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Discerning the Times . . . and the Wars (An Open Letter to a Friend)
Jan 4, 2012
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Dear H.,

War, war propaganda, foreign policy, peace, military invasions – these are important issues. Important enough to re-appear with every election campaign. We have economic recession at home, we have our liberties destroyed right in front of our eyes, we have the very laws the politicians have vowed to obey trampled in front of our eyes. But if you listen to the media pundits and the political establishment, these are minor issues. What’s happening at home is not that important; what’s happening across the globe, in a nation that can’t produce enough electricity and gasoline for half of its population, is way more important than anything else.

I am writing to you concerning your comment the other day when we talked about my views on the current war propaganda that is coming from the mainstream media and the politicians of both parties. You said the following:

Personally, I like your writings because you present a more militant form of Christianity, which is what I believe is the ultimate solution to this dilemma.

Well, thank you for your encouragement. Yes, I do present a militant form of Christianity. And yet, with all due respect and appreciating you as a good friend, I am afraid you have misunderstood some of my views.

You believe the threat from Iran is real; and it is very, very important that the United States act aggressively against Iran or against the Muslim world in general. After all, the Muslims have this violent rhetoric – or at least, some of them do. There are many threats coming from the Muslim world, and we know that many of these mullahs, if they had their way, would have reduced America and the West to rubble.

And you are – I sense it very well – puzzled by my response. I have lived on the border of the Muslim world after all, I have been a missionary among Muslims, I should know better, right? And yet, I refuse to participate in the war drums banging; neither am I excited about it. In fact, in the last months I have actively engaged in opposing the war hysteria against Iran. It seems like I am against a war against Islam. The man whose militant writings you like, is now acting like a pacifist? Don’t you believe in the legitimate use of military power against a religion as dangerous as Islam, Bojidar?

I need to explain to you my position and why I believe that as a Christian I – and you too, and all other Christians – must oppose the current war propaganda.

First of all, let me make two things clear:

First, I am not a pacifist. I believe in the righteous use of lethal force, both by individuals and by governments. I believe in Just War; and I do not believe that the definition of Just War coincides with the definition of defensive war. There are just wars that are offensive, and there are defensive wars that are unjust. I believe in the Crusades, or at least the first three of them, and the very idea of them. (This sets me apart from most modern evangelicals who condemn the Crusades but approve the wars of the modern progressive state; I approve of the Crusades but I disapprove of the modern war propaganda.) I do accept the reality that the Muslim world – as with the Communist bloc before – must be kept in check by the sufficient military power of Christendom while at the same time the Christian church sends out missionaries to take it from the inside.

Second, I am a moderate supporter of Israel. Notice I say moderate. I do not believe the modern state of Israel is the Biblical Israel – if it was, I would have been firmly against it, as the prophets and the apostles were. The true Israel is the Christian Church, because Paul said that a true Jew is not one of circumcision of the flesh, but of the heart. Modern Israel is just another European socialist state, much like France or Britain, or Germany. I am against socialism. On the other hand, relatively to the surrounding Muslim nations, Israel – just like the other European nations – has a remnant, a historical memory, as Rushdoony calls it, of Christian social ethics. I do not say Judeo-Christian, it would be a tautology since Christians are the true Jews. Modern Israel is settled by European Jewish people who in history have adopted the Christian ethics of Europe, and still abide by it to a great extent. Relatively to the surrounding Muslim cultures it is superior, and because of that residual Christian ethics – not because of some mythological value modern Evangelicals ascribe to it – I am a moderate supporter of Israel. Israel’s survival as a state is important geostrategically; prophetically, the modern state of Israel has no value whatsoever.

I am not a pacifist, and I am a supporter of Israel. Then how can I not support a war against Islam, knowing very well how dangerous it is?

I will first take you back to the Bible, and then back to the history of Christian Europe. The lessons we can learn from the wars described there will help us discern the times. Discerning the times is important, unless we want to end up on the wrong side of the purpose of God for our generation. Discerning the wars is just as important, unless we want to end up on the wrong side of an enterprise that can kill millions of people for evil purposes. We will see that when it comes to wars, not all that glitters is gold, and not all wars against the bad guys are just wars.

I want you to go with me to that arch-example of a ruler in the Bible who turned a just war into an unjust war – Saul, the King of Israel. The enemy remained the same. Israel remained the same. The commandment of God to wage war against Israel’s enemies remained the same. And yet, something happened, something very insignificant on the surface but very profound and important in God’s eyes that from the very beginning made Saul’s wars detestable in God’s eyes and therefore unjust.

I am talking about the events described in 1 Samuel 13. Saul was preparing to go to war. He was waiting for Samuel to come and offer the burnt offering. Samuel was on his way; it was a holy war, a just war, and God was going to pour His blessing on Saul and Israel. But Samuel didn’t come in the appointed time. Saul then offered the burnt offering himself.

