God's Politics

God's Politics


A Nuclear Plank in the Eye /by Brian McLaren/

posted by God's Politics

I couldn’t sleep after watching last month’s Republican presidential forum on August 5. I was especially disturbed by the intersection of two statements made by Colorado Rep. Tom Tancredo. Perhaps because he is not in the top tier of Republican candidates, it was easy to consider his statements marginal and negligible, but I believe – completely apart from his presidential aspirations – that his statements should get us thinking, especially those of us who are, like Rep. Tancredo, known as evangelical Christians.


The representative said that as president he will tell Muslim extremists that if they attack the United States with nuclear weapons, he will respond by bombing Medina and Mecca.


Although the State Department has called his statement “reprehensible” and “crazy,” a few days later Tancredo offered what seemed to be further justification for his statement. He explained, according to Iowapolitics.com, that a promise to destroy Muslim holy sites “is the only thing I can think of that might deter somebody from doing what they would otherwise do. If I am wrong, fine, tell me, and I would be happy to do something else. But you had better find a deterrent, or you will find an attack.”


Although none of the other candidates in the forum seemed to agree with Tancredo, they all seemed eager to prove themselves most ready to keep nuclear weapons “on the table” and to present themselves as “strong on national defense,” which now may turn out to mean “committed to pre-emptive war theory over just war theory.”


Tancredo’s threat was all the more disturbing to me in light of something he said later in the same forum when asked about his most significant mistake. He replied, “… it took me probably 30 years before I realized that Jesus Christ is my personal Savior.”


Of course, this confluence of aggressive rhetoric with professions of evangelical faith is not unique to Tancredo. For example, a recent editorial by a popular and award-winning religious broadcasting personality had a similar theo-combative tone. Christiane Amanpour’s recent “God’s Warriors” series on CNN brought a number of other similar voices to our attention.


Democratic candidates are certainly not immune to this impulse to flex their combat credentials, evidenced by recent sparring between leading candidates. We can hope, in the midst of a heated campaign season, that responsible theologians and religious leaders will acknowledge the 800-pound gorilla in the room, and engage in a needed public conversation about faith, politics, and war. This life-and-death conversation can’t be left to politicians and media pundits alone. A recent New York Times article by Mark Lilla raises some key issues to be addressed in this needed dialogue.


A few evangelical voices have spoken out strongly against this ongoing inflation in aggressive rhetoric, but in my mind, remarkably few. Some, no doubt, do not want to dignify extreme statements with a reply. A surprising number, though – readily searchable in the blogosphere – are actually saying “amen.”


As I mull all this over in the middle of the night – running the bases from angst to depression to prayer and hope – I can’t help but think of the oft-heard complaint regarding moderate Muslims: Why don’t they stand up and speak out more vociferously against the violent rhetoric of Muslim extremists? If their religion truly is peaceful, why don’t they speak up for peace more passionately? This may now become a “plank and splinter” issue (Matthew 7:3-5) for evangelical Christians – not to mention Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, mainline Protestants, and others — raising questions like these:



At what point does the rhetoric of fellow evangelicals (or Roman Catholics, etc.) become extreme enough to elicit from evangelical leaders the kind of loud and public response we wish moderate Muslims had been giving regarding Muslim extremists? Which leaders are speaking out, and which aren’t?


Does Rep. Tancredo’s recent statement qualify as excessive? Why or why not? If not, what would push it over the line?


How can evangelicals in particular and Christians in general who don’t agree with this kind of rhetoric respond constructively – and in ways that will be heard as widely as the original statements?


How do thoughtful Christian theologians respond to this kind of rhetoric? On what basis do they justify or reject this kind of rhetoric and the biblical interpretation used to defend it? Where and how can concerned seminary professors and other scholars speak up and be heard?


What will be the predictable effects of this kind of rhetoric on the public perception of “evangelical” and “Christian” – among younger Christians in America? Among non-Christians? Among Muslims here and around the world?


What forms of deterrence can be explored that are more in line with the life and teachings of Jesus? In other words, if we reject both Rep. Tancredo’s approach and the opposite approach of passivity, what could a creative, nonviolent, responsible third way look like?


How can we learn from leaders like Dr. King and Desmond Tutu to stir people to be as passionate about active peace-making as a solution to war as others are about war-making as a solution to war?


If “holy war” rhetoric is indeed escalating in a vicious cycle among Muslims, Christians, Jews, and others, what will be the predictable outcome? How can concerned religious leaders work for a new kind of dialogue and in so doing help chart a more peaceable course for their faith communities?


How can American evangelicals, and Christians in general, escape our echo chamber and begin to listen to the wise voices and concerns of their brothers and sisters around the globe – as Ryan Rodrick Beiler’s recent posting invited us to do?


These questions are worth raising, because in the election year ahead, I expect there will be a lot more of this kind of “God’s warriors” rhetoric to respond to. Maybe Rep. Tancredo’s proposal can serve the constructive purpose of provoking some mature and constructive reflection – some evangelical ijtihad, to borrow a theme from Irshad Manji.


I do not in any way want to vilify Rep. Tancredo. The fact is, he cares about something worth caring about: how to stop the vicious cycle of terrorism that seems to be escalating each day. Even if his proposal is as dangerous and misguided as I believe it is, the candidate is to be commended for seeking a solution to this very real danger. I hope that more and more of us will become motivated – and resourced by our faith – not simply to complain about violent solutions to the problem of violence, but instead to make better proposals, because this one, I believe, is a recipe for disaster. To continue living by the sword, according to a reputable authority, is not a sustainable long-term strategy for living at all.


Brian McLaren is board chair for Sojourners/Call to Renewal. His new book, Everything Must Change: Jesus, Global Crises, and a Revolution of Hope, will be released October 2 and explores these issues in more depth and detail.



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Ben Wheaton

posted September 4, 2007 at 12:10 pm


Rev. McLaren ended his article with these words: “To continue living by the sword, according to a reputable authority, is not a sustainable long-term strategy for living at all.” The thing that’s wrong with this view is that while there is sin in the world, as there will be until Christ’s return, the sword is necessary. The world we live in is a world at war, with itself and with God. We are, as C.S. Lewis put it, in “rebel territory,” and the state has been ordained by God to restrain the worst effects of evil. This requires violence, and while there are some good Christians who believe that Christians ought to practice non-violence, there is a good bibilical basis and tradition throughout the ages for the use of legitimate violence to oppose evil. Whether Rep. Tancredo’s suggestion was wise (probably not) is beside the point.
As well, Rev. McLaren’s comparison of such statements by evangelicals to statements by Muslim extremists is rather offensive, I think. Very few Christians have said the things that thousands of extremist Imams and their ilk say every Friday to the faithful, and when they do they are condemned. Witness Al Mohler’s stinging rebuke to Pat Robertson when Robertson suggested that Hugo Chavez be assassinated (and even that was rather mild, not nearly worth the hullaballoo in the media–Robertson is entitled to his foreign policy positions–of which using assassination as a tool of policy is quite legitimate). A “plank” in our eye? Maybe, but then what massive piece of lumber would fit for the analogy in the muslim world’s eye? A Redwood?



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N.M. Rod

posted September 4, 2007 at 12:18 pm


I don’t understand which religious book Rep. Tancredo takes as his authority for modelling his behavior after his “personal savior.”
Surely it can’t be the traditional New Testament?
SOme people have complained about the “WWJD” jewelry, but it would be a boon for mankind if we all had that written on our hearts, including Tom Tancredo.
On the other hand, perhaps Tom believes, like many nominally Catholic politicians (and others), that private conscience and public policy can be informed by two very different approaches.
He is in his views unabashedly xenophobic and nativist and his style is the paranoid, stirring up fear and threats from “the other” and engendering hatred – and certainly it would be mad to have a person in the grip of these delusions and the consequent destructive emotions with a finger poised over the button on the nuclear football – the Armageddon device every one of our Presidents carries with him everywhere and is trusted to use “wisely.”
Jim Jones used to appear reasonable to our politicians, as well as to a wide swathe of America, until the day he had his followers as well as American politicians – including a congressman – commit suicide with him in Guyana. He was thought of as a good Christian believer, personable if a bit intense.
We don’t need to return to the insane religious wars of the middle ages, with the kind of weaponry we all now wield.
Our technological power and knowledge of science has advanced rapidly in the last 150 years, without any similar advancement in working towards understanding our own destructive emotions and developing a practical science of psychology in conflict resolution.
Isn’t it time to make a concomitant commitment to advance morality and ethics to keep them abreast of the destructive power of industry and science?
I hope Tom is not one of the “Left Behind” dupes working for Armageddon!



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Wolverine

posted September 4, 2007 at 12:27 pm


Brian has done an pretty good job of taking down Tancredo’s recommendation that we bomb Mecca in response to a nuclear attack by terrorists.
However, since Tancredo’s position is not shared by any of the other contenders, and Tancredo himself is a longshot for the GOP nomination, it is unlikely that this particular policy will be implemented.
So there really isn’t much need for further discussion
Wolverine



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kevin s.

posted September 4, 2007 at 12:28 pm


This seems simply to be a variant of the theory of mutually assured destruction, which is hardly out of the political mainstream. While nasty sounding, the ideal result is a stalemate resulting in no attacks of any kind.
Tancredo is taking into consideration the fact that Muslim extremists have no compunction about being destroyed. As such, he would threaten the holy sites that matter to Muslims. Is McLaren’s objection that it is somehow worse to destroy a holy site?
If there is a presidential candidate who does not advocate an aggressive response to a nuclear attack, I would like to hear it.
To the questions.
“Does Rep. Tancredo’s recent statement qualify as excessive? Why or why not? If not, what would push it over the line?”
What would push it over the line would be suggesting a nuclear attack that is not in response to any attack or threat thereof.
“How can evangelicals in particular and Christians in general who don’t agree with this kind of rhetoric respond constructively – and in ways that will be heard as widely as the original statements?”
First, by resisting the temptation to simply throw scripture at it without explanation. Simply citing the “plank in our eye” doesn’t get you anywhere close.
“On what basis do they justify or reject this kind of rhetoric and the biblical interpretation used to defend it?”
The Bible grants the government the right to use violence in order to defend itself, and certainly provides for the destruction of idols. The Bible certainly does not forbid our leaders form using aggressive rhetoric.
I thoughtful theologian would determine that the determining factor ought to be whether such an endeavor would be successful in protecting our nation from further nuclear attack. Alternately, they would have to develop a compelling theological case for absolute pacifism, and contend with issues of (for example) what we would do with our police force.
“What forms of deterrence can be explored that are more in line with the life and teachings of Jesus? In other words, if we reject both Rep. Tancredo’s approach and the opposite approach of passivity, what could a creative, nonviolent, responsible third way look like?”
If passivity is off the table, what is irresponsible the proposal? What military solution would find resonance in the life and teachings of Jesus? He wasn’t a military man, and made no statement regarding the military.
“I do not in any way want to vilify Rep. Tancredo”
Other than insinuating that he is an irresponsible extremist who disturbs you with his Christian hypocrisy…



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Rick Nowlin

posted September 4, 2007 at 12:28 pm


Very few Christians have said the things that thousands of extremist Imams and their ilk say every Friday to the faithful, and when they do they are condemned. Witness Al Mohler’s stinging rebuke to Pat Robertson when Robertson suggested that Hugo Chavez be assassinated (and even that was rather mild, not nearly worth the hullaballoo in the media — Robertson is entitled to his foreign policy positions — of which using assassination as a tool of policy is quite legitimate). A “plank” in our eye? Maybe, but then what massive piece of lumber would fit for the analogy in the muslim world’s eye? A Redwood?
That’s the very rhetoric that McLaren is decrying. Doing what Tancredo suggests actually brings us to the level of the extremist Islam we say we despise, where the point of the Christian message is that we’re to be “different” from the rest of the world, which includes Islam. To wit, if we bomb Muslim holy sites, they have us right where they want us — in a perpetual state of war. To say that Muslims can or should act like Christians is ludicrous.
Besides, given that it takes decades to develop and test nuclear weapons, and especially in the light of North Korea’s failed test earlier this year, do you really believe that radical Muslims represent a serious nuclear threat to the U.S., especially considering that we’ve had functional nukes since World War II and Israel likely has them too? There’s no sense of proportion here — it’s as though they’re coming at us with a pop gun and we’re getting all bent out of shape.



