Fox News, American Sniper, Jesus, and…well…I can’t even

Word is making its way around the blogosphere that Fox News is doubling as a theological think tank.

I don’t like picking on Fox News when they talk religion of any sort, including Christianity. It’s too easy and it gets boring.

But I can’t help myself here.

According to the Fox News website, Michael Moore–who really hates this movie, I mean really, really hates it–tweeted about how inconsistent this movie is for Christian faith–hardly a sign of Moore’s Paul-like blinding light conversion, but more a dig.

Fox News took the bait. Correspondent Todd Starnes, after telling us twice that he’s “no theologian,” nevertheless makes a rather hefty theological claim in response to Moore: Jesus would be saying “well done thou good and faithful servant” to snipers plucking off Muslims, thus sending them to hell where they belong.

I think Starnes is mistaking Jesus for…well…not Jesus. Jesus had plenty of chances to wage war on people he didn’t like, and he had his enemies, but he preferred his sniping to remain verbal.

At least according to the Bible. Which I’ve read. More than once.

If anything, Jesus would have stepped in front of the target and taken the bullet.

“You mean, even for someone from the wrong religion?”

Yes. That’s how Jesus rolls. Jesus came to save, not condemn. And certainly not to reward snipers for killing the enemy.

I understand that the realities of modern warfare are such that snipers aren’t going anywhere–and dare I suggest they are a necessary evil? But what do I know? I’ve never seen war.

But rather than thinking of Jesus as giving a sniper a good ol’ boy slap on the back, maybe Jesus would have compassion on him when PTSD sets in and the burden on his conscience got too heavy for him to bear. That’s sounds more like the Jesus I’ve read about.

Maybe Jesus wouldn’t pick sides. Maybe Jesus isn’t American. Maybe Jesus would have compassion on the Muslim, too. That’s not too hard to imagine–if you’ve read the New Testament, even just parts of it.

The real problem here isn’t the spat between Moore and Starnes, and whatever, who cares. It isn’t Starnes’s cluelessness about Jesus 101. It’s not even that Starnes–like so many others–confuses his own nationalistic agenda’s for Gods.

It’s that, in the public eye, such extremist rhetoric is seen as an acceptable form of Christianity–if not its normal expression.

I’m tired of people like Starnes who for some unknown reason have access to a microphone, a camera, and get paid to talk.

I’m tired because letting people like Starnes talk about Jesus without adult supervision is like letting Justin Bieber discourse on Bach.

I’m tired because I have to explain to people that, even if they think Starnes is wrong, this is the kind of smug character Christianity seems to produce.

I’m tired–and angry–that many people will listen to Starnes and not conclude as they should, “What a complete fool; why is he talking?,” but “Wow, there goes another Christian.”

This isn’t personal. I don’t know Starnes and I can’t judge his deep motives. Maybe it’s all just about viewers. But don’t drag Jesus into it.

And when you have to preface a comment about Jesus by saying, “I’m no theologian,” you should probably trust that instinct and zip it or at least check for journalistic accuracy. Although at Fox, since when….Oh forget it.

Maybe people like Starnes give me job security.

[For related commentary see here and here.]

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Richard Schaeffer

    I laughed. I cried. I’m proud to be your friend.

  • LorenHaas

    Why do you hate America?

    • Kim Fabricius

      You may say it’s because Peter is self-loathing, but it’s probably just Starbucks.

    • http://jesuswithoutbaggage.wordpress.com/ jesuswithoutbaggage

      I don’t think Peter hates America. I don’t hate America either, but Jesus is Lord and Caesar isn’t.

      • LorenHaas

        I don’t think Pete does either. I was just mocking a Fox News type of response.
        Back to wise crack school for me.

    • Don J Beyeler

      Do you rejoice with a huge abundance of American exceptionalism, idolatry, and imperialism?

  • Josh

    Hi Peter,

    I enjoy reading your blog, but I think you’re off target here. (See what I did there? “Off target”…) Jesus stepping in front of the bullet? So that what…the guy can blow up his explosives or fire his next bullet in the name of jihad? I’m not saying all sniper kills are legitimate, and I realize your comment may have been somewhat flippant. A “necessary evil”, as you put it, is just a backwards way of declaring an action righteous. There may be real people who read your blog who have had to take action in military situations, or even simply in their home or on the street (ex: police). A bullet does not imply malice, unrighteousness, or lack of compassion. To imply that it does rings a bit shallow. Just would like you to take another look on this one.

    Josh

    • peteenns

      Yuck yuck :-) I left room for that view when UI said that sniper are part of war and performs a necessary evil. If I were a sniper, I would pull the trigger to stop an act of mass violence or violence against innocence. I didn’t draw that out b/c I didn’t want to distract from my point, which is Jesus giving a sniper a high five for killing muslims and sending them to hell. And yes, people have to take hard actions–and I think jesus is there for them with compassion, not a high five. At least, that’s what I believe.

      • Josh

        OK I see what you mean. I first read “stepping in front of the bullet” as Jesus disagreeing with or condemning the action, or in some way declaring the action as inherently evil. But yeah I get your point about Jesus not celerating/high-fiving.

  • Kash

    another christian who thinks Jesus would be totally fine if someone came to rape your wife and kill your sons and instead of attacking the enemy you allow them to attack your family…

    very very christian… we don’t defend the weak, instead we allow evil doers to attack and abuse them

    • peteenns

      face palm and sigh….read my post again and see what exactly I am against in this post. I am against the idea that Jesus would cheer a sniper for killing Muslims because there are going to hell. I am not against protection of the innocent. Really now.

      • guvner

        If 1000 human beings read your “intended message” and are then asked to write down the “received message”, what is the expected variation? i.e. how many do you expect/hope “receive” the “intended”? It is apparently the great challenge of a written opinion.

    • thestupidisstrong

      The Americans were in the Iraqis’ home, killing and raping them. Oh wait you probably think Iraq had something to do with 9-11. Lol

    • Aaron

      I agree… My favorite part of the bible is when a group of men bring a naked woman to Jesus and want to pelt her to death with stones and he respond by having his disciples throw spears from behind trees until they have all been killed. Or the part when a mob comes to take Jesus away and he encourage his disciples to lop all of their ears off. Or the part when Jesus calls down an angelic drone strike from heaven to get rid of the people that were actively trying to kill him… In reality, jumping to extremes and/or resorting to sarcasm (as I have) to make a point over simplifies a very complicated issue that Christians have historically gotten wrong. God help us all!

      • Vicki

        These are silly analogies and have nothing to do with a discussion on the Biblical justification of war. Christ dying on the cross was a fulfillment of scripture, it was a covenant between God and His people. It has no role in determining when it is a Godly choice to take up arms.

    • Andrew Dowling

      Number of Iraqis who came to the United States and raped women/slaughtered people: 0

      Number of innocent Iraqis killed and raped by U.S. troops: More than 0

      • Vicki

        So, are you saying we should only stand up against evil if that evil is directed against us? Nearly 300,000 Americans died in World War II. The only significant attack on U.S. soil was Pearl Harbor. How many Americans would need to die at the hand of Adolph Hitler to justify Americans taking up arms against him? Does it matter that Iraq killed tens of thousands of Kurds? that Iraq gassed tens of thousands of its own people?
        and BTW, equating a military invasion with individuals engaging in rape is childish.

