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Monday, March 24, 2008

Wright, Obama, Hannity & The Church


Jeremiah Wright has many problems rooting from deplorable theology. Notwithstanding, my concern is neither with Jeremiah Wright nor his undiscerning spiritual protégé who is incapable of distinguishing between covenantal obligations toward honoring one’s bigoted grandmother and the lack of obligation toward a reckless pastor. What is much more tedious is Sean Hannity’s abhorrence with Wright’s indexing of the 9/11 attacks to the United States military involvement on foreign soil. I could support a criticism by Hannity if it were that Wright’s bald assertions are not philosophically defensible due to an apparent lack of revelational justification. After all, how does Wright know that the 9-11 providence was God’s judgment due to the mistreatment of innocent people, let alone the mistreatment of other God hating nations? How does an Arminian even come up with any God ordained purpose given their view of free will? Yes, Jeremiah Wright cannot reconcile his conclusions with his governing presuppositions. That much is obvious. What is more remarkable in this current political divergence is not that a prospective president might have a bigoted spiritual mentor but rather that the conservative right, which Sean Hannity fairly represents in his ideology, completely discounts the possibility that the United States deserves God’s judgment and that 9-11 might have been the finger of God pressing in on a rebellious nation.

If our nation is arrogant it is because its leaders have lost their way. If our nation is arrogant it is because its leaders do not plead the mercies of Christ. Any nation is arrogant that does not desire to submit to King Jesus, the head of nations. (Psalm 2) It is not only the duty of all nations to take heed to Psalm 2, it is wise to do so. If our leaders have lost their way, then it is most likely because the church is not the salt and light she is called to be. For instance, the United States has no just-war theory that is justifiable but how can she when the fragmented Christian church has none? Even should the United States ever enter into a just war (and even if it is in one now), it is not in a position to justify its actions due to its commitment to natural law theory. Does the church have good answers for a government with no guide? Not being able to justify killing should be a terrifying proposition for those who are called to wield the sword. It’s not, however, neither for most American Christians nor their elected officials. The church by and large wants to be pluralistic in the realm of civil government because the church, as a general rule, opposes the general equity of the civil case laws of the Old Testament.

Those with a high regard for Old Testament civil law do well to be politically involved. But they are not to overdue it because another principle abides, which is our kingdom is not of this world. It is more biblical to place the accent on educating the church and making disciples of all nations than to trying to persuade the irreligious how they ought to govern society. The Reconstructionist often needs balance whereas the American evangelical needs a more Puritan understanding of the universal relevance of God's law.

Ron

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18 comments:

Joshua said...

"Those with a high regard for Old Testament civil law do well to be politically involved. But they are not to overdue it because another principle abides, which is our kingdom is not of this world. It is more biblical to place the accent on educating the church and making disciples of all nations than to trying to persuade the irreligious how they ought to govern society. The Reconstructionist often needs balance whereas the American evangelical needs a more Puritan understanding of the universal relevance of God's law."

I really appreciate and am encouraged this statement Ron. Thank you for sharing it!

jazzycat said...

I am not certain I understand your point here, but it seems to me our constitution has given clear direction on using the sword even in the oath of office that presidents take. “Protect and defend the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic” would certainly include everything that has been done as a response to 9/11 so far. I believe “protect and defend” is well within the authority given in Romans 13. We should not be in the business of assessing God’s judgment on us as a nation when it comes to protecting and defending our country. The comments by people like Pat Robertson, Falwell or this racist and socialist (see liberation theology) Wright are not in keeping with Biblical precepts. Only O.T. prophets could inform of what was God’s judgment or predict what was to be God’s future judgment. As you know the age of prophets has ceased (Heb. 1:1-2).

Anonymous said...

Jazzycat,

I think Ron's point was pretty clear. With respect to your post -- the constitution is not setting forth a just war theory unless that theory allows for killing any perceived "enemy" that has no immediate threat or no forseeable intention of using force. The constitution does not give us any sufficient condition for war other than "enemy". Moreover just war has nothing to do with rebuilding governments.

Joshua L. said...

That is not the oath of office taken by the president. The actual oath is as follows:

"I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."

The president follows the Constitution and is not some kind of omnipotent "leader of the free world."

Plus, regarding war, Article I, Sec. 8 says "The Congress shall have Power... To raise and support Armies, but no Appropriation of Money to that Use shall be for a longer Term than two Years."

