The Bible, Blowback, and the Bomb

By Steve Matthews

For the most part, the Republican foreign policy debate held November 22 was a contest among the candidates for the title of who could bomb, sanction, no-fly zone, and occupy the greatest number of countries with the biggest, most expensive military toys. The underlying premise – that the US has the right, indeed the obligation, to do all these things – went unchallenged except by one individual.  I would like to explore this premise further, but before I do, I wish to make two points.

First, the Bible is the sole source of truth about how to conduct foreign policy.  It likely seems odd to most people, even to most Christians, to suggest that the Bible has anything to say about foreign policy, let alone to suggest that it is the sole source of truth on the subject.  Secularists despise the Bible for its message.   In their view it is unscientific, unloving, unforgiving, judgmental, out of date, racist, sexist and homophobic.  Christians, who rightly reverence the Bible as the word of God, are accustomed to think of it as a book on how to get saved and live a life pleasing to God.  Of course the Bible is about those things, but there is much more to it than that.  The Bible has a monopoly on truth.  All truth, including the truth about how to conduct foreign policy.  For the Scripture says that in Christ are hidden “all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge,” including the wisdom and knowledge necessary to conduct foreign policy.

Second, rulers and the nations they govern are not sovereign.  Governors are subject to the law of God just as much as are private citizens.  There is a tendency among some to suppose that there is one law for rulers and another for everyone else.  Governors, so goes the argument, have a special dispensation to lie, steal, blaspheme and murder if they do so in the pursuit of some stated greater good.  But the Bible tells us that, “we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad” (2 Cor. 5:10).  There are no exceptions for governors.  Elsewhere Paul, writing about rulers, states, “for he is God’s minister to you for good” (Rom.13:4).  If rulers are God’s ministers, then they are responsible to God, that is to say they are answerable to him for their actions, not only those taken as private citizens, but also those as rulers.  And God has only one set of ethical principles:  the Ten Commandments.  These apply to all men everywhere, regardless of their station in life.

Since it addresses how we are to relate to others, of special interest in this case is the so-called second table of the law where we are enjoined to honor our father and mother, not murder, not commit adultery, not steal, not bear false witness and not covet.  Christ summed up these commandments by telling us to love our neighbor as ourselves, or as he said in another place, “Whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets” (Matt. 7:12).  Unlike what the comparative religion types will tell you, this is not the same statement as was made by others before Christ, for Christ grounds his injunction in the Law and the Prophets, something Confucius and others who supposedly held to the same idea did not do.  This principle, simple enough for a child to understand, seems completely lost on most of our leading politicians and intellectuals, not to mention the entire American foreign policy establishment.

As an example of what can happen when we ignore the Bible when making foreign policy decisions, consider the case of Iran.  I’m old enough to remember when Iranian revolutionaries raided the American embassy in Tehran in 1978 and the ensuing hostage crisis.  What I also remember from that time is all the pictures of the angry mobs in Iran chanting and carrying signs around that read, “death the America the great Satan,” and other things of that sort.  I was shocked.  I couldn’t fathom why Iranians hated America so much.  As far as I knew, I had never hated Iran or done anything to offend Iranians.  Clearly, I thought to myself, these are not rational people.  It wasn’t until years later that I found out that the animosity expressed by the Iranian mobs in 1978 had its origin 25 years earlier in the 1953, when the CIA orchestrated the overthrow of the elected government of Iran and installed the Shah, a US puppet.  It turns out that the Iranian revolution and the hatred that fueled it were textbook examples of what students of foreign policy call “Blowback,” defined as the unintended consequences of interventionist American foreign policy.  And the echoes of 1978 are still resounding today, for, if we take our Secretary of State at her word, we could end up dropping an atomic bomb for the first time since 1945 in order to prevent a still hostile, Islamic fundamentalist, Iranian government from going nuclear.

To further illustrate this point, ask yourself this question, would you want a foreign country, China let’s say, overthrowing the Obama administration in a coup and installing some puppet president?  For my part, as much as I don’t like Obama, I like even less the idea of the Chinese dictating to the US who occupies the White House.  I would never stand for it, and, I suspect, neither would most Americans.  With that in mind, is it so hard to understand that people in other nations may resent like treatment at the hands of the CIA regardless of how many schools or hospitals the US builds for them?

Now please don’t get me wrong, I’m not defending fundamentalist Islam as a good idea or extolling the virtues of Sharia law.  Far from it.  I am thankful to God to live in a nation that does not suffer under those twin burdens.  But the Bible nowhere sanctions the imperialist foreign policy that this country has followed for the past one hundred years, let alone the doctrine of preventive war that is so popular today among so-called conservatives.  The US federal government has no right to start wars against foreign nations to stop them from getting the bomb, make the world safe for democracy, defend Israel, secure natural resources, stop human rights abuses, establish voting rights, or most of the other reasons that have been offered as justifications for war by people in high places, including most Republican presidential candidates.

