Monday, September 25, 2006

Hilary Rodham Clinton more Dangerous than Lucifer?

Conservative Christian organizers are getting together again, led by James Dobson of Focus on the Family fame. They are worried. They sense a lot of disaffection at the grassroots level amongst those who voted Republican two years ago. Here is a link to the article by David Kilpatrick---

They should indeed be worried. The war in Iraq is going poorly, and many Christians are fed up with it. In fact, many Americans in general are fed up with it, as it seems to be getting a lot of our troops killed and accomplishing nothing much. They can't even seem to get the trial of Saddam Hussein over and done with, which in itself is ominous.

Interestingly, what no one was suggesting at the conservative Christian organizers meeting was that maybe, just maybe it was grossly inconsistent when it comes to being 'pro-life' to be campaigning so vigorously against abortion, while supporting the war in Iraq equally vigorously. Indeed, by some polls it appears Evangelical Christians are still some of the most staunch supporters of the war in Iraq. What's up with that?

The worries about the midterm elections however pale in comparison to the worries about the 2008 Presidential election. Leave it to Jerry Falwell to suggest that Hilary Clinton's candidacy in that election would raise more Evangelical opposition than Lucifer's!!! Wow. Who knew we were preparing to have a female anti-Christ? But that busts the Dispensational paradigms so something must be wrong here.

Lost in the shuffle was the fact that in Massachusetts, the only state that currently allows same sex marriages to have legal recognition, Catholic adoption agencies have stopped offering children for adoption altogether, because they would have to offer them to all comers, including same sex couples. What have we come to?

Also lost in the shuffle was one Christian organizer who suggested that a Christian group should use deceptive practices to take a poll for this fall's election in order to see which way the wind was blowing. This was quite properly condemned by others at the meeting, but it shows the level of anxiety about the upcoming election. It also shows how much Evangelicals are prepared to compromise their ethics to achieve certain political goals. What would Jesus say?

What was M.I.A. at this meeting was a recognition that war is just as destructive of life in general and Christian values in particular as abortion or same sex marriage. I suspect that until it dawns on these Christian organizers that they need to be articulating a more consistent and clear life ethic that not only affects personal Christian values but our larger witness to the whole world, that most non-Christians are not going to pay much attention to us. And demonizing Hilary Clinton or her husband isn't going to help. That's just Christians behaving badly. If this is the best moral leadership for the future that Evangelical figureheads can muster--- then heaven help us.

Not that I am hearing anything dramatically different or better from the Democratic side of the ledger. As the article says, for Christians it seems increasingly to be a matter of choosing between the lesser of two evils.

Maybe we ought to consider doing something drastic-- like starting our own Christian political party that isn't beholden to any of the current powers that be, including the huge pac/lobbyist money that steers politics from behind the scenes. What a concept! Imagine Christians mostly being on the same page when it comes to what 'family values' are and what sort of direction we want to see our country go in. But alas this is almost as much of a fairy tale as some of the recent Dispensational pronouncements about the end of the world.


Allan R. Bevere said...


I am very sympathetic to your suggestion, but I fear too it is simply a dream.

I was teaching Christian Ethics last spring, and I suggested much the same thing to the students. I was caught off guard as to how many of them objected, with the Democrats believing their party was already close enough to Christian ideals and the Republicans taking the same position.

It does not bode well for the politics of the Kingdom.

Sandalstraps said...

What was M.I.A. at this meeting was a recognition that war is just as destructive of life in general and Christian values in particular as abortion or same sex marriage.

Perhaps even a fair amount more destructive than abortion or same sex marriage - especially same sex marriage, which, as far as I can tell, represents no threat to "life."

Steve Bedard said...

Ben, I agree with much of what you said. You are able to articulate common sense very well (a skill not found very often these days). As a Canadian, I am in many ways not able to fully understand the U.S. situation, even though we also have the conservative-liberal divide and there is much unrest about Canadian soldiers dying in Afghanistan. I am most certainly not pro-war. But at the same time, I am not convinced that the answer is to just save American and Canadian lives, pull out of Iraq and Afghanistan, and let those countries fully fall into chaos. North American lives are not worth more than Arab lives. I believe that North Americans in general and Christians in particular must have a global consciousness, looking beyond our own needs. If a military presence is no longer acceptable, what is our role in helping these countries enjoy the same stability that we enjoy in the west?