This changed the nature of the war. It wasn’t a just war anymore. The enemy was the same. Israel was the same. God’s plan for Israel was the same. But the war was unjust. What happened?

Saul changed the institutional setting; and thus he changed the institutional goals for the war. A victory now wouldn’t be a victory for God, it would be a victory for Saul. Saul acted outside of God’s established institutional order, and therefore his religious commitment was different. His religious commitment apparently was not to God but to the establishment of his own totalitarian power – especially over the church, but later over the people as well. In this case, the survival of Israel against superior enemy was irrelevant. Israel enslaved to the Philistines, or Israel enslaved to its own king – there wasn’t a single bit of difference. God would rather have Saul lose the war and the kingdom than bless him in his new totalitarian agenda. The Philistines wanted nothing less than the destruction of Israel. And unlike our modern Muslims, the Philistines actually had the means to achieve it (1 Sam. 13:19-22). And yet, God won’t bless Saul in his war against them. The liberty of Israel was more important than the survival of Israel.

Saul’s battles went from bad to worse after that. Even though he won a few of them thanks to the heroism of David and Jonathan, there was no peace in the land. And so disinterested was God in a victory for Saul that later David joined the Philistines in their war against Saul, and God didn’t see any problem with that (1 Sam. 27-29). In fact, in the middle of the worst danger for Israel, God refused to bless Saul in his efforts to preserve Israel. God wasn’t going to support a totalitarian ruler; and even if David joined the other side, against Israel, it was acceptable to God.

No, my friend, I am not suggesting that we today join the enemy against America, far from me such thought. But this story comes to tell us that not all wars that look just on the surface are indeed just. The motivation of the ruler is the key to it. On the surface, the war was against the Philistines. But in reality, the true war was different: it was Saul against the freedom of the People of God.

The other lesson is from history. I mentioned the Crusades above. And we all look at Crusades as a whole; either as something bad or as something good. But very seldom we stop to think that all Crusades were not the same, and that there were differences from one Crusade to another.

My lesson here is taken from the Fourth Crusade.

Now, the idea for the Crusades was good and righteous. Byzantium was in dire straits in 1096 when the First Crusade was launched, with the Muslim hordes reaching the city of Nicaea, just 40 miles from Constantinople. The call of the Byzantine Emperor Alexios I was answered enthusiastically by the population in Western Europe; people of all walks of life went to fight to help their fellow Christians. The Second and the Third Crusade were again committed to dealing with the military threats the Christendom was facing. There was the “People’s Crusade,” the “Princes’ Crusade,” and the “Kings’ Crusade.” Europe, still very small and weak compared to the Muslim world, was nevertheless showing the world that it could fight back. The main battles between the two religions were not going to be in central France, or Spain, or even Sicily anymore. The initiative has shifted, and now the Muslims were getting a taste of their own medicine.

Then, a few years after the battles of Richard the Lion-Hearted in the Third Crusade, another call for a crusade came. But this time it was different. No more people, princes, or kings. The Fourth Crusade was going to be the Merchant-Bankers’ Crusade. That is, commoners, princes, and kings were still going to fight and die. But this time the merchant-bankers were going to make the killing – and that at the expense of other Christians.

The Fourth Crusade started like the previous crusades: A call by Pope Innocent III taken up by French knights. Unlike the previous Crusades, this time it was to be very well organized . . . by the Venetians. The previous Crusades had difficulties assembling enough transports to sail to the Holy Land, and therefore many of them had to travel on land. But three previous crusades had taught the Venetians that there was money to be made of the Crusades. By 1200 the Venetian Arsenal, the first mass-production shipyard in Europe, was finished (started 100 years earlier) and the Venetians were able to supply the promised 50 war galleys and 450 transports. War paid well for the military-industrial complex even back then; and the enterprising Venetians were quick to realize the profit opportunities.

The problem was that when the crusaders’ army assembled, it was only a third of what was expected and contracted. Therefore there wasn’t enough money to pay the Venetians for the ships. The thought that Venetians may need to sacrifice for the cause – as everyone else did – didn’t even cross the mind of their Doge Enrico Dandolo. Blind and 95-year-old, he was still energetic, ambitious, and crafty enough to use the situation to the purposes of the merchant-banker class. He persuaded the Crusaders to ignore the Pope’s ban on attacking other Christian states, and planned to use their military force to settle some accounts.

