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Monday, March 26, 2007

Does Richard Land Speak for Southern Baptists?

This is a must read article by Bob Allen of EthicsDaily.com

Over the weekend, Richard Land made an appearance on PBS' "Religion & Ethics Newsweekly" where he stuck to the Bush Administration's Talking Points on the quagmire that is the Iraq War.

Robert Parham of the Baptist Center for Ethics weighs in...
Richard has consistently misstated the rules of just war," Parham said. "Either he doesn't understand the rules or he misuses them because he is more politically loyal to President Bush than morally faithful to the biblical call for the prophetic voice."

"Having demanded a wedding ring from the Republican Party, Richard is now so wed to the president's failed war than he is a court priest for a pro-war denomination."
Heh, if Richard were to roll over, he'd crush our President....

I watch Richard Land on PBS. I watch Tony Snow brief the press on MSNBC. Both answer questions from journalists with the same talking points. For being such a loyal foot-soldier, Land deserves a White House salary. However, I suspect the SBC pays Land a greater salary than most advisors to the President earn.

One Baptist pastor has called for Land's resignation...
And to respond to Land's assertion that peace is an out-of-date idea, I call for his removal by Southern Baptists. Even though I no longer count myself a Southern Baptist, as a Baptist, I am horrified by his adamant support for war. I know faithful Christians within the SBC and they are not of the same ilk as Mr. Land. While many SBC messengers are more theologically conservative than me, I cannot understand how they can allow a fellow Baptist to continue his blind support of a policy that was built upon lies and deceit. When a person of ethics allows themselves to be persuaded by party loyalty over sound argumentation and the truth, then he or she must be forced out. In the words of Robert Parham, editor of Ethics Daily, with Mr. Land at the helm the SBC has become a "pro-war denomination".
I do wonder - how well does Richard Land represent the Southern Baptist Convention?

As the executive director of the ERLC, Richard Land should strive to represent the views of Southern Baptists. Does he?

HT: Mainstream Baptist

60 Comments:

Blogger D.R. said...

Everything that Land said in that article is something I can agree with. He's a bit idealistic, but where is the outrageous statement. The only one I saw was the one made by Parham, who in no way even attempted to defend his statement about Just War Theory. Just because Parham says something is true doesn't make it so. Now, let's look at the facts.

Just Cause
1. Did Hussein violate the terms of the cease-fire? YES! - In fact, he violated 17 UN Security Council Resolutions. That was enough justification to remove him, even without weapons of mass destruction (which by the way were discovered - they just were not of the amount the intelligence data said they were, nor were they as up-to-date as suggested).
2. Was Hussein a war criminal, having been convicted of killing hundreds of thousands of his own people? YES - the Kurds cowered in fear of this guy and begged for help. They were the first to embrace the Americans and have by far benefited the most from the invasion of Iraq. If Sadaam was still in power it is possible these guys wouldn't exist now.

Just Intention
1. Does America want to rule Iraq? No - we are trying to establish a representative republic in that country.
2. Is American seeking to destroy the Iraqi civilization? No - American troops and commanders have gone out of their way (sometimes with harm to themselves and the mission) to keep civilians alive and away from harm.

Proper Authority and Public Declaration.
1. Did the President have the authority to go to war? YES - and Congress even voted for it in an overwhelming way.
2. Did the government make a proper declaration? YES - the people were told and Congress was informed more than 48 hours before military action, as well as having know the intention weeks before (and voting for it - see above).

Last Resort
1. How many times was Hussein given a chance to comply to the UN Resolutions without compliance? 17 - enough said. He was given chance after chance and then intelligence suggested he was upping the ante in seeking weapons of mass destruction. He refused to allow inspectors to confirm or deny this intelligence. And again all the while he was systematically killing his own people.

Probability of Success
1. Did the Americans think that they could remove Hussein from power? Of course, and they did. And now he has been tried, convicted and executed in a great act of justice.
2. Was there evidence that Iraq would move toward a democratic state? Yes, and they have made huge strides in that arena, having held elections, with more to come.

Proportionality
1. Did the possible good outweigh the bad? Of course they did. This might be the most controversial of the Just War requirements, but again, the Kurds are not extinct, Sadaam is no longer violating the UN resolutions in a hope to resurrect his weapons program and is no longer attacking nations or threatening to do so, and Iraq is now on its way to democracy, if they would just embrace it. Much better than persecuted people in a country that is seeking to persecute others.

Now, if Parham wants to disagree with the facts, that's fine, but at least be honest instead of engaging in an ad hominem attack that is absent of any evidence to support his position.

Maybe the real issue of this article is whether or not Richard Land is correct, not whether he represents the SBC. I'm not a fan of Land and would rather see someone else in that position (and I'm not sure it's right to be signing resolutions on whether Christians should support war or not - that is more of a political than a religious issue), but I certainly don't think he is some sort of a stooge for the Bush Administration or the Republican party, as has been suggested by Parham (again without legitimate evidence and much to the contrary).

2:44 PM

 
Blogger Streak said...

Well, d.r. shows us that it isn't just Richard Land who carries the Bush administration's water.

1. How many times was Hussein given a chance to comply to the UN Resolutions without compliance? 17 - enough said. He was given chance after chance and then intelligence suggested he was upping the ante in seeking weapons of mass destruction. He refused to allow inspectors to confirm or deny this intelligence. And again all the while he was systematically killing his own people.

No matter that much of that intelligence was bad or disputed and the disputed part was never given to the American people.

Probability of Success
1. Did the Americans think that they could remove Hussein from power? Of course, and they did. And now he has been tried, convicted and executed in a great act of justice.


Wow. "Great act of justice?" As the Shiia mocked and taunted him on his death, and the execution turned Saddam into a martyr among the Sunni? Even your Bush administration admits that was carried out badly. The fact that a minister calls a public execution a great act of justice reminds me of how much respect I have lost for religious conservatives in this country.

Sigh.

6:38 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sadly, DR seems to understand the JW criteria no better than Land. No wonder we get ourselves into these messes. In fact, even if point one is correct, it would be a UN violation that were in question and the only legitimate authority to invoke war would be the UN.
The question of just intent has to do not a whit with the topics mentioned under two. Three misses the question of what constitutes Proper Authority, which has to be rooted in the reasons for war. On the next one, we now know he was significantly in compliance, and inspectors said so before hand. The comments under point on probability of success miss so much, where to start?? You have to reason probability of a accomplishing a just end. Regime change is not a just end, more Iraqis are being killed now than before (we have yet to find evidence of those huge mass graves (which is not to say the small graves that have been found are not bad enough! Only that we are on a question of just ends.) Elections, by the way, do not a democracy make, sadly. On proportionality, this is just hand waving with nothing to support the claim that these things are in proportion to the damage done by the war. Again, with this sort of unawareness of the JW criteria, it is no wonder we are in the mess we are in. May God have mercy!

7:56 AM

 
Blogger Big Daddy Weave said...

Actually, Parham has a nice op-ed today that answers D.R....

10:04 AM

 
Blogger Streak said...

thanks for that link, too, Big Daddy

Honestly, I understand why many people supported Bush out of fear and out of the assumption that he knew better and was acting in our best interests. It puzzles me greatly why people continue to support him now--and why so many of them are Christians. The SBC is the denomination of my youth, but with each passing day it becomes past link I would rather forget.

11:10 AM

 
Blogger D.R. said...

First,

Parham spends less time than I do developing his points. His article was weak at best and he is supposed to be a seasoned director of a national ethics organization? His points were so weak and loaded. First, under just cause he doesn't even deal with the 17 times Hussein broke UN resolutions, nor does he deal with the ongoing persecution of the Kurds. And he ignores the evidence that Hussein was at the least trying to redevelop his weapons program, all the while making threats and causing great instability to the region. Finally, he narrows Just Cause to a reading that would disqualify the Revolutionary War, WWI, and the Korean War. Does Parham think those were unjust as well? Heck, we didn't even enter WWII to stop the genocide of the Jews, but rather to avenge Pearl Harbor and stop Hitler's advance, lest we be more affected by it.

