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Monday, February 11, 2008

Curiosity, the cat, and I...

For some odd reason, I began to read Al Mohler's blog/website today. I guess I just felt like starting the week off wrong...

I found it interesting how many times he used very bi-partisan language (ie, liberal, fundamentalist, etc). I know he's an uber-conservative and all, but anyway, I found it odd...

I read through several articles--but his entry on the death penalty pushed me overboard. Read here.

I know a lot of people that think the world of Dr Mohler, so don't take this an an outright assault on him. Mike Huckabee has made this same topic part of his campaign platform. I'm sure untold others would agree with them. But it hurts me inside that men who are in the public eye--men who have the title "Reverend" attached to their name--would stand up and support the death penalty on biblical grounds. Its like supporting war on biblical grounds. It makes no sense. It just doesn't make any sense. Its an outright twisted view of scripture and a sick personification of God. Maybe we should all go back and read Jesus' "Sermon on the Mount" together.

Killing someone to teach others that killing is wrong (or making war to make peace) is like screwing for virginity.

Fallible logic.

40 comments:

Jeremiah said...

I don't see how you can say that the death penalty isn't biblical. First, what do you do with the Old Testament instructions for the Israelites to stone so many wrongdoers.
Second, the idea is reiterated in Romans 13, "For He [the authority from v.2] is God's servant, an avenger who brings wrath to the one who does wicked." Later it goes on to say that 'the authorities' do not "bear a sword for nothing."
The Bible clearly outlines the sword is not for corrective rehabilitation, but instead it is for punishment.
I think you were right when you said, "Its like supporting war on biblical grounds." I think they are pretty much the same issue. God establishes governments to establish order, which includes punishment for crimes.
You have to be more specific in defining what is biblical or unbiblical. War is not unbiblical, but specific acts of war such as shedding innocent blood and things like war of attrition are unbiblical. It is not necessarily that killing someone is to teach that killing is wrong. Capitol punishment is killing a murderer in order to punish him.
I understand that there are many evils that occur in war and that governments will and should be held accountable, but you can't make a blanket statement that war is unjustifiable. Think about the U.S entering WWII and fighting Hitler or think about the lack of government intervention in Kenya. I think these realities necessitate governments to wield the sword.

Sheffield said...

Al Mohler rocks! So do you! Keep on writing!

BfH said...

I'm utterly disgusted by the blatant support by some to establish a theocracy in this country. Theocracy is not a rational form of government.

It is always immoral to kill. There are no exceptions. To take a life is to take the only thing one has, it is irrevocable. It's final. It's absurd to think that anything justifies taking a life against the will of the person who lives it. Punishment is one thing, but seriously, where the hell does anybody get off thinking they have the moral authority to end the existence of another human being? Yes, evil exists, I don't doubt that. I don't think man is capable of labelling the degree of evil that requires the "moral" to end the existence of the evil-doer, though. I think that anyone who thinks they ought to have said power is pompous and foolish.

What Mohler says, or quotes in regard to, mental illness and other "excuses" is borderline bigotry in my mind.

It is disconcerting to think that someone who claims to love others would willingly send another human being into the great unknown. No man knows the character of the soul of another man.

Jeremiah, correct me if I'm wrong, but the U.S. did not enter World War II until Japan attacked. We were not originally planning on fighting Hitler. Revisionist history irritates me to no end. I suppose you'd cite Lincoln's freeing of the slaves (which did not occur until the war had been raging for over 2 years) as a righteous justification for the death of 660,000 Americans in the Civil War, too.

It's always easy for governments to justify things like war or murder when they commission the writing of the history of such events. Governments are not infallible, and power corrupts. I don't know why anyone would think that leaders don't make colossal mistakes on a regular basis. Our current government has more than proven their fallibility.

JD said...

Perhaps what we have is a simple disagreement of semantics, Jeremiah. When I say that war and the death penalty are unbiblical, I may be using the wrong word. For you are correct when you say, that from a historical aspect, war is biblical. It has happened--a lot as a matter of fact. It doesn't make it right or good... but it has happened.

