“[A governing authority] not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer.”

—Romans 13:4

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45 thoughts on “The Government’s Sword as an Instrument of God’s Wrath”

  1. “But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:44-45

    1. Justin Taylor says:

      Yes, both are true. Paul encourages neighbor love just a few verses after this in Romans 13.

  2. Matthew says:

    What do we do with Proverbs 24:17: “Do not rejoice when your enemy falls, and let not your heart be glad when he stumbles”?

    I am truly conflicted. It is difficult not to feel happy that such a man has been brought to justice. But it always feels unsettling to so rejoice when anyone dies separated from God.

    1. Justin Taylor says:

      Someone more intelligent and eloquent than me can likely respond better, but I think it’s appropriate for Christians to feel a complex of emotions in a situation like this.

      There will be varying Christian responses in the days ahead. But here’s a prediction: one’s view of the imprecatory psalms and their application for today will largely match up with the person’s response to this situation.

      1. “But here’s a prediction: one’s view of the imprecatory psalms and their application for today will largely match up with the person’s response to this situation.”

        Well stated. A time such as this exposes our beliefs. Comprehensively biblically founded beliefs will mingle delight and sorrow as long as we inhabit this present age. In the age to come, it shall be delight no longer mingled with sorrow (Rev. 7:17; 21:4). Thus, the delight we now rightly feel is a foretaste of the eternal kingdom, and we should not suppress it as though it were sinful or evil to sense and to express delight at the demise of a wicked man.

    2. See, the day is coming, burning like an oven, when all the arrogant and all evildoers will be stubble; the day that comes shall burn them up, says the Lord of hosts, so that it will leave them neither root nor branch. But for you who revere my name the sun of righteousness shall rise, with healing in its wings. You shall go out leaping like calves from the stall. And you shall tread down the wicked, for they will be ashes under the soles of your feet, on the day when I act, says the Lord of hosts (NRSV Mal 4:1-3).

      Anyone who has grown up on a farm with cattle will appreciate the imagery of a calf released for the first time from its stall. The imagery is one of sheer delight, a rather powerful imagery of how God’s righteous ones will rejoice in the Day of the Lord. Yesterday was a harbinger of the Day of the Lord for Osama bin Laden and a small foretaste of that day for the righteous. It is, of course, a warning to all that the great Day of the Lord will come with the cry, “Repent!”

  3. Brian cole says:

    True, but what should our attitude be? Dancing in the streets? Ez 33:11 “..for I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked…”

  4. Phil says:

    When the righteous prosper, the city rejoices; when the wicked perish, there are shouts of joy.
    Proverbs 11:10

    Balance?

    1. Brian cole says:

      I think the Proverbs 24 verse speaks to personal attitude, and yours speaks to a general societal response (which we are already seeing) and the Ezekial verse speaks to the general view of God, that He executes justice, but isn’t capricious in doing so. Just my .02

  5. I think mixed emotions are consistent living in the “already not yet” as theologians have termed it. We have a sense of relief that our government has wielded a sword that has brought down an evil enemy. But, the fact that we can use words like evil and enemy reminds us that Christ has not returned in all his glory to bring ultimate victory. Thus, because the Kingdom comes first not the state, we as believers must pray for our enemies and coming of our King.

  6. Michael says:

    Context. Matthew and Proverbs are in regards to personal attacks. You can pray for someone to come to faith and also that justice will be done. Romans 13 is clearly talking about the government, which has a God-given responsibility to protect its people.

    Only in 2011 postmodern America would the first comment here be in disagreement with justice being done!

    1. Josh Gelatt says:

      Actually, unless I’m mistaken, that comment was first made 2,000 years ago in response to an oppressive, sadistic, and tyrannical regime that was slaughtering the people of Judea. To which Jesus replied, “But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:44-45.

      It seems more likely to me that during the last 2,000 years the church has slowly forgotten what the gospel really is all about.

      Sure, we should be thankful God has removed a threat. But ultimately this is not our kingdom, and those who really grasp the Gospel are right to mourn and weep over the death of a sinner.