Further, his treatment of Just Authority requires that Congress be complete fools. Remember that the evidence presented was given to all of them to examine. And even after not finding weapons, plenty of Republican AND Democratic congressmen supported the war - including Hillary Clinton, who said it was the right thing to do. Of course that is when the war was going much better and it was more popular. As soon as it got less popular, those guys found a way to turn it into a political circus. Also, Parham suggests by what he doesn't say that the only reason to usurp Hussein was that there were weapons of mass destruction, which as I pointed out, weren't even part of the 17 resolutions he broke, nor the plans we know he was making (whether or not they had been yet realized).

I don't have time, nor the space to go through all these, but Parham illustrates how one doesn't have to think through both sides to come to a conclusion. He can just throw out his presuppositions and spin his points and boom - he thinks he has dismantled the Just War argument for the Iraqi War. A couple of paragraphs just won't do it Bob. At least if the guy is going to make the statement he did, he should try to make an effort worth our time to read it. He even writes only 2 sentences on three other points. I wrote more than that (and he doesn't even deal with my points, much less those more sophisticated ones that people smarter than you and I actually deal with). What he has ultimately written is more spin and the same old Democratic talking points.


As to Streak, he makes no valid, refutive points. This is exactly the kind of anti-intellectual comments that I hear from liberals. Merely the suggestion that Bush is a liar is enough for you guys. Unfortunately that doesn't work in honest, vigorous debate. And as for justice - maybe you should go and read Revelation - justice comes with a sword from Christ, Himself, who rides a white horse and destroys His enemies. And then there's Hell. Of course, liberals these days can just deny Hell is eternal and conscience torment and thus throw out that book along with plenty of other passages of Scripture (many of which came from the lips of Jesus) regarding physical justice coming from God. Oh, yeah and then there that Romans 13 passage in which Paul directly declares that the government weilds the sword as God's instrument of justice in the world. Whether or not the execution was botched, the man is dead and his death brings justice.

Finally, anonymous, when you want to step up and actually stand behind your words instead of hiding behind your false identity, then I will justify your comments. Until then, I have nothing to say about your rambles.

2:25 PM

 
Blogger Streak said...

Hey d.r, thanks for your thoughtful comments. You are a great witness for the gospel. The gospel of conservatism and George Bush defense, perhaps, but clearly not much for the gospel of Jesus.

Perhaps Parnham was limited by the editorial decisions that favor brevity, but that shoudn't stop you from dismissing him. Nor should anything stop you from simply dismissing me as an "anti-intellectual" liberal. And all of that because, I suggested that the intelligence the American people received was misguided and distorted. Which is exactly what the concensus is among people--well everyone except the small minority of people who still think that GWB is a man of God. We now know that the CIA warned Bush and Tenet that one of the key sources on Saddam's weapon's program was unreliable, but when it came to the American people, it was clear and without doubt. And that is only one example of how Cheney and others hijacked our intelligence community to get the intel they wanted.

Oh, and by the way, I never called Bush a liar. I suggested that he and his people misled us. As for your defense of your twisted view of justice, I once again find myself prefering to hang out with the lepers and whores than people like you. I suspect that many people thought that Jesus's own experience with capital punishment was "justice" but that doesn't make them any more correct than you.

But let me once again commend you for your strong witness to the gospel. Impressive, really. Make sure in your future ministry to always assume that liberals hate god, deny justice or evil, and, of course, can't read. If you want to disparage my intelligence, integrity and common sense, more, please do. I only have my phd in history to fall back on, so please be gentle. I am not sure I can handle more of your brilliance.

3:17 PM

 
Blogger Streak said...

Big Daddy, I apologize for hijacking your comment thread. D.R. annoyed me with his last response and I could not resist. If you find my response out of bounds, just let me know and I will retreat. If the brilliant d.r. wants to follow me to my blog, he can do so.

3:20 PM

 
Blogger D.R. said...

Streak,

Please go back and read my 1 paragraph response to you again. First, I never said anything close to what you accused me of. I said your COMMENTS were anti-intellectual, not that you were not intellectual, or as you said, "stupid." There is a huge difference. Also, my comments about liberals were not directed toward you, but toward liberal theology, which I find often on the blogosphere. I don't know what you believe and I am not going to pretend that I do. I simply made the point as an aside. At that point is where I became more sarcastic in tone, but that was not directed toward you. I am sorry if that was confusing.

I simply found your response to my first post lacking. To suggest merely that bad intelligence is enough to completely disregard the 17 violations by Hussein is a bad argument. But my stating that in no way meant to suggest that you are stupid. I apologize if my words led you to conclude I was attacking your intelligence, but I think if you re-read what I wrote with an open mind and without the varied tone that we often can put with blog criticism, you will see that it was clearly not my intention to demean you as a person. Still, I find your arguments lacking. I am sure you think the same of mine, but that doesn't mean I think you believe me stupid (even if you do).


I think the attacks regarding my witness to the Gospel are way out of bounds and I did not (nor would I) suggest such about you. I would appreciate if you left that sort of comments out of our discussion.


Further, you said, "Oh, and by the way, I never called Bush a liar. I suggested that he and his people misled us." So, does that mean that you think that Bush was simply wrong on the intel? Or do you believe he intentionally misled the country? If it is the later, how do you distinguish that from someone being a liar? Isn't the very definition of a liar someone who intentionally misleads?

Finally, I never said that I believed that "that liberals hate god, deny justice or evil, and, of course, can't read." Please show me where I indicated this and I will recant. I pointed out that liberals in their theological presuppositions have disregarded certain passages of the Bible that are directly tied to how justice is exacted on Earth and how it will eventually come upon the world through Christ. I think the Book of Revelation and Christ Himself in Matthew and Luke both witness physical justice through tribulation and eventually Hell. The fact that Christ was with sinners does not detract from the fact that sinful men and women who rejected Christ will meet justice one day in Hell. And this is the universal witness of the Church for 2000 years. Do you deny this is true?


And congratulations on your Ph.D., but that doesn't mean that you can't make a bad argument or shouldn't be called out when and if you do. I have a M.Div., but when I make a logical fallacy or a bad argument I expect to be called to the carpet on it, but not submitted to ad hominems and personal attacks. So if we continue this discussion, I would ask that you leave those out of this and I will do the same. I will try to be more careful with my words, but please be patient as tone does not always come through well on blogs, as I am sure you are aware.

6:40 PM

 
Blogger Streak said...

I am not convinced that your parsing of your own remarks are enough. You certainly intended to disparage me, and I responded in kind. That may not be a proper response, but I felt your rather flip response to criticism was unmerited.

If you are serious and want to debate the war beyond talking points, I certainly don't mind. I mentioned my degree only to dissuade you from assuming that I was, as you certainly did suggest, anti-intellectual. Not, of course, that advanced degrees protect from bad arguments. But I also felt that you were parsing and choosing your arguments rather speciously--at the same time feeling free to disparage other arguments. Just as my Phd does not protect me from bad arguments or bad form, neither does your Mdiv.

To defend myself, I chose to attack one part of your argument. If you want to dismiss that due to brevity--as you did to Parham's argument--then that is your right. But it is not a fair criticism.

Further, you said, "Oh, and by the way, I never called Bush a liar. I suggested that he and his people misled us." So, does that mean that you think that Bush was simply wrong on the intel? Or do you believe he intentionally misled the country? If it is the later, how do you distinguish that from someone being a liar? Isn't the very definition of a liar someone who intentionally misleads?

I actually want to give the President this much credit--that he truly believed what he told the American people. But I believe people around him shaded the truth, and salted the min to ensure that the President had some legitimacy to call his country to a war of choice. For that, we will all pay--though not nearly as much as the thousands of Iraqis and the 3,000 and counting American troops.

I did attack your witness, and I did so because I found your blog and your response more reflecting a Republican mindset than a Christian mindset. If that was a misreading, then I apologize. When I read your profile, your attention to ministry appeared front and center, and it appeared to me that conflicted with your ideological bent in your comment. To a certain degree, I have no such conundrum. I make no claim of ministry. Mine is one of those common stories you may be lumping under "liberal theology" of a person raised conservative evangelical only to find that the training did not measure up to strong scrutiny. After all, years of studying the past makes a young earth creation upbrining rather difficult to maintain. I find affiliation with the denomination of my youth difficult.

I responded to your comments rather emotionally, I will concede. Perhaps watching this President defend torture has jaded me to any legitimate defense of this particular war. If you wish to continue this conversation, I will try to do so without attack. In fact, I will open a thread on my blog to allow you to make your case for this war.

7:04 PM

 
Blogger Jim Paslay said...

