Brother’s Blood

Brother’s Blood

In this terrible world of the past month and a half, let us not let Evil creep up on us and invite us to partake of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil…

Accepting what is evilly inspired…

Let us hear the cry of our brother’s blood rising up from the earth,

Let us be aware that a major culprit of the violence and killing of the past few weeks is religion…

Let us walk in the Garden with God, as did Adam, and Eve, before religion…

Let us believe in God, as did Abraham, before religion…

Religion is a temporary phenomenon in this world’s history…

Religion is created by man in his own image as a bridge to reach the One God whose Kingdom already lives in us, and we in Him…

Relationships with God, and each other, and the supernatural ability to hear our brother’s blood cry from the ground are primal gifts we should strive to possess….

Not to strive against each other,

I think we are our brother’s keeper, all of our brothers…

Listen to your brother’s blood, and the survivors of our brothers’ blood who have bled under the altar of Evil, and have gone before us…..

Grace & Peace,

John Cooper

Fool For Christ

Fools For Christ

 

I have not always made the wised decisions in life, obviously, or maybe I would not be continually getting myself in the precarious situations in which I often find myself…

I admit, if my concerns were only about wealth, I have been so gullible to believe in and trust the inherit goodness I believe lives in every human being created in the Image of God.  I am just a fool, according to some.  I hope it is not all my fault, concerning my business problems, that is, although I believe much of it is obviously my fault, but I believe the economic conditions of our United States economy decimated by our warlike inclinations affirmed by the President Bush administration, and confirmed by the current King of Drones, President Obama, causing a collapse in our economy, which, just today, has been pronounced as “healed,” according to the jobs report that indicates we have recovered every job we lost…. (what about the millions who have entered the job market since 2007?)

“Oh, here we go again!”  According to some I know and love, it is just John the radical preaching and ranting again…  Really?

Am I just a fool?

I would rather be a fool, if I am to be one, for Christ!

Take a look at this link:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Foolishness_for_Christ

A lot of people have been fools for Christ, Western, and Eastern, and even some in the Sufi sect of Islam, (which I would like to be in, if I were Muslim) have been just “crazy” for God.  Pope Francis has chosen his name from St. Francis of Assisi, whose followers gave up their possession and preached Jesus in the streets.  Just Fools, in their day….

 

Reminds me of the lady I and others call “Preacher Lady” here in Tuscaloosa…. I have written about her before….   I just spoke to her again this past week.  She was standing in the middle of the street beside our business property, open Bible in hand, preaching away.  I went over and talked to her again for quite a while.  I asked her if she was a Prophetess, and offered her a glass of water.  We spoke of the Bible.  Apparently she feels called to preach to the City of Tuscaloosa…  Reminds me of Peace Pilgrim, who walked thousands and thousands of miles in the 1950s, 1960s, and up into the 1970s preaching about Peace….  Reminds me of the Prophet Jonah, whom Ben Talmadge is preaching about this month, who knew in advance he would be a Fool for Christ because of the message he was to preach to Nineveh.  Jonah knew God was Gracious and Merciful and would change his mind, and Jonah did not want to look like a fool… Reminds me of the Jewish Fool for God, Isaiah who walked around naked for a while…

 

Reminds me of the Apostle Paul, giving up his “religious”  position, to be quoted:

“We are fools for Christ’s sake, but ye are wise in Christ; we are weak, but ye are strong; ye are honourable, but we are despised.” (KJV).

And also:

“For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God’s sight. As it is written: “He catches the wise in their craftiness.” (1 Corinthians 3:19)

“For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” (1 Corinthians 1:18)

“For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe.” (1 Corinthians 1:21)

 

Reminds me a little of myself too, with my concerns for the Kingdom of God and the Gospel of Peace, which few seem to deem important in our United States warrior society…  Give us a gun, not give us peace….

Oh Well….

