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Candidates say Scripture justifies war
Spartanburg Herald-Journal ^ | September 2, 2007 | Jason Spencer

Posted on 09/02/2007 5:04:30 AM PDT by Clear Rivers

If you happened to be in a crowded room at The Beacon Drive-In one Wednesday in late August, you would have heard a man in a suit reference Genesis Chapter 50, the book of Isaiah, and using two fish and five loaves of bread to feed thousands of people.

It wasn't a sermon.

It was former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, a 2008 presidential contender, during a stump speech in front of a room full of Republicans.

Using biblical references on the campaign trail isn't unusual, especially in the conservative core of South Carolina. Often, they can be heard when candidates spell out their positions on abortion or gay rights. Kansas Sen. Sam Brownback regularly repeats "All for Jesus" when he's in front of a crowd, for instance.

"If you're a Republican candidate campaigning in Spartanburg ... right now, you have to do whatever ever it takes to stay alive, and that means courting a constituency that can help you," said Laura Olson, an expert in American religion and politics at Clemson University. "In the Republican primary in South Carolina, an absolute crucial constituency would be social conservatives, value voters, evangelical Protestants - call them whatever you want. Quoting scripture would be speaking their language.

"In a national sense, it could be a problem. But in Spartanburg, South Carolina, you're going to alienate fewer people than you're going to attract."

While many candidates are quick to cite the Bible when it comes to social issues (or, in the case of Huckabee's latest visit, the state of his campaign), they are much less likely to run to the Good Book when it comes to the ongoing war in the Middle East, which has left thousands of Iraqis dead.

In a series of interviews with top Republican candidates or members of their campaigns during the past month, the Herald-Journal asked how supporting such a war meshes with the most basic biblical teachings such as "love thy enemy" or "thou shall not kill." Most defended the war in Iraq as "just" - morally acceptable, despite the nature of warfare.

What they said

• Huckabee, who calls the war against terror "World War III," is a Baptist preacher and pointed out that the literal translation of the Sixth Commandment is "Thou shall not do murder."

"The same Bible that says 'thou shall not kill' is filled with references to war," Huckabee said. "It's never an ideal. It always should be the last resort. But I don't think anybody would deny that war was a necessary action to stop Adolph Hitler, to stop the invasion of Japan in the United States, and to stop many evils that have happened throughout history. It's not something that you take lightly or enter into with a cavalier spirit, but sometimes it is the only way to put aside an evil that is determined to destroy others."

• Arizona Sen. John McCain, an Episcopalian, cited a chapter in his latest book, "Hard Call," that focuses on American theologian Reinhold Niebuhr.

"Niebuhr argued in his rejection of pacifism during World War II that man, self-interested by nature, cannot hope to replicate Christ's perfect love, but at best can hope to work in history to achieve a derivative of his love: justice," McCain said in a statement. "War, if it is waged in the cause of doing justice, may be morally acceptable to Christians, as long as - and this is important - we have the humility to accept that we are engaged in a morally hazardous action, and that our pride and self-interest, if we are not very careful, could subvert the very cause of justice we intended to serve."

• Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, a Mormon, initially laughed at the question, and then pointed out that the issue had been debated for years by theologians and philosophers.

"Radical violent jihad is evil," Romney then said. "It is the same face that Hitler's holocaust camps showed the world during the second World War. And it is good and right to combat forces of evil, such as those represented by Osama bin Laden, al-Qaida, Hezbollah, Hamas and other groups that preach terror and hate and destruction."

• Brownback, who converted from Methodist to Catholic in 2002, pointed out that America's invasion of Iraq was closely on the heels of 9/11, and that his feeling was that Saddam Hussein had used gas against his own people and that U.S. intelligence showed that he had chemical weapons.

"I thought he would give them to terrorists to use against us, not al-Qaida, necessarily, but other terrorists that were operating on his soil," Brownback said. "I wasn't willing to let him kill our people, and I think that is a just war situation - that combination of what he had done to his own people and the very real threat I believed he was to our people."

• Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani perhaps least often uses biblical references to justify his positions - he's said on numerous occasions he likes to keep those feelings between himself and his Catholic priest.

Giuliani, in past interviews with the Herald-Journal and other papers, has pointed out on abortion, for instance, that his position rests in the Republican belief that government should not intrude into a person's life.

His campaign offered this excerpt from a speech Giuliani delivered at The Citadel in May: "Our ideas of freedom, democracy, respect for human rights, respect for human life, and the rule of law ...

"These are the principles that the human heart and the human soul yearn for. These are gifts that are given to us, not by government, not by men or women - these are gifts that are given to us by God."

What it means

The idea of a "just" war goes back hundreds of years - St. Thomas Aquinas defined it in the 1200s, and even he was referencing St. Augustine's works from the 4th century. But the idea still guides politicians today: President Bush first used the term "evildoers" on Sept. 14, 2001, and has used it repeatedly since.