        • Andrew Dowling

          “equating a military invasion with individuals engaging in rape is childish”

          You do know any military invasion is accompanied by rapes of the native women by the invading force, right? Please don’t tell me you are that naive. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1340207/I-didnt-think-Iraqis-humans-says-U-S-soldier-raped-14-year-old-girl-killing-her-family.html

          Hussein’s dictatorship was not even in the same playing field as Hitler’s . .to bring up Hitler as a comparison to any brutal authoritative regime is irresponsible. The world has many despotic dictators which have killed scores of innocent people, but I don’t recall conservatives clamoring for the U.S. to invade Myanmar, Zimbabwe, Sudan, or Saudi Arabia . .

  • Kash

    Also one does not NEED to be a theologian to understand God, in fact the argument can be made that simple people with a simple faith tend to understand God better than “theologians”… I am not defending the guy, but most Christians are not theologians and one does not need to go to bible school to understand God.

    • peteenns

      I didn’t say someone had to be a theologian to understand god. But Starnes clearly doesn’t. You don’t need to be a theologian to see that.

      • Kash

        not really, I reckon Jesus would be high fiving a man or woman who happens to shoot a man who threatens to rape his wife and kill those under his care. Do not see where he is wrong.

        I do not know whether he is christian or not and I do not think that is even my call to make but I do not understand the flaw he has made.

        and tbh this is from someone that finds Fox News just ridiculous when they talk about religion.

        • http://thecuttingledge.com/ Phil Ledgerwood

          What passage from the Gospels causes you to believe Jesus would high five someone in that situation?

          • Judith_Priest

            He got that from the Gospel According to Fox News, I guess …

        • Jason

          Jesus would high five them? I highly doubt that. I think he would be saddened by both parties and offer love and redemption equally. Now, I would most definitely defend my family, but I wouldn’t presuppose that my actions are sanctioned by Jesus. That’s where so many Christians get Jesus wrong; that by virtue of them being Christians their actions are automatically approved.

        • http://www.redeemedrambling.blogspot.com/ Dr. Fundystan, Proctologist

          Jesus H Christ laid the high-five on him with the expertise born of countless thousands of hours of practice, then proceeded to climb the turnbuckle. A double back-flip frog-splash should finish off the match and keep the frothing audience happy…

          • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

            Just then the lights dimmed and the sound of a gong echoed throughout the arena. The Titantron lit, casting a spectral glare upon the mat as the scarred face of a hooded man stared into the camera, eyes rolled back in his skull.

            Even Jesus had to quail. It was one thing to come back from the dead to fulfill prophecy. This man did it for a living.

          • http://www.redeemedrambling.blogspot.com/ Dr. Fundystan, Proctologist

            Ha Ha! That was awesome.

    • Tyler

      If I may, I would argue that any one who thinks about God and/or any of life’s most profound questions is in fact a theologian. Now, whether or not they are a good theologian is another question. You might ask, “What makes someone a good theologian then?” Perhaps that could be answered by pointing out those who think critically and can offer a bit more of an argument that defends such claims about God and Scripture. Instead, Starnes just offers his presuppositions about Christ, which are quite contrary to the teachings and nature of Christ revealed in Scripture. So maybe it’s fair to call Starnes a theologian if you want, however I wouldn’t give him much credit on being a good theologian if he is going to make claims like this.

      • Vicki

        The Pharisees and Saducees would have been considered theologians. Good ones.

        • Tyler

          Ok, and zealots would have been considered just in their actions to use violence by some Jews (which according to the teachings of Jesus, we know they were not). What’s your point? I feel you are missing mine. Jesus’ rebuke of the Pharisees were dominately related to matters of their heart and character as they loathed in their own self-righteousness. It would also be helpful to mention that many Pharisees and Saducees alike get a bad rep in the gospels, but this is not inclusive of all Pharisees. Would you condemn education of the Torah and the gospels as an antithesis? Surely you wouldn’t. Considering that the Pharisees knew the Law, yet did not live it out accordingly, I’d say it’s fair to call some (not all of course) bad theologians. So, forgive me for not clarifying. I was not trying to give a sufficient definition for what makes a good theologian in such a brief comment. This is my fault for sloppiness. In my opinion, I would include a certain way of living within the criteria for good theology. That is of course what Jesus seems to give more attention to. Additionally, as I stated, Starnes should present a bit more of an argument if he is going to make such statements about Jesus. Perhaps if he would have attempted such a thing, he might have come to the realization that Jesus says to love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you (Matt. 5:43-48), or don’t just refrain from killing, but refrain from hate or harboring anger (Matt. 5:21-22), or “’Put your sword back in its place, ‘for all who draw the sword will die by the sword.’” (Matt. 26:52). But sadly, I take it that some will complain that Jesus was not more clear and say, “Oh, if only you had said gun, electric chair, or lethal injection we might have understood.”

        • ThisMicah

          The anti-intellectualism is strong in this one.

  • toddh

    The other side of this is that it’s never just Christians on one side and Muslims on the other. There are plenty of Christians in Iraq, and Muslims in the U.S., and I’m sure plenty of both have died and suffered in this a war.

  • CCSlant

    You’re right. Starnes is wrong. He’s making Jesus in his own image to make a political point, not to get theology right. It’s the American evangelical bubba-fying of Jesus–it’s not about us being like him, but about him being like us. And Starnes misuses Scripture (Matt 25) apparently simply because it’s useful to his journalistic agenda and his media persona–it’s a good sound bite–not because he’s trying to get Scripture right. He doesn’t. To suggest that Jesus would celebrate death is just ignorant. Jesus would mourn for both the shooter and the shootee–victims of a sin-drenched world in which an ultimate good (protecting innocent life) sometimes requires a necessary evil (taking human life). I enjoy Fox News, but this kind of pop evangelical editorializing should be soundly exposed and rebuked. Good job.

    • Don J Beyeler

      Thanks for your comments, but I find it rare to observe anything accurate with the facts coming from Faux News.

  • Ruaidrí Ó Domhnaill

    Well stated. Thanks.

  • http://www.miltonstreet.com/ Sam Carletons

    Simply wonderful article, totally agree with your belief Jesus won’t pick sides. What I don’t understand is why you didn’t stop at that point. Rather you continued on with the ‘real problem’ and proceed to, in my view, judging Starnes.

    Maybe Christ used Starnes not so enlightened views as to motivate scholars such as yourself to write on this like you did in the first half of this article. I am no scholar, but I like to think Christ does that sometimes. Personally I am going to ask God to give Starnes grace and thank the Holy Spirit for inspiring you to write on something in which you don’t normally write.

    I totally agree, I think Christ felt each death by the hands of the snipers on both sides as well as the lives saved by those death in both sides. War is simply too ugly!

  • http://labreuer.wordpress.com Luke Breuer

    Pete, surely you’ve come across the textual variants where Jesus approved of Peter’s ear-hacking abilities, at least as “a good start”? Oh ye of little faith aim.

  • Tina Jensen

    very well written,,,i so Share this :)

  • Bex

    Say what you want about Michael Moore, but he is a practicing Catholic. Maybe he doesn’t wear it on his sleeve, but his comments come from the Catholic social justice/peace tradition.

