Archive for the 'Religion' Category



Justice Scalia On Religion And The Constitution

BY Herschel Smith
6 months, 3 weeks ago

AP:

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia said Saturday the idea of religious neutrality is not grounded in the country’s constitutional traditions and that God has been good to the U.S. exactly because Americans honor him.

Scalia was speaking at a Catholic high school in the New Orleans suburb of Metairie, Louisiana. Scalia, who was appointed by President Ronald Reagan in 1986 is the court’s longest serving justice. He has consistently been one of the court’s more conservative members.

He told the audience at Archbishop Rummel High School that there is “no place” in the country’s constitutional traditions for the idea that the state must be neutral between religion and its absence.

“To tell you the truth there is no place for that in our constitutional tradition. Where did that come from?” he said. “To be sure, you can’t favor one denomination over another but can’t favor religion over non-religion?”

He also said there is “nothing wrong” with the idea of presidents and others invoking God in speeches. He said God has been good to America because Americans have honored him.

Scalia said during the Sept. 11 attacks he was in Rome at a conference. The next morning, after a speech by President George W. Bush in which he invoked God and asked for his blessing, Scalia said many of the other judges approached him and said they wished their presidents or prime ministers would do the same.

“God has been very good to us. That we won the revolution was extraordinary. The Battle of Midway was extraordinary. I think one of the reasons God has been good to us is that we have done him honor. Unlike the other countries of the world that do not even invoke his name we do him honor. In presidential addresses, in Thanksgiving proclamations and in many other ways,” Scalia said.

“There is nothing wrong with that and do not let anybody tell you that there is anything wrong with that,” he added.

 

He’s right, of course.  Moreover, this thinking is right in line with the historical reformed thinking of men like Cornelius Van Til, Gordon Clark, and my own professor C. Gregg Singer and others, on the logical impossibility of neutrality.  All syllogisms have presuppositions, those presuppositions being axiomatic irreducibles, with the balance of thought and deduction being impossible without them, and the rest of the system able to be judged on its logical consistency based on those presuppositions.  And I agree with Scalia, even if he doesn’t invoke reformed thinkers for his basis.

Unlike Scalia, however, who is Roman Catholic, I don’t think God cares very much whether we invoke His name in a presidential address or some similar charade.  The invocation of His name must be sincere, humble and within the context of repentance.

This is what I don’t see in America, and thus God will not long bless her.  She is even now experiencing the lack of God’s favor because of her stubbornness.

So Scalia is right, and he is wrong.

Virginia Attorney General Mark R. Herring Versus The Right To Self Defense

BY Herschel Smith
7 months ago

Washington Post:

Virginia Attorney General Mark R. Herring announced Tuesday that the commonwealth will no longer recognize out-of-state concealed handgun permits, part of a national push to circumvent legislatures opposed to tightening gun laws.

[ … ]

But Herring’s office could not say how many people are suspected of crossing into Virginia with concealed weapons to commit crimes …

[ … ]

The states losing reciprocity are: Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Washington, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

The Washington Post article comes via Mike Vanderboegh.  As for Mr. Herring, he can’t prove that any crime has ever been committed in Virginia by an out-of-state concealed handgun permit holder, and he knows it.  This is raw politics, progressive statist tactics to deprive men of their right to self defense.  And as we’ve seen before, it’s more than a matter of mere politics, and even more than a matter of rights.  It’s a matter of moral duty.

God expects men to defend themselves and their loved ones as a corollary to being created in His image.  Second amendment or not, men must act to preserve life, their own and that of others.  It is an obligation that attends being servants of the most high God, the only potentate and eternal ruler of the universe.  Your actions, Mr. Herring, go to the heart of God’s expectations for man, and thus there is a deeply moral element to your seemingly political actions.

As I said, we’ve studied this time and time again, and so there is absolutely no question that Mr. Herring is interfering with man’s duty before God and thus has become a stumbling block for God’s chosen people.  There is a whole host of questions and things to consider from this point forward.

For instance, what is the NRA going to do?  If they’re worth two cents, they will go to war over this.  What will Virginia LEOs do?  If they enforce this sinful and unconstitutional law, they are no better than the current Governor and Attorney General Mr. Herring.  I don’t care that those in power want this enforced.  I don’t care that those in power were elected to that office.

Breaking covenant with God’s law means illegitimacy before mankind, and thus their laws must be disobeyed.  I don’t want to hear from LEOs that the people of Virginia should elect better men, different men.  The majority doesn’t have a right to decide when God’s laws are to be dishonored.  If LEOs can’t stand the moral heat, it’s time to get out of the kitchen.  These are weighty questions for weighty times.  What will LEOs do?  Seriously.  LEOs should ponder hard on these words.

But one thing I can do about this is appeal to the most high King over these sinful actions.  In the Christian faith there is a rich tradition of imprecatory prayers, and it’s a tool we don’t use often enough.  It isn’t a substitute for action on our parts, but we must bath everything in prayer.  The last time I prayed an imprecatory prayer it was over Arlen Specter and his support for abortion rights and another candidate who supported abortion rights.  Soon after that prayer, Mr. Specter was diagnosed with cancer and left the senate.  I don’t do this lightly.  But Mr. Herring has forced my hand, and I feel led by the spirit to do this.

“Dear Lord of heaven and earth, whereas Mr. Herring has made it impossible for many of your servants, your children, those for whom your only begotten Son died on a rugged cross, to preserve their lives and the lives of those whom you love, Mr. Herring has declared himself to be your enemy.  Tyrants need willing lieutenants to carry out their evil plans, and Mr. Herring has decided to align himself with the forces of darkness.  This is no small matter to you.

I am hereby constrained by your spirit to pray for his demise.  Bring desolation, destitution and disrepute on the house of Mr. Herring to the fourth and fifth generations.  May his very children and children’s children disavow his beliefs and actions to the fourth and fifth generations.  May Mr. Herring live in shame for what he has done, and I pray that you, oh sovereign Lord, would bring all of his actions to naught and render him impotent and powerless, with the reputation of a worm.”

