Paul as The Resistence to the Roman Empire . I have all my sources linked in it .

      Empires have misused Paul for their own gain . I spent decades studying Paul in order to write this and set the record straight once and for all .
      Also the Book of Revelation is the culmination of anti Empire Literature in the Ancient World .

      • I found your piece on Paul thought provoking. There is plenty anti-empire in the Bible, but my point stands, those “forged” letters are still between the covers of The Bible, regardless of who wrote them. And you haven’t commented on the centralising politics of Deuteronomy.

        The Bible contains all kinds of perspectives, pro-monarchist and anti-monarchist, pro-empire and anti-empire. Different faces of the text and commentaries record the revelations, explanations and political machinations of a story mutating over 3,000 years – and that is complex.
        You’re right, in part, it certainly has been misused for imperial ends. Here’s a talk I gave at an anarchist conference – mistranslation of the Bible in the service of empire.

        • Thanks I will check it out . Just because it is anti Empire does not mean it is anti violence .

          There are two ways to resist Empire : Violence and non violence . The Pauline pattern was non violent as well as the book of Acts and the gospels .
          There are other non violent examples in the Old Testament of non violent Resistence .

          Some of it is violent Resistence . Bottom line : the general message of the Hebrews in both is that the God of the Hebrews frowns on Imperailism .

          It is unnatural and does not respect boundaries .

  5. Rocket, It’s hard for me to believe 40 years have passed since THE KANSAS CITY TIMES published this on September 13, 1976. It’s almost like being an Elton John Rocket Man on the way to the Revelation of Church of Philadelphia Freedom!

    Ancient Babylon is the Bible’s starting model for Imperial Powers, the USA being the late, greatest of them all.
    “He came to town for the Republican National Convention and will stay until the election in November to do God’s bidding: To tell the world, from Kansas City, this country has been found wanting and its days are numbered […] He gestured toward a gleaming church dome. “The gold dome is the symbol of Babylon,” he said.”

    These are the first two parts of the three part Writing On The Wall recorded in Daniel 5 during the Captivity of Babylon some 2600 years ago. It was not until 9/11 and 7 years later, with the Global Financial Meltdown-Economic Pearl Harbor-Tsunami in the Fall of 2008, the whole world was able to see the Writing on the Wall for the 1st Time at the same Time.

    The third part of the Writing on the Wall speaks of the decline of the world’s dominant economic-military Imperial SuperPower, and a rising Persia/Iran.

    The US is the latest, greatest Nation to wear the Biblical Babylonian Imperial Mantle these last 2600 human years. Ancient Babylon was the 1st, and is now known as Iraq. The Tail struck the Head, and the consequences continue to this very Day!

    THE KANSAS CITY TIMES also published this in that 1976 article:
    He wanted to bring to the public’s attention an idea being put out “subtly and deceptively” by the government that “we have to get prepared for a war with Russia.”

    The Revelation of the unfolding events reported by Today’s news media TODAY indicate the TIME of the fulfillment of that prophecy is now at hand, unless saner heads prevail!

    https://ray032.com/2013/09/01/signs-of-the-times/

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