Revenge For 9/11

By Jon Kauffman

Jesus said, “But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.” Luke 6:27,28.

Recently, in Sunday School class, we studied: Love My Enemies? By George Lyons.  Mr. Lyons makes excellent points in his study.

“Jesus claimed that those who observe the Golden rule for selfish reasons get no credit with God. Yet God will “reward” those who love, live, and give – even to enemies – out of sheer generosity. God takes note of those who treat others well, motivated only by love, with no expectation of reciprocity.” Love My Enemies? By George Lyons.

The early church did not take on Rome with violence. “It used subversive and counter cultural ways” to defeat the evil one.

“Luke’s account of Jesus’ trial, notes that He took His own advice. By refusing to retaliate, Jesus and His followers demonstrated the injustice of their enemies. (See 1 Peter 3:9, 15-17) They denied violent aggressors the power to determine their reaction or to turn them into powerless victims. Their unexpected response was not a sign of weakness, but of incredible strength.” Love My Enemies? By George Lyons.

I remember 9/11/2001 very clearly. I was at the Sportsman’s Lodge on the Rainy River near Lake of the Woods, taking an OSHA safety class when I heard about the attack in New York City.

In our Sunday School class, as we studied Jesus’ teaching on love of enemy, I realized that we as a nation did exactly the opposite of what Jesus taught us, both before and after 9/11.

The terrorists were from Saudia Arabia. The United States attacked Afghanistan and Iraq, taking great revenge, killing a million+ people in retaliation for the death of 3,000.  And we are still killing. So many of these people killed were innocent; men, women and children. We killed 2 year olds to satisfy our thirst for revenge. Bombs, drones, and missiles maimed and killed. Guns and tanks brought great slaughter.

Why did the terrorists attack? Did we even take that into consideration? In his “Letter to America,” Osama Bin Laden gave a long list of grievances against the United States. His grievances included the 80 years of US military invasions against the Middle East, US support of corrupt leaders in the Middle East, and the theft of oil at very low prices. He mentioned 1-½ million children who had been killed by US and its partners prior to 9/11. Bin Laden also finds the sex trade, drug trade, usurious interest, gambling and immorality of the US very troublesome. He specifically mentioned Bill Clinton’s unpunished, scandalous affairs.

The CIA said 9/11 was blowback from previous US military operations.

Are we fighting people who are fighting “Just War” as they attempt to defend themselves? Perhaps it is time for the United States to pull its troops out of the Middle East.

One of the biggest mistakes of the church was to accept “Just War” theology. Each side feels their side is right and commit atrocities against the other. Then they each feel more justified. Christians from the Holy Roman Empire and Muslims fought each other for hundreds of years, conquering and reconquering land held by the other. The US fought the communists in Korea and Vietnam. Christians deceived by Hitler fought Christians from Russia. The US has been at continuous war in the Middle East for nearly 40 years. Everyone claims their war is just. How can it be?

Copyright © 2017 by Jon Kauffman Permission to reprint in whole or in part is gladly granted, provided full credit and a live link are given.

Christians Submit to Authority?

13 Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human authority: whether to the emperor, as the supreme authority, 14 or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right. 15 For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish people. 16 Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as God’s slaves. 17 Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, fear God, honor the emperor. I Peter 2:13-17 NIV

The First Epistle of Peter was written to various churches in Asia Minor, suffering religious persecution from both Jewish and Roman authorities. It was written about 64 AD, while Peter was in Rome during the rule of the Roman Emperor Nero. In AD 64, Rome burned. Some accused Nero of starting the fire to burn the city. To deflect the accusations, Nero accused the Christians and killed many. It was during this time of great persecution of the church that Peter was writing this letter, as suggested by Peter’s references to persecution and suffering. If killing and rebelling against an unjust state were acceptable to followers of Jesus, surely this was the time.

But Peter is telling Christians to submit to authorities who are killing them and destroying their homes.

Isn’t that how Jesus overcame the evil of the world? He had the power to protect himself in any way he wanted and yet He laid down his life on the cross so that he could overcome evil, institute His Kingdom and make eternal life available to all of us.

