Midweek Blog: Terrorists and Their Other Victims

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Today’s blog will continue our recent discussion of American church history, but it will concern some recent tragic events. As most of you are undoubtedly aware, there was a horrific terrorist attack in Paris on Friday, which killed 129 people. What has followed the attacks, in the USA at least, has been a war of words regarding whether or not we as a country should allow over 10,000 Syrian refugees into the country. In fact, 31 states’ governors have voted against allowing any refugees into their respective states. Those who have been arguing such a position point to the fact that one of the terrorists in the Paris attacks came to France as a Syrian refugee. Recently there has also been renewed debate over Islam as a religion in and of itself, with many people claiming that mosques with any ties to terrorists should be shut down. While we can and should debate all of these points, today I want to look at a selection from a poem written in 2001 entitled, “First Writing Since.”

The poem is in response to 9/11 and how Muslims in the country had to deal with the fear/ suspicion they encountered everywhere. The old cliche is “history is bound to repeat itself.” Unfortunately, people are still having to deal with suspicion and fear directed at them because of the actions of a few. The author is a Palestinian-American Muslim woman named Suheir Hammad (text in Harvey and Goff, 531-533). I think this poem gets at many of the frustrations that people are feeling right now in the wake of the Paris attacks.

Hammad writes, “first, please god, let it be a mistake, the pilot’s heart failed, the plane’s engine died. then please god, let it be a nightmare, wake me now. please god, after the second plane, please don’t let it be anyone who looks like my brothers” (Harvey and Goff, 531).

The author here shows that she understands what is to come, specifically the blaming and the suspicion that will be leveled against those who “look like” the attackers. She notes that her first thought was “please let it just have been a horrible accident.” Unfortunately, it was not and that led to a time of great trouble for Muslims in America.

Hammad later writes, “most Americans do not know the difference between Indians, Afghanis, Syrians, Muslims, Sikhs, Hindus. More than ever, there is no difference… one more person ask me if I knew the hijackers… one more person assume no Arabs or Muslims were killed… we did not vilify all white men when McVeigh bombed Oklahoma” (Harvey and Goff, 532).

These are some of the most poignant lines from the poem. Hammad notes how Indians, Afghanis, and Syrians were all lumped together in the aftermath of 9/11 as well as Muslim, Hindu, and Sikh. Hammad touches on how each were persecuted as though they “knew the hijackers.” Clearly, she herself has been asked that question. The notion that someone would ask that of a Palestinian Muslim shows just how the suspicion of Muslims hit a fever pitch in the wake of 9/11. She makes the powerful statement that just because one white man (McVeigh) killed over 160 people when he bombed the Oklahoma Federal Building doesn’t mean that we should blame all white men. The very idea that white men in the USA would all be blamed equally for the actions of one seems far-fetched to say the least. But, it’s not far off from what Muslims went through after 9/11 and what Syrians are going to have to go through in the coming weeks. One seems preposterous, the other seems like a foregone conclusion. Anyone else see what’s wrong with that picture?

The final selection I want to include offers hope. Hammad writes, “thank you to the woman who saw me brinking my cool and blinking back tears. she opened her arms before she asked, ‘Do you want a hug?’ A big white woman, and her embrace was the kind only people with the warmth of flesh can offer… There is death here, and there are promises of more. there is life here. anyone reading this is breathing, maybe hurting, but breathing for sure. and if there is any light to come, it will shine from the eyes of those who look for peace and justice after the rubble and rhetoric are cleared and the phoenix has arisen. affirm life. affirm life” (Harvey and Goff, 532-533).

These are powerful statements. In the first part of the selection, a white woman shows how comforting and welcoming people can be, despite widespread suspicion and hatred. Sometimes people just need a little kindness. The second half of the quote shows that even though we as a nation were hurting, and Muslims in particular were feeling ostracized, we were (and currently are) all still breathing. That means that we are alive. We must “look for peace and justice” and “affirm life.”

Now, how can we do that? Does that mean we have to let anyone come into our country without being careful? I don’t know. I think it means that we need to start seeing this number of 10,000 refugees as more than just a huge number, and as more than a potential for terrorism. There are living, breathing people that are fleeing a war-torn world. I don’t know the logistics that are involved with “vetting” these refugees nor do I know how they will acclimate to life in the United States. What I do know is that we need to be careful not to repeat the mistakes of our past. Just 15 years ago, we turned our backs on many Muslims in this country because they “looked like the terrorists.” We ought to be so ashamed of this past that we are vigilant to not repeat the process. Not all refugees are potential terrorists. The sooner we realize that, the sooner we will be able to “affirm life.”

