Some Americans took to the streets to celebrate when Osama bin Laden was killed. When I saw this celebration I was initially troubled. Should we celebrate the death of anyone? Doesn’t the Bible say to love your enemies? Isn’t it okay to celebrate the death of someone who lived to kill as many innocent Americans as possible? These questions have been debated in university classrooms, Sunday school classes and sports bars throughout the community of Columbus.
It’s a fallacy to compare the celebration of Americans with the celebration of Middle Easterners when the Twin Towers were destroyed in New York City. The special ops team that took out bin Laden was destroying a terrorist, a fanatically evil man who didn’t blink an eye or feel even a twinge of guilt when he destroyed 3,000 innocent men, women and children. Fanatical and disillusioned Muslims celebrated the murder of innocent children. Americans were celebrating the murder of an evil terrorist.
Emergent Church leader Brian McLaren expressed concern that our celebrations proved we were “simply spinning harder in the cycle of violence.” Is he insinuating that we are no better than the terrorists and that the taking of all life is weighed by the same laws of morality? Not so. We have not stooped to the level of the Islamic terrorists until we drop a bomb on the mosque in Mecca. Can it not be likened to a man who breaks into your house and murders your mother? That is pure evil. If you pick up a gun and defend your mother by killing the intruder are you and the killer equally guilty of breaking the moral code that protects the sanctity of life? Is it not acceptable to take a life to protect multiple innocent lives? Isn’t that actually what a just war is about?
St. Augustine of Hippo was echoing Cicero of ancient Rome when he taught the four elements of a just war (1):
1. The damage caused by the aggressor must be lasting, serious and certain.
2. Every known possibility to end the conflict must be explored before picking up arms.
3. The prospect of success must be a clear and likely possibility
4. The use of weapons must be limited to eliminating the targeted primary evil.
Taking out Osama bin Laden was a just act of war. He was identified as the aggressor and the master mind behind the fall of the Twin Towers. The damage he caused was serious and lasting. He had nearly a decade to turn himself in and face justice thereby saving the lives of hundreds who have died in the wake of 911. The mission was planned well and obviously the prospect of success was promising and the assault was limited to bin Laden’s compound.
Dennis Prager (2) addresses what seems to be a contradiction of Judeo-Christian teaching regarding our rejoicing over death. There is a Talmudic teaching that reveals a God whose love for his creatures prevents him from rejoicing when they are destroyed: “When the Egyptians were drowning in the Sea of Reeds, the angels wanted to sing. But God said to them, ‘The work of my hands is drowning in the sea and you want to sing?’” Prager points out that God was reprimanding angels, not humans.
But the book of Proverbs says, “When the wicked perish, there is joyful song.” (Proverbs 11:10) In another place in Proverbs we read, “When your enemy falls, do not rejoice, and when he stumbles, let your heart not exult, lest the Lord see and be displeased…” (Proverbs 27:14) It may sound like a contradiction but Prager points out that “the vast majority of the truly evil are not our personal enemies.” When Americans celebrate the death of a truly evil enemy like Osama bin Laden are they not actually rejoicing in the victory of good over evil. How can that be wrong?
Perhaps there is confusion over this matter because most Americans have never experience true evil. Corrie ten Boom survived Hitler’s death camps. Many years later she was confronted with one of the men who perpetrated the deaths of millions including some of her family and friends. Corrie described her struggle: “Even as the angry vengeful thoughts boiled through me, I saw the sin of them. Jesus Christ had died for this man; was I going to ask for more? Lord Jesus, I prayed, forgive me and help me to forgive him.” Who would know whether this man had repented of his evi? What is known is that he had ceased participating in these evil deeds. Corrie ten Boom took the high road by seeking the forgiveness that originates only in the heart of Christ.
In contrast, holocaust historian Saul Friedlander tells of a Jewish prisoner from Auschwitz named Arie Hassenberg. Arie saw the aftermath of the Allied bombing of Monowitz and said, “To see a killed German; that was why we enjoyed the bombing.” Both ten Boom and Hassenberg experienced horrendous evil at the hands of evil men. Corrie ten Boom forgave a man who had ceased from his evil practices. Hassenburg rejoiced to see a dead German because he embodied the present evil he was experiencing.
