Thursday, October 20, 2005

Church and State

Perhaps much of this comes from watching many documentaries and general observation of a way of life of our brothers to the south. It has been very frustrating to read articles like this in the news: “'George, go and end tyranny,' Bush says God instructed him”
Raina Delisle
CanWest News ServiceFriday, October 07, 2005
U.S. President George W. Bush allegedly told Palestinian leaders that God has guided his war against terrorism, a new documentary series reveals.
Bush said God advised him to invade Afghanistan and Iraq, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and deputy prime minister Nabil Shaath say in the BBC-funded Elusive Peace: Israel and the Arabs.
In the film, the leaders recall their first meeting with Bush in 2003, and the president's promise to bring them a Palestinian state with God's blessing.
Shaath recalls: "President Bush said to all of us: 'I am driven with a mission from God. God would tell me, 'George, go and fi ght those terrorists in Afghanistan.' And I did, and then God would tell me, 'George, go and end the tyranny in Iraq.' And I did. And now, again, I feel God's words coming to me, 'Go get the Palestinians their state and get the Israelis their security, and get peace in the Middle East.' And by God I'm gonna do it.' "
Abbas remembers Bush's pledge at their June 2003 meeting at the Egyptian resort of Sharm al-Sheikh: "I have a moral and religious obligation. So I will get you a Palestinian state."
White House spokesperson Scott McClellan dismissed the allegations Thursday night as "absurd" and said the president has "never made such comments."

What I am tired of is not the ignorant, lying, terrifying leading of this nation…what I am sick of is the abuse of the name of our Lord and Savior, the connection of Jesus Christ to the hateful, ignorant actions of this government! It seems that the Christian Right is very happy to ignore lies, stupidity, murder and human sacrifice in the name of 'freedom'... i guess the people are happy in producing this kind of generation: SIGH.....


Anonymous said...

Have you read the old testament lately? How many times did God tell a leader to go take over a nation, and there was bloodshed?

As a proud Canadian (and Mennonite) living in America, I'll leave my political biases out of the argument. But, I will say that I get tired of hearing
stuff like this. I don't know whether God actually told Bush to go and invade Iraq. But I do know that when God tells me to do something, the impact of me not obeying is not what I want (been there, done that) Who are we to judge Bush, and what God asked of him (or didn't ask)?

I don't agree with all of the actions of this government, but I don't think there will ever be a government I'd agree with 100% (unless I was in charge).

Of all of the things I've learned since moving to the US, one of the saddest is that I've learned how ignorant and hateful most Canadians are of the US (myself included). We make judgements, criticisms, and ignorant comments based on how we think that they should and shouldn't run their country. I guess though, that when you're looking at the largest, most powerful country in the world from the perspoective of a peaceful, sometimes forgotten allie, you might get a little penis envy.

Paul Morgun said...

Thanks anonymous for your comment, would you like to expand more on how you hear God telling you to do something. Is this an audible command, is it something that alingns with the teachings of Jesus? What does it exactly look like? After that I will be more then willing to expand on you OT exegessis of passages in relation to the fullfillment of the Truth...that is being Jesus Christ.

Anonymous said...

Sure, I'd love to expand. I wrote under the anonymous name because I don't have a blogspot account. My name is Jesse. I grew up in Southern Alberta, and spent my high school years in Dale's youth group (I found your page from his).

I'll use an example of 'hearing from God' that I have written proof to back up. Before we had ever met, God told the woman who is now my wife to be praying for her future husband, and told her she would be married by the spring of 2002. It was not an audible 'voice from above', but she heard God in her heart. She began to write down everything she believed God was asking her to pray for, about me. She kept that journal, and after we had been married for a few years, gave it to me. The summer she was praying for me (which was 9 months before we had ever met), was the most significant summer in my spiritual life. I was working with a missions organization out of the country. Everything she was praying for me, was what was going on in my life, yet I was a stranger hundreds of miles away. I still have that journal, and I know what happened in my life that summer, and the two coincide IDENTICALLY. Not just a 'could be a coincidence', but to the T.

