Archive for Bible
This guest post is by LCC reader Paul Maitrejean.
Many Christians today are quick to leap to the defense of the current American regime. They will go to any length to defend its actions, particularly in the case of foreign policy and “culture” wars. On both sides of the aisle, Christians will throw their support behind virtually any politician of their particular political leaning regardless of his record, his words, or his current actions. Supporting without question the activities of the American government, particularly in foreign matters, has nearly become an unwritten prerequisite for being a Christian.
Amazingly, these Christians are supporting and swearing allegiance to among the most godless, cruel, greedy, murderous governments in history. When this is pointed out, though, the supporters of the State will cite Scripture in their defense – usually the oft-heard and badly-twisted Romans 13:1 – and they fall upon the dissenter like wolves. Is this the sort of mindset Jesus came among us to promote?
Tags: Bible, Christianity, government, render to caesar, Romans 13, statism, statolatry
On Easter Sunday, I joined a Facebook thread where the role of government and Romans 13 were discussed. A number of points about the Christian’s relation to government were aired, including citations of Leo Tolstoy, and a major theme was the idea of Christian anarchism. When this happens, of course, Romans 13 is invariably brought to the table. It seems to me, though, that this is not a good starting point for discussion of statism in the Bible.
Romans 13 is not a shortcut to being right about government. People like sound bytes, quick ways of responding to scenarios – and that is basically the way most Christians attempt to treat Romans 13. However, you absolutely cannot discern the whole of what the Bible says about the state by Romans 13. It sounds good, but it won’t work.
Tags: Bible, Christian Anarchism, christian libertarianism, government, Romans 13, statism, The State, theology
"Were it not for the support offered by several tens of millions of evangelicals, militarism in this deeply and genuinely religious country becomes inconceivable." ~ Andrew Bacevich (Colonel, U.S. Army, Ret.).
This is one of the most sobering statements in Dr. Bacevich’s important book The New American Militarism: How Americans Are Seduced by War (Oxford, 2005). Whether you agree or disagree with evangelical support for militarism, the fact remains that the largest group of Americans that the government can count on to support the institution of the military, the empire of troops and bases that encircles the globe, large defense budgets, overseas military interventions, the perpetual war on terror, and now torture is evangelical Christians – and the more conservative the more bloodthirsty.
If there is any group that should oppose these things, it is conservative Christians who profess to be in subjection to the Bible. There is something gravely wrong with evangelical Christianity when socialists like Chris Hedges and Noam Chomsky get it right and conservative Christians get it wrong.
Christian warmongers are looking in the Bible, but they are looking in the wrong place. Everything in the Bible is written for us, but not to us. Although there are some exceptions, most Christian warmongers are Janus Christians.
Janus was the two-headed Roman god of gates and doors. With faces that looked in two different directions, he could see forward and backward at the same time. Because he was considered the god of beginnings, our first month, January, was named after him.
So, what do many evangelicals have in common with the Roman god Janus?
Tags: Bible, christian libertarianism, ethics, peace, theology, war, war on terror
Is killing another human being ever justifiable? Is committing acts of violence ever permissible? Is murder ever legitimate?
In an otherwise good article on self-defense, "The Use of Deadly Force in Self-Defense," a Christian writer in the Berean Searchlight looses his way when he brings up the subject of killing in war. Here are the relevant paragraphs:
War is another area where the taking of human life is legitimate in the eyes of God. When the soldiers asked John the Baptist, "And what shall we do?" it is true that John advised them to "do violence to no man" (Luke 3:14). However, these instructions must be considered in light of the fact that he did not insist that these soldiers quit being soldiers. This means that the violence in which he forbad them to engage must have had to do with some sort of illegal violence. The Greek word for violence here has the idea of shaking, and just might be the idea behind our modern word shakedown, the illegal use of power or authority to extort money from people. The rest of John’s words here would suggest that this is what he had in mind, as he went on to tell them to "be content with your wages."
We know from Ezekiel 45:9 that the orderly execution of judgment and justice by soldiers in the line of duty is not considered violence, for here God says to "remove violence" by engaging in the execution of judgment and justice. In addition, David said, "Blessed be the Lord my strength, which teacheth my hands to war, and my fingers to fight" (Psa. 144:1). Clearly, the taking of human life in times of war cannot be a sin if God Himself taught David how to be good at it.
The writer’s opening and closing statements are not only irresponsible and careless; they are also evil and dangerous.
On John the Baptist and soldiers, since I have written an entire article on the subject here. I will just say:
1. Is not killing in an unjust war the highest form of violence?
2. Too much should not be read into John the Baptist not telling soldiers to quit since the Apostle Paul likewise never told slave owners to free their slaves (Ephesians 6:9; Colossians 4:1).
3. Nothing said or not said by John the Baptist or done or not done by Roman soldiers can justify the actions of the U.S. military in Iraq or Afghanistan.