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N.M. Rod

posted September 4, 2007 at 12:29 pm


Once again, we run right up against the consequences of the rejection of Jesus’ clear teachings to those who would take up their cross and follow him.
This is the adoption of the “Holy War” position, common to all religions.
Yet, I must emphasise, you cannot find this in Jesus’ words – you find precisely the opposite, a rejection of it. Jesus precisely rejected wielding the sword, and he rejected his followers doing so in his interrogation with Pontius Pilate, yet avowing He was indeed a King.
His commands to those who would follow is to take up our cross, too.
It is true that some career paths might not be open to those who truly follow Jesus.
Some say that Jesus’ path doesn’t have to be ours, in fact cannot be ours.
They do this to justify doing what they already want to do apart from God.
Even if the world vilifies us or misunderstands, we’re to stand in the gap for our brother and sister humanity and offer an alternative to the escalating and increasingly violent cycles of violence.
Even if it seems foolish to the world, or to the War Jesus followers who have created another Jesus in their own image.
However, this supposed “foolishness” to the world is actually the greatest wisdom, and if anyone has the tenacity to carry His commands out, they are the most practical of all for spreading peace and tolerance. This is not weakness or cowardice, but strength and bravery that takes an incredible commitment.



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kevin s.

posted September 4, 2007 at 12:46 pm


“A “plank” in our eye? Maybe, but then what massive piece of lumber would fit for the analogy in the muslim world’s eye? A Redwood?”
This is a good point. The plank in your own eye is compared to a speck in a neighbor’s eye. It does not require one to be completely free of sin before making an observation. To the extent that this can be translated to military action (and that is a murky assumption), Tancredo seems well within his rights to threaten response against extremist Islam.



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Another nonymous

posted September 4, 2007 at 1:12 pm


Kevin –
As you know, I have much less tolerance for violence of any kind than many who post here. I believe there is no military response that would find resonance in the life and teachings of Jesus, so Christians who endorse such responses are on their own. I do think, however, that in light of the Gospel some responses must simply be off the table, and a nuclear attack against our enemies, whether provoked or otherwise, qualifies.
Let me just say that if I, personally, had to make the choice between passivity in response to a nuclear attack – even one that destroyed those closest to me – and a nuclear response, I would choose passivity. I could not do otherwise and continue to practice my religion.
I also agree with N. M. Rod about the strength and bravery that it would take to resist the temptation to strike back in kind against an act of nuclear terrorism. Doing so would give us an unparalleled opportunity to proclaim the Gospel of Grace to a skeptical world – which, BTW, is what I think we also should have done after Sept. 11. It would illustrate in incredible relief what Christianity offers that no other religion in the world can match. I can’t think of a better solution than that.



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Don

posted September 4, 2007 at 1:22 pm


Thanks, Brian, for sharing this with us.
My concern about Rep. Tancredo’s comments is that, once again, we have a prominent American politician whose understanding of our so-called “enemy” is limited and who therefore finds it all too easy to categorize them as an “other” for whom the usual standards of human respect and inter-personal relations have no meaning. It then becomes easy for us to view ourselves as better than they, and that therefore we don’t have to treat them the same as others. Dehumanizing them thusly eventually allows us to engage in all manners of violent treatment; after all we’re justified in doing so, because if we don’t “get them,” they’ll “get us” first.
Thus the need for violence is justified, and the cycle of violence is perpetuated.
Those who would deny that Jesus rejected the sword (as N.M. Rod indicated above) cannot deny that he told his followers to love their enemies and to pray for them. Yes, Romans 13 tells us that God has ordained civil government to punish wrongdoers, but that doesn’t get a professed follower of Jesus off the hook in his obligation to love those we distrust and pray for them. Offering instead to bomb their holy sites demonstrates a desire to keep them as an “other” that we not only can but should attack and destroy, and not see their humanity.
Can’t Rep. Tancredo, and those who see his threat as justified, see what would happen if such a threat were actually carried out? Instead of maybe 5-10% of the world’s 1.2 BILLION Muslims agreeing with the radical Islamists, we would have virtually ALL of them radicalized. Do we really think we have the resources and wherewithal to prevail over 1/4 of the human population, if they all became our enemies? Can we really believe such a threat would provide an effective deterrant?
The antidote to all this sabre-rattling and war-drum pounding is to really take the time and learn some things about Muslims, preferably by getting to know individual Muslims and engaging with their daily lives, learning about their hopes, dreams, and fears, and actually becoming their friends. (Most of the “about Islam” literature that I see in Christian bookstores will not help us; rather, it tends to perpetuate the “other” mentality that I find so destructive.) Once we see that the same humanity lives in them as in us, it becomes much more difficult to continue this us-against-them mentality. Perhaps then the cycle of violence can be broken.
Peace,



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N.M. Rod

posted September 4, 2007 at 1:26 pm


There’s still only one nation that’s ever used atomic weapons, and that against civilian populations, and that without its own territory being at any risk.
One of the civilian populations slaughtered within moments had a high proportion of Christians.
It’s highly likely, given the national propensity to respond all out of proportion (just as has happened in regard to the murderous 9/11 attacks on a Wall Street financial center) that any loss of life here, even if done by an unrepresentative minority faction, could indeed lead to the emotion-laden and revenge-driven response of using nuclear weapons to vaporise entire peoples.
It’s not like it’s not in the bloodstream of all mankind to behave this way, nor in our own colonising history of genocide against millions of American Indians.
We need to see ourselves clearly. Instead, what we seem to do, along with everyone else in the world, is create a self-justifying delusion in which we are ourselves unrealistically “Good” and anyone else we could have a conflict with as unadulterated “Evil.”
This sets us up for feeling wholly justified in making unreasonable and unwarranted responses, not to real threats, but the ones we have demonised to allow ourselves the justification of exercising our own selfish desires and indulging our own motives.
Before we can do the bad things we want to do to others in anger, we have to pretend to ourselves that they are far worse than they actually are, and that we are far better.
For this to happen, we have to willingly engage in delusion, even if it becomes somewhat unconscious and automatic through repetition and past learned and repeated behavior.
Realise that this is the exact same process going on in the minds of those we are having poor relations with, and you can see how necessary it is to take thinking steps to understand ourselves first – and then to understand why others are doing what they are doing in this mad tango.
What is wrong with a little critical thinking – informed by Jesus’ own clear insights, and some consequent hard work and discipline in favor of aggressive peacemaking and non-violent actions?
This is not a straw man argument of holy war vs. passive pacifism we are dealing with here. Much more action and effort is involved in creative nonviolence – far more than the easy moral failure of belief in the practical redemption of violence and all its horrible consequences of neverending retribution.
The idea of genocide as a “final solution” to end any possible retribution from those violence is to be inflicted upon is an appalling moral failure. I can’t conceive that it could be right that any scripture should be invoked to justify destruction of whole peoples, cultures or religions.
But of course this is precisely what has occurred in the past.



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neuro_nurse

posted September 4, 2007 at 1:27 pm


Tancredo’s statements are an emotional response to a threat that does not exist. Such a strategy is completely devoid of reason.
Aside from the obvious costs in innocent lives, did Tancredo stop to think of the consequences of the world’s largest consumer of crude oil (the U.S.) going to war with Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest producer of crude oil?
Stupid!



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Rick Nowlin

posted September 4, 2007 at 1:38 pm


Ben — Sorry, but from a theological or logical standpoint what you say doesn’t make much sense. You say that we should “still hold those people to the reaon moral standard, not their own” — well, in some cases the Muslims are morally stricter than we in the West are. But, again, they don’t know Christ — they know of Him, of course.



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Moderatelad

posted September 4, 2007 at 1:43 pm


Let us remember that the statement by Tancredo is ‘if they…then we…’. So if they do not use a nuclear device or attack us then we will do nothing. To be fore warned let’s them know the consequence. I would be a little more concerned with the person that would totally remove the ‘nuclear’ option when the other side does not. So – with Tancredo – the ball in now in their court. They do nothing – all is fine.
Have a great day –
.



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Another nonymous

posted September 4, 2007 at 2:12 pm


Posted by: Moderatelad | September 4, 2007 1:43 PM
“I would be a little more concerned with the person that would totally remove the ‘nuclear’ option when the other side does not.”
But this is exactly what I suggest doing.
Please don’t think that I don’t take the threat of evil seriously. What the parable about the plank in the eye really means, I believe, is that the first place to look for evil and to combat it is not in others, but within ourselves. If we were simply to take violent response option off the table, we might be forced to look at ourselves first, and thus do things the right way around. For a change.
I take evil very seriously, and I believe we have a much better chance of prevailing by launching an “offensive” of grace than by launching another war, let alone a nuclear one. But how can we do this unless we clean house first?



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Ben Wheaton

posted September 4, 2007 at 2:19 pm


Rick, in some cases muslims are stricter–but in this case they lamentably are not. Their strictness in other matters is beside the point. The point I was trying to make was that treating them like spoiled children who can’t be expected to behave properly is to do a disservice to muslims and us. How will they learn to not attack us if we say, “they can’t help it!” Government was instituted to mitigate man’s evil actions, and a firm stance on the part of the Western nations can mitigate this evil–a firm stance meaning a preparedness to use violence.



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kevin s.

posted September 4, 2007 at 2:35 pm


“Tancredo’s statements are an emotional response to a threat that does not exist.”
If the threat does not exist, then the point is moot, yes?



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N.M. Rod

posted September 4, 2007 at 2:45 pm


“Jesus wasn’t a military man so he has nothing to say to or about the military.”
As a matter of fact, the reason he was rejected by both the conservative and liberal nationalists of his day was because he overtly declined to be their military leader.
Recall, too, they wanted the political rabble-rouser freed, not Jesus, and in the end, denied even their own nation when they claimed publicly, “We have no King but Caesar!” to heap despise upon his mission.
In contrast, his leadership was to reveal the real problem with the deficiencies of the human heart that caused militarism and war as the ultimate sins in the first place.
Rather than just another war propheteer with an agenda to nowhere, he was showing us how our hearts needed to be completely and revolutionally redeemed for us to become reconciled to God again.
I’d like to ask my co-religionists to try to wake up to the fact that an atomic bomb is not a sword, by a magnitude of many millions. It is death and destruction indiscriminately, on a scale of Armageddon, from afar, against civilians only, without ever having to look an enemy in the eye, like some kind of Vegas-based video game.
A gun is several orders of magnitude from a sword, death at a distance. We are talking the proverbial Weapons of Mass Destruction, of which we have massive numbers measuring in the many tens of thousands, targetted on civilian populations in amounts sufficient to detroy each one’s population many times over, and aimed at nations we have no military conflicts with as well.
I ask you, if some wild-eyed anti-abortionist or anti-homosexual cult blew up an abortion clinic or bath hose, would it be justified to drop atomic bombs on Christianity’s holiest sites in retaliation – churches, Christian stores, charities for the poor, or perhaps, since our temple is our very body, our homes. After all, we could be warned that it would happen, so we better watch out. Do you think we can control the Fred Phelps’ of the world and should we be held accountable to do so?
Or what if some westerners commit atrocities (which they do) in the view of some people who are their own co-religionists or countrymen? Is it legitimate to be warned by them that all of us will be killed in retaliation should such a thing ever occur?
Brethren, take care that we do not begin to worship the War Jesus – for he really is another Jesus – and we will have a terrible disappointment if we don’t follow the real one.
Jesus also said that he who lives by the sword will perish at the hand of it.