When we were engaged, we were going through the whole immigration process for me to get married and move to the US. We picked our wedding date for March 3. We ran into many snags along the way, and two months before the wedding, it looked like there was no hope that I was going to be able to be at my own wedding in the US. We decided to pray as individuals, and ask God whether or not we should send out the invitations. We both firmly believed that God said to send them, and we did. THREE DAYS before my wedding, I got my papers to enter the US to be married.

Do you believe God answer prayers? Isn't that a response to you? Do you view prayer as a conversation? Is it a one sided conversation? Do you even expect a response when you ask God specific questions?

Listen, I grew up in a mennonite church. I never heard anything about God speaking to people. It wasn't until a complete stranger prayed for me once, and started praying for all of these things that not even my closest friends would have known were going on. There is no way that this guy would have known these specific things about me, unless God told him. They weren't vague, but specific events from my past that were affecting me then. God didn't speak to him audibly, at least not that I heard, but He must have told him something about me in order to know those things.

Yes, when God has 'spoken' to me it has aligned with the teachings of Jesus. If it didn't, it would be God speaking. He cannot contradict himself.

As for what it looks like, it looks different to a lot of people. God has to shout in my head pretty loud for me to hear, for others it is simply a 'still small voice'. If you really want, I can find texts of different ways God spoke to people in the Bible (Old and New Testament) and you can see what it looked like for different people. As a youth pastor though, I'm sure you've read all of them already though.

God spoke to people in the New Testament, after Jesus came. Did he suddenly stop doing that? Or did we just stop asking him to speak to us and expecting an answer from Him?

I'm not here to start an argument. In fact, you can delete my previous post and this one if you want - it's your blog. But now that I've hopefully answered what you asked, you can continue with your Old Testament exegesis of passages in relation to the fulfillment of Truth.

Anonymous said...

Just wanted to correct a typo I had in one of the bottom paragraphs. Should read:

..."If it didn't, it wouldn't be God speaking. He cannot contradict himself."

Paul Morgun said...

Thank you Jesse for your response on how God speaks to you. When we 'feel' in our heart God speaking to us we must test these spirits. Which i no doubt you do. The point of my original post and question is the fact that progressive revelation and finally the word of God (being Jesus) has shown us a way that does not deal with kiling your enemy, in fact it is very radical, loving those that persecute you. My post is not about hating people in the USA of whom we have many friends but rather abuse of 'christian' language to find support for political means. Such as God told me to invade Iraq. This kind of spirit must be tested, is it 'saying' or 'teaching' according to what Jesus has taught or shown in his examle? If its contrary we must then assume the spirit is not from God. I do believe God speaks to us...but we can not use it as a wild card as our lead pastor was preaching last week to meet our desires or political means.
Thank you for sharing your story it sounds wonderful i wish you and your wife all the best. May God Bless you on your journey.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your response, as it has cleared up some of the things you mentioned previously. Let me just add that I did not vote for Bush in the past election.

You have me thinking more, so I have a few other questions, if you don't mind. Again, feel free to delete this post if you want. I'm not sure how the questions will come across, but you do have me thinking, and these are questions that have now risen in my head.

1-Looking back at the Old Testament, the ten commandments (which include murder) were given in Exodus. Following that, there were wars that God told his people to fight, in which there was death and killing. I realize that 'turn the other cheek' and 'love your neighbor as yourself' were teachings of Jesus, which were taught later on in time, but if war includes killing, and we are not to murder, wouldn't it be contradictory for God to have his people fight those physical battles? Or did God offer exceptions to the rule? (Was David somehow excused from God when He had him kill Goliath?)

2-Are we to leave the injustices being done to people to non-believers to deal with? Take for instance, the holocaust. If I'm reading your comments correctly (which I may not be), it appears as though you would believe that any Christian taking an active military role in bringing down one of the most horrific dictators of all time was sinning. Let me break it down to a further level - the men and women who faught in the Canadian military to protect 'our home and native land' and give us the freedom that we have now, should not have been involved in the war, but rather let our enemies take over the nation and slay our wifes and children. If an army broke into my home in the middle of the night and started attaching my wife (and kids, if I had any), whether or not it is the right response, I'd be doing everthing possible to physically stop them, and I'd be praying while I was attempting to beat the *&!# out of them. Would the correct response be for me to go kneel in the corner and pray while they are attacking my wife? When Jesus walked into the temple, and saw the vendors, did He go sit in the corner and pray to his Father to have them leave, or did He go and throw the tables over and act physically to get them out of there? I realize that He didn't kill anyone, but He did get angry (gasp!) and did use physical force to get the job done. I guess that I don't view Jesus as a pacisfist.