Ben Witherington said...

Hi Steve:

My answer quite simply is that we are partly responsible for radicalizing the Moslem world, by giving them a target to shoot at and messing in their internal affairs. I would have thought deeds of piety and charity surely could not have done a worse job than we have done using the blunt stick with this problem. The great danger we face is alienating every ounce of good will and clout we have in that whole part of the world, and turning those who once were moderates into raving fanatics. Look at the recent knee jerk reaction to the Pope's speech. Terrorism of course must be dealt with. But you can't defeat terrorists by traditional war methods. As Paul suggested, killing them with kindness works far better.



Alex said...


Completely agree that the Iraq War has gone horribly, that war is the worst option, that North Americans, especially Christians, should value other lives over their own, that we have created terrorism through creation/support of Israel, and that the only solution is through our own sacrifice and kindness.

However, here's my question. When injustice (murder) is being perpetrated by a criminal (Saddam Hussein), shouldn't you go to that criminal's house and arrest that criminal? The problem in this case was that this particular criminal happened to be the leader of a country. I don't think we can arrest anyone for being a perceived threat, but doesn't it make sense when they have commited crimes?

Alison said...

Elections have been dirty since at least the time of Thomas Jefferson and voting has always been about the lesser of two evils - why do you think the 2004 election turned out like it did? I voted the way I did (after struggling long and hard with it) because to imagine the other person as president was unthinkable. Unfortunately for all of us, when it comes to politics, the Christian left doesn't behave any better than the Christian right does.

Regarding the war and it's attempt the rid the world of an evil dictator, although ill-advised (as I think any pre-emptive war is), the U.S. is damned if you do and damned if you don't.

Steve Bedard said...

Unfortunately the debate often falls into what should have been done. What we really need to focus on is: what now? I am convinced that the answer is not to abandon Iraq and Afghanistan. But if not a military presence, then what? Do we pump millions of dollars into their infrastructure to improve their standard of living so much that they will never want to go back to the old regime? I would love to see that. I still think that we need to move beyond "bring the troops home" and at least offer alternate solutions.

Ben Witherington said...

Hi Alex:

If Saddam Hussein was the real problem (and I am not buying that he and Al Queida were working together or that he had weapons of mass destruction) then I would have thought that a special ops solution, even repeated attempts at such a solution would be much less destablizing to Iraq and would have cost us far fewer lives and dollars as well. Nobody is suggesting Saddam was a wonderful person. He was a wicked man. But I see no basis at all for the strategy we chose to pursue in the matter. In regard to Iraq, we enormously over-reacted and now we are paying the price.


Bill Barnwell said...

In some fairness to Falwell, it appeared his statement about Lucifer was supposed to be a joke, but it just added to the image that he and those that cheered at the statement are extreme. They should know by now that their words are getting the fine tooth comb treatment in the press.

You are absolutely correct about the current war and the problem of its Christian cheerleaders. Note the government report made public yesterday that the war has raised up more terrorists and has actually made us LESS safe. This was something the anti-war crowd warned about before the invasion even took place.

Regarding the political process as a whole, I think for any honest and consistent Evangelical the reality is that neither party best represents our interests on a whole. There are some "liberal" Evangelical thinkers out there that have some very devasting and accurate critiques of the mainstream "Religious Right" and its effects upon Evangelical culture and our image to the outside world. But then many of these same people go on to argue that if Jesus were physically amongst us today he'd basically be a Democrat and walk the liberal party line. Basically, they just trade in the conservative golden calf for a liberal one.

