Tag Archives: violence

Don’t blame the rapist — the rape was God’s idea, after all

In this enlightening video clip, famous preacher and author John Piper explicitly describes the inescapable conclusion of the Reformed doctrine of sovereignty: God has predetermined every sin.

After watching the video clip, consider this: in Reformed theology, a rapist will experience conscious, eternal torment unless he repents of his sins, and yet God chose the rapist to be an agent for the rape; therefore, the rapist had to rape because God predetermined it; and furthermore, God may have chosen (back before the first human being became conscious) to damn the rapist. (Better yet, the rapist is due for the same punishment as an average American middle-class Joe who never commits a crime, but that’s another matter.)

So, rapist, repent from what God forced you to do according to his perfect will, or, repent from being an agent for God’s perfect will. Oh, and it’s still the rapist’s fault, not the fault of the almighty, all-powerful sovereign God of the universe, who made the rapist rape.

You have to be angry at sin and God’s will at the same time.

Have you ever seen a horror movie in which the evil creep forces someone to do something despicable?

Of course this view of sovereignty doesn’t make sense. The ultimate end of Reformed views of sovereignty is to ask us to believe in a God who created goodness while also having a completely different definition of goodness — a definition that has not the slightest bit of analogy to our definition.

Can we even understand Christ’s sacrifice without analogies? Many people understand a soldier sacrificing himself for others during a battle, or a mother sacrificing herself for her children. Some people have described Christ’s sacrifice as a judge issuing a sentence on me and then taking the punishment himself.

(To declare the analogy imperfect doesn’t matter — the analogy is being used to communicate what is said to be the most important message, ever.)

If not the slightest analogy exists between our understanding and God’s understanding, the doctrine of the inspiration of Scripture has to go because language itself becomes moot — and mute. Without some semblance of analogy, no bridge between our minds and God’s mind can exist.

Elsewhere, Piper has made a plea for us not to let our minds build “implications” too far out from Biblical teachings, a softened version of other statements he has made.

But biblical interpretation itself is the building of implications. That’s not hard to figure out. Why did Piper say that about “implications”? Why do people listen to him? It must be an ideological thing, like, as long as you’re against taxes, you’ll have the favor of Republicans, or as long as you’re pro-choice, you’ll have the favor of Hollywood, never mind the reasoning behind your position or your other positions.

And when an interpretation or implication nauseates our moral consciences, we ought to be able to say it’s a wrong interpretation or implication.

(This remains confusing to me: the Reformed folks, and many others, demand that we systematize the Bible’s teachings, and then they pull back at convenient moments and declare “mystery.” They specialize in rationalistic interpretations of Scripture while Scripture itself has for too many textual variations and outright contradictions to stand in a strictly rationalistic manner. To say the Scripture should be seen as poetic truth would probably be misunderstood because people today have too low of a view of poetry, similar to the degradation of the word “myth,” which was enormously valuable to C.S. Lewis.)

Of course, Piper’s view isn’t the only available view. In his book The Beauty of the Infinite, Eastern Orthodox theologian David Bentley Hart writes, “At a critical moment in cultural history — not that there were not various fateful moves in the history of Western theology that led to it — many Christian thinkers somehow forgot that the incarnation of the Logos, the infinite ratio of all that is, reconciles us not only to God, but to the world, by giving us back a knowledge of creation’s goodness, allowing us to see again its essential transparency — even to the point, in Christ, of identity — before God. The covenant of light was broken. God became, progressively, the world’s infinite contrary. And this state of theological decline was so precipitous and complete that it even became possible for someone as formidably intelligent as Calvin, without any apparent embarrassment, to regard the fairly lurid portrait of the omnipotent despot of book III of his Institutes – who not only ordains the destiny of souls, but in fact predestines the first sin, and so brings the whole drama of creation and redemption to pass (including the eternal perdition of the vast majority of humanity) as a display of his own dread sovereignty — as a proper depiction of the Christian God. One ancient Augustinian misreading of Paul’s ruminations upon the mystery of election had, at last, eventuated fatalism.”

In Piper’s mind and in many evangelical and Reformed minds, God is “the world’s infinite contrary,” to the point where not the slightest semblance of analogy exists between our use of “good” and God’s “good.” Rape is bad for us, but good for God.

My church, full of feeling, does not think of these things, and offers Piper’s books, and quotes Piper in its materials. Which is worse — the belief that rape is good for God, or the insanely liberal theology of a denomination’s national church? Please tell me this is a false dilemma.

Political rhetoric and violence

Do you think Marxist rhetoric could inspire someone to kill as many people as Stalin did?

