Newt Gingrich, the Christian Right, War, and Israel
In the ninth Chapter of Luke, the Samaritans insulted Christ as He passed through their territories. In response, James and John asked "do you want us to call down fire from heaven to consume them like Elijah did?" In verses 55 and 56 Jesus rebuked them saying "You know not what manner of spirit you are of. The Son of Man is not come to destroy men's lives, but to save them."
Just like the disciples in those early days, I believe that many in the Christian right do not know what manner of spirit they are of. This has manifested itself in many ways, three of which I would like to discuss here. The first one is their turning, in near desperation by this point, to Newt Gingrich as their preferred Presidential candidate.
Newt Gingrich is arrogant, unfaithful, treacherous, a slave to his physical appetites, and hypocritical. His life reads like a record of everything Jesus Christ is against. Oh, I don't judge his salvation, for the salvation of any of us wretches is a function of God's grace rather than our merits. But I do judge his fitness to lead because he is implicitly asking us to do so by running for President of the United States.
His personal life has been a disgrace. He left public office in disgrace. His work since then has been disgraceful. A creature of the beltway, since he left office he hired himself out to some of the same people who have been bankrupting this country. I find it amazing, even after their previous four or five choices have all blown up, that Christians are considering supporting Newt Gingrich. It's pathetic. It sickens me to even think about it.
Why not just say the system has failed? Why not just say you are not backing anyone in the primary because there is no one worth backing? How low will you go to stay "a player" in this awful system?
But of course, there is someone worth backing in the race. There is someone who can be the "anti-Romney" candidate for voters. He has lived an impeccable life of Christian virtue. He is humble and gracious, faithful to both his family and those who elected him, supremely self-disciplined, and remarkably consistent. Most of his philosophy of government is taken right from the pages of scripture. The rest is taken from the Founding Fathers.
So why wouldn't Christians back such a man? Because he doesn't want to kill people unless they are a legitimate threat to the United States. Because he does not want to start a war with Iran to add to the several we have going on right now. Because he is more concerned with preserving our civil liberties than growing the police state. He's just not bloody enough for some of the Christian Right.
Will Iran get nuclear weapons? Eventually. We can't permanently keep the Muslim world in a pre-1944 level of technology. We can, and are, going bankrupt trying, but it's not a realistic policy objective. All we can do is keep borrowing money from China to try and suppress them until they either do it despite our efforts or China cuts off our funding.
But if you were in their shoes, wouldn't you try to get them too? The dominant global power has conquered the nations on either side of you, has military bases to your north, and a carrier armada in the sea to your south. They have shown they are willing to use violence to overturn even Muslim governments who have been cooperating with them for years. They are talking about going to war with you, but not the North Koreans who have the bomb. Wouldn't you want the bomb to, in order to try to deter future aggression?
Iran, known as "Persia" in the scriptures, is a civilization that is thousands of years old. They were the United States of the Old Testament, the dominant military power and a culture that was quick to adapt customs from other cultures- a melting pot. I don't believe they are in a hurry to terminate their 4,000 year old civilization by starting a nuclear war with either the United States who has thousands of deliverable warheads, or Israel which has hundreds. Especially since a nuclear war with Israel would leave the Middle East a radioactive wasteland for 1,000 years, eradicate most of their race and religion, but only eliminate a minority of the Jews - the majority of whom live in Europe and the United States.
Some might say "Oh the leader of Iran has threatened to wipe Israel off the map." His statements in Farsi have been badly mistranslated. A better interpretation is that he wants to do to the Israeli "regime" (not nation) exactly what most of the Christian Right want to do to the Obama regime, make it vanish via an electoral process. He is being mistranslated by those beating the war drums.
But of course "we must stand with Israel." The same folks who say welfare is bad for residents of the ghettos and should be ended insist that it is good for Israel and we must keep them on the dole. Paul is consistent- government dependency is bad for everybody.
I am not sure about the theology of "standing with Israel" anyway in terms of dropping bombs on anyone that is a threat to the nation of Israel. I understand blessing the descendants of Abraham, including the Jews you may know right here in the United States, because in the Old Testament God told Abraham "I will bless those who bless you." I get that. What I don't get is the unique form they want this blessing to take. Who else do we "bless" primarily by killing people for them?
In the book of 1st Timothy Chapter two, Jewish Apostle Paul writes that we are to pray for kings and those in authority for the very purpose that we might live a "quiet and peaceable life of honesty and godliness." If that's the Biblical goal of government, I find it odd that so much of the Christian Right spends its time loudly advocating that we go overseas in search of wars and military occupations. "Standing with Israel" in the governmental sense did not seem to be high on the prayer list. And if ever there was a time when the physical security of the nation of Israel should have been on the prayer list, that was it. Most Bible scholars place the date this epistle was penned to be around 65 A. D. - only a few years before Jerusalem was sacked and the Jewish people butchered and sold into slavery.
Maybe one of my brothers or sisters could explain these contradictions to me. I would think that Bible believing Christians would look to the Bible to inform them on public policy rather than FOX News. I would think that they would, given the choice, choose a man who has lived the kind of life they preach we ought to live rather than one who loudly talks about its virtues while practicing the exact opposite.