Thomas Lee Abshier, ND
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by: Thomas Lee Abshier, ND
Iraq News: The Effect of Bias
By: Thomas Lee Abshier, ND
The following correspondence exchange was generated in response to the anonymous email "Iraq War Facts"
Here is my commentary on the "Iraq War Facts" sheet.
The Biasing Effect of Perspective:
You have a very cynical view of America's involvement in the War. Your basic premise is that we are not sincere in our desire to help the people of Iraq. You believe that the shortcoming in our Iraq Rebuilding effort verifies our commitment to money, industry, and political power. You quote facts and offer a perspective that counters every single hopeful statistic. Your belief structure is totally committed to proving that the Bush Administration is violent and corrupt. Every fact, rumor, and speculation is seized upon to validate your near religious belief in the Administration's intentionally false justification to invade Iraq, a virtually innocent country, for profit.
Your facts may or may not be accurate, and I have no way of independently verifying or disputing them. You quote Left Wing sources that validate your perspective; I choose other sources that validate mine. The attempt to prove one's perspective by the selective presentation of facts is the typical tool of debate and propaganda, and the proof of validity of the conclusions of one side or the other will not come by this "fact presenting" process alone. A great deal of truth is invisible; it lies in the realm of faith, intention, commitment, and trust. Facts are emerging evidence of the underlying forces that are seeking to manifest intention. Aligning with God's plan for manifesting the Kingdom of Heaven on Earth is the most pure intention. Thus, regardless of the "facts" that appear, the proper evaluation of the facts is a comparison with a God-based standard. The challenge in properly evaluating this matter is of course choosing a proper understanding of God.
Thus in preparation for adopting an evaluation of the Truth of any fact or perspective, I stay open to understanding and knowing the perspectives that validate a wide variety of opinions. I have found that this approach allows me to generate a meta-perspective, a larger view of the circumstances that allows me to understand why both sides have adopted their respective opinions. In this way I can reconcile mutually exclusive positions by noting that the opposing arguments are simply aspects of a larger worldview that includes them both; from this perspective it is easier to isolate and identify the side which opposes God's highest will for the creation. I believe that Truth is self-validating in that it forms a consistent pattern in nature, Scripture, and my soul's voice and integrates the entire experience and understanding of life into a sense of justice and peace.
So, for this discussion I will focus my attention on the disagreements that occur because of differences in worldview, philosophy, and belief systems. I believe that the opinion one forms about circumstances is more dependent upon the perspective one brings to the examination than the facts. Needless to say, facts are important, but often the items we choose to emphasize and ally with are simply a reflection of the facts and environment in which one is initially imprinted by an issue. After one makes one's initial impression and polarization on an issue, the mind tends to solidify on that opinion by selectively choosing data that validates that perspective.
An open-minded person will continue to evaluate the integrity of his opinion-fact-moral perspective of any given situation. The perfected worldview would see every person's perspective and every actual physical movement, and compare that with the larger context of history and the present socio-political-economic-legal environment, and then compare that with God's will-Law-moral structures as are relevant to the current circumstances. In an effort to generate this perfect perspective in the human framework, it is helpful to obtain a sufficiently large amount of information from different sources such that any additional increment of information will produce only infinitesimal changes in opinion on these multiple axi of human consideration. Eternal principles do not change, but every circumstance has its own unique blend of facts which illuminate and elevate the importance of any single principle in the entire spectrum of human experience. One’s initial impression and first judgment may shift radically if one is open to re-equilibrating after learning more moral-fact-perspective data.
It is impossible to absolutely validate or invalidate many facts. We have much greater control over the process of validating our own opinions, as it is a thought-entity generated entirely out of our own thought and emotion processes. As I engage in debate, conversation, and study, I can change my opinion because I can recognize the elements of my opinion that are potentially weak premises. I can continue to challenge the credibility and perspective of the facts that I have used to generate those concepts, and then remake my opinion based on new the newly adopted data.
I understand that my perspective on world events is necessarily limited and biased, and I note that the same is true of everyone who comments on world affairs. We all know how poorly an event we experienced turns into a news item. The complexity of reality does not lend itself well to fully capturing the interactions on all levels. Commentaries necessarily modify reality by the mental filters of generalizing, deleting, and distorting of content and perspective. And, given that we cannot know or validate the unseen intent of the actors in a play, it is easy for the biased observer to project a motivation on the participants. Thus, reality is comprised of a sufficiently complex potpourri of variables and perspectives as to enable a plausible spin on the facts that does not violate the integrity of the event.
The physical facts surrounding an actual event provide the reality structure upon which judgments and values are placed. Thus, when evaluating a distance-event, we must use the following principles to evaluate the factuality of the event:
Thus, we must carefully consider the attitude and values of the medium carrying the message. Inherent with every reported circumstance is a moral. The moral of a sequence of cause and effect gives us an object lesson that illustrates a principle of life. The worldview of the speaker and listener will naturally inject his own moral lesson into every presentation of fact, thus fact and perspective intermingle to modify both since speech is symbolic and abbreviated, not a duplication of the actual experience. Ultimately the goal is to adopt God's perspective of the facts and judgment of each circumstance, and to judge the facts according to God's standards.
Perspective on the Iraq War Facts:
The perspective you take regarding the events in Iraq makes the War sound hopeless, unrighteous in its motivations, and the costs too high for the benefits received. Such an attitude implies that we should admit error, defeat, give up, withdraw and allow the forces of chaos and decay operating in Iraq to overwhelm the populace.
