Posts Tagged ‘evangelical Christianity’


10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his power. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For our struggle is not against enemies of blood and flesh, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to withstand on that evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. 14 Stand therefore, and fasten the belt of truth around your waist, and put on the breastplate of righteousness. 15 As shoes for your feet put on whatever will make you ready to proclaim the gospel of peace.16 With all of these, take the shield of faith, with which you will be able to quench all the flaming arrows of the evil one.17 Take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

18 Pray in the Spirit at all times in every prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert and always persevere in supplication for all the saints. 19 Pray also for me, so that when I speak, a message may be given to me to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it boldly, as I must speak.

Many Christians today find little attraction in the militant language of popular evangelical Christianity, where Satanic conspiracies are regularly exposed and the Prince of Darkness seems to get more press and attention than does the Prince of Peace. But while it is frequently overplayed – even verging on becoming an occult fascination of its own – the idea that we are up against something in the world that is larger and more resilient than our own individual destructive impulses is firmly represented in the New Testament.

Whether it’s conceived as being an externally existing demonic personality (the classic Satan figure) or is regarded as the dark spirituality of a domination system that perpetuates prejudice, violence, and oppression in human society, you have only to read the daily newspaper to perceive that something significant haunts our hope as a species.

How to make our way through this battle ground of forces? How can we stay on the path of Jesus’ gospel in this jungle of distractions and hazards that we call the world? Our author helps us get equipped – and it is important to see that in five out of the six items he names, only one of them is a weapon; the rest are for protection.

Beginning with the head and moving down, we have the helmet of salvation, the breastplate of righteousness, and the belt of truth. Salvation here is derived from the root-word meaning “healed” or “made whole,” so we might translate this first item as the helmet of wholeness or personal integrity. Together with uprightness (righteousness) and a commitment to truth, this combination of virtues will provide the disciple with a firm and stable center of balance in the midst of the buffeting forces of the world.

ACTS 10:34-43

34 Then Peter began to speak to them: “I truly understand that God shows no partiality, 35 but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him. 36 You know the message he sent to the people of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ—he is Lord of all. 37 That message spread throughout Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John announced: 38 how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power; how he went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him. 39 We are witnesses to all that he did both in Judea and in Jerusalem. They put him to death by hanging him on a tree; 40 but God raised him on the third day and allowed him to appear, 41 not to all the people but to us who were chosen by God as witnesses, and who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. 42 He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one ordained by God as judge of the living and the dead. 43 All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.”

Many evangelical explanations begin with the premise that all of humanity outside the small circle of believers who hold to the pure doctrine of Christian salvation are rejected by God and without hope of redemption. Jesus did what needed to be done, what no one before or after him could do, which means that God’s acceptance is made possible only through a personal and doctrinally sound belief in Jesus. This place Jesus not only  at the devotional center of the Christian religion, but at the exclusive center of the world’s religions as well.

A religion becomes dangerous when it presumes to capture and represent the mysteries of God, the soul, and salvation in propositions that are absolute and beyond question. Christianity itself has repeatedly fallen to the temptation of idolatry – of elevating some doctrine, symbol, office or individual to the place of final authority. In Peter’s sermon to the Gentiles he confesses his belief that God looks first upon the heart, and upon the life that bears it forth in word and act, without apparent regard for the purity of doctrine that occupies the mind. In every nation this is so; a wide field indeed!