Friday, December 25, 2009

Jefferson on the current state of affairs

Don't talk about what you have done or what you are going to do.

The democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work and give to those who would not.

When the people fear their government, there is tyranny; when the government fears the people, there is liberty.

The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.

When we get piled upon one another in large cities, as in Europe, we shall become as corrupt as Europe.

The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government.

I predict future happiness for Americans if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them.



Listener said...

Pastor, Why do you publish the words of a slave owner who’s words of war contradict the commands of King Jesus?

Loy said...

Jefferson was a very flawed individual, no question. But he was also right on many salient issues.

Because a person is a sinner it doesn't make their words always wrong. In fact, wisdom is at work in knowing the difference...

Logically and spiritually, taking an ad hominem approach to life is not the best way. Unless a person is speaking in the spirit of anti-Christ, we do well to discern the difference between what is flawed and what is true.

Otherwise, only those who are sinless would dare speak. As Jesus put it, "You who are without sin, go ahead and cast the first stone."

As to contradicting Jesus' words on war: how do you see Jefferson as contradicting Jesus? The One who said He came not to bring peace, but a sword?

Note: Anti-Christ is the one who bills himself as a "man of peace." As the prophet Isaiah warned, beware of those who cry Peace Peace and there is no peace!

Jesus is the Prince of Peace, but His peace is only won through great war. Read His words in Isaiah 63, where His garments are bloody with the blood of His enemies, and He won the fight all by himself. See Him return at the end of human history, where a sword comes from Him and destroys those who oppose righteousness.

Jesus is the single greatest Warrior that has ever lived: He is the cosmic Warrior who alone conquers cosmic evil.

Only because Jesus is Victor is He the Prince of Peace.

Question: How can you call Jesus Victor without admitting that He has conquered, in battle...?

Jesus is no capon priest or pale-faced choir boy with his hair parted in the middle. He is no pale Galilean with weak voice!

No, no... a thousand times no. He is Victor! Alleluia!

Listener said...

You are right, Pastor in that I am as critical of the slave owner, as he was of those who sought to enslave him. Which is only but one of my sins. I suspect that was indeed his reason for bearing arms – and that his references to scripture were primarily to deceive his readers into accepting his words of war as perhaps, even Biblical.

And you are partially correct dear Pastor, in your understanding of scripture. Jesus does in fact bear a mighty sword. But did He not also command His followers to put theirs away? He IS the King, and the Victor. But alas, He has chosen to wait for a season. Why would you encourage his followers to take up arms while He has chosen to tarry?

Should we not turn the other cheek, while we stand and wait upon the Lord? Would Jefferson have counseled Stephen to defend himself?

Loy said...

Anytime we look at Jesus words on a particular subject, we do well to realize that there is often a paradox, or dualism, in His take on life, and truth.

All of life, whether war or peace, must be interpreted in Him, who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

Relation to Jesus Christ is the interpretive key to all subjects; His kingdom is the defining center... thus His words often stand at two poles, against abuses on both ends.

Jesus can say, "You who have no sword, sell what you must and buy one!" He can also say, "Those who live by the sword will die by the sword," with no contradiction.

Jesus can say, "I have not come to bring peace but a sword." He can also say, "Turn the other cheek," et al, with no contradiction.

On both hands He is speaking against something false. The point is that to understand Him, we have to take both poles, we have to enter and understand the dualism of His meaning.

It does us well to remember that Jesus is at one more revolutionary than we desire [on one hand], yet not as revolutionary as we desire [on the other]. His true self condemns both a current gospel of pacifism and a gospel of war.

The point is that true peace and true war are completely in reference to Him; HE is the absolute. Anytime we set the positions [taking one side of His words] as absolute, we create Him in our own image, and turn His words into a moral sounding lie.

Which deceives many.

We prosper in truth by letting Christ be the center of the interpretive process.

For example, look Jesus’ response to three issues of his day: worship, social inequity, and politics. In each arena, Jesus can be interpreted in several different ways, depending on what texts the interpreter privileges. If a person builds a fence around one set of texts to the exclusion of the others, they unbalance what Jesus taught and make it toxic: toxic faith. It happens on both left and right.

