Politics and the Church – Extrication From the Shoal Waters [Part 34]

First of all, lets’s start off this week  looking at our responsibility to our weaker neighbors.  Because of the great military power of the United States, we also carry a great deal of responsibility for maintaining world peace in several ways.  Many other nations look up to us and depend on us to help defend their freedom.  Catering to the whelms of international tyrants is not one of the ways…our experience with Hitler is just one example.  The Bible certainly does not support non interventionism.  At one point God, through the prophet Obadiah, rebuked the nation of Edom for its non interventionist policy to Israel:

“On the day that you stood aloof,

on the day that strangers carried off his wealth and foreigners entered his gates

and cast lots for Jerusalem,

you were like one of them”.   (Obad. 11)

When foreign invaders (the Babylonians) attacked Jerusalem, the neighboring country of Edom “stood aloof” and failed to give military support to help Jerusalem defend itself.  God said that Edom was guilty of failing to intervene in that conflict to help their neighbor.  Edom had been settled by the descendants of Esau, son of Jacob.

Such a sense of responsibility to join in the defense of allies is not new to world history or to US history.  The Monroe Doctrine was a policy first stated by President James Monroe on December 22, 1823.  It affirmed that if any European nation attacked or attempted to colonize any nation in North or South America, the United States would intervene to oppose such action.  Although there is a dispute today over how extensively the Monroe Doctrine should be applied, it has been invoked on numerous occasions by US presidents.  The United States has decided in the past that it is in the best interest of the nation and that it contributes to the protection of world peace for it to enter into mutual support agreements, because they provide a significant deterrence against other countries beginning to take over various parts of the world.  As a nation the United States has formerly declared from the beginning that God (the “Creator”) has granted to every individual on earth certain basic rights to include both “life” and “liberty”.  While some ‘pacifists’ would quote some of the American Founding Fathers to defend non interventionism, they cannot find anything in the Constitution to support this point of view, because it’s not there.  It is consistent with our foundational Judeo/Christian convictions as a nation, as embodied in the Declaration of Independence, that the United States should promote the protection of life and human freedoms in various nations around the world.

We might though want to take a look at defense from another perspective…that of ‘attack from within’.  What if our liberties and freedoms are being attacked by such enemies from within?  The first of two Biblical positions embraced by most Americans was that Christians were forbidden to overthrow the institution of government and live in an anarchy, but they were not required to blindly submit to every human law and policy.  They wholeheartedly agreed that the institution of government was ordained by God, but understood that this did not mean that God had approved every specific government.  Throughout the Bible God raised up leaders such as Moses, Gideon, Ehud, Jepthah, Samson, and Deborah who fought against and threw off tyrannical governments.  Americans likewise understood that God had also ordained the church and the family, but that this did not mean that every specific family or church was approved by Him.  God wanted government and civil order in a society (1 Timothy 1:8-10), and He opposed anarchy, rebellion, lawlessness, and wickedness.  The colonists and our Founding Fathers had to deal with this question on government…did God’s Word approve of opposition to civil authority when that opposition was in resistance to tyrannical leaders who had themselves rebelled against God and were attempting to enforce behavior and policies that caused citizens to violate God’s Word.  Founding Father John Quincy Adams pretty much summed it up: He [Jesus] spoke as one having authority…He said to His disciples: “Learn from me, for I am meek and lowly of heart”, etc. {Matthew 11:29}; but where did he ever say to them,”Learn from Me, for I am tame and abject”?  There is certainly nothing more strongly marked in the precepts and examples of Christ that the principle of stubborn and inflexible resistance against the impulses of others to do evil. [John Quincy Adams, Letters of John Quincy Adams to His Son on the Bible and Its Teachings (Auburn, NY:James M. Alden, 1850), pg. 23].  The 1776 motto proposed for the new United States of America: “Rebellion to Tyrants Is Obedience to God” [John Adams, Letters of John Adams, Addressed to His Wife, ed.Charles Francis Adams(Boston:Little & Brown, 1841), Vol. I, pg.152, letter to Abigal Adams on August 14, 1776].  God would not bless an offensive war – any war initiated to coerce others or to take their land, or property; however, God would bless the efforts of self-defense against any such offensive war (2 Samuel 10:12; Nehemiah 4:13-14, 20-21; Zechariah 9:8, etc.).

It is up to the churches to ensure that their Christian congregations are periodically reminded of their duties in a Christian founded nation.  When these duties and/or responsibilities are ignored or forgotten we can lose our nation and its freedoms and liberties just as sure as if a foreign enemy had invaded.  Next week we will take a look at an enemy that has the potential to destroy our nation just as surely as a foreign enemy invasion…taxation.

– Bob Munsey

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