As the Global War on Terrorism (GWOT) continues unabated, the opposition to the war increases from all segments of society and from all political persuasions. With the reality of this war continuing for the foreseeable future, it is important to understand the proper biblical relationship between the Christian and a country prosecuting a war outside its actual territory. There are many crucial elements to understand surrounding war, the overarching consideration being the loss of human life â€“ life created in the image of an Almighty God â€“ on the battlefield, as well as within the outreaches we refer to as collateral damage. Some of the other topics related to any war this country becomes involved are Just War Theory, the United States Constitution, the biblical approval to conduct war, and the individualâ€™s responsibilities with respect to their citizenry of a country involved in a war.
Although many of these issues were addressed from many different religious and political groups before the United States launched its first ground campaign in Afghanistan, it is important to revisit some of these in the light of recent allegations against the current administration, as well as re-looking some of the earlier commentary made by the aforementioned groups. Moreover, it is important to understand this writerâ€™s presuppositional framework cloistering my comments.
Despite a contemporary viewpoint that focuses on manâ€™s â€œrightsâ€ to do just about anything he or she wishes, I think ethics is theonomic, based on what I read in Holy Scripture. This does not mean I am a theonomist (one who believes the penalties described in the Old Testament should be enforced today). Frankly, the theonomic position subscribed to by Christian Reconstructionists, Dominionists, neo-Puritans and other groups such as the Patriarchy movement, are problematic for a number of reasons. First, theonomists over generalize in their categories of the law. On one hand they wish to stone adulterers to death, but they are unwilling to celebrate the Passover meal in accordance with proscribed biblical standards, claiming the ceremonial law is no longer valid, when what they are really saying is the sacrificial law has been satisfied by the sacrificial death of Christ. This is no mere hairsplitting because it underscores a very tenuous position on the part of the theonomist, who happens to represent Christendomâ€™s most vocal opposition to the current war.
The second presupposition I write from is what I refer to as the Razorâ€™s Edge, a term used by the Reformed theologian John Murray to describe the line that sometimes exists between right and wrong. This particular presupposition applies to those areas where the Bible is not explicitly clear in what we should do in a given situation. This does not suggest, however, that a situation exists that is so gray we cannot determine what would please God. It means that even though we are not omniscient and we will operate without complete knowledge, there is always a course of action that pleases God, even if we do not know what that action is at some given point in the time continuum.
With these prefatory thoughts is mind, letâ€™s jump into the discussion at hand.
To begin with, it is important to realize that providing for the countryâ€™s â€œcommon defenseâ€ is one of the few constitutional responsibilities of the federal government. When the Founding Fathers wrote the constitution, the federal government was much weaker than the respective state governments embodied and protected within the 10th Amendment to the US Constitution. Furthermore, it is fundamental to our comprehension of this complex issue to conceptualize this radical difference within the relationship between the states and the federal government. The reality is this: The federal government was intentionally weak, with the new countryâ€™s power decentralized and a balance between the federal branches in place. Our Founding Fathers purposely designed the constitution in this manner after a long, bitter fight, and it was not until the aftermath of the War Between the States that our country began to take on its contemporary look, exemplified by a strong centralized government in Washington D.C.
Another point to keep in mind is this: Although there were many God-fearing men involved in the construct of the US Constitution, it is a flawed document and, though portions can be traced to the Bible, it is not a biblical document. Yes, the laws at the time were significantly different (Patrick Henry was able to pass the Virginia Bar Exam in less than a half-yearâ€™s study solely based on his study of the Bible and a few documents), however, the influence of the English Common Law began to wane early in our nationâ€™s history. Furthermore, the oaths that public officials (civil magistrates) took, oaths that tied a public servantâ€™s conduct with a final accountability to God, are not even mandatory today. Although our theonomist friends would like to see the 18th Century constraints on the civil magistrate reintroduced, I think it would be better for our friends to re-examine the eschatology that drives their position.
