How should Christians react to bin Laden’s death?

Rev. Jacob Ehrhard offers nine points for reflection on how Christians should react to the killing of Osama bin Laden:

1.  The prophet Ezekiel writes, “Say to them, As I live, declares the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live; turn back, turn back from your evil ways, for why will you die, O house of Israel?” (Eze 33:11) A Christian does not find delight in any person dying, except in the death of the saints. Our delight would have been in bin Laden’s repentance.

2. God relented of His wrath and punishment for ten years following bin Laden’s most vicious attack. He had ample time to repent of his wickedness, but showed himself time and time again to be an enemy of both the Church and the State.

3. Though we do not delight in his death, it is a cause for rejoicing.

4. After Moses and the people of Israel crossed the Red Sea and the host of Pharaoh’s army was drowned, they sang, “I will sing to the Lord, for he has triumphed gloriously; the horse and his rider he has thrown into the sea” (Ex 15:1). While this certainly has a spiritual meaning in Christ’s victory over sin, death, and hell, we must not forget the historical fact that the saints rejoiced over the death of their enemies. Psalm 68 says, “God shall arise, his enemies shall be scattered; and those who hate him shall flee before him! But the righteous shall be glad; they shall exult before God; they shall be jubilant with joy! (Ps 68:1, 3).

5.  But we live in the New Testament. Jesus has died for the sins of the world. Doesn’t that mean that Christians should condemn any act of violence? Shouldn’t we rather depend on the Gospel to deal with the wicked? First, the essence of God’s nature did not change from Old to New Testament, for it was also in the Old Testament where God says that He does not take pleasure in the death of the wicked (see point 1 above). Also, the path to salvation has not changed. Even in the Old Testament, people were saved by repentance and faith in the promise of Christ. Yet God still punished the wicked by the sword (often the swords of His saints).

6.  Second, Sts. Paul and Peter reaffirm that God has instituted the government to punish wickedness. “Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good” (1 Pt 2:13-14). And, “For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God…Then do what is good and you will receive his approval, for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer” (Rom 13:1b, 3b-4). The Kingdom Christ establishes (the Church) is distinct from worldly kingdoms, but worldly kingdoms and their authority still exist and more so, are instituted by God.

7.  The Lutheran Reformers also teach “that the spiritual kingdom does not change the public state. Therefore, private remedy [i.e. personal revenge] is prohibited not by advice, but by command (Matthew 5:39; Romans 12:19). Public remedy, made through the office of the public official, is not condemned, but is commanded and is God’s work, according to Paul (Romans 13). Now the different kinds of public remedy are legal decisions, capital punishment, wars, and military service” (Apology of the Augsburg Confession, Article XVI).

8.  In his work Whether Soldiers, Too, Can Be Saved, Martin Luther makes it clear that the work of a soldier–even when it’s killing and bloodshed–is a good work when done within vocation. He writes, “This is why God honors the sword so highly that he says that he himself has instituted it [Rom. 13:1] and does not want men to say or think that they have invented it or instituted it. For the hand that wields this sword and kills with it is not man’s hand, but God’s; and it is not man, but God, who hangs, tortures, beheads, kills, and fights.” The entire treatise is highly recommended, as well as Temporal Authority: To What Extent It Should Be Obeyed and On War against the Turk (all are found in Luther’s Works, American Edition, vols. 45 & 46). If the work of the Navy Seals was indeed God’s work, then it is rightly to be praised.

9.  How should a Christian react to the killing of Osama bin Laden? We do not delight in his death, even though he was an adamant enemy of Church and State. Yet we rejoice that God has given us the sharpest sword ever borne by Caesar in the history of the world in the U.S. military. Everyone from the Commander in Chief to the special operators of the Navy Seals performed well within their vocations to protect the citizens of this country, to bring justice to a wicked man, and to carry out God’s wrath on a wrongdoer. They are all to be commended. And, as an American, there is reason to celebrate.

via Steadfast Lutherans » How should a Christian react to the killing of Osama bin Laden?.

Closure for 9/11?

My theory of our recent wars–as I said at the time they started–is that after the 9/11 attacks, America was so enraged that we had to strike back.   We invaded Afghanistan, seizing control of the country in weeks.  But that was not enough.  We still needed to strike somebody.  So we attacked our old enemy Saddam Hussein and invaded Iraq.   It wasn’t that we thought he was involved in 9/11.  But we felt the need to fight.   I’m not saying this feeling wasn’t justified or that there weren’t objective reasons to conduct a war on terrorism.  But I contend that the need for revenge–or justice–was the primary factor.  After awhile, as wars will, they bogged us down, not so much in the combat phase as in the nation building phase, with the constant and maddening guerrilla warfare.   Now that Osama bin Laden is dead, can we finally close the books, emotionally at least, on 9/11?   Yes, terrorism will remain a problem and there will likely be jihadists who will pull something to try to avenge bin Laden.  But can we finally have closure for 9/11?   Will this help us end those other wars?

