Starting Over

Beloved readers, I have decided to begin a new chapter in blogging at http://soontopass.wordpress.com/

It will be focused on many things related to Jesus of Nazareth, the Savior I have come to cherish. I will occasionally post political content as it relates to things eternal. I hope you will follow the new site with interest.

-Jacob

Christianity and War (Part3)

Part 1: https://twentiesfreedom.wordpress.com/2012/01/03/christians-and-war-part1/

Part 2: https://twentiesfreedom.wordpress.com/2012/01/05/christians-and-war-part2/

Why? Why have so many religious people gotten it so wrong? As I have explained in many of my articles on Christianity and war over the years, there are many reasons: thinking that the war in Iraq was in retaliation for the 9/11 attacks, believing that Saddam Hussein was another Hitler, supposing that Iraq was a threat to the United States, seeing the war in Iraq as a modern-day crusade against Islam, assuming that the United States needed to protect Israel from Iraq, viewing Bush as a messiah figure, equating the Republican Party with the party of God, blindly following the conservative movement, deeming the American state to be a divine institution, failing to separate the divine sanction of war against the enemies of God in the Old Testament from the New Testament ethic that taught otherwise, having a profound ignorance of history and primitive Christianity, reading too much into the mention of soldiers in the New Testament, possessing a warped “God and Country” complex, holding a “my country right or wrong” attitude, and adopting the mindset that brute force is barbarism when individuals use it, but honorable when nations are guilty of it.

I believe the two greatest reasons religious people have gotten things so wrong are American exceptionalism and American militarism.

Many Christians are guilty of nationalistic and political idolatry. They have bought into a variety of American nationalism that has been called the myth of American exceptionalism. This is the idea that the government of the United States is morally and politically superior to all other governments, that American leaders are exempt from the bad characteristics of the leaders of other countries, that the U.S. government should be trusted even as the governments of other countries should be distrusted, that the United States is the indispensable nation responsible for the peace and prosperity of the world, that the motives of the United States are always benevolent and paternalistic, that foreign governments should conform to the policies of the U.S. government, that most other nations are potential enemies that threaten U.S. safety and security, and that the United States is morally justified in imposing sanctions or launching military attacks against any country that refuses to conform to our dictates. These are the tenets of American exceptionalism.

The result of this American exceptionalism is a foreign policy that is aggressive, reckless, belligerent, and meddling. This is why U.S. foreign policy results in discord, strife, hatred, and terrorism toward the United States. We would never tolerate another country engaging in an American-style foreign policy. How many countries are allowed to build military bases and station troops in the United States? It is the height of arrogance to insist that the United States alone has the right to garrison the planet with bases, station troops wherever it wants, intervene in the affairs of other countries, and be the world’s policeman, fireman, social worker, security guard, mediator, and babysitter.

The other reason religious people have gotten things so wrong is American militarism. Americans love the military, and American Christians are no exception. There is an unseemly alliance that exists between certain sectors of Christianity and the military. Even Christians who are otherwise sound in the faith, who treasure the Constitution, who don’t support the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and who oppose an aggressive U.S. foreign policy get indignant when you question the institution of the military. It doesn’t seem to matter the reason for each war or intrusion into the affairs of another country. It doesn’t seem to matter how long U.S. troops remain after the initial intervention. It doesn’t seem to matter how many foreign civilians are killed or injured. It doesn’t seem to matter how many billions of dollars are spent by the military. It doesn’t even seem to matter what the troops are actually doing – Americans in general, and American Christians in particular, believe in supporting the troops no matter what. Americans are repulsed by the serial killer who, to satisfy the most basest of desires, dismembers his victims; but revere the bomber pilot in the stratosphere who, flying above the clouds, never hears the screams of his victims or sees the flesh torn from their bones. Killing women and children from five feet is viewed as an atrocity, but from five thousand feet it is a heroic act. It is sometimes suspicious when a soldier kills up close, but never when he launches a missile from afar.

Christians of all branches and denominations have a love affair with the military. To question the military in any way – its size, its budget, its efficiency, its bureaucracy, its contractors, its weaponry, its mission, its effectiveness, its foreign interventions – is to question America itself. One can condemn the size of government, but never the size of the military. One can criticize federal spending, but never military spending. One can denounce government bureaucrats, but never military brass. One can depreciate the welfare state, but never the warfare state. One can expose government abuses, but never military abuses. One can label domestic policy as socialistic, but never foreign policy as imperialistic.

