Archive for May 4th, 2009

HysteriaStunned – That might approach my initial response to what I read today at Slice of Laodicea. The post, Rob Bell Wades Into Nuclear Disarmament, contains such sophomoric rants as this:

I think Rob Bell may have gotten into some wheat grass juice that fermented into something else altogether. USA Today is reporting that he is now on the anti-nuke bandwagon.

and this gem:

Maybe Bell could try his line out on North Korea’s Kim Jong iL. “Hi Kim, uh, your honor, I’m an American emergent guru and life is beautiful and nuclear weapons are ugly. Would you mind dismantling your nuclear weapons for me?”

which is surely outdone by this:

Nuclear weapons are certainly ugly, but so is communism and totalitarianism. Soviet communism fell because we in America had a powerful deterrent in our own arsenal. In short, we were stronger than the thugs. And that is something only a fool would attempt to change.

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A few of us here at CRN.info have some thoughts on this post by the author of Slice and her criticism of Bell’s words. So in the spirit of our Christmas and Easter posts, we share with you: On Wolves, Lambs, Plowshares and Rob Bell.

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Contributed by Neil:

As we have often pointed out, one of the tragedies of Christendom was the mixing of faith and nationalism. Whether it is thinking all Serbs must be Orthodox, or Socialism is somehow unchristian – no good comes from such blurred lines. And for one who seems to like lines, Ingrid misses this point regularly.

I will admit that calling for multilateral nuclear disarmament sounds like the proverbial pipe-dream. But hey, there is nothing wrong with dreaming as long as the dreams are not careless. And this is what distinguishes Bell’s (et. al.) call from the No-Nuke Movement of the ‘80’s. In that decade the call was for America to unilaterally lay down its nukes – an idea no thinking person could accept. This call is different. A nuance that is lost on Ingrid – ironically, the discerner is unable to discern.

It is worth noting that Ingrid only calls out Bell. If you read the USA Today article, he is but one person listed. Yet Ingrid ignores the rest and mocks just Bell. Of course, this is no surprise given her propensity to twist his words to fit her own agenda.

Ingrid summarizes her post by saying “In short, we were stronger than the thugs. And that is something only a fool would attempt to change.” I agree, except this is not what anyone is calling for – as before she has twisted someone else’s words creating a caricature she can easily attack… Unfortunately, what she has created does not correspond with the reality of what Bell said.

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Contributed by Chris L:

Every once in awhile, I wonder to myself – have significant pockets of modern Christianity simply become intellectually bankrupt? Is reading comprehension something not taught in the schools (or home schools) that have produced the current batch of “Discernmentalists” inflicted upon the blogosphere? Or have basic honesty and Christian charity been completely jettisoned by those who claim the loudest to possess these treasures?

After reading Ingrid’s spewings in the article on Nuclear weapons and Rob Bell’s (and other evangelicals’) opposition to them, such wonderings only become more troublesome in the answers they seem to provide.

So – let’s examine what he said: 1) Nuclear weapons are an affront to God’s dream of shalom (that’s peace for the completely Hebrew illiterate folks out there); 2) We believe things can change for the better.

Now, let’s examine how Ingrid has interpreted this:

Picture [Iranian President Ahmadinejad] coming in, fresh from his latest holocaust denying speech where he called for the utter destruction of Israel.

“Hi, I’m Rob Bell, and I’m an American emergent guru and I’m here to say that life is beautiful and nuclear weapons are ugly. Would you mind dismantling your nuclear weapons for me?”

Bell is the hidden ace up Obama’s sleeve to change the world. You read it here first.

Followed up with:

Soviet communism fell because we in America had a powerful deterrent in our own arsenal. In short, we were stronger than the thugs. And that is something only a fool would attempt to change.

Now – I think a few points bear additional exploration:

1) Multilateral Disarmament: – If you can read and comprehend the USA Today article, the group to which Bell belongs supports “multilateral disarmament”. Applying just a slight bit of intelligence and reading comprehension, a non-partisan reader could easily break this down into – a) “multilateral” – i.e. all parties involved; b) “disarmament” – to give up arms. Or, to put it all together – “multilateral disarmament = all parties involved get rid of nuclear arms”. Now, just to make sure that the reader understands this point, the article even ends with this statement:

The group is not calling for unilateral disarmament but a “multilateral process where the United States takes leadership,” Wigg-Stevenson said.

