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What if… September 17, 2006

Posted by fajita in 9/11, Christianity, politics.
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On September 11th, 2001, America was attacked by terrorists. Planes hit the World Trade Center, the Pentegon and another plane crashed. Thousands or Americans were killed. 

The enemy was instantly identified as Al-Qaeda and Osama Bin Laden. So, the president ordered and attack on Afghanistan. In an effort to destroy terrorism, the president ordered a controversial attack on Iraq. Five years later, Americans still fight on those places – two of the most dangerous places on earth.

What do you suppose would have happened if instead of attacking these countries and occupying them, the Unites States turned the other cheek? What if Americans, who were receiving the sympathies of almost the entire world, made a clear statement that we are not about violence, death and murder, but are instead about reconciliation, forgiveness, and love? What if Americans had demanded that our president forgive the aggressors?  

What if we poured our energies into security and defense, but refused to be seduced into an aggressive posture? What if we refused to respond with force?

These are not rhetorical questions. I really want to know what you honestly believe our reality would be now 5 years later had we not attacked back.

I don’t presuppose any answers and I am not looking for anything specific besides what you really believe.

Would not attacking back have been a disaster? Would it have been an opportunity for the world to be impressed by our love? What do you think?

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Comments»

1. Dan - September 17, 2006

I have asked myself this question a lot recently.

The problem with turning the other cheek is that this is an exlusively Jesus idea and those who do not follow Jesus would never let this happen in our nation. Hate, anger and retaliation are the natural reflex of those who do not follow Jesus.

2. andrewtatum - September 17, 2006

My first thought was this: this response would not have been possible. Turning the other cheek, reconciliation, and all these wonderful Gospel things are not possible for the state.

These actions, however, are possible for a community that has been shaped by a common life together in the love and service of Christ and neighbor. The church is not the state and, because of this difference, the american nation cannot even dream of offering such a response as you indicated in an authentic and spirit lead manner. Any attempt to offer such a response would fail because God does not stand behind any particular nation or race.

As you can tell by my blog, I am not an advocate of a theocratic state. However, I do believe that there are certain things that people not seeking truth and love cannot do. One of these things is nonviolent resistance to terrorism. This is a frustrating position for the church to find itself in because, as a peaceful people, we long to see God’s kingdom of peace, grace, and reconciliation at work on earth. The frustrating thing about our hope is that none of this – peace, reconciliation, etc. – can come without conversion and subsequent growth in a strong community of faith. This is what Rodney Clapp was talking about in his book, A Peculiar People. The idea that america, the state, could respond in a gospel manner on gospel terms is absurd. The church is, indeed, a peculiar community with peculiar practices – nonviolence, reconciliation, grace, hospitality. These practices are native to the church, but not to the state. That is why a nonviolent response would be problematic for America – it is not the church. America is simply another nation where the people of God happen to be sojourning and building God’s kingdom of peace. Oh how great it would be if every person in America were able to react with peace – but that won’t happen until everyone in this nation has been formed through conversion and discipleship into persons who seek God and his truth.

I appologize for the lenght of this response. I have trouble abbreviating my thoughts.

Grace and Peace,
Andrew Tatum

3. Chris - September 18, 2006

Were we not attacked several times during the previous administration and we did nothing? Even the WTC was attacked.

4. Chris (again) - September 18, 2006

Your ignorance is overwhelming.

Terrorism cannot be wished away, cannot be ignored. It cannot be prosecuted away in the courts. You can’t appease them, you can’t get along with them. You can’t make treaties with them, you can’t negotiate with them You either surrender to them or defeat them.

BTW, I think we showed love by getting rid of Saddam, rebuilding their schools and hospitals and getting their electricity back with more power and wattage than it ever had under Saddam.

5. paul - September 18, 2006

Part of me wants to jump on that bandwagon and hope that it would make a difference to the world. Most of me, however, believes that this group of radical extremist understands nothing less than speaking in their language (violence). The odd thing is that David was a man after God’s own heart and was a man of war. God often uses war to accomplish his purposes. Good question.

6. justinmundie - September 18, 2006

I agree. We were attacked several times without a military response and they just kept coming after us. I don’t think turn the other cheek will ever apply to governments until Jesus comes back. I think Romans 12 and 13 make that clear. The government is going to go after people who do wrong, and God has given them the authority to do that. As far as we are concerned though, we should love everyone and try to live in peace with them.