Big Daddy Weave,

In the article by Parham it is stated that a Baptist pastor has called for Dr. Land's resignation. Sounds pretty serious until you find out who the "Baptist pastor" is. None other than R. Mitch Randall from Northhaven Church in Norman. Northhaven is probably the most moderate of a handful of churches in Oklahoma. Randall says he is not a Southern Baptist. For Randall to call for Dr. Land's resignation would be like Bruce Prescott calling for President Bush's impeachment, neither carry much weight.

The fact is nothing Dr. Land or the ERLC does will ever satisfy moderates. You guys still haven't gotten over the BJC getting defunded and Southern Baptists asking for a new voice to represent them on moral and social issues. Dr. Land is articulate and is recognized by many to be a strong, Christian voice in the area of ethics and social concern. I consider Dr. Land to be a breath of fresh air compared to Foy Valentine and James Dunn.

10:02 PM

 
Blogger Streak said...

Jim, maybe you can help me understand a couple of things. I grew up SBC and watched what you call the "defunding." People I knew lost careers and had their lives upended. Maybe rightly so, I don't know. But to celebrate that strikes me as hardly Christlike behavior. And I don't know how many SBCers I have met on line who have essentially told me "good riddance" when they found out that the purge was one of the reasons I left.

And why, can you tell me, did the denomination of my youth defend Bush on torture? How the hell have we gotten to the place where the so-called moral voices in our country, at best, looked the other way when the President's men tried to legalize and immunize their people from acts such as waterboarding?

5:55 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hmmmm.

Let me confess up front that my personal convictions about the war are mixed. Full disclosure. That said, I think this comment thread illustrates that one of the weaknesses of both Drs. Land and Parham is that they both assume that their understanding of war and peace issues is correct and that the other side is immoral. Neither seems to consider the reality that this is an issue on which good Christians disagree.

Godly, ethical Christians support war, as a last resort, in some situations. Equally Godly, ethical Christians believe that pacifism or semi-pacifism is the only biblical option. The former, at times, use their Just War theory to justify unjust wars. The latter, at times, selectively quotes Jesus without looking at the totality of biblical revelation.

All that to say that this issue is much more complicated than either side seems to want to acknowledge. Maybe that's because it is an election year. Maybe it is because Drs. Land and Parham are not exactly the most eloquent or thoughtful representatives of their respective positions. In fact, neither of them ever sound very convincing except to partisans on their respective sides.

War is horrible and peace is desirable. Gotcha. At the same time, the same Bible which tells us Jesus likes peacemakers also tells us Jesus will be quite the warrior at the last day. Perhaps it is not so easy to develop a "cut-and-dry" theology of war and peace that is always applicable in every situation.

So guys, lay off of D.R.; his position is a legitimate Christian option, and you all know that millions of good Christians agree with him. And D.R., remember that Parham is also entitled to his view, which is a legitimate option, even if it is not the one you hold to.

End of rant.

11:25 AM

 
Blogger Dan Trabue said...

Sorry I didn't get here earlier. One question - the original article mentioned:

"And to respond to Land's assertion that peace is an out-of-date idea, I call for his removal by Southern Baptists."

What exactly was Land's assertion? I missed this.

11:58 AM

 
Blogger Streak said...

Anonymous' lecture aside, I have addressed d.r.'s issues in more depth at my own blog here and here, fwiw.

4:17 PM

 
Blogger Michael Westmoreland-White said...

Not having been a Southern Baptist (though still a real Baptist from the South!) for some time, I am not sure how much my opinion warrants on this debate.

When I first read D.R.'s "case" I thought that he, like Land, had been drinking the White House Kool Aid. That still might be true--all of us let our loyalties and interests to particular people, institutions, ideas, parties, etc. influence the way we "read" situations FAR more than we admit or even realize. (By naming this factor, and trying to name my own relevant loyalties and interests when making moral arguments, I try to correct for this somewhat--to pick a few logs from my eye and try to see better. Others must judge how successful or not I am at this.)

But even if we were to read Daniel Randle and Richard Land is the LEAST charitable fashion possible (not a very Christian idea) and say that they were completely sucked in by a Bush snow job, that would still not be ALL that is going on here. (It is always good to remember the advice of H. Richard Niebuhr when he said that the first ethical question is not what must I or we do, but what is GOING ON?) Part of the disagreement over whether or not the U.S. invasion/occupation of Iraq fits the qualifications of Just War Theory stems from the fact that there is no SINGLE version of JWT.
The tradition of Just War thinking evolved over centuries and several versions have survived to today. David Gushee, one of D.R.'s teachers from whom he apparently didn't learn enough, divides Christian thought on JWT into 2 broad categories: strict JWT and "loose" JWT. The difference is the starting point. Loose JWT (and I would argue that D.R. and Land fit here very much) starts with the view that there is nothing all that immoral about war. It's tragic, regrettable, but a normal, expected part of life in the world. Wars happen. They are going to happen and many times they should happen. So, the big questions for JWT are figuring out who the good and bad guys are and keeping the good guys good by keeping them from breaking the rules--or justifying them when they do. Add to this general feature of JWT the belief that (a) the U.S. is almost always moral in its foreign policy, (b)God uses nations, especially the U.S., militarily to make the world a better place, and (c) Christians should get on board making this happen and you have a starting point that makes it very likely for Land or Randle to come up with check lists that justify the Iraq war.

By contrast, strict JWT shares with pacifism a PRESUMPTION against war. Unlike pacifism (or gospel nonviolence), strict JWT believes that in a few, rare, situations that presumption can be overidden in emergencies and that's where JWT criteria kick in. But strict JWT doesn't see war as natural or normal, but as a HUGE evil (almost as evil as pacifists like myself find it). Therefore, the criteria of JWT are designed to be tight, to make it very difficult to go to war, and to keep the rules for fighting war (what weapons are legit, what tactics, etc.) extremely strict. Strict JWT also tries to end the conflict as soon as possible--even if it has not achieved all of its aims because the evil of war is so great.
Now, if one begins there (as Parham does, as Gushee does, as most of the JWT theologians in the National and World Councils of Churches would, as evangelicals like Richard Mouw, Stephen Mott, and John Stott would), then it is very unlikely that the invasion of Iraq measures up. (Since the end of WWII, this is also the direction that international law has been evolving and, from Truman until Reagan, this was the OVERALL direction/thinking of U.S. foreign policy--although Vietnam didn't fit. But Reagan, Bush I, Clinton, and Bush II, have all pushed the U.S. into a more loose JWT mode which assumes the U.S. has the right and duty to start and wage wars for "good purposes." Yes, although to a lesser extent than the Republicans in that list, Clinton also pushed the U.S. in the loose JWT direction and Hillary seems to be following in the same mode.) This is long for a blog comment, so I will not go through each of D.R.'s criteria and show what it would look like through the strict JWT lense. I'll just choose the criterion of Last Resort.
Since the end of WWII, this criterion has had a very high bar because of the destructiveness of modern war in which more civilians die than combatants and the environment is often poisoned for decades. For that reason alone, the invasion was not just: the coerced inspections were working. It was possible to prevent Saddam's threat to himself and his neighbors without war. Even if one ADDS "regime change" into the mix, Saddam was on the verge of accepting a deal to go into exile in the month before the invasion, but Bush would not guarantee that this would avert the invasion, removing the incentive for him to cooperate.

That's a LOONG way from being the only JWT criterion that this war flunks (from the perspective of strict JWT), but it is the easiest to demonstrate and it is sufficient to show the war unjustified.

If either D.R. or BDW wants, I could write a guest post showing all the criteria from this perspective, with sources referenced. I won't do it on my blog, because I am busy promoting nonviolence there.

I hope this is helpful.

8:00 PM

 
Blogger Jim Paslay said...

Streak,

I'm not sure that you can characterize my comments on the defunding of the BJC as celebration. We were always told by James Dunn that if Southern Baptists defunded BJC, that he would find other funding mechanisms and keep going. Are you telling me that Dunn lied to us and people lost their jobs?

Any Southern Baptist in leadership position that sits on the board for the People for the American Way was asking for trouble. It is called out of touch with the membership of the SBC. Dunn admitted he didn't necesarily represent the SBC when he was in Washington on church-state issues. We decided enough was enough!

As for your comments concerning torture and the Bush administration, are you equally appalled by the Islamofacists that blow up innocent men, women and children as you are about reports by the Washington Post concerning torture techniques?