Furthermore, despite a resurgence of neo-Puritan influence within Christian homseschooling, as well as a conservative â€œdominionistâ€ perspective within the same circle, it is highly unlikely these groups will be able to establish a theonomic government within the United States. Although this sub-category of subject matter demands its own epistle, for the purpose of this essay, it is not necessary. However, it is important to note that I am not using the term â€œneo-Puritanâ€ in a pejorative sense, as I see the self-policing of the Puritans to bring about the end of the Salem Witch Trials as a positive aspect of their biblical devotion. Even though historians and the mainstream media (MSM) have slammed the Puritans for years (based on the Salem Witch Trials and the fictional work titled The Scarlet Letter), the Puritans did return to the Bible for guidance and stopped the trials. This reality stands in stark contrast to the long-running Roman Catholic Inquisition that resulted in thousands of lives lost for non-biblical reasons. A final thought on this sub-topic is this: Contemporary Christians might fare much better if they took the Bibleâ€™s warnings on witchcraft a little more seriously. Todayâ€™s Christian â€œlove affairâ€ with such works as Narnia and the Lord of the Rings Trilogy is not biblical in the least, and their inclusion of so much witchcraft should give any sober Christian pause. On the other hand, I think the dominionists (represented by Replacement, Covenantal, and certain neo-Patriarchy theologies) are problematic for a number of reasons, not the least of which is their implicit anti-Semitism, which has been a centuries old problem in the Roman Catholic Church.
So what are the divergent views of the two main political parties and third parties, as it relates to the ongoing Global War on Terrorism (GWOT)? Their views, in a word, are weak; as each of the political parties rhetoric and actions regarding defense of America have resulted in a continuing vulnerability to terrorist attack, despite taking the fight to the terrorists on their home turf. Furthermore, many pundits and politicians display an enormous lack of understanding concerning the functions of the Commander-in-Chief (president) during a time of war. Lastly, despite their vocal positions supporting the troops, very few of those opposed to the war have displayed an iota of true support for the men and women doing the fighting. Talk is cheap, and the â€œwe oppose the war but support the troopsâ€ is some of the cheapest talk making its rounds in America.
Besides very inexpensive posturing, there has been a great deal of rhetoric concerning a lack of weapons of mass destruction being found in Iraq, which is ostensibly the reason America invaded this particular country under a new policy of â€œpre-emption.â€ However, it is important to start at the beginning, and the 2003 Iraq War is hardly that place.
For years, radical Islamists have been deliberately attacking the United States abroad, killing military and civilian personnel alike. Whether the attacks were on embassies, naval vessels, or US military facilities overseas, the Islamists murdered many Americans and many more foreign nationals. During this time, the US administrations viewed these attacks as a law enforcement issue instead of what it truly was: A new global jihad to instill Islam as a one-world religion. Since the United States is the only superpower, we are its primary target, although Russia, the Philippines, and a number of other countries have been under Islamic attack for as many years as the US.
This is not the first time Muslims have attempted to force their religion upon all the worldâ€™s known people groups. Despite the self-flagellation of American and European historians, the Muslims began the conflict that resulted in The Crusades. In other words, just as the historians deceived themselves, successive administrations, as well as the US Congress, failed to comprehend the true nature of the threat. The legislative and executive branches also failed to act on known intelligence, while allowing a Fifth Column of Muslims to become US citizens, allegedly based on the sacrosanct â€œrightâ€ to practice oneâ€™s religion in America. Republican and Democrat administrations alike failed to deal with the enemy â€“ period.