It is the U.S. government that is the greatest threat to American life, liberty, property, and peace – not the leaders or the military or the people of Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, China, or Yemen. And as James Madison said: “If tyranny and oppression come to this land, it will be in the guise of fighting a foreign enemy.” Christians should vigorously dissent the next time some warmongering politician says there is some great evil in the world that must be stamped out by the U.S. military. As John Quincy Adams said: “America . . . goes not abroad seeking monsters to destroy.” Christians should stop regarding the state’s acts of aggression as benevolent. Christians should stop presuming divine support for U.S. military interventions. And because just war theory merely allows Christians to make peace with war, they should reject it just as they would any theory of just piracy or just terrorism or just murder. It is Christians that should be leading the way toward peace and a foreign policy of nonintervention. It is Christians that should be leading the way toward the ideas of Ron Paul.

Ahab, Theft, and Democracy

When individuals take advantage of democracy, by neglecting individual Constitutional rights and confiscating the earned wealth of their fellow man through majority vote, they are no different in principle from Israel’s evil king Ahab, whose reign is discussed in the book of First Kings. In the twenty-first chapter of that book, we have the story of Naboth, an innocent owner of a vineyard. This vineyard was in sight of the palace of the king Ahab, who coveted after it for his own benefit.

When Naboth refused to sell it to the king, because this property was the inheritance of his children, the king was livid. His wife, Jezebel, caught wind of the situation and decided to intervene. She hired false accusers who claimed that they had heard Naboth cursing God and the king. So the judges took him outside the city and stoned him to death, as required by Biblical law. Then the king went and confiscated the property of Naboth. It was for this that the Lord destroyed the house of Ahab and Jezebel. Ahab had been a corrupt king from the beginning, and he had defied God at almost every opportunity, but it was this sin which led to his eventual destruction (1 Kings 21:17-19).

Socialists, take note. Defenders of the graduated income tax, take note. Defenders of redistributing wealth through majority vote, take note. In your lust to confiscate other people’s property, you have become false accusers of millions of your fellow citizens, whose only crime is consumer-satisfying productivity. Sick and tired of this economy? Blame the corporatism you confuse for capitalism. Blame your ever-expanding government who has crawled in bed with the banksters and multinational corporations. Don’t blame the hard workers, the entrepreneurs, the doctors, or the professors.

Spurgeon on Christian War Fever

Why do professing Christians continue to beat the war drum despite the glaring dichotomy between murder and God’s Word? It is all too common to witness the Christian war fever — that sickening blind worship of the state that elevates G.W. Bush or Barack Obama to Messiah and seeks to justify the immoral, unscriptural, unconstitutional wars in the Middle East by incessantly repeating the false mantras “obey the powers that be” and “God is a God of war.”

Charles Haddon Spurgeon (1834—1892) was an English Baptist minister who served as pastor of the Metropolitan Tabernacle in London from 1861 until his death. Spurgeon preached his first sermon as a teenager and, in 1854, was called to the pastorate of the historic New Park Street Church, Southwark, London. During his thirty-eight-year tenure, the church increased from 232 to over 5,000. Many times his public teachings gathered close to 10,000. He was truly one of the most influential preachers in history. Spurgeon was no ordinary minister. He was a pastor, preacher, teacher, author, editor, and the overseer of a pastor’s college, a Christian literature society, and an orphanage. When he died in 1892, 60,000 people filed past his casket in the Tabernacle. He is still widely revered today among Baptists (and many others) as one of the greatest ministers in church history.

Below are some of his thoughts on war:

If men receive Christ, there will be no more oppression: the true Christian does to others as he would that they should do to him, and there is no more contention of classes, nor grinding of the faces of the poor. Slavery must go down where Christianity rules, and mark you, if Romanism be once destroyed, and pure Christianity shall govern all nations, war itself must come to an end; for if there be anything which this book denounces and counts the hugest of all crimes, it is the crime of war. Put up thy sword into thy sheath, for hath not he said, “Thou shalt not kill,” and he meant not that it was a sin to kill one but a glory to kill a million, but he meant that bloodshed on the smallest or largest scale was sinful. Let Christ govern, and men shall break the bow and cut the spear in sunder, and burn the chariot in the fire. It is joy to all nations that Christ is born, the Prince of Peace, the King who rules in righteousness. (“Joy Born at Bethlehem,” December 24, 1871, Metropolitan Tabernacle).

Long have I held that war is an enormous crime; long have I regarded all battles as but murder on a large scale (“India’s Ills and England’s Sorrows,” September 6, 1857, Music Hall, Royal Surrey Gardens).