Ethiopian churches attacked

ISTANBUL — Eight Muslims wielding machetes and knives broke into two village churches in southern Ethiopia earlier this month and began wounding worshipers, instantly killing one Christian. Tulu Mosisa of Kale Hiwot church died after a machete blow nearly beheaded him, according to an eyewitness. Another two members of the Kale Hiwot and Birhane Wongel Baptist churches in the remote village of Nensebo Chebi both lost a hand each in the March 2 attacks, and a 5-year-old boy is still hospitalized after his arm was slashed to the bone. A total of 23 Christians from the two congregations were injured before local militia officers drove off the attackers, who launched what one observer called “a seemingly well-planned,” simultaneous assault midway through Sunday worship services. Located 400 kilometers (240 miles) south of the capital Addis Ababa , Nensebo Chebi is a remote village in the Bale Zone of Ethiopia’s predominantly Muslim Oromiya state. Every time the attackers struck someone, Christian survivors said, they shouted “Allah Akbar!” The two Arabic words, meaning “Allah is greater,” are the beginning of the Muslim call to prayer.

-Compass Direct News 

Hindu extremists attack Christians on Christmas Eve

NEW DELHIAt least four Christians are feared dead, many injured and more than 50 churches and 200 homes are either destroyed or damaged in Orissa state in anti-Christian violence that began Christmas Eve. Violence by Hindu extremists continues in some pockets despite the state imposing a curfew and deploying hundreds of police officers. Extremists have pursued Christian leaders into forests where they fled. The Delhi Catholic Archdiocese fears a repeat of 1998 attacks on Christians in Gujarat, followed the next year by the burning alive of Australian missionary Graham Staines and his sons in Orissa.

-Compass Direct News

Religious violence in Nigeria

KANO, Nigeria, November 26 – Church leaders said violence over local elections in the Sumaila area this month included a religious element, with Muslims killing one Christian in an attack on a Christian settlement. Eyewitnesses said violence broke out in the Gani electoral ward of Sumaila on November 17 after news reports showed that the Christian candidate for councillor for the Peoples Democratic Party, Zara Gambo, was ahead in the polls, signifying the first ever victory for a Christian candidate in the area. As a result, Muslims attacked Christians in Gani town and in Gani Mission, a Christian settlement in the area, destroying their houses and shops, injuring several of them and killing school teacher Danyaro Bala. Sani Duma, Bala’s brother, told Compass that he believes Muslims killed the church elder in order to cow area Christians into submitting to Islam. “Religion is at the center of this attack on us and the killing of my brother,” Duma said. “The selection of only houses of Christians and their shops for destruction shows clearly that Muslims were out to force us into submitting to their hold on political leadership.”

-Compass Direct News

Frequent attacks against Turkish Protestants

From Compass Direct News

Turkish Protestants have reported increasing attacks and threats in recent months despite claims by President Abdullah Gul this week that Christians in Turkey are not targeted.

Believers told Compass that threats have increased since two Turkish Christian converts and a German Christian were tortured and killed at Zirve Publishing House in Malatya on April 18. Neighbors have threatened Christian radio station workers in Ankara in recent weeks, and a visitor to Antalya’s Bible Church this summer attacked an elderly member with a chair.

Antalya Bible Church pastor Ramazan Arkan said that he is pursuing four court cases against Rasim Eryildiz, a construction worker who began threatening church members in May.

“He came approximately 15 times to harass us,” Arkan said. “Every time he’d come, we would complain to the police. They would arrest him and then let him go.”

After one such incident on June 22, Eryildiz returned drunk the next morning and began shouting vulgarities at a Christian who was trying to enter the church.

“I will kill you and turn this into a Malatya incident,” Eryildiz said. “I will f— this church’s priest and kill him.”

But at a court hearing on July 31, judge Hakan Sil decided to free Eryildiz. The following week, neighbors warned Arkan that the construction worker had been looking for the pastor in his home. The next hearing is scheduled for November 11.

On August 19, following a Sunday morning service, Altan Gultekin, a visitor who claimed to be a Christian, grabbed a chair in the church garden and leveled an 82-year-old church member.

“[Gultekin] was about to hit the man a second time when our friends jumped on him and subdued him until the police could arrive,” Arkan said.

The blow badly cut the elderly Christian’s arm and head. “There was blood everywhere, but fortunately one of the believers is a doctor and was able to do some emergency treatment right away,” Arkan said.

At a local hospital emergency room, doctors gave the Christian nine stitches in his arm and another 12 in his head.