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Moderatelad

posted September 4, 2007 at 2:52 pm


Posted by: Another nonymous | September 4, 2007 2:12 PM
So – if we had taken the same logic in WWII and told everyone that we were not going to do a land assult against Hitler and the Nazi’s in Europe – what could we have accomplished? Do you think that Hilter would have thought, ‘Oh – maybe I should talk with them about peace in the world?’ I don’t think so, I believe that would have sent a message to Hitler to had at it in Europe as the US and the Allies are not going to try to stop him.
Blessings –
.



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neuro_nurse

posted September 4, 2007 at 2:56 pm


“If the threat does not exist, then the point is moot, yes?” kevin s.
Is it?
It is relevant that Tancredo is a member of Congress and represents a segment of the population of this country. He may be a wingnut, but he’s a wingnut that holds a significant office in our Federal Government and was reelected to that office after saying the same thing in an interview in 2005.
Regardless, I strongly suspect that most military strategists would not support such a response. It is ill-considered from a moral, military, and political perspective. I’ll say it again; it’s stupid!
Let me remind some of the other readers that Muslims are not and never have been our enemy.
Salaam alaikum.



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Ben Wheaton

posted September 4, 2007 at 3:23 pm


neuro-nurse said:
“Let me remind some of the other readers that Muslims are not and never have been our enemy.”
Um, actually, they have been our enemies in the past and are our enemies now and probably will be in the future. There are several ways one can use the term enemies, and I’m not sure what neuro-nurse is meaning here. In one way, “enemy” can be used to refer to enemies of the United States, such as Britain in the War of 1812. Individual Muslims have been our enemies in this way before: the Moors of North Africa were the target of a punitive Marine expedition under Thomas Jefferson (…to the shores of Tripoli…); they are among the enemies of the U.S. today (Iran is not a friend, and Osama bin Laden is wanted by the government); and they probably will be among our opponents in the future. If you mean by “enemy” the enemies of the Christian religion, then yes–yes they are. Islam as a whole is Christianity’s enemy, just like Hinduism, Judaism, and all the other false religions out there. They destroyed Christianity in the Middle East and North Africa and replaced it with a false religion. This is not the action of a friend. Finally, if by “enemy” you mean “aliens like those on Independence Day who want to enslave humanity,” then no, they are not our enemies. They are our fellow human beings, but we live in a fallen world and are fallen ourselves, so the notion of “universal brotherhood” does not apply.



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N.M. Rod

posted September 4, 2007 at 3:27 pm


Since someone else has brought Hitler up as a way to defend the efficacy of militarism, we ought to not just take what happened then out of context to make a convenient (and ultimately indefensible) excuse for current and future belligerence.
Firstly, Hitlerism and Nazism would not have been the phenomena they were without the First World War, a war waged by the Christianised leaders of Europe in which the absolutely most destructive war of all time until then was fought by attrition of millions of Christians one against another, for very minor reasons, really the followon to the divine right of kings, where the royalty of Europe could have family feuds fuelled by the peasantry. Theirs was not to question why, only to do and die. This was euphemistically sold as “The War To End All Wars” – making it seemingly justifiable. In retrospect, Just War Theory failed miserably yet again, in a grander manner than ever before.
It resulted in the destabilisation of several nations that fought, Russia and Germany among them, leaving millions in dire straits and making them open to the most radical untried, and ultimately vile political movements in history.
The Great Influenza Epidemic that killed so many millions in 1918 was carried out around the globe and back to America by American soldiers
of World War I, from unsanitary miltary provisions supplied by domestic war profiteers, an unintended consequence. Collateral damge as it were.
Wall Street’s greed fomented the world disaster of poverty at American and around the globe with the Great Depression after the stock market collapse of 1929.
This destabilised nations around the world further, causing impoverished peoples to snatch at desperate political answers and start looking for scapegoats, which the rich and pwoerful of the world were only too happy to have not be them.
Christians either mostly looked the other way or tacitly approved, at home and abroad. Hitler and Mussolini were widely admired in America and their scapegoats, the Jews, were turned back from emigrating as refugees. For 80 years, even the war to free the slaves turned out just one to keep a political organisation from splintering and the rights of the millions of former African slaves were forgotten. Antisemitism was part of the warp and woof of American life, if merely ant-semitism lite. America would never have entered the war at all against Germany except for the attack by Japan on a conquered colony, the overthrown kingdom of Hawaii, and the lucky yet bizarre alliance of Japan with the seemingly racially incompatible Third Reich.
The failure to practice what Jesus commanded us, by Christians both great and small, led to all these greater evils of World War II.
To this day, the subsequent conflicts continue to mestastisize as direct and indirect consequence of all the prior conflicts.
Bad fruit is produced by bad theology, and this is mighty bad.



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Don

posted September 4, 2007 at 3:39 pm


“Um, actually, they have been our enemies in the past and are our enemies now and probably will be in the future.”
Ben Wheaton’s comments are a perfect illustration of the “other” mentality that I wrote about and posted earlier (1:22 PM).
Peace,



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Ben Wheaton

posted September 4, 2007 at 3:47 pm


Don, if you had read my whole post I described what I meant by “enemies.” Individual muslims are not as a rule our enemies, but they certainly are not exempt from being so. I know that many people consider drawing lines between people rude, but through such lines we define and make sense of our world. Without such lines we would not know how to act. Once again, “universal brotherhood” is so much nonsense when viewed in light of a fallen world.



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Moderatelad

posted September 4, 2007 at 3:51 pm


Posted by: Ben Wheaton | September 4, 2007 3:23 PM
If you mean by “enemy” the enemies of the Christian religion, then yes–yes they are. Islam as a whole is Christianity’s enemy, just like Hinduism, Judaism, and all the other false religions out there.
Can or should we call them our ‘enemy’? I can not say that all of the believers of Islam are our enemy. I believe that the radical Islamists are the enemy of the whole world as they will eliminate Hinduism etc all around the world if given a chance. Then again – our God has called all of us to evangelism to the world and if we did our work correct – sooner of later the whole world would believe in the one true and living God. But we are not sending ‘holy armies’ all around the world to convert or kill the ‘infidel’. We send Doctor’s and Nurses, carpenters and teachers out to give assistance to people all around the world and to share the love of God as we do our work.
They destroyed Christianity in the Middle East and North Africa and replaced it with a false religion.
Now I can agree with this statement. For there is proof that Islam can practice their faith in a country that the major religion is Christianity. But there are so few countries where Christians can practice their faith – even with limitations – in a country where Islam is the dominate religion.
Be blessed –
.



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Rick Nowlin

posted September 4, 2007 at 3:51 pm


The point I was trying to make was that treating them like spoiled children who can’t be expected to behave properly is to do a disservice to Muslims and us. How will they learn to not attack us if we say, “they can’t help it!”
You apparently know little or nothing about the history or culture of that region, otherwise you’d think twice about saying that. As I mentioned, their concept of proper behavior at times differs from ours, so expecting them to act like us, as though we’re always in the the right, is insulting and patronizing. Remember, most Muslims are not terrorists, and the few that are support it for political reasons, not necessarily religious.



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Ben Wheaton

posted September 4, 2007 at 4:09 pm


Rick,
My knowledge or lack thereof of Middle Eastern society is not the issue here. I am all for intercultural understanding and sensitivity, so long as it’s not taken to the extreme. On the other hand, excusing their actions on the basis of “cultural sensitivity” is just so much relativistic nonsense. We are perfectly within our rights to demand a minimal level of morality from everybody. It was within the culture of some South American indigenous groups to cannibalize each other; yet it was stopped by the West because we deemed it to be wrong. I would argue that our standard of proper behavious is better than theirs because at its best, Western culture is informed by the Christian religion. The Islamic culture is not. And I never said that most muslims were terrorists. And I suspect that religion has a greater influence in muslim terrorists’ rationale than you say.
Moderatelad,
right you are about Islamism being the enemy of the whole world, but I was speaking in theological terms from the perspective of Christian orthodoxy. The kindest hindu (e.g. Gandhi) is still the enemy–in a sense!– of Christians until they convert.



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Don

posted September 4, 2007 at 4:10 pm


Ben, I did read what you wrote about enemies. You didn’t distinguish Muslims who are or have been our enemies from those who are not. You also include all Muslims in the “enemy” category when you describe Islam as an enemy.
You continue to demonstrate my point that limitations in our understanding of Islam and Muslims that are so common among Christians are contributing to our categorizing them as “others” and thus in the long run dehumanizing them, thereby making all kinds of violent acts against them on our part acceptable.
Peace,



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Don

posted September 4, 2007 at 4:15 pm


I also remind you what Jesus said our response to “enemies” should be. It isn’t to advocate bombing them to oblivion.
Later,



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kevin s.

posted September 4, 2007 at 4:21 pm


“As I mentioned, their concept of proper behavior at times differs from ours, so expecting them to act like us, as though we’re always in the the right, is insulting and patronizing.”
It’s patronizing to expect them not to attack us with a nuclear weapon? I’ll just go ahead and be patronizing then.



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Ben Wheaton

posted September 4, 2007 at 4:26 pm


Don,
I did distinguish muslims who were not our enemies in first category when I said “INDIVIDUAL muslims have been our enemies before.” neuro-nurse had said that muslims had never been our enemies, and I was merely correcting her. And yes, I do say that all muslims are our “enemies” in the sense that they follow a religion which is opposed to Christianity. And we are to love them, as Christ said, while acknowledging them as enemies–in a sense. Tancredo’s idea is inane, and I never lent any support to it.



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Another nonymous

posted September 4, 2007 at 4:34 pm


Posted by: Moderatelad | September 4, 2007 2:52 PM
“So – if we had taken the same logic in WWII and told everyone that we were not going to do a land assult against Hitler and the Nazi’s in Europe – what could we have accomplished?”
As I said a couple of weeks ago in a different discussion, I believe that it would have been possible to mount systematic non-violent resistance to the Nazis with considerable success. Millions of people might still have died, but many more could have been saved, and the world might have been left in much better shape than it was left by WWII. That’s the thing to remember about war: even when it succeeds, it leaves the world a worse place than it was beforehand.
Non-violence, on the other hand, might actually make the world a better place – and might I suggest that those who deny this in the name of “realism” are actually practicing a sophisticated form of agnosticism?



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squeaky

posted September 4, 2007 at 5:06 pm


N.M. Rod, Don, and Ben Wheaton,
As I read your comments, what struck me was that Christ told us that we are to be humble if we are to follow Him, considering those around us better than we are. In perpetrating the mentality of demonization of those we perceive as our enemies, we elevate ourselves above our enemies and no longer follow Christ’s commands that we humble ourselves. What if we took Christ’s attitude of humility as a model for how to treat our enemies–what if we humbly served them rather than demonizing and devaluing them? What kind of message would that send? What kind of an impact would that make?
Ben–your point that Islam is an enemy to Christianity is well taken, but the question is, what did Christ say our response to our enemies should be? We are to love our enemies. So, if a religion decides Christianity is its enemy, so be it. As a Christian, it is Christ’s mandate that we love that enemy. Ultimately, we shouldn’t even see them as our enemy, but as people who need Christ’s love and grace. Did Christ view anyone as His enemy? If not, then neither should we.
In fact:
“They are our fellow human beings, but we live in a fallen world and are fallen ourselves, so the notion of “universal brotherhood” does not apply.”
universal brotherhood DOES apply for the very reason that we DO live in a fallen world and are all fallen–we are all in the same boat and have no place to be prideful over anyone else.



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squeaky

posted September 4, 2007 at 5:09 pm


Ben Wheaton,
“The thing that’s wrong with this view is that while there is sin in the world, as there will be until Christ’s return, the sword is necessary. The world we live in is a world at war, with itself and with God. ”
Yes, but Christ ushered in His Kingdom. He specifically called us to NOT live in this way and to live the way of His Kingdom. How will the world know we are part of the Kingdom of God if we continue to act and react in the way of the Kingdom of this World?