Regarding your commentary on the “Iraq Facts”, you have made it clear that you believe that the United States is engaged in the Iraq war because of unrighteous motives. I disagree. From my perspective, the facts and their associated moral significance appear honorable. The United States has attempted to protect itself from a threat. The date and time at which the threat would be irreversible was unknown. A threat which can manifest at any time is the effective definition of an imminent threat. The correctness of our evaluation of imminence of threat is validated by the ruthlessness and commitment of the enemy we now fight who kills both civilian and combatant alike. Your statistics of dead civilians includes the dead produced by their insurgency, not just our accidental errors in line of fire. This enemy is willing to use any means possible to vanquish us. Clearly this level of commitment to dominating us was present in their psyche prior to our attack on Iraq; it was not generated de-novo as a result of our invasion. The fact of this fanatical, hate America, kill your own people mania is evidence by itself of the threat presented by the people of this culture. And finally, I believe the nobility of our intent is seen in the great sacrifice and effort we have engaged to bring a viable economy, infrastructure, and free government to an oppressed people.
The Iraq Facts, and your litany of Left Wing Iraq Facts, illustrate clearly how two people can take opposite positions on the meaning of the same set of facts. And from those judgments, two opposite courses of action will follow. Given your assessment, we should immediately retreat and let the country go back into a tyranny or anarchy. Likewise, you believe the common Iraqi would have been better off had the US not invaded. And finally, you believe there was never any intention on the part of the United States to create anything other than a vassal state to be used for our national client-corporation’s benefit.
Again, I do not believe your perspective is an accurate assessment of the United States’ motivation in our intervention. I believe there is still enough Godliness in the spirit of the people of the United States that the perspective driving our involvement is one of establishing freedom and righteous rule of law for the people of Iraq. There may be people and factions in the government and military who have selfish and unrighteous motivations, but I believe the spirit that still operates in this country is one of Godly Righteous relationship with our fellow man. Sadly, I fear that someday our heritage of Godliness will have spent itself and the base motivations you currently attribute to America will be truly manifest as we slide into the pit of the secular humanist world of individual godhood.
There are many perspectives and criteria by which we could evaluate the success and validity of the Iraq War. One important consideration is, “Are the Iraqis were better off under a tyrant?” You have in essence stated that the "100,000 civilian Iraqis killed" in the war were better off alive under tyranny than dead. In simply declaring that 100,000 civilians have died in the war you imply that the cost was too high, the benefits were too low, and thus the cost of that many civilians dying did not justify the gains of the reorganization of power. Some of the following are possibilities as to why you have made this judgment may be as follows:
· The war to free them went tragically wrong out of incompetence, and the Iraqi lives were wasted out of careless disregard for life when more tight control of aim and target could have prevented this lost life. The implication is one of an uncaring and unfeeling spirit driving the military leadership and the government. In turn this implies a depraved attitude of personal superiority over poor, brown skinned, wrong-religion humanity. We hold the lives of such people as insignificant tokens that we use to of manipulate the world for our personal/group benefit.
· Those who initiated and led the war effort never intended to free the Iraqi population, prevent an imminent attack, or neutralize a key player in the Muslim cabal to intimidate the global community through terror. Rather, the motivation of the government/military/corporations was self-serving. The driving force behind the intervention was simply and solely the maintenance and preservation of the oil supply to lubricate the wheels of American industry, and insure corporate profits.
· The motivation of the leaders who generated this intervention may have been to generate a terrorist act of our own of such great violence that the world would tremble and submit to our will.
Your conspiratorial attitude toward the United States, the Bush Administration, and Big Business can be justified by choosing certain facts, testimony, and people to characterize the entirety of the intervention. I do not believe your assessment accurately reflects the larger spirit of America and her leaders. I believe you have focused on a subset of data, and listened with believing ears to the priests of the “Conspiracy Religion”, and have become a True Believer yourself.
Granted that conspiracies do exist; and granted that there may be elements of the American military-industrial complex conspiracy operating as you believe. But piecing together random bits of evidence does not prove the extent or efficacy of that conspiracy. Given the covert nature of conspiracies, there are only fragments of evidence available to support their existence. The remaining gaps in knowledge must be filled with conjecture and faith to reveal the full nature of the conspiracy.
Note the essential and central place of faith in successfully creating a fully described conspiracy. The belief in conspiracies requires faith, and as such believing in conspiracies takes on some of the elements of a religion. This is not to say that any given conspiracy is false, rather it is a note of caution to recognize that the same religious mania that blinds so many to a deeper exploration of the truth can be operative in the mind/heart of a person who has been possessed by the “Conspiracy Religion.”
A person who has not filled his heart with a consciously chosen Spiritual worldview is especially susceptible to the seduction by a False Religion, since a relationship with God is unavoidable. The creator-creation relationship is as unbreakable and inherent as the parent-child bond. It matters not whether the parent is known or not, the heart has a space that can only be filled by the relationship with a true parent. Other relationships can simulate and approximately satisfy that relationship, but none but the authentic/true-parent can fill that place in the heart. The same is true with our need for relationship with God. It is not something we must create – it exists; the only question is who will occupy that space.
So should we have gone to war? Should we have left Saddam in control and allowed him to continue to keep the peace and prosperity in his own way? He certainly did keep law and order. His accomplishment in this sense was laudable; the disparate religious groups composing the population and regions of Iraq have no affinity for each other and he was able to prevent war between these groups. Likewise, he kept the powerful fanatic forces of Fundamental Islam at bay by allowing Islam only limited influence in his governmental system.