3-If Jesus somehow ended all war and killing, then why is Revelations full of war and "The Mighty Warrior" is taking the lead role? Isn't that against Jesus' teachings? Wouldn't He be contradicting himself? (Revelation 19:11-15 in particular)


Gil said...

The book of Revelation does not contain exclusively (or even predominantly) 'warrior' imagery. Jesus is still described as the Lamb throughout the book of Revelation (5:6 especially). While Jesus is described in different language in the book of Revelation his character is the same. He did not 'do the weakness thing' while on earth only to come in power at the end. What Jesus did do was totally revolutionize our understanding of 'power' by showing how love ultimately overcomes it.

Anonymous said...

I don't think I understand what you're saying, Gil. The way I read your post, it says that because the warrior imagery is not the predominate imagery in the new testament, we can gloss over it. As such, my questions remain. And it is not your responsibility to answer them - it is not your job to tell my why God can command "Thou shalt not murder" and then command his people to go to war with another nation, or strike down Goliath, or.... The question in my mind this morning is, "Is it possible that in God's eyes, murder and war are two different entities?"

A year ago, I would have agreed almost 100% with everything Paul said. Now I don't. I don't necessarily disagree with all of it either, though. I've been faced with a lot of questions about war, about the character of God. Questions that I previously ignored because all I personally believed was that God was a pacifist. It's been hard for me to look beyond what I was taught as a child, and try to find the TRUE character of God. It's a learning process, and one that will continue for a long time. In all honesty, I was kind of hoping that someone would post a specific, biblically backed (with references) answer to my three questions. It would help the questions in my head stop. But, then again, maybe it's better that I 'hear' the answers from God Himself.


Gil said...

The question of war in the OT is a difficult one and I doubt that a definitive answer will be found. Yes God does command the slaughter of entire races of people and this is very difficult to reconcile with the NT, particularly the example of Jesus. I don't expect that this question will ever go away. For myself I choose to see the NT presentation of Christ as the clearest picture of God that we get in the bible (clearer than we get in Joshua).

Hebrews 1:1, "Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son."

Jesus is the fullest revelation of God, the 'image of the invisible God'(Col 1:15). Jesus' example of how to conquer the 'problem of evil' was not as a warrior but as a suffering servant. Jesus does not destroy evil through his power but overcomes it through absorbing it and responding with love. This example now informs the church and gives it the example for how we should deal with evil.

I do not have a verse that explains how to reconcile Matthew and Joshua. But my method of understanding the entire bible leads me to believe that Jesus' example is the one to be followed at all costs.

Keep asking the difficult questions... Thanks for your insightful reply.

Jeffrey said...

Well, it seems I have missed out on a conversation that I would have loved to be a part of. Perhaps I sitll can, if this conversation is still going.

Jesse, I would love to pick up some of the things that you have written about, not any of your questions specifically, but more on how we understand pacifism.

I too grew up with a similar expereince of understanding God this way and so Bible College was a shock for me. I have gone through the extremes on issues such as this from being pro-war to pacificism, pro-election to free will and so on. And I am still on this journey.

Here is a question I have been wrestling with: because I have been forgiven and have a relationship with Jesus my Savior, is it ok to call myself 'holy?' If I say no then I am selling cheap grace. If I say yes, then I am arrogant or perhaps naive to my own sin. And so what do I do? Well, I call myself holy anyway not because what I have attained, but what I am pursuing (Phil. 3).

How many silly questions could you ask me about different scenarios that would make me compromise my holiness?

This is how I see the pacifism question. Do I call myself a pacifist? Yes, by all means. What do I mean by that? I believe that violent redemption is a myth, there is no such thing. Was begets war, violence begets violence. Peace can only truly be obtained by love. Turning the other cheek, although almost always taken (ripped!) out of context, is how God responds to life, and his desire is for us to also respond in a like manor (thanks Gil).