    • Matthew G. Claybrook

      So did the crusades.

      • Andrew Dowling

        Not really . . .

      • Bex

        You must have some other interesting ideas about history too.

      • http://aldaily.com/ Justin L. Conder

        Yes, who could forget the savage Catholic Social Justice Crusade when Dorothy Day scaled the walls of Jerusalem and ruthlessly advocated for women’s rights and safe working conditions in the city.

    • Lenora Wilkinson

      Being a “practicing Catholic” (or a “practicing Baptist”) doesn’t make you a Christian. Many people go through the motions. And being in church doesn’t make you any more a Christian than being in a garage makes you a car.

      • Shannon Menkveld

        I’m not actually sure that’s true in Roman Catholic theology. Granted, I’m not a Catholic, (or even a Christian,) but my understanding is that, if by “practicing Catholic”, you mean “a person who receives all of the Sacraments of the Roman Catholic Church,” then “going through the motions” in fact does make you a Christian.

        So, in addition to the “No True Scotsman” fallacy, you may also be committing a factual error, at least with respect to Catholics.

        –Shannon

        • Lenora Wilkinson

          I understand what you’re saying. I just see things differently than the Catholic Church. So, perhaps with respect to Catholics I’m in error; but I don’t agree with their theology.

          • Shannon Menkveld

            Whether or not you agree with their theology, I’m assuming that you would consider them to be Christians, yes?

            If so, then they work as a counter-argument, which is all I was using them as. I don’t get a vote as to who is in the Christian club… I’m not a member.

            –Shannon

  • http://thecuttingledge.com/ Phil Ledgerwood

    Um, Peter, I don’t mean to call attention to this in public, but you’re kind of implying that America isn’t God’s chosen nation to execute His will in the world.

    • Judith_Priest

      Hee hee.

      It ISN’T. But try to tell some Republican Christians that!
      You won’t be well-received. ;->

      • Justin Vest

        Nonsense. I’m a Republican Christian that goes to a very typical conservative Christian church, and that’s a common opinion.

  • Andrew Dowling

    Todd Starnes is your standard pseudo-Christian who believes Jesus blesses torture and will wear an American flag bandana during the Rapture . . .

  • Jeff Y

    Well said, Pete. Love the point about Jesus and the sniper and PTSD. Having watched American Sniper I find that both the left (Moore, etc.) and the right (Fox News) miss the point in places. The movie struck me as a kind of film version of Stanley Hauerwas’ essay/speech – Sacrificing the Sacrifices of War. It had all the elements. Fox News is frustrating (which is why I stopped watching several years ago – ignorance is bliss! ;). But, so, too, can Moore and the left be; and space should also be given for their critique (certainly not with the poor arguments of the Fox guy – whoever that is). Good point on Necessary evil. In my mind, this is what Rom. 13:1-7 is saying – that to stop the world from total anarchy – force is a necessary evil (‘the sword’). But that this is not God’s ultimate solution to evil – which is actually found in the cross. So that disciples are called to sacrifice ourselves in the face of evil to defeat evil. This is how evil ceases (it’s in the story of Judah offering his life in place of Benjamin and finally bringing an end to evil in the family that began with Jacob deceiving his father; and it culminates in Jesus on the cross – and the church in his steps – filling up his suffering, Col. 1:24). This is difficult and radically counterintuitive on a personal level.

    • David B. Craig

      Yes Agree completely!

  • http://aldaily.com/ Justin L. Conder

    I completely agree about how Jesus’ focus in this situation would be on the aftermath of war, on healing the mind and soul of the veteran. Imagining Jesus embracing the death celebrations of a kill count is impossible – but it is easy to think of him giving comfort to the wounded soldier who can’t keep a job and is driven to drink by night terrors. There’s no way of knowing if, had he lived, Chris Kyle might have found that kind of peace after all that horror. The warrior ethos may often be a Christian ethos (in that Christians have adopted it) but it is not Jesus’ ethos. That is not to say that there are no virtuous warriors. It is to say that despite the years of justifications, ellisions and just war theory within the faith, there’s never been any convincing pathway to square Jesus’ core teachings and violence. . . even violence in service to a supposedly good cause. So much time is spent trying to make “love your enemies” and “pray for those who persecute you” into contextual and limited teachings. And of course, the people who consistently do this are also those that claim it is wrong to ever cherry pick biblical injunctions.

    There’s an interesting book by Robert Kaplan called Warrior Politics, which argues (correctly, in my mind) that as far as foreign policy goes, the core of Judeo-Christian ethics has to be kept private, since the public expression of those teachings is problematic to empire-building and defending. (That’s not to say there are no biblical verses that can be taken to support violence and empire, but overall it’s difficult to defend.) Instead, Kaplan argues that America needs a pagan warrior ethos to survive in the 21st Century. Kaplan is right to see a threat from the moral imperatives which restrain what he sees as necessary bad actions for survival. Jesus’ teachings are all well and good in your personal life, but extending that kind of thing into how America treats hostile countries, insurgents or terrorists? That’s suicide. But in some ways, Kaplan shouldn’t worry. Christians over the years have done their best to make it unecessary by giving Jesus a warlord makeover. It’s interesting that the Warrior Christ of many nationalistic Christians far more resembles Machiavelli’s prince than the prince of peace. For those following Jesus, ignoring such representations of his ethics is irresponsible to ignore.

    • Vicki

      God destroyed countless people in the Old Testament. Did He not love those people? He repeatedly destroyed nations that raised their arms against Israel. Was Israel always perfect in her obedience to God? It is not scriptural to always think only in terms of the individual. In war, individuals will die so that others will be saved. Exactly the point of the crucifixion. No one was more innocent than Christ. That’s what happens in war. Innocents die so that others may live. Radical Islam is a heresy, it is directly opposed to the message of Jesus Christ and would seek to destroy the followers of Christ. To think that each individual in the military is a pure follower of Christ is absurd, but I have no problem with feeling justified in defending against and yes, trying to destroy, an army whose goal is to destroy Christianity.

      • http://aldaily.com/ Justin L. Conder

        Do you think ancient Rome was any less invested in stamping out Christianity, rebels, and any other rivals to its supremacy? Yet, Jesus did not advocate violent uprisings (even though to do so would have been very understandable). That he was advocating a spiritual rather than temporal victory over his oppressors was a remarkable achievement, and can’t be washed away by any subsequent accretions in Christian philosophy attempting to justify violence in a “good” cause. I’m not suggesting that Christianity hasn’t found ways to do that. I’m suggesting they are out of step with Jesus’ teachings. Again, I understand the conflict. There are virtuous warriors, there are Christian warriors. I know them. I didn’t know Chris Kyle, but I know other veterans and anyone can see the sacrifices they make, not all of which are obvious to the naked eye. What makes me angry is that the knee-jerk “support our troops” crowd is quick to advocate intervention and violence, but not so quick to pick up the tab when broken veterans return from the wars. It’s one of the reasons that I favor the Israeli model of citizen participation in the military. If you are going to go to war, you should truly count the cost and end the war as soon as possible. These enless shadow wars that span continents, cost billions, and produce a more and more privatized military that is alienated from the citizens whose interests they are commissioned to defend is an untenable situation. Ultimately I’m more concerned with what that does to our veterans, and less interested in the callous sunshine patriotism of citizens.