In other words – the words of my favorite president – multilateral disarmament can also be called “trust but verify”…

2) Failure to recognize that the ideal state is not to be “stronger than the thugs” – those are the values of the world – kosmos – speaking, not the values of the kingdom of God. In the kingdom of God, peacemakers will be called the sons of God. In the kingdom of God, we will rely on God to save, not the threat of man-made obliteration. Would it not be nice to spend more of the GDP of this country to aid the poor, the widow and the stranger instead of having to spend it for our own defense? The only way that will happen is if America takes a leading role in pushing for multilateral change.

3) Putting our faith in politics. The Slice article does little more than wring its hands, crying about fears and worries of this world and harping at Christians who think that perhaps the actions of our country should mirror the orthopraxy that springs from our faith, rather than just wielding its name as a source of moral superiority.

It is articles like this one from Slice that demonstrate that many Christians have no faith in God or the Holy Spirit. Such voices ignore the Psalms -

I will praise the LORD all my life; I will sing praise to my God as long as I live.
Do not put your trust in princes, in mortal men, who cannot save.

The Proverbs:

Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;

the Apostles:

For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.”

And Jesus, himself:

Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Am I (or Bell) advocating unilateral disarmament and leaving the people of our country unprotected? No. What many Christians, including Bell, are calling for is to look for ways that nations might work together to lessen the instances of and the destruction from war.

To close, Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) may have been an adequate (or even successful) deterrent between nation-states during the Cold War, in actual effect preventing the use of nuclear weapons. However, in the modern reality of asymmetrical warfare and islamofacism, MAD is far less of a deterrent. In fact, MAD increases the likelihood of the use of nukes, because it makes it more likely that terrorists and dictators who are unafraid of assured destruction will have these weapons at their disposal.

It should be our desire that all war would cease, and that any weapons – especially the most destructive of weapons – never need to see use. Expressing this Christian desire should not be seen as a partisan issue (who cares if Obama agrees/disagrees w/ Bell? Even a stopped watch is correct twice a day), but as an issue of being the peacemakers – the sons of God – we were called to be.

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Contributed by Jerry:

“Followers of Christ missing the central message of the Bible? It happened the, and it happens now. And sometimes the reason is, of course, empire.” (Rob Bell & Don Golden, Jesus Wants to Save Christians, 131)

I suspect that, when the new heavens and new earth finally dawn upon us, there will be no nuclear weapons in existence. Dare we dream? Dare we perpetuate God’s ideas for what is peace on this planet? Dare we think along the same lines as God who has made it abundantly clear in Scripture that man’s way of doing things will, at last and finally, someday, be done away with?  Isaiah saw it:

How beautiful on the mountains
are the feet of those who bring good news,
who proclaim peace,
who bring good tidings,
who proclaim salvation,
who say to Zion,
“Your God reigns!”

Yes. Yes. Let’s be fair. Isaiah probably wasn’t talking about someone going around and calling for multi-lateral disarmament. And he probably wasn’t thinking of nuclear weapons. And he wasn’t thinking of Rob Bell. But he was thinking of Someone who would make such an announcement. Jesus is one person who made such an announcement. Paul the apostle also seems to think that christians ought to make such announcements too. (See Romans 10.) So I guess we could say that worst Mr Bell is guilty of going around and imitating the words of a prophet. Isn’t that what preachers, christians, are supposed to do? Or maybe we should expect Mr Bell to go around saying things like (hyperbole alert), “God has a dream that all of us will one day destroy ourselves with our weapons. Therefore, I call on the US and Russia to start giving nuclear weapons to anyone who asks for them.”

I suppose it is better to live in fear and with eyes. We have weapons not because we need them, but because we can. We create fear in order to maintain control. We wield power in order to subjugate the weak. This world would be no worse than it is now if all such nuclear weapons were dismantled and the secrets forever burned. With all due respect, I don’t care why or how the SU was dismantled. I don’t know that ‘we’ ‘won’ anything; a lot of Russians have suffered much since as did before. My point is that I am not living in the United States, as an American, with my fingers crossed that our government will be quicker to the button than will the Chinese.

My hope does not rest in the United States possessing nuclear weapons. Destroy them all.

