Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Reconstructing a murder case

This post is a follow-up to my previous post The sad, but true story of the Amalekites.

In God’s Law and Society: Foundations in Christian Reconstruction a number of Christian Reconstructionists answer a number of questions about the glorious future that will come when all nations on earth have become Christian. All this is to be accomplished simply by having people obey God's Law, whereby is meant the 10 Commandments. Occasionally it is mentioned that the other Mosaic Commandments - apart from ceremonial and dietary laws - are part of God's law as well. But we are assured that only the 10 Commandments are necessary, no further laws will be needed, and people are even allowed to be non-Christians - in their own homes. But then there are those other Mosaic Commandments that must be obeyed as well, because they are the words of Jesus. So all that's demanded is that you obey the 10 Commandments - and all the others.

But, we ask, what kind of punishments will there be in this glorious society? According to p. 73, there will be capital punishment:

Taking presuppositions that there has been a revival, that the nation has in fact turned to God, that there has been national repentance, that there has been some kind of reformation and return to sola scriptura—it is the final authority in all matters that it addresses. Murder is murder. Coming back to where we are today, it unnecessarily muddies up the water of the debate about abortion. People would say, “If we had a Christian nation, should we execute abortionists?” I believe it will happen. We will have that kind of Revival and Reformation. Then the laws about murder will apply.

So, murder is murder. But where do we enter that circular definition? What is murder?

In 1 samuel 15, God orders the total destruction of the Amalekites, including children and animals, to King Saul. Is God ordering murder here? God is ordering a deliberate killing of people, some of which could hardly have committed a worse crime than belonging to the wrong nation.

On p. 50 we have this interesting paragraph:

So we are not talking about Ayatollah Khomeini’s Iran. We are not talking about Islamic law. We’re talking about biblical law. If we go back and we look at the Commonwealth of the Hebrew Republic, before the kings, we see a very decentralized system of government. Many people have the notion that Moses was a dictator, but that was only in the initial stages of the Exodus, which was primarily a military operation. Soon after that we see that Moses was going to wear away the people and God not only gave 70 elders, but princes and captains of fifties and tens.

No, I haven't ever heard about the "Commonwealth of the Hebrew Republic" before either. Moses was only a dictator in the beginning, we are told. Does that mean that the author finds it ok to begin a republic with a dictatorship?

But let's look a bit more on that republic before the kings. On p. 42 we read:

No matter how good the system, unless it is under the aegis and covering of God’s Law, any system can revert to tyranny. It can be the tyranny of the majority of paganism, of humanism. Even in Israel, in the Hebrew Commonwealth, when they began to apostatize and fall away from God’s Law, what did they begin to cry out for?—a tyrant, a king “like all he [sic] other nations” (1 Samuel 8:5). They paid the price for it in terms of wars, tyrannical suppression and taxation, and ultimately in the division of their nation in two separate entities and then the invasion of foreign pagan powers to bring them under the enslavement of their anti-God ways. So they ultimately paid the price and we will too if we don’t turn back to God’s Law.

As for wars and tyrannical suppression, Judges tells of nothing but that, so no change there in the kingdom. Also there didn't seem to be much of a Commonwealth, the tribes apparently operating independently with only the occasional judge gathering a few tribes together for a battle. As for taxation, if there really was a republic, there also was taxation. The latin word res publica literally means 'the public affairs' such as building and maintaining roads, bridges, and water supplies. Unless there were no public affairs and hence no republic, there was taxation.

And, talking about Judges, what does it say about the kingless period? There is a particularly nasty story in Judges 19-21, where all the other Israelite tribes wage war against the tribe of Benjamin. We won't go into the background here, but skip to, where the tribes apart from Benjamin go to ask God for advise:

Jdg 20:18 And the children of Israel arose, and went up to Beth-el, and asked counsel of God; and they said, Who shall go up for us first to battle against the children of Benjamin? And Jehovah said, Judah shall go up first.

But Judah is beaten, 18,000 men killed.

So they try again:

Jdg 20:23 And the children of Israel went up and wept before Jehovah until even; and they asked of Jehovah, saying, Shall I again draw nigh to battle against the children of Benjamin my brother? And Jehovah said, Go up against him.

But the children of Israel are beaten, 18,000 men killed.

So they try again:

Jdg 20:26 Then all the children of Israel, and all the people, went up, and came unto Beth-el, and wept, and sat there before Jehovah, and fasted that day until even; and they offered burnt-offerings and peace-offerings before Jehovah.

Jdg 20:27 And the children of Israel asked of Jehovah (for the ark of the covenant of God was there in those days,

Jdg 20:28 and Phinehas, the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron, stood before it in those days), saying, Shall I yet again go out to battle against the children of Benjamin my brother, or shall I cease? And Jehovah said, Go up; for to-morrow I will deliver him into thy hand.