Just one more reminder, and I will shut up my foolish mouth….  I am reminded of Dorothy Day, the founder of the Catholic Worker Movement, and a fellow Pacifist and  “Fool for Christ.”  Below is a link to a one woman play about Dorothy Day, entitled “Fool for Christ:”

 

http://www.cctv.org/watch-tv/programs/fool-christ-dorothy-day-story

 

It is a long play, so I will shut up and give you time to watch it. I would advise you to watch and consider our belief systems…

But, I am just a fool…

While you are watching, I will put on my dunce cap, and go sit in the corner on a stool…

Let me know what you think!

 

Fool for Christ,

 

John Cooper

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just Jesus

Just Jesus

I just received the inspiration for what I am about to write from a post on the Fellowship of Reconciliation’s (of which I am a member) website http://forusa.org/blogs/tom-morrison/reflections-walter-winks-last-book/12927 written by Tom Morrison, entitled “Reflections on Walter Wink’s latest book, “Just Jesus.”

The term, Just Jesus recalls American Evangelicalism’s creed that Salvation is by Jesus and Jesus alone, and that there is no other way than just Jesus. I quote from John 14 below, versus 1 and 6:

Vs. 1: “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. 2My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? 3And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. 4You know the way to the place where I am going.”

Vs 6: “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.”

At first reading, this seems clear, however some time parameters are not mentioned at the first reading…

What about all those who lived and died before Jesus made this statement? Do they have no eternal future, excepting the holy men of old and the prophets, who envisioned Jesus to come in the future? What about little babies, and aborted fetuses, and those who die before they are baptized, and know any language at all, and have never heard of Jesus and never accepted Jesus as their Savior? We make up all these exceptions because we feel it is just, but is it really just?

I write this in the Passover/Easter season of 2014, having just last night attended the Roman Catholic Holy Thursday service with a Catholic friend, Fran Viselli, and his wife Kathie, and another friend from Grace Church, where I attend worship services, Phil Bishop and his wife, Brenda. It was a wonderful service and I got to sing in Latin for the first time since 1967. However, this is not about the Catholic Church, who appears to be a little more pluralistic than some Evangelicals, or any church, for that matter… I am writing just about Jesus.

What does one mean “just?”

Does one mean just as in only, or just as in fair and equitable, or does one mean both?

I just don’t think it is fair that little babies who die before accepting Jesus are never saved because they have not confessed belief in Jesus. Most religions and Christian belief systems make exceptions for little babies… Why should they? Who made them the judge of it anyway?

What about those I mentioned who lived and died before Jesus? Who were clearly not Christians, and never believed in Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior? What about those you have never heard the Gospel of Grace and Peace? What about those who know all about the Grace part of the Gospel and little or nothing about the Peace part? Are they too lost and damned for eternal separation from God? And those damned Atheists… :):)  What about those folks?

It just is not fair.

I believe with all my heart that Jesus is “just” and that it is just Jesus… Yes, both Jesus is the only way, but also that Jesus is just and has made a just and merciful and gracious provision for all who ever lived and died. I believe Jesus suffered and died to show his love for all mankind. I don’t intend to get religious and quote a whole bunch of Scriptures from the Old and new Testaments, from Hebrew and Christian Scriptures, but I would like to mention a few things that those who know will recognize and those who don’t know Jesus may want to look into sometime.

Let’s consider the end of the book, the book of Revelation, where the crucified and risen Christ is said to come back to claim his church, all of it, who believe in him, or will believe in him. He comes back in robes soaked in his own blood, before the battle, just as they were during the battle of the cross where he overcame evil with good. Jesus will do it again, overcome evil with good. He just seems to never change his purposes and intents. We see a tree of life again, just like in the first garden, for the healing of the nations. We see a new city, whose gates will never be shut. We see a light emanating from inside the city, and there is no need for the sun anymore because of this everlasting light. And we hear a proclamation of the Gospel, for all those who have not yet believed, and are outside the gates, in hell, saying, “Come, Come.” For all those who are resurrected, as is mentioned in this last book, for all who ever lived and died to come to a judgment, (not by us, not by the rules of religious systems, but by Jesus,) I expect a just judgment. I also expect some and I hope all that are outside of the gates of the city to eventually come to the just, just Jesus.

Just thinking…

John Cooper

Jersulem

Jerusalem

When we are stripped of power…

Will we still go up to pray?

When the answer is no..