        The reason I brought up Kaplan is that I am sympathetic to his argument. He understands Jesus’ message and how it is ultimately toxic to the continuation of wars and conflict, in a way that most Christians don’t even understand. You can find the same idea wrestled with in literature, for example Dostoevsky’s The Idiot. It seems suicidal to follow in the footsteps of Jesus. In some ways it is. Matthew 5 – 7 alone is a hard teaching. Jesus’ message might cause conflict, but it is conflict stemming from a response to his message. It is not a conflict Christ would advocate.

        As for the Old Testament, let’s not forget that the lifestyles of ancient people were very different – most of the patriarchs practiced polygyny too. Where is the voice of God and where are the voices of people attempting to speak for God, and failing? All I know is that for Christians its very clear when Jesus spoke out, that that’s the way we should follow. Jesus’ handling of the Old Testament is quite unique and shows he is the fulfillment of it, which in practical terms means that much of it is not applicable to us. The Old Testament is important, but to derive a justification for violence from it is problematic to say the least.

      • Allah

        So if your husband murders you, it’s an act of love. You people are sick.

        • Andrew Dowling

          This kind of thinking exists because this country hasn’t known the true horrors of war since the 1860s. If she had ever had a loved one die from a bombing she’d be singing a different tune . .sadly many are incapable of empathizing with another human being until they go through something themselves.

      • Justin Vest

        Yikes.

  • Lisa

    Christians get their spheres confused… God-ordained role of Civil Government (can commission snipers to “save” innocent people– within biblical worldview) vs the Church/Jesus (does not “save” people by killing other people)

    • Vicki

      Well, except Jesus said himself he came to fulfill scripture not replace it. And in the Old Testament God repeatedly uses military might to see that His will was done. And if you refuse to accept it because it occurs in the O.T., there is, for example, the example of Annanias and Saphira.

      • Lisa

        Indeed, Vicky, Jesus fulfilled the OT… by Dying on a Cross….And you think you are going to do it by putting bullets in people’s heads?? Hilarious.

        I am not opposed to the righteous action of millitary/govt which could be God-ordained Just War to protect innocents and keep “evil” in check.
        But there is zero biblical case you can make that the Churich should be out there with M-16s and grenades blowing up the “enemy.”

        I think I know what Starnes was trying to say but he didn’t say it well and so he’s going to take some heat.

      • Lisa

        Indeed, Vicky, Jesus fulfilled the OT… by Dying on a Cross….And you think you are going to do it by putting bullets in people’s heads?? Hilarious.

        I am not opposed to the righteous action of millitary/govt which could be God-ordained Just War to protect innocents and keep “evil” in check (extreme wisdom required)

        But there is zero biblical case you can make that the Churich should be out there with M-16s and grenades blowing up the “enemy.”
        I think I know what Starnes was trying to say but he didn’t say it well and so he’s going to take some heat.

      • Judith_Priest

        Good old Ananias and Sapphira!

        You know, in my proto-Dominionist Church in the 1980s, in 8 years I did not hear ONE sermon from the Sermon on the Mount, but I heard about 16 about Ananias & Sapphira!

        Usually just as we started fund-raising, canvassing to encourage tithing, etc.

      • http://thecuttingledge.com/ Phil Ledgerwood

        Fulfillment is also a way of bringing something to an end. If you fulfill a prophecy, the prophecy doesn’t keep going.

      • Andrew Dowling

        They didn’t die from military might . .they died from what was essentially a magical curse. When you can kill terrorists that way, let me know . .

  • http://globalstory2films.com David Peters

    Pete, this is excellent insight. I think one of the biggest challenges for the American church in the 21st is to disentangle itself from blind “I support America, right or wrong” nationalism. We have been the chaplains of America’s wars too long!

  • Lisa

    This kind of reminds me of when God told David he couldn’t build the temple because he was “warrior-man” with blood on his hands…interesting discussion

    • thestupidisstrong

      Even though the temple was going to be filled with continuous blood sacrifices to appease the angry god’s wrath….

      • Lisa

        You’re talking animal blood vs people blood so not exactly moral equivalence.
        Yes, eventually a Perfect sacrifice would be required for the forgiveness of sin in the Ultinate sense. But it wasn’t your blood, so not sure that “angry” is correct adjective…

  • Daniel Fisher

    Wow, just wow – this is so over the top I assumed you were using hyperbole until I watched the video myself. Every actual Bible-believing Christian should have your back on this one, Peter. How does one even pretend to derive that attitude from the Bible? The most liberal or conservative approaches that actually open the Bible would condemn such an attitude.

    One gets the “well done, good and faithful servant” commendation from Jesus by being a red-blooded American and dedicated U.S. Sailor….?

    Seriously? Makes me wonder what church Mr. Starnes attends that hasn’t taught him better…

    Maybe I don’t get out much, but every conservative, evangelical, “Bible-believing” pastor or theologian that I know would be very quick to condemn such an attitude as complete heresy. Most of us believe in justification by faith alone expressed in our good works of love to neighbor, etc., not in justification by being a good American and top-notch Sailor.

    Sadly, this attitude is pervasive in the military – so many memorial services I have been to claim something relatively similar (if not so crass as Mr. Starnes) – the idea that the military member’s justification or eternal destiny will be decided on the basis of his or her patriotism. “Of course this person will be welcomed by Jesus into eternal life… he was a Marine that died in combat for his country!” I hear variations of that theme far too often.

  • Daniel Fisher

    Moreover, in regard to Mr. Starnes’ comment about Jesus praising the sniper for sending the jihadist into the lake of fire….

    Don’t I seem to recall Jesus’ own disciples getting rebuked for showing a similar enthusiasm for seeing their enemies cast into the lake of fire? (or at least for a lake of fire to fall on their enemies)?

  • http://jewishchristianintersections.com/ lbehrendt

    Pete, you wrote: “in the public eye, such extremist rhetoric is seen as an acceptable form of Christianity–if not its normal expression.”

    I appreciate and admire your investment in Christian self-criticism. Perhaps it falls to me, a non-Christian, to add that it is bigotry, both unacceptable and unjustified, for those outside of Christianity to judge Christianity by the worst of Christian behavior.

    I question whether to characterize what Starnes has done as “Christian behavior.” Actually, I see nothing Christian about it. But as an outsider, I don’t get to draw these boundaries.

    • charlesburchfield

      be sure you are right and then go ahead~DANIEL BOONE

    • R Vogel

      Hi Larry! I think we had a similar conversation on your blog – Did you see Calvary yet? I think I would respond that it is bigotry only if you reduce all of Christianity to this, yes? Because it certainly is many people’s Christianity. To not own that would be just a wrong.

      • http://jewishchristianintersections.com/ lbehrendt

        Hi, R! I might just be compelled to write more about this on my blog.

        This is a tricky area, and I’m open to be convinced otherwise. But I think the answer to your question is “no.” My hero Krister Stendahl once wrote 3 rules for religious understanding. Two of them are (1) when you are trying to understand another religion, you should ask the adherents of that religion and not its enemies, and (2) don’t compare your best to their worst. Heaven knows, I don’t always successfully follow these rules! But I think these rules in combination require me, whenever possible, to judge Christianity by the best Christianity has to offer.