It makes more sense with our present system to just judge things on a case by case, issue by issue, and candidate by candidate basis, rather than signing on to to a particular political platform as if it were some political Nicene Creed. I think many (though not all of course) conservative Christians support the war not because they have really thought through these issues and their complexities, but because it's the position they think they should have, and that it's the only "conservative" option available. If God's Party and God's President and many of God's Spokesmen say it's right, then it must be right.

Percival said...

Can someone tell me what "supporting the war" in Iraq means? Why don't you mention the folly of "supporting the war" in Afghanistan? And why are we supporting war in Darfur? We want the UN troops and African troops to go there too. I think this all really got out of hand when we supported war in Europe and the Pacific back in the 40's. What about supporting the war against drugs? Don't a lot of people die in that one? Why do the police continue to keep up such a war? Shouldn't we just pull our forces out of the inner cities? I mean, innocent people are being killed in the cross fire.

Let's not use such simplistic terms when talking about such a complex problem. I for one would like to be in the comfortable position of saying, "I am 100% against the war." But what does that mean? Am I backing the legitimate elected government? Or am I just tired of reading about it in the paper and having my country associated with the whole mess? Let's just admit that everyone of good will-- Republicans, Democrats, Christians, Sunnis and Shiites, Kurds and Turkomen are all against the war. Only people who enjoy killing are FOR the war. I don't think that describes Pre. Bush, Sec. Rice, or most of our troops there. Stop trying to steal the moral high ground that you have not earned in your argument.

Oh, and let's not forget that if Saddam was still in power, he would still be starving, gassing, torturing, and shooting more people each month that are being killed these days. Conservative estimates say the Saddam regime was directly responsible for more than a quarter million deaths. He was indirectly responsible for millions more through his wars and policies. But I guess that doesn't matter since we didn't have to watch it. Oh, for the good old days!

Also, I can't think of a bigger political disaster for Christians in America than to have their own political party.

Thank you for letting me rant a bit. I agreed with some of your other points. Have a nice day.

Sandalstraps said...


I think that you have given us a very useful analogy. If we are Christians, then we certainly must care about justice. We must certainly act justly, and seek to bring justice, as far as it is within our power. As such, we should support a government effort to visit justice upon a flagrant criminal.

But such an analogy misses how complex this is. To say that someone needs to have justice visited upon them (and I am here focusing on justice rather than mercy, despite my belief that justice and mercy must always be held together) does not mean that we must endorse any and all means of visiting justice upon that person.

When our attempt to visit justice upon a single lawbreaker (if that is, in fact, what we are doing in Iraq, and I doubt that it is) involves dealing quite unjustly with the population surrounding the lawbreaker in question, we are dealing with a very complex situation indeed.

In order to knock a tyrant from power, the United States has dropped bombs which have killed untold numbers of civilians. In order to knock a tyrant from power the United States has destablyzed the social structures which kept a state from chaos. In order to knock a tyrant from power the United States has engaged acts tantamount to torture, with too little regard for the guilt or innocence of those being deprived of their dignity and basic human necessities.

So even if we can say that the cause of justice has been advanced somewhat by entering into the house of this criminal, we must admit that the collateral damage is such that ultimately the cause of justice has been more harmed than helped.

According to the classic formulation of the just war theory - a classic Christian contribution to a vexing moral problem - a war is just if and only if these two conditions are met:

1. The cause is just, and

2. The conduct is limited.

As such, even if your anaolgy works insofar as it convinces us that the final stated cause (removing Saddam Hussein from power) is just, it fails to account for the conduct of the war, which has been neither limited nor morally justifiable.

If we are to compare this to a law enforcement issue, then the relavant question is not whether or not we should, as you say, "go to that criminal's house and arrest that criminal?" Rather, it is how we should act as we aim to bring the criminal to justice.

There are no perfect analogies, particularly when we seek to compare a military venture to a police raid. But, consider this: When police enter the house of a criminal, are they not morally obligated to consider the ramifications of that act? Are they not morally obligated to look at the conditions in and around the criminal's house as they consider how to apprehend the criminal? Are they not guilty of at least gross misconduct if not homicide if, say, they shoot children while apprehending the suspect?