Will we still go up to pray?

When the sword won’t work…

When we ask the God of the possible…

If it is possible?

Is there any other way?

We go up to pray…

Alone…

Naked…

Stripped of Pride…

Without conceit…

With God it is possible…

Will it be?

To still go up to pray….

To Jerusalem we go…

Is there Peace in Jerusalem?

If the answer is no…

There is no other way…

Will we still go up to pray?

John Cooper

http://www.jcooperFORpeace.org

Ukraine

Ukraine

I was grazing on the Internet today, spending a little downtime after a day of trying to play some golf, and taking a nap, and working some too… In the process I was thinking about just one of the current hot spots in the world that has the possibility to develop into a melting point, similar to the Chernobyl nuclear meltdown that was also in the Ukraine.

 

In the process, I looked into this web site, http://kubik.org/ukraine/03-02-14.html which is the web site of Victor Kubik, the President of the United Church of God, which is a split off of the Worldwide Church of God, now called Grace Communion International. I knew some of the founders of United Church of God personally, especially Ray Wooten, who recently died, as a personal friend. Victor Kubik is from the Ukraine, as you will see in checking the link out. I especially like the map he presented, and actually had forgotten Ukraine also adjoins Romania.

 

Ukraine is a historic Christian nation, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Christianity_in_Ukraine, as is Russia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christianity_in_Russia. Valdimir Putin proclaims to be a Christian, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u3d_yxJhmjk, and President Obama also claims to be a Christian, http://crossmap.christianpost.com/news/president-obama-affirms-jesus-as-his-savior-and-lord-stands-for-religious-freedom-at-the-62nd-national-prayer-breakfast-8829. I know all these links would take a long time to research, but I wanted to document this premise that the leaders of both nations are self proclaimed Christians. It is crucial to me that Christians recognize one another, and refuse to go to war with one another. It seems that every time there is a political disagreement since 325 AD that Christians as a whole line right up behind the Politics of this fallen world, and not the Politics of the Kingdom of God ruled by the Crucified and Risen Jesus.

 

Perhaps Putin and Obama are not Christians as some view themselves as Christians, and perhaps Russian Orthodoxy is not viewed as highly in America as Roman Catholicism in the West or various split offs of the two most ancient Christian religions mentioned, but I am reminded in consideration of our two predominately “Christian” nations again facing off for war of the dreams of Jesus. I believe that Jesus had dreams of his followers to actually love one another, and that the whole world would be a better place because of the shining light, the salt and light of his followers exuding their love for one another. To me, this love means we absolutely refuse to kill one another, or any other human, for that matter. (However, I am just a Pacifist.) I believe that Jesus dreamed of his followers even loving their enemies, even of other faith based traditions. I believe it is apparent that men are incapable of ruling one another based upon any other government principle than this love relationship, of ruling “under” and serving, not ruling “over” and abusing one another. I believe hatred and selfishness is why the world suffers so much and is in so much pain while awaiting a better Kingdom to come.

 

We all have dreams that do not work out so well in this life. Nations have dreams, people of all faiths have dreams of peace, and a better world for their children. I have had dreams too, which appear to have failed… One of the dreams I have, which has historically failed for thousands of years, is to dream of peace, as Jesus did, as Tolstoy and Rasputin of Russia, as Martin Luther King and Einstein and many others have dreamed. This Peace will never happen, in my view until those who call themselves “Christians” first give up hate and embrace the love for each other Jesus dreamed of.

 

The Christian season of Lent just began a few days ago in this year of 2014. This is the season some Christians give up things to help in their worship of Jesus and preparation of the celebration of Easter.