        I understand what you are saying about not “owning” those aspects of Christianity, or self-described Christian behavior, that may trouble me. But “own” is a great word here. As a Jew, I am not exactly an “owner” in such a discussion. I think that my ownership is limited to proper outsider behavior.

        • R Vogel

          I really appreciate your approach, and I think it is very gracious. But I think we have to be careful on the other side as well. To judge something fairly I think you have to consider the entirety. Todd Starnes represents a strain of Christianity (I really want to write stain, is that wrong?) that has quite a few adherents, so it is hard to draw a circle and leave him and his legions on the outside. Like our host, I think they are doing it wrong, but they don’t seem to really care what I think. =p

          Look forward to continuing the conversation if you pick it up at your place. Shabbat Shalom.

  • Jim Burns

    Starnes’s remark is consistent with the values of Fox TV’s corporate sponsors and target audience. Patheos’ audience is as likely to oppose Starnes as Fox’s is to applaud him. Television is business, entertainment business, and it caters to its audience and sponsors. Revenue is tied to audience size, giving importance to what creates growth, e.g. buzz and hype. Hence, what grows audience is encouraged, and what threatens it is prohibited. If Starnes can become news while reporting it, the network and its sponsors benefit. Accuracy, depth, truth–none of these matter.

    To maximize profit, television seeks to reach the largest audience possible. Success means offending the fewest and flattering the most. Every topic, no matter the actual degree of complexity, is portrayed as simple; not as a
    simple version of a complex topic, but as actually being simple. This is seen in Starnes’s statement that Jesus would–exactly like the majority of Fox’s target audience–endorse a US sniper killing enemy soldiers. To the network’s purpose, Starnes hit a home run: succinct, provocative, and likely to elicit strong emotion both for and against. (Be assured that Fox knows precisely how many hits the web page has received and how many times the video has been watched. It also knows how many have come from the link on this page.)

    A business model where success hinges on achieving the largest audience possible must either (1) avoid complex topics entirely, because they require understanding historical background, terms, definitions, assertions and presuppositions; or (2) feign that everything is simple. Television chooses the latter. That means television is not a source to gain understanding of local, national or international events.

    The marketing department shouts “fair and balanced”, but the reality is otherwise.

    The best way to fight back is to not watch it. Better sources exist, e.g. sources that do not accept sponsored advertising, e.g. TheRealNews.com.

    For an excellent treatment, short but very rich, on TV see: Pierre Bourdieu, “On Television” (New York: The New Press, 1998). For extensive treatment on Mass Media, see: Edward S. Herman and Noam Chomsky, “Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of Mass Media” (New York: Pantheon, 2002).

  • http://timothyhawk.com/ Timothy Hawk

    Great post. Thanks for speaking out for all of us. This is surely one thing all Christians can agree on and support!

  • Harbinger

    Todd Starnes is radicalizing Jesus to even imply that Jesus is going to let anyone into heaven because they killed jihadis. If I am not mistaken, Christians believe that one gets into heaven by being “born again” not by killing Jihadis. How do we know that Kyle went to “heaven” when he died? We don’t.

    Once again, we have shades of the Crusades with people getting into heaven by killing others.

    There was a time when some believed that a god actually told people to go in and kill every man, woman and child. (Deuteronomy 7:1-2). And there were some Christians who actually believed at one time that their god accepted their killing of other Christians. And there are some today who twist the Koran and think their god allows them to kill other Muslims, etc.

    • charlesburchfield

      go ahead and cherry pick it any time any way you want but at the end of the day who loves ya baybee? and if one has a loving god then probly everone does too!

      • Harbinger

        Some may indeed cherry pick, but these verses in Deuteronomy are either from a god that exists then and now, or does not exist now, much less then.
        If that Deuteronomy god exists now, what do those verses say?
        Some may say that these verses in Deuteronomy were from the true god, but don’t bloodthirsty Jihadis say the same thing about their god, and that he allows them to do this today?
        The best way to deal with this is to condemn all terrorism – past, present and future.

        • charlesburchfield

          somebody wrote those verses yes? I wouldn’ be a bit surprised if they were not the propaganda of the day at the time. so who cares now? not me buddy. a living god, got one?

  • http://www.redeemedrambling.blogspot.com/ Dr. Fundystan, Proctologist

    “At least according to the Bible. Which I’ve read. More than once.” In the original Languages! There, fixed it for ya…

    • Bilbo Skaggins

      Isn’t 1611 English the original language? Just kidding.

      Dr. FP, I seem to find you in every new place I look. Kewl!

  • Johnny Number 5

    From the group of people who brought you “I’m not a scientist…but here’s why I’m sure that global warming is a hoax!”, comes the new thriller “I’m not a theologian…but here’s exactly who Jesus would kill in cold blood.”

    • Justin Vest

      Pretty good. Or how about “I’m not an economist, but here’s how I know Obamacare will save money and result in a better health care system.”

  • Harry Wenzel

    Are Michael Moore’s opinions relevant? He has name recognition therefore he offers an opinion, invoking the name of Jesus, with the sole purpose of creating controversy. Without controversy, he is irrelevant. Do we hear a loud crescendo from the public clamoring for the wisdom from Michael Moore? I took a few minutes to inquire of Todd Starnes background. Perhaps something exists indicating his “Faith,” I didn’t see any references. What I did find; he is a conservative columnist. Todd reacts with a statement that is as misguided as Michael Moore’s and his comment appears to be born out of emotion and a desire to minimize Moore’s statement. Nowhere could I find that he intended to base his statement upon scriptural interpretation. We all know that is not so. It looks like two boys about to brawl in the school-yard. What I find amusing is Michael Moore doesn’t need Todd Starnes to display his irrelevance. Mr. Moore is quite capable of doing that himself.

    • charlesburchfield

      it’s ENTERTAINMENT.

    • Daniel Fisher

      ” Nowhere could I find that he intended to base his statement upon scriptural interpretation.”
      Except perhaps that he specifically quoted Jesus’ own words right out of the New Testament, “Well done thou good and faithful servant”?

  • Vicki

    But what do I know? I’ve never seen war.

    As you yourself admit, are talking about something you know little about. Isn’t that the same as saying “I’m no theologian”? So maybe it would be good to apply “let he who is without sin cast the first stone” or “remove the log from your own eye before trying to remove the mote from your neighbor’s.”

    • Daniel Fisher

      In Pete’s defense, he was specifically choosing not to speak to the specifics about the morality or ethics of combat and warfare – so in this context, if I may, he is “practicing what he preaches.”

      What he IS talking about is Mr. Starnes lack of understanding about Jesus Christ as presented in the Bible – Granted Pete is an Old Testament Scholar, but I imagine that in all that study he may have read the New Testament once or twice… 😉 So in his critique of Mr. Starnes, I think it is fair to say that Pete is certainly speaking from some significant knowledge of the topic at hand.

    • J. Inglis

      He is, however, also talking about things that he does know–like Jesus, and the portrayal of Jesus in the Bible.

  • Hermano

    Peter, regarding the use of physical violence to resolve problems, shouldn’t Christians try to build on the greater reality?: “Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.” Eph. 6:12.

