Does the Bible Really Support Launching a Nuclear Attack?

Does the Bible Really Support Launching a Nuclear Attack?

Let every person be subject to the governing authorities; for there is no authority except from God, and those authorities that exist have been instituted by God. 2Therefore whoever resists authority resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. 3For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Do you wish to have no fear of the authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive its approval;  4for it is God’s servant for your good. But if you do what is wrong, you should be afraid, for the authority does not bear the sword in vain! It is the servant of God to execute wrath on the wrongdoer.Therefore one must be subject, not only because of wrath but also because of conscience.Romans 13:1-5

I haven’t seen many Christians respond to the Reverend Robert Jeffress’ advice to Donald Trump with simple look at the passage involved.  Even the most superficial reading reveals that the Apostle is providing instructions to Christians in the light of the grace and freedom that comes through Jesus Christ, which Paul has laid out in Roman’s first twelve chapters.

What he is clearly saying is that the path of faithfulness to Christ is not a baldly revolutionary or political one.  Jesus didn’t die on the cross to produce more Zealots or freedom-fighters.  Christians work within a social order that is structured around governments.  Paying taxes is an example of the kind of compliance expected of believers of Jesus.  Jesus himself lived within the laws of Rome and Israel.  He paid his Temple tax.  The fact that Jesus was wrongly executed by the authorities of his time does not alter the Church’s basic mission—to transform lives and to welcome the Kingdom of God.

This passage reveals that social order is maintained for good or for ill by (what we would call) secular governments.  Followers of Christ miss their mission when they think that tinkering with or destroying or replacing the government is the sum of their calling.   Even the Caesars served a function.

It’s important that Paul’s instructions not be twisted beyond recognition as they have been by the Reverend Jeffress.  Paul does not tell his 1st Century readers to become chaplains to Nero, who like Trump, struggled with his own “mental health issues.”  Paul is summoning his readers to take a sublime and graceful path that was trod by Jesus.  Paul, who actually met Nero didn’t coach the emperor on state craft or tell him that he was God’s special servant endowed to execute the Creator’s  will.

By the way, Nero provides a good comparison to Trump.  Nero later burned Rome down himself and blamed the Christians.  This was the political figure Paul and his readers must have had in mind when the Apostle penned the words that Jeffress has used so recklessly.

So, do secular political leaders bear a function in the world that God loves and redeems?  Absolutely.  They keep order.  Trump and the whole of the United States government does that.  So does Kim Jong Un and his crowd.  So do all leaders.  So they’re all good in a sense.

For the Reverend Jeffress to send Trump off with the Church’s imprimatur to launch a nuclear strike is the height of irresponsibility.  Because his exegesis stinks.

 

 

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