Saturday, December 30, 2006
Saddam Hussein meets... justice?
Saddam Hussein was executed by hanging this morning. There is no doubt that he was an evil man who perpetrated injustice upon thousands of people. I have no sympathy for him at all. On the other hand, he was already a broken man, and I question whether the death penalty can ever bring true justice. It seems like more often repaying death with death just continues the destructive cycle of violence and retribution (as it will most likely do in Iraq.) As I surveyed the reaction of various world leaders to Saddam's death on CNN.com, I found myself resonating the most with the words of the Vatican representative, Father Federico Lombardi:

"A capital punishment is always tragic news, a reason for sadness, even if it deals with a person who was guilty of grave crimes. The position of the Church has been restated often. The killing of the guilty party is not the way to reconstruct justice and reconcile society. On the contrary there is a risk that it will feed a spirit of vendetta and sow new violence. In these dark times for the Iraqi people one can only hope that all responsible parties truly make every effort so that glimmers of reconciliation and peace can be found in such a dramatic situation."

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posted by Mike Clawson at 9:37 AM | Permalink |


7 Comments:


At 12/31/2006 06:49:00 AM, Blogger Tripp Hudgins

My sermon is on this quotation.

 

At 1/02/2007 02:55:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous

Matthew 5:45
That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.


http://thejobsway.spaces.live.com/

 

At 1/02/2007 04:13:00 PM, Blogger Mike Clawson

Thanks for that "Job's Way". When you look at that verse in light of a Saddam Hussein, all of a sudden it becomes a "hard saying" of Jesus. To be like our Father is to do good to those who do us evil. Who among us can live up to that?

 

At 1/11/2007 10:37:00 AM, Blogger paul

Mike,

You just contradicted yourself in your own email/post:

"but that doesn't justify their failure to reflect the kingdom of God." This statement doesn't square with "my governement is not primarily the United States."

Of course, as a Christian our citizenship is in Heaven. God also uses nations to inflict his judgement upon those who are unjust. God has done that all through history: Babylon, Assyrian, Persia, etc.

Like it or not, history is an intrepreter of God's will. Justice is ocurring around the world as an act of God upon those who unjustly inflict carnage, brutality, and oppression upon the innocent. Saddam Hussein was one of the worst violators of this in the late 20th Century, no matter how you dice the figures. And, what he left behind was systemic social evil, and this is what the Coalition forces are dealing with, as well as the underpinnings of spiritual evil.

When Jesus met the Centurion soldier and healed his daughter, he didn't say, "You're going to have to quit your profession now." There is a need in every country to have a militiary. If the United States doesn't fill the vacuum with a strong military presence confronting systemic evil, it will be inside our borders killing Christians with our docile values.

As a Christian we have the obligation to inform the world/government what Christian values are. However, our government will NOT be the Kingdom of God. It may even be used by God to further his will, but it is not the Kingdom of God. You can't expect the kingdoms of this world to implement the principles of the Kingdom of God.

Jesus didn't spend time trying to convert Herod, or the Roman authorities to leave their presence in Israel, and go home to Rome, even though Israel had the Biblical mandate to that land. Jesus was advancing the Kingdom through his invisible church.

Paul Chaplain
www.worthmysalt.blogspot.com

 

At 1/11/2007 11:27:00 AM, Blogger Mike Clawson

I agree Paul, I don't expect the kingdoms of this world to ever be the kingdom of God. But scripture does tell us that they are still subject to his kingdom and will eventually be judged by him for their failure to live up to its principles. Jesus' own ministry was full of words of warning and judgment for the rulers of this world (especially Herod).

At any rate, while I don't expect the US or any other worldly power to live up to Kingdom values, that doesn't mean I should applaud, approve and make excuses for them when they violate those values. The US may perpetuate evil, but that doesn't mean my response should just be "Well that's okay, they're allowed to be evil since they're not God's real kingdom."

But I suspect there's actually something else going on here in your argument. I suspect that you don't really think there's anything wrong with what the US is doing. It seems that you believe violence and aggression are good things for nations to occasionally engage in, and for Christians to participate in. As a military chaplain it's natural that you would feel this way. Your livelihood depends on it.

I just simply disagree. While I do agree that there is a place for a military as a defensive force, and, on very rare occasions, to help defend the oppressed elsewhere - for the most part I don't think we will ever see the kingdom come through war and violence. The number of truly "just wars" in history has been so miniscule as to render term almost irrelevant.

You're right to say that Christ never told the centurions to leave their profession. But the early church after Christ - for the first 300 or so years up until the time of Constantine when the church became corrupted with its marriage to the State - was pacifist and did require Christians who happened to be in the Roman military to practice their profession only in a peacekeeping/policing way - and abstain from any direct warfare. You may disagree with their approach, but it's at least worth asking why the Christians closest to the time of Christ felt that pacifism and peacekeeping were the only legitimate Christian response in a world of violence.

 

At 1/11/2007 02:59:00 PM, Blogger Paul Chaplain (Pseudonym)

Mike,

I actually agree with a pacifistic view. That is exactly how a Christian ought to respond toward evil. As a non-comatant, and fully comitted to that status, I have two allegiances: to God, and to country.

If I wern't in the military, which has nothing to do with money, but Call, I would be working diligently in sacrifical ways to advance the Kingdom, peacefully.

We need to be careful about being an armchair prophet indicting the U.S. as THE perpetrator of evil, as history is the ultimate interpreator of God's will.

The U.S. over the last 5 years has been saying, "Enough of the oppression, and carnage." And, doing something about it, unlike the impotent U.N.

You can't get around it: anyone who is contra the war has to be self-decieved not to see that the Iraqi people acquired some justice by hanging Saddam the mass murderer.

According to Romans 13, we have dual responsibilities: to God, and to State. And, God uses the State for his purposes, even when it's imperfect, to execute His will.

 

At 1/12/2007 09:58:00 AM, Blogger Julie

The U.S. over the last 5 years has been saying, "Enough of the oppression, and carnage." And, doing something about it, unlike the impotent U.N.

the US has been the cause of a good deal of that oppression and carnage and only attempts to stop it in areas we have economic interest in. When our goverment actually starts trying to help people (without kiling tons of children in the process) then I'll believe the government cares about ending oppression.

 

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