8.14.2007

peace thoughts revisited

I was going to post this as a comment on the Oregon Airshow post but it deserves its own space. Go to that post to get the background. Fogey, this is in no way directed at you, nor should you assume it to be an assumption of your beliefs one way or another -- it was a post that's been wanting to happen for a while and your words gave me the impetus to finally write it out.

Dangitt, I just lost what I had written -- here goes again:

I deliberated about my choice of words for my previous comment on that post; certainly they can be taken inaccurately, but nothing else communicates more accurately what I want to say.

Correct: neither the F/A 18 nor any other thing made by man is capable of damning souls.

Yet by taking the life of someone who is not a follower of Christ, I determine that he will not have any further opportunities to avoid his fate.

I believe in Hell. I mostly don't like the idea, but I believe in it. If I was an annihilationist this whole debate might result in a lot more grey areas for me. But as it stands, I cannot conceive of a definition of 'love' for my enemies that includes taking away their chance to avoid eternal torture.

The crux of pacifism for me is purely spiritual: I must oppose war because war permanently ends all opportunity of salvation for those unbelievers who are killed. This cannot be considered to be loving them. So, whether it's effective or not, whether it feels right or not, whether it can be defended from an Old Testament perspective or not, it's not love.

So do I think the United States should pull out of Iraq? Absolutely not. We made a mess there, and we ought to stick around to clean it up. With doctors. And nurses. And construction workers. And legal experts. And followers of Jesus. Not with soldiers. Or guns. Or F/A 18s.

What am I proposing, that a whole lot of humanitarian workers get tortured and killed? Yeah, that's what it looks like. I don't like that. But how else, how else do we love them as Christ would have us do??

I really don't have an answer to Iraq. None of us does, when it comes down to it. But ultimately the answer for Iraq, as for the rest of the world, is that her people need to be loved in such a way that they see and accept Christ's own love for them.

I find that posts (read: rants) like this usually tend to squash discussion / comments, and that's really really really not what I want. If you've got thoughts on this (and I know you do), throw them out there. I don't have this figured out, I know I don't, and my interactions with you all are part of my journey on this. Let's hear it.

12 comments:

steph said...

Okay Jed, you asked for thoughts so here goes;
Keeping in mind that this is a topic extremely near and dear to my heart at present, as last week my dear cousin (19 years old mind you) was killed by an IED while being transported to his base in Iraq. That being said, I think war is horrible and I am anti-war to a point. I think there can be exceptions (example: can we say holocaust). Should we be in Iraq, that I can't say, but having aid there now, without any kind of protection seems like asking for far more opportunity for life to be taken without opportunity to know Christ than at the very least having forces there to protect those that are sent to "clean it up". Honestly I am not certain that much cleaning up is being done, but that process would be slowed down dramatically without the soldiers with guns, etc. Due to my cousins death I have recently checked the casualty reports(http://www.defenselink.mil/news/casualty.pdf), and they are overwhelming. During the technical "war" (according to my feeble calculations) 566 military persons were killed (354 KIA, 212 Non-Hostile). During Non war time which is what we are in now that number is 3,542 military persons killed (3,036 KIA, 652 Non-Hostile). If we pulled out troops that are there to protect those nurses, doctors and construction personnel then the KIA would decrease in number, but the Non-Hostile killing would only multiply exponentially, thereby causing more senseless deaths, less chance of people being saved, and more likelihood of nothing really getting done to help the Iraqi people, which is the entire reason (in theory) we are there in the first place.
Obviously this doesn't account for the many thousands of Middle Easterners killed and wounded, but I propose that this number also would skyrocket, without those men and women whose only job is to protect those that are there.
Anyhow, wrong or right, those are my thoughts.
Looking forward to hearing others.

Hutch said...

Jed, I'm on break from class so this will be short, but the biggest trouble I am having with all of this discussion is that we cannot ask a nation of non-Christians (USA) to do what you're proposing.

If we were all Christians, we might be able to agree with what you're saying. But I can't ask Tom down the street who just knows his wife and job and family and nothing beyond this life to walk into a death trap without some form of military protection. I guess we could debate this on a spiritual level, but my first impressions strangely go to a practical one (which is so not the norm for me).