  7. The first comment was not in disagreement. You failed to read my second post. My grandfather once told me (who fought in WW2) that when he aimed his gun he did so for the cause of liberty. But, when he put his head down at night, as a Christian, he prayed for his enemy to know Christ crucified. Furthermore, the verses do not contradict each other one bit. For example, the government has the right to carry out the death penalty, but I can still pray, and should pray, for the criminal who has transgressed the law of God and the land.

  8. steve says:

    Justice glorifies God.

  9. Don says:

    I think it’s a hard issue to address in a blog, much moreso a comment. Scripture does tell us to love and pray for our enemies, and yet it tells us that the unchristian government is a tool to bring God’s justice to the wrongdoer.

    I think much of the problem with this situation in particular is that we, as Americans, tend to view anyone “against us” as “evil”. So it’s easy for us to rejoice in the death of a terrorist, and hard for us to remember that we’re all enemies of God in need of a Savior.

    I’m all for justice being done. It should be done solemnly though, with a seriousness attached to the sentence, not making jokes about how Bin Laden’s death will be portrayed in the next South Park episode. A man just died, most likely never confessing Christ, and will now face an eternity separated from God with no hope of peace. That should quiet our souls, regardless of what our opinions of the man happen to be.

  10. Chris says:

    As I watched the news reports, I felt a tension similar to the one expressed by these comments. And as I reflected more on it, I realized that it is similar to another tension I have felt many time–a tension we encounter as we consider the biblical doctrine of hell.

    As strange as it seems, hell is depicted in the Bible both as tragedy and victory. Hell is tragic, as it is awful that people rebel against God and persistently spurn the Savior. God is “slow to anger,” “abounding in love and faithfulness” (Exod. 34:6-7), and does not take pleasure in the punishment of the wicked, just as he does not find pleasure in the existence of sin (Ezek. 18:23). Jesus likewise grieved and wept over human lostness, sin, and the impending judgment (Matt. 23:37; Luke 19:41; 23:34). The apostle Paul also shared this perspective, earnestly longing and praying for the conversion of his lost fellow-Jews, even to the point of being willing to undergo God’s wrath for them (Rom. 9:1-6; 10:1). That sinners go to hell is tragic and should break our hearts.

    Yet hell is also portrayed as God’s triumph. Hell is linked to his righteous judgment and the day of Yahweh, even called “the day of God’s wrath” (Rom. 2:5). As such, hell answers (not raises) ultimate questions related to the justice of God. Through the coming wrath, judgment, and hell, God’s ultimate victory is displayed over evil, and his righteousness is vindicated. There is a “comfort” to hell (2 Thess. 1:5-11; James 5:1-6; Rev. 18-22), as its hard reality offers hope to and encourages perseverance in persecuted saints. God will judge everyone, and he will avenge his people; God will win in the end, and justice will prevail. And through his righteous judgment and ultimate victory, God will glorify himself, displaying his greatness and receiving the worship he is due (e.g., Rom. 9:22-23; Rev. 6:10, 11:15-18; 14:6-15:4; 16:5-7; 19:1-8).

    Though the comparison is by no means perfect, and though it is on a much smaller scale, I tend to think that we can rightly grieve that Osama bin Laden rejected and opposed the true and living God. It is fitting that we are sad that he will forever pay the price for this massive rebellsion. But we also must rejoice in the appropriateness of the defeat of and judgment upon people who are evil. The dancing in the streets does not have to be deemed as American nationalism; it may also be seen as a genuinely apt response to the partial display of justice as we await the final and perfect display of the coming age.

  11. Chris says:

    God takes no pleasure in the death of anyone, and neither should we (Ez 18; 33): “turn back, turn back from your evil ways, for why will you die…?” is the message from God to both mourning Arabs and jubilant Americans.

    1. Michael says:

      Chris,

      “But the LORD was pleased To crush Him, putting Him to grief”

      A complete theology can not be built around one verse.

      1. Josh Gelatt says:

        Michael, that refers to the Messiah (who took God’s punishment for us). It is preciously because God does not take pleasure in the death of anyone that He crushed the Messiah.