Jazzycat's point about the age of prophets being ceased is irrelevant to the current topic. Besides, Jesus, the fulfillment of the prophets, declares that those rulers and nations who do not kiss the Son will perish (Psalm 2).

Ronald W. Di Giacomo said...

I believe J-cat's point about the prophets was simply that there is no justification for the alleged knowledge of why 9-11 transpired.

Ron

rgmann said...

Jazzycat wrote,

I believe “protect and defend” is well within the authority given in Romans 13.

That is absolutely correct -- “For he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil” (Rom. 13:4). As Gordon Clark remarks:

“In Romans 13:4 the power of the sword is explicitly assigned to civil government. This disposes of pacifism, and if the relatively juster governments of the West had been willing to wage war against international criminals, the lives of twenty million Chinese, Koreans, and Russians might have been saved. And the United States would have been in a much safer position today” (What Do Presbyterians Believe?, p. 208)

Likewise, if the relatively juster governments of the West would have been willing to wage war against international terrorists and thugs in the 1980’s and 90’s, numerous terrorist attacks would have likely been prevented, and thousands of innocent lives might have been saved on 9-11. Thank God that the United States and our allies have taken decisive action since then!

Also, the notion that our military response has been unconstitutional is patently absurd. Everything we have done so far has been in retaliation for acts of aggression against our nation, and has been authorized by Congress in compliance with the War Powers Resolution act:

Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Terrorists, September 18th, 2001:

“Whereas, the President has authority under the Constitution to take action to deter and prevent acts of international terrorism against the United States: Now, therefore, be it resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled…that the President is authorized to use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons, in order to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States by such nations, organizations or persons…Consistent with section 8(a)(1) of the War Powers Resolution, the Congress declares that this section is intended to constitute specific statutory authorization within the meaning of section 5(b) of the War Powers Resolution.”

Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution of 2002, October 16th, 2002:

Whereas the current Iraqi regime has demonstrated its continuing hostility toward, and willingness to attack, the United States, including by attempting in 1993 to assassinate former President Bush and by firing on many thousands of occasions on United States and Coalition Armed Forces engaged in enforcing the resolutions of the United Nations Security Council…Whereas Iraq continues to aid and harbor…international terrorist organizations, including organizations that threaten the lives and safety of United States citizens…The President is authorized to use the Armed Forces of the United States as he determines to be necessary and appropriate in order to -- (1) defend the national security of the United States against the continuing threat posed by Iraq; and (2) enforce all relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions regarding Iraq…Consistent with section 8(a)(1) of the War Powers Resolution, the Congress declares that this section is intended to constitute specific statutory authorization within the meaning of section 5(b) of the War Powers Resolution.”

Ronald W. Di Giacomo said...

"I really appreciate and am encouraged this statement Ron. Thank you for sharing it!

Joshua,

Thank you. The general equity of God’s law is so clearly applicable for today that I can only imagine that an out of balance emphasis on reconstruction at the expense of an appreciation of our kingdom not being of this world turns away other would-be theonomists from its obvious beauty.

Ron

Ronald W. Di Giacomo said...

Rgmann,

Your position seems pretty arbitrary to me. You launch from the biblical position that the government is ordained to bring criminals to justice to an "anything goes" theology of justice. In any case, the point of the blog entry is that it doesn't cross Sean Hannity's mind that our country has shaken its fist at God and, therefore, 9-11 could have been punishment. His blind oversight must be construed as a form of self-righteousness.

Ron

Ron

Bret L. McAtee said...

Great post!

If we catechize the Church not only in their undoubted Christian faith but also the implications of their undoubted christian faith in Worldview thinking then the rest will take care of itself.

Bret L. McAtee said...

To the elect whatever happens is God's grace. To the reprobate whatever happens is always God's judgment.

So 9/11 is both judgment and grace depending upon whether one is in Christ.

Bret

razzendahcuben said...

It is more biblical to place the accent on educating the church and making disciples of all nations than to trying to persuade the irreligious how they ought to govern society.

Amen!

Ronald W. Di Giacomo said...

Yes Bret, all things work to the bad for those who do not love God, who are not the called according to his salvific purpose.

Ron

rgmann said...

Rgmann, Your position seems pretty arbitrary to me. You launch from the biblical position that the government is ordained to bring criminals to justice to an "anything goes" theology of justice.

