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Soleimani_Car Remains

Credit…Iraqi Prime Minister Press Office, via Associated Press

“[B]ecause of our foreign policy of interventionism developed in the twentieth century, and because of our more recent policy of pre-emptive war, the United States has become the primary target of militant Muslims worldwide.”

 

U.S. Strike in Iraq Kills Qassim Suleimani, Commander of Iranian Forces,” ran the New York Times headline.  Why did the US take this drastic action?  The article’s subheadline explaines, “Suleimani was planning attacks on Americans across the region, leading to an airstrike in Baghdad, the Pentagon statement said.”

This explanation is not something made up by the New York Times.  Rather, it is the same explanation given by official Washington for the deadly January 3 drone strike in Baghdad.

In his remarks from Mar-a-Lago, Donald Trump, after asserting that his highest and most solemn duty was the defense of our nation, claimed that, “Soleimani was plotting imminent and sinister attacks on American diplomats and military personnel, but we caught him in the act and terminated him…We took action last night to stop a war.  We did not take action to start a war.”

PBS reports Secretary of State Mike Pompeo giving similar justification in an interview he did with CNN.  According to PBS, Pompeo said that Gen. Qassem Soleimani “was actively plotting in the region to take actions, the big action as he described it, that would have put dozens if not hundreds of American lives at risk.  We know it was imminent.   This was an intelligence-based assessment that drove our decision-making process.”

Reuters reported Pompeo’s remarks from January 3 thus, “last night was the time that we needed to strike to make sure that this imminent attack  that he was working actively was disrupted.”

Finally, the National Review quoted Brian Hook, U.S. Special Representative for Iran, saying, “The President’s first responsibility is the safety of the American people.  Qasem Soleimani was plotting imminent attacks in the region against Americans in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon that could have resulted in the deaths of hundreds of people.”

One common thread that links all four quotes above is the word “imminent.”  We are told by all three gentlemen that General Soleimani was not merely plotting to harm Americans, but that his attack or attacks were “imminent.” Therefore, they argue, the President’s decision to drone Soleimani – in his January 3 statement quoted above, President Trump said “Last night, at my direction, the United States military successfully executed a flawless precision strike” thus taking responsibility for the decision – ought not be viewed as an act of aggression, but rather as one of self-defense.

The term “imminent” is key to understanding the reasoning behind the killing of Soleimani as well as determining whether the President’s decision was a moral one.  The reason “imminent” is such a key term relative to Soleimani’s death is that it’s the tip-off, the big tell, that this attack was carried out using the doctrine of preemptive war as the theoretical framework to justify the decision by the President to kill the Iranian general.

So what is the doctrine of preemptive war?  Let’s take a look.

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2020

Once again, I find myself looking back at the year past and peering forward at the one to come.   As is no doubt the case with many, this is for me a bittersweet annual experience.  By God’s grace, I can say that I have been partially successful in redeeming the time.  But a little honest reflection convicts me that I could have, and should have, done better.

Sin, it would seem, is ever present with me, tainting even my best works.

But thanks be to God, for it is not my own works that justify me.  Rather, I am acceptable to God “only for the righteousness of Christ imputed to [me], and received by faith [belief] alone.”

Truly, the grace of God is amazing toward sinners! It’s as if God were to say to us wretched rebels, “All your guilt, all your hopelessness, all your fear of death and of righteous judgment and of eternal punishment, these things I have taken away in my Son.  Only believe in him and be saved from the wrath to come.”

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“Hell is going to be filled with good religious people who have rejected the truth of Christ.”

  • Robert Jeffress

 

“President Donald Trump signed an executive order aimed at tackling anti-Semitism on college campuses on Wednesday – but one of the speakers at the event said that Jews are going to hell,” thus reported the Huffington Post on Thursday.

Yes, the HuffPo was in a state of high dudgeon that Donald Trump dared to invite to the While House a Christian minister, who actually teaches Christian doctrine.

In this case, the guilty party was none other than noted Southern Baptist minister Robert Jeffress.  At times, I have been critical of Jeffress on this blog. I stand by my criticism.  But today I come not to bury Jeffress but to praise him.

What triggered the outrage at HuffPo and several other news outlets?  I’ll let the HuffPo’s headline speak for itself: “Pastor Who Says Jews Are Going To Hell Speaks At Trump’s Hanukkah Party.”

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Financial Crisis

“But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation is near. Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, let those who are in the midst of her depart, and let not those who are in the country enter her.”

    – Luke 21:20-21

Last week we looked at the third of three case studies in prepping from the Old Testament, Joseph, Prime Minister of Egypt. The other two case studies were the accounts of Noah and the end of the world as he knew it and Lot’s narrow escape from Sodom. This week, I’d like to turn our attention to the New Testament and in particular to the teaching of Jesus himself that relate to the subject of prepping.