    2. Garrett says:

      I don’t know Hebrew, but I’ve been told that the same word used for “pleasure” in Ezekiel 33:11 is the same word used for “desire” in 1 Samuel 2:25 with regards to Eli’s wicked sons. Can anyone verify that? If that’s true, it would be a very helpful point in the discussion.

      Here are the passages:

      “Say to them, ‘As I live!’ declares the Lord GOD, ‘I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn back, turn back from your evil ways! Why then will you die, O house of Israel?’ (Ezekiel 33:11)

      “If one man sins against another, God will mediate for him; but if a man sins against the LORD, who can intercede for him?” But they would not listen to the voice of their father, for the LORD desired to put them to death. (1 Samuel 2:25)

      1. It’s true. Both use the word חָפֵץ. “Want, desire, take pleasure in”

        1. Garrett says:

          Thanks for looking into it Dave. It’s a helpful connection to see, for me anyway.

  12. From the Apocalypse (chs.18-19):

    “”Fallen! Fallen is Babylon the Great!…”

    “Rejoice over her, O heaven! Rejoice, saints and apostles and prophets! God has judged her for the way she treated you.’ “”

    “1 After this I heard what sounded like the roar of a great multitude in heaven shouting: “Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God, 2 for true and just are his judgments. He has condemned the great prostitute who corrupted the earth by her adulteries. He has avenged on her the blood of his servants.” 3 And again they shouted: “Hallelujah! The smoke from her goes up for ever and ever.” 4 The twenty-four elders and the four living creatures fell down and worshiped God, who was seated on the throne. And they cried: “Amen, Hallelujah!” 5 Then a voice came from the throne, saying: “Praise our God, all you his servants, you who fear him, both small and great!” 6 Then I heard what sounded like a great multitude, like the roar of rushing waters and like loud peals of thunder, shouting: “Hallelujah! For our Lord God Almighty reigns.””

  13. Liang says:

    Let’s look back to 9/11/2001. Multitudes celebrating on the streets across the Middle East? Why? In their minds, justice is done. So much of the middle east had been barraged by US missiles and threatened with the presence of US ships and planes. Imagine if we had Middle Eastern fleets 200 miles off the East and West Coast? We can’t, because we’re Americans and not subject to the oppression we impose on others. My point is, they thought they were celebrating justice in 2001, because so many people in the Middle East have lost loved ones due to the US military’s operations there (i.e. bombing a pharmaceutical company in Libya and lying to the public about it being a chemical weapons factory). And if you look up the complete history of what we’ve done there – it is horrific and damnable. If you put down the US-colored lenses and try to take a hard, honest, objective look at history, I think you’ll find that more death and pain has been brought to the Middle East because of the US involvement there, than the Middle East has ever inflicted on Americans.

    Flash forward to 2011. Americans are celebrating “justice”. Christians are celebrating “justice.” How is it any better than their celebration in the streets in 2001? What does this mean for the gospel in the Middle East? What does it mean for missionaries? What does it mean for the Bible, and “It is mine to avenge, declares the LORD, I will repay?” How does it make America or the world any more safe?

    Let me offer a bi-cultural, Christian perspective. The reason Osama gained so much power is because the US committed so much murder in the Middle East (of course, we don’t see it that way, but they do). We created the dictatorial regimes in the Middle East. We gave them weapons in some cases till they turned against us. We have plenty of blood on our hands. And now we martyred one of the, if not, the most revered militant leader for Islam. Mission accomplished?

    If we want peace, we would stop meddling in their affairs. We would stop forcing democracy on nations and our ideas of human rights (which has enough hypocrisies of its own – abortion? delighting in the low prices of child-labor produced electronics?). If we pulled our military out of places we have no business being and stopped killing civilians in the Middle East and lying to cover it up, maybe the jihad movement would start to lose its fuel? We make it look like they’re picking a fight with us for no good reason (we’re the good people and they’re evil), when in reality, they think they are pursuing justice because of all the harm we’ve done in their backyard!

    And I won’t go into what kind of effect this will have on how the 10-40 Window countries view Christianity and the gospel. We didn’t solve any problems in killing Osama and celebrating his death. If anything, we martyred a hero for the militants, made the world less safe, and have all but guaranteed more bloodshed for Christian missionaries.