Osama bin Laden had not ceased his evil ways nor had he expressed any remorse. In fact, evidence gathered from the wolf’s lair suggest he was more active than ever in planning future attacks on innocent American women and children. To see a killed terrorist is why Americans enjoyed seeing the killing.
1. The Just War Theory of the Catholic Church By Scott P. Richert911, Arie Hassenburg, Auschwitz, Brian McLaren, Cicero, Corrie ten Boom, Dennis Prager, emergent church, just war, Mecca, Monowitz, Osama bin Laden, St. Augustine, terrorist, twin towers
Dear Church of the Nazarene,
I love the Nazarene Church. My family and I attend a Nazarene Church in Columbus, Georgia. Nazarene churches in this area are very orthodox. But certain beliefs and certain people who promote non-biblical ideas have been permitted to infiltrate some areas of the Nazarene Church.
Some questions presented to fellow Nazarenes:
1. Are Nazarenes aware of and concerned about the loss of 10,000 Nazarenes over the last four years because of the emergent influence and mysticism in the church? (April 14, OneNewsNow)
2. Why did Northwestern Nazarene University participate in Brian McLaren’s “Allelon Ministry in a Postmodern Context Conference” several years ago?
3. Why did NNU participate in participated in the “Renovare Spiritual Formation Conference” with Richard Foster several years ago?
4. Many Nazarenes are proud of perhaps the most famous Nazarene in America, James Dobson. Why did Focus on the Family feature Gary Thomas who is a proponent of contemplative prayer? Thomas encourages his readers to “choose a word … as a focus for contemplative prayer. Repeat the word silently in your mind for a set amount of time (say, twenty minutes) until your heart seems to be repeating the word by itself, just as naturally and involuntarily as breathing” Jesus didn’t teach this eastern mysticism approach to prayer. Jesus said, when you pray say, “Our Father in heaven…”
5. Why is MidAmerica Nazarene University in Olathe, KS, Mount Vernon Nazarene University in Mount Vernon, OH, and Trevecca Nazarene University in Nashville, TN promoting Contemplative Spirituality?
6. Why did the Nazarene Church promote and provide their pastors with a contemplative approach to spiritual practices by providing a seminar in a Catholic contemplative location called the San Pedro Center. Dr. Alden Sproull, the founder of Kairos: Center for Spiritual Formation, led the contemplative services schedule prior to the General Assembly in Orlando, Florida in 2009. Dr. Sproull’s website lists martial arts, yoga, and labyrinth walking among other contemplative practices. www.contemplativemind.org/practices/tree.html
7. What was Jay McDaniel promoting at NNU? A student asked McDaniel what Jesus meant when he said “I am the way, the truth and the light.” McDaniel answered that If Jesus was referring to himself he would have displayed an arrogance and egocentricity that would have been out of character. Jesus was simply pointing them in the right direction. See video of Jay McDaniel here: www.sureynot.com/v/999/dr.-jay-mcdaniel.html. David Alexander, the president of the university later defended his decision to allow Jay McDaniel to come. McDaniel stated “it is the duty and responsibility of the university to make ourselves and our students aware of the world’s religions, sects and quests for God.” Perhaps this is true, but inviting a steady stream of heretical speakers (Brian McLaren, Dan Kimball, etc) seems to be a little over the top.
8. Was Joe Staniforth removed from his position as missionary in the Nazarene Church because he took a stand against the infiltration of the emergent movement in the church or is there more to his story that we don’t know? www.reformednazarene.wordpress.com/2010/02/19/nazarene-pastor-fired-for-fighting-emergent-ideology/
9. Why is there a group so concerned about the failure of the church to address the emergent movement that they have formed their own movement? www.concernednazarenes.org/
10. Again, let me reiterate, I love the Nazarene Church. There may be legitimate answers to the previous questions. If you have answers, please assist me in my search for truth.
Kevin P. ProbstTags: Brian McClaren, emergent church, heresy, nazarene church, nazarenes, orthodoxy, rob bell