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WHERE ARE WE? BAYSIDE COMMUNITAS.COM HISTORICAL COMPROMISE
HOW DO WE PEACEFULLY COEXIST? • (1) Americans must face the fact that the challenge of living with our deepest—that is, our religiously grounded—differences is one of the world’s great issues today.
IS RELIGIOUS FAITH RESPONSIBLE FOR WORLD-WIDE INJUSTICE? • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XeRcHZqPqW8 • “How can you believe in God when so many wars have been caused by religion?”
‘SACRED’ TEXTUAL AUTHORITY • Militant Islam in the world today, and in particular in Western consciousness, has made the question of textual authority more complex to the postmodern mind. • Any discussion of a text having moral authority tends to conjure up images of Islamic terrorists citing the Qur’an as their authority for committing outrageous crimes. • Our globalized situation means that postmodern questions regarding textual authority may well be asked interchangeably with the Bible and the Qur’an. • And therefore, it is not uncommon for the evangelical Christian’s reverence of the Bible’s authority to be equated with a fundamentalist Muslim’s reverence for the Qur’an. • Post 9/11, it is not Islam in particular that must reform, but rather any passionate belief in a holy book—”fundamentalism” is the enemy, and consequently, evangelicals are often equated with Al Qaeda. • And therefore, the contemporary problem: “How can you believe in God when so many wars have been caused by religion?” The clear implication: if only people would leave behind their convictions about the existence of God, then the world would be a better and more peaceful place.
A CHRISTIAN DEFENSE • The reverse of charges against religion in general, and Christianity in particular, are rarely (if ever) considered—the opposite of what Christian faith is charged with was demonstrated in the 20th century. • Atheistic communist and Nazi ideologies gave rise to more killing than the previous 19 centuries combined. • Would it be a demonstration of goodness to show no opposition to evil? Both the Old and New Testaments present a portrait of a moral God who judges evil. One of God’s means in judging evil in the Old Testament is war. • It is extremely important to note that God’s chosen people are not always the ones who bring about God’s will on the battlefield. (In fact, Israel is often on the receiving end of God’s judgment). • The Christian must acknowledge that killing is sanctioned by the God of the Old Testament.
WAR IN THE OLD TESTAMENT • Not everything recorded in the Bible is approved by the Bible. • For example, the Bible records that in Abraham’s era, various kings went to war against each other. This action is neither condemned or praised, it is simply reported (Gen. 14). Some acts in the Bible would fall into this category. • Some wars are commanded by God, particularly related to Israel’s inheritance of the land God gives them following the Exodus.
OLD TESTAMENT RULES OF WARFARE • OT rules of warfare: Deuteronomy 20. • Release from military duty: 20:5-8. • Unlike contemporary armies who might attack a city without giving opportunity to surrender, the armies of Israel were required to grant a city an opportunity to surrender without bloodshed (in this context, women and children were spared from death and cared for by their captors—Deut. 20:14). • Only in the case of particularly depraved inhabitants of Canaan was there to be total destruction: Deut. 20:16-18. • An historic example: The destruction of Jericho (Jos. 6); God had given the people more than 400 years to turn from abominable practices such as child sacrifice—while Israel endured slavery in Egypt. The killing of the inhabitants of Jericho by Israel’s army was a means of God’s judgment (those who repented, like Rahab, were spared; Rahab appears in Matthew’s genealogy of Christ). • In some cases (1 Sam. 15, the Amalekites) intensive killing is done by Israel with God’s approval because the particular immorality of their enemies is in view. • There is no sense of Israel’s freedom to kill and maim at will (in some cases, Israel receives the judgment instead of being used to carry it out). • The Old Testament picture of God is a God who judges evil.
WAR: OLD & NEW TESTAMENTS • The Bible (OT and NT) is the story of cosmic struggle between good and evil from beginning to end. • A Christian reading of the OT interprets the battles depicted in the context of this cosmic struggle—the battle of Jericho, the wars against the southern coalition of Canaanite kings, and the wars against the northern coalition in Canaan are historical examples of this larger struggle (re: Nahum 2:1-4/Deut. 28:25). • Also, Lamentations portrays God as a warrior but he is not protecting Israel: Lam. 2:5. • A God who commands his people to go to war and kill people may seem to contradict the idea of a God of love, but the Christian interprets these passages in the context of the overall story of the Bible that introduces a God who is just and good, who fights against evil and judges those who fight against him. • The coming of Christ involves a new era in a biblical understanding of battle—no longer is battle against flesh and blood enemies but now it is directed toward spiritual powers and authorities (re military language in NT: e.g., Matt. 26: 47-56; Eph. 4:7-8; Col. 2:15; Eph. 6:10-18). • The New Testament picture of God is a God who judges evil: Rev. 20:11-15/THE CROSS.