Look at those three areas: worship, social inequity, and politics, and the dualistic nature of Jesus' truth: Jesus cleansed the temple, but he did not forbid temple worship as such. Jesus passionately defended the poor against injustice, but also defended the kingdom against a theology of poverty [identification, cf. Mark 14:7]. Jesus went to the cross as a condemned Zealotic rebel, yet clearly said, ‘My kingdom is not of this world.’

We do well to remember this reality of Jesus: He is very uncomfortable precisely where our fallen selves take comfort; He is very comfortable to those who are outcast, without comfort.

On left and right, He breaks idols: to those who are comfortable using the sword to get their way, He says, "If you live by that, you will die by that." To those who use easy moralisms, who use pacifism for political power and moral escape, Christ says, "Not peace, but a sword!"

Jesus is at once more revolutionary than we like, and less revolutionary than we like. Wisdom says, "Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done!" Even if it means peace where I want war, and a sword where I want peace.


Listener said...

Pastor, I believe you error in your attack on pacifism. How are we to embrace our own cross, if we seek to defend ourselves with arms?

Your use of Mark 14 is inaccurate in this context, as is your assumption that pacifism is a strategy to gain a political end. He cleansed the temple only of merchants, not of worshipers.

His commands are simple, yet uncomfortable for those who seek survival in this realm. We are to wait for Him. To put away our swords. To love our enemies. To serve the poor. To turn the other cheek. And take up our own “cross” (the method which our enemies choose to execute us).

To obey Him unto death is to overcome the temptation of clinging to this world, and thus be joined in likeness with our Groom.

Loy said...

Question for you listener: Is pacifism the chosen vehicle of antichrist, or is it not?

Second question: what is the easy moralism of postmodernism?

The answer to the first relates to the answer of the second.

You are very welcome to disagree with me; I take no offense. I must answer for my soul and the souls of those under my care, the souls of those currently caught in a world system. You must answer for yours. But one must not take refuge in unfounded assertions or superficial study.

Our age has taken certain lies as self-evident truths, ‘truths’ which flow subliminally like an intravenous solution through our body politic: so general and self-evident that it is enough to merely invoke them and one is considered moral [Kaplan].

Pacifism is one of those postmodern 'truths.'

Which must be the case if antichrist is going to be accepted by good people. So we should not be surprised.

Note: we also need to distinguish between pacifism and personal non-violent commitment; they are not equal, necessarily.

God bless you!

Listener said...

I do not understand why you believe pacifism is the strategy of the anti-christ. Where did you find this notion? I certainly don’t see that in scripture. And what do you see as the difference between pacifism and non-violent commitment? I don’t understand your terminology.

Loy said...

Pacifism is a postmodern belief system; it defines peace in subjective terms, usually meaning the abdication of force in opposing evil, even though it has the means to constrain evil. It declares that all use of force is categorically wrong, even if in the protection of defenseless people. Pacifism is used powerfully as a weapon against the order of the Judeo-Christian nations. Pacifism also gives tacit approval to violent Islamism, making common political cause with Islamism [et al] -- which should be a dead giveaway to the spirit behind it, for people with eyes to see.

A personal commitment to non-violence is simply that: a personal conviction that the individual cannot [or should] not use violence to defend himself or herself -- or even to defend his family. This person usually does not extrapolate from the individual to the national, but merely follows as best s/he can the principles of peace as s/he sees it.

As to you not seeing how the Antichrist comes as a man of peace -- can you really not discern this from Scripture? Or are you unwilling to accept it because of what it belies of pacifism?

If you sincerely can't understand this from Scripture, I humbly suggest you study more, with an open heart and mind.

God bless you!

Loy said...

Listener, re: your claim that Jesus' words are simple, that is true on one level but not true if treated in an absolute sense. Jesus words are simple, and yet also the most profound things in the universe.

Jesus words are so easy to grasp that a wayfaring man, though a fool, should not err therein. And yet, a man can spend his entire lifetime contemplating these words, and never plumb their depths.

Augustine famously said of Scripture that it was a stream in which a child could wade safely, and yet in which an elephant can swim. That is true; and ever so true of Jesus.

Children are safe with Jesus, but the wisest and most learned person still will not mine His depths.