Let me see a post from you or big daddy weave, or Bruce Prescott condemning the burning of a soldier in effigy in Portland by a bunch of looney left idiots and the defication of an American flag. Don't tell me that deficating on our flag is free speech. Distance yourself from the Looney Left of the Democratic Party. Moderate your hate for President Bush and you might get some balance in return!

10:03 PM

 
Blogger Dan Trabue said...

Jim, pardon my intrusion, but it is almost beyond comment to respond to such bile. No, we don't endorse the killing of innocents by some who claim Islam.

Nor are we still beating our wives.

Are you, then, in favor of the torture and rape committed by some of our soldiers?

Don't ask ridiculous questions. It only serves to make you look ridiculous.

And if you truly think that burning an American flag somehow is on a same par with starting an immoral (or, being generous, questionably moral) invasion, please pray on the issue a bit more.

3:40 AM

 
Blogger Streak said...

Jim, perhaps I simply misunderstood your comments on defunding. I was referencing the entire SBC purge of liberals and moderates from places of power. I know James Dunn and respect him a lot. I know he landed just fine and I still contribute to the BJC and appreciate their work. I was talking about people who worked at SBC seminaries or hoped to, and were caught in the power struggle that was the SBC conservative takeover. On that, I still have resentments, I admit, and that is just one reason that I will likely never darken a SBC door again.

Now, as for torture, you wrote: As for your comments concerning torture and the Bush administration, are you equally appalled by the Islamofacists that blow up innocent men, women and children as you are about reports by the Washington Post concerning torture techniques?

this is absolutely ridiculous and amazing coming from someone from the Christian community. Though, I might add, I have heard this line of argument before. There are two ways to answer it. First, of course, everyone I know is appalled when terrorists blow up people. It is frankly offensive that you would suggest we are not. But TWO: we are not them, and we do not define OUR morality by what terrorists do! We are Americans--and told often by conservatives that we are a Christian nation--and we are not supposed to torture. When we define our actions by those of terrorists, then our moral compass is lost--and I would suggest you need to rethink your position on this. I grieve every bomb that goes off killing innocent people. But I know that every person tortured by our government has been tortured in my name. And yours.

Let me see a post from you or big daddy weave, or Bruce Prescott condemning the burning of a soldier in effigy in Portland by a bunch of looney left idiots and the defication of an American flag. Don't tell me that deficating on our flag is free speech. Distance yourself from the Looney Left of the Democratic Party. Moderate your hate for President Bush and you might get some balance in return!

Again, I think you have serious issues with balance. If you have ever read my blog, you would know that I am often writing in support of the military. But if, as Dan suggests, you equate a few extremist and peripheral war protesters to those actually in power, then you might need to revisit your civics books. I don't hate President Bush, I hate his policies and what he has done to our country. The fact that under his rule we have moral people defending torture makes me ill. And it should make you a little queasy too.

6:00 AM

 
Blogger D.R. said...

Streak,

You said,
I am not convinced that your parsing of your own remarks are enough. You certainly intended to disparage me, and I responded in kind. That may not be a proper response, but I felt your rather flip response to criticism was unmerited.

I am sorry you found my response lacking. First, what do you mean you don't think they are "enough"? Enough for what? For you to believe me that I didn't intend on personally bashing you? Or enough to apologize for calling my witness to Christ into question? Enough maybe for you not to have to justify your inappropriate behavior in personally attacking me?

Personally, I don't care what you think of me, but it irritates me when someone misreads me and then doesn't give me the benefit of the doubt when I try to clarify. So, thanks for the invitation to continue to debate this, but no thanks. Why would I want to continue a discussion with someone who can't be criticized without pulling off the gloves and making it personal? It's one thing to attack one's intellect (which I still strongly contend I did not intend to do - whether you believe me or not), it's quite another to say "You are a great witness for the gospel. The gospel of conservatism and George Bush defense, perhaps, but clearly not much for the gospel of Jesus." If you can't see that, then, again, why would I want to converse with you?

You said,
Just as my Phd does not protect me from bad arguments or bad form, neither does your Mdiv.

Also, my mentioning of having an M.Div. was clearly to point out that I DON'T throw my degree around as a means of showing my intellect, that I am not above criticism, and I don't regard it as proof that I can't be called on the carpet for an anti-intellectual statement, Why then would you make this statement? Surely you can see that. Or maybe you can't, which would be another reason why I have no desire to keep this up with you.

Finally, you said,
I did attack your witness, and I did so because I found your blog and your response more reflecting a Republican mindset than a Christian mindset. If that was a misreading, then I apologize. When I read your profile, your attention to ministry appeared front and center, and it appeared to me that conflicted with your ideological bent in your comment. To a certain degree, I have no such conundrum. I make no claim of ministry.

I have no clue what you are trying to say here. My response here was too Republican for you and thus that makes me have a bad witness for Christ? So are you saying that if I believe that Republicanism is compatable with Christianity I must be a bad witness for Christ? And what difference to my witness does it make if I am going into ministry? Does that make me a target for criticism from you in regards to my witness for Christ? Does that make it appropriate for you to criticize my witness for Christ, but make me unable to criticize your arguments? I mean, come on man, what the heck does this have to do with anything? You stepped over the line in what you said, and then you offer an apology based on whether I have a more Republican or Christian mindset? I'm sorry, but that's just silly.

Sorry, Streak, but I have no desire to continue a discussion with you based on these things. BDW, Michael, and others and I have had many, many debates on various issues here and I have challenged their arguments and their viewpoints and yet never, never, not one time, have they ever (nor I) spoken ill about my (or their) witness for Christ based on my criticism of their views. That is why I invite them to my blog and they put up with me on theirs. I would rather discuss with those who disagree with me and are able to keep their composure than to argue with someone who resorts to personal attacks based on limited information and refuses later to consider they might have misread others.

1:39 PM

 
Blogger Streak said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

2:06 PM

 
Blogger Jim Paslay said...

dan trabue said:

"Are you, then, in favor of the torture and rape committed by some of our soldiers?

Don't ask ridiculous questions. It only serves to make you look ridiculous."

I think if you will check the post by streak, he came with the torture of prisoners out of the blue. I was simply responding to his comment.

I see some Americans on TV who are supposedly morally indignant of torture, but they don't seem to be as moral outraged when a suicide bomber kills innocent women and children in Iraq. You seem to be ready to prosecute a few bad apples in our military, but how incensed were you when you found out how many people Saddam Hussein tortured under his brutal dictatorship? Does President Bush, in light of the intelligence that was presented to him, deserve any credit for the stopping of innocent Iraqis from being tortured anymore?

I for one am tired of the Bush bashing in the country and I'm tired of Americans who claim to support the troops who continually do things to undermine the moral of those fighting on foreign soil? They don't deserve our protests, they deserve our prayers! And so does our President!

2:09 PM

 
Blogger Streak said...

Jim, seriously. Are you saying that when the Vice President lobbied to keep torture legal and the President used a signing statement to keep torture as an option, that he was doing that to help the Iraqi people?

But in all seriousness, I repeat--we do not measure our morality by that of terrorists. If that is our measuring stick, then we are done.

And yes, I brought that up out of the blue. You can blame the torture discussion on me. I am still trying to get a handle on religious conservatives who appear to be pro-war and seemingly tolerant of torture. That seems incompatible to me, but that might just be me.

The statement that those of us who protest our government's torture are NOT horrified or morally outraged by a suicide bomber is not only untrue, it is offensive.

I am more than for our troops. I want them to have the arms and protection they need. I want them to be used in winable wars. I want them to have proper treatment when they are wounded, and to have a congress and President who won't cut veterans benefits or reduce money for research into head wounds.

2:19 PM

 
Anonymous Greg Tomlin said...

From past discussions, you all know how I feel about war, so-called "torture," etc. So I'm not going to spend any time on this issue. For sure, this war hasn't been fought the right way, although I do agree with its justification and the early phases of its prosecution.

I only want to ask those "biblical Baptists" out there a few questions. Doubtless you will say that they are hypothetical, but they are not. They're based on real life experiences.

First, imagine yourself "observing" a Marxist revolutionary in a village threatening its inhabitants. They are told to comply and render assistance to the people's army. When the village chief says "no," he is shot in the head. The commander, his four or five troops looking on in laughter, moves to the next uncooperative individual, and shoots them. And the next. And the next.