For their part, the Republicans did wake from their slumber after the attack of September 11, 2001. Yet, the majority of the administration (then and now) ignored the advice of General (Retired) Shinseki, Secretary of State Powell (formerly General Powell), and a host of others who were very reluctant to prosecute the GWOT in the manner we now see. Moreover, the Republican president took the politically correct stance of distinguishing between radical and non-radical Muslims. This distinction was and is fallacious, and it has been the Republicanâ€™s most significant failure in understanding the threat against our country â€“ a threat that is primarily a religious threat on what remains of our Constitutional Republic. Thus, we come to the first fundamental issue concerning the GWOT, and we find that, since our very existence is threatened, there is a reason to wage war. How we wage that war, however, is the contentious issue between the two primary parties, while the third party candidates concern themselves with the constitutionality of an undeclared war.
For their part, many members of all parties have been concerned with this lack of a declared war. Yet, this is argument is without merit, since the threat is transnational, operating within a guerilla warfare infrastructure. Although these groups receive succor from known governments, it would be impossible (from a legal perspective) to make the case for declaring war on these countries, because their military personnel are not attacking our country. Those insisting the US declare war before dispatching troops often use a straw man argument for said insistence and, therefore, it is easily demonstrable to show how those insisting on such a course would seemingly prefer to see thousands of American civilians dead while waiting for the definitive act (if it ever came) to declare war on a uniformed enemy. This desirable reality conflicts with the superseded principle of US conduct, which is not only necessary to continue our survival as a nation and protect its citizens (a charge the Chief Executive enjoys), but can be biblically justified on an extrapolation from the obvious examples of when it is justifiable to lie â€“ to protect anotherâ€™s life (Jewish midwives in Egypt, Christians protecting Jews during the 1930-40â€™s time period, etc.), as well as numerous biblical principles of self-defense. What is that superseded principle? The War Powers Act. Simply stated, if the peopleâ€™s representatives give the Commander-in-Chief certain powers and the US Supreme Court does not find those powers to be unconstitutional, then no â€œitâ€™s unconstitutionalâ€ argument will change the present reality. Again, it is prudent to keep in mind the balance of powers does just that â€“ it balances power. If congress chooses to rein in the president, it merely cuts off funding for the so-called â€œpresidentâ€™s war.â€ It is just that simple. Furthermore, if we desire to be â€œstrict constructionists,â€ then we would quickly realize that nearly every declared war the US has been involved with since the Mexican American War has been unconstitutional, for more than one reason. Yet, I have noticed the strict constructionists are not too enamored with visiting this truth in their assertions the current war is unconstitutional
Another sub-issue that the constitutionalists employ is their suspicion of the Council of Foreign Relations and its agenda. Although their concern is understood, it should be noted that a lot of this concern is actually religiously based, specifically their view of eschatology (end times). Again, we are looking here at dominionists and their view of â€œtaking dominionâ€ for Christ, which is driven by a post-mill eschatology.
Another issue we repeatedly hear discussed is how our invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan has only served to inflame Muslim sensibilities more than they were already inflamed by our actions before 9/11 and the resulting war on terrorism. We hear this most often from the political left and leading Democrats. This particular argument is based on the assumption that America has caused its problems with the Muslim world before 9/11 instead of the reality that Muslims were already engaged in a global jihad. The reality is this: Muslims are going to attack America, Russia, England, France, Germany, and anywhere else they think they can gain a foothold, as long as these countries entertain the delusion that Muslim actions are predicated on our actions instead of accepting that Muslims, at every level of their society, are deliberately orchestrating this war against the west. On a lighter note, some would argue the phrase â€œMuslim sensibilitiesâ€ is an example of a classic oxymoron.
Lastly, the real issue Americans as a group should be addressing is not whether the war is unconstitutional, based on a lie (this deserves its own essay), or inflaming Muslims, but how to win. We have already sacrificed more than 2,500 dead American soldiers, since 2003, a few hundred before 2003, more than 20,000 wounded, as well as more than 3,000 civilian casualties between the different acts of Muslim aggression and the 9/11 attack. To cut and run at this point would be cowardly, something the Bible and all societies condemn. The ultimate truth is this: Americans need to search for solutions together, not attack one another in political sound bites.