So, in relation to His commands: yes, they are simple. But if a person treats them as forever simple [just because he or she has a grasp there, and doesn't want to move] it's like a child always choosing to speak baby talk, even when s/he is grown.

In relation to this discussion then, I ask you a simple question. See if you can give a simple answer.

Here is the question: Is Jesus a pacifist or non-violent adherent? Why or why not?

See if you can give a yes or no answer, and tell why or why not from Scripture. A non-violent adherent is pretty categorical. Either one is or isn't.

The exercise is not meaningless! It's very meaningful, especially to support it with Scripture. If Jesus is not an absolute non-violent person, then for someone to assert that level of absolute for his followers is indicative of a chosen lens hermeneutic. Which means that Scripture is not the final authority for faith and practice; the person choosing the lens is.


Have a blessed night!

Listener said...

My understanding of the definitions you have explained is basically that you see a “non-violent commitment” as an individual decision not to defend one-self with force.

I see Jesus as temporarily non-violent – that is to say, He is waiting for the time when His Father sends Him forth in the final hour. During his time on earth, He was submissive even to death. But again, He demonstrates that even death is temporary. His commands are clear, but are extremely difficult (even impossible) to obey. Put away the sword. Take up your own cross. Turn the other cheek. Love your enemy.

If I understand you correctly, you claim that pacifism is a national or political belief in a non-violent commitment which is extrapolated beyond a single individual. I agree that an individual committed to non-violence, cannot expect his beliefs will be extended to a level which demands others to accept such a commitment involuntarily. Obedience if chosen must be voluntary, not coerced, otherwise it would not be genuine, and it would have no value. Certainly, any nation which was sincere in such a belief would be quickly destroyed.

But then again, if Jesus shows us that death is temporary, why should it be feared so much as to abandon our obedience to His commands for the sake of our national survival? You make an interesting point: “Pacifism also gives tacit approval to violent Islamism” I am glad that you added the “et al” so that you did not narrow yourself be become merely anti-Islamic. Indeed, evil has many faces.

But if by “tacit” you mean “temporary” then perhaps you are right. Jesus calls us to be obedient unto death – as He was. We can each follow only as individuals. Certainly no nation can be expected to accept such a command and survive. Even an individual who obeys completely will be put to death – just as Jesus was.

Habakkuk observed that God chose an evil empire to purge Jerusalem. Could not He choose to purge us again? Clearly, al Quaeda is evil. Is America now as pure as Judah was in Habakkuk’s day?

But I am still not clear where you find the anti-christ as a man of peace. Thank you for encouraging me to dig deeper. Can you show me in scripture where the anti-christ is portrayed peacefully?

Loy said...

Well, I think you are trying to be honest -- but there is also some equivocation there. "Temporarily non-violent" is a slight equivocation which blurs the truth of Jesus in action -- even on the earth.

"Temporarily non-violent" is the same thing as a half truth, akin to saying, "Let me promote a half-truth about the person of Jesus so that I can defend a certain doctrine."

A person cannot take slices of Jesus and then pretend that is the whole, for the sake of interpreting a certain class of his sayings univocally [I mean, a person can do that but not if truth is the issue]. A person cannot take Jesus non-violent statements apart from the context of His whole person -- if truth is the issue.

Antichrist comes as a man of peace who does what is impossible: brokers peace in the middle east, with sweet words and intrigue. He is accepted by the masses as a man of signs and wonders and mystical peace, a man of prosperity and power. Cryptic words of Daniel: "By peace he shall destroy many."

Antichrist flips what Christ does: through [true] war Christ brings true peace. But Antichrist, through false peace, destroys the world and wars against God's kingdom.

The postmodern pacifism is wholeheartedly in line with false peace.

Jeremiah: the people are devastated by false peace: "They heal the brokenness of the daughter of My people superficially, Saying, 'Peace, peace,' But there is no peace."


Listener said...

Pastor, I must disagree. Jesus came in the flesh and died at the hands of sinners such as myself. He will return in the future to establish His Kingdom. To say now that He is temporarily non-violent, is only to acknowledge the present tense, while the future is still ahead of us. In His whole, He is both. But today, He is waiting for the Father to declare that hour. You accuse me wrongly of speaking a half-truth for the King.

