Piper on Terrorism: The Selective Silence is Deafening

Credit: Nicholas Gratzl


John Piper loves to inveigh against Muslim extremism.  See: “France: a Fabric Torn” and many other writings from Piper and his tribe.

 
I would love to see Mr. Piper with any remote consistency address the elephant in the room that so many other disciples of Jesus acknowledge. What is this elephant? The destructive militarism of Western nations that dishonors and demeans the lives of those who are NOT in the “in” crowd of the West.
 
It’s called contextual reasoning, or to put it more Biblically, authentic prophecy, to be honest about the negative effects of the oppressive violence of empires (of which the U.S. is the most powerful) that contribute to the violence of others in response.
 
If Mr. Piper and others of his ilk are silent when Isaiah and Amos would have been shouting, it should raise some important questions about whether their writings and speeches should be privileged the way they are by evangelical Christendom.
 
I am not seeking to justify ISIS in any way.  We should not be silent about their rampant evil.  Neither should we be silent about the recent unjustifiable actions of the West (by recent, I mean from the Shah of Iran to present day) particularly directed towards our Arab and Muslim brothers and sisters. The silence is deafening. The silence reveals idolatry.
 
Here is one simple, easily obtained bit of evidence that shows the hypocrisy of the West: “Hundreds of Civilians Killed in US-led airstrikes on ISIS Targets.”

It is painful to acknowledge a more full picture of the truth.  Christians need not shy away from this pain, though.  It is the pain of deep repentance from deep complicity with a system that has caused torrents of blood.  We are to weep with those who weep: whether they are our next-door neighbors or our Global South and East neighbors.  May God give us the strength and the courage to do so: especially as a consistent commitment to this path will lead to marginalization in Western culture.  Rev. Jeremiah Wright encountered this marginalization and rejection in a selectively-quoted sermon in the runup to the 2008 Presidential Election where he proclaimed that Malcolm X was right decades before that “America’s chickens were coming home to roost.” Malcolm X said this about the scourge of racism, while  Rev. Wright said this about the awful series of events on September 11, 2001.  Listening to the broader context of the sermon, however, provides a deeply uncomfortable truth for Christians.  We must confess that Rev. Wright is correctly following the symptom of 9/11 to a proper diagnosis of the cancer of Western militarism that subjugates and tears apart the bodies of those who do not comply.

We are not called to be chaplains of the Western system, but prophets of God’s global community, tearing down sinful barriers of nationalism, militarism, racism, cultural blindness, and other maladies.  May we strive toward this embodiment of the people of God.

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A hello, a comment, and more to come…

I’m back from Haiti.  There will be plenty of reflecting on that in the coming weeks; small-scale and large-scale.  But not yet. It’s good to be back, as well as a big culture shock and jolting transition back into the flow of our society. Being up in the mountains of Haiti with a people whose electricity only comes from a missions-organization-donated generator does that.

Here’s a classic quote from Dick Cheney today commenting on “terrorism,” a great re-entry into American society for me;

“These are evil people. And we’re not going to win this fight by turning the other cheek.”

Now you tell me if those are wise words or immoral words; short-sighted or long-sighted.  If you’re a Christian, filter these comments through a Biblical perspective rather than a America-centered perspective and comment on their value. And if you find them deeply troubling, as I do, please tell me how George W, a supposedly “born-again” Christian, could make this man his right-hand advisor.

Which Saddleback response was MORE Biblical?

In the Saddleback Civil Forum on the Presidency on August 16th, I found one section interesting (I haven’t listened to/read the whole thing), and that was when Rick Warren asked about how to approach evil in the world.  I have Warren’s questions and the candidates’ answers in full.  So I’d like to pose the question without giving my own perspective for whoever might want to interact:  which candidate’s response was more deeply Biblical, in your view?

Rick Warren interviewing Barack Obama:

Warren:  Does evil exist and if it does, do we ignore it, do we negotiate with it, do we contain it, or do we defeat it?

Obama:  Evil does exist.  I mean, we see evil all the time.  We see evil in Darfur, we see evil sadly on the streets of our cities.  We see evil in parents who have viciously abused their children and I think it has to be confronted.  It has to be confronted squarely and one of the things that I strongly believe is that we are not going to, as individuals, be able to erase evil from the world.  That is God’s task.  But we can be soldiers in that process and we can confront it when we see it.  Now, the one thing that I think is very important is for us to have some humility in how we approach the issue of confronting evil, but you know a lot of evil has been perpetrated based on the claim that we were trying to confront evil.

Warren:  In the name of good?

Obama:  In the name of good.  And I think one thing that’s very important is having some humility in recognizing that just because we think our intentions are good doesn’t always mean that we’re going to be doing good.

 

Rick Warren interviewing John McCain:

Warren:  How about the issue of evil? Does evil exist and if it does, do we ignore it, do we negotiate with it, do we contain it, or do we defeat it?

McCain:  Defeat it.  Couple points.  One, if I’m President of the United States, my friends, if I have to follow him to the gates of hell, I will get Osama bin Laden and bring him to justice.  I will do that and I know how to do that.  I will get that done.  No one should be allowed to take thousands of American, innocent American lives. 

Of course evil must be defeated.  My friends, we are facing the transcendent challenge of the 21st century; radical Islamic extremists.  Not long ago in Baghdad, al-Qaeda took two young men who were mentally disabled and put suicide vests on them, sent them into a marketplace and by remote control detonated those suicide vests.  If that isn’t evil, you have to tell me what is; and we’re going to defeat this evil and the central battleground according to David Petraeus and Osama bin Laden is the battles of Baghdad, Mosul, and Iraq, and we are winning and we are succeeding, and our troops will come home with honor and victory and not in defeat and that’s what’s happening.  We have, and we face this threat throughout the world.  It’s not just in Iraq.  It’s not just in Afghanistan.  Our intelligence people tell us al-Qaeda continues to try to establish cells here in the United States of America.

My friends, we must face this challenge.  We can face this challenge and we must totally defeat it and we’re in a long struggle, but when I’m around the young men and women who are serving this nation in uniform will do it.   I have no doubt.  None.