So when I say I have a problem with war and the death penalty and I think God has a problem with war and the death penalty... I shouldn't call them unbiblical. You're right. I should call the ideas unChristian. UnChristlike. Something that Jesus wouldn't want anything to do with. While I agree that Jesus came to uphold/fulfill the Law and that he didn't throw the Old Testament out the window, he taught a new way. A better way. We live under the New Covenant. Things have changed. The way God relates to humanity has changed. Everything has changed in light of Jesus...

I know Romans 13 is put out there a lot to defend things like war and our current administration. I just don't know how to handle Romans 13 sometimes though... I guess I should say it like this: we are fallen, messed-up human beings. Regardless of why people are in positions of power, God doesn't control them like a puppet--making their choices for them and telling them how to rule a country or nation. Therefore, they are prone to error and bad judgement. For instance, our government is telling us we are in Iraq for defensive reasons--to protect our nation. What ridiculous propaganda! "Just war" is an oxymoron. I don't have a problem with protecting a nation, but to try a manipulate a country so as to further colonize the world is simply wrong. All that being said, politicians are humans. I just don't know how much I can trust a government made of politicians. I just don't trust their reasonings for being in our current war.

To kill is wrong. Period. No matter verse you quote me out of the Old Testament. Taking life is wrong.

JD said...

I'll probably write a new post on this subject, but I feel like I should add this:

I interpret scripture through Jesus.

I think its a fallacy to interpret Jesus through Paul--and I feel like its done too often. Paul, John, Luke, etc. etc., should be read through Jesus. Not the other way around.

The same goes for the Old Testament. I am not a Jew. Most Christians wouldn't call themselves Jews. Therefore, the Old Testament and the Law are great and all, but they are not the standard by which we live anymore. I would reference the infamous Sermon on the Mount here. (Jesus says "You've heard it said... but I say...")

More on this later...

Kickert said...

I'm concerned about a better world. I'm concerned about justice; I'm concerned about brotherhood; I'm concerned about truth. And when one is concerned about that, he can never advocate violence. For through violence you may murder a murderer, but you can't murder murder. Through violence you may murder a liar, but you can't establish truth. Through violence you may murder a hater, but you can't murder hate through violence. Darkness cannot put out darkness; only light can do that.

Ben said...

John David
I understand that Christ has authority over Paul. But at the same time I don't see how you could interpret, " For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God's wrath on the wrongdoer." any differently when reading in light of what Christ says. I believe that Paul was inspired by the Holy Spirit when writing Romans, therefore it holds the authority of scripture. Even though we are all fallen, that doesn't change what the scriptures say, even if it is Paul who said it. God has put authorities in power to carry out God's wrath on evildoers. I think this definitely applies to the death penalty. I guess I'm mainly just curious what you interpret Romans 13 to mean in light of what Christ says.

jason said...

If you are going to present Romans 13 as a counter argument to a condemnation of war, the death penalty, and any number of state-sanctioned things against ones enemy, you must view Romans 13 in its context. Not ten verses before Paul's exhortations in 13, in 12:14 he says "Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse." He continues in 16, "Live in harmony with one another". In 17 he says "Do not take revenge my friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written: "It is mine to avenge; I will repay," says the Lord" (which comes from Deuteronomy 32:35). He finishes with quite the flourish "If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head." And here's the best part: "Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good."


Paul's exhortation in Romans 13 is not a carte blanche for governments to do as they please, but rather an exhortation for Christians, under Roman rule, to behave in such a way as to not warrant persecution (see 13:5). Paul establishes this ethos of overarching love again at the end of 13, beginning in verse 8 and ending in verse 10. I will not present the whole passage, but simply point out the end "Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore, love is the fulfillment of the law.

Paul is not advocating that those who commit crimes should not be punished, or that laws should not be in place, but we must remember that Paul is not presenting a manifesto on government, but rather outlining a proper Christian ethos. The undergirding nature of this ethos is love, love which is contradictory to an ethos of war, death, and destruction.

Jeremiah said...