You, from a pretty good distance, about 300 yards, have an opportunity to intervene by putting a bullet in the Marxist commander and his counterparts. Do you take the shots? Or is it immoral to kill?

I would submit that the true immorality is letting the innocent die.

Now, let's apply the same logic to the Iraq War. I will dismiss the WMD issue out of hand (even though we know what happened to them). Have there not been enough mass graves uncovered to prove that the innocent were being slaughtered? Were there not enough innocent killed in the chemical attack on Hallubjah by Hussein's forces? Were there not enough rapes? Not enough executions to justify war?

When, then, do you kill and go to war to stop injustice?

The thing about most of you guys, that I've said live in a parallel universe, devoid of the reality and complexity of the world, is that you just don't get justice. Justice is hard and it sometimes requires that we defend neighbors (even internationally) by killing. Did altruistic motives play no part in this war? Maybe, just maybe, Saddam Hussein fell because he was wicked and the United States and its allies were the means employed to do it.

Lastly, this to consider (this question is hypothetical): If an English leader took the throne and began murdering large numbers of English citizens, would you advocate military intervention? If so, why?

I suspect that deep down, perhaps further than most of us are comfortable discussing, you would say yes because you see the English as being "like us." Very rarely do people feel the same about Southeast Asians, Africans -- or Arabs. But it seems to me God values them as much as us. We should, too, and that may mean fighting for them to be free.

GT

2:29 PM

 
Blogger Dan Trabue said...

Tis a series of false dichotomies, Greg.

There's a killer who will keep on killing and the only way to stop him is to drop a bomb on the kindergarten where his child goes and which is full of children and puppies. Will you do it?

It's an old, tired argument that doesn't hold much weight in the real world.

I'm relatively sure that no one here is in favor of "doing nothing" while oppression occurs. In fact, it is the progressives of the world I hear talk MOST about stopping oppression.

What we question is the use of deadly force - especially when we know it will result in the death of innocents - to try to overcome evil.

I think it's fair to say that there is a range of peacemakers represented here - from a range of pacifists to true JWT proponents, but I think it also fair to say that we prefer the notion of overcoming evil with good. Not with a counterstrike of "righteous evil," but with good.

Fair enough?

3:16 PM

 
Anonymous Greg Tomlin said...

Who said anything about a kindergarten or puppies?

I was very specific for a specific reason, and you dodged the question ... which is always what you guys do when you can't win an argument and have NO evidence to support your position -- biblical or otherwise.

I didn't say anything about bombs, collateral damage or the like. Would you or would you not take the shot if you had the power to do so? And if so, why does this same logic NOT work on a scale between nations?

Ending oppression without force? Are you that naive? Now, we have discovered the root of the problem. You think men like Hussein, and Amin, and bin Laden can be reasoned with. You fail to grasp the depth of their depravity.

I'll tell you this much: I praise God that folks who think like you have never been in power in our nation -- with the exception of the Peanut farmer, and thankfully his administration was only four years.

If you had been, there would have been a few more million Jews gassed, and a few more rapes in Nanking.

GT

3:54 PM

 
Blogger Streak said...

If you had been, there would have been a few more million Jews gassed, and a few more rapes in Nanking.

Holy Crap. Nice job there, Greg. Unbelievable. Those of us who oppose this war would allow the Holocaust?

Nice rhetoric. I was wrong disparaging d.r.'s witness, but at least I didn't call him Hitler's enabler. Sigh.

5:05 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dan knows I wasn't calling him "Hitler's enabler." That's just an absurd comment. The very word "enable" is an active word. What we're talking about here is being passive in the face of oppression.

My point was that IF World War II had been approached with the same thinking, it would have continued, and millions more innocents would have died.

Dan and I may not agree on very much, but I don't think he's not a Christian. I think he is sincere, but sincerely wrong.

And if, by chance, he does think I called him that, I'll apologize right away.

5:39 PM

 
Anonymous Greg Tomlin said...

That was me, not anonymous.

GT

5:40 PM

 
Blogger Jim Paslay said...

To Greg:

I appreciate your comments concerning the argument about mass graves in Iraq. Dan didn't want to answer your questions.

Streak said:

"I want them to be used in winable wars."

Ah, yes, the code words for people who are against the war in Iraq. Streak, was WW II a winnable war in early 1942? I think you find there was considerable doubt about the war with Japan! I submit to you that the two atomic bombs dropped saved thousands of American lives. Justified?

War is hell and it is ugly. Innocent people die from war. In fact, innocent people die everyday. Until Christ returns, we will have to deal with wars and rumors of wars. We now have an enemy that is willing to come to America and kill thousands of innocent people. I agree with others that it is imperative that we go after them and not allow them to come to us. Because of that, I am grateful that President Bush has been willing to lead in an unpopular war. Last time I checked, we were attacked on our own soil, and we attacked the Taliban and sought Osama Bin Laden in Afganistan. We also were concerned about the weapons of the rogue dictator Saddam Hussein. Based on every intelligence report out, we sought to overthrow him and did. Has everything gone right? No. Have American soldiers been killed? Yes. Is the situation difficult? Yes. Can we win? Yes and a democracy in Iraq would be a great thing in the Middle East! Have liberals and democrats lost the stomach to finish what we started? Yes.

6:04 PM

 
Blogger Dan Trabue said...

"Dan didn't want to answer your questions."

It's a false dichotomy. Are you all understanding what I'm saying?

Greg asked would you do only A (Kill him) or only B (let him go on killing)? There are never only two options.

I would choose NOT A and NOT B, I would try a different approach likely. And who knows? Maybe I or someone would choose A (kill 'em). But that scenario does not translate to war time violence. In modern war, we're not only targeting the killers.

This is why modern warfare has a hard time meeting even JWT criteria, because it is so difficult to target only the offenders in a conflict.

Greg said:
"Ending oppression without force? Are you that naive?"

And Non-violent direct action has proven itself quite well (civil rights, South Africa, Nicaragua), thank you.

Greg said:
"Now, we have discovered the root of the problem. You think men like Hussein, and Amin, and bin Laden can be reasoned with. You fail to grasp the depth of their depravity."

Now, we have discovered the root of the problem. You have a poor understanding of Non-violent Direct Action! NVDA is not necessarily about "reasoning" with a few bad men. It's about finding their perceived self-interest and finding the trigger to influence them.

You fail to grasp the power of overcoming evil with good, perhaps?

6:42 PM

 
Blogger Streak said...

Jim, honestly, you are almost reciting Bush talking points--and even some that the President himself has abandoned. Thanks for asserting that liberals are soft on terror. That is the age old complaint. Liberals always have to assert their patriotism--while conservatives can undermine the troops preparedness, treatment, or training and still pat themselves on the back as good patriots.

The WWII analogy is weak, and I think even you guys know that. But it has been used before and will be used again. It is simply an excuse to paint any critic of this war as someone who would capitulate to evil.

BTW, even in your own argument, Jim, you realized you had to cheat a little. Yes, we were attacked on our own soil--but not by Iraq, right? No Iraqis on those hijacked airliners. None among the conspirators. Nope. So, by your own argument, we should have responded to Pearl Harbor by attacking... who? Not Japan. Or we would have attacked them and then opened a second unrelated war against Canada, perhaps.

I opposed this war from the beginning. Not, as you are insinuating, because I am soft on terror, but because I didn't think it would work, and I was sure it wasn't the main threat facing us. But that said, I am more than sympathetic to those who supported the war at the time. There was a tremendous feeling of fear and uncertainty (partially encouraged by Rove and Cheney, but much of it legitimate) and I know many people who supported the war at the time. But now that we have the facts of how the intelligence was gathered, how dissent within the administration was squashed, and then how the war has been fought, it is hard to maintain. Starting with Rumsfeld's "fight on the cheap," to Abu Ghraib, extraordinary rendition, using old gulags in the former Soviet Union for "interrogation" and nice little back door draft techniques through stop loss and the like--hasn't this been exactly like World War II, and isn't George Bush exactly like Harry Truman and FDR. Right.

One more thing, Jim, are you conceding that our torture was wrong, or do you still want to assert that it is ok, because it is still "better than the suicide bombers?"

And yes, I have been sarcastic.

6:46 PM

 
Blogger Streak said...