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Midweek Blog: Catholic Bishops on Pointing Nukes at Our Enemies

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This week, in continuing our series on American Church History, we are jumping forward a bit into the twentieth century. Today’s blog focuses on the National Conference of Catholic Bishops from 1983 which published a pastoral letter entitled “The Challenge of Peace.” The conference’s focus was on the ramping up of nuclear arms between the USA and the USSR in the early 1980s, as well as the rhetoric surrounding a strategy of nuclear deterrence. The idea, for President Ronald Reagan, was that the USA should stockpile advanced nuclear weaponry in order to keep the peace. Such an increase in production of catastrophic weaponry led many people to decry the policy, including the aforementioned Catholic conference (Paul Harvey and Philip Goff, eds. The Columbia Documentary History of Religion in America Since 1945, 60-61). “The Challenge of Peace” was what the conference penned in response to such political actions, and this letter will be the focus of today’s blog.

The letter states, “In the nuclear arsenals of the United States or the Soviet Union alone, there exists a capacity to do something no other age could imagine: we can threaten the entire planet. For people of faith this means we read the Book of Genesis with a new awareness” (“Challenge of Peace,” 123). The notion that the destructive power of human-produced weapons should make us look differently at Genesis carries with it a sense of foreboding. If people can annihilate vast numbers of humans and other lifeforms in a huge area with one single bomb, think at what that has to say about humanity’s relationship with God in the creation narrative. These bishops continued, “Today the destructive potential of the nuclear powers threatens the human person, the civilization we have slowly constructed, and even the created order itself” (123).

The destruction seen at Hiroshima and Nagasaki at the end of World War II showed everyone the power of nuclear bombs and their catastrophic impact. Many Catholic voices dissented soon after, such as Dorothy Day. Many of them saw civilized humanity as taking a huge step backwards with the killing of so many men, women, and children who had nothing to do with the War. The Conference we are discussing responds to Reagan’s new nuclear arms race with much of this anti-nuke tradition in the background, as the letter mentions (127). The letter, however, notes that simply advocating for disarmament is complex. It states, “It much less clear how we translate a ‘no’ to nuclear war into the personal and public choices which can move us in a new direction, toward a national policy and an international system which more adequately reflect the values and vision of the Kingdom of God” (134).

While imposing a foreign policy that “reflects the values and vision of the kingdom of God” would not really be acceptable today, the Bishops do note how simply having the biggest muscles (or the most bombs) isn’t necessarily the best way to operate. The policy of nuclear deterrence is that one has to basically point the bombs at one’s enemies; in the historical case to which we are referring, the USA has to point the bombs at the USSR with the finger on the button. The goal is of course to never use the weapons themselves but to scare the enemy into thinking that you are about to. The problem arises when one’s enemies calls one’s bluff. What happens if they say, “Go ahead. We know you won’t do it.” At that point, you either have to fire the weapons, or you have to come up with an entirely new strategy. All the while, your enemies might be preparing to attack you or to fire similar weapons at you.

One final passage from “The Challenge of Peace” describes this very issue. “The need to rethink the deterrence policy of our nation… also will require, we believe, the willingness to open ourselves to the providential care, power, and Word of God, which call us to recognize our common humanity and the bonds of mutual responsibility which exist in the international community in spite of political differences and nuclear arsenals” (196).

If you ask me, this is the most groundbreaking, novel concept within the letter. Again, utilizing one’s understanding of the Kingdom of God or “opening ourselves to the providential care, power, and Word of God” would simply not work in today’s United States. You can’t mix government and religion like that. However, the aspect which I think has the strongest impact on the letter’s historical context, as well as our own today, is that there is a “common humanity and bonds of mutual responsibility in the international community.” I think one of the problems today is that we look at other countries, and the people who inhabit them, as somehow less than ourselves. The USA has plenty of enemies, but what could possibly set it apart from many other countries is a new attitude that looks at the humanity of even our enemies and the employment of a “mutual responsibility” toward them.

I don’t want to venture to far into the realm of politics or political theory here (I would be way out of my depth), but crafting a foreign policy that looks at other countries, including our enemies as fellow human citizens could go a long way to subverting other conflicts. What the National Conference of Catholic Bishops had to say to the USA in the early 1980s is powerful. They went completely against the government’s position of nuclear deterrence with a very public stance. They showed strong faith commitments and a willingness to speak up for God’s kingdom. Although this happened over thirty years ago, their views on peace and focusing on the humanity of others might still ring true today.