Bfh,
I did not support a theocracy, I was simply pointing out that God has given authority for governments to exist and to punish rebellious and wicked persons. Your assumptions of my understanding of history are entirely unfounded. Both the US's decision to enter WWII to fight Japan and the US's decision to enter the European front are justifiable. The first because Japan first attacked the US on its soil and the second because Hitler was violating international laws and performing horrible atrocities against both Jews and other Europeans. I don't think that the American War was justifiable on the behalf of the Union, with the possible exemption that the CSA first attacked at Fort Sumpter. The CSA might have had some justification because the Union was invading their homes.
The whole point of this is that war is not immoral in and of itself. It is has to be analyzed to determine unethical activities that frequently occur in war. You're right you can't give the government a carte blanche to do whatever it wants. Governments will be held accountable for their actions, but nevertheless Romans 13 identifies that government "does not bear the sword in vain." God gives authority to the government to wield the sword both for capitol punishment and war (which is beginning to seem very much like a form of mass capitol punishment). Things like the war on Iraq should be analyzed as to their morality, but just because the major war that is occuring now might be immoral does not mean that all war is immoral.

Jeremiah said...

I think most of this debate sums down to what bfh said, "It is always immoral to kill. There are no exceptions." This simply cannot be true. I understand that it may seem illogical that murder, which is evil, should be punished by death (murder and killing are two different things.) But there are instances where killing is justifiable in the sight of God. God has killed millions of people. He killed all on the earth but eight on the earth during the flood, he killed the residents of Sodom and Gomorrah in the Old Testament (Gen. 19), he killed 185,000 men in 2 Kings 19, in Acts 5 (yes in the New Testament) both Ananias and his wife Sapphira were stricken dead for withholding funds from the church and then lying about it. And above all of these is God's punishment against Adam and Eve for eating of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. As punishment they and all of their descendants died, and it is this same punishment that continues to kill humans today. To say that all killing is immoral with no exceptions is absolutely, undoubtedly unbiblical as it accuses God of immorality.
And certainly the passage in Romans 13 is written for Christians, urging them to submit to the governing authorities. But it exhorts them on two basis: one, that God himself gives authority to government and submitting to them is indirectly submitting to God; and secondly, governments have been given the sword in order to punish wrongdoers. Both of these factors motivate Christians to submit to government. It does not urge Christians themselves to take vengeance, in fact a few verses earlier it motivates Christians to wait for the vengeance of God. Then, it mentions servants of God (governments) whom God has given authority and even authority to punish (avenge). The context does not negate that governments have authority to execute, it simply tells Christians that they should not seek vengeance, but should submit to those who do have the authority.
On an after note, I totally support you all in bringing out the wrongs committed in the Iraq War and certainly many others. The implementors of these activities need to be checked and rebuked, but in a spirit of excitement a statement cannot be made that all war is, without exception, unethical.

jason said...

Hi Jeremiah,

I am afraid it seems like you have just re-stated your previous position. While you have clarified, you did not interact with my contextual argument. Not to put you on the spot, but I would be curious as to how you square your views on war with Paul's surrounding argument of love as well as Jesus overarching ethos thereof.

I think you are touching on the "Just War" theory which holds up war to seven or so prerequisites. These include criteria such as limited civilian casualties and assurance of victory among other things. I might add that this is a
creation of man. My problem with the "just war" theory is that anyone can make anything seem like a just war, it really depends on ones vantage point. Further, war (and violence in general) creates a cycle of revenge and one-ups-man-ship that can only be broken in the cross. Specifically, forgiveness and reconciliation break violence and hatred by stopping the generational cycle. I would call your attention to the Israeli / Palestinian conflict among many. Violence creates victims, victims respond with violence. Only in the cross and the crucifixion, and the radical love and forgiveness therein is revenge and hatred ultimately put to rest. This is foolishness indeed to a world hellbent on using weapons instead of words.


As to your arguments from the Old Testament, I will reiterate that we, as Christians, have more "light" than the Israelites. That is, the veil has been torn, God has revealed himself in the fullness of Jesus Christ. While there are lessons to be learned from the Old Testament to be sure, Jesus himself states that He is the fulfillment of the Old Testament.

I know it is sometimes difficult to communicate via the internet, and so I pray you receive these words in the spirit that I mean them in.

jason said...

one last thought, and I don't know the answer, I would be curious to hear the discussion. How would a Chinese Christian read Romans 13? The government has outlawed Christianity. Would a submission to the authority of government therefore entail me renouncing my faith? How would an oppressed Christian in the 21st century interpret Paul's exhortation?

JD said...

What it comes down to, Jeremiah, is that I disagree with your most basic, fundamental view of God. I think herein lies our biggest problem. And, to be straight forward, that's too much to get into right now. Not enough time or space or caring to type that all out.