I Do Not Fear Terror Because I Am Redeemed, And I Have Been Predestined To This War

BY Herschel Smith
7 months, 2 weeks ago

“He makes my feet like hinds’ feet, and sets me upon my high places.  He trains my hands for battle, so that my arms can bend a bow of bronze.  Thou hast also given me the shield of thy salvation, and thy right hand upholds me; and Thy gentleness makes me great,” Psalm 18:33-36.

The New York Times has published a call for gun control in the wake of the Islamist actions in San Bernardino.  An excerpt follows.

Certain kinds of weapons, like the slightly modified combat rifles used in California, and certain kinds of ammunition, must be outlawed for civilian ownership. It is possible to define those guns in a clear and effective way and, yes, it would require Americans who own those kinds of weapons to give them up for the good of their fellow citizens.

The Washington Post has a pitiful, confused and yet halting agreement with the editorial, as if the writer, in terrible fear for her life, doesn’t know what else to do.

Then, there are those matters that are beyond practical political reach. Suffering, death, danger and maltreatment aside, a policy solution to these problems simply has no real path, no viability at all.

And in this moment, it would seem that any and all policy related to guns would belong in that third group. Gun control — or any discussion of a coordinated effort to stem the tide of gun deaths that set this country apart from almost every other industrialized nation — is going nowhere. It’s a reality we acknowledge regularly on this very blog, most recently on Saturday morning, the day the New York Times saw fit to devote its first front-page editorial in 95 years to gun control.

There are numerous reactions to this editorial, most of them edging towards the “this means war” sentiment.  I want to take a different approach to this call for more gun control, and all of those like it across America.

It’s tempting to take the approach of commenter Mike Bishop at WRSA, who says “The Manhattanites have about as much relevance in my personal, local, life, as a rookery of penguins.”  Mike is right, and such gun control will never obtain, but it goes much deeper than relevance.

There is a war between light and darkness, and it has been advancing since the very beginning.  Statism and Islam are different facets of the same stone (there are other facets), and they are merely the societal manifestations of the struggle between light and darkness.  The war occurs individually and corporately, and while men see the consequences and effects of the war, and get brief glimpses into the deeper things, in large measure we don’t truly see the battle in the heavens.

Angels and demons are warring in the heavenly places, and there is war within the souls of men.  God isn’t barely victorious, nor does be barely win.  Nay, He sits and the heavens and scoffs at the rulers of the world.  It will all end as He has said it will.

“For I am God and there is no other; I am God and there is no one like Me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things which have not yet been done, saying, ‘My purpose will be established, and I will accomplish all My good pleasure’,” Isaiah 46:9-10.

As for individual men, there are those who are lost.  The New York Times editorial board is lost.  No, not collectively, but individually, each and every one of them.  The war is over in their soul, or better, it never occurred.  There are those men who have been given a taste, and who know the truth, but who suppress it in unrighteousness.  They will never find peace or rest, not now and not in eternity.

But there are those who would be lost if left to their own devices, who know their sins, but who have been awakened by the sovereign hand of Almighty God, who reaches down in His kind providence and bestows His love on them.  They are saved by grace and through faith, not of their works, lest they should boast.

For this last category, God “chose us in Him before the foundation of the world … He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself … according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will,” Eph 1:4,5,11.

If the former believes that upon death their bodies cool to ambient temperature and then get planted or burned, and that’s the end, they are merely observers to the great war, not even pawns.  They are worse than irrelevant.  They see the effects, but cannot effect change.  For those of us who believe, there are no volunteers to this war.

We were created for it, and we were drafted to this army.  Our volunteering occurred simultaneously with our being called, and upon being called, we had no other choice.  The sheep know their master’s voice, and only follow Him.

Oh, to be sure, I won’t give up my weapons, not a single one of them, and I will defend myself and my family as we are threatened, whether by the state or other actors.  I will do so because I have been taught by my master that I must do so.  But it goes deeper than a few guns.

I know that the New York Times editorial board, for all their bluster, isn’t relevant to this war because they don’t even know there is one.  Looking for peace, they may as well slash their wrists and bleed before Baal for fire to come down from heaven as to look to the state for a solution to evil.

I have been called with a heavenly calling, like all of His people, not of themselves, but of His great mercy and from before the foundation of the world, to fight this great war.  The war is present everywhere and all of the time, whether visibly and by implements of fighting, or in our souls for our devotion and affection of the divine.

It has become commonplace to charge people carrying weapons with cowardice.

PARIS—For most of the last two centuries, Europeans have been puzzling over their American cousins’ totemic obsession with guns and their passion for concealed weapons. And back in the decades before the American Civil War, several British visitors to American shores thought they’d discerned an important connection: people who owned slaves or lived among them wanted to carry guns to keep the blacks intimidated and docile, but often shot each other, too.

In 1842, the novelist Charles Dickens, on a book tour of the United States, saw a link between the sheer savagery of slave ownership and what he called the cowardly practice of carrying pistols or daggers or both. The author of Oliver Twist listened with a mixture of horror and contempt as Americans defended their utterly indefensible “rights” to tote guns and carry Bowie knives, right along with their “right” to own other human beings who could be shackled, whipped, raped, and mutilated at will.

Charging us with sin is the devil’s game, and in my corner as defender is the Son of God who has paid the price, past, present and future.  I’ll just let Him handle it.  I am unaffected by the game.  Since I am a warrior in the great war of all time, how can any man say that I am a coward?

Coward if left to his own devices, sinner, and even worthless worm.  But saint by the shed blood of the lamb, warrior in the great war, at battle ever since being called, at battle until the end of my life, servant of the most high king.  My days are in His hands.  I will live all of the days to which I have been ordained, and will not perish until it is time that I meet my savior and master.  Who can understand this except those who have been called?

“You will not be afraid of the terror by night, or of the arrow that flies by day,” Psalm 91:5.

The San Bernardino Terrorist Attack Is God’s Fault

BY Herschel Smith
7 months, 3 weeks ago

Kos is blaming republicans, but better still, others are blaming God.

As yet another mass shooting claimed the lives of 14 people Wednesday in San Bernardino, Calif., a familiar refrain echoed from the lips of politicians: Pray.

But for many fed up with the now seemingly routine shootings and the resulting inaction from each over how to stop another tragedy, pleas to God weren’t enough anymore.