What are you thoughts on nuclear deterrence? What about the Bishops’ response? Is today’s geopolitical stage too advanced for such a document? Has ISIS changed the game, or can we still look for humanity in our enemies?

Midweek Blog: Abraham Lincoln and the Will of God

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This week’s blog post continues our discussion of American church history. Today’s post focuses one of the most famous (if not the most famous) people in American History: Abraham Lincoln. Many people know many details about Lincoln’s life and role as the sixteenth president of the United States, his role in issuing the Emancipation Proclamation, his leadership during the Civil War, and his subsequent assassination. Today, I want to focus on his discussion of God’s will.

Lincoln, in a small document, addresses God’s will and the Civil War. He writes, “The will of God prevails. In great contests each party claims to act in accordance with the will of God. Both may be, and one must be, wrong. God cannot be for and against the same thing at the same time. In the present civil war it is quite possible that God’s purpose is something different from the purpose of either party… I am almost ready to say that this is probably true; that God wills this contest, and wills that it shall not end yet. By his mere great power on the minds of the now contestants, he could have either saved or destroyed the Union without a human contest” (Lincoln, “Mediation on Divine Will,” 1862; Gaustad and Noll, 572).

There are a couple powerful statements in such a small sampling from Lincoln’s thoughts. First is the idea that God wills the Civil War to not only have happened but to continue in its duration. Lincoln wrote this during the War and noted that God could have simply ended it whenever God wanted to, but yet it continued to rage. Such an assertion might seem troubling, particularly to us today. The Civil War is often looked upon as a brutal, heart-wrenching conflict in American history. Families torn apart, incredible losses of life, and slavery being at the very forefront of the conflict all lead to an image of archaic barbarity that we sometimes cannot believe actually happened in the United States, especially only 150 years ago. Lincoln further complicates our view of the Civil War by noting that it’s “probably true that God wills this contest.” With the benefit of hindsight, how should we understand such a statement? Was Lincoln reflecting the thoughts of Christians everywhere? Does God will wars to happen? What does that do for our picture of God?

These are difficult questions, and somewhat impossible to answer. What we can use from Lincoln’s statement is that Lincoln defers to God’s will on the matter, showing a strong faith and trust in God’s purposes. Lincoln does not resort to blaming God for the Civil War, he merely notes that there must be a reason that it continues because it has not yet ended. The second element from Lincoln’s above statement that I want to point out is that in such a contest as the Civil War both sides claim to be on “God’s side.” One need only to read Domestic Slavery Considered as a Scriptural Institution by Francis Wayland and Richard Fuller to see that both pro and antislavery individuals thought that their position on slavery was biblically sanctioned. As Lincoln notes, “God cannot be for and against the same thing at the same time,” so one side has to be wrong. The problem with such conflicts is not who is right and who is wrong, but the fact that both sides think that their position lines up with God’s purposes. In the Civil War and in other grand conflicts, such a dichotomy can lead to a besmirching of God’s name as well as a jumbling of the message of the Bible on certain matters.

In another document, Lincoln again ponders how to determine God’s will. He writes, “I am approached with the most opposite opinions and advice, and that by religious men who are equally certain that they represent the divine will. I am sure that either the one or the other class is mistaken in that belief… I hope it will not be irreverent for me to say that if it is probable that God would reveal his will to others on a point so connected with my duty, it might be supposed he would reveal it directly to me… if I can learn what it is, I will do it” (Lincoln, “Reply to a Committee from the Religious Denominations of Chicago,” 1862).

I really like Lincoln’s forthrightness here. He comes across almost as snarky: “If God wants me to know what God’s will is for my presidency, God would have told me directly.” Fair point, and I’m glad he adds that he hopes he is not being irreverent before he says it. I think Lincoln’s vision for his own presidency shows a great deal of humility and faithfulness, but at the same time shows why he was a great leader: he was willing to say: “I’m the president, remember?”

Finally, Lincoln issued a proclamation instituting a National Fast Day on March 30, 1863 (Gaustad and Noll, 572-73) to “humble ourselves before the offended Power, to confess our national sins, and to pray for clemency and forgiveness… let us rest humbly in the hope authorized by the divine teachings, that the united cry of the nation will be heard on high, and answered with blessings no less than the pardon of national sins, and the restoration of our now divided and suffering country to its former happy condition of unity and peace” (Gaustad and Noll, 573).