When Rome demanded that early Christians worship the emperor they refused. When Rome wanted early Christians to join the military they refused.

The early Church did not use Peter’s Epistle to justify military action or fighting for ones rights. When early Christians were accused of rebelling against the Jewish state when following Jesus, Origen said “Nowhere does He teach that it is right for His own disciples to offer violence to anyone, however wicked. For He deemed the killing of any individual to be against His laws which were divine in origin. If Christians had owed their origins to a rebellion, they would not have adopted laws of so exceedingly mild a character. These laws do not even allow them on any occasion to resist their persecutors, even when they are called to be slaughtered as sheep.” Origen, Against Celsus, book 3 Chapter 7.

Many Christians incorrectly use the First Epistle of Peter to justify participation in the US military.

by Jon Kauffman

Copyright © 2017 by Jon Kauffman Permission to reprint in whole or in part is gladly granted, provided full credit and a live link are given.

Science and the New Atheists

By Jon Kauffman

New Atheists Say: Scientific Discoveries have not been later proven wrong using religion:

Both Christians and atheist believe this statement is true. Atheists insinuate that this statement somehow disproves the validity of Christianity or the existence of God. It does not.

Another true statement:

Scientific discoveries have not disprove validity of Christianity.

Or another true statement:

Scientific discoveries question the validity atheism.

Science is not the right tool for proving or disproving a religion.

Science can only be used to test the physical universe. God as believed by Christians is outside the physical universe and is unavailable to science. We must logically infer that there is a God, because Jesus said that God is His Father. If Jesus rose from the dead, then we can believe he has access to great power. We can infer that because of that great power he knows what he is talking about when he says that God is His Father.

The resurrection of Jesus, is one of the best attested to events in history. The historical evidence is so strong that many, many people have been convinced that it is true. Science and logic can be used to test the evidence for the resurrection. For example, science can be used to determine the age of the Shroud of Turin to determine if it may be a useful piece of evidence to support the historical fact of the resurrection. When we have collected the evidence, we can deduce that the resurrection occurred because of the evidence.

Man cannot reproduce the circumstances around the resurrection; therefore the possibility of the resurrection cannot be scientifically proven through experimentation. It is also impossible for man to know all the ways a resurrection may have occurred; therefore it is impossible to prove that the resurrection did not occur through scientific experimentation.

Science can also be used to support certain atheist positions, such as “the world is round.” Atheism has existed far longer than Christianity. The book of Proverbs in the Bible discusses atheism and was written hundreds of years before Jesus came to earth. In the past some atheists have most likely believed that “the world is flat.” Science can be used to easily debunk such a possible atheistic belief.

Science can also be used to call into question claims made by certain Christians. For example: The earth was created 6,000 years ago. Many books have been written to show how recent scientific discoveries in physics and paleontology are compatible with a trust in Jesus. For example:

1.       “By Design, Science and the Search for God,” by Larry Witham

2.       “The Genesis Enigma, Why the Bible is Scientifically Accurate.” By Andrew Parker. Demonstrates that the theory of evolution is compatible with Genesis in the Bible.

3.    “Undeniable,” by Douglas Axe. Demonstrates that the Darwinian theory of Evolution is statistically impossible without the presence of an intelligent designer. Axe proves his position, then says, “Functional coherence makes accidental invention fantastically improbable and therefore physically impossible.” Page 189.

Science or historical-grammatical method may someday prove some of the assertions of these people wrong, but that will not invalidate the reasonableness of a belief in God. When I read “A Brief History of Time,” my belief in God was strengthened. While reading, I was amazed at the wonder of nature. I know that evidence for the resurrection makes belief in the existence of God logical and probable and I asked myself “How can Stephen Hawking be an atheist after seeing such natural wonder?” 

Science is quite compatible with the Christian belief in God.

Copyright © 2017 by Jon Kauffman Permission to reprint in whole or in part is gladly granted, provided full credit and a live link are given.

Yes for Bush, but No for Hitler?