    For a mind-blowing defense of God’s NONviolent nature, please read

    “SATAN: Old Testament Servant Angel or New Testament Cosmic Rebel?” at

    http://www.clarion-journal.com/clarion_journal_of_spirit/2013/11/satan-old-testament-servant-angel-or-new-testament-cosmic-rebel-by-richard-murray.html

    Author Richard Murray is a criminal defense attorney, with a Masters of Practical Theology from Regent University.

  • Kim Fabricius

    The theme of American Sniper
    (all crass-ass and Hollywood-hyper)
    of how tough on our guys
    were shots twixt evil eyes
    has appeal to a faith still in diapers.

  • ThisMicah

    Love the article. My only issue with it is that it seems to presuppose that Chris Kyle had a conscience, and I haven’t come across any evidence that he did.

  • Smartypants

    The Great “I Am” is the same yesterday, today, and Forever” Jesus is the very essence of the One who anointed King David and sent him to war, and said “he is a man after my own heart”. It is possible Jesus would step in front of the bullet, and it is possible He is like the angelic leader of all the armed forces who go out, risking their lives because they love God and country and don’t want to see their own children beheaded or sold into sex slavery, or forced to join a politico-pseudo religion. I think Jesus is on a white horse leading the world forward to victory over evil government, evil politico-religious ideologies, corruption, tyrants, and the spiritual darkness of this age. This can include snipers, and it may include children sharing a toy in a daycare; a spiritual battle must be fought everywhere. Lead on, King Jesus! We long to see the government resting on your shoulders.

    • Kim Fabricius

      “It is agreed, in this country, that if a man can arrange his religion so that it perfectly satisfies his conscience, it is not incumbent on him to care whether the arrangement is satisfactory to anyone else or not.”
      — Mark Twain

    • Anthony Wade

      The underlying assumption that we are always the good guys and they are always evil is flawed.

    • http://thecuttingledge.com/ Phil Ledgerwood

      Jesus will indeed break all governments like pottery. That includes the American government.

      Jesus was not a patriot. He did not serve in the Roman military, nor did he lead an Israeli revolt.

    • fights

      Amen!

  • fights

    Hmmm, looks like good ol’ Peter Enns is judging Todd Starnes. Would Jesus have written an article like this? And Peter, aren’t you guilty of what you’re accusing Todd for?

    And Peter, if you didn’t know, Jesus is the Word and is God and who is author of the Old Testament as well.

    Psalms 144:1 Of David. Blessed be the Lord, my rock, who trains my hands for war, and my fingers for battle

    • Anthony Wade

      You need to go back and understand what the word judge means.

      Secondly, because David thanked God for training him that does not mean that war is really cool with the Lord. David in fact would be denied building the temple because he was a man of war.

      • fights

        And so do you.

    • Andrew Dowling

      This is parody . .right?

    • Maine_Skeptic

      One of our biggest problems these days is the number of Americans who are willing to say to themselves: “that person is part of my in-group: loyalty to them is more important than the truth.”

      I challenge you to fact-check articles written by Todd Starnes, and to read articles critical of his work. If you do so honestly, you’ll find that he has no integrity, humility, or sense of honor, and his greatest contempt is saved for the people who read his work and believe every word he says.

    • cajaquarius

      What is it with some Christians pulling the “NO U” card whenever someone criticises them or their favorite media mouthpiece? I am gay and have noticed this bizzarre, childish disagreement=persecution response myself when discussing LGBT stuff too (“Aren’t you really the one’s bullying us?” etc)

  • Anthony Wade
  • Maine_Skeptic

    “…I’m tired because I have to explain to people that, even if they think Starnes is wrong, this is the kind of smug character Christianity seems to produce…”

    The fact that some American Christians are willing to speak up about sociopaths like Starnes gives me hope. Christians are no worse than anyone else, but the problem is that so many of them don’t realize they’re also no better (trite slogans about being “no better, just forgiven” notwithstanding).

    What is happening today with American Christianity isn’t a Christian failing, in my opinion: it’s a human one. Within the US, Christians are the supermajority religion, and any supermajority of human beings is going to find it easy to ignore or shout down dissenting voices. No one’s in a position to tell the supermajority when they’re wrong and make them listen. If you take a supermajority, make them afraid all the time, and flatter them with manipulative compliments, you’ve got the potential for something monstrous.

    Yes, it can and has happened with atheists, and atheism did not prevent the Soviets and the Chinese Communists from committing atrocities. I’m not painting atheism as an answer, or even necessarily Skepticism. What I *am* saying is that any time a powerful group of people let themselves be controlled by irrational fear and anger, their grandchildren are not going to be proud of their actions.

    That’s why I’m glad any time I hear a Christian who is willing to say that the facts matter more than the religion of the person speaking them. I’m relieved when I come across a Christian who will call a lie a lie, even if it’s spoken by another Christian. Too often it isn’t happening because of a misguided sense of loyalty to dogma over the truth.

    • Justin Vest

      I think you’re mostly right, although I don’t think Christians specifically are targeted for manipulation by fear of Islam. That’s a problem for the entire West. But you’re absolutely right about Christians withholding judgment on each other, which is absurd. It is much more in keeping with our faith to call out a fellow Christian than a non-Christian.

  • clearthinker

    Jesus would protect the innocent. If he sees someone trying to drill a hole into a little boy, he would protect that little boy. Not rocket science folks. Jesus understands Evel perfectly and wants it stopped.

    • peteenns

      Yes, but the point of the blog post was that God is not cheering on snipers for sending people to hell. Of course he wants evil stopped. I’m not sure why people are having trouble focusing on that.

      • Daniel Fisher

        That part was clear to me, at least – There are lots of general commendations Mr. Starnes might legitimately find in the Bible in general about the warrior’s profession – David as a warrior, “God is a warrior,” “The Lord who trains my hands for war,” etc. And lots of discussion might be had about the legitimacy or lack thereof about ethics in war or even in general rejoicing in military victories.

        But this is a different conversation than what you were (I think clearly) addressing – Mr. Starnes suggestion that Jesus would praise – with the words that are connected to the reward of eternal life! – this Sailor specifically **for sending a Muslim jihadist into the lake of fire**.

      • charlesburchfield

        denial? addiction to aggression? unevolved human depravity? nature or nurture? the list is sooooo long!

    • Maine_Skeptic

      Even if the Sniper is a perfectly honorable guy, there’s a danger in allowing ourselves to be too celebratory of “righteous” violence. Keep in mind: the terrorists ALSO believe they are fighting to protect the innocent against evil. If they can delude themselves, so can we.

  • Sean Smith

    The problem is only partially the people that would hear Starnes and think Jesus followers are deluded. The bigger problem is all the people who think he’s right or see no problems in his statement. The biggest problem is this film and “Unbroken” amongst others that conflate sacrifice and killing in the name of Country with the Christian Faith without qualification or nuance.

    It neatly solves an ethical dilemma faced by service men and women in an inauthentic way. I’m left thinking of all the folks who watch them without question or comment while thinking of the light brigade charging up the wrong hill.

    As a side note: I saw Bieber on the drums in a video once, and if it wasn’t faked – i think he might be able to offer some insights in to Bach. I’d rather hear that than Starnes.