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Ben Wheaton

posted September 4, 2007 at 5:14 pm


Squeaky,
Thank you for your gracious response. You will note that in a comment above I did say that we are to love our enemies. As well, for the purposes of government such distinctions of “enemy” and “friend” are necessary precisely because of the fallenness of our world; we do make distinctions between shades of grey, or perhaps more appropriately shades of utter darkness so that we can restrain the worst effects of the fall until the parousia.



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Don

posted September 4, 2007 at 5:31 pm


Squeaky, I think you restated what I was trying to say regarding demonization of those we don’t understand. Thanks for your comments.
Ben, your point that it is the job of government to punish evildoers is likewise well taken. I believe I said as much in my original post on this thread. But sometimes it’s difficult to know who really is an enemy. You have said that you don’t support Rep. Tancredo’s threat. But what if Tancredo were to spend some time to really learn some things about Islam and Muslims, including getting to know some, instead of speaking out of what seems (at least to me) to be ignorance or misunderstanding? Would he, as a representative of that very civil government that is authorized by God to punish evildoers, be so willing to advocate such a foolish position?
And by the way, neuro_nurse isn’t a “she.” He can speak for himself, of course, but when he said that Muslims aren’t our enemies, he is speaking out of his own experience as one who lived among Muslims for many years. I think if we all had that same kind of experience, we would be able to agree with him.
Peace,



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Ben Wheaton

posted September 4, 2007 at 5:31 pm


Squesky,
Yes, we are to live after His example in that Christians are to love their neighbour (which, as the parable of the Good Samaritan illustrated, includes our most bitter enemies). However, loving your neighbour includes recognizing that until Christ returns, evil will continue to flourish in the world. The Cross was D-Day, but the fall of Berlin is yet in the future. God’s purposes are not complete, and until they are the sword will be needed. As Thomas Aquinas noted, just war is an act of love in that we defend the innocent and prevent the guilty from further defiling themselves. And the apostle Paul noted that the government wielded the sword for the good of the populace–this after the Kingdom had burst into the world! Clearly things are not yet completed, and while the Church is the kingdom, outside it is still dark.



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Payshun

posted September 4, 2007 at 5:31 pm


Ben:
Don, if you had read my whole post I described what I meant by “enemies.” Individual muslims are not as a rule our enemies, but they certainly are not exempt from being so. I know that many people consider drawing lines between people rude, but through such lines we define and make sense of our world. Without such lines we would not know how to act. Once again, “universal brotherhood” is so much nonsense when viewed in light of a fallen world.
Me:
that’s how you live if you have no faith. If you have faith the lines don’t matter, you just love and deal w/ the pain the way Jesus did, by dying and rising again (in most of our cases dying and being born again.) The idea of a universal brotherhood is only nonsense when you ignore the good samaritan and the implications of that passage. It’s not nonsense if you take from the good samaritan and make it the paradigmn you live your life from. Love your enemies doesn’t mean bombing them.
p



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Ben Wheaton

posted September 4, 2007 at 5:34 pm


Don said:
“And by the way, neuro_nurse isn’t a “she.””
Oops. Sorry, neuro_nurse.



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Ben Wheaton

posted September 4, 2007 at 5:38 pm


Payshun said:
“Love your enemies doesn’t mean bombing them.”
It might. It just might–particularly to prevent them from killing others. I have faith that God will one day make all things new, but until then the Christian will understand the role of government to restrain the worst effects of sin.



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Mike Grello

posted September 4, 2007 at 5:41 pm


You know, I was just reading the 29th chapter of Jeremiah and one of the points that it seems to make is any policy that is based on a “parousia” to mop up after is flawed. Build your houses, marry raise a family and be concerned for the well being of your neighbors; you are here for the long haul. If you make things go boom, if you participate in a cataclism that will cost millions of lives, ther will be no “do over” especially because you DO know the answer. Passivity is vastly different from pacifism (the proper translation for “peace-maker” as in blessed are the…). Pacifism is an active, aggressive, courageous, risk taking quest for peace. The peace-maker will examine the situation and try to find underlying probelms and solutions. Perhaps if we stopped living as if the whole world existed for our comfort, and the well being of those unlike us were irrelevant, there would be a less violent reaction against us. In any case we would be doing the right thing, that which Jesus coucilled us to do. If we are wrong there is always “parousia.”



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kevinhasasmallplank

posted September 4, 2007 at 5:47 pm


“This is a good point. The plank in your own eye is compared to a speck in a neighbor’s eye. It does not require one to be completely free of sin before making an observation. To the extent that this can be translated to military action (and that is a murky assumption), Tancredo seems well within his rights to threaten response against extremist Islam.”
Totally…good point. I can overlook the plank in my eye if your plank is bigger than my plank. I think that was Jesus’ point here – sort of a biblical ‘size matters’ argument. If your plank is smallest, I get to ‘make observations.’ Because threatening to bomb churches is basically just ‘making an observation.’
That’s good exegesis Kev as I am sure it was not a call to humility, to dealing with your own obedience and allowing God to work with others. “Vengeance is mine. ‘I will repay.’ says the Lord.” Completely out of context…



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squeaky

posted September 4, 2007 at 5:48 pm


N.M. Rod, and Don,
I reread post above–it sounds as if I am disagreeing with you, and I’m not. I’m agreeing and adding to what you said. Just want to make clear my intentions so you don’t think I was arguing a point you had already made.



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andy mills

posted September 4, 2007 at 5:59 pm


Thank You Brian McLaren!
It is comforting to know that i am not alone when these questions keep me up at night.
My next rest-less, thought-filled night I will think of you, and be glad to know that we are asking together, and maybe even experience a taste of that unity our spirits are all longing for.
People like you give me hope and optimism in a world were the two often seem in short supply!
and grace to you Ben Wheaton, the issues you bring up have run miles through my own head in that past 5 years, as i have wondered if Christ could ever be ok with a war (is it possible to love our enimies as we are killing them? It seems rather unlikely)
Let us keep searching with our imaginations and our courage for how we might not settle for anything less that the kind of love that would embrace with compassion and forgive even the darkest of our enemies.



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Davey Rumsey

posted September 4, 2007 at 6:24 pm


At the end of the blog Brian asked what a third option would be. While many of us have discussed a non-violent approach, I don’t feel like we’ve touched on what that approach would look like. If America would take non-violence seriously, how would we handle the situation we are currently in, or the situations that could spring up in the future? I’m posing more questions because I fully believe that non-violence is the answer and that it is the only way the kingdom of God progresses.
By the way I’m new…hello.



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Payshun

posted September 4, 2007 at 6:42 pm


Ben said:
but until then the Christian will understand the role of government to restrain the worst effects of sin.
Me:
It restrains nothng. All it does is indulge in the same sin. The assumption in your post is that our side is righteous. It’s no better and since we are not better maybe we should lead instead of react.
p



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neuro_nurse

posted September 4, 2007 at 6:52 pm


Ben Wheaton,
Who said this?
“I also want to speak tonight directly to Muslims throughout the world. We respect your faith. It’s practiced freely by many millions of Americans, and by millions more in countries that America counts as friends. Its teachings are good and peaceful, and those who commit evil in the name of Allah blaspheme the name of Allah. The terrorists are traitors to their own faith, trying, in effect, to hijack Islam itself. The enemy of America is not our many Muslim friends; it is not our many Arab friends. Our enemy is a radical network of terrorists, and every government that supports them.”
Give up? C’mon, take a guess!
And once again, I am very happy to call myself Catholic, because the Church in no way shape of form teaches that Islam is an enemy of Christianity or that Islam is a “false religion.”
The Church, gw bush, and I are just going to have to disagree with you on that one.
XY!



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Stephen Brown

posted September 4, 2007 at 7:06 pm


I find myself caught in a conundrum I can’t resolve. I worship and follow Jesus who was a pacifist and taught me to love my enemy and pray for those who abuse me. I love them and I pray for them.
I am also the proud son of two parents who both served in WWII and helped defeat the murderous and genocidal forces of Hitler. I honor their service and know my future was built on their sacrifice.
Reinhold Neibuhr said,” Sometimes a season of violence is necessary for the restoration of justice.” SOMETIMES, not an ingrained state of war and conquest. A SEASON, when we defeat the enemy we care our foes and all those who bore the struggle.
I would remind all of us what our greatest American theologian said pn the occasion of his 2nd Inauguration:Both read the same Bible and pray to the same God, and each invokes His aid against the other. It may seem strange that any men should dare to ask a just God’s assistance in wringing their bread from the sweat of other men’s faces, but let us judge not, that we be not judged. The prayers of both could not be answered. That of neither has been answered fully. The Almighty has His own purposes. “Woe unto the world because of offenses; for it must needs be that offenses come, but woe to that man by whom the offense cometh.” If we shall suppose that American slavery is one of those offenses which, in the providence of God, must needs come, but which, having continued through His appointed time, He now wills to remove, and that He gives to both North and South this terrible war as the woe due to those by whom the offense came, shall we discern therein any departure from those divine attributes which the believers in a living God always ascribe to Him? Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman’s two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said “the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.”



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carl copas

posted September 4, 2007 at 7:07 pm


Davey Rumsey, welcome.
Imagine the response in this country if a Muslim extremist proclaimed that he would respond to a US violation of Islamic holy land by blowing up the World Trade Center.



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bren

posted September 4, 2007 at 7:16 pm


In an early post, Ben Wheaton writes: “Witness Al Mohler’s stinging rebuke to Pat Robertson when Robertson suggested that Hugo Chavez be assassinated (and even that was rather mild, not nearly worth the hullaballoo in the media — Robertson is entitled to his foreign policy positions — of which using assassination as a tool of policy is quite legitimate). ”
The notion that it is appropriate to assassinate a leader of another country, especially one which has not invaded yours, as a tool of policy is not only not legitimate, but a small version of using an atomic bomb against a gnat! Chavez may irritate Americans…wait, most Americans don’t actually know Chavez. Chavez’ politics may irritate Americans but that doesn’t give Americans the right to assassinate him! Who appointed American politicians or even American religious leaders, God? God is beyond political/religious leaders, thank you very much, and remember God through His Son has instructed us to love our enemies.
And a reminder to those who are quick to see theirs as a “just war”: there are several conditions that a war must meet in order to be a “just war”. Just because we may be the good guys, doesn’t make the war, just.
Perhaps we end up at war because we didn’t love our enemies enough? Didn’t pray enough? Didn’t understand enough?



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N.M. Rod

posted September 4, 2007 at 7:38 pm


Abraham Lincoln as America’s “Greatest Theologian?”
He was a politician, far from universally loved, and his ideas on slavery and African-American equality and effective apartheid weren’t quite so advanced as what’s at least intellectually accepted today. Why did he only issue the Emancipation Proclamation to apply in the South, where the North had no jurisdiction? What were his views on integration and interracial marriage?
They were not what we call advanced. Tiger Woods would have been in trouble with Honest Abe.
There’s a tendency, whether it was in Rome with the emperors, or in America with martyred leaders, to transform political leadership into a near-divinity that wasn’t in evidence during life and then invoke their all-too-human pronouncements as sacrosanct commandments. This is part of the religion of the state, a kind of universal, non-creedal civic religion. Perhaps in this non-Christian state religion Lincoln was indeed a master theologian.
But when I study whether the extreme loss of life and the subsequent poor situation for African-Americans that persisted for another century justified it, it is clear that it does not satisfy Just War criteria. The war for the North was in service to the idea of political unity alone but accomplished that by violence and only by sacrificing life and lim b in the most destructive war thus far in human history. This is not a way of distinguishing ourselves before humanity as something to be proud of.
The African-American oppression only began to lift when an African-American Christian minister named Martin Luther King (along with many others in the SCLC and their allies) took seriously Jesus’ proscription against violence and His prescription for peaceful resistance, despite all Lincoln’s noble rhetoric.
And to this day, segments of the South remain bitter and hardened.