By Jon Kauffman

“In a speech delivered by President Bush at the U.S. Military Academy on June 1, 2002, Bush made the case for preventive war. Back in 1946, the Nuremberg Tribunal had categorically condemned preventive war. ‘To initiate a war of aggression,’ it declared, ‘ is the supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole,’ No presidential administration since that time had dared to question this dictum. The Bush administration was now seeking to carve out exceptions that would be exclusive to the United States.”Page 244, America’s War for the Greater Middle East, by Retired Army Colonel Andrew J. Bacevich.

“America’s War” is a masterful telling of the war in the Middle East which has lasted almost unnoticed by American’s for nearly 40 years. Bacevich provides a myriad of details about the operations, policies and motivations for the long, expensive war which is creating enemies and failing to achieve objectives. He exposes reasons for failure and asks when it will end.

A few of the many campaigns and operations since 1980 include Desert Storm, Southern Watch, Desert Strike, Northern Watch, Desert Fox, Iraqi Freedom, New Dawn, Inherent Resolve, Restore Hope, Gothic Serpent, Desert Shield, Determined Force, Provide Comfort, Joint Endeavor and a multitude of other operations. Nice sounding names, but many were aggressive wars to line the pockets of military contractors at the expense of the lives of hundreds of thousands of people in the Middle East.

Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barak Obama all took part. Bombing, ground troops, propaganda, mis-information and “blatant scare mongering,” arming rebels who became terrorists, drone warfare, creating enemies…tens of thousands of innocent men women and children have died, millions became refugees, homeless and hungry.

Clinton fought in Bosnia, Kosovo and Somalia.  The Movie “Black Hawk Down”, tells part of that story.

During the George W. Bush administration, General Wesley Clark claims the plan was to take out 7 countries in 5 years.

Saddam Hussein was a tyrant, but he was able to keep the different Islamic factions in line and hold a semblance of peace. In 2003 after George W. Bush took out Saddam Hussein, no one was able to contain the Islamic Extremists. Christians in Iraq suffered greatly. ISIS was born.

George W. Bush authorized the first drone attack in 2004. Obama greatly increased the attacks. By 2015 over 4,000 people were killed most of them innocent by-standers, including many children. Many of these drone attacks were in the country of our ally, Pakistan.

George W. Bush concentrated most of his war-making in Afghanistan and Iraq. Obama closed down the Iraq war but expanded the fighting in Afghanistan and began spreading the carnage to such places as Libya, Egypt, Burkina Faso, Sudan, and Somalia, and then returning to Iraq to fight ISIS.

And what happened to terrorism during this time. As Bacevich says, “Here was a disease deemed acutely lethal. Yet the treatment administered by the United States to reduce the presence of the disease in certain organs had accelerated it’s spread to others. In Africa, the infection appeared rampant.” In Africa the enemy included, “Ansar Dine, Boko Haram, and Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb,….all were offspring of the original Al Qaeda.” Page 337.

The War for the Greater Middle East began in earnest to protect United States oil interests. In 1948, the United States with 6 1/2% of the population controlled 50% of the world’s wealth. Today, the United States has 5% of the population and controls 25% of the world’s wealth. American’s have been ready, willing and able to use their military to protect their wealth, power and way of life. Today The Middle East War is a quagmire, without purpose, from which we cannot extricate ourselves. Today our oil interests lie closer to home, North Dakota, Canada and Latin America.

Bacevich closes by saying, “Perpetuating the War for the Greater Middle East is not enhancing American freedom, abundance, and security. If anything it is having the opposite effect. One day the American people may awaken to this reality. Then and only then will the war end. When this awakening will occur is impossible to say. For no, sadly, Americans remain in deep slumber.” Page 370.

Can a Christian in good conscience fight for a military who upholds such an unjust foreign policy? Can a Christian in good conscience fight for a military lead by men such as Bush and Obama who would be considered guilty of war crimes if judged by the Nuremberg Tribunal?  

Please read, “America’s War for the Greater Middle East, A Military History,” by Andrew J. Bacevich, Random House, April 5, 2016. It is possible that you will not be glad you did. Can America really be that evil?