Powerful statements to come from the president. I wish people read more of Abraham Lincoln than just his “Gettysburg Address.” Seeking pardon for the national sins is a good thought. I know that such a statement would never come from any president in the twenty-first century due to the divided opinions on the place (or lack of place) that faith can have in government; however, I think one of the “national sins” today is simply thinking we are incapable of committing national sins. We look at the USA as a place that is immune to horrors and mistreatment of people, but unfortunately these happen here too. I think if Lincoln were alive and president today, he would still be shocked at how people in this country treat one another. I share his hope that God would grant “restoration” to the divided areas of our country, even today.

Midweek Blog: Phoebe Palmer and the Ocean of God

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This week’s blog continues our series on American Church History. This week we are looking at the life and writings of Phoebe Palmer (1807-1874). She was a well-known Methodist leader who taught that personal, “inward holiness” was what one ought to strive for in his or her faith (Gaustad and Noll, 405). She was a leader of the holiness movement and was very well-known as a speaker. She wrote The Way of Holiness and delivered many public addresses. We will examine The Way of Holiness in today’s blog.

Palmer wrote the book in the third person, describing her own life (Gaustad and Noll, 415). Palmer describes, “And now, realizing that she was engaged in a transaction eternal in its consequences… said, ‘O, Lord, I call heaven and earth to witness that I now lay body, soul, and spirit, with all these redeemed powers, upon thine altar, to be forever Thine! ‘Tis done! Thou has promised to receive me! Thou canst not be unfaithful!'” (Gaustad and Noll, 415-16, emphasis present).

The teaching of internal sanctification comes through Palmer’s writing here. One can see that she views a sacrifice of her entire body, soul, and spirit upon God’s altar. She notes that God promises to receive such a gift and further states that “I am thine–wholly thine!” (416). I wonder when reading Palmer’s own words whether or not many Christians today see faith in a similar manner. I am not necessarily talking about the holiness tradition here. I mean that Palmer’s enthusiasm and trust in God demonstrate just how fervently she believed in her faith. When we go to church, or pray, or serve, or share the Gospel, are we engaging our body, soul, and spirit together? Are we “laying them down upon God’s altar?” Or are we simply doing these things because we think we have to? I know I have been guilty in the past of “going through the motions” in my own faith.

While I do like Palmer’s wording above, I want to focus the rest of the blog on an image she uses. Palmer writes, “She felt in experimental verity that it was not in vain she had believed; her very existence seemed lost and swallowed up in God; she plunged, as it were into an immeasurable ocean of love, light, and power, and realized that she was encompassed with the ‘favor of the Almighty as with a shield; and felt assured, while she continued thus, to rest her entire being on the faithfulness of God'” (416).

There are a few phrases that are key here. The first being that “her very existence seemed lost and swallowed up in God.” Such a statement links up with what many of us would state; that our lives after giving them over to God have been entirely transformed and redeemed. Put another way, we can’t really remember what life was like before we gave ourselves over to God (unless yours is a very recent conversion). I think that is the power of God’s message: that God’s work is so transformative that we begin a new type of God-life in which we exist and cannot remember our old life apart from God.

The second key phrase that I wanted to focus on is that God should be seen as an “ocean of love, light, and power.” I love such a picture. It arrives on the tail of the previous phrase that one is “swallowed up in God.” One can use the image of putting a drop of vinegar into the ocean; i.e that such a small amount does not change the make-up of the ocean itself. It is still salt water despite the addition of a new substance. Going further, the vastness of the ocean (one of the most daunting, intimidating, and fear-inspiring things on earth is the perfect image to use for God. The ocean’s depths and power and magnitude are how one can visualize God’s love, light, and power. God’s love runs so deep that it seems one cannot find the bottom to it. God’s light is as vast as the endless horizon on the surface of the ocean. God’s power is akin to the power of the ocean; which can bring life and also bring terrifying destruction.

Phoebe Palmer’s understanding of holiness and sanctification thus is two-fold. The first requires a submission of one’s body, soul, and spirit. The second is that one must allow him or herself to be swallowed up in God’s ocean of love, light, and power. The continual practice of such a faith can ultimately lead to us being found as true children of God. One can see why Palmer would be so popular and successful as a teacher in the 19th century. Her message of God’s love spoke to people in a turbulent time: on the eve of the Civil War and during many of the slavery debates in the United States. The turbulent nature of this country unfortunately has not yet yielded to peaceful, tranquil times. Palmer’s teaching could still address many issues in our country today. How many of our troubles could be solved if we simply dove in to the ocean of God? No one can know for sure, but it could be a great start.

