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Posts Tagged ‘Foreign Policy’

“Ye are the salt of the earth…Ye are the light of the world.”

  • Matthew 5:13, 14

“That’s the job description of a Christian,” said my Sunday school teacher many years ago.  By this, he meant that Christians are called to be salt and light in a lost and dying world. 

Salt in the sense Jesus spoke of here meant “savory” or “flavorful.”  As John Gill put it,

This is to be understood of the disciples and apostles of Christ; who might be compared to “salt”, because of the savoury doctrines they preached; as all such are, which are agreeable to the Scriptures, and are of the evangelistic kind, which are full of Christ, serve to exalt him, and to magnify the grace of God; and are suitable to the experiences of the saints, and are according to godliness, and tend to promote it:  also because of their savoury lives and conversations; whereby they recommended, and gave sanction to the doctrines they preached, were examples to the saints, and checks upon wicked men.

In the Scriptures, “light” is often a reference to knowledge of the truth.  And that is the sense in which Jesus used it here.  Again, John Gill,

What the luminaries, the sun and moon, are in the heavens, with respect to corporal light, that the apostles were in the world with regard to spiritual light; carrying and spreading the light of the Gospel not only in Judea, but all over the world, which was in great darkness of ignorance and error; and through a divine blessing attending their ministry, many were turned from the darkness of Judaism and Gentilism, of sin and infidelity, to the marvellous light of divine grace. 

As Christians, are words out actions, even our thoughts, are to show Christ to our neighbor in a lost, dying and hopeless world. 

Doubtless, most Christians would agree with this assessment.  But how hard it can be to put into practice!

If I’m honest with myself and with you, I have to say that I don’t always do a very good job at this.  Perhaps you’re a bit like me, and look around you at the mess, the perfect babel of confusion our civilization has become and despair.  The forces of evil are overwhelming, and I cannot overcome them.  They have power, money, influence, and prestige in abundance.  What are my puny efforts in comparison to that?  And you can probably guess at some of the great discouragers I’m talking about.

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RLL 57: War in the Middle East and John Kerry in Rome
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2019 year in review

Better late than never, or so goes the old saying. I’d hoped to get this 2018 wrap up posted last week but, as usual, my ambition was greater than my reach. But late or not, it still seems good to me to take a little time and reflect on the year in blogging that was as well as to look ahead to 2019.

As always, I’d like to give a big thank you to my readers and commenters. It has been my prayer that you’ve found the work on this blog edifying in your Christian walk. We live in an age where it seems that almost everything is fake. But the words of Jesus Christ and the words of all Scripture are as real and true today as when they first were written down so long ago. It has been my endeavor to apply those words to the events of our own time, not only to help readers see the world through the lens of Scripture, but also to encourage.

Sometimes it can seem as if our problems are such that no one in any previous age ever saw their like. And yet as the Apostle Paul wrote, “No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man.” Yes, it’s true that we face a world of problems, but God has not left us in darkness without hope in the world.

If there is one idea that I hope to impart to readers of this blog, it’s this: No matter how great the struggles we face in our personal lives, no matter how great the crises we face as a nation, the Word of God makes us complete and thoroughly equipped to address them. As Gordon Clark and John Robbins rightly taught, the 66 books of the Bible have a systematic monopoly on truth. Further, it is the ignorance, perhaps even knowing rejection, of this simple idea that had led the formerly Christian West to the brink of disaster.

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Ruth_and_Naomi_Leave_Moab

Ruth and Naomi Leave Moab, 1860, by Julius Schnorr von Carolsfeld (1794-1872).

Up to this point, most of this series on immigration has been destructive. I have examined immigration stances of various groups – secular and religious liberal, secular and religious conservative, Roman Catholic, globalist – and found them wanting. With this installment, Lord willing, I intend to being building the Reformed, Biblical case for immigration.

The Principle of Free Movement

One error nearly all participants in the immigration debate get wrong is the purpose of borders. As John Robbins pointed out when questioned about immigration, the purpose of borders is to separate rulers, not people, form each other. It’s not the job of governments to tell people where they are to live.

On the immigration restrictionist side we see this misunderstanding represented by the desire to build walls and enact ever tighter immigration laws.

On the open borders side, men who support mass immigration fail to understand that the principle of free movement does not obligate the people of the receiving country to foot the bill for people who wish to come. Immigrants are responsible to pay their own freight. Further, many open borders advocates take the position they do, not because they are interested helping people attain life, liberty and pursuit of happiness, but to subvert nations and push a globalist agenda.

The idea of free movement of people can be traced to the Old Testament. For example, when Abraham was called by God to leave Ur of the Chaldees for Canaan, he did not require a passport or any sort of governmental document. He and his family simply up and left. He did not have to negotiate a byzantine bureaucracy to do so.

Likewise when Jacob left to visit Laban. He simply left and went to live with his extended family in another country.

When Jacob was old during the famine, his sons travelled to Egypt to buy grain without any hindrance mentioned in Scripture. Late he and his whole family moved to Egypt.

In the law of Moses, the Israelites were consistently enjoined to welcome the stranger, because they themselves were strangers in Egypt.

On the other hand, restrictions on free movement and deportations were characteristic of big-government imperial powers. For example, the Assyrians deported the population of the Northern Kingdom following the fall of Samaria in 722 BC. In like fashion, Babylon carried off the people of Judah in waves, the last talking place after the conquest of Jerusalem in 586 BC.