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N.M. Rod

posted September 4, 2007 at 7:48 pm


Moreover, in regard to Abraham Lincoln, one could certainly make the case that as a leader who decided to wield the sword, and live by it, he did indeed die by it as a direct consequence, at the hand of a Southerner consumed by self-righteous equal passion. It is appropriate to note that this was the outcome – that Lincoln was personally consumed by the very forces of violence and retribution he loosed, and that he had invoked as being instruments in the Divine will of Retribution.
Can we learn the lesson? Or are we still so convinced of the catharsis of violence and the redemptive properties of destruction, despite the repeated hard lessons visited upon ourselves?



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Bill Samuel

posted September 4, 2007 at 9:58 pm


I’m glad Brian emphasized that his purpose was not to single out Tancredo, but to use his comment as an example.
In fact, in best it is only a slight difference in degree from the position of Obama, Clinton, Edwards, McCain, Giuliani, Romney, and most of the other major party candidates. They all believe that the main way to achieve good things is to threaten other countries, movements, etc. with superior military power. All those I named have official positions of a larger military budget and more soldiers.
It is the whole basis of American political culture that is rooted in death and needs to be changed. Tancredo’s statement is particularly inflammatory, but it follows basic American (and many other nations – we’re more dangerous because we have more power, not because we have more evil ideas) approaches.
As the title of Brian’s forthcoming book says, Everything Must Change. Not just the political party, or person who holds the office of President, or control of Congress, or anything superficial like that. Everything must change. This is the Gospel message, and as Christians we need to understand and live it.



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Rick Nowlin

posted September 4, 2007 at 10:58 pm


On the other hand, excusing their actions on the basis of “cultural sensitivity” is just so much relativistic nonsense. We are perfectly within our rights to demand a minimal level of morality from everybody. It was within the culture of some South American indigenous groups to cannibalize each other; yet it was stopped by the West because we deemed it to be wrong.
But not merely because “we deemed it wrong” — we offered “the more excellent way.” Infanticide and pederasty, among other evils, were stopped in ancient Rome not because Christians “took a stand” but because they lived differently than the rest of the society — my favorite writer, Sydney Harris, once said, “You cannot kill an idea with force, only with another idea.”
Western culture is informed by the Christian religion. The Islamic culture is not.
In fact, Islam grew out of Christianity (but rejected Christ’s divinity in the process). And I also would say that Western culture had infiltrated Christianity as well, with its focus in rugged individualism that the Word of God never intended.
What were [Lincoln's] views on integration and interracial marriage?
On interracial marriage we don’t know, but he had stated while campaigning that he believed blacks to be an inferior race and supported their being shipped back to Africa, which was a fairly common opinion on those days (which is why Liberia was founded).



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Another nonymous

posted September 4, 2007 at 11:42 pm


To Stephen Brown: Gandhi said “A soldier can be made into a pacifist, but nothing can be made of a coward.” His point was that soldiers and pacifists practice the same virtues of dedication, courage and self-sacrifice. They just do it in different ways.
To Davey Rumsey: Welcome! I would suggest we adopt a policy statement something like this. “When (not if) another terrorist attack occurs, we will resist the temptation to strike back before we know all the facts. We will find out who, specifically, is responsible, and we will pursue that person or persons with deliberation but without vindictiveness, understanding that the latter will not serve our cause. We renounce the use of violent means of retribution, and will seek instead, by the grace of our actions, to persuade the world that our righteousness and humility and genuine and worthy of emluation.”
It’s not perfect, but it’s a start.



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Mick Sheldon

posted September 4, 2007 at 11:56 pm


N.M. Rod said
Moreover, in regard to Abraham Lincoln, one could certainly make the case that as a leader who decided to wield the sword, and live by it, he did indeed die by it as a direct consequence, at the hand
me
This sounds a bit harsh to me . Do you believe say Clinton and Reno were murdered by some WACO Divinian wacko , your statement could be applied there also ? When people take ther law in their own hands , government has a responsibilty to protect the public does it not ? I would not say Abe was living by the sword myself . He sure did have to use it is how I would debate it . That is a big difference in my opinion . As did FDR , he was not living by the sword either , he had to use it .
Honest Abe sure had his short comings , but juding him from our culture and not considering the culture at that time , the politics of that time , is not fair to me . The man did just fine in my view , and from the many books I have read about him and that era.



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Jerseykid

posted September 4, 2007 at 11:57 pm


Tancredo’s unacceptable rhetoric received approval from the same parties who would support any number of horrible policies. No surprise there.



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Mick Sheldon

posted September 5, 2007 at 12:20 am


P said
It restrains nothng. All it does is indulge in the same sin. The assumption in your post is that our side is righteous. It’s no better and since we are not better maybe we should lead instead of react.
Me
Your assumption is incredible and I find very disturbing . . You defend the sins of Islam terrorist , unless it is conncted a sin of this country . Well at least you now admit they are actually able to sin , if only connected to the United States .
Ben said
Well, we shouldn’t expect them too, but they are accountable to the standard that we hold. Just like we should expect murderous ideologies to produce murderous people, but still hold those people to the real moral standard, not their own.
me
Thats part of the problem Ben , the belief of , or tolerance of terrorist methods to be acceptable to that is just foreign to us .
Even leaders in the Middle east offering support for orphaned suicide bombers , Iran has a President whose cultish belief accepts blowing up Israel . They looked upon as heroes in some circles . Human Rights is considered a foreign idea to many Middle East belief systems .
But I believe that culture has to be changed within , just as we quit burning suspected witches .



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Anonymous

posted September 5, 2007 at 12:26 am


“And once again, I am very happy to call myself Catholic, because the Church in no way shape of form teaches that Islam is an enemy of Christianity or that Islam is a “false religion.””
If a religion leads to hell, it is false. You have, in the past, conceded that the catechism does not allow one to go to heaven simply by embracing Islam. As such, I would offer that Islam is a false religion.
“I would remind all of us what our greatest American theologian said pn the occasion of his 2nd Inauguration”
He was talking about a Christian God, not differing religions. Muslims who do not embrace Christ reject God. They go to hell, and it doesn’t matter what McLaren thinks about it.
“Imagine the response in this country if a Muslim extremist proclaimed that he would respond to a US violation of Islamic holy land by blowing up the World Trade Center.”
Well, the World Trade Center was blown up, and the response was a mix between “let’s eliminate the terrorist threat” and “let’s eliminate Republicans!”
“Chavez may irritate Americans…wait, most Americans don’t actually know Chavez. ”
Well, I know that Chavez is buying mandates that government officials preside over religious gatherings and that he is pushing to become president for life. That worries me. How about you? Or do you need to meet him personally to dismiss his leadership style?
“As the title of Brian’s forthcoming book says, Everything Must Change. Not just the political party,”
But certainly including the political party. McLaren is pretty obviously a liberal Democrat. And he certainly singled out Tancredo, then the Republican party…..
..then maybe the democrats too….



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Amazon Creek

posted September 5, 2007 at 1:09 am


I’m not sure there is a truly good answer to this dilemma in this present world.
I could argue both sides. Really…
Okay, LOL! Given some well-defined limits. I wouldn’t be spouting extreme statements like Tancredo. But…I would share the importance of defending ourselves against aggressors – if force is necessary. And yet, at the same time, I wouldn’t be comfortable with the use of force, neither.
And so…you know…I like the article – and so many of the posts above – on BOTH sides of this issue.
Me-thinks there are just some issues in the present world that we will never find a solution we’re comfortable with. That’s almost what heaven is for.
Jesus advocated peace, but He and God the Father allowed for war.
Hmmm…okay, here’s a “thinker” I’ll throw out. Is this possibly like Moses allowing the Jews to divorce as a special allowance “because of the hardness of your hearts” – even though God’s perfect plan didn’t really approve of it?
I tend to drop this whole issue of the use-of-force-vs.-pacifism into the same file folder as I put my dilemma with being an avid lover of animals (to the point that I don’t swat bees or flies if I can help it, but shoo them out the screen door) – but finding it absolutely necessary to eat meat because I have the kind of biochemistry that gets very, very sick if I don’t eat meat with my vegetables. And yet, it makes me very sad when I think of animals being slaughtered so I can eat the meat my body needs.
And maybe that’s the best we can do. When we are forced to take actions like use of force in self-defense against other human beings or using animals for food – we don’t have to do those things with a blood-lust. We can feel the sadness of taking those actions – and thank God that a New World is coming that will be much different. Where the lion will finally lay down with the lamb. And there shall be peace on earth.
Some things in this world are just the way they are because of man’s sin in the world – and they can’t truly be solved to God’s or our own true desires until the Lord returns. The curse…
That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to solve such dilemmas in as godly a way as possible…but it may mean we are always going to be left still-hungry and “unsatisfied” by our partial solutions – and longing for heaven, where such problems will be truly solved forever.

Great article – real thought provoker! And great posts up above! I enjoyed reading them.



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bren

posted September 5, 2007 at 2:39 am


I’ve just re-read Brian McLaren’s article and the posts that follow it–and saw something I missed earlier. Perhaps it’s because Rep. Tancredo spoke of nuclear response, the discussion so far has been about war, about pre-emptive war and other forms of warfare and whether the only alternative to war is pacifism, which some are referring to as passivity (not the same thing). What none of us mentioned (and I include myself in this) is the smaller scale war-like behaviour called torture. Whether in Abu Ghraib or in Guatánamo, people who have not been charged, or having been charged, tried for crimes are subjected to psychological torture and physical torture. Which is pretty ironic since one of the reasons given for overthrowing Saddam Hussein was that he had tortured so many people who disagreed with him. In any case, since torture is a more ‘manageable’ topic than nuclear warfare, I wonder if this isn’t something that evangelical churches can speak to.
Keeping in mind that Nelson Mandela was once considered a terrorist by the then South African government and when he became President of South Africa was seen practically as a candidate for sainthood (in other words there are lots of times when ‘who’s a terrorist’ is in the eyes of the beholder) what do evangelical churches say about torture relative to, say, the golden rule to do unto others what you would have them do unto you, or Christ’s pronouncement to “Love one another”?
Can using the model of this, or another, somewhat smaller issue, can examing this smaller issue help us work our way towards finding the first steps towards active peace-making?



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bren

posted September 5, 2007 at 2:39 am


I’ve just re-read Brian McLaren’s article and the posts that follow it–and saw something I missed earlier. Perhaps it’s because Rep. Tancredo spoke of nuclear response, the discussion so far has been about war, about pre-emptive war and other forms of warfare and whether the only alternative to war is pacifism, which some are referring to as passivity (not the same thing). What none of us mentioned (and I include myself in this) is the smaller scale war-like behaviour called torture. Whether in Abu Ghraib or in Guatánamo, people who have not been charged, or having been charged, tried for crimes are subjected to psychological torture and physical torture. Which is pretty ironic since one of the reasons given for overthrowing Saddam Hussein was that he had tortured so many people who disagreed with him. In any case, since torture is a more ‘manageable’ topic than nuclear warfare, I wonder if this isn’t something that evangelical churches can speak to.
Keeping in mind that Nelson Mandela was once considered a terrorist by the then South African government and when he became President of South Africa was seen practically as a candidate for sainthood (in other words there are lots of times when ‘who’s a terrorist’ is in the eyes of the beholder) what do evangelical churches say about torture relative to, say, the golden rule to do unto others what you would have them do unto you, or Christ’s pronouncement to “Love one another”?
Can using the model of this, or another, somewhat smaller issue, can examing this smaller issue help us work our way towards finding the first steps towards active peace-making?