That was the sentiment New York’s Daily News proclaimed on its cover Thursday. With the headline blaring, “God Isn’t Fixing This,” the tabloid highlighted the tweets of GOP politicians, each asking for prayer following the shooting at an office party at the Inland Regional Center.

“Prayers aren’t working,” the paper wrote. “White House hopefuls on the Democratic side of the aisle called for stricter gun laws in the wake of the shooting. … But after yet another mass shooting in America, GOP presidential contenders were conspicuously silent on the issue of gun control. Instead, the Republicans were preaching about prayer.”

This is just rich.  So it’s God’s fault because prayers aren’t working.  The comments at NPR are even better.  They range from frustration, to confusion, to atheistic ramblings about prayer to make-believe characters.

Look, having studied apologetics as I have, I would debate anyone on the existence of God, but it would be on my terms and by my rules.  Atheists don’t scare me one bit.  But trying to persuade someone in unbelief to jettison their lack of belief isn’t the point here.

The notion that we can break God’s holy laws, turn the nation into a melting pot of religious paganism, and turn to the state as the worshipers of Baal did to a statue, and then expect the one true and living God to perform for us like some sort of circus act when the nation utters what it perceives to be an incantation is so ludicrous that it’s amazing anyone believes it.

Bless your heart!  So you think God doesn’t hear your prayers?  Get used to it.  He only knows His sheep, and His sheep know His voice and follow Him.

Put the popcorn in the microwave, take it out and watch the show.  The liberals are eating each others’ livers out.  This should be fun.

Ethical Questions In Warfare

BY Herschel Smith
8 months ago

Mike Vanderboegh poses the following question: How many of you are willing to kill a Muslim infant because his or her parents are Muslim?  He adds, “I am not arguing about the validity of their faith. I am a Christian, but I also understand that absent the burden of protecting the innocent — ALL innocents — from attack by collectivists of any ilk, including Muslim religious collectivists, it is not up to me to execute God’s judgment upon someone simply because of their faith, however mistaken it is.”

Well, this poses a complex set of issues that isn’t fertile ground for talking points or rapid fire exchange.  This is a thinking man’s territory.  He later links (but does not comment on) Ralph Peters and his view that “The generals who won World War II would start by leveling Raqqa, the ISIS caliphate’s capital. Civilians would die, but those remaining in Raqqa have embraced ISIS, as Germans did Hitler. The jihadis must be crushed. Start with their “Berlin.” Kill ten thousand, save a million.”

This is enough to keep us busy for a while.  Reader and commenter BluesStringer1955 also links Mike’s piece, and with absolutely no basis whatsoever charged me with wanting to kill all Muslims around me (this wasn’t even the point of the article), and continues that Mike and David make a mistake to link to anything I write.  Mike and David will have to decide if it’s a mistake for them to link to anything I write, and I never said anything about killing all Muslims.  I think BluesStringer1995 was having a bad day.

But I did assert that making the decision to kill ISIS fighters should be an easy ethical decision for us.  I would sleep well if I flew an A-10 and got the chance to blow a convoy of ISIS fighters into oblivion (but this would only happen in my dreams – flying the A-10, that is).  So let’s fill in the blanks a bit.  For BlueStringer1955, I don’t take you by the hand and lead you to simplistic conclusions.  My goal is to force you to ponder, to make you think.  Even if you end the process disagreeing with me, that’s okay if you have spent time pondering the hard issues we will all face.

There isn’t another writer who has covered more about rules of engagement than have I, from news reports, to AR 15-6 investigations, to private communications from deployed NCOs and others on the situations they are facing.  I won’t rehearse the quotes I am using or the examples I cite.  There isn’t enough time to find the many references I supply in my rules of engagement category, and it would break the flow of what I want to say.  So bear with me, and if you want proof, please visit my prior posts.

I’m willing to listen to just about any argument you wish to make, and I’ll respect your opinion if it’s well researched and well reasoned, and that last point bears repeating.  Well reasoned.  If you cannot bear to face the logical conclusions of your own views, I might show pity, but I won’t be persuaded in the least by emotion, accusations, shouting or hurt feelings.

There are things to which you should stipulate as you ponder these hard issues in order to have the respect of your colleagues and family.  They will listen with a critical ear and they know when you are being irrational.  If you claim that the U.S. shouldn’t have dropped nuclear bombs on Japan to end WWII, then you must stipulate either that (a) it was acceptable to lose half a million Americans in a land invasion of Japan, or that (b) the U.S. should have just stopped, potentially leaving WWII to continue ad infinitum.  If you claim that Marcus Luttrell and his team should have done what they did and leave those goat herders alone, then you must stipulate that it’s acceptable to you for Americans to perish by leaving enemy spotters alive since they weren’t armed at the time.

If you assert that no one can be ethically killed who isn’t armed, they you must stipulate, along with one American general in Afghanistan who wanted to charge two Army snipers with murder for killing an unarmed known Taliban leader with a long distance shot, that many if not most American sniper kills were unethical.  Furthermore, most sniper shots can never be taken under such a rule, or at least, you must stipulate to that.

If you claim that under no circumstances can non-combatant casualties be tolerated, then you must stipulate that when Hezbollah ensconced their artillery among the citizen homes in Lebanon, the Israeli military cannot target those same installation in return.

There are many more examples in my rules of engagement category, but you can see that the issues begin to be complicated.  Only moral and thinking men need apply for the job.  As for me, while I won’t bore you with the details of my own responses to all of the above, I will try as best as I can to answer Mike’s question.

First of all, I am a Calvinist, and there is no one who is innocent.  We are all guilty by virtue of being born of the seed of Adam and equally deserving of damnation, regardless of age, ethnicity, race, or gender.  Those of us who believe were saved because of God’s sovereign choice, by His grace, and through faith alone.  You may disagree, and I’m okay with that.  But I won’t apologize for my beliefs.  They are incorrigible and there will never be a time when I don’t believe those things.