Dan, I think you make an important point. Much of the debate (mine included) has lent itself only to a binary discussion. The facts are always messier and there are always more options. I still remember former Sec State Albright talking about whether we talk to Iran or North Korea. She said you talk to them. Doesn't mean you capitulate or believe them when they talk back, but you talk. Doesnt' mean you don't hold to your demands, but you open a dialogue. I think the biggest failure of the last 6 years has been an on-off switch on options. Either we invade Iraq or we allow genoicide. Either we stay and win or we cut and lose. Truth is always messier. Perhaps Bush made the right decision to invade, but maybe he turned over the management of the war to bad people.

To be absolutely fair to the other side, I also fear what will happen when we pull out of Iraq. Once the war started, I hoped we would fight it well. And I held out hope for a quite a while. The whole "I give the Generals what they ask for" started to wear on me once I found out that the Generals and others were asking for more troops, but Rumsfeld was the boss.

6:55 PM

 
Blogger D.R. said...

Michael,

I understand your postitions regarding a "strict" or "loose" JWT, but when you put these to a historical test they don't seem to hold up regarding past wars.

Take for instance the Civil War. First, there was very little negotiation at all. There were many, many Southerners who had already freed their slaves, yet they fought in the Civil War because they saw it as an act of aggression. There was an enormous cost in the loss of life and then you had unneccessary events like the burning of Atlanta. So, would you say that the Civil War was a Just War?

Then you have the American Revolution. Both the British and the Americans acted in aggression, yet both claimed Christianity. And there were many clergymen that fought in the battles.

Add to these the numerous skirmishes between Americans and the Native Americans and Americana and Mexicans and you have a much longer history of war that could not have happened if everyone held to the "loose" standard of JWT. Yet, it was during these times that Christianity was MORE influential in politics than it is today.

So I reject this notion that only in the last 30+ years or so the "loose" version of JWT has been adopted. It simply doesn't measure up to historic criticism.

Finally, you said:
Since the end of WWII, this criterion has had a very high bar because of the destructiveness of modern war in which more civilians die than combatants and the environment is often poisoned for decades. For that reason alone, the invasion was not just.

I don't see this high bar that you say was in place. In all three of the wars fought by Americans since WWII (Korean, Vietnam, Gulf I), this high bar was not in place. And we came very close to war with Cuba (and surely then Russia) during the Kennedy administration. We know from transcripts and eyewitnesses that Kennedy was not concerned with Cuban loss of life, only a Russian-American nuclear holocaust. So I am just not sure how you are arriving at your conclusions here regarding this supposed war policy. I think American war policy from its inception looks much more like your version of a "loose" JWT.

Now, there's nothing wrong with your position of "strict" JWT, but I don't think you can realistically pass it off as the default position of American war policy at really any recognizable point.

7:30 PM

 
Anonymous Gregory Tomlin said...

Dan,

There are many times that there are only two options in war -- ask anybody who has been there. Both self-preservation and concern for innocents often make it so. You can't form a NVDA committee in a war zone ... especially when the enemy's stated purpose is to kill you or those you're trying to protect.

Let's put this in a more contemporary situation. If you were on a patrol and witnessed a suicide bomber driving a truck full of explosives toward a crowd in the market, would you shoot him? Sounds like there is only two options to me ... A or B. If you choose the former, an enemy combatant dies (and perhaps several civilians). If you choose B, many more die.

Your NVDA analogy also doesn't work on an international scale either, except in the context of the Civil Rights Movement (that was an internal movement within a country with a long history of mostly peaceful coexistence and governed by the rule of law -- they were asking for the equal application of it). South Africa and Nicaragua were not peaceful by any means! Both sides were in both of these cases were extremely violent.

Dan said:

"In modern war, we're not only targeting the killers."

Just what do you think our military does? I'll admit there have been abuses ... and rapes and murders, but these are not the norm. Nor is killing the innocent. We don't "target" them. And no one regrets the death of the innocent more than a soldier, especially if he's responsible.

8:58 PM

 
Anonymous Lee said...

I think the question that was asked in the blog wasn't about whether or not the US was right to go to war in Iraq, it was about whether Richard Land's position, which is unqualified support of an administration that has admitted to a host of errors and mistakes regarding the Iraq war, is representative of Southern Baptists.

I was always taught that no one Baptist can speak for any other Baptist. The only way that can be known would be for each individual Southern Baptist to indicate their position. Considering the size and diversity of the Southern Baptist Convention, it would certainly not be a unanimous position.

As a denomination, however, the Southern Baptist Convention has no business taking a position regarding a war, or using its influence to advocate or support war. Taking political positions is not the business of a Christian denomination, and supporting the war in Iraq (or taking a position against it for that matter) doesn't advance the gospel of Jesus Christ. Not only that, but an official statement of support for the President's position on the war is a violation of the Baptist Faith and Message 2000.

The SBC should stick to being a cooperative ministry that supports and undergirds the evangelism and discipleship ministries of its churches, and leave the work of Caesar to Caesar.

9:11 PM

 
Blogger Dan Trabue said...

Greg said:
"South Africa and Nicaragua were not peaceful by any means! Both sides were in both of these cases were extremely violent."

There was certainly violence happening in both instances. But in both instances, NVDA was what ultimately led to an end to the violence.

In Nicaragua, the Contra-terrorists were attacking villages, killing, maiming and raping the people there. Witness for Peace organized, sent peace witnesses to the villages and the violence stopped, one village at a time.

Here's an article that points to the successes of peaceful negotiation, for the record. Not that you're not in favor of peaceful negotiation, but just to point out that Peacemaking is generally quite effective (and more cost-effective, for we small, smart gov't-types) when tried.

If you think that there are not examples of successful NVDA actions, then you need to read more on the topic.

I might suggest here or check out Glen Stassen's Just Peacemaking book, for starters. There really is a history of NVDA being a very workable solution - especially for those of us concerned with the command of peacemaking by our Lord.

And for many of us,it is bitterly funny that those who dismiss NVDA as ineffective cite wars such as WWII (30-50 million dead) as an example of effective conflict resolution. We can see in Iraq right now more than ever the remarkably pathetic inefficacy of democratization through gun-power.

4:04 AM

 
Blogger Dan Trabue said...

"The SBC should stick to being a cooperative ministry that supports and undergirds the evangelism and discipleship ministries of its churches, and leave the work of Caesar to Caesar."

This suggestion makes a good deal of sense - in Caesar's Rome. In a representative republic, we ARE Caesar. It's a bit of a different situation.

For those Christians here who are defending wars as fitting in with even JWT (setting aside Just Peacemaking, for the minute), I wonder: Do you honestly think that dropping bombs on citizens is an acceptable Means to reach your End? Hiroshima? Dresden? The Twin Towers? (not fair, I know...)

Are these all acceptable - even though citizens are among the targeted - as long as you're doing it for the right reason?

Or, do you at least think that, while war is a sadly acceptable reality for Christians, some actions are beyond the pale of what's acceptable that Christians ought not take part in it? And if so, what is that line?

I honestly want to know.

4:11 AM

 
Blogger Monk-in-Training said...

I have been watching this "conversation" for a bit, and I wonder... how does the conflict advance the Gospel? I know that MANY younger people see conversations like this and simply consign it to "old white guys fighting" and tune them out like Charlie Brown did the adults in his world.

Jesus often seems to go a third way between the extremes His followers want to lock in on. That is where I see the Kingdom breaking out.

For some reason this "conversation" reminds me of what the Samaritan woman at the well expected from Jesus. When He started talking to her, and she perceived He was a prophet, she immediately started talking about which mountain to worship on. Focusing on that argument which divided the Jews and the Samaritans. Jesus did not go there, He focused on her needs and the needs of those in the village.

Who should Richard Land represent? Jesus Christ, and I daresay Rev. Land would agree.

Jesus commanded us to pray for our enemies, those who despitefully use us. How many of us pray, and genuinely pray for those of our enemies in Iraq or Al Qaeda?

Lord Jesus Christ, in Your great mercy You prayed for the forgiveness of those who crucified You, and You taught us to love our adversaries, and to pray for those who persecute us.
Lord, I pray that You teach me to forgive those who treat me unjustly and speak out against me, and that You bless them and guide them according to Your will. Take away any bitterness I may have in my heart against them. Lord, may Your forgiveness, goodness and love be revealed in all of us, and in Your good time enable us all to stand reconciled before You; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

5:40 AM

 
Blogger Dan Trabue said...