    • MaryLF

      I haven’t seen the movie Unbroken, but I did read the book. I didn’t see the book’s message as conflating killing with the Christian faith. But I did see the ending, where he went back and forgave his captors and tormentors as representing his Christian faith.

      • Sean Smith

        You have a good point, and that is a powerful image of a person forgiving and a great example.

        But if I understand it correctly the main character was over there to kill in the first place, and neither he nor his captors sought forgiveness from others for their desire to kill and success in killing the other party. Unbroken leaves unquestioned our willingness to kill or die or endure hardship for nation, God and Country. Adding in the act of forgiving the captors for their acts muddles the waters further. He was over there sacrificing for his country and suffering for his country, but he forgives in the name of his faith without seeking forgiveness for complicity in violence against them and their country men.

        He is still a man of admirable character, but I am worried that watching this movie will encourage kids to sacrifice and kill for their country without questioning, without asking themselves what it means to kill for country if you are committed to following Christ.

        • MaryLF

          There’s a whole bunch of stuff that I see every day that glorifies military service. I don’t think that’s the main point of this, but as I said I didn’t see the movie so maybe the emphasis is different.

  • JayRyder2100

    Strange how people can walk away from this movie and not see the clearer message.

    #1 the sniper is likened to the shepherd and the target is a wolf. In between are all the sheep. For the purposes of this conversation, basically all of us “theologian” types.

    #2 Jesus was the Good Shepherd. The hired hand runs away when the wolf comes because he is not guarding and protecting the sheep. Basically,then liberals are the hired hands.

    #3 The shepherd (ie, sniper) kills a wolf. One to one. Good vs. evil. Because otherwise the wolf will attack and kill all of the sheep (people generally). If there wasn’t a shepherd willing and able to go after the wolf, we would not be having this conversation.

    When the Good Shepherd takes out the wolves, then sheep don’t have to or want to go to war against other sheep.

    • Kim Fabricius

      Er, Jesus doesn’t “take out” the wolves, the wolves “take out” Jesus — the Good Shepherd is the Nonviolent One, who lays down his life for the sheep. Your — the film’s — exegesis is quite perverse.

    • http://thecuttingledge.com/ Phil Ledgerwood

      Like that time when the Roman soldiers came to arrest everyone, and Jesus was all, “Not on my watch, wolf boys,” and pulled out a survival knife and stabbed them all in the eye in a kick-ass knife fight, dropped into a fighting crouch and said, “You just got shepherded, biznatch.”

      • Andrew Dowling

        While Peter and Andrew were staked out in the Rotunda windows . .taking out Roman soldiers with the deadly precision of their bow and arrows

        • http://thecuttingledge.com/ Phil Ledgerwood

          And then there was a cool electric guitar solo, and Jesus and the disciples walked away slowly as the Garden of Gethsemane exploded in the background.

          • Alex Dopp

            Of all the inaccurate Biblical adaptions, this is the one I wanna see.

    • Andrew Dowling

      “When the Good Shepherd takes out the wolves, then sheep don’t have to or want to go to war against other sheep.”

      Well in the case of Iraq, taking out some wolves caused many more wolves to come and kill even more sheep, so ultimately you made a bad situation much much worse.

      Also, as Kim mentions . . Jesus wasn’t akin to a Shepherd in YOUR analogy at all. He gives himself up to death by the wolves. The Apostles (sheep) were left scrambling for their lives.

    • wolfeevolution

      Wait, I’m confused. Aren’t the Americans the wolves?

      After all, we did invade a country that had done exactly nothing to us.

      So by your logic shouldn’t the Good Shepherd take *us* out?

      • JayRyder2100

        Wow. If you think Americans are the wolves in the face of people like the “Butcher of Baghdad”, then really, I can’t help you.

        • Andrew Dowling

          You are aware the “Butcher of Baghdad” character is a fictional creation . . .

          • Swoop

            Tell that to the Kurds.

      • Timothy Smith

        Did NOTHING to us? What a short & selective view of history you have. Also incorrect.

        • wolfeevolution

          Okay, I’ll bite. I’m not a historian and am always willing to admit when I’m wrong and listen to critics. I would love to know what exactly the Iraqi people did that justified our sending the most powerful army in history, killing tens of thousands of innocents, setting up horrors like Abu Ghraib, etc. If you have time to explain, I’m all ears.

          • Timothy Smith

            Iraq invaded our ally Kuwait. Iraq fired missiles at our ally Israel. They fired missiles at our planes. They repeatedly defied orders of our 60-nation coalition. They used chemical weapons against their own people and threatened several times to use them against the world. After 9/11, it became clear that rogue, brutal dictators like Hussein, had to be taken out.

          • wolfeevolution

            Okay, so maybe “nothing” wasn’t the right word, I’ll grant you that. But when we respond to those actions you listed with a full-scale invasion and stay there for ten years killing people, then it’s hard for me to continue to assert that we’re the good guys, or (worse) that Jesus would call those horrible Iraqi people wolves to our sheep.

            Besides, the logic in your last sentence only works until it doesn’t. If what you say is true we should have invaded Syria, North Korea, and Sudan by now… just for starters.

          • http://thecuttingledge.com/ Phil Ledgerwood

            When I was in the Air Force, I worked with two officers in the Kuwaiti military. This was something of a new era in our relationship, because prior to their invasion, all we had there was an embassy (which was basically a jumped up consulate). It wasn’t until after the invasion that we actually began to support them in any way distinguishable from Libya.

            It is true that Iraq defied the “coalition,” but that was an effort we spearheaded. We started it, and our allies and wanna-be allies followed suit. You’re basically accusing Iraq of not doing what the U.S. told them to do.

            It is true they used chemical weapons against their own people, but we have somehow managed to stay out of genocidal regimes that have no strategic importance, so I don’t think we can claim the moral high ground, either. We originally planned to assassinate Quasim to install Hussein in power, many of the powers we “overthrow” in the Middle East are people we originally put there, and we generally steer clear of dictators who are either supportive of the US or are too dangerous to us.

            I’m pretty sure you’re the one revising history, here.

  • R Vogel

    ‘Maybe people like Starnes give me job security.’

    Maybe not Todd himself, but the legion who think he says things worth listening to!

  • Gary

    I think the key reflective theme of the blog is this: you’re tired. My response I think should be grounded in this: how do you find peace and rest? Your tiredness seems centered in that others commonly represent Jesus in ways you’d wish not and there’s really nothing you can do about. If you’re not finding rest in being a voice in the wilderness, then think about accepting what you can not change. Personally, I think the name of Jesus, at this point in place and time, is a lost cause. You can believe in and live for empathy, compassion and righteousness. You can seek cruciform identity. You can do these things, perhaps easier, without the cultural baggage of Christianity and it’s “normal expression.” It is it’s normal expression; you can’t change this. Pete, you need to find ways in which you can be free and can live for others in ways that you find good shepherds do. Pete, it’s you not understanding Jesus 101.

    • peteenns

      Gary, I appreciate the advice, but when I say I am “tired” that does not mean I am in need of “peace and rest” and a refresher course in Jesus 101. My reaction to Starnes does not capture the essence of my spiritual life.

  • Jordan

    Anyone who travels to another country to kill people is on shaky moral ground. The key phrase is “travels to another.” I’m not a pacifist.