WAR [OT] VS. JIHAD • War in the OT occurs in a limited context, in a particular historical era that very definitely comes to an end. • The fact that Jesus resists reestablishing an independent Israel but rather fulfills promises and purposes of the OT in himself and establishes a global church demonstrates that in the NT era, we are now to account for the beginning of new creation before going to war. • Among the clear distinctions between the wars in the OT and the acts of violence committed and encouraged by Muhammad is that the biblical accounts occur in the context of a nation-state going to war against other nations. • Opportunity is given for surrender. • They occur within a limited time period that comes to an end. • The reader of the OT is not encouraged to take up arms, a view clearly seconded by reading the NT (the same cannot be said of the Qur’an).
WAR & CHRISTIAN CONSCIENCE • The NT does not condemn the vocation of a soldier if the work is carried out in a responsible and lawful fashion (Luke 3:14; Acts 10:1-6). • Historically, Christian views of war have been: (1) Thoroughgoing militarism: Any war, anytime, anyplace, and for any cause is just. Christians could work as mercenaries (e.g., “The Crusades”). (2) Selective militarism: Only war that the state declares is just. Christians could serve as soldiers in their nation’s armed forces. (3) Selective pacifism: Only war with which the individual agrees is just. Christians could volunteer to serve in their nation’s armed forces for a particular conflict. (4) Thoroughgoing pacifism: No war anytime, anyplace, or for any cause is just. No Christian should ever serve in the armed forces.
JUST WAR THEORY • Augustine justifies war on the ground that God orders wars in the OT—employs a deontological ethic (also Aquinas). • A “just war” must meet six conditions: (1) It must be conducted by a legitimate authority which explicitly serves notice that it intends to use military power to attain objectives. (2) It must be intended for the advancement of good or for the avoidance of evil. (3) It must be undertaken only as a last resort. (4) The good anticipated from the war must outweigh the evil done in pursuit of the war. (5) There must be a reasonable expectation of success in the effort. (6) It must be conducted according to the internationally accepted rules of warfare, never going beyond certain agreed-upon moral constraints. (By this last requirement such things as attacks on nonmilitary targets, unnecessary destruction, looting, and massacres are prohibited).
CHRISTIAN CULPABILITY/PERSPECTIVE • What about atrocities committed by Christians, such as the Christian crusades, the persecution of Jews in the Middle Ages, or the Spanish Inquisition? • Not everything done “in the name of Christ” is of Christ. In other words, it is an injustice to condemn Christianity for the evil activity of some professing Christians when in fact the Bible itself condemns such actions as non-Christian (Normative/Descriptive definitions). • “Unlike the human rights violations in certain other religious traditions (e.g., discrimination against women and cruel and unusual punishments in Islam), ‘Christian violations of human dignity occur ‘in spite of’, not because of, Jesus’ teaching. One should judge a belief system by the acts of its consistent disciples, not those of its inconsistent fellow-travelers”—J.W. Montgomery. • Christians are capable of sinning, like everyone else, and this they certainly do. The Christian faith does not teach that Christians will reach moral perfection in this life; therefore, Christians must trust daily in the continual cleansing of Christ’s blood of their sins ( 1 John 1:9-10). • The sins of Christians are “their own and ought not be attributed to the One who saves them by his acts of grace and love. The gospel and the Scriptures remain the answer to man’s ultimate human rights dilemmas, whether or not the human race—or the church itself—follows the revelation given to it”—J.W. Montgomery.
CHRISTIANITY & WESTERN CIVILIZATION • The political sphere is ordained by God: Romans 13:1-7. • God delegates power to political leadership for the purpose of his will among the citizenry of a given nation. (If all power is delegated, then it is distributed in a manner that ensures a balance of power [i.e., separation of powers] for the sake of individual and national freedom, e.g., an executive branch, legislative branch and judiciary branch of government). • Government is to promote the common good in society. • Government is to protect the nation, through a military and the establishment and enforcement of laws. • Government is to collect taxes. • We are to pray for our political leaders: 1 Timothy 2:1-4.
THE ATHEIST ANSWER? • Western Civilization would not be “Western Civilization” if not for the Gospel—the Western world would be something wholly foreign (other worldly) to what we have known for literally every major institution in Western Civilization owes its origins to the Biblical world view. • What is the atheist’s answer? • What are atheism’s contributions? • Where is human culpability viz., war, poverty, human exploitation and disease? • Is the atheist option the leaving of man to himself?
ANSWERING THE ATHEIST, EVOLUTIONIST, AGNOSTIC—RAVI ZACHARIAS • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EonZXFd0Afw&feature=related • “If something exists, then something must be eternal, unless something came from nothing”—J. Oliver Buswell