Copyright © 2017 by Jon Kauffman Permission to reprint in whole or in part is gladly granted, provided full credit and a live link are given.

The Violence that Saves Us

By Jon Kauffman

Jesus said: “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple. And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.” Luke 14: 26, 27 NIV

The death and resurrection of Jesus provided us with the way of salvation.

The resurrection of Jesus is one of the most attested facts in history. Why do I believe Jesus rose from the dead? Many of Jesus’ 12 original disciples died because they were followers of Jesus. Peter, Philip and Bartholomew were crucified upside down, James, Son of Alphaeus was stoned to death, James, Son of Zebedee was beheaded by sword, and Thomas was killed with a pine spear.

These guys were all there when Jesus died. They saw Jesus dead. Jesus came to see them after he rose from the dead. If the resurrection was a lie, they would have been unwilling to die for Jesus. Following Jesus provided no wealth or power for them. If they knew that Jesus had not risen from the dead, then when threatened with torture and death, they would say, “No! No! Don’t kill me, I know where to find the body of Jesus.” But the body was gone. They knew he had risen from the dead. Some people die for a lie if they don’t know it’s a lie. Nobody dies for what they know is a lie. These guys had good logical reasons to be followers of Jesus… and to die for him.

More Christians were killed in the 20th century because they followed Jesus than were killed at any other time in history. Christians have continued to die for following Jesus in the 21st century. In 2016, 90,000 Christians died around the world from persecution. Early Christians would have considered the death of someone killed by Boko Haram or ISIS for following Jesus a glorious death.

Eusebius of Caesarea, Bishop of Caesarea Maritima about 314 AD wrote in On The Martyrs In Palestine “THOSE Holy Martyrs of God, who loved our Savior and Lord Jesus Christ, and God supreme and sovereign of all, more than themselves and their own lives, who were dragged forward to the conflict for the sake of religion, and rendered glorious by the martyrdom of confession, who preferred a horrible death to a temporary life, and were crowned with all the victories of virtue, and offered to the Most High and supreme God the glory of their wonderful victory, because they had their conversation in heaven, and walked with him who gave victory to their testimony, also offered up glory, and honor, and majesty to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost.”

American civil religion worships the American Sniper. Who has died a more glorious death? A nonviolent Christian victim of Boko Haram from Nigeria? Or the American Sniper?

The church in America is dying. One of the most dangerous places to be a Christian today is in Iran. The Iranian church is the fastest growing church in the world.

Returning to Luke 14, in verse 26, the Greek miséō is translated: hate.

3404 miséō – properly, to detest (on a comparative basis); hence, denounce; to love someone or something less than someone (something) else, i.e. to renounce one choice in favor of another. Strong’s Concordance.

Many who believe that it is proper for a Christian to participate in the military argue that we must do so because of our responsibility to obey the state.

Perhaps a better hierarchy of love that is more consistent with Luke 14 would be:

  1. Love Jesus and obey his commands. Members of the early church were quick to die for Jesus.
  2. Love our families and our brothers and sisters in Christ, helping to provide protection and support for those living in the US and in other countries around the world.
  3. Love those who do not yet know the saving power of Jesus, but are our potential brothers and sisters.
  4. Love our own lives.
  5. Love the state. When it does not contradict the above. That makes the state a very low priority.

We must be pro-life and speak out against the pro-death state, and its evil support of abortion, euthanasia and bad foreign policy.

Copyright © 2017 by Jon Kauffman Permission to reprint in whole or in part is gladly granted, provided full credit and a live link are given.

Salvation

By Jon Kauffman

“What’s more important here is not saving the country, it’s saving your soul,” Al Kresta, Ave Maria Radio.

How does this Salvation of the soul happen?

When I was a teenager I had a radical conversion experience. I was saying the Lord’s Prayer. Previously, I was having a disagreement with a friend and was angry with him. The prayer says “forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” I asked Jesus to help me forgive my friend. My heart was filled with joy and peace. Before this experience I was terrified of dying. Jesus took away my fear of death. I know forgiving others is part of Salvation.

