The image of the church of Jesus Christ as an army has come into question in recent decades. The absence of "Onward, Christian Soldiers" from our Evangelical Lutheran Worship and the deletion of verses from such hymns as "For All the Saints" and "Lift High the Cross" reflects growing disdain for militaristic representations of Christ's church.
And yet our newest hymnal's baptismal rite calls on those at the font to renounce "the devil and all the forces that defy God," "the powers of this world that rebel against God," and "the ways of sin that draw us from God." That sounds like war to me.
Is there another model for the church and its work, something that captures the fervor and the immediacy of war, yet one that better bespeaks the love of him whom we name as the Prince of Peace? And could it be a model that arouses the hopes and the imaginings of all, but particularly youth and young adults? I think there is. And, it's not new.
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