 

Why don’t Christians give up hate for Lent, at least? Why don’t Christians give up violence as a solution to their disagreements? And war, and threats of war, let’s give them up for Lent, at least. I need to do it too. Recently I have had bad thoughts about someone whom I think has taken advantage of me. I need to let go of these bitter thoughts and feelings. When we fail to love each other, it is hate. When nations of the world, whether Christian or not, but especially when they are Christian, line up their warships and nuclear warheads, it cannot be fulfilling the dreams of Jesus for a better Kingdom to come… Unless, we blast ourselves to kingdom come, that is…

 

You have just read my analysis of the situation in Ukraine, which would apply to other hotspots in the world too… Peace and love is the way, there is no other way…

 

John Cooper
http://www.jcooperforpeace.org

Bookworm

Bookworm

I recall that my brother, David Cooper, used to call me a “Bookworm” when we were growing up… I liked books, and read a lot, one reason I suppose, was that we grew up poor without a TV in the home until after I left for college. Books were my entertainment. I cannot recall studying that much, but I would check books out of the Marshall, IL Jr. High Library, reading Isaac Asimov science fiction books, about all the horse books, like Black Stallion, and nearly everything I could get my hands upon…

 
I really valued books… Recently, I think I may have valued them too highly, at least for monetary value, for the type of books I have. I have suffered some reversals the past few years, some of which are causing me to evaluate declaring Chapter 13 Bankruptcy. In Chapter 13 Bankruptcy, one has to put a value on things one wants to keep, and pay it back to the Bankruptcy Court in 5 years. In the paperwork I filled out, I used the value of $250 for “Books, mostly old, relating to woodworking, religious books given to me by the church I was a pastor in, etc.” I have hundreds of books, as Ben Talmage, to whom I gave some of my duplicates will tell you. I think I valued them much too highly… It is hard for me to even give away the duplicates I received when another pastor of the denomination I used to serve died and his family gave them to me, knowing I liked books.

 
Oh, that reminds me of another “book time.” This goes back to the time I was having a religious transformation experience while I was in college at Samford University. (Oh, I used to work in the Rare Book Library there.) I came to Alabama to attend Samford University, where my uncle, Dr. Everett Lemeron, taught accounting and other business related subjects. I lived with him, and my aunt (by blood) Gladys Lemeron in their home in Cahaba Heights, a city close to Birmingham and Samford University. This made it easier on me to pay my way through school in those days, where it never occurred to me to get a loan, if one could have back then… Anyway, after a year at Samford, I got this “buggy” idea (to my aunt) (a devout Nazarene who grew up in the Free Methodist tradition) to observe the 10 commandments. Now that entailed my ceasing to help out around the house on family work day, Saturday, which happens to be the Sabbath… Also, to exacerbate the conflict, I was beginning to understand some of Jesus’ ethics, such as to “Love your enemies, do good to those who despitefully use you,” etc. on the path I had been taking since my late teens of becoming a conscientious objector, which I am to this day, although I am no longer a Sabbitarian after practicing that law for about 25 years before coming to an understanding of the New Covenant.

 

This Spiritual transformation got me kicked out of the house in early 1969, I believe, by my aunt and I had to load up all my possessions in my 1959 VW. This is the VW that I used to drive around Samford University with a plastic sign on the front bumper, “Make Love, not War.” I had no one interested in the Love part at that school, and I had the sign stolen from me apparently by an irate Samford student concerned about the War part of it. :):) This is the VW I used to haul away my earthly possessions. It took only two trips to haul my possession away to a guest pool house I rented up on Alford Avenue on top of Shades Mountain. I acquired a new push button phone, a red one. The phone number was 205-822-8922. Don’t dial that! I mostly hauled away books….. I had lost of them back then too…

 
But I gave away most of the books at a another transition point in my life. I later moved into a home owned by the family of a Worldwide Church of God friend, Kay Kimbrough, at 305 Woodward Road, in Midfield, AL not with Kay, but several of us young Worldwide Church of God boys, including Larry Carter, and Donnie Parker. This was the Birmingham bachelor house for the young men in the church, including nearly all who passed though from all over the country. Everyone was welcome, and I shared everything I had with everyone who needed it, including fish for breakfast (just like Jesus???) because that is all I had on that day. The fish was steamed in my Wearever cookware I sold to single working girls back then, but that is a whole another story..?:):) Some of our guests did not like fish for breakfast, so they went to the local Shoney’s….