Even admitting that His return will be violent, does not grant His followers the authority to take up the sword while He tarries. We are commanded to put away our sword. This is quite clear.

I am glad you quoted Jeremiah, although you failed to reference any scripture which describes the anti-christ as peaceful. Let’s examine the false prophets Jeremiah confronts. They proclaim “Peace, Peace” to their listeners so that the people would not feel compelled to repent from their sins. Jeremiah on the other hand, was proclaiming the need for repentance, since the enemy was fast approaching. I agree with Jeremiah: Any proclamation of peace to ease the need for repentance is false indeed. Destruction was soon in coming to Judah, just as we in America are in danger today.

Jeremiah did not issue a call to arms – rather a call to repentance. I suspect we agree that the anti-christ will be deceptive (and if you believe many little anti-christs are alive today, then they too practice deception). And quite likely, a promise of peace will be a false promise that they use to deceive – just as the false prophets did during Jeremiah’s time.

But even if we agree on this basis Pastor, I would not recommend a call to arms – rather a call to repentance and submission. Even obedience unto death. To resist the temptation of taking up arms, and submit to the same abuse our King suffered at the hands of the enemy – would join us together with Him. “They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death.”

The sword is His, not ours, to bear.

Loy said...

Don't get me wrong, Listener. I am not prescribing a humanistic violence. I am merely trying to show that humanistic peace is deadly. And many Christians blend over into that camp because they cannot distinguish between definitions of peace.

If one cannot know by Word and Spirit where the spirit of Antichrist is now at work in the world, then indeed, one should be as non-violent as possible.

For a chosen lens approach to Scripture, one cannot be convinced other than those lens.

For instance, one cannot see that Jesus en toto is not non-violent. One cannot see that God the Father, our dear Abba, is not non-violent. One cannot see that the angels are not non-violent. One cannot see that God has ordained nations [e.g. individuals by authority] to bear the sword against evil, physically and presently. One cannot see how this flows naturally from the character of a God who judges evil in history... not just at the end of time.

Like this, a false peace is promoted. Which, incidentally, just happens to be a postmodern idol, etc.


Listener said...

My Dear Pastor, I think you still present one small error. We now agree on all except one sentence of your last paragraph. You write “God has ordained nations [e.g. individuals by authority] to bear the sword against evil, physically and presently.” This statement is very disturbing, as it has caused much bloodshed throughout church history. Under this banner the crusades were launched, the Spanish inquisition, the Salam witch trials, and countless other examples.

I state my thesis again: The sword is His, not ours, to bear. The Bride has no right to dictate timing to her Master. We dare not love the church when we are called to worship Him alone – we would then be narcissistic. He is our Master, and He alone will determine the day our resurrection. He alone will wield vengeance on our enemies.

Anonymous said...

And what about the "War on Terror"? Is this a just war?

Loy said...

Listener, I'm not defending any abuse of that principle of nations bearing sword; no question there's been abuse on the force side of the equation. I'm talking about the ideal nation-state in the ordination of God.

And Anonymous: you ask about the War on Terror, if it is just. I'm not sure. I think there are components that are just; and there comes a line in the sand that morally obligates a person to act, if he or she has the ability to stop that evil.

This highlights a very powerful reality that most people don't talk about: In the face of evil, inaction is a choice; doing nothing is an action. Passivity is a choice which bears eternal consequences just as much as force or violence is a choice, with consequences.

Jesus said something to the effect that if we have it in our means to help someone, and instead of helping them, we pat them on the back, smile benignly and say, God bless you! we are the worst kind of hypocrites. We have cursed that person with our actions while we blessed them with our mouths; all the while we have the power to help them and refuse; choosing instead to remain passive.

Passivity in that case is morally bankrupt, even though it uses moral language.

The same with a pious person who chooses to stand by while his family is devastated and hurt; if that person has it in his power to stop such devastation, he or she may use moral language, and may be true to stated principles, but in that moment of passive agreement with evil, s/he is not being true to God.

Jesus didn't stand idly by when the poor were being raped by the moneychangers; twice He whipped them forcibly out of the temple precincts. Point: choosing non-violence in the face of evil, when you have the power to make a difference and yet you do nothing, is passive [and willful] agreement w. evil.