But before turning to Jesus’ teachings on prepping, it’s worth taking a little time to review the events in the financial markets last week. The general title for this series The Ongoing Financial Crisis of 2008, because it is the contention of this author that the crisis which manifested itself that year, sometimes referred to as the Global Financial Crisis (GFC), has never gone away. Rather, the symptoms only were treated by massive money printing by the world’s leading central banks and other financial fakery, a great deal of which probably is still kept under wraps by the powers that shouldn’t be.

The first event from last week I’d like to look at was the New York Fed’s (The Federal Reserve Bank of New York, the most prominent of the Fed’s regional banks) bailing out the overnight Repo market to the tune of $53 billion late Tuesday night, early Wednesday morning, September 17th and 18th. Now you may be asking, “So just what is the overnight Repo and why should I even care?” Good questions.

Investopedia defines a Repurchase Agreement (Repo) as, “a form of short-term borrowing for dealers in government securities. In the case of a repo, a dealer sells government securities to investors, usually on an overnight basis, and buys them back the following day…Repos are typically used to raise short-term capital…Classified as a money-market instrument, a repurchase agreement functions in effect as a short-term, collateral-backed, interest-bearing loan. The buyer acts as a short-term lender, while the seller acts as a short-term borrower. The securities being sold are the collateral.”

For most of us, the repo market is a fairly obscure corner of the financial system, something that runs in the background. But what happened overnight while most of us slept was a sudden spike in the repo interest rate, which the week before had been 2.29%, but shot up to 10% before the Fed stepped in. As CNN reported, this was the first time the fed had to bail out the overnight repo market since late 2008, which just happened to be the height of the financial crisis.

The Fed conducted further bailouts on Wednesday night and Thursday night.

Finally, on Friday the Fed announced that it would conduct daily repurchasing operations through October 10.

One big takeaway from operation repo is that market forces want to take interest rates higher, which is exactly the opposite of what the Fed wants to have happen.

Which brings me to the second event of note in the financial markets last week, the Fed’s announcement that it was lowing interest rates by 0.25%. This is the second such announcement in the past two months, the previous one coming at the end of July.

Many mainstream commentators are confused by the Fed’s decision to lower interest rates. The reason is that lowing interest rates is something central banks do when the economy is struggling, but the official line is that the American economy is doing great and has never been better. Why is this?

Think of interest rates as the price of money. If the economy is doing well, this means businesses are borrowing to expand their facilities to keep up with demand, consumers and taking out car and home loans. And what happens when demand for a thing increases? All other things equal, the price goes up. With respect to demand for loans, this means that interest rates go up.

The opposite is the case when the economy is doing poorly. There is little demand from businesses to expand, so there is little demand for business loans. Consumers don’t have the income to support car an home loans, so they too are unable to take on debt to fund these purchases. When demand for money decreases, its price, that is to say the interest rate, tends to drop.

This is where the confusion comes in. Donald Trump is out there telling the whole world that the American economy is doing great, while at the same time forcefully arguing for lower interest rates. The Fed’s decision to lower rates strongly suggests that the economy is not doing as well as the Trump administration would like you to believe. Taken together with the Fed’s needing to bail out the repo market, lower interest rates are another data point suggesting an oncoming recession.

A third item of note from last week was the return of talk about a not too far off return to Quantitative Easing (QE) from none other than Fed Chairman Jay Powell. In plain English, QE is simply massive money printing (aka counterfeiting) by central banks to buy assets no one else wants to keep interest rates under control. First employed during as an emergency during the 2008 crisis, QE is now being seriously discussed in public. Question: If the economy really is as great as the powers that shouldn’t be want us to believe, why is the Fed talking about bringing back QE?

In the opinion of this writer, the three items mentioned above – the Fed’s bailout of the repo market, it’s decision to lower interest rates, and talk about QE – strongly suggest the Fed is worried about major problems in the financial system, perhaps even a financial crisis, just around the corner and strongly suggest what the Fed will do to combat those problems: print money.

So, what are Christians to make of all this? The most logical conclusion is that we are, in fact, facing a major financial storm and we need to rig for heavy weather. That is to say, we need to get prepared and to stay prepared. All which brings us back to where we started, the teachings of Christ on the subject of prepping.

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prayer

It’s how in the course of looking for one thing you find something else.

In my case, I was doing a little research tonight on the Democratic Socialists of America. Maybe you’ve hear of them, you know, the hipster lefty organization that boasts rock star socialist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC) as a member?

At any rate, while looking for something on AOC, I found instead this piece titled “Prayer is Not a Weapon” by Colleen Shaddox, whose author bio-describes her as “a Roman Catholic writer and activist who concentrates on poverty, immigration and mass criminalization.” She has some journalistic clout too, for the bio goes on to say that her work’s appeared in The Washington Post, The New York Times and the Wall Street Journal, among other publications.