In what sense is war ever a good thing? In what sense can we say that the proliferation of weapons that can destroy humanity is ever a good idea? I guaran-damn-tee you it won’t be the rich and powerful in Washington, DC who suffer from such wars! Just because the Bible says ‘there is a time for war’ doesn’t necessarily mean that war is ever a good or necessary thing. Just because Paul wrote that governments are the swords of God’s justice (and reward!) doesn’t mean we have to be so quick to wield it.  I’ve come a long way on this precisely because, when all is said and done, we as a people are not protected because we have the biggest guns or the biggest bombs. I might also go so far as to say that God doesn’t need another nation, bigger or smaller than ours, to wipe us out if he, in his Sovereignty, decides to wipe us out.

Try not to be too offended at the notion that God is sovereign enough to make such decisions. Try not to be more offended that I happen to believe getting rid of nuclear weapons is a good idea even if it opens us up to severe consequences from rogues and rebels. Christians do not exist to perpetuate the American Dream nor is the American Dream biblical Christianity. But let me go out on a far left limb here, perhaps one that might make other writers here a bit uncomfortable. Let me say, imitating another prophet, that we are not citizens of this world. We are strangers, sojourners; pilgrims all. “We” should be opposed to the machinations of those in power–those rulers and authorities and principalities who in no way imaginable have the best interests of the kingdom of God in mind. Christians are not allies of the world in their power plays.

Consider:

They [principalities and powers] select as their primary target those whom God elects and sets apart (saints), those to whom God reveals his love in Jesus Christ (Christians), and the fellowship of such people (the church). The efforts of evil powers (I call them such for convenience, although I repeat that they are not powers in themselves nor evil as the antithesis of the good God) focus on the place where God’s grace and love are best expressed. They deploy their full strength on Jesus Christ. They concentrate all the forces of evil on Christians. […] [The Devil] brings all his efforts to bear against those who carry grace and love in the world. For his problem is not to bring people to eternal loss or to carry them off to hell, but to prevent God’s love from being present in the world. (Jacques Ellul, The Subversion of Christianity, 176ff)

I might go so far as to say that a superpower nation is not required to destroy life as we know it.

The prophet Isaiah had more to say. Listen:

48:22 “There is no peace,” says the LORD, “for the wicked.”

The wicked do not know how to find peace or what it looks like. Nor, for that matter, do they have the foggiest idea how to perpetuate it. What better person (people) than one who knows the Prince of Peace, to make the announcement, the proclamation, that God actually has a dream for Shalom? Or are we just terrified because someone used the words ‘God’ and ‘Dream’ in the same sentence?

Only a person who has the uncomfortable position of not being heard can sit back, behind a computer screen, and write with a straight face the following words:

Picture [Iranian President Ahmadinejad] coming in, fresh from his latest holocaust denying speech where he called for the utter destruction of Israel.

“Hi, I’m Rob Bell, and I’m an American emergent guru and I’m here to say that life is beautiful and nuclear weapons are ugly. Would you mind dismantling your nuclear weapons for me?”

Bell is the hidden ace up Obama’s sleeve to change the world. You read it here first.

Soviet communism fell because we in America had a powerful deterrent in our own arsenal. In short, we were stronger than the thugs. And that is something only a fool would attempt to change.

It takes no amount of courage in this world, rife with war, anxiety, poverty, and latent fears to sit back and boast about strength. This is pure, unadulterated arrogance. It is contrary to the ways of God who prides himself on weakness and the cross. (Let no one boast, he said, save for the cross.) It takes no little courage to walk into the face of ‘enemies’ and suggest that perhaps there is a better way of doing things–a way that is motivated and amplified by the presence and Spirit of Almighty God. “He prepares and table before me in the presence of my enemies.”

I don’t believe Bell is the hidden ace of President Obama’s sleeve to change the world. I don’t believe for a minute that Rob Bell is one who would concede that Christians are those who should be manipulated and cooperative with the very powers that mean to destroy Christ on this earth. Rather, I do believe that Rob Bell, since he is a Christian, and all Christians who are empowered by the Holy Spirit, are the aces up God’s proverbial sleeve and that it is we, us, whom God is using to change this world.

10For,
“Whoever would love life
and see good days
must keep his tongue from evil
and his lips from deceitful speech.
11He must turn from evil and do good;
he must seek peace and pursue it.
12For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous
and his ears are attentive to their prayer,
but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”

–Peter

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