But I think we can agree on the fact that God alone is God. We are humans. We make mistakes and screw up. Like BfH said, who are we to determine that its right to take the life of another human?

You take Romans 13 as saying that we need to "submit" to governments no matter what? I know that the NIV and ESV translate the word as "submit," but I don't necessarily agree with that translation. Perhaps because submit doesn't have to mean obey. Technical, I know, but when you say it like you do, it makes it seem that we should blindly obey our governments. There are times when defying the law of the land are more than appropriate. Like Jason pointed out, in context, Romans takes on a different meaning than you spin it to have.

All in all, this could go on forever... my thoughts are too scattered and we all have better things to do...

BfH wrote something a while back that I'll end with here: "I'm not saying you're wrong, I'm just saying that you're not right."

Jeremiah said...

I did not just reinstate and clarify what I previously said. I had to counteract false assumptions made about me (that I support a theocracy and that I supported Abraham Lincoln). And I did answer your comment about the context. The context around which Paul writes the words that God has established government includes an exhortation for Christians to "live in harmony with one another." The end of chapter 12 includes Paul discouraging Christians from avenging themselves, but instead to leave the avenging up to God. In Ch. 13, Paul, inspired by the Holy Spirit, writes that God has established governments and that he has given them a sword to punish wrongdoers. Certainly this fits in with the context of urging Christians to leave it up to God to avenge because the government, which God has established, is an avenger.
The context does not urge Christians to exercise vengeance, but reminds Christians that governments (not Christians) are God's servants that punish using a sword. (Perhaps the emphasis that the governments are God's servants for punishing is to remind the Roman Christians that they themselves are not.)
Regardless of the aforementioned context, Paul, inspired by the Holy Spirit, says that governments have the authority, from God, to punish wrongdoing.
Of course Christians are not supposed to blindly submit to governments. Ultimately we are to submit to God over governments as God is the establisher of governments. Nevertheless, we are to submit to governments beyond the point of our own comfort until we are asked to do ungodly and unbiblical things such renounce the faith or like Peter and John (in Acts 4) who disobeyed the Jewish council that commanded them not to "speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus."
I am still waiting for a response to explain how "It is always immoral to kill. There are no exceptions." if God himself, the sole entity from whom morality is derived, has killed millions of people.

BfH said...

Jeremiah,

I did not intend to accuse you of supporting theocracy, I apologize. My intention was to accuse hard right-wingers of supporting theocracy, an accusation which I will always stand by. (An example: Reagan allowed Jerry Falwell and Tim LaHaye to sit in on, and speak at, national security meetings. Lo and behold, we start having more problems with Islamic nations. Think about it.)

Aside from that apology, I'm going to point out something that I've tried to in the past: you can't argue your point with people like me if you exclusively use Scripture and refuse to concede that valid points can be made without it.

If you think that the government should act biblically (the nature of what is biblical is obviously contested...) when it comes to issues like capital punishment and war, then that in itself is a bit of support for a theocratic state, is it not?

And, if you want to talk about justifiability of war, how about that atom bomb? Man, that sure minimized civilian casualties, huh?

Jeremiah said...

On an ironic note, I am arguing against a theocracy while my opponents are arguing for one. I am saying that Christians and governments are, biblically, authorized and accountable for different things. Christians are not to avenge, but governments are. Other commentors have been using scripture that is directed towards Christians and saying that governments should operate as Christians. (now i perhaps see what JD meant when he said war is unChristian, but not unbiblical) Scripture like "Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse." was cited. But this scripture applies to Christians, and implying that governments should obey this command assumes a Christian government - or in other words, a theocracy.
I am not arguing against the logic that was stated that killing to teach that killing is wrong. I am simply arguing that you cannot say, "It is always immoral to kill. There are no exceptions." from a biblical perspective. If you want to talk about non-biblical (maybe abiblical is a better word) points of view, go ahead. That one statement is all I am arguing against.
I don't think that there are many people who argue for the ethical legitimacy of the atomic bombs; I certainly don't. I think you have to look at a case by case level of war and its activities, whereas a blanket statement is wrong.

BfH said...