7. Andrew Tatum - September 18, 2006

No one ever shows love through a military response. War, violence, retaliation, and revenge are not Christian values. They are contrary to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. That is why, as I said above, the United States could never be expected to act the way the church is supposed to. All governments are based upon coercion rather than true freedom in Christ and can never do what the church can. I wonder what would happen if Christians in the world made a covenant not to kill eachother, not to bear arms, and not to practice violence of any kind. What an example that would be in this world of violence and pride (all war is based on pride, not love or the desire to help others). Violence and pride are, ultimately, against the Gospel. Just a thought.

8. Andrew Tatum - September 18, 2006

And in response to Chris. Sure, we may have showed love by doing those things. But, keep in mind, we caused those things by blowing up half of their cities to begin with. I have a major issue with blowing up people and places and then “rebuilding” and taking credit for it. Pretty twisted logic to me.

9. David Underwood - September 18, 2006

Great questions, brother! How would you answer these same questions if they involved a murderer entering your house and wanting to kill your wife and family? It’s a lot tougher when it leaves the world of theory and becomes personal.

I appreciate you stretching us!
DU

10. Mark - September 18, 2006

Chris,
Great questions!!! I agree with AT that the US is not a theocracy and therefore these questions are merely an effort in futility, but none the less thought-provoking. Therefore, let me say that my comments are a conglomeration of religion and politics.

Let me say, that we did turn the other check since the 70’s. These terrorists have continued to build their networks and increased their efficiency and potency, in spite of our “forgiveness.” I believe that our history of “forgiveness” through the years (Carter, Reagan, Bush and Clinton) have simply enboldened these groups and allowed them to “dig themselves in .” Because of our lack of action, we will pay the price of fighting these extremists with interest.

It is interesting that you mention taking more of a defensive posture and locking down our borders and focusing on security. That is the position that is taken by isolationists like Pat Buchanon (sp?). He advoactes for us to “protect” ourselves from the owrld and take care of our own peoples and not worry about the world. Fortunately, this stream of ideas goes against many aspects of a free market society. Ronald Reagan used to talk about the market and said that the American work was our greatest asset and would be responsible for our an American success, if the governement would allow them to succeed.

A governments focus is to preserve itself. In fact the President, other cabinet members and all the military take an oath to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States. Their success is built around whether or not the Consitution, and the country be default, is alive and well when they get done. A Christian, however, has a much longer and spiritual focus. His/her focus is eternal and heavenly. They do not wrap themselves around the day to day trials and tribulations, but strive to focus on eternity.

I feel like I am rambling, so I will stop and see if there are comments.

11. justinmundie - September 18, 2006

david….

you hang around GKB’s blog enough to know how ridiculous that question has become. Anytime pacifism is brought up, someone brings up that scenario.

I would hope that it would be natural for me to think of a loving way to counter the situation. I can’t say for sure what I’d do, but I hope that I could think of a loving response that would both protect my family as well as show Christ to the would be murderer

12. David Underwood - September 19, 2006

Justin, seeing as you don’t have a wife and kids yet……..I will let you come back and visit this question in 5 to 10 years. Your response will have a lot more credibility at that point.

I do appreciate your spirit, and I too would hope I could protect my family as well as show Christ to the would be murderer. Having said that, if it came down to choosing between him or my family, that is a no brainer.

13. LW - September 19, 2006

History repeats itself.

Should the Jews have forgiven Hitler while he was the leader of Germany and sanctioning the murder of 6 million people?

You asked in theory what would have happened if we as a country had advocated forgiveness and had not aggressively sought those responsible.

Sadly, I think that would have been viewed by those who seek to bring the US to its knees as a sign of weakness and more attacks would have followed.

Keep in mind that terrorists seek to kill as many as possible and to cause as much destruction as possible.

Turning the other cheek would just be utter stupidity.

Our willingness to help oppressed Iraqi citizens to establish a government in Iraq should indicate our goodness as Americans.

The two thousand plus American soldiers who have been killed since the war began after 9/11 have not died in vain. Let’s not forget them or their families.


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