While I agree with you in theory about sacrificial love and what it might look like if we were to do what you're suggesting... there's no way I could in good conscious ask a bunch of people who don't believe what I believe to do something that my God might radically call for.

More later. Class is about to start again.

kinsanth said...

This may be be disorganized.

I think that everybody living a quiet life of peace and prosperity would be ideal, and I think that you do to. Unfortunately, the world is full of people who look at somebody with a life of peace and prosperity, and think it would be pretty snazzy to have the other guy's prosperity.

And now there's somebody who's chance to avoid his fate has ended.

I think that (to continue on the original track) the F/A-18's purpose is justified in that it is intended to be used against those who would use force to harm others. I don't know if you could say the same about a MiG (or Sukhoi or what have you. Hey, all sorts of nations have second-hand slightly-used cold-war-vintage weaponry to use on each other... or their own people in some cases...).

I know using force to stop force isn't the best solution, but sometimes that's the way it seems to happen. Perhaps Ghengis Khan over there doesn't much care for your diplomacy on account of his sharper stick, or perhaps somebody's own religious beliefs preclude any sort of peaceful resolution. Well, now he's using force, and you're using force, and you've got war.

I think the fact that the enemies of the US tend to be the ones striking from among civilians, and targeting civilians, is crucial in this... Our armed forces members may not necessarily be any more prepared to face the hereafter, but they're certainly better equipped to face the guy who's bent on sending somebody there. And I suppose that a man being sent into battle probably does have a greater sense of his own mortality than, say, Joe Dude driving to work at the office.

Y'know what, I've rambled on now, and don't really know where I'm going with this. I'll just post it, now that I've completely lost my train of thought.

Molo said...

I'm having some problems here, for two reasons. The first (minor) reason is these two statements; 1."Yet by taking the life of someone who is not a follower of Christ, I determine that he will not have any further opportunities to avoid his fate." and 2. "I must oppose war because war permanently ends all opportunity of salvation for those unbelievers who are killed."

Looking at the second statement first, it looks ok, but I absolutely cannot agree with it. One could just as easily replace war with disease, famine, natural disasters, and I think most people would still accept the statement. However, if I change it to this "I must oppose God because God permanently ends all opportunity of salvation for those unbelievers who are killed.", well, that's unacceptable.

And God does permanently end all opportunity for people to accept salvation through Christ. Death ends that point. It doesn't matter how the death occurred, judgment is upon you. I can't find any justification for believing all men will receive a second chance after death, for then why suffer the slings and arrows of the world if I could only just accept an undeniable Truth upon leaving this earth?

The first statement just looks selfish to me. *I* determine that he will not have any further opportunities to avoid his fate? When did you become the catcher in the rye here? Aren't the days of man set, and that span never exceeded? I just don't like it. It's unwise to set ourselves up as gods, and to me, taking on responsibility for the soul of another? Hmmm.

I don't know, though. Maybe what seems wise to me is foolishness in the eyes of God. However, it seems to me to be dangerous justification for any position, let alone pacifism.

Which is my second reason, but I'm running out of room. Anyway, any peace that prevails on earth short of Christ's return is false, and I don't think such a laudable ideal to be working towards. What is Christ if we can have peace now? Our tower will have exceeded the heavens by then. Perhaps working towards this ideal of peace is counterproductive to the message of the gospel. I know that sounds strange, but spreading the message of salvation should be the goal. Maybe pacifism could lead to that, but maybe that's just an outgrowth in some soil. I don't know if I'm being very clear on this. I think the factor of "hooray for us! Love, people!" runs high in cases of "sacrificial love" (why did I put that in quotes?) , rather than opportunities of praising God for His grace.

CHAVDA said...