Would you yourself be comfortable ending the life of another human being, one who had been judged by government-appointed courts to be evil, knowing that in some capital cases evidence surfaces decades after execution that absolves the allegedly guilty party? Killing an innocent person is murder.

Could you flip the switch on another human being, knowing that said "evil" person has a family who still cares for them, whose lives will be adversely affected, destroyed, even, knowing that there is no hope for their loved one to change, no matter what atrocities that person may have committed?

I pointed out earlier that many people believe that mental illnesses or legitimate insanity are naught but excuses designed to prevent execution. Would you have a problem with the government executing a mentally retarded person who had killed another out of uncontrollable anger, despite the fact that, for many mentally challenged people, emotions are virtually uncontrollable? Is that killing justified? Is it immoral to end the life of a mentally deficient killer? (I realize that the United States no longer executes the mentally ill, but in times past they absolutely did.)

Is it your place to decide who to deprive of life, or, the life of a loved one?

Does the fact that God sanctions government mean that the government always acts on God's will? Do you honestly think that God would support execution in every "capital" case? (I don't presume to know this, because I don't presume to know God's nature, just to clarify.)

Why should man have the right to decide what crime is worthy of capital punishment? He shouldn't, unless he is willing to proclaim that he knows the nature of all men, and the nature of God himself.

As far as war goes, how do you justify it? Is it fair that the government can send people to die for causes that are as ludicrous as the current war?

My personal convictions strongly condemn violence, but I love my country. I would die to protect my country and the people I love who live in it. I am not willing to die by means of idiotic aggression overseas, though. I could technically be executed for treason for refusing to do just that, if I were to have joined the all-volunteer armed forces. How can you justify that?

You implied that government should be supported unless it undermines one's relationship with God. I believe that God has personal relationships with all people, as I'm sure you do, and I believe that God would frown upon me going to Iraq (or elsewhere) and killing another human being who is defending his home. The fact that the government could send me to do so, therefore, is a breach of my moral convictions and is an assault on the fact that those convictions come from my relationship with God.

josh howerton said...

If you were alive in the 1930's and had a chance, would you kill Hitler before he rose to power and save 20+ million lives?

Discuss...

BfH said...

No, I wouldn't. It's not my place. Seriously.

Would you? Would you try to change him before he did all that he did? Wouldn't that be the moral thing to do?

I don't believe in preemptive strikes, anyway; I'm not a Republican. (That's a joke, guys.)

jason said...

I do not mean to put words in John David's mouth, but the thrust of his blog seemed to be directed at Christians. Indeed, the very title of the blog implies a Christian and therefore biblical worldview.

To quote my friend John David: "But it hurts me inside that men who are in the public eye--men who have the title "Reverend" attached to their name--would stand up and support the death penalty on biblical grounds. Its like supporting war on biblical grounds. It makes no sense."

This is the point we are arguing: how should Christians behave in the world and what is a proper Christian response to war and the death penalty. Obviously, as a Christian, I anticipate reconciliation and restoration through the power of the Holy Spirit and the redeeming act of Jesus Christ. It is this view, and the words of Jesus and the Jesus-inspired words of Paul in Romans that informs my view of war and the death penalty. I am assuredly not supporting a theocracy because the world that I am interested in is much bigger than the American political landscape. With that said, I will not be a silent bystander and quietly submit to the government when said government fails to adhere to basic human rights. Indeed, Jesus demands that I not be silent. My faith informs who I am. Because I campaign for a certain way of looking at the world based on my faith hardly means I am supporting a theocracy. In fact, I do support a theocracy, in a kingdom that has nothing to do with the United States.

As for Mr. Josh Howerton, it is easy to fall back on the tired example of Hitler and the Nazi regime as an illustration of why Christians should indeed support war and violence What you fail to recognize is that World War II, and the Nazi regime therein, was a repercussion of World War I. Violence begets violence. Further, the international community sat idly by and watched as Hitler built the military-industrial complex. It is fallacy to assume that violence is the only thing that could have averted the tragedy of the Holocaust. It would be a further fallacy to confuse pacifism with passivity.

Joe said...