    I can’t say that too loudly as I live in a military town and many of my friends are in the military. They’re great people, but I could never swear an oath of loyalty to a person who might order me to kill another person in their own country.

    • ajl

      Well good for you Jordan. Enjoy your moral clarity while you pass judgement on your neighbor’s morally shakey ground.

      • Jordan

        So you think traveling to someone else’s homeland and killing them is not morally questionable?

        • Daniel Fisher

          Jordan, I imagine you’d have found millions of people (many of them Jewish) that didn’t think it morally questionable that American and British soldiers in WWII had travelled to Germany to kill Nazi soldiers right in their own homeland…

          • Jordan

            WWII happened because Woodrow Wilson wouldn’t mind his own business in WWI. Germany was ruined by WWI because of Wilson’s imperialism. This left Germany fertile for Hitler. If Wilson had minded his own business, there’d have been no Nazi Germany and no Soviet Union.

            I understand the sense of justice you feel. I feel it too. If I was in a concentration camp, I’d want someone to liberate me. I don’t form this unpopular opinion casually. But when I ponder war from the comfort of my own home, my logic tells me that it is better for a radical Muslim to come to America and kill me than for me to go to his neighborhood and preemptively kill him. Regarding WWII, if I were alive then and you could convince me that I would ONLY be liberating Jews, I might concede. But war is never THAT simple.

  • http://lovegrowserve.wordpress.com/ Philip Mills

    Great post Peter. Some of the comments here remind me of a tweet Brian Zahnd had recently.

    The cleverest way to hide from Jesus is to hide behind the Bible.

    “I don’t really have to love my enemies because David killed Philistines”

    Or Bruxy Cavey

    Herod
    believed the Bible. He trusted Scripture to help him locate Jesus – to kill
    him! Don’t just believe the Bible. Follow Jesus as Lord.

    We are Christians not Biblicists.

  • Al Cruise

    I agree, Starnes is incorrect. Jesus is all about the kingdom of God, he wasn’t about being the policeman for this world. He knew that we are unable to live beyond violence, [the physical laws of the universe make that an impossibility] when he said ” No one is good except God alone”. Jesus was about the gospel , showing the way to the kingdom of God.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/rebeccaflorencemiller Rebecca Florence Miller

    Excellent. This kind of stuff needs to be called out.

  • Morgan

    An excellent post!

  • Timothy Smith

    This article/blog makes it sound as if American snipers aim to shoot ‘Muslims.’ The movie had nothing to do with the enemy being Muslim. Nor did anyone suggest that the sniper was justified in killing those who were ‘the wrong religion.’ Starnes’ comment about jihadists was obviously tongue and cheek and in response for the idiotic theology of atheist Michael Moore. In fact, Todd Starnes is just a blogger/contributor of Fox and does not represent the network’s opinion.I HATE blogs like this that make up quotes and make generalizations just to bolster their own agenda.

    • peteenns

      You’re not going to snipe me, are you?

    • wolfeevolution

      I just watched the clip, and I have to say it wasn’t at all obvious if that was in fact said tongue-in-cheek. I, for one, don’t think he was joking at all.

    • http://thecuttingledge.com/ Phil Ledgerwood

      “I HATE blogs like this that make up quotes and make generalizations just to bolster their own agenda.”

      Except the quote wasn’t made up and Starnes specifically mentioned jihadists. Soooooooooo….

  • Michael Hardin

    With you 100% Pete!

  • SocraticGadfly

    Chris Kyle Day here in Texas, by proclamation of Der Gubernor, or as I call it, Hug Your Favorite Sniper Day: http://socraticgadfly.blogspot.com/2015/02/feb-2-hugyourfavoritesniperday.html

    • Andrew Dowling

      Ironically (or not), cheered by the same people who actively opposed/dragged their feet on formally recognizing MLK Jr Day for years . . .

  • JohnE_o

    For some in the US, what they call Christianity is really a Nationalistic Folk Religion that worships America and sees Jesus as a sort of Divine Protector of the Holy Nation.

    • Andrew Dowling

      Kind of like the radical Islamists they want to start a holy war against (just substitute nationality and religious terminology). If only they could all sit down over coffee . . they’d learn how much they have in common!

      • ajl

        If you are going to substitute nationality and religious terminology you may also want to swap in beheadings and burning people alive in cages just to be clear. Mass graves filled with women and children is a good one too.

        Living in a world is complicated and messy – I need to think more about how Jesus would respond. I don’t think he addressed these situations in the gospel, so the “turn the other cheek” play may be too one dimensional.

        • http://thecuttingledge.com/ Phil Ledgerwood

          Jesus lived under an empire that executed Jews regularly for the purposes of keeping them cowed. I think we can assume most of his teachings occurred in a totalitarian context.

          What’s more, he knew it would get worse, hence his warnings to his followers instructing them to flee Jerusalem. Christians being hung on crosses and set on fire to light the roads at night. This was the empire that ruled the Jews when Jesus instructed them to turn the other cheek. This was the empire that ruled Paul when he instructed Christians to submit to the government in Romans 13.

        • http://lovegrowserve.wordpress.com/ Philip Mills

          I think Jesus had all the opportunity in the world to provide context, op outs, or rational for when we could choose not to love or turn the other cheek. However He choose not to provide those outs in His teachings and even in His own life chose death over violent defense/liberation/etc.

          It’s hard in the West because we are the empire with shadows of christian ideology and language tied up in our empire. Those shadows are just enough for us to think something is Christ like when by and large it’s empire building not Kingdom building.

          • ajl

            Yes, that is true, ” Jesus had all the opportunity in the world to provide context” – but he didn’t. In fact, he didn’t on a lot of issues: baptism, hell, inerrancy, tongues, pretty much name your issue that to this day is not resolved in the Christian faith.

            And while he chose death for himself, he also never came across a situation where a child was being molested and had to stop it, or a person was being burned alive – at least it isn’t recorded in the gospels. The only situation that is close to this is the stoning of a woman, but fortunately that had a good resolution after talking and drawing it out.

            Its not an issue of being in a Western empire, but rather trying to navigate life without a user manual (if we are in agreement that the Bible does not operate like a user manual). So, “if your enemy slaps your face – turn to him your other cheek” may not be the same as “if your enemy pours gasoline on the little boy next store and tries to light him on fire give him the little boy’s sister too”.

          • http://lovegrowserve.wordpress.com/ Philip Mills

            I don’t disagree that this stuff is complex, but I think the empire matters. We have power and feel compelled to use it. To often however we use it in a worldly way and not a Christ like way.

            We can also I think fairly ask the question, if we as Christians are living our his other center, self sacrificial love would our neighbor be burning kids?

            It’s all word play and mental games to an extent. What if the person pouring the gas is your child? Would we try harder to find a solution that isn’t violent than if that person is an enemy we hate already?

            I worry at times, violence seems like the only logical option because the ‘other’ isn’t a person. I have found that if I imagine the aggressor as someone I love (wife, kids, etc) I’m far more creative in finding a non-violent solution.

  • http://jesuschristchurch.com/ Free Bible

    Jesus Christ is the Divine Protector !

  • A. David Griffin

    Great read and thank you Peter for your honest & accurate subjectivity.