And so I call myself pacifist not because I am able to attain to what I mean by that, but because I know it is the path of my God. Ask me a variety of silly scenarios and you will find that I am , in the words of Stanley Hauerwas, "a violent son-of-a-bitch." But we choose pacifism, we pursue pacifism, not because we are able to, but because we are called to.

What is George pursuing one might ask? I would ask "Who is George pursuing?" And yes, that is a play on words on several levels?

Paul Morgun said...

Thank you Jesse for your questions, thank you Jeff and Gil for very appropriate replies. Ultimately and maybe simply put as Gil has done so already, Jesus trumps Joshua… Also pacifism as Jeff has put it is a discipline in life, that although in a violent culture full of angst, revenge and selfish desire, a believer aught to choose pacifism not because he/she can in every ‘hypothetical’ situation explain it, but because we desire to love others as our creator loves us and those that oppose us. It is a discipline that needs to be desired in all situations even though we often fall short. The problem arises when we can flip a ‘wild card’ to simply get what we want… to gain what we want. This is the intention of the original post, a governing body that seeks approval of its actions by simply flipping the ‘wild card’. Perhaps this may not be questioned by me or others if so many inconsistencies didn’t exist in this parties dealings in foreign affairs…

Jeffrey said...

Exactly Paul. What irritates me is how we use this "wild card" to get one up on someone else. And in George's case, on another nation(s). We trump someone else if we can somehow say that God wills it. I wonder if George would have taken into consideration what God was telling Christians in Iraq about what America should or should not do?

But the worst tragedy is that you actually attempt to get one up on God. You make God a part of your toolbox. I'm not sure what could be a better example of taking the Lord's name in vain than to use his name for political and/or military and for sure economical purposes - particularly if you are to gain!

Paul Morgun said...

Well put Jeff....

Incoming... said...

wow you go away on your 15th anniversary and look what happens. nice venture into the blogging world Jesse - smart questions - ones that I think for the most part have remained unanswered in these posts anyways.
1. I think your admonition to stop taking pot shots at the U.S. is well taken (even though it is so frickin easy to do). We expect that every other position/vocation in the world can claim to honor God's intention as they carry out thier mandate but it seems that in this post at least we have put politicians on a slightly different plane. I have a problem with Bush claiming God's endorsement on his action in the world but for me it is more a pragmatic argument than one about pacifism. I think U.S. foreign policy is arrogantly self-interested and promotes the subjugation of nations to subservient fulfillment of North American security. What is troublesome is that the policy is enacted on the back of the defense of righteousness. So when Bush tells us that God spoke to him we should say to him, "Great you are listening to God (or at least claiming to)." When we someone claims to listen to God then we can hold them accountable to the God's revealed principles. this would seem to make democracy a great vehicle for revelation from God. but it is not because as we know the squeakiest wheel gets the grease...(and Bush should know a thing or two about grease/oil)
2. I think your questions about pacifism in light of OT and the senarios you banged around are important and deserve a good answer. I'm not sure i can give one. I lived through a war where my friends were butchered at 10 and 11 years old. I had friends who were told to defend a position at the risk of their families life, and saddled with an AK 47. It is easy to postulate about pacifism from the safe confines of our north american suburbs (even safer if you live in Coaldale or Hepburn) it is quite another thing to have pacifism mingle with justice and the servanthood we are called to. Vengence is mine says the Lord and we are his servants. (that's a little tongue in cheek). I am a pacifist but i do not use non-violence to describe it. instead i believe and Jeff might have been alluding to this, that working toward peace which is the role of every pacifist is intrinsically a violent act as it goes against the natural instincts of humanity.
3. I apologize for my own neglect in helping you hear God.
4. I too think that the idea of using God as a trump card is is annoying and disturbing. we need to realize that if that is what we are saying that Bush is doing in this instance than we are judging him. We are saying no you did not hear from God and yes you are a manipulative bastard. and then we should then be prepared to have our lives evaluated under the same microscope. Bush's motives are easily accessed as he is such a public figure and certainly he should be more careful than others as a result.

Paul Morgun said...

Hey Dale, welcome back! "We expect that every other position/vocation in the world can claim to honor God's intention as they carry out thier mandate but it seems that in this post at least we have put politicians on a slightly different plane." Who are these people that expect these claims? Certainly not me... I think there is a difference though between Joe Blow saying i heard God and he says I should build a cabin and live in it....and President of the most powerful nation, who with the flick of his fingers can kill a nation...or for that matter a continen... I love that you first critisize that none the posts answered any questions only to say nothing....absolutely fircken nothing - if I can use your vocabulary... Welcome back Dale...In some sick way I love it though :P (HUG)

Paul Morgun said...