But his ability to keep Islam from dominating the political-legal structure, and his law enforcement abilities had little to do with his skill in meeting the needs of the citizens and inspiring their peaceful and law abiding natures. Fear and the threat of brutal consequences have a very pacifying effect on a helpless population.
America has not been the cause of the 1000’s of civilians and military dead “since the ‘Mission Accomplished’ end of major hostilities.” The violence was perpetrated by the religious zealots and chauvinists who are willing to sacrifice their own lives to purposefully and maliciously harm civilians and military in the service of their god. Blaming the civilian casualties and terrorism taking place in Iraq now on America is remarkable in its error; it is difficult for me to take this comment seriously. You realize that it is Iraqis, Syrians, Iranians, etc, that are blowing up themselves and their countrymen, in an effort to not let a new regime take control. The character and methods used by such people are so egregious that we, as a righteous and liberating country, cannot leave and in effect transfer power to the militant insurgents. At this point, we cannot leave until we have transferred sufficient firepower and training to the “more righteous” elements of their society. And yes, we are doing a good and Godly service to the people of that country as we continue in our attempt to install a representative democracy based somewhat on our image. An Islam-based state will be inherently inferior in its execution to one based on Christian principles. But, such a transition may be a step toward the freedom offered in Christ compared to the tyranny of a brutal dictator.
Tyrants are uniquely positioned to perpetuate their rule, and Saddam followed the normal pattern of maintaining his regime by random acts of terror and intimidation, as he would have most likely done for many more years. But, even though he diminished the quality of life of his people, we could argue that his local tyranny and the pain of his people were not sufficiently important considerations to invade his country and depose him. We could argue that he was not a threat to us; therefore intervention was not important to our survival. We could note that we were instrumental in installing him as a leader in the days of the Iranian revolution of the early 1980’s; therefore we have compromised our moral authority to judge him. An accuser could declare that we were the irritant that pushed Saddam into his various acts of brutality and deprivation of his own people because of our onerous restrictions on his trade after the 1990 Gulf War. Likewise, we could engage in USA bashing for the duplicitous messages of approval prior to Iraq's invasion of Kuwait.
All these considerations of past error may have some merit, in that we should look at our history of foreign intervention and learn from our mistakes. Regardless of the past errors, they do not condemn us to a future of impotence and forced removal from participation in the rectification of current situations. We have the moral authority to intervene in world situations as long as our current state of mind and heart is pure and Godly. This of course is the question we must answer individually and as a society, “Do we truly know the will of God?”
The Left will declare that we have combined Church and State in even asking the question about God’s will for our nation’s intervention in foreign affairs. But, the fact is that regardless of the action taken (foreign or domestic), we have acted out of a moral structure, a construct of belief about good/evil, right/wrong, and good/better/best. The secular humanist has simply disguised his belief in the “god of man” as a philosophical structure that does not include any consideration of God’s will. Therefore, being theologically neutral, secular humanist considerations have the only belief structures that can be properly considered in the public debate. But, in fact, the Secular Humanist arguments are simply another religious system, a belief structure that requires faith to support its tenets. Man is god in that religious system, and his own considerations, logic, feelings, and beliefs about the natural order of the creation underlie the justification for all actions taken individually or within the group.
I believe God desires every people to be free to follow and adhere to His Law. I believe God feels the pain of every human and feels the hurt associated with every violation of His will and way. I believe God wants every person on the planet to live in a state of perfected Sonship, as was first modeled by Jesus in His walk on earth. But, we are His hands extended, and He has given us the charge to spread his word to all people. If the God of the Bible is the True God, and if His word is true, then we are to spread the good news to all people. And yes, to go and proselytize the people of a foreign country is an invasion on the most intimate level. But if our God is true, then we have every right, and even the mandate, to share the Gospel (good news) with all people. This is not the equivalent of converting people by force, as has been done by the Islamic crusades. Rather, our Christian invasion of every nation is a one to one winning hearts by the love and freedom offered by Jesus.
The common argument against such a missionary intervention is that all the other religions believe they are the True Way also. So, what right do we have to impose our religion upon them? The answer is, that we are not imposing our religion, we are going as missionaries, giving them the option to become Christians, have a new hope, see a new pattern of possible behavior and meaning in life. Certainly, just because they believe their way is right does not trump or invalidate our right to spread the Gospel of Christ to them. Certainly, they have no consideration about invading our space, propagating their gospel to our people, and attempting to change the fundamental philosophical foundation of our country to operate based on their moral system.
This is a world at war. The various spiritual forces associated with every belief structure use their followers as proxies in an attempt to dominate the world for their advancement and rule. As a secular humanist nation, attempting to honor every spiritual tradition equally, making no value judgments about any, we have made ourselves totally vulnerable to complete domination by every rogue spirit that seeks to enter our space. The new age/humanist doctrine of tolerance has made us totally susceptible to violation and overthrow. We have embraced error in our philosophical system, and it will allow every virulent spiritual pathogen to incubate in the spirit of our nation. We will comply like sheep being led to slaughter with the forces of darkness who wish us ill and desire to subjugate us as slaves in the ever expanding Satanic Kingdom.
You question whether we have the moral authority to intervene with force against a nation when we have been imperfect in our moral character. Yes, we have not only the authority, we have the obligation. It will take many years for us to accomplish our goal, and we may make some errors in the execution, and we may have even judged the priority of this intervention improperly. But, regardless, if our purpose and goal is the advancement of the Kingdom of God for Christ on this earth, all our errors of execution will be turned into benefits and victories eventually. Yes, there is a benefit to liberating a society from the clutches of a tyrant by force. Our major error has been in avoiding dedicating this effort to bringing Christ to the people of Iraq.