The context of the passage the writer refers to in the book of Ezekiel speaks of a future time when the princes of Israel shall no more oppress the people of Israel (Ezekiel 45:8). It has nothing whatsoever to do with soldiers, then or now. Just read it: "Thus saith the Lord GOD; Let it suffice you, O princes of Israel: remove violence and spoil, and execute judgment and justice, take away your exactions from my people, saith the Lord GOD" (Ezekiel 45:9). It also doesn’t say anything about how anyone is to "remove violence," although it seems clear that stopping the committing of violence is what is meant. One thing is for sure, it certainly doesn’t say to "‘remove violence’ by engaging in the execution of judgment and justice."
It does not follow that because the Lord taught David to fight and war for him as the leader of the Old Testament Israelites that the taking of human life in times of war cannot be a sin.
It is wrong to invoke the Jewish wars of the Old Testament against their enemies as a justification for the actions of any government and its military. Although God sponsored these wars, and used the Jewish nation to conduct them, it does not follow that God sponsors other wars, any country is God’s chosen nation, any country has a divine mandate to wage war, any leader is like King David, or that any army is the Lord’s army.
The LORD commanded the children of Israel to "destroy" the altars of the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites, "to break their images, and cut down their groves" (Exodus 34:11-13). Does this mean that the U.S. military should invade Muslim countries and destroy their mosques? Only to imperial Christians.
And besides, David obviously abused his skill set because the Lord said to him: "Thou shalt not build an house for my name, because thou hast been a man of war, and hast shed blood" (1 Chronicles 28:3).
I said that the writer’s opening and closing statements were evil and dangerous. Take a look at them again:
War is another area where the taking of human life is legitimate in the eyes of God.
Clearly, the taking of human life in times of war cannot be a sin if God Himself taught David how to be good at it.
Notice that the writer did not offer any caveats; killing in war is legitimate and is not sinful.
This means that not only are U.S. troops off the hook for killing tens of thousands of people in Iraq and Afghanistan (and millions in Germany, Japan, Korea, and Vietnam), but that German soldiers who killed Polish, Russian, British, French, and American soldiers in World War II did nothing legitimate. It also means that Japanese soldiers in World War II did not sin when they killed Chinese or American soldiers. The writer’s blanket and careless statements mean that no soldier who ever has taken the life of "the enemy" while engaged in war has ever done anything illegitimate or sinful. This is ludicrous.
Killing in a war that is unjust or not a war of genuine self-defense is wholesale murder. And yes, that goes for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Wearing a government uniform doesn’t make it legitimate. Using a government weapon doesn’t make it legitimate. Getting a government paycheck for doing it doesn’t make it legitimate. Flying a government plane or helicopter doesn’t make it legitimate. Sailing on a government ship doesn’t make it legitimate. Killing government-declared enemies doesn’t make it legitimate. Killing government-demonized foreigners doesn’t make it legitimate. Following a government order doesn’t make it legitimate. Fighting under a government flag doesn’t make it legitimate.
Murder can never be legitimate.
Originally posted on LewRockwell.com on December 11, 2012.
Tags: Bible, ethics, murder, theology, violence, war
I have been writing about the folly and wickedness of war – and especially Christian support for the same – since soon after George W. Bush invaded Iraq back in 2003. After eight years, scores of articles, and two editions of my book Christianity and War, I have received literally thousands of e-mails in response to articles I have written on war and on the military.
Warmongers, armchair warriors, chickenhawks, neoconservatives, Religious Right warvangelicals, Reich-wing nationalists, theocon Values Voters, Red-State fascists, God and country patriots, and other defenders of U.S. wars and military interventions – and especially those claiming to be Christians – that write me in disagreement are in the minority, and especially since it has become clear that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have turned out to be such debacles.
But there is another thing that these war and military apologists lack besides numbers: the ability to question or disagree with something I write without penning an overly emotional, mistake-ridden, profanity-laced screed. I do not indict all of my critics. Some of my detractors have raised intelligent questions and offered constructive criticisms. But these sane responses are overshadowed by the ridiculous arguments that are usually presented and the equally ridiculous criticisms that are directed toward me.
Not in any particular order, here are the most ridiculous arguments I have ever received:
My father fought in Vietnam.
Or sometimes it is my brother, uncle, or grandfather fought in World War II, Korea, or Desert Storm. What this means is that whatever I wrote about the evils of war or folly of military service doesn’t matter because someone my critic knows fought in some foreign war while "serving" in the U.S. military.
U.S. soldiers didn’t hate the people they killed.
U.S. soldiers killing Iraqis, Afghans, and other darker-skinned foreigners should not be criticized because they didn’t hate the people they killed. They were just doing their job and following orders. So when they have orders to kill your family I guess it will be okay as long as they don’t hate them?
I was in the military and I never saw a soldier do anything like you describe in some of your articles.
So, because this soldier never saw other soldiers act like "hedonists with guns" (as one Marine described it to me) or kill civilians, then these actions never happened. I guess I just made it all up.
It is okay to kill Muslims because they are trying to kill Jews.
So, I guess it is okay to kill Russians when they try to kill Chechens, Chinese when they try to kill Tibetans, and Sudanese when they try to kill each other? Oh, I see, it is just Muslims that it is okay to kill.
Muslims are commanded to kill Christians.
And this means that Christians are commanded to or have an excuse to kill Muslims? Certainly not in the New Testament.
To criticize war and the military is left-wing.