So combustible are the materials of which this great world is made, that I am ever apprehensive of war. I do not account it wonderful that one nation should strive against another, I account if far more wonderful that they are not all at arms. Whence come wars and fightings? Come they not from your lusts? Considering how much lust there is in the world, we might well conceive that there would be more war than we see. Sin is the mother of wars; and remembering how plentiful sin is, we need not marvel if it brings forth multitudes of them. We may look for them. If the coming of Christ be indeed drawing nigh, then we must expect wars and rumors of wars through all the nations of the earth (“The God of Peace,” November 4, 1855, New Park Street Chapel).

It is astonishing how distance blunts the keen edge of anything that is disagreeable. War is at all times a most fearful scourge. The thought of slain bodies and of murdered men must always harrow up the soul; but because we hear of these things in the distance, there are few Englishmen who can truly enter into their horrors. If we should hear the booming of cannon on the deep which girdles this island; if we should see at our doors the marks of carnage and bloodshed; then should we more thoroughly appreciate what war means. But distance takes away the horror, and we therefore speak of war with too much levity, and even read of it with an interest not sufficiently linked with pain (“A Present Religion,” May 30, 1858, Music Hall, Royal Surrey Gardens).

Better far for us to have famine than war. From all civil war and all the desperate wickedness which it involves, good Lord deliver us; and if thou smitest us as thou hast done, it is better to fall into the hand of God than into the hand of man (“Christian Sympathy,” November 9, 1862, Metropolitan Tabernacle).

Oh! that God would put an end in the world to all wars between nations, as well as all strifes between individuals (“The Fruits of Grace,” January 21, 1872, Metropolitan Tabernacle).

Perhaps Christian’s should take a good hard look at their Bible and realize that God has always forbid His people to murder. The continuous wars in the Middle East are bankrupting this country, killing hundreds of thousands or innocent people, and serving no purpose whatsoever. The government spends 1+ Trillion dollars per year more than it collects in revenue. So we charge the wars to our never-ending line of credit and leave it for future generations to bear, another practice frowned upon in Scripture. It’s time to replace the ever-perpetuating ignorance with sound reasoning based on Biblical principles.

The American Idols: Sports and Slavery

First off, this writer has been a sports fan all of his life. I grew up watching my two older brother’s achieve relative success in sports, fantasizing about my future stardom. My earliest memories portrayed the false grandeur of a gym. The majority of my childhood was spent playing basketball, baseball, soccer, or golf; and if I wasn’t playing, you could bet I was spectating. I even selected a college education based on my relationship with soccer.

The Roman poet Juvenal (circa 100 A.D.) wrote regarding the way latter-day Roman emperors retained power and control over the masses that were seemingly more than happy to obsess themselves with trivialities and self-indulgences while their once-great-and-powerful empire collapsed before their very eyes. He wrote:

“Already long ago, from when we sold our vote to no man, the People have abdicated our duties; for the People who once upon a time handed out military command, high civil office, legions–everything, now restrains itself and anxiously hopes for just two things: bread and circuses.”

I submit that the masses in America are, like Rome of old, carelessly frittering away their God-given liberties, foolishly clamoring for nothing more than government handouts and never-ending entertainment. Millions and millions of Americans (especially males) are literally intoxicated with sports. Sports are no longer a great American pastime; they are now a great American obsession.

I am not talking about sports in general; I am talking about the way many American men have allowed sports to control and dominate their lives. With many, sports are not just a hobby; they are a religion. I cannot count the number of conversations between men that I overhear in restaurants, classrooms, bathrooms, and, yes, even church houses, in which every man in the circle is literally consumed with all sorts of sports facts, information, and opinions. In many such discussions, these men will talk about nothing else. To these men, there is absolutely nothing in the world more important than the latest sports score, announcement, or trade. NOTHING!

An obsession with sports gives men a false sense of masculinity and actually serves to steal true manhood from them. A man’s ego and machismo was once used to protect his family and freedom; now it’s used to tout batting averages and box scores. The fact is, if we could get the average American male to get as exercised and energized about defending the historic (God based) principles upon which liberty and Western Civilization are built as he is in defending his favorite quarterback or NASCAR driver, our country would not be in the shape it is in today.