I prefer to speak of non-combatants rather than “the innocent.”  In the entire history of warfare, notwithstanding whether non-combatants were targeted, no war has ever been fought without non-combatant casualties.  The question is whether they should be targeted.  I understand the decision made by the generals in WWII, who knew that Germany wouldn’t be defeated as long as its war machine was supplied by its industry.  I didn’t say I would have made the same decision, and I didn’t say I wouldn’t have.  I said I understand it.  But that’s quite a bit different than killing a Muslim infant simply because his parents are Muslim.

As the choice stands, my answer is no, not just for being children of Muslims, and not at all if I don’t have to.  Let’s use Ralph Peters’ approach to Raqqa to illustrate.  I will no more assert that we should turn Raqqa into a sea of glass that I will assert that we shouldn’t be allowed to shoot Iraqi insurgents who are throwing cinder blocks off of bridges into American convoys.  The goal is to “stay between the ditches” in our decisions.

Turning Raqqa into a sea of glass is a profoundly bad idea for a number of reasons, none of which have to do with there being Muslim infants there.  First of all, al Baghdadi might be away and avoid death, thereby adding to his mystique.  This would be a terrible outcome.  Furthermore, bombing Raqqa would be likely to create more haters of America than it killed.  Again, this would be a terrible outcome.

As to there being infants there, God is the only sovereign and decisions of life and death are His alone if we don’t have to make that choice.  And herein lies the crux of the issue.  Ralph is playing the devil’s game.  He wants to bomb Raqqa into dust, but that wouldn’t solve the problem and we don’t have to make that choice.  The administration doesn’t want to solve the problem, which is open borders.

It isn’t necessary to kill the enemy or his children thousands of miles away, when the answer is to seal the borders, completely and immediately.  It’s like the game my fifth grade teacher wanted the class to play.  We were supposedly all aboard a life boat, and there was only enough food and water for four of us, whereas there were five on board.  What do we do?

I refused to play the game, pissing her off but standing my ground.  There are worse things than death, one of which would be throwing someone overboard in order to stay alive.  Someone wanted Ralph to play this game, perhaps Ralph.  But what they don’t want to do is what is necessary to make the decision unnecessary in the first place.

Look folks, this example is a fairly easy one, but I honestly think that things aren’t going to go down so easy for us.  I think the answers are going to be much tougher, much more involved, and much murkier than this example.  Again with commenter BluesStringer1955, he believes that Muslims ought to be free to practice their religion in America.  I don’t think BluesStringer1955 understands what it means for Muslims to practice their religion.

No civilization in more than a millennia has been able to peaceably coexist with Islam.  BluesStringer1955 sees the world through Western eyes, not through the Islamic world view.  In order to assist here, I wanted to convey a little short story.

This is a story about a man we will call Mark, who lives in Boiling Springs, S.C.  He lived far enough from the center of urban problems that he didn’t figure that any of this would come his way.  But then resettlement of Syrians happened in Spartanburg, S.C., right down the road from him.

At first it was all benign.  But soon enough a few Muslim families moved into his neighborhood – on the government dime, and problems started.  They began to demand that the school system get Arabic translators, and his taxes were going up in order to pay for the translators.  Furthermore, it was said that there might be more days in school in the summer to make up for the Muslim holidays that they were demanding.  No, they weren’t demanding those holidays for themselves, but that everyone observe them as well.

Next, they demanded footwashing stations in the airports, malls and stores, and prayer rooms with arrows towards Mecca, complete with prayer rugs.  All of this was going to cost money, and while he thought that no one would give this kind of thing the time of day, state senator Larry Martin of Pickens, along with others from Greenville and the lower part of the state, were considering actual changes to the law to allow Sharia courts for the Muslims for certain things.

But there was a more immediate and personal concern for Mark.  One Muslim family near him had been eyeballing his dog, who had gotten lose and was playing with their younger children.  Not biting, but playing.  It happened only once, but now every time Mark goes out to walk the dog, the Muslims say something to him and the teenagers even make obscene gestures.  They hate dogs.  They consider them unclean.

Mark was weeping this particular day.  Mark has no fence, and while his dog did not leave the yard, while he wasn’t watching someone had apparently shot the dog’s eyes out with a pellet rifle, or so the vet thinks.  The dog, who had been with him for ten years, had begun to nip at anyone who came near in self defense because he was blind.  Understandable, but Mark couldn’t let that go on with his own children.  Mark was headed to the veterinarian to put his dog down.

As he was driving, he pondered what he was going to do?  The Muslim teenagers had been ogling his own daughter, and had even yelled that she was a whore and daughter of a whore since she isn’t Muslim, dressed unseemly and didn’t wear a hijab.  He wanted his wife and daughters to have weapons and carry them, but the government had cracked down on the purchase of guns since the advent of the heavier Muslim immigration to America.

America, Mark thought, wasn’t the same country in which he grew up.  And this wasn’t even Dearborn, Michigan.  It was Boiling Springs, S.C.

Now, as for the little short story, Mark is fictitious, but Mark’s saga is just beginning.  And if you haven’t pondered long and hard about the borders, Muslim immigration, Hispanic and Latino immigration, government intrusion, and what you will and won’t allow yourself to do, including the broader moral rules you will follow and down to the tactical level, then you need to.  Mike’s question is a good one, but folks, this is only the beginning.  You’d better seek for clarity of thought and a strong moral compass.

For the record, so-called just war theory was constructed for centuries old models for warfare with great armies lining up in fields of battle against other armies, fought in the daylight, with non-combatants left out of the mix, with hand-to-hand tactics using implements that didn’t act as standoff weapons.  Christian theologians, as I have pointed out many times, have let us down.  You don’t see papers written in the Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society on modern warfare and its ethical exigencies.  They haven’t updated their theory of warfare for modernity, with weapons that kill large numbers of people, and with non-combatants being brought into the mix (along with or against their will).  Much less have Christian theologians pondered fourth or fifth generation warfare and its implications for mankind.  We have been let down, abandoned, and ignored.  Perhaps because of ignorance, perhaps because of cowardice, but abandoned nonetheless.  As you ponder these issues, you are on your own, you and your conscience and your copy of the word of God.

I am forced by death and destruction to say there should be war

BY Herschel Smith
8 months, 3 weeks ago

Via Instapundit, the bravest man on earth.