All the veterans that write me and express their agreement with my articles would take offense at that. On this fallacy, see the article by Gary Benoit of the John Birch Society (certainly not a left-wing organization) called: "Anti-war Stance Is Right, Not Left."
Soldiers are mentioned favorably in the New Testament, so there is nothing wrong with being a U.S. soldier.
Oh, you mean the soldiers that scourged Jesus, stripped him, put a purple robe on him, put a crown of thorns on his head, mocked him, smote him with their hands, spit on him, cast lots for his garments, smote him on the head, feigned worship to him, and nailed him to a cross? I didn’t think so.
Christians are called soldiers in the New Testament, so it must be okay to be a U.S. soldier.
And God is said to shout "like a mighty man that shouteth by reason of wine" (Psalm 78:65). Is the Lord a drunkard? There is no denying the fact that the Bible likens a Christian to a soldier (2 Timothy 2:3, Philemon 2, Philippians 2:25). But as soldiers, Christians are admonished to "put on the whole armor of God" (Ephesians 6:11) and fight against sin, the world, the flesh, and the devil. The Christian soldier wears "the breastplate of righteousness" (Ephesians 6:14) and "the helmet of salvation" (Ephesians 6:17). The weapons of the Christian soldier are not carnal (2 Corinthians 10:4); his shield is "the shield of faith" (Ephesians 6:16) and his sword is "the word of God" (Ephesians 6:17). Not exactly a description of a soldier in the U.S. military.
It is not the fault of soldiers if they are sent by politicians to fight an unjust war.
Some who don’t support U.S. foreign policy and the current U.S. wars hesitate to condemn U.S. soldiers. But they just don’t get it. It is not politicians that do the fighting. If an action is evil, immoral, or unjust, then it shouldn’t be done, no matter what the consequences and no matter who tells you to do it. Wearing a uniform is no excuse.
King David was a man of war.
Yes, and because David was a man of war, the Lord said to him: "Thou shalt not build an house for my name, because thou hast been a man of war, and hast shed blood" (1 Chronicles 28:3).
The Bible says there is a time of war.
So this must mean that it was time for Bush to launch two wars? Jerry Falwell thought so.
Although this next one was not directed to me personally, I mention it because it is so ridiculously outrageous:
The United States is a client state of God.
This was the argument used by a Christian apologist for U.S. wars. The person it was directed to found it so ridiculous that he e-mailed me with the account of his exchange with said apologist. What it means is that nothing the U.S. government or its military does should be criticized. This opinion is not only ridiculous; it is dangerous.
Not in any particular order, here are the most ridiculous criticisms I have ever received:
You have a Juno e-mail account.
I am not making this up. One of my e-mail accounts, and the one I use for feedback on LRC articles, is an old Juno e-mail account. I have actually had people criticize something I wrote about war or the military and then – to really drive home their point – say something like: "No wonder you believe as you do. You have a Juno e-mail account."
You only teach at a community college.
Back when I did teach at a community college, I used to get people that would dismiss anything I wrote that they didn’t agree with because I taught at a community college instead of a university. I felt I was in good company, since the only college I knew of that the great Tom Woods ever taught at was a community college.
You are only an adjunct professor.
Back when I taught at a community college, I was sometimes mockingly told that the things I wrote weren’t credible since I was just an adjunct professor, not a regular professor.
You didn’t write back a long enough e-mail.
I sometime receive long rambling e-mails with one or two sentences criticizing something I wrote and many more that have nothing to do with anything I wrote. It seems that every time I write a brief note back to the critic, I receive another e-mail that asks: "Is that all you have to say?" They are upset that they didn’t receive an e-mail of the same length as the one they sent me.
Your book is not published by a major publishing house.
In the mind of my critics that bring this up, since my book Christianity and War is published by Vance Publications (as are all of my books), of which I am the sole proprietor, designer, writer, editor, typesetter, proofreader, distributor, and marketer, it must not be worth reading; therefore, any articles I write must not be worth reading either. But if my anti-war book were published by a major publisher, then these critics would undoubtedly dismiss it as being published by a "left-wing" publisher because they falsely equate being anti-war with being a leftist.
You never served in the military.
This is the ridiculous criticism I have received more than all of the others combined. The idea is that I have no right to criticize the military because I was never in the military. Yet, these same people will criticize the president when they have never been the president, criticize Democrats when they have never been a Democrat, and criticize pornographers when they have never been a pornographer. And what is their response when someone who has been in the military long enough to retire from the military says the same things I say? My critics don’t listen to them either.
I frequently receive other ridiculous criticisms that are just simply not true. Things like: "You are a communist," "You are a liberal," "You must be a Democrat," "You hate everyone in the military," "You hate America," "You are a Quaker," "You are a pacifist dog," You are a brain dead dope smoking moron," "You have s___ for brains."
I may have received other arguments and criticisms that I have forgotten about because they were so ridiculous. The above are just the ones I remember. The important thing to me is not that people agree with me, but that they are reading something worthy of support.
Originally posted on LewRockwell.com on November 26, 2012.
Tags: Bible, Christian Right, Christianity, ethics, politics, Republican, war, war on terror