Iraq is currently in a state of random violence, terrorism, and guerrilla war. Such are the tools used by those who have little hope of overthrowing a vastly superior military power. These terrorist acts of violence cannot overwhelm us or destroy our capacity to make war, thus defeat can only come to our forces if we lose heart and voluntarily retreat. If we lose our commitment and refuse to endure any more sacrifice (i.e. for the oil we supposedly entered to war to control, or for the freedom we want to give the people), we would then just leave.
The media’s role in the war for men’s hearts is the central tool of battle as it biases the meaning of the various military actions and violent events. We are strengthened in our resolve when we know that our struggle is an expression of our commitment to victory for God and the eternal benefit associated with expanding His Kingdom. When the events of war are framed in such terms the Christian soldiers and servants of righteousness are willing to bear any burden, for as long as necessary to accomplish His purposes. It adds a huge psychic burden to our enemies when they know that their opponents will bear any burden and never retreat.
Ultimately every battle is a test of will, a question of whether continuing to sacrifice even in the face of superior numbers and firepower is worthy of resisting domination to the end. When the enemy realizes that no measure of sacrifice will be sufficient to resist the ultimate outcome of defeat, their resolve to continue weakens. The psychic burden of knowing for certain that all effort will end in defeat is the trump card in the battle armaments. No sacrifice is valuable if defeat is certain. The valor of the futile gesture has little luster. Thus as a nation we should use our press to mobilize American opinion to support our efforts for victory.
We truly are involved in a battle against evil, and our sacrifice does have eternal significance. A press which minimizes our efforts, or impugns our true motives as selfish, political, or profitable diminishes the very soul of our struggle. Any such media organ is a traitor to the cause of Godliness and the Kingdom and deserves to be exposed as a Fifth Column insurgent for Satan. The media should expose our errors of omission and commission against perfected righteousness. But the purpose of the exposé should be to purify our presentation, not to urge withdrawal because of our compromised moral posture.
I believe it is the mission/goal/commitment/heart of the US to create a society governed by Godly order and establish the various social and physical infrastructures needed to build a stable society. We are building schools, power stations, roads, communications systems etc. Yes, we will receive benefits on many levels, such as oil, natural resources, corporate profits, personal rewards, and political acclaim in return for our efforts to bring Iraq into the world of free, civil, prosperous, and trading nations. Opening a Stock Exchange where people can trade value is an extremely important part of an organic society, but the dream of such an entrepreneur's paradise will not be realized until the violence has ceased. We need not apologize for profiting from Iraq’s transformation. Personal and corporation benefits will inevitably accrue in the transition from an autocracy to a free market.
Opponents to the Iraq war imply that corporate & personal profit was the only, or major reason we engaged this battle. The fact is that benefits will naturally accrue to various governmental, corporate, and personal centers when a thriving free economy rises from the ashes of a totalitarian regime. It appears that the War critics are intent upon using every available event to slander and impugn the motives of the US and its leaders. The Left is attempting to convince the majority of America that our effort and motive in Iraq is ignoble. They seek to minimize the war effort to the level of a nation simply engaging in aggression to produce benefit for their selfish interests of a few corporations and individual. They try to prove by endless slanted stories, emphasizing the frailties, failings, and smallness of men that our effort in its essence is depraved, small, and unGodly. By removing the hope of a noble victory, a battle worthy of eternal glory and honor, they seek to sour the common man and the intelligencia leadership in their resolve and motivation to fight on for the good cause. If the Left were right, that our motives for invading and liberating Iraq was purely personal revenge, corporate profits, and national selfishness, then we should abruptly cease our efforts and leave. We each recognize the inherent inequity in the sacrifice of millions for the selfish gratification of a few. In actuality, this is exactly the situation from which we liberated the citizens of Iraq.
Those who oppose our involvement use the potential for corporate profits as data and factual-proof of their thesis of a wag-the-dog motivation driving our intervention in Iraq. Every piece of data, regardless of how hopeful, is framed as insignificant, irrelevant, or inaccurate. No hope or value can be seen or implied by any events transpiring in Iraq by the committed opponent to the War. The entire framework is one of pessimism. The preconceived conclusion is that the war is wrong; therefore all events are seen as evidence of the error of involvement.
The insurgents in Iraq and those who give them comfort oppose the institution of an orderly society under a new regime. The current guerrilla, suicide-bomber, and terrorist-remote controlled war is clearly being waged to resist a transition of control. Since there is resistance to this power-transfer, a peaceful transition to a more free and democratic social order is not possible. Such resistance is the normal passageway that societies must normally transit to move away from tyranny. Those who benefited from the perks of an autocratic regime are reluctant to relinquish that control, and may do so only after a great struggle. Power is a drug of sorts, and those who use it become intoxicated and possessed by its use. Likewise, those who worship a different god, and believe their struggle is an expression of divine command will resist with an almost endless measure of devotion and sacrifice. We truly do find ourselves in the midst of a struggle between spiritual powers, thrones, and principalities. And as Christian soldiers, there is no substitute for victory.
Freedom is not free because of the eternal pressure we face from the spiritual forces that seek to enslave us. The spiritual forces translate into temptations, thoughts, and passions that drive the human psyche to control people and situations. The habit to control can develop by the following sequence:
Being hurt in a circumstance.