White reopened St George’s church after the invasion of Iraq even though civil war raged and the diplomats and ex-pats who had once made up the congregation no longer dared to go there.

Iraqis came instead, and the congregation reached a peak of 6,500. They built a school, a clinic and food bank. White pledged to stay even as the sound of bombs grew louder. “We had Isis on the doorstep of Baghdad last year. I said to my people, ‘I will not leave you; don’t leave me.’ But many did leave me and they went to Nineveh and Mosul. Isis were there too. There was total mayhem.”

More than 1,200 men, women and children who worshipped with him have been killed in recent years, he says. Four boys he knew were beheaded because they refused to swear allegiance to Islam. The church caretaker was forced to watch as his five-year-old boy was cut in half.

There used to be 1.5 million Christians in Iraq but now there are only 260,000, he says. Some are calling it genocide. Surely he no longer believes that negotiations with Isis could work? White stares at me from behind owlish spectacles. “Can I be honest? You are absolutely right. You can’t negotiate with them. I have never said that about another group of people. These are really so different, so extreme, so radical, so evil. . . .

But surely there is only one logical conclusion to be drawn? He sighs, and answers slowly. “You are asking me how we can deal radically with Isis. The only answer is to radically destroy them. I don’t think we can do it by dropping bombs. We have got to bring about real change. It is a terrible thing to say as a priest.

“You’re probably thinking, ‘So you’re telling me there should be war?’ Yes!”

I am shocked by his answer, because this is a man who has risked his life many times to bring peace.

“It really hurts. I have tried so hard. I will do anything to save life and bring about tranquillity, and here I am forced by death and destruction to say there should be war.”

“It is a terrible thing to say as a priest.”  Well, not it’s not.  He needs to study Good Wars by Professor Darrell Cole.  And he also needs to think of this in terms of defending the image of God in himself and those over whom he has been given charge, including the children.

I am afraid there have been too many centuries of bad teaching endured by the church, but it makes sense to keep trying.  As I’ve explained before, the simplest and most compelling case for self defense lies in the decalogue.  Thou shall not murder means thou shall protect life.

God’s law requires [us] to be able to defend the children and helpless.  “Relying on Matthew Henry, John Calvin and the Westminster standards, we’ve observed that all Biblical law forbids the contrary of what it enjoins, and enjoins the contrary of what it forbids.”  I’ve tried to put this in the most visceral terms I can find.

God has laid the expectations at the feet of heads of families that they protect, provide for and defend their families and protect and defend their countries.  Little ones cannot do so, and rely solely on those who bore them.  God no more loves the willing neglect of their safety than He loves child abuse.  He no more appreciates the willingness to ignore the sanctity of our own lives than He approves of the abuse of our own bodies and souls.  God hasn’t called us to save the society by sacrificing our children or ourselves to robbers, home invaders, rapists or murderers. Self defense – and defense of the little ones – goes well beyond a right.  It is a duty based on the idea that man is made in God’s image.  It is His expectation that we do the utmost to preserve and defend ourselves when in danger, for it is He who is sovereign and who gives life, and He doesn’t expect us to be dismissive or cavalier about its loss.

And concerning John Calvin’s comments on this subject:

We do not need to prove that when a good thing is commanded, the evil thing that conflicts with it is forbidden.  There is no one who doesn’t concede this.  That the opposite duties are enjoined when evil things are forbidden will also be willingly admitted in common judgment.  Indeed, it is commonplace that when virtues are commended, their opposing vices are condemned.  But we demand something more than what these phrases commonly signify.  For by the virtue of contrary to the vice, men usually mean abstinence from that vice.  We say that the virtue goes beyond this to contrary duties and deeds.  Therefore in this commandment, “You shall not kill,” men’s common sense will see only that we must abstain from wronging anyone or desiring to do so.  Besides this, it contains, I say, the requirement that we give our neighbor’s life all the help we can … the purpose of the commandment always discloses to us whatever it there enjoins or forbids us to do” (Institutes of the Christian Religion, Vol. 1, Book 2, Chapter viii, Part 9).

He is a brave man doing what he believes is his duty.  But it is his duty to prosecute war, for the sake of the little ones.

The Idolatry Of Security

BY Herschel Smith
9 months, 2 weeks ago

Baptist News Global:

Of course, the problem with “the devil made them do it,” is that personal and social responsibility are minimized to the point that we are off the hook. There is no way to prevent every tragedy, but why the push-back against laws that might minimize tragedy?

Can you imagine if that was the Church’s response to other tragic and violent situations?

…like Human Trafficking and Sex Slavery – “The devil made that man kidnap those girls, so there’s no reason to pass laws that might prevent human trafficking, and certainly no need to talk about it.”

Such an approach is not only irresponsible from a biblical perspective, but from a social and moral one.

Another pastor wrote in a forum:

“We cannot stop this stuff from going down. The world is going to hell in two handbaskets.”

Actually, part of what makes these tragedies so infuriating (and painfully sad) is that in other developed countries, mass killings do not happen with anywhere close to the same regularity we have in the States.

Can you imagine if the response of Christians to every moral dilemma was like the one above?

…like Racial Segregation – “We cannot stop segregation because the world is going to hell. The Bible says it will get worse before it gets better!”

Preposterous. Such a view is escapist, and denies Christ’s call to help usher in the Kingdom of Heaven in our present reality. Unfortunately the escapist view is rampant among American Christians, and common sense gun legislation isn’t the only issue held captive to such faulty thinking.

I even heard a pastor say:

“As Christians we shouldn’t expect politicians, judges and other leaders to make moral choices that usher in God’s Kingdom.”

Then as Christians, why do we elect them? I’m all for separation of church and state, but just because the state should not favor a particular religion or denomination doesn’t mean we should expect the worst from our government, or not care when violence (that can arguably be minimized) runs rampant.

What if the above view was taken in other situations?

…like Payday and Predatory Lending – “Why should Christians expect society to limit predatory financial practices that prey on the poor and vulnerable? If the Church was just salt and light then maybe these companies would go away.”

Don’t count on it. On many issues the church works to affect change for the better in our culture including human rights, economic initiatives, racial reconciliation, and environmental stewardship. If the church is salt and light in the world, wouldn’t legislative change materialize as fruit of our collective witness?