Perhaps I am misunderstanding or over simplifying your basic premise, but it seems to me that the idea that a man, even an evil man, should not be killed because it cuts short his opportunity to come to faith in Christ strikes me (although you have obviously thought it out quite well) as completely un-Biblical, but you already know that I am going to reference the Old Testament, so I won't waste your time. God killed people for ACCIDENTALLY TOUCHING the Ark. He killed people for all manner of reasons. Now, some folks will claim that the New Testament Christ kind of cancels that out, but Christ said he came not to abolish the law but to fulfill it. Either the old-school Hebrew God truly is Christ's father, or Christ started a whole new religion. I tend to think that God doesn't view human life like we do. It seems to me that he sees this earthly life as a drop in the bucket. As he is more concerned with eternal affairs, he seems to not give too much consideration to this small span of "life." And as to whether or not a man has the opportunity to come to Christ before he dies, let me ask: Do you believe aborted fetuses go to hell? I figure God is big enough to play fair. I like to think that at the end of things, whether it happens at 3 months in the womb, 84 years old, or getting blown away by a good ol' American soldier, a soul is going to have a chance to meet his Maker, and I figure that it's that moment when things are sorted out. So I figure, especially when it comes to those rotten bastards over there, we'll let God deal with them. We're just making sure they get to God a little early.

Neal n Julie said...

First off, praise God that none of us are the judge, we are all too flawed.

Romans 1:20 says that all have seen the divine creations that God the Creator has given us. Those who have not been taught about Christ still have the ability to recognize God as The Creator and God the Life Sustainer.

God is also a wrathful God. His wrath is against ungodliness, unrighteousness, sin. I believe that in the commandments the command to not murder is on taking innocent life. This is not the same as capital punishment or warfare. Both outlined to us in Exodus 21 and 17 respectively.

Jesus, a Jew, also knew that he was to hate evil, PS 97:10. Are we not called to hate sin and evil too? Of course we cannot perfectly identify evil, because our blindness by sin, but we certainly can ask for God's guidance to what evil is so we may rid it. And to what ends do we stop by ridding it? I don't know.

God is also our eternal and righteous judge. Our falling short by sin skews our perspective of what is truly fair, just, and righteous in God's view. His final decision is just that, final. Each of us is predestine to the fate that God chose for us, aren't we? He knew us before we were born, and that means he knew who would and would not recognize him. Whether we are sent there in our old age, or by an accident, or a bullet, or stone, we know what is next. His judgment.

A side note to this is that there are more Iraqi's accepting Christ due to our presence there now. Had some not died, for whatever reasons stated by our government, what chance would those folks have had to hear and accept Christ prior to now?

Regardless if we love one another or kill one another, none of us will prevent God's glory from being achieved. No matter if you are a teacher, evangelist, soldier, or some average Joe walking down the street.

Sing to His praise and glory at the end.

Jed said...

Wow. You guys are awesome. Thank you all for sharing your perspectives and your selves in response to these thoughts.

I'm looking forward to laying out a few more thoughts and responses too. Haven't had the time yet but I plan to do it by the end of the weekend.

Jed said...

Once again, you guys are awesome. I didn't expect to get this degree of feedback and I'm really impressed. I'm not entirely sure where these thoughts are going to lead, but here goes a bit of a shotgun approach. I'm mostly not going to try to address your responses by name, but hopefully I can cover enough to portray my thoughts on the issues you guys have raised.

Steph, I will go ahead and start by saying that I'm sorry for your personal loss -- I had no idea.

Thank you too for bringing up the issue of the death toll our country has experienced -- as you say, it is overwhelming. Even more overwhelming is the total amount of lives lost because of this not-yet 5 year old war/occupation. Granted, these numbers are impossible to be precise with. Low estimates say 50,000. High estimates say more than 650,000. Everybody who puts out a study says they are under-reporting the actual numbers due to the difficulty of getting an actual count.

Wow.

Please don't forget, my brothers and sisters, we are talking about a country that is 96.8% Muslim.

And that doesn't include the 2 million refugees reported by the UN, or the 70% of Iraqi primary school students reported to be suffering from mental trauma in a WHO study that was repeated because they didn't believe the results the first time. And the counts rise every day.

But just as the ends don't justify the means, we can't use the ends to condemn the means either. It's easy to say that effective wars are good and ineffective ones are bad; historians do that all the time. So the effectiveness or ineffectiveness of the current campaign cannot be the basis for our position on the rightness or wrongness of war -- I have to base that decision on the principles I believe in and the things I have been commanded.

What I have been commanded is this: "Love your enemy."