And if there is no way to apprehend a criminal without doing great violence to the innocent people around that criminal, are police not morally obligated to wait until conditions are better before using force? Sure they must seek to isolate the criminal, seeking to minimize the amount of damage that criminal can do. But they must not rush in, guns blazing, if such an action would result in more harm than good. And the good of capturing a criminal - even a criminal such as Sadaam Hussein - is very small indeed next to the harm of the death of tens of thousands of innocent people.

When looking at the moral implications of violent intervention, we must consider far more than just whether or not violence is ever justified, for even if we agree that violence is sometimes justified, we still must decide when it is justified, what criteria must be met for violence to be justified. To say, in other words, that police have a moral obligation to arrest criminals without saying any more than that overlooks all of the other moral obligations that police have to consider while they seek to arrest a criminal. And to say that a powerful nation has a moral obligation to address injustice even beyond its own boundaries without saying any more than that over looks all of the other moral obligations that powerful nation must consider as it decides how best to live up to its obligation to use its strength justly.

Kevin Rosero said...

One attempt to get Christians on the same page is being made at Seamless Garment.

Percival said...

Dr. Witherington,

You said,
My answer quite simply is that we are partly responsible for radicalizing the Moslem world, by giving them a target to shoot at and messing in their internal affairs. I would have thought deeds of piety and charity surely could not have done a worse job than we have done using the blunt stick with this problem.

Compare this to the reality of what is happening each day in Iraq. the following is from an Iraqi blogger. Even if we in America were as pure as the new fallen snow, we would meet the same enmity as Iraqi Christians are facing today. Are they also to blame for radicalizing the Moslem world? May God forgive us for giving them a target to shoot at.

Iraq the Model
War on peace…
Yesterday around noon, the 'Virgin Mary Old Eastern Church' in Baghdad was attacked with a series of bombings that involved the use of at least three explosive devices.
The sequence in which the bombs were set off indicates the terrorists were trying to inflict as many casualties as possible among the worshippers who were preparing to leave the church after the Sunday ceremony.

What really makes me sad and angry is that churches are the most peaceful places in the country. . . .

Alex said...


I think you used my analogy a lot better than I did. :) The best example of this is the overwhelming and unbalanced response that Israel had on Lebanon in the past few months. Thanks for clarifying the difference between a moral imperative to bring a criminal to justice and the moral imperative to do it in a just way. I think we both agree that both are imperatives, but I have a tendency to forget that the means are as important as the end.


I am in agreement with 90% of what you had to say, including a disdain for pro-war "Christian cheerleaders", and a regret that many Christians uncritically sign on to a particular political platform. I think the fact that we only are allowed two candidates to choose from is a major problem, as big as immigration, social securities imminent collapse, and terrorism.

Here's where we differ. I disagree with your characterization of pro-Iraq War Republicans as people who uncritically follow God's party/God's president. While, regretably, there are many who are like what you describe, I know so many more who genuinley cared about the suffering of the Iraqi people under Saddam Hussein, and thought that this was an emergency that called for drastic measures. Why they don't apply the same logic to AIDS in Africa, Darfur, or the poverty in our inner cities... now that's a good question, and that's where I think they are towing the party line as they ignore those equally, if not more important issues. But to characterize them as lemmings takes, I think, a snapshot of a very small minority in the Republican party. I would certainly question their methods, as Sandalstraps does, but not their motives. Once again, to them, being lemmings is the best they have to choose from. Offer them a third-party candidate to choose from and they could do better. Oh wait... that's not "really" allowed.

Bill Barnwell said...

Hi there Alex. I didn't mean that lemming type behavior was responsible for all or most Christians supporting the war, but that it was a significant factor for many. So we probably aren't far apart on that point. I know that there were also many Christians that really did think that this was the right thing to do, but I never personally agreed with that position, even from before the invasion.

But can you deny that many were influenced by President Bush since he is "our" President? Keep in mind that most Christian conservatives were not on board with the 1999 U.S. led Nato invasion and bombing of Serbia, in which President Clinton led the charge. Back then it was OK to "support the troops" but oppose the war or the President's leadership. Today the rules have changed.