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Monica Olsson Kolkman

posted September 5, 2007 at 5:24 am


After 7 years in the Middle East, last 4 years in Damascus, Syria, a need to “re-write” my personal Credo has grown strong. Back to basics, back to the Bible, back to Jesus Christ, who lived in the area I have learned to love so much.
This article of Brian McLaren and his questions, touched me deeply. I can fully understand his insomnia. I feel the same!
A question for everyone to reflect over:
“How can evangelicals in particular and Christians in general who don’t agree with this kind of rhetoric respond constructively – and in ways that will be heard as widely as the original statements?”
Best regards
Monica Olsson Kolkman, Netherlands



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WiredForStereo

posted September 5, 2007 at 7:50 am


McLaren’s final statement says it all, essentially, what would Jesus do.
The part that disturbs me is the first commenter, Mr. Wheaton. Jesus says “those who live by the sword die by the sword,” and Mr. Wheaton says “but we have to use swords, we just have to.”
I believe we should use every reason, rationalization, excuse, argument, and point of view necessary to follow Jesus’ words, not to get out of following them.
WiredForStereo



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Don

posted September 5, 2007 at 7:56 am


“And once again, I am very happy to call myself Catholic, because the Church in no way shape of form teaches that Islam is an enemy of Christianity or that Islam is a “false religion.”
Neuro_nurse, where can I find out the Catholic teaching about Islam? If what you say is true, the Catholic Church has moved quite a distance from the writings of Aquinas on this topic!
I can understand those who insist that Islam is false religion, but I am increasingly uncomfortable with this black-and-white language. We must keep in mind that no religion can be entirely false, because God has not left any nation, clan, or tribe without some knowledge of himself.
Painting the world’s religions in such stark true-false terms leaves us vulnerable to the sin of pride. It also, in many cases, leads us to judge fellow Christians who believe differently than we, because of course, we have the Truth and “they” simply cannot believe what they believe because it isn’t part of the Truth.
I just read this from Henri Nouwen (The Road to Peace):
“We have to dare to say ‘no’ to [the little death games we play], too…The first little death game that we play I would call prejudice: giving people names; putting people in little boxes and saying, ‘You don’t have to talk to me about him or her. I know who she is, where he belongs, what she is about.’ So many times we make assumptions and decide that another person or group of persons does not belong to us. What I would like to make a plea for is that we in our churches continue to struggle against this kind of labeling, this speaking in judgment.
“I’ve seen so many situations in which people were killed first with the word before they were killed with the gun. The real violence usually starts with words. The real violence starts in the way we speak about people, make assumptions about them, and decide that they are not like us…As long as people keep buying into these words, it will not take much more for them to buy into the action that has to follow” (pp. 61-62).
When we label a religion as “false,” are we ourselves condemning its followers to hell? So long as we condemn people we don’t really understand (and often seemingly don’t want to understand, are we participating in their condemnation. Do we offer them light and life by judging them in this way?
Salaam,



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Rick Nowlin

posted September 5, 2007 at 8:43 am


Even leaders in the Middle east offering support for orphaned suicide bombers, Iran has a President whose cultish belief accepts blowing up Israel. They looked upon as heroes in some circles. Human Rights is considered a foreign idea to many Middle East belief systems.
Apparently “human rights” didn’t apply to Arabs and Muslims several generations ago, when Western countries destabilized that region politically especially for the sake of oil. To condemn them now misses that legitimate history, and I don’t entirely blame them.
BTW, no witches were burned — they were all hanged.



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Moderatelad

posted September 5, 2007 at 8:44 am


WOW! gone for a day and brother – there is a lot of reading to catch-up on.
So – the pacivists reign supreem still – OK.
To be willing to defend your self or others in not a sin – at least to me. It is interesting that with all our military might we had ammased since WWII. The US for the most part has been the ‘first responder’ to evil around the world. We could have taken just about any country we wanted to but respect for the most part countries and their borders etc.
UBL – you’re going at it the wrong way. The the US (great satin) alone – don’t bomb or attack the US. Go ahead and blow the rest of the world to #$%^&, have at it. As long as you leave the US out of it – we won’t respond because of the ‘Just War’ ideas so many promote on this site. You want Islam to be the donimate religion here on earth? You can have it – if you leave the US out of the mix.
So – UBL, I give you the world and you can raise havoc and terror all you want. Just leave the US out of it and SOJO and CO will make sure that we do nothing to stop you.
(yes – this is tongue in cheek…but think about it)
Blessings to all
Moderatelad
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squeaky

posted September 5, 2007 at 9:27 am


“So – the pacivists reign supreem still – OK. ”
Were that only actually true. What would the world be like then?
Sidetrack:
“the US (great satin)”
Ahh, Great Satin, so slippery, sleek, shiny and comfy!
(just can’t resist some of those miss-pellings when they strike me as funny–sorry. By the way, why is “miss-spelling” an easy word to miss-spell? I’m probably not spelling it correctly, am I?)



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Janible

posted September 5, 2007 at 10:14 am


Don,
I really appreciate your response, including the excerpt from Nouwen. I’ve not read that particular book by him. Does he make some concrete suggestions that might answer Monica Ollson Kolkman’s earlier question? “How can evangelicals in particular and Christians in general who don’t agree with this kind of rhetoric respond constructively – and in ways that will be heard as widely as the original statements?”
Part of me wants to respond wholeheartedly to pacificism, but part keeps seeing the gray areas. For example, as a country, should we simply look the other away when we see things like genocide, echoing Chamberlin’s stance in the face of Germany’s aggression? If a man is beating his wife on the front lawn, do we turn our backs so we don’t have to witness the violence and simply say, “I’m praying for you”, to his wife? I really would like some good concrete suggestions, or even a solid constructive answer to the question above.
As far as moving away from some of Thomas Aquinas’ ideas, I think that Vatican II brought in some major changes in Catholic policy regarding other religions. (From what I can see, the present pope seems to be trying to overturn much that was accomplished by Pope John.)



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Don

posted September 5, 2007 at 10:20 am


Squeaky, you spelled it correctly but you don’t need the hyphen: misspell, misspelling, etc.
We’ve been redecorating our house. Maybe some Great Satin curtains would look nice in our newly-designed guest bedroom!
D



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Rick Nowlin

posted September 5, 2007 at 10:44 am


As long as you leave the US out of it – we won’t respond because of the ‘Just War’ ideas so many promote on this site. You want Islam to be the donimate religion here on earth? You can have it – if you leave the US out of the mix.
That comment says something about your faith in Christ — it for all practical purposes doesn’t exist. No, seriously. First, if you know the Scripture you know that God always preserves at least a remnant of His people who do His will regardless of whomever’s in charge. Second, Christianity actually does quite well when it doesn’t have official (or even unofficial) sanction — even Osama bin Laden understands the axiom that “the tree of faith is watered by the blood of martyrs.” I hope that if I had to die for Christ He would give me the courage to do so.
For example, as a country, should we simply look the other away when we see things like genocide, echoing Chamberlain’s stance in the face of Germany’s aggression?
That’s a bad example. Chamberlain had Hitler have his way as a counterbalance to Stalin, whom most of Europe at that time feared far more. Besides, it wasn’t as though Germany was particularly anti-Semitic; Hitler just wrote it into law.
If a man is beating his wife on the front lawn, do we turn our backs so we don’t have to witness the violence and simply say, “I’m praying for you”, to his wife?
That to me is a justice issue and of course God calls us to “do justice”; thus, in a situation like that I would, at the very least, call the cops — pronto. In fact, I have personal experience with that; one night 24 years ago I heard rumblings from my parents’ bedroom, and when I checked them out it turned out that my father was going to get rough with my mother. Mom said (and I don’t remember this) that I told her that he was a dead man if he ever laid a hand on her. (She moved out four days later.)
That said, wherever possible it’s more important to deal with legitimate complaints before they mushroom into war. We’ve never consistently done that in the Middle East, which is why the Arabs and Muslims (they are not always synonymous) have this long-standing, and to a certain extent understandable, resentment toward the West. They hate modern Israel not because it exists but because it was created at what they feel is their expense. I don’t believe that Islam itself is the culprit, just the excuse, the same way many Christians use the Bible to justify their bad behavior.



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Don

posted September 5, 2007 at 11:06 am


Janible, Nouwen does answer those questions, but it’s difficult to put in a short synopsis here. We become peacemakers first when we are at peace with ourselves–when we recognize that we belong to another realm, and that we are forgiven by God. This, Nouwen says, is the most difficult part. Peacemaking to him is intimately tied with prayer, which he sees as an active, not a passive, activity.
I don’t know yet if he talks about those gray areas. I’m only about 1/4 through the book. The book, by the way, was never published during Nouwen’s lifetime, and this collection of peace writings was edited by John Dear, who has been a featured blogger here at least once.
Peace,



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Moderatelad

posted September 5, 2007 at 11:17 am


Posted by: squeaky | September 5, 2007 9:27 AM
Ahh, Great Satin, so slippery, sleek, shiny and comfy!
Sometimes the fingers are just a little too fast for the mind – can you imagine what Jay Leno would do with me if I held public office?
Thanks for the ‘chuckle’ – I really do enjoy them!
Blessings!
Moderatelad
.



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kevin s.

posted September 5, 2007 at 11:28 am


“The part that disturbs me is the first commenter, Mr. Wheaton. Jesus says “those who live by the sword die by the sword,” and Mr. Wheaton says “but we have to use swords, we just have to.””
Again, can we please stop putting into quoted that which people did nto actually say. Ben took the time to make his argument, and you quote him in a manner that makes him look like a buffoon.
“Keeping in mind that Nelson Mandela was once considered a terrorist by the then South African government and when he became President of South Africa was seen practically as a candidate for sainthood”
It’s interesting that you bring this up. Mandela was, in fact, responsible for coordinating violent activities, if not carrying them out himself. That he was released (and, subsequently, sainted) was a reflection of the fact that he fought violently on behalf of justice.
Terrorism may be in the eye of the beholder, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t right and wrong.
The people who would plan a nuclear bomb in our cities are the same people who want to eliminate the Jews, who behead filmmakers, and who despise freedom as we understand it. I can understand their perspsective. They serve at the alter of a God who is a figment of their imagination, and a false prophet who is in hell.
But when you suggest that they might not be terrorists, and that they might be right in all of this? Well, that is an position that is far, far more extreme than anything Tom Tancredo has to offer.



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Rick Nowlin

posted September 5, 2007 at 11:52 am


Mandela was, in fact, responsible for coordinating violent activities, if not carrying them out himself. That he was released (and, subsequently, sainted) was a reflection of the fact that he fought violently on behalf of justice.
It’s important to remember, however, that his activities did not themselves have much effect. Furthermore, it was only in 1960, after the “Sharpeville massacre,” did the African National Congress turn to what might be called “terrorism” — classical “nonviolence” ruled the day before then.
But when you suggest that they might not be terrorists, and that they might be right in all of this? Well, that is an position that is far, far more extreme than anything Tom Tancredo has to offer.
No one is saying that they are not terrorists. I will say, however, is that if you believe you can simply intimidate them into compliance you’re sadly mistaken — these guys don’t cower. And besides, they do have legitimate grievances that we have chosen to ignore.



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neuro_nurse

posted September 5, 2007 at 11:53 am


Erratum:
“I will provide two paragraphs to shed a little light on the subject of what the Church teaches about non-Christian religions…”
Make that three.



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Eileen Fleming

posted September 5, 2007 at 1:38 pm


Dear Rick Nowlin/Moderatelad
Who are you referring to?
I posted right before your comment, and do not think you could possibly be referring to me,
But if so; PLEASE point out exactly where you have not been respected.
Are we-or are we not-all Christians here?
For me, that means we are all to be reconciler’s and forgive any who have hurt us.
e



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N.M. Rod

posted September 5, 2007 at 1:42 pm


Ah, for that gift to see ourselves as others see us, as poet Robbie Burns put it in his brogue.
Many American Christians have come to believe the national messianic civic religion which equates political America and religious Christianity and the hope for world freedom (Pax Americana) as identical.
Under this scenario, accepted by so many, “America” is the new Christian “Israel” and is destined to bring freedom and Jesus to the whole world – hopefully by persuasion first, then and if not by financial incentives and if recalcitrant then by military means.
“America” was “given” by “God” to the European fanatically religious sects of colonists who arrived here.
Unfortunately “God” neglected to inform the peoples and nations already living here He had “given” it to these Europeans, who already had their own lands elsewhere, and that they were now “surplus” who “cumbered the land.” This was “OK” because they were “heathens,” so because He obviously wasn’t speaking to the “enemy” to tell the inhabitants here when He “gave” it, all those European religious fanatics found they just had to
“take” it instead, which ended up involving stealing, lying, treaty-breaking, murder and war.
There are now 700-plus US military bases stationed within foreign lands.
There are zero foreign military bases on U.S. territory.
The point is not about arguing whether the beam in the other guy’s eye is bigger than the plank in your own, and you don’t have to worry about it unless yours is bigger than his.
The point is Jesus commands us to remove the one from our own eye.
Some Christians here have accused foreigners of being “childish,” implying that Americans are the only adults on the planet.
But looking in the mirror, I see a very immature boy puffed up with film-star looks and an equally inflated ego, a spoiled kid of a rich man who likes to play with the most expensive and dangerous toys of any one in the neighborhood and who likes to use his parents’ wealth to bully the other kids who live outside his gated community estate.
Seems I’m about my father’s business, but I really don’t know much about him or even who he actually is since I don’t spend a lot of time with him and just end up playing with all the material gifts I’ve been given instead.
That’s me, now how about you?