Bitter arguments can be a huge distraction, Monk. I agree with that.

But serious and loving discussions about what we do and ought to believe are a good thing, too. We ought not remain silent in order to maintain the illusion of agreement and peace.

Perhaps the case could be made, though, that these sorts of conversations could be better had in person instead of broadcast to the whole world. Perhaps.

But, from my point of view, when the whole world often perceives the Dobsons, Lands and Mohlers of the world to be spokespeople for Christianity, then it is a VITAL thing for the world to know that these men do not represent the whole of Christianity.

5:47 AM

 
Blogger Streak said...

back to the JWT, btw, how would the Mexican war or any of the Indian wars in American history fall under any interpretation of a "just war?"

And d.r., are you suggesting that the South fought not for slaves, but for honor? That slavery was not the root cause of their willingness to secede and fight the north?

6:17 AM

 
Anonymous Greg Tomlin said...

Dan,

I didn't say direct non-violent action would NEVER work. Poland was a case where it did. It other places, with other governments, it doesn't. Generally, I think you'll find that it works best in Western societies. In the east, and the Middle East, it is much less likely to succeed. I wrote about the peace activism in the Southern Baptist Convention (among the mostly young and W.W. Finlator) during the 1960s and 1970s. I was more than fair to those who opposed the Vietnam War. There are times when peaceful protests work, but there are times the that the ONLY option is to defend your neighbor with force.

By the way, how else could World War II have been resolved other than war with Hitler and Japan? Negotiations. In 1941, both the Nazis and Japan would have been able to dictate demands from a position of strength. If you don't think our actions worked well, look at their societies today -- nearly completely pacified. It took WWII to kill the oppressive, conquering warrior spirit in both peoples.

7:25 AM

 
Blogger Dan Trabue said...

Thank you, Greg, for clarifying that yes, sometimes peacemaking efforts can work. On that point we can agree.

We could further agree, I suspect, that peacemaking efforts ought always be our first (second, third, etc) approach over war, because of the horrible nature of war. As JWT says, war should be a last resort.

I'll be glad to give an attempt at revising history and guessing how we might have better resolved WWII, but first, clarify a bit more: Are we also agreeing that bombing civilians as in Hiroshima or Dresden is beyond what Christians ought to participate in? That torture is beyond what Christians ought to participate in?

7:58 AM

 
Blogger Dan Trabue said...

"I think you'll find that [NVDA] works best in Western societies. In the east, and the Middle East, it is much less likely to succeed"

You realize, I suppose, that there are those who would find this to be a classist or even racist comment? Because it sounds like you're saying that people outside of the West are not capable of acting in their own self-interest and can't be reasoned with to that end?

I'm not saying you are classist or racist, just pointing out how untoward that sounds.

And you know that modern NVDA began in the east, with Ghandi? And that, of course, Jesus' NVDA occurred in the Middle East?

One final question - what do the Bible believers here believe is meant by the commands to overcome evil with good?

8:12 AM

 
Anonymous Gregory Tomlin said...

I'm in print (Baptist Press and the Fort Worth Star-Telegram) saying that war should be a last resort.

And World War II couldn't have been solved any other way than fighting ... otherwise, Hitler would have kept his "acquisitions."

My comments about where NVDA works have nothing to do with race or class. Looking back through history, those movements are few in the East and Middle East. Most often there is violence ... that's not my opinion, it's fact. But it would be an interesting study to see how nations that had some Christian influence or heritage differed in success with NVDA as opposed to say, a Muslim or Chinese society. Look what NVDA got the Chinese in the pro-1980s democracy movement -- DEAD. Sad, but true.

Bombing Hiroshima and Nagasaki was the correct form of action -- performed by a Baptist nonetheless.

The bombings claimed many lives, but saved many more. That was a tough decision. The Japanese wouldn't have surrendered otherwise without an invasion, conservative estimates being that it would have cost 150,000 U.S. casualities. You may be aware that the purpose in war to is not have your troops die.

Horrible, yes, but not as horrible as if nothing had been done.

As for overcoming evil with good, that's a fairly simple one, I think. Personal evil, such as a slap on the cheek, an offense, an insult, financial harm, etc., are to be overcome with acts of goodness and forgiveness. Goodness can overcome institutional evil as well, as with the CR movement in the 1960s.

But if I see my neighbor being beaten to death, I'm obligated to intervene -- to put myself between the attacker and the neighbor. Doubtless you will say that this is the policeman's job. But if he is not there, should I just let it happen and then blame the authorities for not arriving quickly enough?

You said that I was working in false dichotomies. But I believe you are, as well. Is war never, ever, under any circumstances the good? Clearly it is sometimes a good that overcomes evil.

GT

9:38 AM

 
Blogger Dan Trabue said...

No, I agree with the philosophers, theologians and soldiers who have stated clearly that war is hell. War is a sin. War is a failure of peacemaking. War is a failure of diplomacy.

JW Theorists generally acknowledge this. What they typically have said is that war is an evil, but sometimes a greater evil will occur without the intervention of war, but war remains an evil, nonetheless. Or, if you prefer stating it this way, that evil WILL occur when one engages in war.

If that is one's starting point, then that evil must be weighed fully for the horror that we're saying we're committing our sons and daughters to before engaging therein.

10:03 AM

 
Blogger Dan Trabue said...

"Bombing Hiroshima and Nagasaki was the correct form of action -- performed by a Baptist nonetheless."

This attitude is shocking to me from a fellow Christian. I know it exists out there, but it nearly always takes away my breath when I hear a believer state such.

Partially because you are saying that targeting civilians is acceptable if the cause is right...which is the same philosophy of terrorists worldwide. No one (or at least very few) targets civilians because they desire to be evil. They do so because they think it is in the cause of some greater good.

If we agree with the terrorists in theory, then it just comes down to which causes are right and which ones are not and humanity has a pretty ugly track record of finding ways of justifying their killing.

10:08 AM

 
Anonymous Gregory Tomlin said...

As I said before ... you're living is a strange parallel universe, devoid of the realities of the modern world and its tough choices. And as I also said before, it's a good thing that folks in your line of thinking weren't in charge then. The world would be a very different place.

You guys always point to Hiroshimi and Nagasaki because it was nuclear. Were we wrong to bomb other cities with factories that produced war materials? Certainly civilians died there, too. Was that wrong? I say no. It is certainly unfortunate that their governments put them in that position, but it was not wrong for our men to bomb them.

In an ideal world, we'd all be able to negotiate our problems away. But when evil occurs and innocents are being slaughtered, it must be answered with force. Some civilians will perish, but we take steps to ensure that is minimized (a few cases of abuse notwithstanding).

Now, on the terrorist comment ... that's absolutely the worst logic I've ever seen. It's all about the goal. Our goal is to preserve freedom, there's is to take it away. That's how you measure right in this situation. If someone does something to take away life and freedom, it must be answered. That's what the rule of law is based on, even with its death penality.

Oh, sorry, I forgot you don't believe in that either ... even though Scripture CLEARLY and UNAPOLOGETICALLY states that is the government's prerogative.

My last post. No more time.

GT

10:58 AM

 
Anonymous Gregory Tomlin said...

Pardon the several grammatical errors in that last post. I was typing on the fly.

GT

11:00 AM

 
Blogger Dan Trabue said...

"You guys always point to Hiroshimi and Nagasaki because it was nuclear. Were we wrong to bomb other cities with factories that produced war materials?"

I specifically included the firebombing of Dresden in WWII. I'm not picky. I think toasting innocent civilians is as wrong as nuking them.

Was it wrong to bomb civilians? I say yes.

Would you see Jesus doing so? Really?

11:33 AM

 
Blogger Streak said...

Now, on the terrorist comment ... that's absolutely the worst logic I've ever seen. It's all about the goal. Our goal is to preserve freedom, there's is to take it away.

So ends justify the means?

One point about the WW2 comparisons. It seems to me that WW2 is the anomaly that becomes the norm. Unlike just about every other war America has fought, the lines between good and bad are more stark and easier to see. The Mexican War was a simple land grab, or the manufactured war Spanish American war. Even World War I is murky and our own motivation there difficult to discern. I certainly don't quibble that Hitler was truly bad and the war effort was genuine in many respects.