I also thought the case some Christian thinkers tried to build in 2002-2003 that Iraq fit the Just war model were very unconvincing and in retrospect, their case has collapsed completely, that is if we are using standard and historic Just War doctrine as our guide. But the facts have consistently contradicted everything the government predicted in the run up to the invasion and after the fall of Baghdad. And yesterday's report even affirms that the current war has made us more vulnerable to terrorism than before. When you point these things out, some immediately want to claim that you secretly hang Saddam posters on your bedroom wall. Those attacks, of course, are quite intellectually lazy. History will be the judge of whether this was all for the best in the end, though based on Scriptural principals, I think it is highly doubtful what has been going on passes the smell test. So yes, there are a number of reasons that some Christians were in favor of the Iraq invasion and subsequent occupation, but my personal position is no matter how well meaning these folks were and/or are, it doesn't change the facts in this case and right now that the facts aren't very favorable to their side.

Bill Barnwell said...

Percival, before the invasion, Iraq was amongst the most tolerant Middle Eastern country towards Christians. This doesn't mean they were treated great, but it was better than most places in the region. Saddam's foriegn minister was a Catholic. Now again, this doesn't mean Saddam was a nice man or that he was a good or desirable ruler. However, the fact remains that Christians were not treated as poorly as they were and are in some other Middle Eastern countries. And certainly militant Islam is more popular in Iraq today than it was four years ago and this also certainly hasn't been good for Christians caught in the crossfire. There's hints that democracy in Iraq may eventually lead to a democratically elected Islamic theocracy of sorts (remember that Hamas was democratically elected and some Hezbelloah parliment members in Lebanon). Whether it's a strong arm secular dictatorship or democratically elected Islamic extremism, neither of those things are particularly good, but Christians arguably fare worse under the latter.

Sandalstraps said...

As much as I hate to plug my own stuff at someone else's blog, there seems to be some interest here in just war theory, particularly as it pertains to the war in Iraq. I wrote a post on that here. The format of that post is a little cumbersome. It starts with a more personal introduction, then moves into a paper that I wrote during the events leading up to the war. After that paper are my thoughts years later, especially dealing with:

a.) Where my arguments concerning the moral value of the then hypothetical war fell short on their own merit, and

b.) More crucially, where my arguments were based on assumptions which turned out to be false because, like the rest of our country, I was misled by the Bush administration.

The short version is that I once argued that going to war in Iraq could be justified, assuming a few conditions, which I wrote in the paper. After the fact it became clear that our actions were neither justified nor sufficiently limited, and as such the war must be declared unjust. If this interests anyone, you are more than welcome to read that post.

Chaplain Mike said...

Ben, we have radicalized the Muslim world by our very existence. The ones willing to strap bombs to their chests hated us long before Iraq, Afghanistan, 9/11 and beyond. Many of them use our support of Israel (our only real friend in the ME) as an excuse to oppose us when in reality they oppose us because they use us as an escape goat for the level of poverty they live in--propaganda that the UM, UN, DNC, DU, and other Left-leaning organizations willingly embrace. I would say that Muslims have a better handle on the historical and ancient clash between Islam and Christianity. They are still living that ancient war--some of us in the West are in denial of that reality. BTW, I thought this post was about Hillary being worse than Satan.

yuckabuck said...

People are putting too weight much on this supposed "report" released about terrorist recruitment increasing due to the carrying out of regime change in Iraq. It was a political maneuver, short and simple. The Bush administration, which historically has been snail-slow at answering charges levelled in the press, wasted no time and put out a press release demonstrating that the conclusion of the report did not accurately represent the body of th report.

Sorry if I'm raining on people's parade, but let's use some common sense here. As one blogger put it, this report is analogous to saying that a poll showed that anti-Americanism increased in Germany right after we won World War 2. Wars always cause a temporary increase in passions on both sides. The point of it, though, is that one side or the other thinks it is worth it to ruffle some feathers and take increased heat because the ythink they will ultimately bring about a better situation for themselves than they previously had. Does the U.S. stay out of enough wars that it's citizens don't understand the nature of war?