  14. steve hays says:

    Liang

    “Flash forward to 2011. Americans are celebrating ‘justice’. Christians are celebrating “justice.” How is it any better than their celebration in the streets in 2001?”

    When you evince such an utter lack of moral discrimination, you’re no better than the jihadis. You reflect a schizophrenic combination of moral equivalence and moral outrage. And you can also spare us your Chomskyite/Al Jeezra version of American foreign policy.

  15. steve hays says:

    Hunter Brewer:

    “But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:44-45

    And we should also love potential victims of our enemies. That means protecting them from the bin Ladens of the world.

  16. Liang says:

    Steve,

    So I disagree with you and you attack my character. I don’t see you actually answering any points other than with ad hominems. If there’s logical fallacies, you would honor God and all the readers a lot more by showing them, rather than attacking the person.

  17. steve hays says:

    Liang

    “So I disagree with you and you attack my character. I don’t see you actually answering any points other than with ad hominems. If there’s logical fallacies, you would honor God and all the readers a lot more by showing them, rather than attacking the person.”

    People like you always exempt yourselves from what you dish out to others. But as far as that goes, your original comment was a veiled ad hominem attack on American foreign policy makers. So don’t deceive yourself into imagining that you’re above ad hominem attacks.

    And yes, when you equate Arabs dancing in the streets on 9/11 with (some) Americans “dancing in the streets” at the news of Bin Laden’s death, you instantly disqualify yourself from moralizing.

    You defame the very people who risk their lives to protect yours. That’s culpable ingratitude.

    “America” is not a personal moral agent. “America” is an abstraction. You’re guilty of personifying America, then accusing “America” of “murder.” Try to acquire a modicum of philosophical sophistication before you presume to launch into your moralistic tirades. At most you can fault particular policy makers for particular policies.

    “The reason Osama gained so much power is because the US committed so much murder in the Middle East (of course, we don’t see it that way, but they do).”

    They also don’t see honor killings as murder. Thanks for illustrating your standard of comparison.

    “We created the dictatorial regimes in the Middle East. We gave them weapons in some cases till they turned against us.”

    Yes, during the Cold War, because communism was a greater threat at the time. And when has the Mideast not be dictatorial? What’s an Islamic theocracy, under Sharia law, if not dictatorial?

    “If we want peace, we would stop meddling in their affairs.”

    Why do you think they murder and subjugate African Christians? You can’t blame that on American foreign policy. Islam is a religion with ambitions of global domination:

    The world is divided into the House of Islam and the House of War, the Dar al-Islam and the Dar al-harb. The Dar al-Islam is all those lands in which a Muslim government rules and the Holy Law of Islam prevails. Non-Muslims may live there on Muslim sufferance. The outside world, which has not yet been subjugated, is called the “House of War,” and strictly speaking a perpetual state of jihad, of holy war, is imposed by the law. The law also provided that the jihad might be interrupted by truces as and when appropriate. In fact, the periods of peace and war were not vastly different from those which existed between the Christian states of Europe for most of European history.

    The law thus divides unbelievers theologically into those who have a book and profess what Islam recognizes as a divine religion and those who do not; politically into dhimmis, those who have accepted the supremacy of the Muslim state and the primacy of the Muslims, and harbis, the denizens of the Dar al-harb, the House of War, who remain outside the Islamic frontier, and with whom therefore there is in principle, a canonically obligatory perpetual state of war until the whole world is either converted or subjugated.

    Source: Bernard Lewis, The Multiple Identities of the Middle East, Schocken Books, New York, 1998, pp.121-122.

    http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/History/daralislam.html

  18. Josh Gelatt says:

    Liang, I for one appreciated your wonderfully Gospel-centered and mission-focused approach to this discussion. America is an imperfect and SECULAR society. While it does some very good things, and while I do appreciate aspects of its foreign and domestic policy, I am utterly bewildered why one Christian brother (Steve) would so aggressively defend a secular (e.g. non-God focused) government to the point of attacking another believer (you).