But no other war has been even close to that, even as people try constantly to compare others to it.

3:46 PM

 
Blogger Michael Westmoreland-White said...

D.R., Yes, I would say that neither the Civil War nor the U.S. Revolution passed strict JWT standards. In fact, I would also say that about WWI and WWII. WWII meets "just cause" better than any modern war, but the Allies and the Axis powers both violated ius in bello rules concerning the conduct of the war. Both Catholic and Protestant leaders pointed that out at the time, especially in condemning the city bombings--and later Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

On the other hand, I would argue that Korea met strict JWT standards in an almost textbook fashion. Were I not a pacifist and if I had lived at the time of that "police action," I could see fighting in that one.

Now, returning to your point that Christianity was more influential in earlier U.S. history. You are right, but the JWT tradition was in eclipse, almost forgotten even, throughout much of the early history of the U.S. The Pilgrims and later saw the wars with the Native Americans through the "Holy War" or crusade lense, and both the American Revolution and Civil War were justified in the same way.
JWT was revived, as was pacifism beyond the boundaries of Quakers and Mennonites, in the U.S. FOLLOWING the Civil War and partly in reaction to its horrors. This happened again following WWI (also preached in a crusade fashion) and WWII.

Thus, one of the strongest criticisms that we pacifists can level against JWTers is the question, "Have these criteria EVER prevented a war? Have Christians en masse ever refused to go when the nation beckoned because the war didn't measure up? What weapons have been rejected because of JWT AND STAYED THAT WAY?" What happens is, a war comes along that a nation wants to fight, it finds a way to twist and fit it into JWT and the majority of the preachers and their flocks desert Jesus and sign up.

4:43 PM

 
Blogger Jim Paslay said...

One of the comments brought the discussion back to the question, "Does Richard Land speak for Southern Baptists?" Let me ask some of you Land bashers this question. Did Foy Valentine speak for Southern Baptists when he signed on to the Religious Coalition for Abortion Rights as leader of the CLC? Did James Dunn speak for Southern Baptists when he was put on the board for the People for the American Way? Did Dunn speak for Southern Baptists when he spoke against the prayer in school issue?

While I will agree that no one can really speak for Southern Baptists, there is a perception that Dr. Land represents many Southern Baptists and their views. He has a very influential position as head of the ERLC. But so did Valentine and Dunn!

We clearly have differing worldviews and most of the disagreements continue to come back to the inspiration and authority of Scripture! II Timothy 3:16 reminds that "every part of the whole" of Scripture is "God-breathed." That is enough for me!

9:09 PM

 
Blogger Dan Trabue said...

On the WWII question (what would peacemakers have done?), there are two things to consider.

1. What should Christians have done?

Setting aside the pacifism/JWT differences, I suggest that there are certain things that Christians should never do. Killing innocent people being amongst those. Killing children: it should be a given that we don't do that. It's wrong. (Don't call us the moral equivocators!)

Given that, I'd hope that all Christians could agree on such basic morality. Christians should have had no part in killing innocent men, women and children in WWII or any war.

2. Outside of Christian considerations, what should a nation do in a WWII sort of situation? How do we best handle Hitler-like threats?

This is a much more difficult question where I'm comfortable with some room for disagreement amongst Christians (with the foregone conclusion that we wouldn't partake in any totally and certainly unChrist-like activities such as targeting civilians or torture).

Some Christians may feel like in very rare occasions, war may truly be the lesser of two evils. Evil still, but the lesser of two evils.

Others may reach a conclusion such as Bonhoeffer did and think the best solution would be the horrible act of assassinating the truly oppressive dictator. One problem with this approach is that one doesn't know what the results will be of such an act - will the second-oppressor-in-command be worse than the original?

Still others may choose to cling to the more pacifistic/peacemaker approach and advocate seeking Nonviolent means to overcoming the oppressors.

I really can't in this short a space (and honestly, due to insufficient knowledge on my part), but I think it's an entirely fair question to ask: Are 30+ million lives - many of those being civilian lives taken by us when we targeted civilian areas - something to be considered a success? Could something else have worked better?

We can't know, because peacemakers weren't in charge and no such actions were taken. Chamberlain (whom many people point to as an example of failed pacifism) was not a pacifist. We do know appeasing didn't work, as it was tried.

But then, no peacemakers I know of ever talk in terms of appeasement.

10:48 PM

 
Blogger Streak said...

Interesting comment, Dan. Good distinction between the actions of Chamberlain and those of a true peace maker. Either way, World War II is not the best teacher here.

Jim, I think part of the struggle here is not necessarily if Land represents SBC voices. Obviously, he does, or he would have lost his job. I, for one, don't resent that Land or any other SBCer has supported the President. My objection has been the assertion that the President is a "man of God" and disagreeing with him both unpatriotic and an attack on God. Christians supporting him is one thing, but why support him when his administration justified torture? Why when he was trying to incarcerate American citizens as "enemy combatants" without trial?

7:13 AM

 
Blogger Dan Trabue said...

One constantly valid rule to peacemaking (and we're seeing today the results of failure to acknowledge this rule) is that you want to isolate the truly oppressive individual.

For the Somozas, Hitlers, Saddams of the world - you want to hold up their cruelty to the light of the day and not give it any support or creedence. Let Hitler's evil be seen for what it is and it will implode on itself. Attack Germany and firebomb citizens and suddenly, Hitler is a hero and Germany united behind him.

By our actions in our "war on terror," we have done the incredible - given support and sympathy to the terrorists!

Surveys show that support for the notion that sometimes it's okay to use violence against citizens (which some here have even advocated as acceptable!) has increased in the time since 9/11.

At first, the world was UNITED in support of the US and against terrorism. Our approach to stopping terrorism has eroded that support and undermined our security.

The strongest, most violent response is oftentimes the most likely to decrease your security. Bush has demonstrated this to be true.

This is one reason why it is important that violence towards innocents is always, always, always condemned. The Ends justify the Means is hell if you're the recipient of someone else's Means.

8:43 AM

 
Blogger Streak said...

Dan, that is the interesting part of this, isn't it? Not only has Bush alienated many of our friends and unified our enemies, he seems to misunderstand that everytime we torture someone, or kill the wrong people, we create more and more terrorists.

The other part of the torture debate is that it weakens our diplomatic hand with friends and foes alike. If the Iranians are torturing those British sailors, do we really have the moral credibility to be indignant? When Jordan now tortures people and justifies it on our actions, where are we?

9:15 AM

 
Blogger Big Daddy Weave said...

Sorry I'm late - had a paper due and presentation this week.

Jim,

You continue to misrepresent Dunn and his words. During the 80's, the BJC represented 9 Baptist Bodies - not just the SBC. Their mission never changed once under Dunn. The separationist perspective of the BJC has remained the same from JM Dawson to JM Dunn.

Jim, Dunn and the BJC did not change - the leadership of the Southern Baptist Convention changed. Give the PFAW thing a break. We've had that conversation.

Did Dunn speak for Southern Baptists when he spoke against the prayer in school issue? Yep and the SBC affirmed the 60's SCOTUS rulings in multiple resolutions at the annual meetings. Jim, Richard Land does not even support a return to state-sponsored prayer in school....

Jim, when Foy signed on with RCAR in the 70's, his position was 100% in line with the abortion-related resolutions previously adopted by the SBC. These are positions that even W.A. Criswell agreed with at the time.

You likely will find my paper on Dunn interesting.

10:22 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

warning
This is a very important message about a terroristic Attack.

کیر خر تو کس ننه هرکی سیده.
سنده ملت جهان تو کس ننه حافظان شریعت اسلام

کیر خوک تو کس ننه فاحشه => پاسدار یا بسیجی یا اطلاعاتی یا جاسوس اسلام یا سید یا حزب اللهی

گوه خوک تو ننه امام حسین شد امام حسن

سنده شیطان تو حلق محمد رسول الله قرآن شد.

خرطوم فیل تو کس ننه پیامبر اسلام.

الله اکبر
خامنه ای عنتر
مرگ بر دوست ولایت فقیه
درود بر آمریکا

12:18 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

سید اولاد پیغمبر اسلام = سنده اولاد شیطان

سید اولاد زهرا بنت رسول = فضله نجس شیطان در خاک پاک ایران.

سنده موجودات در حلقوم فاطمه زهرای بنت رسول الله

12:28 AM

 

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