Another way of looking at it goes like this. Recruitment is also up for the american armed services, though it doesn't get reported much. Should the insurgents in Iraq stop insurging just so American recruiting will slow down?

There is certainly a lot of fodder for arguments over the "War on Terror," but Christians need to stop mindlessly swallowing everything that is fed to them in the media, whether right or left.

Also. Falwell was definitely joking. Let's cut the guy some 1 Corinthians 13 slack.

Bill Barnwell said...

Yuckabuck, I certainly don't expect the administration to hail the report, but regardless of its conclusions, it has been proven that there was no previous Iraq-al-Queda link before the invasion. Nor was there any centralized or disjointed "insurgent" or jihadist movement in Iraq prior to the summer of 2003. If anything, Saddam's Iraq was considered a liberal and apostate Islamic state by the radicals. Now they have a new safe haven, or at least a safer haven than it was before. So no, I hardly think we are any safer from terrorist threats and I certainly think a good case can be made that the region is less stable today then it was several years ago.

I'd encourage you and others to check out a recent book on the run-up and consequences of the Iraq invasion. The book is titled Fiasco by Thomas Ricks. It's not a left-wing hatchet job and is mostly a very even account of things as they were and as they have become.

Bill Barnwell said...

On Falwell, I'm more concerned about his influential teachings than I am his quips about Hillary:

"Quite likely, the most important date of the past 20 centuries, since the resurrection of Christ, is May 14, 1948, when Israel officially became a nation again.

It is apparent, in light of the rebirth of the State of Israel, that the present day events in the Holy Land may very well serve as a prelude or forerunner to the future Battle of Armageddon and the glorious return of Jesus Christ."

Percival said...

Bill Barnwell said,
“Percival, before the invasion, Iraq was amongst the most tolerant Middle Eastern country towards Christians. This doesn't mean they were treated great, but it was better than most places in the region.”
You also said to Yuckabuck that the regime was considered “liberal.” What a strange use of the word.

I’ll grant you that things were more stable under the old regime, and that the current government is NOT protecting Christians, and that things will very likely get worse for a while. However, the benefits of the Saddam regime should not be exaggerated. Christians were not treated better in Iraq than in Syria, Lebanon, or Jordan. Also, I am puzzled about why you people in the West would sell freedom so cheaply. Doesn’t every nation deserve an opportunity for positive change? Wasn’t it an American patriot who said, “As for me, give me liberty or give me death.” I know that was probably just rhetoric for Mr. Henry since his liberty was not really curtailed by the British. And after all, who wouldn’t rather live under a stable but repressive regime than to live in anarchy? And don’t forget, we are talking about Arabs here. They are used to tyranny. Maybe that’s where they should be abandoned, I mean, er ... left.

This is the same curious logic that excused the millions murdered by the Soviets because they had universal health care and 99% literacy rates. There are some Russians who think they would like to return to those good old days too. I, for one, would not. I wonder, if Saddam was released and allowed to run for President in Iraq, would he win? After all, he used to be re-elected with 99.9 % of the vote. You can't buy that sort of unity these days.

And for those who are interested, here’s another good Iraqi blogger

Ben Witherington said...

Hi Chaplain Mike:

There is some truth to what you say for some of those folks, but I have spent a good deal of time in those Moslem countries, and most of the people there are not radical Moslems who hate Americans. I repeat, they are not.

In fact, the most common comment I hear is that they like Americans but hate our government.

You simply cannot collapse all Moslems into a single west hating box. Its both historically false, and false today.

Indeed, there are many Moslems who are more peace-loving than many Americans precisely because of the way they interpret some passages in the Koran. Jihad for them, for instance refers to the internal struggle to free oneself from sin, not war.

I would suggest you rent the movie Kingdom of Heaven and pay attention to the character Salahadin. He is more typical of many Moslems in his mercy and compassion than you seem to think.

And finally, it is simply not true that Israel is our only friend in the Middle East. You have totally forgotten Turkey, for example.