Midweek Blog: Charles Finney, Staring at You Until You Join His Revival

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Last week marked the beginning of our series on American church history. This series may or may not run chronological, it all just depends on which person or event I really want to blog about that day. Today’s focus is on someone whom I have studied in the past for a history assignment, Charles G. Finney. My favorite thing about Finney is his amazing stare. It has been suggested that his stare is one of the main reason that he was able to be so successful in instigating revivals. In fact he had a church auditorium built in a circular fashion simply so that he could look everyone in the audience in the eye directly (Charles E. Hambrick-Stowe, Charles G. Finney and the Spirit of American Evangelicalism, Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1996, 162).

Finney (1792-1875) was also well-known for his role in founding Oberlin College in Ohio which was supposed to be place of “evangelism and social reform” (Noll, 176). Oberlin was the first college in America to admit women as regular students as well (Noll, 176). Besides these facts, one of Finney’s more famous contributions to revivalism is the “anxious seat.” It was a bench at the front of the congregation to which one should move up during the sermon if he or she was feeling particularly convicted and/ or called to reform their souls. These aspects of his life aside, I wanted to focus on Finney’s own words about how revivals should be understood.

Finney writes, “It [a revival] presupposes that the church is sunk down in a backslidden state, and a revival consists in the return of the church from her backslidings, and in the conversion of sinners. A revival always includes conviction of sin on the part of the church… The fountains of sin need to be broken up.” (Gaustad and Noll, 323).

This might not seem so groundbreaking. If a church needs a revival, it ought to be at least stuck in complacency at the very least. Convicting the sins of the church is a tricky business, however. I have been at churches here in Los Angeles that are too afraid to point out the sins in the church; instead, they are content to offer a vague message of “doing pretty well” for God. Finney would probably jump up on the stage of such a church and stare everyone down until someone offered up a specific sin with which the church was struggling.

Another passage from Finney: “While they [Christians] are in their backslidden state they are blind to the state of sinners. Their hearts are as hard as marble. The truths of the Bible only appear like a dream. They admit it to be all true; their conscience and their judgment assent to it; but their faith does not see it standing out in bold relief, in all the burning realities of eternity” (Gaustad and Noll, 324).

I feel like this is the most convicting part of Finney’s message. If a church is in a “backslidden state,” then they become far less effective at ministering to others. Hearts become hard and the truth of the Bible becomes elusive. Such reasoning places a large onus upon the church community to remain in a state that can only be described as “not-backslidden.” What about churches that are just stagnant? What about those that are undergoing major leadership overhauls or those whose pastors are caught in scandal? Would that be a “backslidden state?” If so, our ability to truly live out our faith is dependent on a lot of variables, most notably our corporate worship communities. I think that in such reasoning, Finney underscores the need to make sure our churches are vibrant, lively faith communities.

One final passage from Finney: “A revival breaks the power of the world and of sin over Christians. It brings them to such vantage ground that they get a fresh impulse towards heaven. They have a new foretaste of heaven, and new desires after union to God; and the charm of the world is broken, and the power of sin overcome… When the churches are thus awakened and reformed, the reformation and salvation of sinners will follow, going through the same stages of conviction, repentance, and reformation… The worst part of human society are softened, and reclaimed, and made to appear as lovely specimens of the beauty of holiness.”

Such a statement would fit with what many have called “the conference high” that Christians have when they return home after a revival, a mission trip, or a conference. They called it the “project high” in Campus Crusade for Christ (now just called Cru) when students returned from their summer project mission trips. “A new foretaste of heaven” is a great way to frame the feeling that Christians get when taking part in a revival. The final line from the passage touches on something that was also important to Finney; holiness. Living a life of holiness, for Finney, was directly tied to taking part in a revival. Revivals allow one to break free from the chains of sin and the world in order to be made holy and to take part in a reformation of sorts.

I have been to several church conferences and revival meetings over the years. I would agree that people usually return from them with a type of “high,” as they set out to attack their faith anew. I would also argue that we could look at each Sunday at church as a type of mini-revival which allows us to approach our week with renewed faith and mission. I also wonder if churches sometimes push the revival movements too much. Can “revivals” be overdone and lose their meaning? Do churches need to take part in revivals? I would welcome your thoughts on this, as I am guessing there are some church traditions that do not take part in revivals at all. Is there a danger in avoiding them? I know what Finney would say, and he would say it with his eyes.