So, speaking to the GWOT: at what point does doing nothing make us eternally complicit with the evil that would darken generations unless forcibly stopped?


Listener said...

Ahh, Pastor Loy, I am beginning to see where you have drifted. The short answer is that there is no such thing as an “ideal nation- state” (short of the Kingdom He will establish at His return). Your argument is defending a fantasy. So long as we rely on human leaders we are doomed to follow governments of sin.

The “long answer” is also worth noting. We did not begin the GWOT as you suggest, to come to the rescue of oppressed people in Afghanistan or Iraq. Both Saddam and the Taliban had been oppressing their people for plus or minus a decade before we attacked. Not even our own politicians have used that line of logic. Our attack was prompted for far different reasons (which could be debated, but that is not my point). No, we were not motivated to free the oppressed.

If that HAD been our motive, then why did we not fight in Rwanda, Sudan, Liberia (the list of oppressed people is long…)?

I agree that doing “nothing” is morally wrong, however military action is not the solution. Let me use your friends at HOPEGIVERS International or perhaps World Vision as just one simple example. Here we see an organization committed to doing SOMETHING to aide the oppressed in countries our military would never dream of invading – and yet World Vision uses no firearms or munitions. Their convoys carry food, medicine, clothing, and tools. Yes, many of their emissaries have been martyred in the process, but are they not prominent members of His Bride?

There is no Christian justification for war in this era. It is far better to be murdered while delivering food and medicine, than to murder those who deliver evil.

Listener said...

As to your comment on the money changers. Jesus was not angered that they were price gouging (“raping the poor”). Rather He was angry they were doing it IN THE TEMPLE. He did not attack the merchants, He merely expelled them from the temple. Your reference does not defend your argument.

Your closing question “at what point does doing nothing make us eternally complicit with the evil that would darken generations unless forcibly stopped?” is also off the mark. Using superior force to stop evil is merely continuation of evil under a different flag. If you don’t believe me, than I would guess you have never been to Iraq.

Loy said...

There is some sense in which we are talking past one another, Listener. I'm being misunderstood on terms and definitions, etc. Plus there is not consistency in the line of argument taken, premise to conclusion; nor is there a shared Reformation understanding of Scripture as the interpreter of Scripture.

When I mention ideal nation-state, of course there is no perfect ideal in existence; however, there is an ideal for the nation-state, and to the degree the nation-state reaches that ideal, to that degree it reflects sovereign intent.

Note: just like there are no ideal humans in this current condition of humanity; however, there is an ideal for humans. We are to be conformed to this Ideal, to the Image of Christ, and to this degree we reflect sovereign intent and redemptive purpose [are sanctified]. Still doesn't mean the human is perfect or ideal.

No one in their right mind would argue that since there is no ideal human then the concept of ideal is meaningless and fantasy! The ideal is the pattern.

You are wrong that Jesus was not upset at the moneychangers for their raping of the poor. His house was to be a house of prayer for all nations and all classes; they made it a den of thieves, stealing worship opportunity from the poor. Regardless of whether you agree on that or not, the real point for this discussion is that Jesus used violent force to expel them. Twice. Bookended His public ministry with this iconic action.

And, I am really mind blown that you do not see the connection between US military might and the ability of care organizations and US citizens to function around the world.

God bless you!

Listener said...

Dear Pastor, First let me thank you for your patience in listening to me. You are a man of great love. And let me point out that we agree on far more topics than we differ. You are correct in stating there is no ideal nation-state in existence. Nor can there ever be, so long as there is sin in this world. The ideal has indeed been established in the Word of God, and all nations (and individuals) have fallen short.

So then, if our government today has failed to meet this ideal, why would you grant them the right to bear a sword while our King has given us His Word so clearly that we ought not to?