    For the record, there will be no America in Jesus’ final kingdom. So while we should be grateful for it, I certainly think it is unwise to take an American-centric view of the world (a Christ-centered view is what we are called to have). Frankly, we are SUPPOSED to be holding America accountable to the Word of God. We are to do this in abortion, as well as foolish and godless foreign policy choices (though I wouldn’t agree with all the examples you stated, but I would maintain that we Americans are much more sinfully arrogant and pridefully bossy than we care to admit. With that said, I also believe God has used us to bring stability and peace to much of the world).

    While I might argue that some of your views are naive (from my limited perspective, that is not meant as an insult), such as believing that things will be OK if we stop meddling in their affairs, I deeply appreciated how you attempted to turn this conversation towards the potential impact of our response to Osama on Missions.

    Steve, you would do well to listen as Liang makes some valid points and brings this conversation back to THE MOST IMPORTANT ISSUE, which is our service to the KING OF KINGS. While my politically conservative views would actually ling up more with yours, I would suggest replacing Christ-less aggressiveness with a more Spirit-led irenic approach.

  19. John says:

    Steve has offered a shockingly vicious, ‘over-the-top’ response to Liang. I thought we were talking about the Bible. Has this de-evolved into a Fox News message board?

    A few of Steve comments are worthy of response:

    “People like you always exempt yourselves from what you dish out to others.”

    –Do you know Liang? How can you make this assessment? He was speaking of the nation, and now your applying criticism of foreign policy to one’s personal morality?

    “America is not a personal moral agent. America is an abstraction. You’re guilty of personifying America, then accusing “America” of “murder.” Try to acquire a modicum of philosophical sophistication before you presume to launch into your moralistic tirades.”

    –Actually, he never once used the word ‘America’, but rather ‘American’ or ‘Americans’. His philosophical (sic, philological) sophistication is in tact, but your exegesis of his comments is called into question. And as for “moralistic tirades”, it seems your offering your own rude, aggressive, and personal tirades/attacks.

    Steve, I’m glad you love America, but you really need to chill. A little less ‘Glen Beck’ and a little more ‘Apostle Paul’ would be helpful to everyone.

  20. Liang says:

    Thanks for the encouragement, as well as the criticisms. I want to clarify that I don’t think there’s a easy answer here. When I suggested that if we stopped meddling in their affairs, things will turn, I did not mean overnight, but that the perception of the US as one who polices the world when there’s economic gain involved and ignores atrocities where there is not – that’s based on some reality/history. We don’t have to persist in that kind of foreign policy, and if we change our ways, eventually perceptions may change also.

    As for why the Muslim world hates Americans (and in association Christianity), I think there’s some method to the madness. I’m not saying that to justify the hatred – it is sinful and grieves God. I just feel like our media and government paints this out to be a simple, “we’re the good guys doing good things and they’re evil, wicked people who are crazy jihadists.” People usually don’t vow revenge and aren’t willing to die for vengeance’s sake if there’s not something they felt deeply wronged about. So at least from their perspective, their hate is justified, but to dismiss them without considering the sufferings they believe the US has brought upon them – how will we have any compassion to pray?

    An aside: Yes, I do have a problem with the generally aggressive foreign policy stances we take. I’m not alone in that. Many Americans who care about the people who serve in the military and pray for them, also do not like our foreign policy (it’s not mutually exclusive). Much of the Eastern world is not enthralled with our self-interested, economics-oriented meddling in foreign affairs (which is how they see it). The reality is that all nations make calculated moves in foreign affairs that are about economics on some level – the US just does it relatively often, and under the name of democracy, justice, and preserving peace (and the eastern world sees through the hypocrisy).

    I believe in a Sovereign God who is more than able to protect his children. I am still very concerned for brothers and sisters who pour out their lives in the Middle East, trying to show people there that God loves them deeply and tell them the Good News about Jesus. I don’t see how our country’s foreign policies, the killing of Osama, and the general celebration over it, will do anything but harm the missions effort. I’m struggling to hope in Romans 8:28-30 in this situation and to pray that for the missionaries there.

    Back on topic… on the original quote of Romans 13:4 – I’m not sure that verse applies so much to country to country relationships as it does to the government punishing crime within its own country. Don’t want to nitpick though, since I think JT was just posting his initial/immediate response to the news.