This time it works, and in the end only 600 Benjaminite men manage to flee to the Rock of Rimmon. Rather than chasing them, the other Israelites go on a massacre in Benjamin's territory:

Jdg 20:48 And the men of Israel turned again upon the children of Benjamin, and smote them with the edge of the sword, both the entire city, and the cattle, and all that they found: moreover all the cities which they found they set on fire.

After that with only the 600 Benjaminite men who fled to the Rock of Rimmon left of the whole tribe, the men of Israel again ask God:

Jdg 21:1 Now the men of Israel had sworn in Mizpah, saying, There shall not any of us give his daughter unto Benjamin to wife.

Jdg 21:2 And the people came to Beth-el, and sat there till even before God, and lifted up their voices, and wept sore.

Jdg 21:3 And they said, O Jehovah, the God of Israel, why is this come to pass in Israel, that there should be to-day one tribe lacking in Israel?

God doesn't answer.

There's more to the story, but we'll skip to the very end:

Jdg 21:25 In those days there was no king in Israel: every man did that which was right in his own eyes.

Apparently the morale is that without a king there will be war, even massacres, and even the high-priest and God himself will take part in this.

This is the kind of things that happen in a "republic" under God's Law.

Let's look at how it all started, not all the details, just a summary as told by one of the main characters:

Jdg 20:1 Then all the children of Israel went out, and the congregation was assembled as one man, from Dan even to Beer-sheba, with the land of Gilead, unto Jehovah at Mizpah.

Jdg 20:2 And the chiefs of all the people, even of all the tribes of Israel, presented themselves in the assembly of the people of God, four hundred thousand footmen that drew sword.

Jdg 20:3 (Now the children of Benjamin heard that the children of Israel were gone up to Mizpah.) And the children of Israel said, Tell us, how was this wickedness brought to pass?

Jdg 20:4 And the Levite, the husband of the woman that was murdered, answered and said, I came into Gibeah that belongeth to Benjamin, I and my concubine, to lodge.

Jdg 20:5 And the men of Gibeah rose against me, and beset the house round about me by night; me they thought to have slain, and my concubine they forced, and she is dead.

Jdg 20:6 And I took my concubine, and cut her in pieces, and sent her throughout all the country of the inheritance of Israel; for they have committed lewdness and folly in Israel.

It all started with one murder that was not ordered by God, but subsequently God was taking part in orders that led to the killing of several thousand people, including the almost extermination of the tribe of Benjamin.

Of course, we can say that the story illustrates that for God one murder is as serious as any number, and that all will be punished for it. But we can also say that the story illustrates that revenge is not a solution to any problems since it simply leads to even more violence, it's just yet another crime.

There is of course a clear difference to the Amalekite case, namely that the Benjaminites were Israelites, and special rules apply to family. The Amalekites were strangers, or were they? As mentioned in the prior post, the Amalekites were actually Edomites since they were descended from Esau and therefore also close relatives that were not to be abhored. Luckily they were descended, not only from Esau, but also from his Hittite wife, which made it more acceptable to wish them dead. There's always a bad excuse, an apologetic, isn't there? If nothing else, there's alway the excuse that God told you to do it, isn't there?

The Sixth Commandment says "Thou shalt not kill" (Exodus 20:13), where the word used for 'kill' literally means 'shatter in pieces'. That is, there is nothing with "unless God commanded you to kill", not even "except to defend yourself or your family".

That Christian Reconstructionists defend capital punishment under God's Law is just one of many examples that tell that they don't even have a case.

Concerning how to build up this reconstructed Christian society, we find this on p. 78:

You start with a group of serious Christians who are obedient and who are willing to die for the cause—to die for Jesus, the brethren and the Truth. If we don’t have that, we can’t make headway in any century, but particularly at a crisis point in history like we have now—the coming collision course between Christian philosophy and anti-Christian philosophy. We must have people willing for martyrdom and holy living.

In Mein Kampf, Adolf Hitler writes:

The Pan-German Movement could hope for success only if the leaders realized from the very first moment that here there was no question so much of a new Party as of a new Weltanschauung. This alone could arouse the inner moral forces that were necessary for such a gigantic struggle. And for this struggle the leaders must be men of first-class brains and indomitable courage. If the struggle on behalf of a Weltanschauung is not conducted by men of heroic spirit who are ready to sacrifice, everything, within a short while it will become impossible to find real fighting followers who are ready to lay down their lives for the cause. A man who fights only for his own existence has not much left over for the service of the community.

Slightly different words, but exactly the same content.

Sure, there is no anti-Semitism Christian Revonstructionism, and everything is to follow democratic rules. But assume the US economy worsens, what then?

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A Christian in Satanist clothes