 

Back to the books…. Donnie Parker, apparently surmising how much I valued my books, kept bugging me to give up my books because they were secular, and not religious books… He wagered with me that I should throw away all my books because they were vanity… I wagered back that if I could do 100 pushups he would give me all his Bibles (he had quite a collection and all kinds of translations) I would throw away my books and his Bibles would be mine. I won, having grown up on the farm, working hard. I was strong back then.. Donnie was a couch potato and could barely do one push up back then. I disposed of my books, throwing them in the trash, all except three or four thick ones which were propping up the end of a used bed I had that had a broken leg.

 

I have never really planned on making another transition in life and giving up everything again, including my books, especially not at 65 years old, which I turned on January 15th, 2014. I have listed some things I would like to keep, like half the home Wink and I have completely paid for, and some personal hand tools, and a chest of drawers my Great Great Grandfather Alexander Hinkle, who was a cabinet maker too, and a farmer, and also a conductor on the Underground Railroad, and six chairs he made. The books, $250…I valued them too highly again, apparently… I already sold all my big woodworking equipment, and gave the money to a bank I owed to nearly pay off my line of credit, which they responded to by closing my line of credit, making my problems worse that before… Oh well… The idea I have in life is now to ask, Does it rust? If it rusts, don’t value it so highly… Don’t cling to it… I think Jesus had some things to say about that, even saying it about Silver and Gold, which according to Jesus, rusts… Scientists are apparently unaware of that idea, that Silver and Gold Rusts, but some scientists who do not know this may not know Jesus and may not know that everything has a radioactive half life and when viewed in the lenses of eternity, are not really worth keeping… Also, thieves can break in and steal them. It is loving one another that needs to be valued, even one’s enemies, according to this Jesus person… That is what will last… I have even been arguing with prestigious religious people who may not really understand such matters lately… It is hard on one to understand such things…. One has to give up ones prized possessions, and be willing to carry crosses around, and to die, and to bleed all under the altar at the foot of various punishing instruments, like the U.S. economy, greed, capitalism, rampant consumerism, and various military industrial complexes, and such things as crosses we agree to bear as we are transformed by Spiritual substances (homoousios) http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/270595/homoousios which will never rust.

 
Back to the books… I am going to pick up about 20 books that I was unable to give away tomorrow, Sunday, one of the days I now worship God on, along with Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday too, the 7th day of the week.. I plan to offer them to Greg Rogers, another pastor friend of mine, and see if would like to have them.

 
I am thinking too about another book, the Book of Life, mentioned toward the back of another book I value, the New Testament. I think my name is written in it, and yours too… I think toward the end of this book, the Everlasting Grace and Love of God is also mentioned, where the City is mentioned, that has gates that are always open, and great big loudspeakers sounding out, Come… Come, even to the worst of our enemies, even to those not yet in the book of life, even perhaps to the fallen angels who may be able to be transformed… It is a city that values such things as Gold, which is used to pave streets until it rusts again and has to be reknewed….

 

Bookworms, as my brother David said of me… I hope to always be one… and listed in one, especially one…:):)

 

Love and Peace, Forever…

 

John Cooper
http://www.jcooperforpeace.org/

Another Face of Joy

Another Face of Joy

I recently read Pope Francis’ “Evangelii Gaudium,” his first Apostolic Letter. The letter may be viewed at http://www.vatican.va/phome_en.htm.

As a former Roman Catholic and Nondenominational Evangelical Christian I am overjoyed at Pope Francis’ ethics and in particular, this recent letter.  My hope is that Pope Francis will reknew (I know, deliberately wrong spelling) the Catholic Church. I even feel called to come back to the Catholic Church, at least part time, to see how all of this is unfolding among individual Catholic communities. It is all because of Pope Francis that I feel called to do this.

My view of the Gospel is that the Gospel is the good news of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ which results in Peace and Salvation for all who believe. Pope Francis in some cases refers to the Gospel in relationship to the Crucified and Risen Christ. I agree to this definition also. I quote a section of his letter below:

“The joy of the Gospel is for all people: no one can be excluded. That is what the angel proclaimed to the shepherds in Bethlehem: “Be not afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which will come to all the people (Lk 2:10). The Book of Revelation speaks of “an eternal Gospel to pro¬claim to those who dwell on earth, to every nation and tongue and tribe and people (Rev 14:6).”i

I too, hear the Universal call of the Gospel as Pope Francis states, as a Gospel of joy for all, and none is excluded, but all are included in the message of the Gospel. I am excited that the leader of the world’s largest Christian system, of over a billion individuals would speak in these inclusive terms and physically and mentally demonstrate his compassion for all mankind, even those who are not of his particular fold, and also those of other religious systems and non religious people.