  21. steve hays says:

    Liang

    “So at least from their perspective, their hate is justified, but to dismiss them without considering the sufferings they believe the US has brought upon them – how will we have any compassion to pray?”

    You could always make a token effort to distinguish legitimate grievances from envious propaganda. Or do you prefer to premise your prayers on fashionable falsehoods?

    “Much of the Eastern world is not enthralled with our self-interested, economics-oriented meddling in foreign affairs (which is how they see it).”

    Why do you keep making our enemies the standard of comparison? Why do you keep making the adherents of a false prophet of a false god the standard of comparison?

    “The reality is that all nations make calculated moves in foreign affairs that are about economics on some level – the US just does it relatively often, and under the name of democracy, justice, and preserving peace (and the eastern world sees through the hypocrisy).”

    Not to mention the hypocrisy of someone who sits at his computer, with internet access, expressing disapproval at “economics-oriented” foreign policy–as if you’re not a willing beneficiary of the very policy you deride. But it’s always more fun to perceive hypocrisy in a second party than look in the mirror.

  22. steve hays says:

    Josh Gelatt

    “Liang, I for one appreciated your wonderfully Gospel-centered and mission-focused approach to this discussion.”

    There is nothing “Gospel-centered” about his anti-American tirade. It’s the stock rhetoric of the self-hating American, pedaled in secular academia, viz. Noam Chomsky, Ed Said, Ward Churchill.

    “America is an imperfect and SECULAR society.”

    America is not a secular society. America is a culturally, ideologically, and religiously diverse society. The secular element is in the distinct minority.

    “I am utterly bewildered why one Christian brother (Steve) would so aggressively defend a secular (e.g. non-God focused) government to the point of attacking another believer (you).”

    Christians are disproportionately represented in our military. But it doesn’t bother you if Liang smears them as agents of “oppression” and “murder.”

    “I certainly think it is unwise to take an American-centric view of the world (a Christ-centered view is what we are called to have).”

    But you think it’s okay if Liang takes an Islamo-centric view of the world, using that as the frame of reference to judge American foreign policy.

    “Steve, you would do well to listen as Liang makes some valid points and brings this conversation back to THE MOST IMPORTANT ISSUE, which is our service to the KING OF KINGS”

    And you’d to well to learn how to listen in the first place, rather than projecting what you’d like to hear onto his words.

    “I would suggest replacing Christ-less aggressiveness with a more Spirit-led irenic approach.”

    The same Spirit who inspired the laws of warfare in Deut 20? Do you think Christ is Christ-less in Rev 19–as the warrior king?

  23. steve hays says:

    John

    “Steve has offered a shockingly vicious, ‘over-the-top’ response to Liang.”

    Let’s see, how did Liang express himself: “And if you look up the complete history of what we’ve done there – it is horrific and damnable…the US committed so much murder in the Middle East (of course, we don’t see it that way, but they do)…We have plenty of blood on our hands.”

    The fact that what I say in response to that type of rhetoric gets you riled up, but his “shockingly vicious, over-the-top” rhetoric rolls off your back betrays how oblivious you are to your own ideological bias.

    “Has this de-evolved into a Fox News message board?”

    Because your preferred news outlet is what–al Jazeera?

    “Do you know Liang? How can you make this assessment?”

    By what he says.

    “He was speaking of the nation, and now your applying criticism of foreign policy to one’s personal morality?”

    A “nation” is a collective. He’s attacking the moral vision of our policymakers and their agents. So, yes, that’s personal. It’s not an AI supercomputer.

    “Actually, he never once used the word ‘America’, but rather ‘American’ or ‘Americans’.”

    He says “US,” which is a synonym for “America.” Do I have to explain the nature of synonyms to you?

    You also commit the word-concept fallacy.

    “A little less ‘Glen Beck’ and a little more ‘Apostle Paul’ would be helpful to everyone.”

    I don’t listen to Glen Beck. As to Paul, is this the sort of thing you had in mind?