The non-answers, the posturing, the moral avoidance and theological escapism have got to stop – especially among Christian leaders. It’s time for a reality check.

In my opinion, the reason this debate is seemingly intractable is nothing short of idolatry masquerading as weak rhetoric, tired arguments, and a refusal to face the truth – We have an idolatry problem in America.

  • Idolatry of the individual self
  • Idolatry of guns
  • Idolatry of “personal security and protection”

“The idolatry of security.”  This is a remarkable quote (and perspective) from a man who would be a boy, perhaps not old enough to have children or a wife who is precious to him and who depend upon him for protection.  He is old enough to be a Doctor of Ministry candidate, but not wise enough to study the Scriptures rather than the political scene for his world view.

Remember what we’ve seen concerning what the Holy Writ says about our responsibilities.

God’s law requires [us] to be able to defend the children and helpless.  “Relying on Matthew Henry, John Calvin and the Westminster standards, we’ve observed that all Biblical law forbids the contrary of what it enjoins, and enjoins the contrary of what it forbids.”  I’ve tried to put this in the most visceral terms I can find.

God has laid the expectations at the feet of heads of families that they protect, provide for and defend their families and protect and defend their countries.  Little ones cannot do so, and rely solely on those who bore them.  God no more loves the willing neglect of their safety than He loves child abuse.  He no more appreciates the willingness to ignore the sanctity of our own lives than He approves of the abuse of our own bodies and souls.  God hasn’t called us to save the society by sacrificing our children or ourselves to robbers, home invaders, rapists or murderers. Self defense – and defense of the little ones – goes well beyond a right.  It is a duty based on the idea that man is made in God’s image.  It is His expectation that we do the utmost to preserve and defend ourselves when in danger, for it is He who is sovereign and who gives life, and He doesn’t expect us to be dismissive or cavalier about its loss.

And yet in spite of God’s expectations for us, the man-child actually recommends that we subjugate our personal security – and that of our family – for the greater social good, whatever that means!  We don’t know what form it would take – universal background checks, which wouldn’t do what he wants, bans on certain kinds of weapons, which wouldn’t do what he wants, or what.  But something must be done, because remember the children.

I am remembering the children, son, and perhaps you will one day too.  That’s why I won’t subjugate my right to own whatever weapons I deem appropriate for the defense of my family to any perceived social good.  And if your seminary is teaching that you should, I suggest you discuss with your wife, or future wife, the notion that you want her to sacrifice some of the security of your children for the greater social good.  You can have a long, perhaps contentious conversation on how much that “some” should be as your children lay in their beds at night.

The Very Reverend Barkley Thompson On Gun Control

BY Herschel Smith
10 months, 1 week ago

Houston Chronicle:

I own guns. I am a bird hunter, and I own shotguns for that purpose. I also own a single-action, six-shot revolver loaded with shotshells as protection against poisonous snakes on our small piece of land in the country, where copperheads are as common as mosquitoes. My father taught me to shoot guns responsibly before I was a teenager. I am teaching my kids to do the same.

I am also, like so many, appalled at the gun violence endemic in our country, violence amplified this past week by the on-air murder of two journalists …

Those opposed to any gun control claim that guns, as inanimate objects, don’t kill people. If one maintains that logic, then neither do automobiles kill people. But we regulate automobiles so law-abiding citizens are able to utilize them safely and not in ways that are likely to maim and kill. (As the father of a son approaching driving age, I’m particularly thankful for that.)

“And yet, driving is not a constitutional right, whereas gun ownership is,” some will say. Indeed, in recent Supreme Court decisions District of Columbia v. Heller and McDonald v. Chicago, the Court ruled that United States citizens have, under the Second Amendment, just such a right to own handguns in addition to long guns (like shotguns and rifles). Though I am a priest and certainly not a legal scholar, I was raised by a mother who is an English teacher, and I would argue that in its recent rulings the Supreme Court failed the grammar lesson.

[ … ]

Today, our militias consist of professional National Guards, not local Minute Men with a musket above the mantel. The right to bear arms is predicated (literally, grammatically) on a social institution that no longer exists.

[ … ]

As I said at the outset, I am a gun owner who keeps and uses specific kinds of firearms for the intentions for which they were constructed. That said, on the topic of gun violence, statistical and anecdotal evidence coincide. We indeed have a festering societal problem, and as a minister of the Gospel of Jesus, the Prince of Peace, I say we have moral problem. At least for those who follow the God of Jesus, a God whose vision for the world is that we “beat swords into ploughshares and spears into pruning hooks” (Isaiah 2:4), the gun violence in our country is a symptom of soul sickness. Something must be done to stem the tide, and an unfettered access to guns is no better solution than attempting to put out a fire with gasoline.

[ … ]

Why do we wish to own guns? Hunting, sporting, and home and/or personal protection seem to me to be the legitimate answers to the question. The guns I own are exactly adequate to those uses. (If I were a deer hunter, I would also own a deer rifle.) What is unneeded for any of these purposes is an assault rifle, or even a semi-automatic pistol with a high capacity magazine. Such weapons are designed for the sole and express purpose of incapacitating many people quickly, which is, lamentably in our broken world, the sometime responsibility of law enforcement and the military. It is virtually never — even in a home invasion situation — a circumstance legitimately faced by private citizens.

Personally, I favor prohibiting private ownership (not only sales) of assault rifles and other military-grade firearms and at least prohibiting sales of semi-automatic pistols with high capacity magazines.

To begin with Mr. Thompson, I consider your title to be preening and honorific rather than Biblical and pointing towards your responsibilities.  “Teaching elder” would do much better, but if you prefer to preen and your flock allows it, that says as much about them as it does you.

Next, I do have a number of questions for you.

First of all, I notice that you turn to a number of quotes from Supreme Court justices rather than time-honored and well-grounded Biblical exegesis concerning the duty of self defense (let’s dismiss your silly citation of Isaiah since this refers to the eschaton, and instead focus on Biblical scholarship).  Why is that?  Why would you prefer to refer to the opinions of man rather than of God?