I think that we would agree that not all wars are just, I think that what I and some others are trying to state is that it is biblically inconsistent to state that all violence is unjust. How is it that we could say that a God who is never changing, in the Old Testament and New Testament would actually strike down millions of people. And then say that all violence in all cases is unjust. This is the brunt of our argument. From that I would say that how can we say that God always opposes war when he specifically tells his people to make war and literally kill every person in a given area.
Now, we are not in any given instance trying to bail out the US in any war that would be unjust, we are just inserting the idea that a war could be and has been Just. JD I know this is not the exact point of your post (it being on the death penalty, with just a side note on war) but this seems to be a developing argument.

In Christ
Joe Hussung

Brittany said...

God is NOT a human being. So, when John David says all murder is immoral, he means all human murder. God cannot sin. Therefore, if God kills people, he has a reason, right? Undoubtedly so.

However, we are called to love others. Is loving others killing someone or being in favor of someone being killed (the action is the most important part, not who does the action)? It does not matter what that said person has done to someone else. I think the best argument brought up today was by Ben who asked if "you would be comfortable in ending the life of someone?" How could you? And that is what it boils down to...

We are no longer arguing the actions of our government. What I mean is that we are not picking apart all aspects of the government, but instead, one aspect that could be thrown out and not result in an upheaval of our nation. Murderers can stay in prison their whole lives, why do they have to be murdered? DIdn't Jesus say "turn the other cheek?" And doesn't the Bible state " 'vengence is the mine,' says the Lord?" I am just saying...why do we feel the need to take justice into our own hands, as a government? That is the part that I cannot agree with.

Now, Jeremiah, I hope the first part of my response answers your question so that you can stop regurgitating the same point over and over...I just thought I would answer it. God cannot be immoral. That is it. God is also not human. That's why he is God.

Joe said...

Then why does God tell humans to kill other humans if killing humans is immoral and never to be done by humans?

Also, I do believe that our governments should take justice into their hands. I believe that to be the purpose of Governments "the servant of God, and avenger who carries out God's wrath on the wrongdoer."

In Christ
Joe Hussung

Drubs said...

I would kill someone(Amanda agrees) who broke into my house and came after my wife and kids(not that I have any children.) I'm sure it wouldn't be "comfortable" but I'm her protector.

Ben said...

Brittany
Previously John David said, " To kill is wrong. Period." Brittany you are saying that there is an exception when God kills. If God is an exception, couldn't those He gave authority to carry out His wrath be exceptions also. So by saying that when God kills it's not sin because He is God and is moral, you are basically saying, God can't sin because when He sins He's God, so it's not sin? Because that would make no sense. And I'm guessing that's not what you mean. Sin is defined by acts done outside of the will of God. Therefore, God doesn't sin because He is consistent with His own nature. So I think if God can kill justly, it isn't sin when humans kill justly inside of the will of God. Which I believe the death penalty is inside of the will of God because he gives that authority to our earthly authorities in Romans 13.
Also, I would still like to know how everyone interprets Romans 13. Because you can use other verses to say that we should love each other and give mercy, but at the same time Romans 13 is still there. I would just like to know what you all think about those passages.

JD said...

First of all, the way God relates to humanity in the Old Testament is quite different then the way God relates to humanity once Jesus came on the scene. Undoubtedly.

Secondly, I think you have to decide how to interpret the meaning of certain texts. Like when it says: "God told us to take our army, goto this land, kill all the people and take it over." How do you take that? Say my friend Steve says he feels God wants him to spend his life in the inner city working with homeless and the marginalized. Do you think God audibly told him to do that? Or that he has a strong feeling that doing that is what's right for him? I'm not questioning the authority or validity of the OT text. Its just something to keep in mind.

Third, the only example brought up so far (post Jesus) of God quote-un-quote killing someone is from Acts 5. Listen, I know that it might be implicit, but it is definitely not explicit that God killed them. The Greek says "they feel at his feet, expired." It doesn't say "They lied so God killed them." It may be implied, but who are we to make that call? That's not something I'd wanna be wrong about...

Finally, I don't trust governments. I just don't. Governments are made up of humans (politicians at that) who have the ability to make their own decisions. How much can the average, American politician be trusted with the lobbyists and money floating around in our capitals? If I can't trust them to decide what's best for my money, why would I trust them to decide the life of another human being? Regardless of how you feel about Romans 13, I don't trust that good decisions are being made. Once again, God is not some cosmic puppet master controlling the leaders of our modern society.

