Theological Schizophrenia

It is bad enough that Republican warmongers like Mitt Romney, John McCain, Lindsey Graham, and Allan West are whining about the supposed cuts to the defense budget that are due to take place because of the failure of the congressional “supercommittee,” but it is disgusting and shameful that a professor of practical theology and seminary chancellor would do likewise.

The defense “cuts,” of course, are not really cuts at all, just reductions in the rate of spending increases of the bloated defense budget.

So, who is this Christian warmonger that is so upset about defense budget “cuts” that he thinks they are a deeply disturbing, draconian, recklessly dangerous, self-destructive absurdity.

He is not a member, with Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, James Dobson, Hal Lindsey, Cal Thomas, and Pat Boone, of the Christian axis of evil, although he should be. He is not a Christian killer par excellence, like Doug Giles. He is not a Christian warmonger on steroids, like Bryan Fischer. And neither is he the greatest Christian warmonger of all time. That designation goes to Ellis Washington.

He is Michael Milton, the newly elected chancellor/CEO of Reformed Theological Seminary in Charlotte, North Carolina. Milton holds a B.A. from Mid-America Nazarene University, an M.Div. from Knox Theological Seminary, and a Ph.D. from the University of Wales, Lampeter. He is the former pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of Chattanooga, Tennessee, in addition to founding two other churches and a Christian school. Milton is the host and speaker on Faith for Living, which can be seen on television and heard on radio. He has also released three music CDs and is the author of several books.

But perhaps I should also note that Dr. Milton has a diploma from the Defense Language Institute, holds a commission in the U.S. Army Reserves as a chaplain, and was elected in 2010 by the Chief of Chaplains to the College of Military Preachers and appointed an instructor at the Armed Forces Chaplain School. He is also the founding director of the Chaplain Ministries Institute in Charlotte. I also note that on October 14, 2001, it was announced that Reformed Theological Seminary had “been approved by the NC SAA Program to receive the GI Bill under the provisions of Title 38 and 10, United States Code!”

Milton is a theological schizophrenic. Schizophrenia has been described as a mental disorder characterized by a disintegration of thought processes and of emotional responsiveness that most commonly manifests itself as auditory hallucinations, paranoid or bizarre delusions, or disorganized speech and thinking.

I know of no other way to describe Milton after reading his latest post on the Faith for Living blog hosted by his seminary:

The failure of the bipartisan super committee to take decisive action to reverse the 15 trillion-dollar debt crisis this country needs from becoming another Greece has, predictably, failed. Now the Washington blame game begins. However, the greatest losers are the American people and, specifically, those Americans who courageously and proudly wear the uniform of the armed services.

As threats of cuts are made to their very mission, our brave troops are on the ground, in the air, and on the seas fighting, defending, and protecting this nation from the continuing threats to our very existence as a people. The absurd decision to tie massive cuts to the US military as an “incentive” to force action by the super committee was one of the biggest mistakes ever made by Washington DC, and they have made a few recently. Of all the things that the government does, providing a military to “defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic” just happens to be one of the clearest.

Scripture teaches that God has ordained government for the good of man. Civil authority, according to St. Paul, has been granted the power of the sword to punish evil, thereby protecting the innocent: “For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil” (The Epistle to the Romans 13:4 KJV). The present talk of defense cuts flies in the face of our nation’s duty and our proud heritage.

We have had draw downs before – after WWII, after Vietnam, and after the Gulf War, but we have never had to think about draconian reductions while we were in the middle of a war! It is this very point that is deeply disturbing, and recklessly dangerous. The consequences of even the talk of such tinkering with our defenders, even if reasonable heads prevail to stop this absurdity, will have their consequences.

Have we not learned our lesson? Reagan’s military build-up in the 1980s reversed the ill-advised draw downs after Vietnam (just one front in a larger, trans-generational Cold War) and, according to scholars like Paul Kengor of Grove City College and the American Center for Vision and Values, “All of these ventures [the strengthening of defense] had the effect of demonstrating a stronger, resurgent America, not only economically but also militarily. Suddenly, the country that had left Vietnam no longer appeared to lack resolve” (The Crusader: Ronald Reagan and the Fall of Communism by Dr. Paul Kengor, HarperCollins, 2007, 82).

