The Romans carried out a practice called evocatio. Before going to war with an enemy, they would pray to the enemy’s gods.  They would tell those gods that if they would bless Rome, instead of those patrons from whom they were used to receiving worship, Rome would give them the best worship that they had ever received.  Essentially, before taking an enemy’s land, they would take their gods.

I was in an uncomfortable conversation with another pastor who didn’t like the orthodox leanings of my own church.  She alluded to the fact that if I didn’t like the denomination’s increasing liberality, my congregation should just leave our property behind and go.  Then she opened the Bible and quoted something to me that didn’t seem so much a matter of inspiration to her as a weapon to use in the argument.

And then I recognized it.  When those of the religious left quote the Bible to me, I have the sense that they are practicing evocatio.  They are praying to my God, but only, I think, to take our land.


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