The Bible tells us “to mind our own business” and to make it our “ambition” to lead a quiet life (1 Thess. 4:11).  This is good advice for individuals.  It’s good advice for nations too.  Those who wield or would like to wield the levers of power tell us that we must, “fight them over there so we don’t have to fight them over here,” as a way of justifying the immoral and unconstitutional wars being conducted by the US federal government.  This is a lie.  The truth is, much of the animosity and resentment directed toward the United States has been caused by the belligerent policies of an out of control federal government pursuing the folly of an American Empire.

Now most Americans would be shocked at the suggestion  that we have an empire.  But we do, and like the British version, the sun never sets on it.  It’s just that unlike the British, we’re not honest enough to call it what it is.  Maybe that has something to do with how the US got its start.  After all, it’s an embarrassing historical fact that a nation born out of revolt against an empire has now become the world’s leading imperial power.  That’s not the sort of thing one advertises.

Empires are expensive and tend to end badly.  Ours is consuming our financial resources at an unsustainable rate, to say nothing of the damage it is doing to our military personnel put in harm’s way to defend it.  The US is going bankrupt, and our foolish foreign policy is a major cause of this.  Unless Americans force a change of direction by supporting politicians who advocate a Christian foreign policy based on the Golden Rule rather than those who support the failed policies of the ruling establishment, we can expect, in the words of Chalmers Johnson, to continue suffer the sorrows of empire.

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14 Comments on “The Bible, Blowback, and the Bomb”

  1. Hugh McCann Says:

    Ah! The bomb shelter gap…

    Is the U.S. military protecting the freedoms of the American people?

    This man is more than skeptical:

  2. Steve Matthews Says:

    Thanks for the link, Hugh. Count me as skeptical too.

    The framers of our country were wary of standing armies, because of the threat such armies posed to liberty. Here’s a good article on this

    I can’t help but think that Washington, Madison, et. al. would be appalled at much of what is done in the name of national defense today.

  3. gigi Says:

    the USA has been an empire since the introduction of the 14th amendment,and to be more specific an empire ruled by the jesuits for the antichrist that sits in the vatican

  4. Neil Says:

    Excellent article, yet this would’ve shocked me while I was young, since any idea that our interference overseas was imperialistic, or would be fairly perceived that way, was unthinkable, for who wanted to agree with Reds & hippies? Tragically, politically respectable opposition to imperialism died in 1941, and has remained on the fringe ever since. Now to be sure, we were not really isolationist even before then; consider the trade embargoes against Japan (as opposed to Germany). We had colonies to protect in Asia.

    BTW, there were imperialistic sentiments in this country even before the Civil War & 14th Amendment, as for example with Southern filibusters (e.g. Wm. Walker) who wanted to colonize the Caribbean & Central America and reintroduce slavery there.

  5. Steve Matthews Says:

    I agree with you about the location of Antichrist, but it seems like a stretch to say the American empire is related to the 14th amendment. As to the Jesuits, they certainly exercise influence in American politics along with the rest of the Roman Catholic Church State, but I think the assertion that they run the country is innacurate. Not that they wouldn’t like to, but I don’t think they have that kind of power at this time.

  6. gigi Says:

    the jesuit Walsh put together the “institute of foreign affairs/service” at Georgetown and if you take the time to see how many of the “politicians,heads of departments,presidents, etc” went to that ungodly Georgetown you’ll reconsider my assertion.

    as the Bible says :”there is NOTHING new under the sun”
    those spiritual bastards(the jesuits) are only being true to one of their maxims: counter the reformation
    i know i might ‘sound’ a bit too “conspiracy” theorist but i stopped believing in ‘accidents’ a few yrs back

  7. Steve Matthews Says:

    I won’t argue with you about the Jesuits and their goals. I have no doubt that they, along with the rest of the Roman Catholic Church-State heirerarchy, would like to bring the US within the orbit of Rome. I just don’t think they’ve yet succeeded in their efforts.

    One reason I say this is because there is no concordat between the US and Rome.

    Not that such a thing couldn’t happen someday…

  8. Neil Says:

    What is wrong with the Jesuits is not Popish Plots etc., but simply Thomistic (Natural Law) philosophy, which they & other influential Catholic schools teach. And no wonder, since it permeates the RCC Catechism.

    As an example, I recall a prominent Italian politician (maybe the P.M.) remarking in the Economist not long ago that while he was not a Roman Catholic, he thought like one.

  9. Steve Matthews Says:


    Why can’t it be both? You’re right about the Thomistic philosophy, but there also seems to be a good deal of evidence that the Jesuits have been involved in more than their fair share of plots too.

