Thursday, September 11, 2008

Learning from 9/11

Today is September 11th, a day that will forever be marked in our minds. I used to think it was weird that people of my parents generation could tell you exactly what they were doing and where they were when Kennedy was shot. I no longer think it is weird. I can tell you exactly where I was when the radio broadcaster first mentioned a plane into one of the towers. A few minutes later they interrupted a song to say that a second plane had hit and that this was no accident, it had to be terrorism. It made the rest of the drive to work pretty quick. It was only my second day of work, so I did not go to the room where everyone kept gathering to watch the news. I had meetings about insurance and stuff, and I was still trying to make that good first impression. I sat quietly listening to the radio and folding letters. I did not see the first images until I got home that day after 5pm (MST). They are images I will never forget. I actually preached my first sermon ever that Sunday. Of course that Tuesday I complete scrapped what I was going to say and started over.

We should never forget as a country, as people. We need to be constantly aware of terrorism and that we are not protected from it. But what is the message that we as the church should remember from 9/11. The church is not America, and we should never confuse the two. I was preparing a message on Jonah 4:2 this week. There Jonah says the reason he ran from God in the first place, "I know that You are a gracious and merciful God, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, One who relents from doing harm." It really struck me this week that Jonah would rather the Ninevites die than be saved. Of course, I had noticed this before, and it is pointed out in seminary class after seminary class. It had always been easy to laugh off Jonah as a really bad prophet. The unloving prophet, the prophet who did not have the right attitude. Yet, how many of us would rather Bin Laden die than be saved? I am not saying that he should not face criminal punishment for his actions. Being saved it not a get out of jail free card, but we should still whole heatedly desire his repentance. Islam is no religion of peace, no matter how much our President like to think it is. It is a religion of evil that enslaves millions to its lies. Yet, we must have the same view of them that God has: pity. "And should I not pity Nineveh, that great city, in which are more than one hundred and twenty thousand persons who cannot discern between their right hand and their left" (4:11). Is this not true of those Islamic fundamentalists we hear so much about? They cannot discern their right and their left. So, I think that this is the lesson of 9/11 for the church: we must never lose our pity. We must never forget to spread the gospel, because it is the only weapon against evil. The Sword of the Word (Eph. 6) is stronger than any tank, any bomb, or military force we can send. The church can never forget its mission to evangelize. No matter what Rick Warren, Barak Obama, and John McCain think evil is not defeated by the state, it is defeated by Christ.


Jay said...

I used the link to read the Warren answers. Obama specifically says that evil can only be defeated by God. He seems to give the state the role of "confronting" evil, but also being wary of perpetrating evil. McCain's answer more clearly says that, when he is President, he will attempt to "defeat" evil. He makes no mention of God. I say Obama's answer is the better of the two.

Lee said...

I actually think Obama's was better too. That answer is one of the things about Neo-Cons that I really do not like. The theory that Freedom and Democracy, spread by the sword, defeats evil. McCain clearly believes it. Obama not only refused to say evil would be defeated, but also admitted that we ourselves are evil and can act in an evil manner despite good intentions. However, he still seems to want to 'confront' evil abroad, which is still a little worrisome, and I do not think he and I agree about what is evil here at home.

Andrew Duggan said...

Rom 13:3,4

For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: for he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.

While I don't think that is a proof text for being the world's policeman vis-a-vis neo-conservatism (especially since I am opposed to neo-con political philosophy), nevertheless the state is still God's "revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil."

Of course only God can defeat evil. He has in the primary sense already done so, when Gen 3:15 was fulfilled in the death and resurrection of Christ. However, Rom 13:3,4 teaches that the state does have a calling to at least restrain and avenge evil by use of up to, and including deadly force.

Primarily, I think, this should be within a state's own borders. If only the state would use God's own definition of evil.