Seeing that one's survival and comfort threatened by circumstances that cause pain.
Noting that a response is required to prevent the recurrence of pain from similar circumstances.
Developing the habit of action and commitment to control the environment and thereby deflect threats and preemptively neutralize potential aggressors.
Confirming and maintaining these controlling behaviors to insure survival, minimize pain, and maximize pleasure.
Control is therefore a highly valued trait in the human psyche. Even the feeblest of mind and heart will naturally be drawn toward controlling himself, others, and the environment. The weak will use tactics such as codependence and passive aggressive behaviors to manipulate their stronger neighbors. The more intelligent and strong person will use force, deceit, and dependence as elements to implement control. The evil intelligent person who rises to the top of the chain of authority and enforcement can place a whole society under his control by leveraging the machinery of government, economy, religion, and social structure to bend individuals to comply with his will.
Even the incremental release of a people from tyranny will produce an improvement in the life experience, but the human heart cries for perfection. Seeing and feeling a little bit of freedom in one’s life stimulates the hunger in the heart for more. Every human on the planet struggles against the temptation to dominate and the pressure of domination in their lives. For example, the “War on Terror” has opened a new opportunity for those who wish to control. Laws and enforcement are required to regulate the behavior of those who wish to violate the space of other innocent and good citizens. But, another layer of force opens the opportunity for yet another petty kingdom to establish an abusive rule. We wrestle continually to balance the need for law and force against the need to suppress the violent passions of the souls that would disturb our peace and restrict our freedom of movement.
Japan was once under the absolute sway of their Emperor, and centuries of submission to the group taught them the habits of subservience. Their religion of emperor worship gave a fanatical courage to millions of Japanese warriors as they fought to execute the order of their Emperor god to expand their borders and dominate the Pacific. The willingness of the USA to combat this maniacal evil halted the spread of this theocratic autocracy. But, the liberation of Japan from their emperor was only the first step in freeing their hearts. The healing of the Japanese psyche continues to this day. Clearly, the citizens of Japan have shown their willingness to participate in the commerce of ordinary mortals. But, they still have remnants of a caste system that keeps women in a place of strong subservient status. Thus, while the transformation of Japan has moved forward, the journey is incomplete.
It would be wonderful to generalize Japan’s success story toward freedom. But, the road away from tyranny is unique for each person and each culture. Japan has not yet become a Christian culture, but their movement in the direction of the freedom available in Christ makes their progress laudable. It is just such movement we hope to see in the case of the Islam dominated Mid East. In Japan's case, it was easier to break the spell of their false god. They only needed to see that the emperor was human. Absolutely and irrevocably convincing a person that his object of worship is not divine allows him to let go of his worship and blind obedience to his will.
Islam likewise places its followers under absolute slavery to its precepts. To free them from their god and Sharia law they must come to believe that these precepts and its god are flawed. Simply showing them the hope, history, and freedom of Christianity can be sufficient to move the hearts of many away from the single-option theology that enslaved them.
Ideally this transformation will come simply by the transformation of hearts. Ideally the information highways between East and West are sufficiently broad to allow the teachings of Christ to penetrate the lands of the Star and Crescent. But sadly, this may not be the case. We have been woefully inadequate in our influence of the Islamic nations for Christ, while they have maintained a steady pressure and effort to overtake our nation and culture. As such, we should give ourselves complete moral release to respond to the threat we face from the immigration of moderate Islam, and the violence of Radical Islam. We must execute an appropriate response to the overt military attack of an invading army, the long slow invasion of immigration, and the terrorist attacks that are meant to destabilize and bring harm to our civilization.
The confrontation between Islam and Christianity began with the struggle between Jacob and Ishmael, and it has never been settled. This is a reflection of the archetypal struggle in the heavens; one set up by God to illuminate the principles and forces operating in life. The struggle of mankind throughout history has been against tyranny/slavery, and one of the most fundamental examples of this struggle is the battle for the hearts of man represented by these two pillars of faith.
Our efforts to democratize Iraq have removed one layer of tyrannical control from the people. But, it will not produce true liberation of the individual hearts of the Iraqis to function autonomously. Our efforts to free Iraq have missed the mark because we are fighting the wrong enemy and using the wrong tools of warfare. To fight the real battle we must engage in the fight to free the Iraqis from their submission to an oppressive god. Their religion continues to place a heavy yoke of bondage upon them, not entirely different than the tyranny of a strongman. Their way of framing life will continue to cause them to put on unnecessary restrictions of behavior, thought, and speech. They will not choose to establish a governmental/social system that allows them to be truly free.
True freedom, both in America and Iraq, will only come when the Christian system of moral justice is deeply instituted into the hearts of man. Not that any Christian, or any Church, or any human creed fully and accurately captures the full and true spirit of Christianity. Rather, I refer to the perfect Spirit of Christ that is available to every person to guide his heart.
The Islamic system does not nourish a free flow of movement and information. The Islamic-Sharia system demands conversion to their ideology, and severe penalties enforce the maintenance of its thought-system. It is a type of mental slavery that restricts its adherents from even considering the alternatives. Such a mind-control, closed exit-door religion such as Islam could produce an orderly society, free from lawlessness and crime. But, the price of such peace would be obtained at the price of the total oppression of free will. The orderliness, regulation, and unity of the Islamic society are pale reflections of the perfect society that can come from the full and proper implementation of the Christian system.