You need to know your history and your modern Middle East better. Start by reading the article in Christianity Today this week on Lebanese Christians.


Ben W.

ahsquared said...

This comment grabbed my attention more - from the LA Times version of the article:

Falwell predicted that this year's midterm elections would go in the GOP's favor, despite polls showing Democrats in position to make gains.

"I think we're going to keep the House and the Senate," he said. "I think the Lord will take care of that."

Alex said...


Good call on the Serbia example. You liberals are smarter than I thought. Every month I'm more drawn towards your position but I just can't change all in one day.

Chaplain Mike,

You said, "we have radicalized the Muslim world by our very existence." This is completely a party line quote that you did not get from education but rather from political rhetoric. I know because everyone around me is a Republican, I watch Fox News, listen to Sean Hannity on the radio, and I've heard this exact same line a million times before.

Are you willing to actually look for the legitimate reasons they hate us? You will find them if you look, most people just don't try and just say "it's because of our existence" or "they're just crazy". Come on, that's cop-out. America needs to do the tough and humiliating work of realizing there is a giant plank in its own eye. It's kind of like the 800 pound gorilla in the room that no one will talk about. The worst day in American history was May 14, 1948. Since then, we've supported an unjust and racist government in Israel that amazingly is still considered a democracy. If we could only understand the things that make for peace. These things include justice. And we are supporting the opposite with every dollar we give to Israel.

Bill Barnwell said...

Hi again Alex. One small clarification, I would not consider myself a "liberal" in the modern sense of the word. I consider myself a conservative, but not of the neoconservative persuasion that dominates current conservative thinking, most the magazines, and the administration. Politically, the "Old Right" has a solid history, and theologically, there's plenty of Evangelical denominations historically and today that have anti-war or pacifist roots (or at least take the Just War doctrine seriously). You can be antiwar and still be a conservative in good standing, regardless of what some say. Of course, this does not mean the "conservative" position is the correct position for every political issue. Even theologically, there are some positions or doctrines in certain quarters that are deemed "conservative" or "traditional" but they are not necessarily correct to say the least.

yuckabuck said...

I did not make any of those points that you mention. I was responding to the several instances of people mentioning the (illegally) leaked portion of the National Intelligence Estimate (NIE), which claims that the American presence in Iraq contributed to an increase in terrorist recruitment.

I commented that people were making much out of something that was pretty irrelevant. Not to belabor the point, but it is probably true that there were more Japanese mad at us and enlisting in the Japanese army after we declared war on them than before. So we temporarily made them madder at us before defeating them. Now, there are no Japanese attacks on us at all. You may argue that going into Iraq was not the way to defeat global terrorism, but the NIE leak should not have aroused anyone on either side who had their thinking caps on.

I have not cared to defend the Bush administration for some time, but there are some particular canards that seem to have nine lives, Iraq being an "apostate state" that Al Quaeda would never work with being one of them. If it is true that Islamic radicals do not deal with apostate or secular states, then why were there envoys from Iran watching North Korea's missile tests conducted for the express purpose of threaterning Japan and the United States?

Bush never said that Iraq had an operational relationship with Al Quaeda, but that he wanted to remove the option from the table before such a thing could happen. (And Al Quaeda and Iraq DID make overtures to each other.) Again, you can argue that perhaps this was not the best move, causing a drain on our forces, causing a distraction, etc., but it gets old when the Bushies' position is not presented fairly.

And the argument that says that Iraq is "less stable" now than under Saddam reminds me of the guy who doesn't like being hit in the head with a hammer because it felt so much better when he was only being hit on his fingers with a hammer. Realistically speaking, if you're an Iraqi who backed Saddam before, than you think Iraq is less stable now. If you are an Iraqui who was being tortured or killed by Uday Hussein, or related to someone who was, than you probably think Iraq is better off today. Few things show more a lack of compassion or perspective than trying to paint Saddam's Iraq as "stable." If I was the most anti-war protester out there, I still wouldn't go there. There are much better anti-war arguments.

