Saturday, March 2, 2024

Musings of a Maverick Methodist on the Need for an Unconventional Faith

By Rudy Barnes, Jr.

Faith is not the same as religion.  Religion is based on institutional doctrine while faith is based on personal beliefs.  Many of us have become skeptical of our religious beliefs and are uncomfortable questioning them; but If we don’t question our religious beliefs, we can’t grow in faith--and every person should be encouraged to grow in faith.

Our journey of faith should begin with an understanding of God’s will in the cosmic battle between the forces of good and evil.  God’s will is to reconcile people, while Satan’s will is to divide and conquer; and Satan is winning the popularity contest by doing a convincing imitation of God in politics and the church.

The measure of success in both democracy and the church is popularity, but the universal teachings of Jesus summarized in the greatest commandment to love God and our neighbors of other races and religions as we love ourselves were never popular.  It’s taken from the Hebrew Bible, was taught by Jesus and accepted by Muslims as a common word of faith.

  Tribal partisan politics have undermined democracy with divisive values, and the election of Donald Trump by a majority of white Christians in 2016 was evidence of a morally corrupt culture.  For God’s will to prevail, conventional Christianity needs to be reformed or replaced by an unconventional religion that’s committed to promote the common good.

In the 18th century popular sovereignty and democracy replaced the divine right to rule.  Christians continued to pray that God’s will be done, on earth as it is in heaven; but democracy continued to degrade through the Civil War.  Today American faith needs to be reborn to provide for the common good based on the greatest commandment as a common word of faith.

That doesn’t mean restoring God’s legal sovereignty over our politics, only recognizing God’s sovereignty over the moral standards of legitimacy in our lives and in our politics.  These are voluntary and altruistic moral standards of faith and legitimacy, not religious laws that can be enforced; but it’s the kind of unconventional faith needed to defeat the forces of evil.

The church could take a lesson from the military.  It created Special Operations Forces (SOF) as unconventional forces to complement conventional military forces in achieving strategic mission objectives.   As a military lawyer I was privileged to wear the  green beret during my military career, and I considered Civil Affairs the Army's Peace Corps.

When Donald Trump was elected by a majority of white Christians in 2016, Christianity lost its moral compass and its legitimacy.  It can only be restored (if at all) by an unorthodox faith cleansed of the corruption of church doctrine that was never taught by Jesus.  That will require restoring the primacy of the altruistic and universal teachings of Jesus as God’s word.


On Faith and Religion: The Same but Different, see


On Musings of a Maverick Methodist on Losing Religion and Finding Faith, see

On Musings on Atheism and Religion, and Living Life to the Full, see

Generally, on the unconventional nature of Special Operations Forces, see Rudolph C. Barmes, Jr., Military Legitimacy: Might and Right in the New Millennium, Frank Cass, London, 1996.

On the need for the diplomat warrior whenever public support is a political objective of U.S. military operations, see The Diplomat Warrior, Military Review, May 1990, pp 55-63, at

On Civil Affairs: Diplomat-Warriors in Contemporary Conflict, Special Warfare, Winter 1991, at  

Generally, on the background and role of the diplomat warrior and concepts of legitimacy in U.S. policy and strategy, see Military Legitimacy: Might and Right in the New Millennium, chapters 5 & 6, at

On  diplomat-warriors in Islamic cultures since 9/11, see Back to the Future: Human Rights and Legitimacy in the Training and Advisory Mission, Special Warfare, Jan.-Mar. 2013, pp 42-47, at

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