The rest of the Crusade was an abomination unworthy of the name “crusade.” The Pope’s ban was concealed from the crusaders by their leaders. The first city to be attacked was the Christian city of Zara, a competitor to Venice in the trade in the Mediterranean. The Pope excommunicated the whole army but the leaders did not inform the bulk of the army, and it sailed east. On the way, Dandolo diverted the ships to Constantinople which recently had closed its markets to Venetian merchants. The city fell to the Crusaders on April 12, 1204, and a new Empire was established, the Latin Empire. It immediately started wars against its Christian neighbors, Bulgaria and the residual Greek principalities on the Balkans and in Asia Minor. In the wars that ensued, almost all the military leaders of the Crusade were killed. The Latin Empire survived for only a generation; in the end, the knights and the soldiers lost. The merchant-bankers won. The “crusade” wasn’t a war of Christianity against Islam; it was – like the example of Saul – a war against Christians.

Before anyone imagines that “merchant-bankers” means “Jews” and erupts in anti-Jewish rhetoric, I will say that at the time the merchant-bankers were Venetian and Tuscan, which means of Celtic-German ancestry. The Jews of Italy in fact supported the Pope and the Papal party, the Guelfi. The powerful Pierleoni family of Rome, descendants of the converted Jew Peter Leo, gave the Roman church two popes in earlier centuries, and much support in the wars for the preservation of the independence of the church from the Empire. The Jews in Italy were Murray-Rothbard-Jews rather than Norman-Podhoretz-Jews.

At the end, the worse consequence of the Fourth Crusade was that the authority of the church was severely undermined. (That, of course, in addition to the weakening of the Byzantine Empire and the final victory of Islam and the taking of Constantinople in 1453.) A little over 100 years earlier a simple excommunication made the Holy Roman Emperor Henry IV stand barefoot in the snow at the door of the Pope’s residence at Canossa for 3 days, to get forgiveness. In 1204, the Pope’s excommunication was ignored by the leaders of the Crusade. In 1227, Frederick II of Sicily could speak derisively of the excommunication declared on him by Gregory IX, and even start a military campaign against Rome and the Pope.

Frederick II himself was an indirect product of the Fourth Crusade and its weakening of the power of the church. Declared by modern Marxist and liberal historians to be the first “modern ruler” of Europe, he was, indeed. Every single evil of the modern democratic state was tried by Frederick II. He started government sponsored schools where a form of divinity of the state was taught. He instituted large bureaucracy, government regulations over the economy, and an oath to the state as the new god. (Prior to that, oaths were either to God or to personal sovereigns, never to the state.) He instituted the practice of fiat money (leather coins) and debased the metal coins minted by his government. Even his participation in the Fifth and the Sixth Crusade was not aimed at attacking the Muslims but at securing his authoritarian regime at home. At the end, many Christians and Christian warriors were deceived that they were serving a holy cause; in reality they were serving a power-hungry socialist who had adopted religious language only to muster their support.

We have two lessons now, from the Bible, and from history. And the two lessons tell us this: that the enemies of God will use the rhetoric of a holy war against the enemies of Christianity, only to wage war against Christianity itself. And many of the faithful, blinded and deceived by the rhetoric, will join the enemy to fight against their own, and to help establish a totalitarian dictatorship to the destruction of Christianity and the church at home. But those who discern the times and the wars, will oppose such war, no matter how righteous the propaganda sounds. And if they must oppose it against the madness of the crowd, they will.

This is what we have today: Saul and his quest for a totalitarian state, bankers who diverted a crusade to their own means, and politicians like Frederick II who care nothing about Christianity but have no scruples about using religious language to deceive Christians to join in a war that is not against Islam but against the Western civilization, against its Christian roots and the liberty and prosperity it has produced.

We could have foreseen it as early as the 1980s when a group of former liberals changed their self-identification to “conservatives” but kept their old liberal war-mongering, and also their old liberal big-government and big spending propaganda. (At the time, even the Dispensational Evangelicals believed that America should not involve in any wars, only support Israel financially. Even as late as 1999 it was the liberals who called for war, not conservatives.) These newly-hatched “conservatives” – neo-conservatives they were called derisively – criticized Reagan for his “softness” to the Soviets. But they kept spewing their rhetoric. At the time, conservatives were concerned with defense, not with “spreading democracy” or “national security.” Remember, my friend, that Reagan’s greatest initiative was called Strategic Defense Initiative? But the neocons kept publishing their propaganda posing as conservatives. In the 1990s, after the fall of the Berlin Wall, “spreading democracy” became the fad, and the neocon war-drums banging continued under that slogan. Then, after 9/11, the new sales pitch was “National Security.” (That “security” word sounds scary to every Eastern European. Did you know that KGB meant “Committee for State Security”?) But in addition to the “national security,” they also adopted a special propaganda treat for evangelicals: “Stand with Israel, for the Bible tells us so.” And also, “Islam is the greatest threat to Christianity, they want to destroy the whole world.” Not that any of these neocons are Christians, or care for Christianity, or even read their Bibles. But if the propaganda works, why not use it?