Midweek Blog: Anne Hutchinson, the “Unnatural Woman”

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Last week marked the end of our Augustine series. I really enjoyed going through several of his key works. This week I am starting a new series on American Church History. I have recently (Spring 2015) taught a course on modern American religious history, but this series will cover things and people from the full range of American Church History. I wanted to begin this blog by one of my favorite Puritan figures, Anne Hutchinson.

Hutchinson (1591-1643) and her family followed her pastor John Cotton to Boston. As Mark Noll writes, “Hutchinson began a midweek meeting to discuss Cotton’s sermon of the previous Sunday and also to take up other spiritual concerns” (Noll, A History of Christianity in the United States and Canada, 60). One can see how she would begin to draw attention, and suspicion, toward herself through such actions. Noll actually notes that no one was bothered by Hutchinson until people thought she was preaching antinomianism (against the Law); i.e. that Christians have Christ and therefore have no use for the Law of the Old Testament (Noll, 61). Hutchinson also taught that since Christians have the Holy Spirit, God could communicate directly to them. She ended up getting in trouble for this last point, as she “claimed that the Holy Spirit communicated directly to her, apart from Scripture” (Noll, 62).

She actually ended up moving out of Massachusetts to Rhode Island and then to New York, where she was killed in a Native American attack on the village in which she was living. Prior to all of this, she was actually examined by the Puritan authorities while still in Massachusetts and for today’s blog I want to take a look at that specifically.

Anne Hutchinson responded to the governor John Winthrop’s accusation that she was doing things not “fitting for your sex.” She responded, “The Lord knows that I could not open scripture, he must by his prophetical office open it unto me… I confess I have been more choice and he hath left me to distinguish the voice of my beloved  and the voice of Moses, the voice of John Baptist and the voice of antichrist, for all those voices are spoken of in scripture. Now if you do condemn me for speaking what in my conscience I know to be truth, I must commit myself unto the Lord” (Gaustad and Noll, eds. “The Examination of Anne Hutchinson,” in A Documentary History of Religion in America to 1877, 97). She also answered their questions of how she knew that the Holy Spirit was communicating directly with her by saying, “By the voice of his own spirit to my soul” (Gaustad and Noll, 98).

There are few things from Hutchinson’s response that I want to highlight here. First, is that she did not let proscribed gender roles restrict her ministry. She followed God’s calling in her life despite the societal limitations she faced. Secondly, she notes that the Lord has to open scripture up to her. It is clear that God has done so, as Hutchinson’s responses to the various questions during her examination quote scripture from throughout the Bible. She also shows a resilience and commitment to her ministry as she says, “If you condemn me… I must commit myself to the Lord.”

Her resilience is further illustrated when she later responds, “You have power over my body but the Lord Jesus hath power over my body and soul; and assure yourselves this much, you do as much as in you lies to put the Lord Jesus from you, and if you go on in this course you begin, you will bring a curse upon you and your posterity, and the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it” (Gaustad and Noll, 98).

Whoa. Talk about a bold and in-your-face response. She shows commitment to the principle that the Holy Spirit can speak to individual believers, as she says that the “mouth of the Lord hath spoken” the curse she pronounces on her accusers. Hutchinson clearly knows what is at stake. She is ready to accept their punishment, and is ultimately excommunicated and flees to Rhode Island, but I think her attitude about such punishment fits with her ministry. She is not afraid to do what she feels God calling her to do, even though that meant pushing the boundaries of what men and women could and should do within Puritan society. She was holding her meetings even after being told to stop “by the general assembly” (Winthrop’s statement). Therefore we shouldn’t be surprised that she shows such a resilience in the face of condemnation. Other women in Puritan Boston were executed for disobeying the religious body, such as Mary Dyer, so Hutchinson’s resolve should be admired.

One can study people throughout church history and find a number of examples of those who were not afraid to push the church’s boundaries, often facing the penalty of excommunication or even death. Hutchinson joins that group of fearless individuals who follow God’s calling on their lives no matter the cost. It actually reminds me of a few missionaries I know. One person serves in Asia and has been threatened with being arrested if she continues to minister and evangelize those in her country. I imagine that Anne Hutchinson would be proud of this person for following God’s calling no matter the cost. People throughout the world follow God’s calling with the threat of death or injury or imprisonment being a very real and very dreadful possibility. Now, one can argue it’s pretty easy to follow God’s calling in the United States, but history shows that has not always been the case.