Clemson University political science professor Dave Woodard pointed out that just war theory was debated often during World War II, Vietnam and the first Gulf War. In Vietnam, for instance, America decided it would be immoral to bomb dikes and flood civilians. President George H.W. Bush faced the same questions during his term.

"The purpose of war is to bring about peace," Woodard said. "Morally, he thought we were slaughtering them, and he wanted to end the conflict.

It turned out, when it was over, we weren't doing as well as it seemed we did in the pictures. So, he left Saddam Hussein in power and pulled out."

In his "Summa Theologiae," Aquinas argued that there are three conditions for a just war - that the ruler for whom the war is fought must have the authority to do so; that a just cause is required, so that those upon whom war is waged "deserve" such a response; and that the war is conducted to achieve good or avoid evil. Citing Augustine, he states, "For the true followers of God, even wars are peaceful if they are waged not out of greed or cruelty, but for the sake of peace, to restrain the evildoers and assist the good," according to one translation.

In modern terms, that means asking whether a war is justifiable or whether the ends justify the means, Olson said.

"Most social conservatives would say yes, because they tie it to 9/11 and other things tied to 9/11," she said.

But it's a fine line the candidates must walk.

The last thing any of them wants to do is tie their morals or values regarding the war directly to Christianity, because then the debate turns into one of Christianity versus Islam, Olson said.

"The war is very controversial," she said.

"And the war itself doesn't inspire quite as much agreement among social conservatives as gay rights and abortion would. It's certainly true that a majority of social conservatives would support the war, at least to some extent. But you want to find ways of attracting people, keeping them on the same stage. It's one thing to try to mobilize social conservative voters by talking about homosexuality, abortion ... but the war is a whole different can of worms to open.

"Not that abortion and homosexuality aren't controversial - they are. But ... the war is a messier issue for this audience."


TOPICS: Constitution/Conservatism; News/Current Events; US: South Carolina
KEYWORDS: 2008; augustine; brownback; hunckabee; justwar; sc2008; scripture; thomasaquinas; war

1 posted on 09/02/2007 5:04:34 AM PDT by Clear Rivers
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To: Clear Rivers
"The last thing any of them wants to do is tie their morals or values regarding the war directly to Christianity, because then the debate turns into one of Christianity versus Islam, Olson said."

Like that's a bad thing.

2 posted on 09/02/2007 5:13:14 AM PDT by BipolarBob (Yes I backed over the vampire, but I swear I didn't see it in my rear view mirror.)
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To: Clear Rivers

More bias, word for word, than even the NYT dares to print. And though he can’t spell Adolf, he attempts to bring a historical perspective (with a selection of comments, as if quotation marks are magic talismans against any suspicion of bias).


3 posted on 09/02/2007 5:41:11 AM PDT by Graymatter
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To: Clear Rivers
If we are to qoute the Bible to justify war, let us fight the war as it is ordered to be fought in the Bible. Why did God fire Saul and hire David? Because Saul, like George Bush, pussy footed around instead of killing all.

Close the borders and fight to win, that is the candidate I will support.

4 posted on 09/02/2007 5:54:17 AM PDT by wearearepublic
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To: wearearepublic

See my tagline...Only one out of the bunch that is action, not talk!


5 posted on 09/02/2007 6:19:17 AM PDT by Issaquahking (Duncan Hunter for President!)
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To: wearearepublic

“Close the borders and fight to win”? Then you want Duncan Hunter. These two issues are central themes of his campaign.


6 posted on 09/02/2007 6:25:18 AM PDT by buckeye49 (DUNCAN HUNTER FOR PRESIDENT '08)
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To: Graymatter
The heck with it, "onward Christian soldiers..."
7 posted on 09/02/2007 6:26:39 AM PDT by Rush4U
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To: Clear Rivers

Oh, now it’s evil for Western Civilization to defend itself. Not PC. (Pardon me while I throw up in the waste basket.)


8 posted on 09/02/2007 6:28:20 AM PDT by hershey
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To: BipolarBob
"The last thing any of them wants to do is tie their morals or values regarding the war directly to Christianity, because then the debate turns into one of Christianity versus Islam, Olson said."

Like that's a bad thing.

Yes it is! Why how would you like Muslems invoking their God for say a "jihad" against western civilization??? We need to leave them alone to peacefully practice their form of worship with car bombs and suicide bombers!

9 posted on 09/02/2007 6:39:16 AM PDT by Bommer (“He that controls the spice controls the universe!” (unfortunately that spice is Nutmeg!))
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To: Clear Rivers
Romans 13:3,4 For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same:

For he (a ruler or government) is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to [execute] wrath upon him that doeth evil.

Looks pretty clear to me that the Apostle Paul, who was clearly led by God, believed that rulers/governments had a duty to punish evil and protect good.