According to one source, the earliest known example of a passport was issued by the king of Persia. The account is found in the Book of Nehemiah. In chapter two of that book, Nehemiah requests and is given letters from the king to ensure his safe passage from the Persian capital of Susa to Jerusalem. That these letters served as the equivalent of a modern passport can been see from the words of Nehemiah, who reports that he “gave [the governors in the regions through which he passed] the king’s letters.”

In the New Testament, Acts 18 reports that Paul met a Jewish couple, Aquila and Priscilla, at Corinth. As verse 2 tells us, they were in Corinth, because they had been driven from Rome by a decree of the Emperor Claudius, who had ordered all Jews to leave the city.

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Kim Jong Un_Missile

North Korean dictator Kim John-un and one of his missiles.

The conflict between the US and North Korea, long simmering on the back burner, has in recent times threatened once again to come to a full boil, with the war of words between North Korea’s Kim Jong Un and Donald Trump threatening to become a war of bullets and bombs and ICBMs.

In August, Baptist pastor Robert Jeffress lent his support to the war option, saying in an interview with the Washington Post
that God has given Donald Trump the go-ahead to “use whatever means necessary – including war…to take out Kim Jong Un.”

Jeffress justified his stance by appealing to Romans 13, which, he said, “gives the government…the authority to do whatever, whether it’s assassination, capital punishment or evil punishment to quell the actions of evildoers like Kim Jonh Un.”

What are Christians to make of Jeffress’ statements? Do they comport with what the Bible teaches about war and foreign policy or not? Before exploring those questions, a little history is in order.

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F18

An F-18 takes off from a US aircraft carrier.

My apologies for the rather bland headline this week. I just couldn’t think of a catch title for this edition of the Review. Well, I’ll try to do better next week. And without further ado, let’s dive into this week’s stories.

Syrian Crisis Escalates

Perhaps the biggest story this past week was the downing of a Syrian government SU-22 jet by US F-18s from the aircraft carrier George Bush. The incident, which occurred Sunday 6/18, is said to represent the first time a US jet has downed a foreign manned aircraft since 1999.

The US has claimed that the jet was attacking fighters of the US backed Syria Democratic Forces (SDF), but, as Ron Paul and Daniel McAdams reported this week, this clam has been contradicted by the Syrian Observatory For Human Rights, which stated “sources confirmed that the warplane did not target the Syria Democratic Forces in their controlled areas.”

As Daniel McAdams pointed out, the Syrian Observatory For Human Rights is generally considered to be pro- US backed rebels. The group has even been cited the US government. As such, it is surprising for this group to contradict the storyline put out by the US.

The Syrian government claims that the jet, rather than attacking the SDF, actually was going after ISIS at the time it was shot down. If what Damascus says is true, it would be another piece of evidence backing the contention that the US, in fact, supports ISIS.

Although this may sound like a shocking claim, the logic of it is simple and compelling. The US and ISIS have a common goal in Syria, both want to overthrow Syrian president Bashar Assad. And if they have this common goal, would it be such a stretch to believe that the US would shoot down a Syrian government jet that was attacking ISIS?

Syria’s ally Russia reacted angrily, announcing it would no longer us a communication channel designed to prevent the targeting of US aircraft operating in Syrian airspace.

The big takeaway in all this is that the US and Russia took another step closer to war in the middle east, a place where the US has no legitimate security interests, but which could serve the powder keg that sets off a major regional or world war.

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North-Korea-condemns-US-for-ICBM-launch-from-California

North Korea expresed outrage after the U.S. Air force announced the successful launch of an unarmed intercontinental ballistic missile, the Minuteman III, on Wednesday.  Photo by Ian Dudley/U.S. Air Force/UPI.

Long long ago, in a strip mall far far away, nerdy teenagers used to hang out in now almost mythical places known as video arcades.

 

For a quarter, you could zap space invaders, blow up asteroids, or play the part of some Italian plumber named Mario.

I know all this, you see, because I lived it. Yes, I was a first generation gamer, tokens in pocket, hanging out with my fellow freaks and geeks in the backroom of Baker Street Books – yes, believe it or not, the local bookstore had a game room – to see who could get high score on Gorf.

In an age of Xboxs, 60 inch flat panel monitors, and online gaming, I suppose all that sounds pretty quaint. But this was the golden age of the video arcade, and we had a blast.

One of the most popular games from this period was Missile Command. The goal of the player was to protect his cities from being nuked by using anti-ballistic missiles to shoot down the enemy’s incoming ICBMs. If you lost your cities, it was, in classic video game lingo, GAME OVER.

In retrospect, I suppose a game like that, inspired by the Cold War as it was, served to add a bit a levity to what was the deadly serious, ever present threat of nuclear war between the US and the Soviet Union.

And speaking of the Cold War, all the headlines about North Korea and nuclear bombs this past week brought back memories of those bad old days when we were regularly treated to newscasts featuring stony faced Leonid Brezhnev, massive eyebrows and all, watching columns of Red Army soldiers, tanks and missiles pass before his reviewing stand in the Kremlin.

Those same headlines also got me to thinking about the foolishness of America’s interventionist foreign policy, and how intervention, once the decision is made to start it, can take on a life of its own.

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