It was that group of liberals who only changed from calling themselves liberals to calling themselves conservatives. But their whole propaganda remained liberal. They found a way to deceive us, the Christians.

And we as Christians bought into it. It’s a holy war, after all, it is against Islam, and Islam hates Christianity, and therefore let’s go to war. We did not stop to question the motives of our rulers. We could have smelled the rat when George W. Bush said that “Islam is a religion of peace.” He wasn’t that much against Islam, after all, as we as Christians thought. Then our troops in Iraq were banned from delivering Bibles to the local populations. Then even American-made guns with Bible verses on them were banned from being sold to the military. Then we saw the self-conscious courting of radical Muslims by our own leaders – to the fact that the new Constitutions of Iraq and Afghanistan are specifically based on Sharia, once again. Then churches were attacked in territories occupied by our troops, and our military was banned from helping the local Christians. But we still keep believing that the war is against Islam.

Even as early as 2001 the war was started at home – before it went abroad. The Patriot Act suspended many of our liberties, and we were silent. We after all could sacrifice some liberty for some more security; isn’t this what the Founding Fathers did after all? “Give me liberty or give me death”? Who can say such a thing? Not a true patriot, for sure. As general as the Patriot Act was, it had some more specific consequences: TSA. Another sacrifice of little liberty for little security. Then TSA expanded its reach – literally, into our pants and under the skirts of our women, and into the clothes of our children. More and more, we had enough evidence to see that the war was not against Islam but against us. Then we couldn’t even complain about TSA anymore; it became a crime deserving arrest. The same neocons were by now “mainstream conservatives,” and they voted for the destruction of our liberties.

Then these same neocons voted for the extension of NDAA; American citizens can now be indefinitely detained in military camps here in the US. Of course, we know, our government will never abuse this dreadful prerogative the neocons created; we know we can trust the government, right? Besides, it was the “conservatives” that voted for that law . . . or, were they really conservatives, or were they the same neocons who were actually liberals under a new guise?

And who profits from the war-mongering, dear H.? Isn’t it the same Wall Street that over the last century profited from the expansion of the money supply, an act that you know very well is against the Biblical prohibition against fake money?

Even if we suppose that there is a real threat from Iran – which there isn’t, as so many intelligence experts are telling us – tell me, dear H., is it worth it to lose our Christian liberty because we are scared to death of a regime on the other side of the planet? The Founders of these United States, were they more concerned about their security than about their liberty? Is this the legacy we have from the previous generations of Christians: Allow the government to take away our liberties by using scare tactics?

It is obvious – for those that have the eyes to see it, my friend – that this war-mongering in our day is only a tactics of the enemies of Christ against His Church, against Christianity, against the Western civilization. America, with all the evils we have allowed here, remained free longer anyone else in the Western world, still preserving much of its Christian character – if not the theology or the Christian civil government. But it seems that the enemies of Christianity found a way to talk Christians out of their God-given liberty, won by the blood of their Christian forefathers: by scaring them that a nation of stone-age tribesmen at the edge of the planet can destroy the United States. Therefore, Christians, surrender your liberties if you want to survive.

“Live free or die” has been replaced by “Live enslaved or die.” And multitudes of Christians bought into it. Ironically, some of them even adopted the language of “America is the leader of the free world,” while at the same time their own freedom is taken away here in the US.

Dear friend, my call is for you to open your eyes and discern the times . . . and the wars. We are in the midst of a war. But the war is not against Islam; Islam is actually powerless to affect much of this war. The war is between Communism and Christianity, here in America. Multitudes of well-meaning but self-deceived Christians have joined the wrong side. You have too. But we as Christians must join the right side. And the right side in every war which is against Christianity and the Church is . . . Christianity and the Church. We as Christians must oppose the war propaganda of the neocons and call for the restoration of the Biblical Law and its liberty throughout the land. Only then we will be able to look to the enemies across the ocean and conquer them – through the Gospel, not through bombs.

 

Yours faithfully,

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About author

Bojidar Marinov

A Reformed missionary to his native Bulgaria for over 10 years, Bojidar preaches and teaches doctrines of the Reformation and a comprehensive Biblical worldview. Having founded Bulgarian Reformation Ministries in 2001, he and his team have translated over 30,000 pages of Christian literature about the application of the Law of God in every area of man’s life and society, and published those translations online for free. He has been active in the formation of the Libertarian movement in Bulgaria, a co-founder of the Bulgarian Society for Individual Liberty and its first chairman. If you would like Bojidar to speak to your church, homeschool group or other organization, contact him through his website: http://www.bulgarianreformation.org/

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