Protestant Pastor Aeternus?

A corner of the Christian blogosphere has recently been convulsed by the subject of resolutions. The resolutions in question are an Ohio Bible Fellowship statement against the peril of reading New Evangelical authors (Remonstrants and subsequent posts), and a proposed Southern Baptist Convention resolution regarding the disciplined maintenance of church membership roles (Founders and Immoderate). Many questions have been raised, and some answers offered. One question I have not seen is, “Why does a group that holds to the authority of Scripture alone for matters of faith and practice need such statements?”

In the case of the OBF resolution, I wonder why not just quote verses like Philippians 4:8; 2 Corinthians 10:5, and, as apparently deemed necessary, 2 Thess. 3:6; Romans 16:17 etc.?

In the case of the SBC resolution, I wonder why not simply quote Heb. 10:24-27; 1 Cor. 5; Matt. 18:15-17 etc.? Or, in the case of the ill-fated resolution on home schooling a couple years ago, why not simply proclaim Deuteronomy 6?

Either the Bible is sufficient, or the Orthodox and Romanists are correct: we need tradition too. Resolutions along these lines sound like that frazzled parent begging/pleading/scolding his child, “I’m going to count to three…this time I really mean it!” Or, perhaps worse yet, the constantly rebellious child who promises, “This time I’ll obey… I really mean it.” If the problems in the OBF and SBC a so severe that such resolutions are needed, what causes anyone to believe the words of man will be of any influence if the clear statements of Scripture have proven impotent?

faux pax americana

Not that any evidence was needed, but two recent events have demonstrated the folly of President Bush’s foreign policy. The government’s responses to the victory of Hamas in Palestinian elections, and to the legal decision to execute Abdul Rahman in Afghanistan clearly show to all who have eyes to see that the Bush doctrine is doomed to fail.

Anyone who says the victory of Hamas proves all Muslims are terrorists is grossly mistaken. It does say, however, that a majority of those people living in Palestine are not opposed to being led by a faction universally recognized as historically terrorist in nature. But if democracy in the Middle East is the great elixir, why has this legitimately elected government faced immediate ostracization? How can the administration claim that it wants to spread freedom and then penalize these people for using their freedom? Would it have been a more palatable decision for our State Department, if the Palestinians had continued their support of Fatah? Even the most patient of people eventually grow weary of graft, nepotism, and crony-ism. The Palestinians had a choice and made it democratically, and for that they are cut off from aid.

The administration faced a similar predicament in the case of Abdul Rahman. In our model country of freeing a land from tyranny to have democracy thrust upon it we had the case of a man tried in a court of law, found to be in transgression of the law, and sentenced according to the law. So on what basis could we feign outrage at the decision? We claim that democracy necessarily includes the notion of religious freedom. George Washington stated, “It is substantially true that virtue or morality is a necessary spring of popular government.” Similarly, Benjamin Franklin wrote, “Only a virtuous people are capable of freedom. As nations become corrupt and vicious, they have more need of masters.” Quotes like these are used by Christians to state that those who are not virtuous (i.e., infidels) cannot be trusted with democracy. What they (and Washington) fail to realize is that the Rahman decision was a completely virtuous one to the people of Afghanistan because it was in harmony with their standard of virtue: the Koran.

The American Empire has two options. First, stop all the disingenuous platitudes of bringing freedom to the Middle East and thereafter punishing freely made decisions. Just as many of the original laws and framework of American government were biblically derived, President Bush must come to grips with the fact that many of the laws and framework of Muslim-dominated governments will be derived from the Koran. If our intention is to bring democracy, we must be content with what that democracy decides. If this is unacceptable, there is only one other option (besides doing nothing at all). Our leaders must put away this whole notion of the “benevolent empire.” We should plainly state our demands at the beginning and forcefully bring our “enemies” into submission. Enough with the claims that we only want to spread freedom. Let us be plain in stating that we do not want freedom, but subservience. Let us state honestly, “You are free to do whatever we deem acceptable.” Let our government be either true to its words, or true to its intentions. For it is plain to see that at present it is true to neither.