Just the other day, the unthinkable happened: The President of the United States stood in front of the United Nations and threatened to kill 25 million people.
It was shocking beyond words.
In reference to the growing escalation with North Korea, the President said:
“The United States has great strength and patience, but if it is forced to defend itself or its allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea. Rocket Man is on a suicide mission for himself and for his regime.”
No matter how accustomed one may be to some of the outlandish things Donald Trump says, this one cannot be shrugged off for those of us who claim to follow Jesus– or for anyone who is a decent human being, for that matter.
In fact, for those of us who are Christians, Trump’s threat to “totally destroy” North Korea should be held as the most obscene, offensive, and anti-Christ thing he has ever said. The total destruction of a nation? The death of 25 million people– most of whom are totally innocent?
This mere suggestion of this is morally disgusting beyond words– no matter what “kind” of Christian one is, and irregardless of which theological belief one holds about war. This should outrage every Christian from the most straight-faced-conservative, to the most flaming liberal. In fact, I would argue that one would have to completely and totally depart from the Christian religion in order to praise or even passively support such a suggestion.
There’s simply no room in the Christian tradition for killing 25 million people. There never has been.
Let me briefly explain:
There have generally been two different views when it comes to war. The first Christians, and the entire early church, were steadfastly and absolutely against all war and violence. They opposed war, capital punishment, killing in self defense, and any other act of deadly violence one can imagine. The original Christian view was that followers of Jesus must never condone or participate in the taking of human life– this is the theological position I personally maintain.
However, after the era of Constantine and the ultimate fall of Rome in AD 410, the Christian religion was altered to make room for the support of war and violence– but even those alterations to Christianity (called “Just War Theory”) were not absolute. The establishment of Just War Theory, as much as I disagree with it, at least had some severe restrictions placed upon Christian justification or support for warfare. While I find the position theologically wrong, one can at least appreciate the fact that the alternative Christian position had some safeguards built into it.
Essentially, this alternative “Christian” belief argued that war is horrible and must always be avoided. However, if war ever became unavoidable, Christians could support it if certain conditions were met. Traditionally there are 7 conditions– I won’t outline all of them here, but the last two conditions are critical: (a) the violence used must be proportional (a nation must use the minimum amount of violence needed), and (b) civilians must never be intentionally or deliberately killed.
The position of Christian nonviolence, and the position of Just War Theory, have been the only two positions that have been considered Christian. There has never been room for a “Christian” position that justified the indiscriminate killing of human beings– and there certainly has never been room for the suggestion that somehow the death of 25 million people could ever be remotely justified.
Any Christian who has ever read the New Testament, or any human being with a single ounce of value for human life– regardless of where one falls on the political spectrum– ought to find themselves appalled that a world leader would even *think* something like this, let alone actually threaten to do it.
And this, of course, leads me to What Franklin Graham is Wrong About Today.
Instead of expressing even the slightest hint of moral reservation about wiping out an entire nation of people, Franklin Graham doubled down and praised Trump’s “kill them all” speech as being one of the best speeches ever given to the UN. Here’s what he said on Facebook:
“Thank God we have a president who stands for truth and is not afraid to speak truth to the whole world. President Donald J. Trump’s address today to the United Nations General Assembly may have been one of the best speeches ever given to that body. It made you proud to be an American. I hope you will join me in praying for this man, that God will guide and direct him. He reminded the world, “If the righteous many do not confront the wicked few, then evil will triumph.”
Listen– I understand that Christians disagree on political issues. I get that we have different theological beliefs on the issue of war and violence.
But for one of the most prominent Christians in our nation to reference a speech that threatened to kill 25 million people as one of the “best speeches ever”? And more than that, to publicly thank God that we have a leader who would threaten to do it?
It’s beyond rational explanation.
This isn’t Christianity. This isn’t a Christian position. There isn’t a Christian on the planet who could praise a speech that included the threat to kill millions of innocent people, without ceasing to be a Christian in the process.
Instead, praising such a suggestion is as evil and wicked as anything I could imagine.
And to thank God for it? Well, that’s outright blasphemy.
Not only is this What Franklin Graham is Wrong About Today, but this one places Franklin Graham so far outside of every version of historic Christianity that to even use the word “Christian” to describe such a person, is truly profane.
Dr. Benjamin L. Corey is a public theologian and cultural anthropologist who is a two-time graduate of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary with graduate degrees in the fields of Theology and International Culture, and holds a doctorate in Intercultural Studies from Fuller Theological Seminary. He is also the author of the new book, Unafraid: Moving Beyond Fear-Based Faith, which is available wherever good books are sold. www.Unafraid-book.com.