Well, I have wasted too much on this. Maybe I'll go search for Dr. Witherington's commentary on Romans on Ebay now... :-)

Chaplain Mike said...

Accusing me of repeating a party line--with a different party line!

Blaming the establishment of Israel for our troubles is not a party line quote? Do you not think the Arab mindset toward the Jews is racist as well? Are you just as outraged at the president of Iran (and others) when he promises to drive the Jews into the Med Sea?

Bill Barnwell said...

Yuckabuck, I might remind you that bin Laden offered Saudi Arabia money and fighters to fend off any potential Iraqi attack after Iraq invaded Kuwait in March 1990. After he was rebuffed and the Saudi's hosted the US on their soil instead, this further enraged the radicals. Up to the run up of the recent war, Iraq was not considered the place for Islamic radicalism and Saddam only made public display of his Islam when it was politically convienient. Pan-arab relations are not always uniform. But they do seem to be uniform in that they strongly disagree with U.S policy and they are none to happy with Israel, including the few nations that have peace treaties with them. I think you and others are missing the big picture when we compare pre-invasion and post-invasion Iraq. Nobody thinks Saddam was a decent fellow except for the most nutty amongst us, or that Iraq under Saddam was a great place tolive. But before the invasion, containment was working by and large. At least that's what former Central Command General Anthony Zinni said (and others in the know), who headed things up under Clinton and Bush II early in his term (and supported Bush for prez in 2000) and argued against invasion.

Alex said...

Chaplain Mike,

"...if the mighty works had been done in Tyre and Sidon, which were done in you, they would have repented long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes." Luke 10:13.

Israel was a nation chosen by God to be the light of the world, to live by the highest standard of justice, mercy, and humility. Today Israel wants to make a biblical claim to the land in question. Whether we think the Israel of today has any real theological connection to the Israel of Jesus time, if any nation lays claim to biblical promises, they must live by the standards set forth. Historically, when Israel failed to live up to this standard, God judged them and the land was taken. The record clearly shows that once again they have failed to live up to his standard. Not only that but they continue to treat the Palestinians the same way their grandparents were treated by the Nazis in the 1930s. There is an eerie similarity.

I think that it's very possible that if the miracles and grand history of redemption that occurred in Israel had occurred in Iran, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes.

Denny Burk said...

Maybe you didn’t intend to do this, but it seems like you have put the “Just War” tradition on trial in this post (at least implicitly).

Is it really true that evangelical Christians are inconsistent when they vigorously advocate pro-life policies while supporting the war in Iraq. You wrote,

"What was M.I.A. at this meeting was a recognition that war is just as destructive of life in general and Christian values in particular as abortion or same sex marriage."

I am not saying that you are pacifist, but the logic of this blog-entry seems to be. You have linked the evil of war to the evils of abortion-on-demand and same-sex “marriage.” To say that Christians must oppose war in the same way that they do abortion-on-demand and same-sex “marriage” demands that Christians surrender the idea that there is such a thing as a just war — that is, unless one can envisage a Just Abortion-on-Demand theory or a Just Same-Sex Marriage theory.

It is fine to argue vigorously that the Iraq War was unjust and therefore anti-Christian. But it is quite another matter to suggest that all wars have the same moral status as abortion-on-demand and same-sex “marriage.” To me it makes more sense simply to acknowledge that Christians can disagree about whether the war in Iraq is a Just War. Let’s have a debate about that, but let’s not throw out the entire Just War tradition because we think that some on the religious right have misapplied it to the Iraq War.

Jonathan Henry said...

I've decided that I'm going to write Jesus in next time I vote.

Marc said...

I cannot believe I missed this. Great post Ben.

Keith said...

we the people need to disolve this ancient two party system. it has polarized our politics and is leading to extremism. we cannot wait for "political reform" from within the current system. we have to demand it. the two parties have all the keys and aren't keen to let new parties in. we have to take those keys and open the doors to a nation with multiple political parties that can better represent our unique and diverse nature.

i'm tired of picking the "lesser of two evils."