How sad is it that you WANT another life to end? Not that you don't care or are indifferent on the subject, but you all are arguing that you WANT the deaths of other people. I just don't understand that. I simply can't comprehend trying to rationalize a thought process like that. I can't comprehend a view of God like that.

jason said...

Hi Ben,

Good grief, how many Hussung brothers are there? :)

I think I have made my views on Romans 13 quite clear, but I would be more than willing clarify given the amount of cross talk that generally takes place on a blog comment board.

Romans 13 is properly interpreted in light of the context of both the chapter and the book as a whole. Paul is writing to Christians living under Roman rule and, as such, implores them to live at peace with everyone under the dominating ethos of love.

I think I have established with a great deal of agreement that Paul does not give the government a carte blanche to do as it wishes. Indeed, re-reading the text, Paul mentions love a number of times, I will not rehash my previous post but will submit it for you to read at your leisure.

Surely there is no thing that is not under the power of God, including governments. Yet, what happens when the "wielder of the sword" turns it on Christians?

Here's a thought that may help get us past this morass. What if Christian brothers and sisters are being slaughtered in Iraq at the cost of this war (which they are)? Whom do we support? Our Christian family or the state which is killing them?

jason said...

To dovetail on John David's previous response, is America as qualified as Israel was to interpret and execute the will of God? Is any country in the present day hold the special place that Israel held? Can we liken Bush (or any other leader) to a prophet with a direct line to God?

Anonymous said...

God is love. That is such a relief. We may have disagreements but this bickering goes nowhere. Theology without action is nothing. Don't get me wrong I understand the sincerity with opinions, but topically taking a verse here and there solves nothing. My point is look at Jim Elliot he believed in passivism. In preaching and teaching of Christ, The Aucas killed him and others. This is a selfish act, and on top of that his wife came and loved the ones who killed her husband. What a scandalous way to love. This is love that hurts. This is what Jesus had to mean when he said love your enemies. Also look at Mother Theresa, she spent most of her life loving the orphans, dying, and sick in Calcutta. This has to be something along the lines of when Jesus said care for the least of these. Today there are no nations in love with God. In American government they love capitalism and wealth. So when a nation says they have the authority to kill, whether through capital punishment or war, it is WRONG. They will still say that they have the authority, but that does not make it right. I pray that instead of knowing and experiencing Christ's love that I will start to do it. Let us first experience the world then let us form opinions on how to live in it. For if we just form opinions and never enter the world it is nothing.
Collin

Joe said...

First JD on your first point this is yet another difference in our understanding of scripture. i do not think that there is that much of a difference in the way that God deals with humanity in the Old Testament and New.

Secondly I think that it is very scary the way your are talking about the OT texts. You just state two extremely opposing views. You say to keep in mind that every time that God is said to speak to someone that we might just look at it in a totally different way in which the text brings it about. This deffinately questions the validity of the OT texts. When in 1 Samuel it says
" Thus says the Lord of Hosts " I have noted what Amalek did to Israel in opposing them on the way went hey came up out of Egypt. Now go and strike Amalek and devote to destruction all that they have. Do not spare them, but kill both man and woman, child and infant, ox and sheep, camel and donkey.""
I don't think that you can conclude that this is anything other than God speaking through his prophet Samuel. Anything thing other than that IS questioning the validity of the OT
Let me give you another NT text with God explicitly striking down someone. Acts 12:23 "immediately an Angel of the Lord struck him down, because he did not give God the glory," What is it that we do with that?
and then in reference to Jason's comment there are 4 of us. :) (i actually had to ask my wife how to do that)
Also, I think that a better question than whether the US has a place like Israel (which totally do not think) is that in most of our eyes is the US like the Roman Empire of the 1st century? I think that it would be at the worst likened to it. So I don't think that a government has to have "a hard line to God" in order to do his bidding. Paul exhorts those Christians not to take vengeance because God will through the government.

let me state again that we are not "Patriots" in the fact that we would defend everything that the country does. I would agree that a lot of the wars that happen are unjust wars. I would probably be in a minority to say that I probably think that the revolutionary war was unjust, in light of Romans 13. It is possible that wars can be just because they have been. Now if you can't trust your government to make that decision then fine make it for yourself and if you feel that it is unjust and get drafted then be a conscientious objector. But we have to concede that some wars are just.