I will write a type of review of Pope Francis’ Exhortation following, along with my own free form comments.

Humans everywhere, of all beliefs are always looking for Joy. For Christians, Joy is a fruit of the Holy Spirit which is believed to be an internal gift, not something we merit of your own goodness. To put another face of joy into humanity is always good. The face Pope Francis is highlighting is the face of joy we can experience, as a result of following God’s will for us, that of going into the world, and sharing the Gospel, or Good News.
Pope Francis seems to put early emphasis on works of mercy that result from our joyfully sharing the Gospel. To me, these works are very good when they arise from the inner motivation of the gift of Grace freely given to us by the Holy Spirit and proceeding from the Father and the Son, who live in us all and we in him, One God.
I read Pope Francis as deploring violence in the cities of God, and later in his letter actually speaking of the Gospel of Peace.

“The Church proclaims “the Gospel of peace” (Eph 6:15) and she wishes to cooperate with all national and international authorities in safeguarding this immense universal good. By preaching Jesus Christ, who is himself peace (cf. Eph 2:14), the new evangelization calls on every baptized person to be a peacemaker and a credible witness to a reconciled life.”ii

It is very Good News to me to hear a leader of Christianity speaking out for the Gospel of Peace. I have long felt a calling to proclaim this Gospel of Peace, and regularly do so, but I have been rebuffed by Evangelical Christianity at nearly every point. I keep sharing, however, and also write about the Gospel of Peace on my blog site, http://www.jcooperforpeace.org. As a Body of Believers who deplores violence to the unborn, the Catholic Church, it is music to my ears to hear of the Gospel of Peace from the Christian leader of that system.
To me, it is a perfect time, today, for Pope Francis to set a vision of the Gospel of Peace, the Gospel of Salvation, and the Gospel of the Kingdom, one Gospel, as a Gospel that is to bring Peace to the world, as much as possible now, and certainly when Jesus returns, and always when Jesus comes to us now in this life. I cite in this regard:

Luke 2:8-15

8 That night some shepherds were in the fields outside the village, guarding their flocks of sheep. 9 Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terribly frightened, 10 but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news of great joy for everyone! 11 The Savior — yes, the Messiah, the Lord — has been born tonight in Bethlehem, the city of David! 12 And this is how you will recognize him: You will find a baby lying in a manger, wrapped snugly in strips of cloth!”

13 Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others — the armies of heaven — praising God:

14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and peace on earth to all whom God favors.”
NLT

Above we see the Good News of Joy for all mankind concerning the Peace God wishes for all whom he favors, which to me would be inclusive of all mankind, since Jesus came to suffer and die for all mankind’s sins. Whether all mankind will hear and understand this Good News and believe is another matter for discussion, but personally, I hope so, once they see the crucified and risen Christ, and it is a Joy to me to assist in sharing this Gospel.

In the setting of this vision of Peace and proclaiming the inclusiveness of the Gospel, I hope Pope Francis will provide even more confessions of Guilt of the Roman Catholic Church regarding the terrible sins of the Church, (It is not just the Catholic Church,) regarding the post Constantinian destruction of Sanctified human adult life in the Inquisition, the killings of Moslems, and Christians, and the lack of nonviolent actions concerning the killings of Jews and others in World War II, in Nazi Germany. The Church’s support of the Just War Theory, (although it is not a Doctrine of the Church,) needs to be disregarded in relationship to the Gospel, and other confessions as may be needed. Hopefully, Pope Francis will lead the Roman Catholic Church back to Early Roots Christianity. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_early_Christianity It is a Joy that the Gospel proclaims the forgiveness of all sins, both our own individual sins, and those of corporate religious and national and political bodies. Some believe even the fallen Powers may be redeemed if they accept the Gospel. The author, Walter Wink, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Walter_Wink has written books concerning the possible redemption of the Powers which lie behind human systems.