As to His “attack” on the money changers, perhaps I did type my words too quickly. Let’s take a closer look at the passages. We are told that He made a whip of cords – which would suggest that He took a few minutes to prepare an instrument of His choosing. He did not choose a sword, although I would guess there might have been one available, and He certainly had the right to use one if He had chosen it. Rather He constructed a softer instrument which could not inflict a wound beyond perhaps a minor laceration. We are told He overturned their tables, however there is no record that He actually struck a merchant. And we are told that He drove them out of the Temple – where presumably, they continued their transactions outside in the square. It is interesting also to note He did not conduct any similar “attacks” outside of the Temple – there is no record of Him shutting down the market place in the streets of the city. If His concern had been price gouging, and protection of fair market policies for the underprivileged buyers, then perhaps He might have continued His campaign beyond the confines of the Temple. Rather, as you have correctly noted, His concern appears to be that the merchants had occupied the place of worship with commerce.

If we accept this action as an indication of His “violent” nature (which I will grant you, He certainly has the right, and the ability, to perform) I would never-the-less caution you against using this text as a justification for military actions which lead to death, and have no linkage whatsoever with preservation of Temple worship.

Finally, I’m pleased to learn that you are “mind-blown” at the realization that there is NO connection between the military and the missionary. This is precisely why I chose the organizations I mentioned in my previous example. World Vision and HopeGivers both operate without any governmental aid or military support. They both operate in countries where our government would never dare to send troops. And I certainly do not need to convince you of their effectiveness.

Clearly Loy, you are a man after God’s own heart. You have studied the scriptures much more formally than I have. And your posts on this blog (with the exception of Jefferson’s quote) show the beauty and innocence of your heart. But your lack of experience in the military realm causes you to misunderstand what I have seen with my own eyes – the blood I have spilt in my youth to defend the constitution which the slave owner drafted. This is therefore a blessing to you – as you have far less to repent of than I.

Loy said...

Listener, I certainly am sympathetic to your position -- perhaps caught in a situation of war where the commands given you were not just; Lord knows there are many things like that, even in one battle. But that tactical experience does not make war wrong, neccesarily. David once used war to remove a romantic rival; desperate sin and terrible act, yet the war itself was commanded by God.

Also, I would not use Jesus' attack on the moneychangers as justification for war; I was only showing that His nature is not passive concerning evil, especially as others are at risk of it. Jesus is not a limp Galilean Gandhi. Not. Even. Close.

Jesus is the greatest Warrior of the cosmos. Jesus is victor. Forever.

Even when He gave himself on the cross, it was a violent, cataclysmic encounter w. evil; spiritual judo if you will, where He conquers death by death. It was the only way to save us. Therefore He entered it, not passively, but violently -- actively, intentionally and forcefully, sweating great drops of blood in warfare.

As far as the US military goes: without question they enable organizations like Hopegivers and World Vision to operate. Dr. Sam's life has been saved at least once because US might backed up diplomatic efforts.

And related to the US military: How many S. Vietnamese were killed by the US peace protesters? Did PEACE [broken cross peace] kill more of Vietnamese or did war? How about Cambodia? It's not even close...

People have no idea.

It is no accident that the PEACE symbol is a blatant Antichrist symbol.


Listener said...

Ahh, Dear Pastor, you still misunderstand the purpose of our military campaigns. None of our wars have ever been fought to liberate the oppressed. Occasionally, we attempt that logic as an excuse for a campaign which serves an ulterior motive. (Our politicians, like our military, are experts in camouflage.) But if you persist in believing our military motives are humanitarian, then will you please attempt to answer my prior question:

Why have we never been involved in Rwanda, Liberia, Sudan, et al? Why did we pull out from Somalia? The humanitarian needs there were perhaps far greater than in Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq and Bosnia combined. Perhaps our beloved Dr Sam did benefit once or twice by coincidence, but I can assure you, it was merely coincidence. Even a bank robber might get drunk and accidently drop a few pennies on the sidewalk beside a homeless shelter – but that does not make him a philanthropist. The Pentagon never intended to exert effort on Dr Sam’s behalf.

Still it is true, God can use evil people to accomplish good deeds. I myself might fall into that category. But that is still no excuse to preach a disobedience to Christ’s command to put away the sword.

Loy said...


I really appreciate your heart and your dialogue, but one thing: I'm on vacation, and I can't keep up this pace of reply!

Also, it might be better to dialogue on this on email, ok?

God bless you!

Listener said...

Of course. Enjoy your vacation. What is your email address?

Loy said...

It's my name at

Can't write it all out because of the computer bots that scan for email addresses -- but just my name all lowercase at gmail!

God bless!