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Janible

posted September 5, 2007 at 2:00 pm


Neuro_nurse, thanks for the info. I have only read what the media has reported on Pope Benedict, and should read what he has actually written.
Oh, and I did mean, “Pope John”, in reference to Vatican II. He predated Pope Paul, Pope John Paul I and Pope John Paul II. I went to a Catholic college to get my nursing degree, and the nuns there spoke with a lot of love as they remembered Pope John XXIII. Here is a bit from the reference to him at About.com:
“Pope John XXIII is perhaps best known for convening the second ecumencial council at the Vatican, known as Vatican II. What is particularly important to remember about Vatican II is that it differed from previous councils in a very important manner. Whereas earlier councils were typically convened in order to correct some doctrinal error which was becoming too popular, John XXIII specifically rejected this as his purpose. According to him, “Nowadays men are condemning [errors] of their own accord.”
Instead, he envisaged a council which would postive instead of negative. He wanted a council which promoted mercy, faith and the pastoral role of the church rather than simply strict adherence to a new statement of orthodoxy. As a consequence, it was also fundamentally ecumenical in nature – John reached out to representatives of other Christian groups (for example, he also created a Secretariat for Christian Unity in 1960). This ecumenical effort was an important reason why he became so popular among non-Catholics.
He even went so far as to label Vatican II a “new Pentecost,” which not only communicated his vision of it as a new beginning, but also represented the role which the Holy Spirit played in his religious life and in his religious style. For John, Christianity was not simply a matter of legalisms and doctrines but rather a way of living in communion with the love of God. This was an important reason for why he became so popular among Catholics.”
Jan



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Eileen Fleming

posted September 5, 2007 at 2:04 pm


Dear N.M. Rod-are you speaking to one in particular, or is this an open discussion?
As for me; I follow the Beatitudes as close as possible.
I esp. hold tight to “The Peacemakers are the children of God” and that JC said his mother, sister, brothers were those that DID what The Father required:
“What does God require? He has told you o’man!
Be just, be merciful, and walk humbly with your Lord.” -Micah 6:8
Getting back to the topic of the article, I would like to ask:
Don’t you all agree-or not- that what is missing from our politicians who adhere to The Doctrine of FEAR, is that they have NO Common Sense?
“Soon after I had published the pamphlet “Common Sense” [on Feb. 14, 1776] in America, I saw the exceeding probability that a revolution in the system of government would be followed by a revolution in the system of religion… The world is my country, all mankind are my brethren, and to do good is my religion.”-Tom Paine
What is needed in the 21st century is a political and spiritual evolution/revolution and as William Fulbright knew:
“The age of warrior kings and of warrior presidents has passed. The nuclear age calls for a different kind of leadership….a leadership of intellect, judgment, tolerance and rationality, a leadership committed to human values, to world peace, and to the improvement of the human condition. The attributes upon which we must draw are the human attributes of compassion and common sense, of intellect and creative imagination, and of empathy and understanding between cultures.”
e
http://www.wearewideawake.org



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N.M. Rod

posted September 5, 2007 at 2:19 pm


Dearest Eileen!
What I wrote was just some of the thoughts that emerge in response to what the article is about and what comes out in the other responses.
I’ve experienced an epiphany of late. I’ve had to re-evaluate and get back to “first principles” and evaluate according to them, because to my chagrin, I had added on so much to what my Lord commanded until He began to get obsured and lost somewhere under all that I piled up so high. I meant well, as many others do, but the moss sure accumulated and the “stone” couldn’t roll no more.
Increasingly, I went to “war” against injustice in the work place in the wrong way (being right for all the wrong reasons!) and began to be consumed by what I thought was righteous anger. But it all began to do me in and I was consumed with destructive emotion and thoughts. I see that mirrored outside me too among my brethren in the faith!
I agree with you! But you know, quoting Tom Paine could be dangerous, because he was not a Christian! :-)
That was another thing I learned the hard way – that non-Christians actually could and did do good in the world. I had been taught it just wasn’t so – under the theory that if the Lord doesn’t build the house, he who labors does it in vain.
I just didn’t have the right understanding about how God does work through people and who they might be! I thought self-identification as a Christian was the answer…! Instead, I found that Jesus is prepared to give some surprises as to whom He will accept, and it involves deeds not words and the hidden things written in their hearts that no one but God knows!
:-)



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Moderatelad

posted September 5, 2007 at 2:25 pm


Posted by: Eileen Fleming | September 5, 2007 1:38 PM
This is not pointed at you. This is something that I am considering to be over and have moved on. I have enjoyed your postings when I have read them.
Have a great day.
Moderatelad
.



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neuro_nurse

posted September 5, 2007 at 4:41 pm


Janible,
Thanks.
The Jesuit with whom my wife and I dined became a friend of my grandmother shortly after Vatican II. I have heard this from both of them; it was a turbulent time in the history of the Church, there was a lot of resistance to the changes that came out of Vatican II, and my grandmother in particular was very frustrated with the resistance in her diocese. (My wife asked Andy, “Which side was she on?” Andy laughed and said, “The liberal side, of course!”)
I know there has been a lot of press about Benedict loosening the restrictions on the Latin Mass, part of the criticism has been that he is pushing the Church back to pre-Vatican II, but for the most part, most Catholics won’t be affected by this at all. There has been minor “schism” (although I’m not sure that it’s appropriate to use that word) in the Church (actually, I think it has been a major schism in some churches) that continue to resist Vatican II – yes, 40 years later! If you live in a major U.S. city, you might see in the Yellow Pages under Catholic Churches some that advertise “Latin Mass,” or even “Pre-Vatican II” (I know there was one in Seattle, but I don’t see one in the New Orleans phone book).
It is my understanding that Benedict’s loosening of the restriction prohibiting the Latin Mass have been in an effort to heal that divide within the Church.



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Katherine J

posted September 5, 2007 at 5:47 pm


And meanwhile…the original Tancredo comments do raise a very important issue: our increasing nuclear arsenal and willingness (maybe even desire?) to use it. There is a bill before Congress now to approve something called Complex 2030, which is a Department of Energy plan to create more nuclear bombs, despite the fact that the current 10,000 already tested bombs will not be outdated for 100 years. The picture in Brian’s post says it all. Do we REALLY want to do that to anyone, ever again?
We condemn other nations for wanting nuclear capability, when in the same breath we threaten them (Tancredo) with bombing their sacred places. Something about that doesn’t add up.



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Moderatelad

posted September 5, 2007 at 6:05 pm


Posted by: Katherine J | September 5, 2007 5:47 PM
OK – so we are in the Nuclear Age and you can not un-scramble eggs. What new countries do you want to have Nuclear capabilities in the 21st century?
(I know – you don’t want any country to have it – but let’s deal with reality) We have it and have used it once to stop a war that we did not cause. If memory serves me – in the past 150 years we have not started a war to ‘colonize’ any nation. We have gotten into wars that we should have stayed out of – as some have express. We have engaged in war to stop aggression or hopefully make the world a safer place. How long do you think our coasts would be safe from a North Korea or Iran if they had the Nuke and we didn’t?
Have a great day!
Moderatelad
.



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Payshun

posted September 5, 2007 at 6:32 pm


Mod:
We also got into imperial game a little late. Well we did colonize a couple of places. One of which really did not want us there. (Think Puerto Rico and the Philippine Islands.) Puerto Rico loves us the other one not so much.
p



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N.M. Rod

posted September 5, 2007 at 7:18 pm


There have been a multitude of interventions in the last 150 years
for one-sided colonial purposes – American financial interests in those countries.
However, it’s highly unlikely that North Korea and Iran, regardless of the threats they could pose to their neighbors (with North Korea being the more likely dangerous to the South) are due to invade America, nuclear deterrent or not.
Just what would the purpose of any invasion be? Control of the Hollywood film industry? Apparently it’s beyond control anyone’s control…
I remember a general I met expressing the hope that we would never have to invade the Soviet Union, because trying to actually try to administer it would ruin us
with no upside.
With us, it’s easier just to make an offer and buy up however much of America you want.
Why, even our very souls are for sale to the highest bidder! :-)
Creflo Dollar is just the most extreme manifestation of the tendency of our religion to equate God’s blessing with becoming rich, famous and powerful.



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Bill Samuel

posted September 5, 2007 at 8:21 pm


Mr. Wheaton says “but we have to use swords, we just have to.”
That’s the way the world looks at it, and there is a logic behind it. But Christ came to transform our very beings so that we look at things in a whole different light.
When George Fox was asked to take a position as a captain in Cromwell’s army, he reports, “I told them I knew whence all wars arose, even from the lusts, according to James’ doctrine; and that I lived in the virtue of that life and power that took away the occasion of all wars.”
Don’t we all need to let Christ transform us so we also live in the virtue of that life and power?



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Moderatelad

posted September 5, 2007 at 8:45 pm


Posted by: Katherine J | September 5, 2007 5:47 PM
(Think Puerto Rico and the Philippine Islands.)
Puerto Rico is a US Protecterate and the Philillines are a sovergn nation. I would gladly let P.R. be their own nation – I believe that many would like to be the 51st State. We occupied the Philippines after WWII for a while and then they were on their own. I do not see this as ‘colonization’ like the European countries have done in the past.
Blessings
Moderatelad –
.



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Don

posted September 5, 2007 at 9:09 pm


Both Payshun and Mod are right on this one. No, we didn’t colonize the Philippines or Puerto Rico on our own; they were already Spanish colonies. But we went to war against Spain partly to wrest the remnants of their once great empire from them. You don’t remember the Spanish-American War, Theodore Roosevelt and the Rough Riders, San Juan Hill, and all that? Another example of American adventurism and a war that we didn’t really need to fight.
Cuba was part of the deal as well. Yes, we occupied that island for a while, too, though not for very long, and we always promised we would give them their independence, which we did, I think, by 1915 or so (give or take a few years).
Our occupation of the Philippines lasted quite a bit longer: from 1898 until, I think, 1946 or 1949, except for the 2 1/2 years or so that the Japanese occupied the islands during WWII.
Puerto Ricans do seem to enjoy their commonwealth status, in which they have almost all the benefits of US citizenship (they can’t vote for President; they have no voting representation in Congress) with relatively few of the responsibilities (they don’t pay Federal income tax). There has been an independence movement and a statehood movement as well, but the majority continue to support the current arrangement.
Peace,



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Don

posted September 5, 2007 at 9:25 pm


Further information about the Spanish-American War:
Cuban independence came earlier than I thought–1902. But the US kept their “right” to intervene in Cuban affairs for several years. The US exercised that right in 1906 after a disputed election and occupied the island for a few years after that.
The island of Guam was also taken by the US from Spain during the Spanish-American conflict. It remains a US territory, along with American Samoa and the US Virgin Islands.
D



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Rick Nowlin

posted September 5, 2007 at 9:47 pm


We have engaged in war to stop aggression or hopefully make the world a safer place. How long do you think our coasts would be safe from a North Korea or Iran if they had the Nuke and we didn’t?
You assume that if we didn’t have it they would still want it. In fact (and especially in the case of Iran), they want nukes to “even up the score” because they feel that the West disrespects them. Same with al-Qaeda. (I’m explaining, not defending, them.)