In a mature Christian nation, the full flower of freedom blooms. All perspectives can be considered in such a free society (e.g. Mohammed, Buddha, Krishna, etc.) and after deep comparison the honest seeker will see the superiority of the Christian perspective. All the opportunities for personal and public sin are available in a Christian society, but the mature Christian chooses to only act out those options that are consistent with the patterns of Godliness.
The ordered and peaceful society must necessarily be subject to a moral code. The ultimate question is: “What is the necessary minimal set of restraints, rules, and laws that are required to produce this perfected social order?”
I believe God desires us to live in His freedom, which is the liberty found in Christ. There are sets of moral codes that Christianity advocates, and this is the set of “True” Laws, the minimal set that none of us are truly free to violate. We can all violate the laws of nature, or at least for a moment, but the consequences of that violation will soon arise to punish our errant ways.
To the extent we choose to follow these inherent laws, we are free, much as we are free to drive the roads and byways of America as long as we stay on the pavement. We can attempt to violate the restrictions of the pavement by carving our own path through the canyons, rivers, and cliffs, but we will usually find that such excursions from the ways of Law produce damage, and all subsequent movement is achieved only at great effort. The pathways available to those who follow the Ways of God provide for a more consistent freedom than those offered by the mind of man. God’s paths allow us to move through life with the minimum of pain and effort.
The Middle East has been infected and possessed by the virulent and pernicious religious system of Militant Islam. Circumstance was not kind to these peoples, having been subjected to the excessively restrictive regulations of their religious system and the mandate to take over the world by force. But their self-oppression and violence is a fact and their ambitions of world conquest have made it impossible for us to ignore their errors of philosophy.
But, rather than arming ourselves and engaging in a proper strategy to protect our lives, property, and nation against this invading pathogen, we have neutered our own response in deference to a philosophical virus growing rampant in our own soil. The enemy is the belief system of the new age-humanist. This religion has elevated tolerance and choice to the levels of a premier virtue. Therefore, the concept of combating Militant Islam at its source, by converting them to the Truth with the freedom and life giving words of Christ, is utterly abhorrent.
The New Age-Humanists believe that intervening in the choice of another person’s path to God is sacred. No one should speak in terms of “right or wrong” when commenting on the belief structures of another person. (The only exception is of course that Christians should be converted into being secular humanists because Christians are judgmental.) This prohibition against intervention in the spiritual path of another is justified because the New Age-Humanist believes that all spiritual paths lead to God, whether after this life, or as the result of many lives. Thus, there is really no urgency or reason for us to convert or confront anyone, and no need to argue or defend one’s belief system.
The New Age-Humanists argue that Christianity cannot be true because one of its precepts holds that everyone is going to hell except Christians. They also criticize Christianity for its mandate to share their faith with the world. These Christian precepts show that it is an intolerant faith. (Interestingly, Islam, which is willing to convert whole nations at the point of a sword, is not held in approbation even though its behavior and belief system is truly intolerant.) This violation of the highest New Age Humanist ethic of tolerance places Christians in the category of being worthy of discrimination and public mockery.
Opponents to Christianity argue that it is an unjust religion because people who have no knowledge of Christianity will be punished even though they have never heard of the teachings of Christ. The most common example used is the pygmies burning in hell because they did not accept Jesus as their Lord. Christianity could likewise place the populations of entire continents under condemnation because they have come under the influence of false religions. Millions have lived their entire lives from birth to death with little or no exposure to any other thought pattern besides Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, or any number of minor gurus and prophets. Still others were deeply indoctrinated in patterns of atheism, earth worship, or the mystical arts as children, and simply followed the paths they were directed in. Many, if not most of these hapless victims of their birthplace/time would seemingly be sentenced to hell and unquenchable fire for eternity if in fact the typical denominational teachings of Christianity are true.
Thus, the validity of Christianity is placed in question because this religious system believes that punishment is given to people who had no conscious violation, no knowledge of the law, and no data that would allow them to come to an independent derivation of these principles in isolation.
Even though commonly raised objections to Christian doctrine, these are faulty conceptions about Christianity. Paul spoke in the New Testament about unbelievers. He made it clear that every man is aware of God, and it is the rebellion against the truth that is known and manifest to him that is punishable.
Romans 1:18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, 19 because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. 20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, 21 because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Professing to be wise, they became fools, 23 and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man; and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things.
The issue of salvation and its relationship to Jesus was clearly stated by Jesus Himself:
John 14:5 Thomas said to Him, "Lord, we do not know where You are going, and how can we know the way?" 6 Jesus said to him, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. 7 "If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; and from now on you know Him and have seen Him."
In other words, the person who follows another religion may do good works, but he will not see the Father. The sincere adherents of other religions will not be able to come into the most sacred and intimate relationship with God. The lack of authorization to enter into the place of ultimate reward and fellowship with the Most High is by comparison a time in Hell.
Mark 9:49 "For everyone will be seasoned with fire, and every sacrifice will be seasoned with salt."
Because we have sinned, we are worthy of death and hell. But, God has given us a way of compensating for our sin, by repenting and accepting the sacrifice of Jesus we can each maintain our relationship with God without suffering the extreme consequences we deserve by Law. Thus, the person who has given his heart and mind to the service and way of the Lord, and accepted his way of atonement, can escape the largest portion of the chastening. Still, everyone will be seasoned by fire. Our spirit was saved by grace, but our soul/character and faith are imperfect. The question remains, what is the process of this final purification prior to entering into eternity?