Look, I don't have this figured out -- *at all*. As a matter of fact, I'm still waaaay back on the whole "love your neighbor" thing. But I have managed to deduce that my neighbors don't feel loved when I kill them, and I think at the very least I can say that my enemies probably feel the same way.

My 'let's send un-guarded humanitarian workers' idea -- that falls clearly into the category of things I don't have figured out. It is merely the best thing I can come up with that allows us to love our neighbors in Iraq without love-killing our enemies in Iraq.

Those last two paragraphs seem really glib, and I don't mean to turn in that direction at all. But it seems clear to me that my definition of 'love' has to go beyond simple 'not killing' and include some sort of benefit for the objects of my love.

So am I personally currently loving the enemies of my state? Definitely not in any active way. But I hope that if/when I am ever given the opportunity to confront one of those enemies, my response will be one that I can categorize as love when I stand before God in heaven. And in the meantime, I must take what measures I can to end the destruction of their lives by my country.

As for other issues:
God is God. He has rights I don't have and responsibilities I don't have. If He decides to kill off somebody, well, blessed be His name. He made us in the first place and has every right to dispose of us how He will. In no way does that give *me* the right to do the same. It's definitely possible to play mind games here: "it was ok for me to kill him because that was what God predestined." Ok, but if that argument worked, why wouldn't we use it on *all* our sin? Yes, God foreknew and allowed every action I have ever taken, and the result that action would have -- that doesn't make my sin acceptable, it just shows that God allows a fallen world to continue.

How does that bring glory to Him? I don't know. I don't know if I'll ever know -- does He care to divulge those things to us in heaven? But I believe that He has shaped human history for the purpose of bringing glory to Himself, and somehow all that we know fits into that rationale. I believe that the war in Iraq fits into His plan somehow. But, somehow, so did the genocide in Bosnia, the horrible clashes in Rwanda, the current situation in Darfur, and, yes, the Holocaust. Again I have to come back and say that the ends, whether good (greater openness for missionaries, although that fact is debatable) or evil (hundreds of thousands dead and injured), do not justify the means. My actions can only be based on what I have been told: that peacemakers are blessed, and that I am to love both my neighbors and my enemies.

I was going to include a comment to why I believe it is perfectly acceptable to limit oneself to considering only the New Testament on this issue, but it's pushing 2:30 am and I just don't have it in me. Plus that could be a post (or book) of its own. At the very least, suffice it to say that in the New Testament I am *commanded* to love my enemies. Nothing in the Old Testament commands me to do them harm. I see no conflict, then, in following the only command I have been given on the matter.

Once again, thank you to the 6 of you who posted your thoughts. To the rest of you lurkers (Vic!), don't be afraid to speak up! As I said before, I view our interaction as an essential part of the journey... all too often we resist discussion of issues that can be deemed 'political' because we don't want to ruffle feathers or disturb relationships -- all you hawks out there are still my friends, honest!! :-) Thank you for forcing me to evaluate my position -- I hope I can encourage you to do the same, regardless of where your own position ends up.

JJ said...

After stumbling onto this blog and reading with interest I find it difficult to go on without comment. It is somewhat tough not knowing any of you but perhaps you will read an outsiders comments. I thank you in advance for allowing me the opportunity to participate in your blog subject. the comments are varied and thoughtful and I enjoyed the readings.

First off, my curiosity is piqued by the rotating thing on the right side of the blog showing people killed in Iraq and the date? Why aren't there rolling numbers and data showing how many Christians were martyred over the past year (160,000), what countries they are from and how they died? How about the numbers of babies aborted daily, and an annual tally and the butchers who kill them? Is the inference of the plane dropping bombs that the USA is guilty of all the death in Iraq? Wouldn't it be appropriate to also show a Muslim of some sort with and RPG or IED if you are attributing deaths to someone? Remember the purple fingers of the Iraqi's voting for the 1st time? They were more than willing to die for their country just by showing their face at the voting booth. I wonder if they don't think the price is worth it for successive generations. If I have concluded wrong about why this tally is on the site please clue me in.