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Jordan Lester

posted September 5, 2007 at 10:05 pm


Guys, I wonder if Tom Tamcendo knows that Jesus taught us to ‘love our enemies and pray for those who persecute you.’ He also said that ‘if you only love your friends and not love your enemies, what kind of love is that?’ (that’s a paraphrase from one of the 4 Gospels).
Also, 1 Corinthians 13 defines love as such “Love
1If I speak in the tongues[a] of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames,[b] but have not love, I gain nothing.
4Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
8Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 9For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. 11When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. 12Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
13And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”
Also, consider that Romans 13 has this to say about ‘Submission to the Authorities’, “Romans 13
Submission to the Authorities
1Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. 2Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. 3For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and he will commend you. 4For he is God’s servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God’s servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. 5Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also because of conscience. 6This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing. 7Give everyone what you owe him: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.
Love, for the Day is Near
8Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law. 9The commandments, “Do not commit adultery,” “Do not murder,” “Do not steal,” “Do not covet,”[a] and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this one rule: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”[b] 10Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.
11And do this, understanding the present time. The hour has come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. 12The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. 13Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy. 14Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature.[c]” (FYI, I found all these quotes on http://www.biblegateway.com and then searching for the appropriate scripture.
So in terms of the following statement, ‘4Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.’, the Republician Senator’s remarks in question lacked patience, it was unkind, it boasted and it was proud. In other words, it wasn’t genuine God-given love he was expressing, but self-serving opportunistic love. After all, Jesus said the two greatest commandments were to “Trust the Lord your God with all your Heart, Soul, Mind and Strength” and “To love your neighbour as you love yourself.”
So ya, I think he ought to take a look at the book of Micah which looks forward to a day when “nation shall put their plows in their plowshires and not take up sword against other nations.” Keeping this in mind, war should not be the first resort but only as a last resort when EVERYTHING else fails: diplomacy, non-violent protest, prayer, lobbying, etc..
In conclusion, also take a look at the Book of Daniel in the Old Testament: it too says much about government. In Scripture, there tends to be a pattern: when governments carry out the purpose God has in mind (being “an agent of wrath to punish wrongdoers”), God will allow that authority to govern. However, when rulers become arrogant, God allows them to be replaced. Of course, in our fallen world, God gives us the choice to either follow him or to follow the world. Remember, Romans 12 says this about matters of love et all, “Romans 12 (New International Version)
New International Version (NIV)
Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society
Romans 12
Living Sacrifices
1Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual[a] act of worship. 2Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
3For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you. 4Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, 5so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. 6We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man’s gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his[b]faith. 7If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; 8if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully.
Love
9Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. 10Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. 11Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. 12Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. 13Share with God’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.
14Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. 16Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position.[c] Do not be conceited.
17Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. 18If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 19Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,”[d]says the Lord. 20On the contrary:
“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.”[e] 21Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”



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Moderatelad

posted September 5, 2007 at 11:56 pm


Posted by: Rick Nowlin | September 5, 2007 9:47 PM
Everyone has their right to explain –



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Don

posted September 6, 2007 at 8:10 am


Both Neuro_nurse and Eileen Fleming had postings here that were removed by the Beliefnet monitor.
Both subsequently submitted postings asking the monitor to explain why their postings had been removed.
Now their queries have been removed as well.
I think the Beliefnet monitor does owe Neuro_nurse, Eileen, and the rest of us an explananation for:
1. Why their posts were removed (i.e., what was offensive in what they wrote);
2. Why their queries were also removed;
3. Why the monitor didn’t reply to their queries on this forum.
I wasn’t able to read through either post before they were removed, but I didn’t find anything objectionable in either one.
Peace,



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neuro_nurse

posted September 6, 2007 at 8:36 am


Thanks Don.



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Moderatelad

posted September 6, 2007 at 9:05 am


Beliefnet monitor –
Why the removal of postings made by Neuro_nurse, Eileen? I have never read anything offensive from either one of them and I believe that I am one of the most conservative people on this site. (if I was the monitor – I might have removed some of mine – tee hee)
Blessings –
.



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Sad-Eyed Lady of the Lowlands

posted September 6, 2007 at 10:40 am


Let’s pray for Osama bin Laden, that he may experience the peace that comes from knowing and following Christ. Let’s do the same with all others who would destroy our nation. With God all things are possible.



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neuro_nurse

posted September 6, 2007 at 10:52 am


Thanks Moderatelad,
You and I have our differences, but I respect you and appreciate your endorsement.
I did not realize until Don astute observation that a post by Eileen Fleming had been deleted along with mine – I consider being placed in her company an honor!
What disturbs me more than having my post removed without an explanation is the fact that the Beliefnet moderator also removed my post requesting an explanation. To me that indicates that not only does the moderator feel she/he can remove posts in what seems to be an arbitrary manner, but the she/he does not want to be challenged publicly for those decisions.
Censorship is one thing, refusing to be held accountable for censorship seems very reminiscent of totalitarianism to me.
My post that was deleted was in reference to the Catholic Church’s teachings on Islam and other non-Christian religions. It also included my comments regarding Pope Benedict, whom I have come to admire.
I believe that my discussion of the Church’s teaching on non-Christian religions was extremely relevant to the current topic, especially in light of the comments that Islam is a ‘false religion.’
Considering the fact that the Beliefnet homepage includes links to its pages dedicated to Islam and Catholicism, I fail to see how the moderator of this blog could find my defense of Islam or Pope Benedict offensive.
Considering the fact that the moderator has already deleted at least two challenges to her/his authority to delete Beliefnet reader’s post, I fully expect this post to be deleted as well.
I will, however, again post those paragraphs regarding the Church’s teaching on non-Christian religions in a post to follow this one.
Seek peace and pursue it.



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neuro_nurse

posted September 6, 2007 at 10:55 am


With regards to the claims that Islam is a ‘false religion’ and an enemy to Christianity, here are three paragraphs from the Catechism of the Catholic Church that may shed some light on the teachings of the Church with regards to non-Christian religions. These in no way represent the entirety of the Church’s teachings on the subject, a synopsis of which can be found in the Catechism, paragraphs 839-856, available on the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishop’s website (URL withheld).
“The plan of salvation also includes those who acknowledge the Creator, in the first place amongst whom are the Muslims; these profess to hold the faith of Abraham, and together with us they adore the one, merciful God, mankind’s judge on the last day.” 841
“The Catholic Church recognizes in other religions that search, among shadows and images, for the God who is unknown yet near since he gives life and breath and all things and wants all men to be saved. Thus, the Church considers all goodness and truth found in these religions as ‘a preparation for the Gospel and given by him who enlightens all men that they may at length have life.’” paragraph 843
“The missionary task implies a respectful dialogue with those who do not yet accept the Gospel. Believers can profit from this dialogue by learning to appreciate better “those elements of truth and grace which are found among peoples, and which are, as it were, a secret presence of God.” 856
Having lived and traveled extensively in predominantly Muslim countries, and having read the Koran, I believe that I have ‘profited’ in this way.
Salaam alaikum



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Moderatelad

posted September 6, 2007 at 2:35 pm


Posted by: neuro_nurse | September 6, 2007 10:52 AM
You and I have our differences, but I respect you and appreciate your endorsement.
We have more in common than you my think of. I believe you at times think that I am nuts – and today, I am in agreement with you.
Great to hear from you my friend – blessings!
Moderatelad –
.



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neuro_nurse

posted September 6, 2007 at 3:20 pm


“We have more in common than you my think of.”
I have absolutely no doubt of that.
Peace!



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H. W. Mills

posted September 7, 2007 at 5:51 pm


Some very interesting comments here. If you’ve read this far, you might like to check out the following:
http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qa4044/is_200410/ai_n9469968/print
A little long, but well reasoned. Very much worth the read.



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Sarasotakid

posted September 8, 2007 at 9:02 am


Again, can we please stop putting into quoted that which people did nto actually say. Ben took the time to make his argument, and you quote him in a manner that makes him look like a buffoon. Kevin S.
Translation: Don’t adopt my tactics or argument style.



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Ali Malik

posted September 8, 2007 at 11:17 am


H.W. Mills,
I read the link you posted and it only led me to inquire, would USA be in this quandary if, to begin with, it had folllowed the basic commandments of Jesus? I mean, to have gotten into this dilemna is a natural ending of a country that uses 70% of world’s natural resources, whose lifestyle is one of hedonism and waste, one that is responsible for 68% of world’s pollution, an economy fueled by credit card prosperity (usury), bolstered by foreigners buying its Treasury Bonds and its diplomacy, as has been admitted by some here, involves assasinations, coups and rebellions against those who get in the way! Is such a lifestyle according to the commands of Christ? Would he have approved? Is it Christian? And if each US citizen had lived within his means, consuming what the land itself produces, would we then need 700 military bases overseas?
Would we have required the presence of our soldiers in Saudi Arabia–Ben Laden’s essential angst against us? Ergo, no US troops in Saudi Arabia, no 9/11. It is as simple as that.
What is this tirade against Islam by the likes of kevin s.? I see no connection. Barbary Pirates were just that: pirates and they were as much Muslim as Captain Kidd and Blackbeard were Christians. Remember these pirates were the scourge of Muslim merchants as well and their demise was hailed by much relief all the way from Turkey to Tangiers–very much as Captain Kidd’s hanging was a relief to mercantile interests on both sides of the Atlantic.
Coming to Tancredo’s remarks. Yes, I agree that they are meaningless and as was pointed out, since they are coupled by a caveat, they are moot. But what is bad is that they were made by an aspiring presidential candidate and even worse, that they have been so populraly hailed by so many Americans. Both Christians as kevin s and patriots as Moderateland have rationalised them. That is significant. In a world where we have to try and understand why the other party is angry (as has been pointed out by neuro-nurse, N.M. Rod and a few otheres) this kind of rhetoric fuels further hate and stereotypes Americans as enemies of Islam–whereas many are not.
For Tancredo to win points this way by bringing out the worst in us disqualifies him to be the president at this juncture in the US history. Even worse, he and the likes of Moderateland, do US interest incalculable harm by their jingoistic and a ‘trigger happy’ attitude.



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Anonymous

posted September 9, 2007 at 11:27 am


Muslim’s are Ismael’s children – his children would be at war with everyone and everyone will be at war with him (according to what the angel told Hagar). This is pretty much true and what is going on. As Christian’s we were instructed to act differently. When the apostales went out to spread the good news they did not fight back when they were attacked. They were very peaceful and asked God to forgive the ones who put them to death. I don’t know how Christian “warriors” can overlook Jesus’ teachings. All the religious wars that were fought in the past are not what Jesus instructed us to do and everytime we take up a weapon to fight aganist our “enemies” the warrior christian should look into his heart and ask himself what is really motivating him? And what God has he chosen to serve? The Christian religion is so unique and by our actions (or lack of) we can preach the message that Jesus came so long ago to teach us. A true Christian knows that peace and humility is what we have been instructed on how to conduct ourselves. No disrespect meant to our president but a Christian who promotes war is at war with himself. I know maybe what I have to write is probably childish and maybe doesn’t sound like I know much about politics – I don’t – maybe I don’t know enough about Christianity. Howevr, I do know – how war feels to me and I do know it feels very different then how I feel when I feel Jesus’ love in my life. I am saddened to see how far some Christians have gotten away from that “place” in their heart and still call themselves Chrisitans. If we all felt the love and Grace Jesus gives I am positive there would be no wars being fought.



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neuro_nurse

posted September 12, 2007 at 4:55 pm


“And as for Ishmael, I have heard you: I will surely bless him; I will make him fruitful and will greatly increase his numbers.” Genesis 17:20



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autoauctions

posted July 18, 2012 at 10:44 am


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