Monday, April 16, 2007
It was only a matter of time before someone would translate "turn the other cheek" into a military doctrine of preemptive surrender.
Fuller Seminary's Glen Stassen, has become a chief evangelical Left opponent of the U.S. war on terror. An advocate of "just peacemaking," and a board member of Jim Wallis's Sojourners, the ethics professor has suggested that 9/11 might have been avoided if only President Bush an offered an olive branch to al-Qaeda.Although, to his credit, author Mark D. Tooley of FrontPage Magazine, does realize that such a policy represents abject surrender, he (at best) mistakes the influence of the Enlightenment upon Christianity for evolution of same, when offering this retort to Stassen:
"Do you think they would have gone ahead with 9/11 or do you think they would have at least waited" if President Bush had publicly announced his commitment to "just peacemaking?" Stassen asked during a debate last fall at the American Academy of Religion. [links dropped]
Historically, the Christian faith has drawn a distinction between the moral responsibilities of Christian believers, individually or collectively, and the governments under which they live. Where Christian individuals may be called to turn the other cheek, governments are called to avenge aggression in defense of the defenseless. But modern Christian pacifists, ignoring even the moral heritage of traditional Christain pacifism, are too often unable to recall these distinctions. In their minds, governments, especially Western ones, must perpetually turn their cheeks, no matter the provocation or the consequence. [bold added]First of all, there is the whole question of whether Christian states were more concerned with protecting their citizens or the turf of the church. Not to belabor the point, but what difference is it to this atheist if he lives in a Christian state that "preemptively surrenders" to a Moslem caliphate -- or one that fights it off, only to establish a Christian theocracy?
And second, even if we grant that Christianity did historically "render unto Caesar what is Caesar's", what about now? At least on that matter, some of Tooley's fellow Christians in the Texas Republican Party might beg to differ with him (HT: HBL):
The official platform of the Texas Republican Party pledges to "dispel the myth of the separation of church and state." And the Texas Republicans now running the country are doing their best to fulfill that pledge. [Link added. See page 21 of the PDF, under "Safeguarding Our Religious Liberties". --ed]So long as people like Tooley are allowed to speak about Christianity as a benevolent political influence without challenge, they will be able to continue, whether they intend to or not, to be able to provide cover for the likes of the Texas Republicans, or at least to put the public at large off guard by pooh-poohing theocrats of various stripes as exceptions to the rule.
Unfortunately, even sects of Christianity that pay lip service to reason hold it as secondary to faith, and they correspondingly hold actions done with the afterlife in view to be of a higher caliber than those done for the sake of living on earth. To imply that Christianity inherently respects separation of church and state is to ignore the fundamental nature of religion, which is to instruct human beings living on this earth to act in accordance with ends not of this earth.