One would find your original question more palpable re: questioning the right or wrong of 'killing' if your comments were based on critical reasoning rather than based primarily upon feelings about what Jesus said. Wouldn't such a profound subject require an in depth study/meditation from the only source of truth, God's Word? Knowing what it means to glorify God is worthy of hours of prayer, reading, study and thought. It is after all what God's Word says mankind is to be doing with life. Showing mankind 'love' is to glorify God but not the only way.

The NT is filled with Jesus quoting the OT, and only the OT, to clarify the real meaning of love to mankind and to God. The Jews fell short by their hypocritical nature adding ridiculous do's and donts that no one could ever fulfill always falling short and so their constant sacrificing at the temple. So did Christ do away with the 'law' ? Yes to the extent of the sacrifices and rituals. But in reading the book of Hebrews you see the rituals were added to the law because of the lack of belief of the people not because the law (the big 10) were not enough. Also Jesus showed how perverted the Pharisees etc had made the law by the rituals and self-righteous judging. He magnified the intent of the law that adding to or sacrificing could never do. No better laws were or have ever been uttered. God made no mistake the first time.

Jesus in effect gave us a NT book about Himself, His sacrifice as the ultimate and only way to salvation and how we can really love and show that in our interpersonal relationships with others. He doesn't really show application nationally except through intent expanded. Take it all in context not just phraseology. Certainly don't decide based on human emotions of right or wrong but with understanding of Gods Word.

Jesus also magnified the concepts of the 2 great commandments that he quoted from the OT as being the GREATEST of all that mankind is to keep, known as the Sh'ma and taken from Deuteronomy 6:4 (quoted in Matt 22:36-40). Why did He say all the law and the prophets hang on those 2 commandments? He came to expand and magnify their understanding beyond the sacrifices doing away with the physical when He became the sacrifice lamb.

At every turn what was Jesus quoting to accomplish this magnification of the law and prophets? Wasn't it the OT? Did He ever say the OT was no good? Always He said "have you not read". Then He would give them the OT quote or phrase and say but you are doing or requiring this and that beyond the law, missing the intent and without understanding. He said sacrifices never were able to cover sins. Not just for the Jews...again expanded in the NT to include Gentiles (to the Jew first and then the Gentile, Romans 1:16 and Romans 2:10)

He came to give us the ability to have free access to Him and to be able to follow Him from our heart by giving us the Holy spirit, yet knowing we would still imperfectly keep the intent of the "law". Jesus convicted the hypocrites and the law keeping 'finger pointers', just as He does today by showing them to be hypocrites and the like. His words for them are not pleasant. Of course there were the liberals known as the Saducees. He condemned them all, not the law per se. They sought to kill Him because of the real intent of the law's condemning nature to them, Jesus being found without guilt.

Where were the new parameters of God's law if the 1st set of rules to live by were no good? The question begs ludicrousness on its face. Over and over Jesus expands/magnifies knowing mankind was never able to fulfill the law. He fulfilled the law with His sacrifice but intends for us to go forth and exemplify Him in all we do every day we have a day to live.

Willingly the Father allowed and knowingly Jesus gave His life up to the violence of the cross for the love of us.

In 1 John 3:15-22 is the standard of love for Christians, the laying down of ones life for others as Christ did for us. It also says that hating is murder of a brother. Do we see our brother in need and not respond, closing our heart and ability to relieve his suffering, showing we have no love of God at all. Vs 18 says not to just love in word or with tongue but in truth and deed. This is real salvation and true Christian profession. And finally in Vs 22 we keep His commandments and are blessed and pleasing to God.

Don't think to say the OT is done away as not all the prophecies are fulfilled that are in the OT but are still future tense, relating to Revelation unless you throw out that book as not valid or relevant, which would go against God's Word on its face.

So the obvious is do you chose to believe ALL the OT or just the parts that fit your personal belief system? If we are to live by every word of God aren't they (OT) also His words or did He make a mistake, not realizing something wouldn't work out and later had to make a course correction? Again, begs the ridiculous just in the asking.

Fogey said...

jj,

You've given voice to a frustration I've experienced before, and not found a voice for. Like Lewis' Liar, Lunatic, or Lord argument, evangelicals need to be confronted by the fact that God does not give us the option of editing his testimony. The NT is merely a helpful division for finding our place in a big book - it is incomplete without the rest of the Bible.