  10. LJ Says:

    Neil, Steve, gigi,

    “As an example, I recall a prominent Italian politician (maybe the P.M.) remarking in the Economist not long ago that while he was not a Roman Catholic, he thought like one.”


  11. Neil Says:

    There may well be such conspiracies, but I find it hard enough to convince folks using typical public sources w/o going down potential blind alleys of circumstantial evidence. is bad enough – just compare to the Ford & Rockefeller Foundations, or even Mother Jones, & it’s hard to see much difference.

    It may have been the now-resigned Silvio Berlusconi who said that, but I can’t dredge it up in the Economist archives right now. Suffice it to say that most European Christian Democratic parties are quite conformable to Catholic Social Teaching.

  12. gigi Says:

    in his book,Nino LoBello(a catholic as far as i know) points out that the jesuits are the richest of the RCC orders in USA(as a matter of fact they are the richest in the world, bar none)…Bank of America(the same bank that got a huge chunk of your money,i live in Canada so i pay the jesuits of this country!!! ;( ) belongs to those hypocrites.

    and yes Steve,they(the jesuits) are masters when it comes to playing the Hegelian dialectic(plots of all sorts)…i.e the ‘hippie’ movement of the 60’s…well it was the “good father” McSorley(a jesuit) that got it moving and the examples can be piled up in the hundreds !!!

  13. Sean Gerety Says:

    I’m not a big fan of conspiracy theories as they tend to cloud the underlying moral, philosophic, political, and theological issues by making them easier (for most people anyway) to simply ignore. That’s not to say they can’t be fun too (I loved Jesse Ventura’s show “Conspiracy Theory”).

    Here’s an interesting Jesuit conspiracy theory on the sinking of the Titanic:

    What’s missed by all the theorizing is that in the piece the author notes that 500 million dollars in 1912 would be worth “nearly eleven billion dollars” today. Answering why that is (which is very much tied to the creation of the Federal Reserve) is, in my view, much more important than the truth or falsity of the conspiracy theory itself. Besides do we really need a conspiracy theory, even if plausible, to tell us that the Jesuits are evil along with the rest of the RCC?

  14. Hugh McCann Says:

    On Carl Henry’s strange optimism over the non-reformed ‘gospel’ (which is not another), and ecumenism with Billy & Rome.

    In the July 22, 1957, issue of Christianity Today, Henry’s editorial was entitled “Billy Graham and the Pope’s Legions.” He recounts having coffee with “a learned Jesuit” at Harvard Square whom he quizzed about the future of the Catholic Church in America. He looked at me, Henry said, with flashing Irish eyes and thundered, “Today, tomorrow, or a century from now, it makes no difference. We are patient. We will subdue the earth to the greater glory of God.” Henry rejects this imperious attitude, but then responds with a little imperialism of his own. Referring to Life magazine, which ran stories about Billy Graham and the Knights of Columbus in the same issue, Henry contrasts these regimented “soldiers of the pope” with Life’s pictures of Graham’s crusade:

    ‘The reader sees a young man in a business suit. He is holding an open Bible. ~ Before Billy Graham has finished, hundreds leave their seats to unite with the person Jesus Christ. Even priests of Rome find their way to the mourners’ bench. The suasions of Rome are no match for the Gospel…The Pope must look to his legions because he can no longer look to the Gospel.’

    Two years later, Henry wrote a Christianity Today editorial entitled “Rome and the Revival of Theology.” He reports on the renewal of biblical scholarship within Catholicism and the emergence of a new attitude to past formulations such as those of the Council of Trent. Too much should not be expected too soon, he warned. Yet for the first time since the Reformation, he believed, “genuine intercommunication has become possible where previously there could be little more than ineffectual goodwill at best and narrow contentiousness as the more general rule.”

    ~ As Henry grew older, he grew less sanguine about evangelicalism and ecumenism. In a candid article published in Christian Century in 1980, Henry admitted his earlier and more optimistic vision of a grand evangelical alliance had come to nothing, and he placed much of the blame on Billy Graham, one of Henry’s few critical comments about his former classmate and collaborator. ~

    Henry’s reaction to Evangelicals and Catholics Together was also mixed. Henry was a strong advocate of cobelligerency but he was hesitant to endorse a movement that moved beyond the ecumenism of the trenches to the recognition of a spiritual oneness based upon a common apostolic faith, even though such a development had been presaged by Henry himself in his earlier writings on Christian unity. He never joined the critics of Evangelicals and Catholics Together on the raucous right, but neither did he give unstinted support to this invitation.

    More than most evangelical leaders, Henry was critical of dispensationalism with its culture-denying tendencies, but he never embraced the easy optimism of the postmillennial position. ~—30

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