I believe the seasoning with fire will be less if we have kept short accounts. If we have confessed, repented, and purposed in our hearts to discontinue our violations, we will have little that is not covered by the mercy of God and the blood of the lamb. On the other hand, the man who commits crimes and knows he is violating nature’s laws while acting against his inner guidance will be fully responsible for his trespasses. Such a person will probably receive a more severe and separated punishment. And while this concept of personal atonement and cleansing by fire has a distinct ring of salvation by works and a purgatorial purification, there is nevertheless a hint of Biblical justification for hypothesizing a time of cleansing. The Spirit is saved by faith, the salvation of the soul is "worked out by fear and trembling."
As Christians we have been washed in the blood of the lamb, and our spirit saved by grace. This does not give us license to choose sin and then wash ourselves repeatedly; rather, it is a covenant we make with our Savior to walk in His way. The new birth is an opportunity to embrace a new spirit that leads us in the way of patience, temperance, kindness, peace, and Godliness instead of following man’s inborn spirit driven by pride and lust.
Even so, man is in a continual and ongoing process of renewing his soul and becoming like Christ the perfected man, throughout his life. And, being realistic, man will continue to sin even though he has made an alliance with the Holy Spirit within. As a result, there will be sins that we have not yet been confessed and habits of sin that we have not overcome prior to death. We may continue in these sins because of ignorance or habit, but all sin must be cleansed from our soul before we can enter into the most holy inner sanctum with the perfected Father.
No amount of good works can justify us and commute the death sentence we received after committing our first sin. Every sin places in violation of the Law deserves death regardless of when it was committed in our life. No guru, avatar, teacher, or holy man can function as our advocate before the Father. Only perfection can enter before the most Holy throne, and only the Son, the Christ who was sacrificed on the tree for the sins of the world can function as our advocate. Christ paid the debt in full when he took the punishment in His body on our behalf. Those who have not embraced Jesus as their Lord will not have Him available as their advocate to plead their case to the Father. As a result, they may be held outside in the darkness outside, separated from the Most Holy Father God.
Ephesians 4:10 He who descended is also the One who ascended far above all the heavens, that He might fill all things.) 11 And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers,
12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, 13 till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; 14 that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, 15 but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head; Christ; 16 from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.
If all will come to the unity of the faith, how much time must pass to pay the debt for those who have not accepted the gift of Christ’s redemption? Of course we don’t know the answer. This concept of all eventually coming together in the unity of Christ is not a conventionally held Christian doctrine. But, as a hypothetical concept we can examine its potential validity. The Bible mentions an age of salting with fire which could imply an eventual payment of the debt, and it mentions a coming together to the unity of the faith. The Bible mentions being thrown into hell for eternity, but the Greek word aeonos (the word translated to mean eternity) could also be translated to mean age-lasting.
Thus, just as on earth we pay a debt for violating the property or person of our neighbor by spending time in prison, this same principle of a time of punishment for those who are rebellious, or who had no advocate or benefactor, could apply in God’s system of justice. Those who argue against such a system might say that the rebel would choose to live a life of flesh pleasure, and then simply pay his dues in hell, and then spend the rest of eternity in Heaven. While such a viewpoint may be true as a possibility, but the pleasure of the flesh on earth would probably in no way be adequate compensation for the experience of one moment in Hell.
The real consideration is whether a man has given his heart to God. The question is not “what we can get away with on earth”; the question is how much he resonates with God’s way, His heart, and His spirit. The violation of the soul suffered by sin simply misshapes the spiritual anatomy and makes man non-resonant with the perfect God. The ages of suffering under the forces of Hell may melt and burn away the imperfection of the soul. The resultant man, entering into Heaven would be more akin to the child, rather than the spiritually mature adult that he could have been by honing himself his entire life to oppose the temptations and schemes of the devil. God loves every soul, and He desires that none be lost. But, because we have free will, we can choose to avoid acting out God's best plan for our lives. The resultant damage to our soul can result in very unpleasant consequences. Truly, "They know not what they do." An age of purification allows for even the most reprobate to restore fellowship, but the punishment and reshaping of the soul are so severe that all should avoid such a path. And no, buying indulgences will be of no effect.
The development of wisdom and strength of commitment in the way of the Lord will produce eternal fruit. Not just in the sense of crowns, but in the sense of character and position and ability in the Kingdom. Truly, the time on earth should not be wasted on ineffective devotions. The issue is not just “getting into Heaven”, or “getting out of Hell”. The issue is fellowship. We should share our faith with our fellow man to edify his soul as an expression of God’s desire to fill up His house in Heaven with as many as who will come.
This entire play on earth is not about God being entertained, catching whoever He can in sin so He can pull off the violators legs and wings like a bug under a microscope. The purpose was to create a world that will satisfy God’s own criteria for a world that will be meaningful and sustainable. After all, He created the universe out of nothing. There must be rules and criteria that He must follow to create and sustain the universe.
In this hypothesis, we may start to see how we can satisfy the considerations raised by those who doubt God’s mercy and justice. Of course God’s plan may be different than our own concepts, but as humans we expect that all things must follow logically, causally, and sequentially. Everything in the creation proceeds sequentially under the rule of law. Any concept that does not include these parameters of sequence and rule cannot be validated as true. Thus, in an attempt to validate the claims of Christianity, the above hypothesis of eventual restoration into the family has been proposed. Various scriptures hint at its validity, but it cannot be said to be the major theme of Biblical text. As a hidden theme it allows God to emphasize the grace available through Christ's sacrifice, and still allow the sinner eventual release from debtor's prison. To emphasize this pathway would have given courage to those who wished to violate the Law. The major themes were made strong, and the minor caveats were given small presence.