As for the death count on the sidebar, well, you know what Mark Twain said about statistics... :-)

Jed said...

JJ -- first of all, thank you for speaking up! The commenting community here on this backwater blog often tends to be a bit insular, so it is always great to hear from an 'outsider'.

In reading through your comment I was struck with the fact that we may have much similar positions than you think -- or we may not, who knows? But I would have to say that I agree with the vast bulk of what you said. In addition, going back and reading my own statements, I can see where some of the perceived disagreements may have come from.

Without doubt, there are some big questions of hermeneutics here. You very rightly state that our only source of Truth is God's word -- but how do we handle and interpret it? Shelves of books have been written on the subject.

I used very poor wording in stating that "only the New Testament" can be considered on this issue, and you are absolutely right in calling me on it. Let's agree to strike that as an errant 2:30 am statement that does not reflect my real thoughts on the matter.

Many have said that the OT and NT complement each other in ways that are nothing short of miraculous, and I completely agree. What we have in our Bible is not two stories, but one. One very complex, multifaceted story. There is no question that on the issue of war, like every other issue, we must consider the input of the text as a whole before coming to a conclusion.

I don't intend to present an encyclopedic argument here -- there are plenty of theologians from Augustine to Yoder who have done so far more accurately and eloquently than I possibly could. In fact, I can't even claim to have 'finished' studying the issue myself (are there any biblical subjects we can ever completely finish studying?) and, as I've said, I'm very aware that there is a process, a journey, of God shaping our beliefs to match up with His own -- this is merely where my journey has led me so far.

Forgive me for camping on these ramblings for so long... your assumption that my comments were "based primarily upon feelings about what Jesus said" (rather than on an understanding of the teaching of Scripture) got me particularly riled up and it didn't seem like a simple "UH-UH" (with vehement head-shaking) would do the trick. :-) It's easiest to be offended by accusations that one has previously thrown at others... and in general, my impression is that most Americans' pro-war (or at least ok-with-war) stance is based primarily upon feelings about how nice it feels to be safe and well-defended than upon actual study of the Bible's conclusions on the matter.

So, after all that, how do I feel the OT contributes to the discussion of killing / war? Allow me to go back to the portion of what I typed the other day that I DO still stand by: that the only applicable commands for me as a believer regarding my enemies are that I should love them.

Were the Israelites commanded to kill and wage war? Yup -- loads of times. Did God use war and killing over and over again to demonstrate His superiority, His response to sin, and His care for His people? Yep. Is there a lot we can learn from God's severity and His use of His people against the surrounding nations? Absolutely.

But -- and this is *key* -- am I to understand those events to be prescriptive of how I should act today? No. The commands given to the Israelites were given under very specific circumstances and while we can (and should) derive principles from them, the application of those principles for us in our lives must not contradict the love we are commanded to in the New Testament.

On then to the New Testament:
Am I ever commanded to kill and wage war? Yes -- we wage war against enemies that are not flesh and blood -- but never commanded to take up arms against a fellow human being. Is there, then, a particular attitude that I am to take in regards to my 'enemies', whoever they may be? YES!! Matthew 5 relays Jesus' clear command to love our enemies -- even continuing that there is no reward to be found in loving those that love us. Luke 6 gives another telling of the same 'sermon', fleshing out a picture of what this love-for-enemies should look like. Violence from them is not only not fought, it is practically invited. Same for our enemies stealing from us. Plus we are to lend to them freely.

Again, wow.

In all honesty, I am still faaaaar from a point of being ready to fully obey these words. The 'easiest' part of this whole thing ought to be the one that costs me nothing, the verbal one... yet I struggle with giving blessings to those that curse me on the freeway. As for the rest of Jesus' words, well, I don't really encounter situations involving physical violence or theft... so I guess I may not currently be acting in disobedience to those commands -- but I certainly don't feel ready to present a Christ-like attitude should that situation arise in my life tomorrow.

Clearly Jesus is presenting a counter-cultural, counter-intuitive approach to dealing with conflict and enemies. Can we agree that He is assuming that we understand that He means for us not to kill said enemy while we're walking the second mile together?