I think the things you have adressed Dale are true but have been adressed, here are some things that you are asying: "pacifism is easy to talk about, hard to live." Absolutely...but thats why i call it discipline...disciplines are rarely easy. For sure we are preaching ideal that is why I earlier have said that this is our goal, although (as Harawaus has said: "I am a violent son of a bitch" alhtough we are violent it doesnt excuse us from the ideal.

Secondly I think you make a good point saying: "politicians have a right to seek God in their vocation as well." Absolutely politicians have that right...not only that they should seek God. But public claims of God telling me to do something, for votes, or other personal gain is the problem... Which again has been adressed and was the catalyst for this original post. I lived in a nation full of guns, weapons and readiness to defend our land...I am violent...But i strive for the discipline of pacifism and servant hood...My post is/was about the abuse of the 'wild card' which is done on the big level:governments, and on a small level: worship times...both are anoying...

Incoming... said...

well no you're right paul i didn't answer any of jesse's questions at least no better than anyone else. Gil can does can't find the bridge between Josh and Matt and so he can go merrily on his way but Jesse's question still stands mostly unanswered and its good and fine to make pacifism a discipline as long what you've chosen matches scripture which is the exact problem we are having with Bush. I happen to think pacifism is not a discipline it is an ethic. one that must be defined. I will admit that i ahve not got it well defined at all yet. and i will say that it frusterates me to see people espousing the constructs of thier perceptionnof this ethic without the benefit of living it out it its most consequential form (the taking and giving of physical life. however it seems we have no problem with practicing anti-pacifism in attacking a president verbally (granted i enjoy it also). my suggestion is that violence needs not to be abandoned in order to embrace and live out a pacifistic lifestyle and ethic. For me that is how Jesus can grab a whip and smash through the temple and for me that is how Jesus does not contradict the OT or supercede it but honors the balance between justice and peace.
I think we should can can throw all the silly senarios we want at our theology and we should be worried when those senarios present problems for us.
Of course this post has deviated from the original frusteration which i would say bothers me equally as you Paul but this has been a valuable insight into the complexity that envelopes these issues.

Incoming... said...

i had too good a time on our vacation - i just feel the love...

Jesse said...

Interesting thoughts Dale. I really miss discussions like this. Questions remain in my mind, but I have now have points to mull over in my mind thanks to all of you.

I agree that we often put politicians on a different playing field. While I don't necessarily agree with what Bush has said and done, I sure am glad that the most powerful country has a leader that is at least "attempting" to follow God. And whether or not I agree with Bush, I personally give him props for being one of the only politicians in recent history to have a serious conviction and follow it through to the end. But then again, I admire almost anyone who is willing to make an unpopular decision based on what they believe and carry through with it, despite the fallout.

You probably don't get this part of the news up in Canada, but about 30 miles from where I live there was recently a funeral for someone killed in Iraq. There were countless "Christians" protesting at the funeral. they held signs saying things like, "you're going to hell" "God hates war" and on and on. At the guys funeral! In my opinion, those people are doing more damage to God's name than Bush is.

I am not pro-war, and I wouldn't say I'm pro-Bush, but I cannot justify judging a man with the most powerful and difficult job in the world, when I cannot rule out the thought that MAYBE God really did tell him those things. I'm going to shut up now and let that conversation happen between Bush & God.

(Dale, you have no need to apologize to me for neglect. You were the best youth pastor I could have imagined. There are things that I needed to learn later on in life. I don't think I would have been able to handle learning them sooner. I look back at my years in your youth group as the start of my personal spiritual journey. And if it wasn't for you, I never would have gone to Mercy Ships, and on from there. I still have questions, and I still have theologies that probably aren't correct, but I'm questioning them and working on them. Probably will be till the day I die)

Paul Morgun said...

Thanks Jesse, for your openness. I think its a good motivation for us all to continue to ask questions and seek God in all we do.

Anonymous said...

Where did you find it? Interesting read »