    “But Saul, who was also called Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked intently at him 10and said, ‘You son of the devil, you enemy of all righteousness, full of all deceit and villainy, will you not stop making crooked the straight paths of the Lord? 11And now, behold, the hand of the Lord is upon you, and you will be blind and unable to see the sun for a time.’”

  24. Liang says:

    Steve – I’m not sure where your hate originates. I can’t change your mind – hating your brother is something that’s between you and Jesus – though I hope that for your sake you would repent of that hate.

    I just want to clarify – when I say “Eastern,” I’m referring to East Asian, not Muslim. I’m thinking more in terms of China, Japan, Korea, than of the Islamic world, since I’m far closer to those cultures. Those cultures are not “Islamo-centric,” nor am I. I’m merely offering a viewpoint that’s different from yours and probably different from many who read this forum. I’m not smearing our troops or attacking any individuals. I’m commenting on the foreign policy that we’ve had as a nation, and it’s my right and responsibility as a citizen to voice that concern and try to affect change.

    And NO, I am not a willing beneficiary of our foreign, self-interested policies. I didn’t learn about them extensively till recently, and for most of my life, have been ignorant, something I’m ashamed of. Now that I am learning more about it, it utterly disgusts me. Not primarily because of the reputation the US has as a country – which is of secondary importance to me. I’m disgusted because I’m realizing how much of a negative impact the US’s stance on foreign policies has been detrimental to the gospel worldwide. I would much rather be poorer, and have people in Central America and the Middle East be treated more kindly by my government, and have the gospel spread quickly and effectively to unreached peoples.

    If a fashionable falsehood to you is having compassion for civilians wrongfully bombed in Iraq, or workers at a pharmaceutical plant wrongfully killed in Libya, because our government lied and attacked based on falsified information – yes, those people who are hurt, killed, those families who are torn apart, those people who have never heard the gospel and will suffer the wrath of God in hell – those are people that break my heart. Judge me for fashionable falsehood, or what you want to call it. All the people who are jaded against Christianity because of those types of senseless killings, based on lies about finding WMDs that didn’t exist, whose lives have been destroyed and whose notion of Jesus is tied into images of injustice and oppression – those are the people I pray for. May I remind you that prior to becoming an Apostle, there was no greater enemy to early Christianity than Saul, who gloated over the stoning of Stephen, who struck terror into the Church with widespread persecution.

    God is bigger than human enmity. That’s why I pray for the lost in the Islamic world, even and esp. if they consider us enemies. That’s why I have compassion for lost souls and broken families there. I have no Islamic friends. I have no Islamic ties. I have a Savior who is worthy of worship by people from every nation, tribe and tongue, and there are many in the Islamic world who have not heard the Gospel. I have a Savior who died for peoples who my government dismiss as enemies, and even if they were enemies, Jesus commands me to pray for them. The only sense I can make of this… that I care at all about unsaved people in the Middle East I have 0 connection to personally, is that God cares deeply that His name is praised by those peoples and by his grace, has caused me to care (the little that I do). For that, I’m thankful to God and, at the risk to sounding slightly Rob Bell-ish (who I could not disagree with more), I hope that in your heart, love will win over hate as you consider those lost peoples.

  25. steve hays says:

    Liang

    “I’m not sure where your hate originates. I can’t change your mind – hating your brother is something that’s between you and Jesus – though I hope that for your sake you would repent of that hate.”

    Maybe you should repent of imputing hateful motives to your “brothers.”

    “I just want to clarify – when I say ‘Eastern,’ I’m referring to East Asian, not Muslim. I’m thinking more in terms of China, Japan, Korea, than of the Islamic world, since I’m far closer to those cultures. Those cultures are not ‘Islamo-centric,’ nor am I.”

    You can’t slither out of it that easily. You cited the claim that “the Muslim world hates Americans” as an Islamo-centric standard by which we should measure American foreign policy.

    In addition, your complaint mirrors the resentful envy of the US by UN types. Resentful envy isn’t a Christian virtue.

    “I’m not smearing our troops or attacking any individuals.”

    Of course you are. “Murder” and “oppression” are carried out by individuals.

    “I didn’t learn about them extensively till recently, and for most of my life, have been ignorant, something I’m ashamed of.”