On the other hand I think it's important to remember since you're talking about 9/11:

Islam is not a religion, it is at the moment, a theocratic-absolute-monarchy-state-in-exile, with many pretenders to its throne. Although it's a state in exile, there many efforts to bring it out of exile, mostly through one or more emergent caliphates. In the mean time, the petty despots that rule the principalities of the dar-al-Islam, while happy to make war on one another in hopes of gaining a few more square inches of soil under their personal control, never forget their duty to subjugate the rest of the world. Muslims are all soldiers in the army of that state-in-exile. Most of them are in, what I'll call, the useless reserves, but doesn't change the nature of what they really are.

The USA was attacked on 9/11/2001 by the special forces (Al-Qaeda) of one of those pretenders to an/the emergent Caliphate. So I think the USA has a pretty good case for the justice of prosecuting a war against said pretender and any of his allies.

The fact the USA has done a terrible job in prosecuting that war, by refusing to admit the nature of its real enemy, and unwisely being allied with Pakistan, etc., doesn't, I think, diminish its right to continue the war. It only makes success impossible.

Attempting to impose (by force) a veneer of democracy on principalities of a divided caliphate-in-exile is ultimately a recipe for defeat.

The USA needs rather to defeat the army of, and to destroy the symbolic seat(s) of government of the Caliphate-in-exile so completely that those who remain will know that trusting in it was foolish.

Don't forget, the Ninevites didn't just spontaneously repent. They were threatened with destruction, which God used to His glory and their benefit to move them to repentance. Misery was coming because of sin, and instead by God's grace they repented.

The USA was given a great opportunity to make the state-in-exile of the dar-al-Islam acutely aware of its sin by means of misery. Instead it squandered it, kissing not the Son, but rather the feet of the King of Saudia Arabia, and dictator of Pakistan. That's hardly a surprise, since the land of USA is filled from east to west with the blood of innocent babies and comatose invalids. What do we know of good when our own land is full of such evil.

Do we think that those who died in the Twin Towers, or on United-93, or at the Pentagon were sinners any more than we are ourselves? I say that unless we repent, we shall all likewise perish.

Lee said...

I agree with you that Romans 13 is speaking restraining evil within its own boarder, where the state has been given authority by God. Which by the way was a huge disappointment in both candidates answers. They assumed evil meant outside of the country somewhere. Neither candidate addressed abortion, or crime, or corruption, or domestic evils which are everywhere. They both assumed foreign policy type answers.

I also agree that the state has the right to find those who attacked us and bring them to justice on the field of battle or in a court of law. I am not sure I want to extend that right to any of our attackers allies. I think I want to more narrowly restrict that idea to those aiding and abetting the enemies.

The Ninevites did not just repent by themselves, but they were not threatened by immanent destruction by anyone other than God. There was no army on the boarder. There was no looming doom other than the message of the prophet and the knowledge of God. This message is still a function of the church, and the church should preach coming wrath and the punishment for sin is death. And as you said, it is not just a message for foreigners and followers of Islam, it is a message for us all. For All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.

My main point is that we should feel pity for those who are caught up in their own delusion and are following Islam the religion-theocratic-absolute-monarchy-state-in-exile. They do not know their right from their left. Pity is not a bad thing, nor a bad word. We should pity the enemies of the Almighty God.

Andrew Duggan said...

Well, I think that the bit about those who don't know their right hand from their left was speaking about infants and small children, rather than those run of the mill man in the street that is just going about his own life.

I think that a far greater percentage of Muslims are self aware of their situation than you give them credit for. Those so called Palestinians dancing for joy in the streets on 9/11 seem to understand. They are dedicated to the dar-al-Islam enough to celebrate death and destruction.

Sure there was no army besieging Nineveh, but neither was Nineveh full of blood-thirsty men that would have separated Jonah from his head, for insulting Islam for preaching repentance, like there is today in any city of that region of the world.

I agree we should pity them, and I would much rather UBL come to faith in Christ, than for him to be vaporized by bombing campaign. Just don't let your pity cloud your judgement. We don't rejoice in death and destruction, they do. Nothing would be better that if the entire dar-al-Islam repented and believed in Christ. That would be cause for celebration.