The sad reality is that much of today’s masculinity is experienced only vicariously through a variety of sports teams and personalities. Instead of personally flexing our muscles for God and country, freedom and liberty, or home and hearth, we punch the air and beat our chests over touchdowns and home runs (even though we had absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with them ourselves). Instead of getting in the face of these would-be tyrants in Washington, D.C., who are doing everything they can to steal freedom and prosperity, we get in the face of the poor umpire who makes a bad call or the Little League coach who doesn’t play my son enough. Our happiness, well-being, and mood are not determined by anything personally achieved (or lost), but by what others accomplished (or didn’t accomplish) at the ball park. Whether our children inherit a land of liberty and freedom, does not seem nearly as important as whether they make the starting lineup on the football team.

Add to an epidemic obsession with sports the demand for more and more handouts from Big Brother (government) and the outlook for America is not good. Everywhere we turn, we seem to hear people clamoring for government to give them more and more. They expect government to supply their every need and meet their every demand. They somehow have the gall to turn around and say, “God bless America: land of the free”?

Wake up, one cannot have it both ways. If we expect government to be our supplier, we cannot expect that it will not become our master. Always remember this: government has nothing to give except that it first takes it from someone else. Every dollar and every job that government gives is first taken from someone else. Furthermore, every job given to government is another freedom–and another dollar–taken from the citizenry. Every government job brings with it a restriction, a prohibition, a regulation, an inspection, a fee, a tax, an assessment, etc. As government grows, freedom shrinks. As government spends, wealth shrinks. And as government hires, opportunity shrinks.

Most historians agree with Juvenal that the mighty Roman Empire collapsed from within due to a morally reckless, selfish, pleasure-crazed, sports-obsessed, bread and circus society that willingly surrendered the principles of self-government to an insatiable central government that, through perpetual wars and incessant handouts, destroyed a once-great republic.

By all appearances, the bread and circus society has reared its ugly head in America. And make no mistake about it: if the people of the United States do not quickly repent of this madness, the consequences will be just as destructive for our once-great republic as it was for Rome.

“If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be.”
– Thomas Jefferson

Why Theology Matters

The word theology comes from two Greek words, theos (God) and logos (word). I like a simple definition for such a profound topic: Theology – The study of God. The ultimate goal of Christian theology is to learn about God, His nature and His will, and how they apply to ourselves.  Therefore, Christian theology also includes the study of man because God deals with man, saves him (Eph 2:8), and loves him (John 3:16).

It is our ideas about God that shape the Christian’s worldview, that give rise to our insecurities or inspire confidence as we engage in daily living.  It is the calling of every Christian to examine our narratives, our own ideas about God, and, rather than craft those ideas to our tastes and preferences, to give those notions a continuous and thorough examination in light of Scripture, finding where those concepts ring true, and where they have gone dreadfully astray.  Our calling is to know God as God is, not as we would like Him to be. Theology enables God’s people to think correctly and live rightly. What we do always flows from what we believe, and a sound theology helps us think clearly, rightly, and, most importantly, biblically about God. Jesus instructed us in Matthew 22:37, that you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. Theology is one means whereby we love God with our minds.

We are commanded throughout Scripture to work through a Biblical, well reasoned theology. To neglect this command is to disobey God.

Paul encourages Christians at the church of Philippi to “continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling.” (Philippians 2:12) Notice the verse does not say one must work for salvation. Instead, the command is an admonishment concerning theology; precisely, the proper role of God, and man, in salvation.

Peter reminds us to set apart the Messiah as Lord in your hearts and always be ready to give a defense to anyone who asks you the reason for the hope that is in you (1 Peter 3:15).

Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. (2 Timothy 2:15).

By God’s grace, with the help of Holy Scripture and the body of Christ, may we know, love, and worship God in spirit and in truth (John 4:24)

Why I believe the Bible

Do you believe the Bible is accurate? Ask a professing Christian that question and you will likely be rewarded with a decisive, Of Course! Probe a bit further and things become shaky. Continue pressing the the issue by asking why, and things get ugly.  Some will say, “I was raised that way.”  Others may reply in honesty, “I don’t know why; I just do.”  Many, however, proclaim, “I tried it and it worked for me.” None of these answers give sufficient reason. 1 Peter 3:15 instructs to be prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks for a reason for the hope that is in you. The Greek word Peter employs here (apologia) means to give a well-reasoned, verbal defense of one’s position. Pastor Voddie Baucham does an excellent job summarizing Biblical accuracy with the following statement:

“I choose to believe the Bible because it is a reliable collection of historical documents, written by eyewitnesses during the lifetime of other eyewitnesses.  They report supernatural events that took place in fulfillment of specific prophecies, and they claim to be divine rather than human in origin.”

Please, listen to Dr. Baucham’s full reasoning behind believing Scripture. It is excellent.