Kengor went on to demonstrate that President Reagan understood that America was still at war. According to this preeminent Reagan scholar, his action in strengthening the military greatly contributed to bringing down the Soviet Union. Why now, when our sacred military members are risking their lives to fight “over there” so we don’t fight “over here,” would the president and other congressional leaders think that it is any different? To reduce military strength or even to talk about it as an option is to demoralize our troops while they are literally in the midst of a battle for our way of life.

Some may call it treason. I would call it self-destructive. As a minister of the gospel I would also call it irresponsible and immoral, given that God has called our civil authorities to protect our people against evil. May God have mercy and bless the troops who bravely carry on their mission to defend this nation, even while others who have taken the same oath are allegedly using the military as pawns in a Washington election year. There are times when the Church should speak up. Because our life and liberty is at stake, I think that time is now.

Milton holds to every armchair warrior, red-state fascist, reich-wing nationalist, imperial Christian fallacy known to man.

As I mentioned above, cutting the bloated defense budget is to Milton a deeply disturbing, draconian, recklessly dangerous, self-destructive absurdity. The “cuts” fly “in the face of our nation’s duty and our proud heritage.” Never mind that the real defense budget is $1 trillion, that the United States spends more than the rest of the world combined, and that most defense spending is really spending on offense.

Milton idolizes members of the military. They are our “brave troops.” They “courageously and proudly wear the uniform of the armed services.” God should “bless the troops.” U.S. soldiers are never Christian killers, murders, accomplices to murder, criminals, dupes, mercenaries, or part of the president’s personal attack force willing to obey his latest command to bomb, invade, occupy, and otherwise bring death and destruction to any country he deems necessary. They are “our sacred military members.”

Milton is likewise deceived about the real mission of the military. He thinks they are “our defenders” who “defend this nation” and protect “this nation from the continuing threats to our very existence as a people.” The government provides a military to “defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.” U.S. troops “fight ‘over there’ so we don’t fight ‘over here.’” They are “in the midst of a battle for our way of life.” But is this what the U.S. military actually does? Unfortunately, most of what the military does is more offense than defense, more foreign than domestic, and more civilian than martial. I think Milton needs a course in DOD 101.

Milton says that we are “in the middle of a war.” The United States is actually in the middle of several wars. But rather than saying we should not cut defense because we are fighting wars, why not examine the wars we are fighting to see if they are just, right, and necessary? Since the undeclared, unconstitutional wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and Yemen, Pakistan, and everywhere else, are clearly – except to Christian warmongers and imperial Christians – unjust, immoral, and unnecessary, the only sensible solution is to end the wars, not increase the defense budget.

Like other Christian apologists for the state, its military, and its wars that I have written about who appeal to Romans 13 to justify their blind nationalism, their cheerleading for the Republican Party, their childish devotion to the military, their acceptance of national-security state, and their support for perpetual war, Milton seeks to justify a large defense budget by doing the same thing. This, of course, is ludicrous, since the passage has nothing to do with the government providing national defense. But let’s assume for a moment that it does. Fine. How does that justify bloated military budgets, foreign wars, militarism, imperialism, and policing the world? When it comes to the military budget, conservatives adopt the same fallacy as liberals do when it comes to education. To liberals more spending on education means better education; to conservatives more spending on defense means better defense.

And finally, why do conservatives always invoke the name of the criminal, warmongering, budget-busting, deficit-increasing, liberty-destroying, government-expanding, economic and foreign interventionist St. Reagan? Anyone remotely familiar with the Reagan record would not be impressed with Milton’s name-dropping. For the complete and utter evisceration of Reagan, see Murray Rothbard’s “The Reagan Phenomenon,” “Ronald Reagan, Warmonger,” and “Ronald Reagan: An Autopsy.”

What is so bad about theological schizophrenics like Michael Milton is that they have a position of influence over many young people. We can only hope and pray that this is one college administrator that students never get to know.

Originally posted on on December 9, 2011.