From her article, it appears that Shaddox was triggered by Vice President Mike Pence’s call to prayer at the start of a recent meeting with Congressional leaders. His insistence on prayer, says Shaddox, “is offensive for myriad reasons.” One such reason, Shaddox mistakenly notes, is that government’s founding document, by which she means the Constitution, “forbids the mingling of church and state.” Of course, the Constitution does no such thing, rather, the First Amendment merely prevents the federal government from establishing a state church funded by taxpayer dollars such as the Church of England in the UK.

Shaddox continues her diatribe, calling Pence’s instance on prayer “an obscenity.” This is remarkable, considering the New York Times article to which Shaddox links explains that the prayer given at the Vice President’s request was delivered by Mitch McConnell’s chief of staff, who “asked God ‘to bring us together’ when negotiators met” to resolve the ongoing government shutdown. O, the horror of it all! And here I thought all along that liberals were all about being uniters not dividers.

At any rate, back to the idea that prayer is not a weapon. This seems a bit strange to me. After all, the Apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthians that “the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God.” In Ephesians, he was more pointed as to just what those weapons were and closes out his exhortation to the Christian soldier with a call to prayer. Further, the imprecatory Psalms of the Old Testament call God to take vengeance on the psalmists’ and on God’s enemies.

If Shaddox can’t handle Pence’s prayer for unity, what would she do with David’s words, “Pronounce them guilty, O God! Let them fall by their own counsels; cast them out in the multitude of their transgressions, for they have rebelled against you”? Such weaponized prayer surely would cause her an epic meltdown.

If Colleen Shaddox actually believed the Bible, which she doesn’t, she’d know very well that prayer is indeed an indispensable weapon for any Christian seeking to fight the good fight of faith, including Christians whose job it is to run the government.

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Escape of Lot from Sodom

Escape of Lot from Sodom by Mattheus Merian (1593-1650)

From time to time I’ve written in this space about the collapse of Western Civilization that we so going on around us all on a daily basis. And in this author’s opinion, there is perhaps no better illustration of this collapse than the rise of the Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual, Transgender (LGBT) movement over the last several decades.

I make this observation as a Christian, and those who do not believe the Bible may be tempted to dismiss my view as personal bias. But interestingly enough, at least one prominent lesbian scholar is in agreement with this view. As this 2015 article from cnsnews.com notes, “Best-selling feminist author, social critic and self-described “transgender being” Camille Paglia said in an interview last month that the rise of transgenderism in the West is a symptom of decadence and cultural collapse.”

Paglia is quoted in the article saying, “Nothing…better defines the decadence of the West to the jihadists than our toleration of open homosexuality and this transgender mania now.”

The article continues, “Paglia went on to talk about her book Sexual Personae and how the emergence of transgenderism signifies the end of Western culture. ‘Now I am concerned about this…In fact, my study of history in Sexual Personae, I’m always talking about the late phases of culture.’

‘I was always drawn to late or decadent phases of culture. Oscar Wile is one of the great exponents of that in the late 19th century. He’s one of my strongest influences from my earliest years. An I found in my study that history is cyclic, and everywhere in the world you find this pattern in ancient times: that as a culture begins to decline, you have an efflorescence of transgender phenomena. That is a symptom of cultural collapse.’

‘So rather than people singing the praises of humanitarian liberalism that allows all of these transgender possibilities to appear and to be encouraged, I would be concerned about how Western culture is defining itself to the world.’ ”

These are good comments by Paglia.  In fact, what this feminist lesbian has to say about homosexuality and transgender mania is, quite remarkably, much closer to the mind of Christ, and far more interesting, than what falls from the lips of many supposed ministers of the Gospel of Jesus Christ when they speak on these subjects.

The wide-spread acceptance of homosexuality and other deviant behaviors in the West is a flashing red warning signal that our civilization is in deep trouble. It’s so obvious that even a feminist lesbian scholar is able to see the problem. But for all that, there are many who name the name of Christ who are either unable or unwilling to grasp this simple and obvious truth.

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John Robbins“Many people in relatively orthodox churches are confused about sanctification,” wrote John Robbins in the forward to Gordon Clark’s book Sanctification.

And not only is there a great deal of confusion about sanctification, but the errors people make on this doctrine place them in two broad categories: mystics and workers.

Mystics, as Robbins points out, are those who say of sanctification, “Let go and let God.” They tend to be Charismatics. On the other hand, the workers think that justification is by grace but sanctification is by works. Such persons tend to be Reformed.

Neither of these approaches to sanctification is Biblical.

Before talking about what sanctification is, Robbins notes that salvation, “from start to finish, from election to glorification, from eternity to eternity, is all of grace.”

Robbins notes that justification – God’s declaring us legally righteous and pardoning all our sins – is by grace alone, through faith alone apart from any works. Further, justification is wholly outside us. It is a work that God has done for us by imputing – to impute means to ascribe or to reckon – Christ’s perfect righteousness to us. Justification is not a work done in us.

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