Second, since it’s just a feasible to commit suicide with a shotgun, bolt action rifle or single shot revolver as it is with a semiautomatic pistol, do you see suicide from the aforementioned weapons to be acceptable and even preferable to those from the later?  Said another way, I’m going to go out on a limb and unequivocally state that no one has ever put the barrel of a single shot gun in his mount, pulled the trigger, and then done it again for good measure, as if having a semiautomatic would have made the job easier.

Third, why does an alleged teacher of the Bible diagnose a moral ailment and turn to the state for a solution rather than the shed blood of Jesus Christ and His salvific work on the cross?  Where in Scripture does it tell you that the state is a solution to the moral ailments of mankind?

Fourth, you say you want peace, but I assume you know that we won’t turn in our weapons peaceably.  So are you prepared for the SWAT team deaths in front yards all across America if the state follows your advice and outlaws semiautomatic firearms?  Are you prepared for blood running in the streets because of the civil war you want to start?

Fifth, you claim knowledge of home invasions and what it takes to repel them and save your family.  Has your home ever been invaded by a gang of armed criminals?

Finally, I notice that you don’t call for the disarming of police.  Have you ever read Dietrich Bonhoeffer?  What would you have done if the secret police had come for your peaceable neighbors in the middle of the night?  Would you have preferred to stick with your honorific title, “Very Reverend,” or would you have stood in the gap for the those who could not defend themselves?  What would you have done?  What will you do?  Who or what is your inspiration and from whence to you get your courage?

These are hard questions sir.  Think just as hard to answer them.  Bath your thoughts in prayer.  Turn to the Scriptures instead of the state.  Forsake worship of Baal and realize that men can never be the solution to the moral ailments that mankind created for himself.

This Church Has Two New Members: Smith & Wesson

BY Herschel Smith
12 months ago

WCNC.com:

One Charlotte area pastor is taking church protection into her own hands.

Pastor Brenda Stevenson of the New Outreach Christian Center has announced plans to purchase and carry a firearm to protect her congregation. The decision comes in the wake of the massacre that killed nine members of the Emmanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina.

“We need protection,” Stevenson told NBC Charlotte from inside her church’s pulpit. “I want them to know ‘Have no fear. God is here,’ but we got two more members. Smith, and Wesson.”

New Outreach is known throughout Charlotte for helping to feed and clothe thousands of people during the holiday season. Stevenson says some of the people the church has helped have frightened her.

[ … ]

“I am not prepared to use it at this point, but when I get through taking the course, and get the permit, yes,” Stevenson said.

Very good.  Get the training, learn to use it, trust God, and do His bidding.  He would have you defend yourself and your congregation because you are all made in His image.  Arm the congregation as well.  You think more clearly than some of the goobers about whom I’ve written.

As for the bad people, meet Smith & Wesson.  And then prepare to meet your maker.

They Believe The Angels Will Protect Us

BY Herschel Smith
1 year ago

Christianity Today:

Theron Wiggins, a pastor in Flint, Michigan, who worked as a police detective, is trying to change the situation.

“They believe the angels will protect us,” Wiggins said, referring to his congregation. “Well, I’m one of the angels.”

No you are not.  You are a man, and allowing them to believe otherwise is superstition.  It’s just as much superstition as it is to believe that the angels will protect them.

I believe in every one of God’s promises – every one of them.  They were spoken by the only sovereign, the ruler of heaven and earth.  When God speaks, it comes to pass.  Now, show me where He promised to send an angel to stop bullets from penetrating your body?  Don’t send me to a miracle, or a normative statement in Scripture.  Send me to a promise in Scripture.  No, seriously.  You can’t do it, can you?

And pastor, why does your congregation believe such superstition?  Should you not be teaching them better than that?