If there is still room for us to kill our enemies, then, it must be found by means of understanding Jesus' words in these passages to apply only to certain situations and not to others -- i.e., this applies to interpersonal enemies but not to enemies declared by a given nation-state. So, frankly, this is where I turn the corner with most of my non-pacifist friends and we agree to disagree. To me, Jesus' words just don't leave room for that kind of qualification. If we can compartmentalize His commands on this subject to only apply in certain situations, can we do the same for His words on divorce and lust just a few verses up? I see no justification for doing so, and am therefore left with my position: to take Jesus' words at face value and understand that I am to actually do what He says and do my best to love my enemies, regardless of the situation and regardless of what they do to me.

Again I am pushing 2:30 a.m. and am in danger of once again sticking my foot in my mouth if I keep trying to string words together. Before I end this ridiculously long comment, a couple of final semi-incompletely thought-out ideas that didn't seem to land anywhere else:

One could certainly bring dispensationalism / covenant theology / etc into the discussion of how the OT and NT interact. But regardless of where one lands on those issues, there is agreement that things changed when Christ came. Previous commandments regarding sacrifice were no longer necessary, the Holy Spirit was given to permanently indwell believers, and we humans got an example of a perfect life to follow. I believe that one of the other things that changed was God's allowance of His people to engage in killing and warfare. This change was based not on the throwing out of any old commands but on the addition of a new one.

Matthew's account is particularly helpful in dealing with the OT / NT relationship -- in 6:38 and :43 Jesus indeed references the OT... and goes on to state in no uncertain terms that He is extending the previous love commands to include our enemies. He's definitely not throwing out the previous commands; He's instead taking them a step further. And that step further is what changes involvement in war from ok to not ok.

Regarding the 'death toll' banner: Why this instead of one counting abortions or martyrdoms? Why not one showing the deaths in Darfur or remembering the thousands dead at the hands of Milosevic? There are a hundred world situations that could be addressed... the significance of this death counter to me is that our American media persists (naturally enough) in focusing nearly exclusively on the *American* death toll. And while that is horrendous, I feel it is worth pointing out that the total count is SO MUCH higher. As the T-shirt says, "God bless the rest of the world too" -- let's not forget that we're not the only ones being affected by the conflict. I won't keep it up forever, the bare truth of the matter is that, like a WWJD bracelet, it will lose its impact entirely once its freshness wears off. BTW, I completely agree that there is no way to know how things would or wouldn't be different if the US hadn't invaded. Our invasion and occupation didn't *cause* all of these deaths. But seeing the total, for me, really drives home the hugeness of what's happening on the other side of the world right now. Again, how many of those 70K+ dead were believers in Christ? That thought should bring us to our knees and make us cry out to God for the souls of those who are alive today who will be dead by nightfall tomorrow.

Thank you again, JJ. Your input gave me the opportunity to clarify my position and pointed out my earlier mis-step. If you have further thoughts, feel free to post them. If you choose not to, that's fine too -- my goal is not to buttonhole strangers (or friends) and argue with them, but to clearly voice the position I now hold and encourage others to at least reconsider their own positions.

Chachinator said...

This is intense...I'm afraid that I really nothing epic or monumental to say on this subject, and this comment will likely go un-noticed, since I am tapping into a conversation that occured in August of last year.

As a history major/ political science minor, I'm intrigued with war, the reasoning behind it, and its ramifications. What I do know is that I hate war. I hate why people go to war (and there are some ridiculous reasons out there, at least from a well-off white student from the West's point of view,) and I'm sick of people dying for whatever perceived causes for which they fight. I very much oppose war's existance, especially when one country thinks it knows what's best for another. I agree that in Iraq we need to stick around and clean up the mess we made, but "clean-up" will extend as long as the Establishment wants it to.

I do not believe that people should see fit to take the life of another in any instance. That includes war. No matter the threat, I know where I'm going when my time on earth is over. The diffence here between a natural disaster or disease, or an asteroid hitting the earth is that PEOPLE DID NOT CAUSE IT. God can do what he will, because he's above it all. Otherwise, love your enemies, bless those who persecute you.

I know nothing but what people tell me or I get curious enough to discover on my own. I;ve got no authority on this earth whatsoever.

Thank. Goodness.