    The fact that you have so little background, the fact that you’re reading is so lopsided, should caution you to read more widely and take more time to develop a considered position before you presume to be so judgmental concerning issues you know so little about.

    “Now that I am learning more about it, it utterly disgusts me.”

    And many American Christians find your sentiments utterly disgusting.

    “I would much rather be poorer, and have people in Central America and the Middle East be treated more kindly by my government, and have the gospel spread quickly and effectively to unreached peoples.”

    That’s a skewed version of American foreign policy.

    “All the people who are jaded against Christianity because of those types of senseless killings, based on lies about finding WMDs that didn’t exist, whose lives have been destroyed and whose notion of Jesus is tied into images of injustice and oppression – those are the people I pray for.”

    You’re mindlessly regurgitating the one-sided, formulaic propaganda you’ve imbibed.

    “May I remind you that prior to becoming an Apostle, there was no greater enemy to early Christianity than Saul, who gloated over the stoning of Stephen, who struck terror into the Church with widespread persecution.”

    No, you may not remind me of that, since I don’t need you to tell me what I already know.

    “I have a Savior who died for peoples who my government dismiss as enemies…”

    The jihadis are declared enemies of the US. They are quite open about their intentions.

    “…and even if they were enemies, Jesus commands me to pray for them.”

    A non sequitur in relation to our foreign policy.

    “I hope that in your heart, love will win over hate as you consider those lost peoples.”

    You project animosity towards people like me who rub you the wrong way. That’s not love. You love “lost people” in the abstract, but you can’t stand the “wrong” sort of people in the concrete.

  26. Josh Gelatt says:

    Steve,

    I’ll leave the last comment to you, for I wish to engage with this no more. I stand by my statements of Liang’s comments, as well as my critique of yours. Your speech lacks grace, lacks love, lacks humility, and most importantly lacks Christ.

    You seem very proud to be an American. I am glad, and share in thanking God for that honor. But the vindictiveness you shown towards another believer (with whom you will share eternity) is appalling. Brother, this is sinful. I will probably not change your mind, and may even receive further verbal insults from you. Regardless, as a brother in Christ I feel an obligation to warn you and humbly ask you to check your heart and to stop writing until you’ve had a chance to calm down, get in the Word, and spend much time in prayer. This is “zeal without knowledge” (Romans 10:2).

  27. Josh Gelatt says:

    Justin, might I suggest it is time to shut down the comments on this post? Things are spirally downward at an ugly pace.

  28. steve hays says:

    Josh Gelatt

    “I’ll leave the last comment to you, for I wish to engage with this no more. I stand by my statements of Liang’s comments, as well as my critique of yours. Your speech lacks grace, lacks love, lacks humility, and most importantly lacks Christ.”

    But if Liang accuses our soldiers of murder, that’s humble, gracious, loving, and Christian.

    “You seem very proud to be an American.”

    I haven’t said anything to that effect.

    “But the vindictiveness you shown towards another believer (with whom you will share eternity) is appalling. Brother, this is sinful. I will probably not change your mind, and may even receive further verbal insults from you.”

    But it doesn’t bother you that he accuses our soldiers, many of whom are Christian, of murder. How very selective.

    “Regardless, as a brother in Christ I feel an obligation to warn you and humbly ask you to check your heart and to stop writing until you’ve had a chance to calm down, get in the Word, and spend much time in prayer.”

    Before you advise others, I’d suggest you take your own advice.

  29. Yed A. says:

    In light of this verse, it is only appropriate that the ground cmdr at compound radioed back “for God and country, Geronimo, Geronimo, Geronimo”. According to Savannah Guthrie, Geronimo was codeword if they got OBL. Thank you for this reminder Justin.

  30. Boyd says:

    Everyone, stop feeding “Steve the Troll”. He only wants to attack anyone who doesn’t 100% agree with his political views. This discussion is supposed to be about whether or not we are honoring Scripture, not whether or not we are honoring the US military.

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Justin Taylor


Justin Taylor is senior vice president and publisher for books at Crossway and blogs at Between Two Worlds. You can follow him on Twitter.

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