God makes and follows His own Law to maintain the integrity and structure of His universe. To violate His Law would place the foundation of the entire universe in jeopardy. Jehovah established a covenant with Abraham, and in those days, the concept of covenant was recognized as sacred. Establishing covenant was the equivalent to committing to destroy oneself. God is committed to relationship with Abraham, but the terms of the covenant must be met. Man’s sinful (missing the mark of God’s perfected way) behavior is the equivalent of violating the covenant. Thus, fellowship is disturbed by man’s choice, while God remains faithful, calling us to return.
The perfection of God the Father does not allow fellowship with sinful man. Thus, to purify man to restore fellowship, man must either pay his debt associated with his violation, or another on our behalf may pay the debt. Jesus' sacrificial death on the cross paid that debt. But, we must accept and appropriate that sacrifice on our behalf for it to be applied to our account. This is the “work” that we humans must do, submit our will to God’s will, recognize we are insufficient on our own, incapable of saving ourselves, unworthy of fellowship with the most Holy. But the point of that bowing was simply to make the transition from people unrelated and independent to people who could actually participate in and keep a covenant fellowship.
God neither created a world where everyone acted good nor one where all were informed at birth about Jesus’ sacrifice and the way to redemption. Instead, He created a world where both good and evil walk side by side, each one tempting our hearts to follow their voice. As a result we walk lives where we must learn to mature our souls, and learn the Way of the Lord by meditation, study, and experience. The process of life teaches us what works by pain and experience. While there is no possibility of walking the path of life without bumps, we can minimize our pain by studying His Word, the words of the Law, Prophets, Gospels, and Apostles of Christ. With those words in our hearts we can more easily walk the straight and narrow path of the Holy Spirit led life. His words resonate with the Biblical text, and our mind can use the metaphors of scripture to give us clues and directions in properly choosing the paths of life.
A Free-Will universe must offer us the choice of multiple options in each moment. And, a world where the primary choice is to follow God’s way or not, we must have the possibility of choosing error and disobedience. A world with only one choice, to love and follow God’s laws, has no degrees of freedom. Thus, God designed the primary choices as a tension between the flesh-driven, self-oriented, pride-directed choice opposing a Godly and service-directed choice. God desires our love, but He desires it be given freely, out of volitional choice and reverent appreciation for His work and a desire for fellowship. Evil is the choice opposing God’s Way, and it leads to death; God’s way leads to life.
Thus, because of God’s design, evil exists alongside of good, and there is only one perfect way/action that can proceed out of any moment. A near infinite number of suboptimal choices compete for our attention and execution. The random collisions of life bring some fame and fortune, and some come into the Kingdom of God easily by virtue of their birth, genetics, and rearing. Likewise, random circumstances result in some having lives which bow at the foot of the cross from birth, throughout their life journey, and to its end. And, while there is no true culpability associated with the circumstances of one’s birth, each of us has the opportunity to choose to acknowledge and follow the voice of the Holy Spirit within. God’s justice will provide for a proper judgment of each as is appropriate for his circumstances.
Some are blessed with good fortune, but with that blessing comes a responsibility to help spread the Good News. Knowing the truth is a gift, and it is this knowledge that motivates us to rescue those who are perishing for lack of knowledge. We are all called to confront and rectify the minds of those who are caught in the great currents leading to destruction. It is the knowledge that we have the truth in our grasp and in our hearts that authorizes and inspires us to intervene as missionaries and soldiers.
As part of our battlefield strategy in Iraq, we should be informing the population of the precepts and promises of Christ. We should be attempting to clarify the relationship of Christianity to Islam. As people who worship the True God, we should not be timid about presenting the gospel to our enemies. We should not be trying to fight them to dominate them for our own gain. Rather, it is our duty as Americans to spread the Word throughout the whole world. It is not necessary to militarily conquer most nations, it is only necessary to transmit the knowledge that sets them free from their errors.
In the case of states under the rule of a despot we face a dilemma: 1) Do we leave the tyrants of the world in power to use and abuse their populations? Or, 2) Do we intervene in various ways to ease the suffering of the masses? Even as the world’s only superpower, we don't have the resources to be the world's liberator using military solutions. Thus, we may be forced into the recognition of our inability to produce a military mediated Pax Americana.
This realization of our own inability to truly make the world safe for democracy should inspire us to pursue the course of changing the hearts and minds of our world neighbors to Christ. But, if we are to be effective as a Christian Expeditionary force we must first be a good witness of the character of Christ in our internal affairs and external relationships.
We should be ready to defend the Christian worldview so as to remove the intellectual impediments to adopting the faith. But, reason will always be incomplete, and hence the need for faith to bridge the gap between our questions and the cause and effect processes that take place on the unseen levels. The intellectual hurdle is actually only the first, and the less important of the two barriers. The second is the commitment of one’s heart to discipline the flesh to follow God’s way. Regardless of our intent, we all make a choice to follow the voice of the flesh-man inside or the Holy Spirit. We are never delaying the day when we choose a spiritual allegiance; we have by the mere fact of our delay made a choice. The entire process of life direction and purpose simplifies when we are able to identify and name the larger body of choices associated with our spiritual allegiance. Rather than simply learning lessons in isolation, recognize that God has already given us the full map of our faith. The easiest way to read and navigate the terrain is to simply give Jesus the Lordship of our lives. When we have clarified and committed our goal to manifesting His will, we are on the road to creating a life of optimum results and pleasure, both on earth and in eternity.
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