As a Church that values human life, and life of every kind, I feel this is a perfect opportunity for the Roman Catholic Church, under the leadership of Pope Francis, to divest itself of all conjoining relationships with political Powers and return to its Early Roots. Likewise, all Christian churches should divest themselves of political alliances and concentrate on preaching the Gospel. Te Politics of the Kingdom of God is what the Church, (and all religious systems,) need to focus upon. In joyfully sharing the Gospel, no Catholic should ever want to take a human life in warfare. In response to the Gospel, the time to stop killing for all who believe and share the Gospel, is now. The visible and tangible expressions of Pope Francis and every Christian Believer’s love for one another, and our enemies, Catholic and non-Catholics is the way the seeds of the Gospel are joyously shared… It is these Joyful expressions of love by which others know the Gospel has been preached.

Speaking of Joy, I concur with Pope Francis’ vision of the Image of God being in all mankind, not just in Catholics, and not just in Christians or adherents to one’s own individual religious system. The Quakers, whom I am particularly fond of, believed that there is a spark of God in every man and that the proof of this is that if there is anything a person does, that he feels sorry for, it is proof of the indwelling spark of the Spirit. I quote Pope Francis:

“If we are to share our lives with others and generously give of ourselves, we also have to realize that every person is worthy of our giving. Not for their physical appearance, their abilities, their language, their way of thinking, or for any satisfaction that we might receive, but rather because they are God’s handiwork, his creation. God created that person in his image, and he or she reflects something of God’s glory. Every human being is the object of God’s infinite tenderness, and he himself is present in their lives. Jesus offered his precious blood on the cross for that person. Appearances notwithstanding, every person is immensely holy and deserves our love. Consequently, if I can help at least one per¬son to have a better life, that already justifies the offering of my life. It is a wonderful thing to be God’s faithful people. We achieve fulfilment when we break down walls and our heart is filled with faces and names!”iii

Challenging Catholics to take joy in Evangelicalism by Love and the Gospel of Peace, in place of the sword, is a very good challenge for all, in these days where the Myth of Redemptive Violence is still being believed even after millennia of proof that this method of “making peace” has never and will never ultimately work.

I also appreciate Pope Francis’ many references to the Grace of God. One instance is cited below:
“Non-Christians, by God’s gracious initiative, when they are faithful to their own consciences, can live “justified by the grace of God”,199 and thus be “associated to the paschal mystery of Jesus Christ”.200 But due to the sacsacramental dimension of sanctifying grace, God’s working in them tends to produce signs and rites, sacred expressions which in turn bring others to a communitarian experience of journeying to¬wards God.201″iv

To me, Pope Francis comes very close to the Biblical text at the heart of Protestant Evangelicals’ beliefs,

Eph 2:6-10
6 And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 7 in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. 8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith — and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
NIV

I understand that our works are a response to Grace, not the cause of our Salvation, and I believe Pope Francis is quite Universally minded in his understanding of Grace, although he gives adequate expressions to the necessity of accompanying works. Perhaps St. Francis is thinking of the early Church Father, Origen, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Origen. At any rate, Pope Francis seems to me very progressive in his thinking processes compared to recent Popes. He states:

“We know that “evangelization would not be complete if it did not take account of the unceasing interplay of the Gospel and of man’s concrete life, both personal and social”.146 This is the principle of universality intrinsic to the Gospel, for the Father desires the salvation of every man and woman, and his saving plan consists in “gathering up all things in Christ, things in heaven and things on earth” (Eph 1:10).”v

I agree here that Salvation is for every man. I cannot say that every man will be saved, and I do not say that Pope Francis is saying that here. I would like to believe that every man will be saved, and I hope once Jesus draws all men to himself, that the beauty and love of the Crucified and Risen Christ, as Pope Francis also explains the Gospel will result in many hearts turning to God. To me, the Joy of Evangelization rests in the saving Grace of God, and efforts of Evangelization are never over until Jesus has executed his “time” to draw all men to himself…