Pastors of the Salvation Army may say that believing that Jesus rose from the dead is an important element of Salvation. Romans 10:9. They may say confessing your sins to one another, or a pastor or God is also a necessary element of Salvation. I John 1:9. Or confessing that Jesus is Lord or King or ruler of your life is a necessary element of Salvation. Romans 10:9.  They may say this turning over your life to Jesus, or a radical conversion experience is a spiritual rebirth as described in John 3.

The Salvation Army pastor may say that once one has believed in Jesus, evidence of that Salvation will include, as the Apostle John says, that we love our brothers and sisters. I John 2:10. Or we live as Jesus lived. I John 2:6. Or if we do what is right we know we are born of God. I John 3: 7. Or that the Holy Spirit will witness to our hearts that he lives in us.  I John 3:21-24. Or that we will follow the Sermon on the Mount and love our enemies. Matthew 5:43.

The Salvation Army Pastor may say that one who has experienced the rebirth will feed the hungry and give drink to the thirsty and visit those in prison. James 2:14-17. The one who has this Salvation will avoid lusting or committing adultery or obtaining divorces. Matthew 5:27-32. The one who has this Salvation will give to the needy. Matthew 6:1-4. Salvation Army pastors may say that one who has Salvation will find ways to be reconciled to those with whom they disagree.  Matthew 5: 23,24.

When we receive this Salvation, we will be able to see the fruit of the Spirit in our lives: “22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.”  Galatians 5:22-24.

Catholics such as Al Kresta may add that Salvation includes baptism, which he considers the new birth, confirmation which he says is receiving the Holy Spirit, confessing our sins to a priest and attending Mass every week.

The Salvation Army and Mennonite pastors and Catholics would agree that if we do not want to follow Jesus, we may give up that Salvation and live for ourselves. On the other hand forgiveness is always available from Jesus when we fail. I John 2: 24,25. Some protestants may say we can never lose that Salvation.

If Jesus rose from the dead and if He will give us the wonderful future he has promised, then following Jesus is our most important priority in our lives. Nothing else matters.

Copyright © 2017 by Jon Kauffman Permission to reprint in whole or in part is gladly granted, provided full credit and a live link are given.

Why I Can’t Thank Veterans

By Jon Kauffman

I can’t thank veterans for their military service.

Jesus said, “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:44,45a, NIV

How do we love our enemies?

How do we love the children, innocent women, and innocent men the US has killed with drones?

How do we love fellow Christians and other refugees whose homes have been destroyed in Iraq, Libya and Syria because of faulty US foreign policy?

30 years ago I was broke, without a job or medical insurance and supporting two children. Many suggested I join the military. I told my wife that I could not in good conscience join the military. She said God would take care of us. God has blessed us greatly.

If I am unwilling to kill to protect our country, why should I expect someone else to do it? If I am unwilling to kill innocent civilians to prevent a future attack that may or may not happen, why should I expect someone else to do it for me. If I am unwilling to kill to protect US oil interests and military weapons maker’s interests, how can I ask or expect someone else to do it? If I say “Thank-you” to a veteran, he may think that I think he was doing the right thing by joining the military.

True patriots question failed US foreign policy. The ends do not justify the means. Wouldn’t it be better to lose our lives, our wealth, our freedom, our country, our homes and our families, but follow the teachings of Jesus?

Christians from the early church often refused to serve in the imperial army of Rome. They felt service in the Roman army conflicted with the teachings of Jesus. St. Marcellus was beheaded for refusing to serve.

One of the biggest mistakes of the church was to accept “Just War” theology. Each side feels their side is right and commit atrocities against the other. Then they each feel more justified. Catholics and Protestants fought each other for hundreds of years in Ireland. The Kingdom of England and the Kingdom of France fought the 100 years war. The US has been at war in the Middle East for nearly 40 years. Everyone claims their war is just. How can it be?

Copyright © 2017 by Jon Kauffman Permission to reprint in whole or in part is gladly granted, provided full credit and a live link are given.