Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Was Killing Bin Laden Biblically Justified?

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Did the Navy Seals that raided Bin Laden's compound and killed him violate the 6th Commandment--"Thou Shalt Not Kill"?

Did President Obama violate the Commandment by ordering them to do so?

If not, why not? If so, where is the outrage?

Is every sin the same in God's eyes?

Some in the "Emerging Church" movement and the religious left are expressing measured concern over the events of recent days.

Brian McLaren, leader of the "emerging church" movement, decided to criticize the celebrations rather than the action, saying he was embarrassed by the American college students celebrating the death of Bin Laden, intoning from England where he watched the Royal Wedding, "Joyfully celebrating the killing of a killer who joyfully celebrated killing carries an irony that I hope will not be lost on us. Are we learning anything, or simply spinning harder the cycle of violence?"

Jim Wallis, a religious leader in the far left social justice movement, essentially took the same position, decrying those who expressed celebration while remaining silent towards President Obama with whom he is closely associated.

A significant restraint in comments from the religious left is evident, even though they disagree in principle, they are remaining silent because of their close affiliation with President Obama. Had George W. Bush been President, their criticisms would have been much louder, their dissent more aggressive, and all of it would have been shouted from the rooftops by a complicit press.

The ReligiousLeft.org web site said, "Like so many things, Scripture does not offer us clear responses to contemporary events for the Canon of Scripture is not an answer book."

"God does not desire vengeance and this is not God's form of justice," they say. They conclude that the killing of Bin Laden is, "a sad day, the most recent in many sad days over the course of the last decade."

Many biblical scholars do believe the Bible "gives clear responses to contemporary events" and that it is indeed an "answer book." And that the recent action taken against Bin Laden was biblically justified.

That is my personal position.

Pastor Greg Laurie of Harvest Christian Fellowship did not specifically mention Bin Laden by name on his radio program following the assignation, but went to great length to explain Romans 13 where believers are told to obey those authorities---government, because God has "established" them. I have linked his and others comments in Christianity Today.

However, it was mega church Pastor Kevin DeYoung of University Reformed Church in East Lansing Michigan that went to the heart of the matter on this subject.

Please read the posts on his web site for May 2, 2011 and May 3, 2011. In my opinion, this is the most biblically correct and clearly explained statement I have seen from church leaders on the subject.

He says only God has the authority to take human life.

"But," he adds, "God has ordained that he should exercise that right through the power of the state."

He says, "Capital punishment for murder is not an assault on the image of God, but a defense of it. It is because human life is so precious, that the taking of human life needs to be punished so severely. The principle of 'eye for eye, tooth for tooth, wound for wound' (Exod. 23-25) was not a matter of cruel and unusual punishment, but of controlled retribution as a means of protecting the community and valuing the dignity of human life."

He gives a systematic consideration of Scripture that speaks directly to this particular kind of situation and raises the theologically polarizing question, "Are all sins equal?"

"Every sin is not the same in God’s eyes," DeYoung says.

This sentiment is popular with many Christians. For some it’s a sign of genuine humility–“I deserve God’s wrath too. So how can I judge someone else?” For others this is a way to dodge the hits that come when you dare to criticize trendy sins–“Yes, I do think mating with bovines is wrong, but it’s not worse than any other sin.” And for still others, it’s simply a soft form of relativism–“Those who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones, you know.”

Like many popular adages, this one about all sins being equal before God is not entirely wrong. Every sin is a breach of God’s holy law. And whoever fails to keep the law in one point is guilty of breaking all of it (James 2:10). So any sin committed against an infinite God deserves punishment. We’re all born sinners. We all sin. Every sin deserves death. That’s why the truism is half-true.

He refers to Numbers 15: 29-30, Jeremiah 32:35 and Matthew 10:15 showing there seems to be gradations of sin, while clearly stating, "Any sin committed against infinite God deserves punishment. We're all born sinners. We all sin. Every sin deserves death."

He says, "Over and over the Bible teaches, either explicitly or implicitly, that some sins are worse than others"---with extensive references.

Concluding: "When we can no longer see the different gradations among sins and sinners and sinful nations, we have not succeeded in respecting our own badness, we’ve cheapened God’s goodness. God knows that some sins are more grievous than others. We would do well to see the world with God’s eyes as best we can."

Be Vigilant. Be Informed. Be Prayerful. Be Active. Be Blessed.

Gary Randall
Faith and Freedom

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