U.S. forces kill Osama bin Laden

A major victory in the war against terrorism and in the war of vengeance for the 9/11 attacks:

Osama bin Laden, the long-hunted al-Qaeda leader and chief architect of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States, was killed by U.S. forces Sunday in what officials described as a surgical raid on his luxury hideout in Pakistan.

In a rare Sunday night address from the East Room of the White House, President Obama said a small team of U.S. personnel attacked a compound Sunday in Pakistan’s Abbottabad Valley, where bin Laden had been hiding since at least last summer. During a firefight, U.S. team killed bin Laden, 54, and took custody of his body in what Obama called “the most significant achievement to date in our nation’s effort to defeat al-Qaeda.”

via Osama bin Laden is killed by U.S. forces in Pakistan – The Washington Post.

Atheist chaplains

There apparently ARE atheists in foxholes, and they are demanding their own chaplains.  From the New York Times:

In the military, there are more than 3,000 chaplains who minister to the spiritual and emotional needs of active duty troops, regardless of their faiths. The vast majority are Christians, a few are Jews or Muslims, one is a Buddhist. A Hindu, possibly even a Wiccan may join their ranks soon.

But an atheist?

Strange as it sounds, groups representing atheists and secular humanists are pushing for the appointment of one of their own to the chaplaincy, hoping to give voice to what they say is a large — and largely underground — population of nonbelievers in the military.

Joining the chaplain corps is part of a broader campaign by atheists to win official acceptance in the military. Such recognition would make it easier for them to raise money and meet on military bases. It would help ensure that chaplains, religious or atheist, would distribute their literature, advertise their events and advocate for them with commanders.

But winning the appointment of an atheist chaplain will require support from senior chaplains, a tall order. Many chaplains are skeptical: Do atheists belong to a “faith group,” a requirement for a chaplain candidate? Can they provide support to religious troops of all faiths, a fundamental responsibility for chaplains?

Jason Torpy, a former Army captain who is president of the Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers, said humanist chaplains would do everything religious chaplains do, including counsel troops and help them follow their faiths. But just as a Protestant chaplain would not preside over a Catholic service, a humanist might not lead a religious ceremony, though he might help organize it.

“Humanism fills the same role for atheists that Christianity does for Christians and Judaism does for Jews,” Mr. Torpy said in an interview. “It answers questions of ultimate concern; it directs our values.”

via Atheists Seek a Place Among Military Chaplains – NYTimes.com.

HT:  Joseph Knipperberg, and see what he says about it.

Does it seem to you that our military is being used as a means of gaining social respectability?

France as the world’s new policeman

French President Sarkozy is the new George Bush, pushing the military intervention first in Libya and now in the Ivory Coast, where French-led UN forces, battling another murderous dictator, captured President Gbagbo, who was ousted in an election but refused to  leave office.  Now Europe is interventionist, while the United States comes in only reluctantly, if at all.  Like Europe used to do.

Barack Obama swept to power in 2008 on a wave of anti-war sentiment, while David Cameron entered Downing Street last year insisting that the West “can’t drop democracy from 40,000ft”.

Yet the past three weeks have found the  [UN security] council – this time with a less noisy Anglo-American wing – willing to pass stunningly powerful resolutions allowing missile strikes against murderous leaders.

Both resolution 1973 on Libya and resolution 1975 on Ivory Coast give external forces the authority to take “all necessary” measures to protect civilians from violence – practically a carte blanche.

A Western diplomat at the UN last night said the resolutions showed members were taking seriously the “Responsibility to Protect” doctrine, adopted in 2006, promising “timely and decisive action” against atrocities.

“TV pictures and the threat of humanitarian catastrophe have made people not want to wait for massacres to happen, as in Rwanda,” he said, in language strikingly reminiscent of the Blair-Clinton era.

The diplomat said that crucial in both cases had been the endorsement of action by the respective regional authorities – on Libya, the Arab League and on Ivory Coast, Ecowas and the African Union.

“It’s very difficult if you’re Russia or China to say ‘no’ if the Arabs and the Africans themselves are saying ‘yes’,” he said.

Also important has been the belligerence of Paris. The site of the Chirac-era “Non!” has become gung-ho, ensuring military – and symbolic – backing from the European mainland.

While Mr Obama has stayed almost invisible, the domestically embattled Nicolas Sarkozy has taken personal “ownership” of both interventions, rushing out his statements before anyone else.

via Ivory Coast: UN air strikes show West’s new appetite for military action – Telegraph.

See French troops capture Gbagbo..

Today the Civil War started 150 years ago

Today, April 12, is the 150th anniversary of the fall of Ft. Sumter, which officially began the Civil War in 1861.

Civil War Trust: Civil War Sesquicentennial Home.

That’s really not long ago, in historical terms.  The lifetime of two old men.  What a tragedy, certainly the lowest point of American history.  With what zeal Americans on both sides slaughtered each other.  Our bloodiest war was with each other.  What a scandal was slavery in this land of the free, and what a sacrifice it took to end it.


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