One of the concerns Pope Francis expresses in his Apostolic Letter is the relationship of the economy to Joyfully Evangelizing the world. To me, the Gospel of the Kingdom of God which is beyond political systems, should change political systems so that our economies look more and more like Jesus would have them look. To this end Pope Francis states:

“We can no longer trust in the unseen forces and the invisible hand of the market. Growth in justice requires more than economic growth, while presupposing such growth: it requires decisions, programmes, mechanisms and processes specifically geared to a better distribution of income, the creation of sources of employment and an integral promotion of the poor which goes beyond a simple welfare mentality. I am far from proposing an irresponsible populism, but the economy can no longer turn to remedies that are a new poison, such as attempting to increase profits by reducing the work force and thereby adding to the ranks of the excluded.
205.
I ask God to give us more politicians capable of sincere and effective dialogue aimed at healing the deepest roots – and not simply the appearances – of the evils in our world!”vi

I am reminded of the Mennonite teacher, John Howard Yoder, and his book, “The Politics of Jesus.” In a nutshell, according to my recollection from reading the book, the ethics of Jesus and the Kingdom of God in Early Roots Christianity radically changed the political systems of the world, including the Roman Empire. The radical changes so endangered the Empire, with all these Christians loving one another, which in itself is sharing the Gospel, and refusing to join the Powers’ ethics of Redemptive Violence, that the Powers offered the Church the sword, and the Church accepted, and began to use the sword to supposedly advance the Gospel, in many cases disregarding unconditional, self sacrificial love for all men. Apparently the Church of that time, the Roman Catholic Church, neglected to consider that Jesus had already refused the same ploy from Satan, when Satan offered Jesus rulership over the earth. Jesus refused. The Church accepted. Then, the Church began to use the sword to advance the Gospel, since it had been given the sword, and began to make up its own rules of “just” war, etc…

Therefore, when Pope Francis speaks of no longer trusting the unseen and invisible hand of the market, I can imagine that the Powers are really disturbed… Talk like that is Jesus talk like when Jesus began to proclaim the Gospel, the Kingdom of God, the release of prisoners, and the year of Jubilee… The Powers kill humans for speaking like that… They killed God, Jesus too, but Jesus rose again and has overcome these Powers. Pope Francis has already rattled the heads of both invisible Powers and human economic powers. They have squealed like stuck pigs… I pray for the protection of Pope Francis and that the Highest of all Powers, Allah, God, will protect him until his mission is done, which may be the radical changing of the Roman Catholic Church, including the economic wrongs involved with the Vatican economy.

Although my comments regarding Evangelii Gaudium have thus far been overwhelmingly positive, even though I was raised Catholic, I view Pope Francis’ ending of his letter and the inclusion of the Mother Mary as a “tack on” thought to Catholicize his letter…He states:
“With the Holy Spirit, Mary is always present in the midst of the people. She joined the disciples in praying for the coming of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:14) and thus made possible the missionary outburst which took place at Pentecost. She is the Mother of the Church which evangelizes, and without her we could never truly understand the spirit of the new evangelization.”vii
I cannot personally agree with this statement. To believe it would certainly stretch my envelope and my understanding of Theology all out of shape. That’s OK though, I am imagine my beliefs in Peace and Nonviolence also stretch Pope Francis’ envelope too, and certainly stretch the envelope of the historic Roman Catholic Church as a whole, with exceptions such as Thomas Merton, Dorothy Day, and other Catholic Pacifists excluded.

On the other hand, Pope Francis is stretching a lot of peoples’ envelopes all out of shape… Young people seem to love him, Moslems seem to love him, Atheists even seem to love him… I love him too and felt an immediate conjoining of Spirits as soon as I realized who he was and is. I pray for the continued advancement of the Gospel, and the reformation of the Roman Catholic Church under the leadership of Pope Francis.

Grace & Peace,

John Cooper
http://www.jcooperforpeace.org/

i “Evangelii Gaudium,” Pope Francis, 2013 – Sect. 23
ii Ibid., 239
iii Ibid., 274
iv Ibid., 254
v Ibid., 181
vi Ibid., 204

vii Ibid., 284