26th MEU (10)
Abu Muqawama (12)
ACOG (2)
ACOGs (1)
Afghan National Army (36)
Afghan National Police (17)
Afghanistan (677)
Afghanistan SOFA (4)
Agriculture in COIN (3)
AGW (1)
Air Force (31)
Air Power (9)
al Qaeda (83)
Ali al-Sistani (1)
America (7)
Ammunition (22)
Animals in War (4)
Ansar al Sunna (15)
Anthropology (3)
Antonin Scalia (1)
AR-15s (66)
Arghandab River Valley (1)
Arlington Cemetery (2)
Army (41)
Assassinations (2)
Assault Weapon Ban (26)
Australian Army (5)
Azerbaijan (4)
Backpacking (2)
Badr Organization (8)
Baitullah Mehsud (21)
Basra (17)
BATFE (49)
Battle of Bari Alai (2)
Battle of Wanat (17)
Battle Space Weight (3)
Bin Laden (7)
Blogroll (2)
Blogs (5)
Body Armor (17)
Books (2)
Border War (7)
Brady Campaign (1)
Britain (27)
British Army (35)
Camping (4)
Canada (2)
Castle Doctrine (1)
Caucasus (6)
CENTCOM (7)
Center For a New American Security (8)
Charity (3)
China (10)
Christmas (8)
CIA (12)
Civilian National Security Force (3)
Col. Gian Gentile (9)
Combat Outposts (3)
Combat Video (2)
Concerned Citizens (6)
Constabulary Actions (3)
Coolness Factor (2)
COP Keating (4)
Corruption in COIN (4)
Council on Foreign Relations (1)
Counterinsurgency (215)
DADT (2)
David Rohde (1)
Defense Contractors (2)
Department of Defense (122)
Department of Homeland Security (13)
Disaster Preparedness (2)
Distributed Operations (5)
Dogs (6)
Drone Campaign (3)
EFV (3)
Egypt (12)
El Salvador (1)
Embassy Security (1)
Enemy Spotters (1)
Expeditionary Warfare (17)
F-22 (2)
F-35 (1)
Fallujah (17)
Far East (3)
Fathers and Sons (1)
Favorite (1)
Fazlullah (3)
FBI (3)
Featured (176)
Federal Firearms Laws (17)
Financing the Taliban (2)
Firearms (445)
Football (1)
Force Projection (35)
Force Protection (4)
Force Transformation (1)
Foreign Policy (27)
Fukushima Reactor Accident (6)
Ganjgal (1)
Garmsir (1)
general (14)
General Amos (1)
General James Mattis (1)
General McChrystal (40)
General McKiernan (6)
General Rodriguez (3)
General Suleimani (7)
Georgia (19)
GITMO (2)
Google (1)
Gulbuddin Hekmatyar (1)
Gun Control (397)
Guns (929)
Guns In National Parks (3)
Haditha Roundup (10)
Haiti (2)
HAMAS (7)
Haqqani Network (9)
Hate Mail (7)
Hekmatyar (1)
Heroism (4)
Hezbollah (12)
High Capacity Magazines (11)
High Value Targets (9)
Homecoming (1)
Homeland Security (1)
Horses (1)
Humor (13)
ICOS (1)
IEDs (7)
Immigration (45)
India (10)
Infantry (3)
Information Warfare (2)
Infrastructure (2)
Intelligence (22)
Intelligence Bulletin (6)
Iran (169)
Iraq (378)
Iraq SOFA (23)
Islamic Facism (38)
Islamists (58)
Israel (18)
Jaish al Mahdi (21)
Jalalabad (1)
Japan (2)
Jihadists (77)
John Nagl (5)
Joint Intelligence Centers (1)
JRTN (1)
Kabul (1)
Kajaki Dam (1)
Kamdesh (9)
Kandahar (12)
Karachi (7)
Kashmir (2)
Khost Province (1)
Khyber (11)
Knife Blogging (2)
Korea (4)
Korengal Valley (3)
Kunar Province (20)
Kurdistan (3)
Language in COIN (5)
Language in Statecraft (1)
Language Interpreters (2)
Lashkar-e-Taiba (2)
Law Enforcement (2)
Lawfare (6)
Leadership (5)
Lebanon (6)
Leon Panetta (2)
Let Them Fight (2)
Libya (14)
Lines of Effort (3)
Littoral Combat (8)
Logistics (49)
Long Guns (1)
Lt. Col. Allen West (2)
Marine Corps (240)
Marines in Bakwa (1)
Marines in Helmand (67)
Marjah (4)
MEDEVAC (2)
Media (23)
Memorial Day (2)
Mexican Cartels (23)
Mexico (30)
Michael Yon (5)
Micromanaging the Military (7)
Middle East (1)
Military Blogging (26)
Military Contractors (3)
Military Equipment (24)
Militia (3)
Mitt Romney (3)
Monetary Policy (1)
Moqtada al Sadr (2)
Mosul (4)
Mountains (10)
MRAPs (1)
Mullah Baradar (1)
Mullah Fazlullah (1)
Mullah Omar (3)
Musa Qala (4)
Music (16)
Muslim Brotherhood (6)
Nation Building (2)
National Internet IDs (1)
National Rifle Association (17)
NATO (15)
Navy (20)
Navy Corpsman (1)
NCOs (3)
News (1)
NGOs (2)
Nicholas Schmidle (2)
Now Zad (19)
NSA (1)
NSA James L. Jones (6)
Nuclear (53)
Nuristan (8)
Obama Administration (216)
Offshore Balancing (1)
Operation Alljah (7)
Operation Khanjar (14)
Ossetia (7)
Pakistan (165)
Paktya Province (1)
Palestine (5)
Patriotism (6)
Patrolling (1)
Pech River Valley (11)
Personal (28)
Petraeus (14)
Pictures (1)
Piracy (13)
Pistol (2)
Police (200)
Police in COIN (3)
Policy (15)
Politics (237)
Poppy (2)
PPEs (1)
Prisons in Counterinsurgency (12)
Project Gunrunner (20)
PRTs (1)
Qatar (1)
Quadrennial Defense Review (2)
Quds Force (13)
Quetta Shura (1)
RAND (3)
Recommended Reading (14)
Refueling Tanker (1)
Religion (106)
Religion and Insurgency (19)
Reuters (1)
Rick Perry (4)
Rifles (1)
Roads (4)
Rolling Stone (1)
Ron Paul (1)
ROTC (1)
Rules of Engagement (74)
Rumsfeld (1)
Russia (28)
Sabbatical (1)
Sangin (1)
Saqlawiyah (1)
Satellite Patrols (2)
Saudi Arabia (4)
Scenes from Iraq (1)
Second Amendment (158)
Second Amendment Quick Hits (2)
Secretary Gates (9)
Sharia Law (3)
Shura Ittehad-ul-Mujahiden (1)
SIIC (2)
Sirajuddin Haqqani (1)
Small Wars (72)
Snipers (9)
Sniveling Lackeys (2)
Soft Power (4)
Somalia (8)
Sons of Afghanistan (1)
Sons of Iraq (2)
Special Forces (24)
Squad Rushes (1)
State Department (17)
Statistics (1)
Sunni Insurgency (10)
Support to Infantry Ratio (1)
Supreme Court (2)
Survival (12)
SWAT Raids (53)
Syria (38)
Tactical Drills (1)
Tactical Gear (1)
Taliban (167)
Taliban Massing of Forces (4)
Tarmiyah (1)
TBI (1)
Technology (16)
Tehrik-i-Taliban (78)
Terrain in Combat (1)
Terrorism (92)
Thanksgiving (5)
The Anbar Narrative (23)
The Art of War (5)
The Fallen (1)
The Long War (20)
The Surge (3)
The Wounded (13)
Thomas Barnett (1)
Transnational Insurgencies (5)
Tribes (5)
TSA (12)
TSA Ineptitude (10)
TTPs (1)
U.S. Border Patrol (5)
U.S. Border Security (13)
U.S. Sovereignty (14)
UAVs (2)
UBL (4)
Ukraine (3)
Uncategorized (42)
Universal Background Check (3)
Unrestricted Warfare (4)
USS Iwo Jima (2)
USS San Antonio (1)
Uzbekistan (1)
V-22 Osprey (4)
Veterans (2)
Vietnam (1)
War & Warfare (210)
War & Warfare (40)
War Movies (3)
War Reporting (18)
Wardak Province (1)
Warriors (6)
Waziristan (1)
Weapons and Tactics (57)
West Point (1)
Winter Operations (1)
Women in Combat (17)
WTF? (1)
Yemen (1)

about · archives · contact · register

Copyright © 2006-2016 Captain's Journal. All rights reserved.