I’m not sure how our military response to bring international terrorist criminals to justice constitutes an “anything goes” theology of justice. If anything seems “arbitrary” it is your statement here. We were the victims of an unprovoked attack on our nation’s homeland, and we have responded by hunting down and either killing or capturing those who were responsible -- including holding those governments responsible who were harboring or aiding them. How is that not justified under biblical principles?

“For he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil.” (Rom. 13:4)

Were Muslim terrorists not “practicing evil” when they attacked us on 9-11 (and on numerous occasions prior to that)? Had they not been killing our countrymen around the globe and blowing up innocent victims over and over again? Is it not our government’s legitimate God ordained function to protect and defend our citizens from threats both internal and external? Of course it is! What is “arbitrary” is to say that our government only “bears the sword” against internal threats and criminal activity, but if the threat or criminal activity comes from an external or international source our government’s God given authority no longer applies.

In any case, the point of the blog entry is that it doesn't cross Sean Hannity's mind that our country has shaken its fist at God and, therefore, 9-11 could have been punishment. His blind oversight must be construed as a form of self-righteousness.

I agree with that point of your blog entry. Sean Hannity is an unbelieving Roman Catholic religious pluralist, who would also deny that unrepentant Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, Mormons, Atheists, etc. will wind up in Hell suffering God’s eternal wrath. Nevertheless, the fact that 9-11 “could have been” punishment from God doesn’t mean that we should be paralyzed as a nation until we repent of our many sins, and therefore we are unjustified in any military response that we engage in. Perhaps 9-11 was simply the impetuous that God used to rouse our nation into action, in order to execute His wrath against these pagan God-hating Muslim terrorists! Perhaps it was a little of both! Who knows -- unless you happen to know a modern day prophet Jeremiah who can reveal it to us? In the meantime, why don’t we urge our nation to repent of its many sins, while at the same time support our war against these international thugs and criminals who attacked us and continue to threaten our national security?

Ronald W. Di Giacomo said...

RG,

In your first post you wrote "Likewise, if the relatively juster governments of the West would have been willing to wage war against international terrorists and thugs in the 1980’s and 90’s, numerous terrorist attacks would have likely been prevented, and thousands of innocent lives might have been saved on 9-11. Thank God that the United States and our allies have taken decisive action since then!"

To which I asked you for a just war theory. Your second post suggested that you put forth such a theory in your first post, which you hadn't, unless of course your theory allows for any nation to intervene with other nations due to international terrorism, which would mean that you may take war with an abstract noun. Again though, please cut back on the rhetoric and tell me the sufficient conditions for just war.

Ron

rgmann said...

Again though, please cut back on the rhetoric and tell me the sufficient conditions for just war.

I believe that the two “Authorization for Use of Military Force” documents that I cited in my original post provide “sufficient conditions for just war” under the present circumstances -- “conditions” that are fully consistent with biblical principles. In fact, I only partially quoted from these documents, which list a number of other just reasons for our military action. I’m trying to figure out which of these justifications for military action you find to violate biblical principles, and which biblical principles they violate. I simply don’t see it.

Roger

Ronald W. Di Giacomo said...

Just war typically involves an imminent threat by a known country. Also, just war typically involves the probability of victory in order not to waste domestic blood. The current administration has waffled on whether there was an imminent threat to the U.S. and it's impossible to win a war on an abstract noun. Finally, our nation's safety is not a sufficient condition for war lest blowing up the entire world, which would yield more safety, would be just.

Ron

Joshua L. said...

Given rgmann's view of the civil magistrate, I wonder if he would he have a problem with a foreign nation attacking the United States to intervene and stop the mass murder that is abortion? This is certainly an "external criminal activity," from the standpoint of another nation.

You can't ignore the question of jurisdiction and sphere sovereignty with respect to the civil magistrate (or any other God-ordained institution). If on your view the magistrate is the judge and policeman of all the earth, then this power and authority is not limited to the United States.

Joshua L. said...

The document rgmann quotes from says: “the President has authority under the Constitution to take action to deter and prevent acts of international terrorism against the United States..."

Exactly where is this power delineated in the Constitution? The only thing I see is that Congress alone can declare war and no more funds can be appropriated toward a war after two years.

Ron's point about the "anything goes" theology of justice has not been addressed. rgmann clearly espouses this view: "...the notion that our military response has been unconstitutional is patently absurd. Everything we have done so far has been... authorized by Congress."

Constitutional or just does not equal "authorized by Congress." This is arbitrary. In fact, it's a good bet that "authorized by Congress" means the opposite of just and Constitutional.