Gultekin began threatening to murder Arkan when the pastor told police that he wanted to open a court case against the attacker. But later, at the police station, officials told Arkan that only the victim of the attack could press charges. In addition, they claimed that Gultekin had been diagnosed with psychological problems.

“Police told me, ‘Ramazan [Arkan], even if you become a complainant it won’t change anything, because he has a medical report and he’ll be set free,” Arkan said.

The elderly victim of the attack declined to file an official complaint against Gultekin.

On August 24, the week of the attack, Arkan submitted an official request for police protection for his church. Since then, officers have stepped up patrols around the building, and plainclothes officers sit in the church garden during services.

“The interesting thing is that until I went to the police [to request protection], we always suffered from this harassment, whether from Altan Gultekin or Rasim Eryildiz,” Arkan said. “But as soon as I went, the threats ended just like that. It shows they can stop this if they want.”

Media Buzz

Despite the threats, Arkan said that he believes Christians in Antalya, one of Turkey’s most popular tourist destinations, have an easier situation than believers in other areas of the country.

“The police here have been very helpful, most of the pressure we experience is from the media,” Arkan said.

The pastor has appealed a court case he lost against local newspaper Kitle, which published an article claiming the church was traumatizing children by putting on a passion play.

In February 21 front page article titled, “Scandal in the Church,” the paper cited anonymous psychologists who said that baptizing children could cause lasting trauma. The article printed pictures of a passion play from the church website and claimed that the church was playing on the emotions of youth by making them smear tomato paste on their faces and then “crucifying” them.

“All of these events take place in front of small innocent children who come to the church,” the article stated.

On March 2, an Antalya court ruled against Arkan, saying that the pastor could not sue the newspaper for slander because his name was not used in the article, though it referred several times to the “church pastor.”

“This is a pretty serious thing, because they are trying to destroy our reputation with the people here,” Arkan said.

Threats at the Front Door

Christian radio station staff members in Ankara have also seen an increase in threats from visitors to their front door since the Malatya attacks in April.

“Actually, it was only after Malatya that this started,” Radio Shema Director Soner Tufan said. “Before, they wouldn’t directly contact us. Sometimes they would fax us or e-mail us, but they wouldn’t even call us on the telephone.”

Tufan said that, since May, at least three times a month men have come to the station’s door and threatened workers. One man ran away when a radio staff member opened the door, but he telephoned the office minutes later to say, “We’ll tear this place down on top of you, you’re doing missionary work.”

In order to beef up security, radio staff members installed a video camera outside their front door and now refuse to open up for anyone they don’t know.

Using security camera footage, police managed to arrest four of the culprits on July 24. Several of the men turned out to be members of a local sports association whose offices are located in the apartment across the corridor from the radio station.

After taking their statements, officials released the men. A date has yet to be set for the first hearing.

“Most recently, we had one man come on Thursday last week at 8:10 a.m.,” Tufan said. “He told us over the intercom that he was a policeman who was there to do a routine check.”

Tufan said that radio personnel refused to open the door, and the man eventually left. When the Christians discussed the visit with the local security office later in the day, officials denied that they had sent anyone to the radio station that morning.

A second man rang the bell two hours later, claiming to be a salesman. Using security camera footage, radio staff members watched from inside the apartment as he eventually gave up waiting for the door to open and went into the sports association offices across the hall.

Two months ago, the radio station installed shutters over its windows to prevent them from being broken almost weekly, Tufan said.

President in Denial

“There are no attacks targeting Christians in Turkey,” Turkish President Abdullah Gul told a Council of Europe gathering in Strasbourg, France on Wednesday (October 3).

He claimed that attacks against Christians were “political crimes,” and mentioned the murder of Catholic Priest Andrea Santoro in February 2006, according to an October 4 article in the Turkish Daily News. He said that the murderer, a juvenile, had been quickly captured and tried before independent courts.

An Ankara appeals court yesterday upheld the murderer’s jail sentence of 18 years and 10 months. During initial police interrogations, the killer reportedly confessed that he had murdered the priest as revenge against Danish cartoons of Muhammad, the prophet of Islam.

Gul did not mention the brutal torture and murder in April of the three Christians at Zirve offices in Malatya. The murderers said they had killed the Christians to serve their country and because the Christians were attacking their religion, according to initial press reports.

“In the last year, there have been scores of threats or attacks on congregations and church buildings,” a report by the legal committee of the Turkish Alliance of Protestant Churches said last month.

“It’s not really possible for the government be completely unaware of this,” Tufan said. “There has been an increase of attacks since Malatya.”