BfH said...

I'm still not sure why anyone adamantly supports government sanctioned killing. How many leaders do you think get away with murder by citing the exact same texts that you do?

I think religion in government can be used to railroad less-than-ethical practices past due processes, and obviously it can be used as propoganda that may or may not fit the situation it's being used for. (I hate to keep bringing up the Iraq war, but ties were made by prominent ministers like Jerry Falwell and some Christian lawmakers between Iraq and 9/11; I'm not referring to anyone's patriotism or your support or lack thereof for the current administration anything of the like.)

Also, consider the case of the Protestant vs. Catholic conflict. In cases like that, leaders cite religious texts as justification for killing others of what is essentially the same faith.

I doubt God intended His word be used as a pretext for some followers killing other followers.

JD said...

Joe-I don't think its scary. I'm just being honest. If I can't be honest here, on my own blog, then when I can I be?

I think its a reasonable point to bring up--a perfectly valid question when looking at Scripture. It makes a faith seem really weak if it can't hold up to moderate critique. I find my faith to be quite logical and strong, therefore, I think it can hold up to questions like that. And at the end of the day, I still choose to follow Jesus and pursue the better way. Simple.

Tim said...

I have a question a little off the subject...Did Jesus drink alcoholic or non-alcoholic wine?

Secondly...Is it bad to drink alcohol?

aaaannnddd...Begin!

Shalom

Joe said...

Maybe I have misunderstood you. If I did I apolagize.
But regardless if you think that God audibly or inaudibly spoke to these people, the fact of the matter still is that he has spoken and told them to do these things. How is it that you deal with those specific texts? Also what about Herod? this is after the New Covenant.
I just think that if we find agreement that God told Israel to make war on people in the OT.
Also, on the next thing, what about Herod? God struck (through his angel). What do we do with that.

In Christ
Joe

Joe said...

sorry JD only deal with Herod once. Sorry about being stupid and repeating myself.

In Christ
Joe

JD said...

Tim-totally off point. Jesus drank wine. Not O'doul's or Welch's. See my post "Wisdom from Dave" for my perspective on this. Perhaps I'll write a separate blog on Jesus and Wine...

ANYWAY, it doesn't really matter one way or the other how I feel about an angel of the Lord doing something. Once again, not human. It affects me a sum total of zero. The whole point of me writing in the first place was to say its wrong for us to kill someone else then try to support ourselves using scripture. Sad that such public figures would go around putting their opinions out there that connect Jesus with the death penalty. I could care less about some obscure verse that involves a psychotic king and his death. I do care about "reverends" who are in the public eye and what they have to say so publicly; it is little wonder the Church at large has such an image problem.

And I'm curious as to the Richpond people's feelings on our current war? (Jason posed this earlier) Do you support our government killing Iraqis or the Christian Iraqis being killed?

jason said...

I think we can throw out instances of God-ordained killing in several places, especially in the Old Testament. Indeed, Revelation is chock full of God punishment. The point I am trying to make has not changed, vengeance is God's alone. Jesus or Paul does not call Christians to avenge themselves or wage war. In fact, the thrust of Paul and Jesus' main argument is to LOSE ones life. Lending credence to the notion that, ultimately, life isn't the most important thing going for us. (Paul says as much as well when he discusses the things that will pass away while love remains.)

While we can hem and haw about Paul's supposed view on government and Christians proper relationship to it. However, Paul makes clear his views on waging war in 2 Cor 10:3: "For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does."

The real question is not whether we believe God sanctions violence, but rather do we trust God to redeem without resorting to violence?

Jeremiah said...

Jason,
In your last post I thought you gave a wonderful depiction of the way that Christians should act towards vengeance. No Christian is to avenge himself or avenge anyone else, just like you said. (It is important to note that this charge against vengeance does not include the scenario that drubs mentioned.)
At the end of Ch.12 Paul tells Christians to wait for the Lord to avenge and reminds us that this is not our job, as Christians.
In 13, although still addressing Christians, Paul mentions that it is the government's job to avenge or punish wrongdoing. The picture that 13 paints is one of God avenging through government; and Paul mentions this because it discourages Christians from avenging themselves.

JD said...

I think we get your point. Few agree. But we get it...

Jeremiah said...

thanks for the acknowledgment