Now, I don't personally believe that every Christian is led by God to join the Military, but being willing to be a part of the "sword" of government to punish the "evil doers" is being a "minister of God."

Sincerely
10 posted on 09/02/2007 6:44:32 AM PDT by ScubieNuc
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To: Clear Rivers
"The same Bible that says 'thou shall not kill' is filled with references to war," Huckabee said. "It's never an ideal. It always should be the last resort. But I don't think anybody would deny that war was a necessary action to stop Adolph Hitler, to stop the invasion of Japan in the United States, and to stop many evils that have happened throughout history. It's not something that you take lightly or enter into with a cavalier spirit, but sometimes it is the only way to put aside an evil that is determined to destroy others."

I do not like war anymore than anyone else. However, this commandment Huckabee uses is specific to premeditated homicide.... laying in wait .... with 'evil' intent.... say like rape.... robbery... etc.

The facts regarding this particular war, that the leftist keep trying to recreate into their last war they pulled the plug, was started by these global terrorists premeditated killers. It is a national duty Biblically speaking to defend and protect civilizations against the viral spreading of premeditated killers whether said virus is called a religion or by some other name.

Wonder does the Bible say anything about waring in say Iraq and neighborhoods...

11 posted on 09/02/2007 6:51:57 AM PDT by Just mythoughts
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To: ScubieNuc
It is your SACRED DUTY to oppose evil, whether you are a government or a person.
12 posted on 09/02/2007 6:54:38 AM PDT by AmericaUnited
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To: Just mythoughts
The same Bible that says 'thou shall not kill'

I believe the correct translation is "murder", not "kill". Totally different animals.

13 posted on 09/02/2007 6:56:37 AM PDT by AmericaUnited
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To: BipolarBob

Yes it is like SUPER ULTIMATE politically incorrect.


14 posted on 09/02/2007 7:00:40 AM PDT by expatguy (Support Conservative Blogging - "An American Expat in Southeast Asia")
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To: AmericaUnited
I believe the correct translation is "murder", not "kill". Totally different animals.

Yes, reason why I put the specific meaning of "murder" premeditated with evil intent. The Bible goes into detail about loss of life, from accidental to premeditated. Even tells what the penalty required in prevention of further 'crime'. Sadly those 'standards' are not seen as fit in much of secularism and even some religions.

15 posted on 09/02/2007 7:06:23 AM PDT by Just mythoughts
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To: Just mythoughts
from accidental

There were even sanctuary cities where the 'perp' could be safe from the mad family and friends.

16 posted on 09/02/2007 7:08:57 AM PDT by AmericaUnited
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To: Graymatter

...and nary a mention of a single dimocRAT’s views.


17 posted on 09/02/2007 7:11:50 AM PDT by miele man (Continually voting against iodine deficient libs for 42 years)
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To: AmericaUnited
There were even sanctuary cities where the 'perp' could be safe from the mad family and friends.

Very insightful for sheepherders, seemed to work every time it was tried.

18 posted on 09/02/2007 7:13:23 AM PDT by Just mythoughts
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To: AmericaUnited
It is your SACRED DUTY to oppose evil, whether you are a government or a person.

True, but you can oppose evil in more ways then being in the military. I recognize that Christians have different callings for God. (1 Cor 12:28 & Eph 4:11)Not everybody is fit to be in the military. A Christian's primary service is to God First; Family, Country, and Community are secondary.

As a Christian, our primary fight isn't a physical one but one of the spirit. (Eph. 6:12) After all, what does it profit the world if freedom is everywhere but people still die in their sins? (A slight revision of Mark 8:36)

Sincerely
19 posted on 09/02/2007 8:54:17 AM PDT by ScubieNuc
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To: AmericaUnited

Amen.


20 posted on 09/02/2007 8:55:21 AM PDT by Larry Lucido (Hunter 2008)
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To: expatguy
Yes it is like SUPER ULTIMATE politically incorrect.

Tying ones world views (war or anything) to Christianity may be considered a super bad thing but that is the only way to stay true to ones religion or values. Being politically correct, in other words, is being a hypocritical lying crapweasel who will do anything to get elected without regard to principles or morality.

21 posted on 09/02/2007 9:01:36 AM PDT by BipolarBob (Yes I backed over the vampire, but I swear I didn't see it in my rear view mirror.)
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To: ScubieNuc

Agree 100%. My point was that to oppose a just war or also do nothing is wrong.

There is a very instructive story in Judges 19+20. An evil deed was committed, and those that did nothing (”Hey, we can’t be bothered”) were then killed, after the bad guys and those that gave them shelter were killed.


22 posted on 09/02/2007 9:10:39 AM PDT by AmericaUnited
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To: AmericaUnited
There is a very instructive story in Judges 19+20.

Thanks for the tip. I'll read that today.

Sincerely
23 posted on 09/02/2007 9:27:42 AM PDT by ScubieNuc
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To: AmericaUnited
WOW!

What an amazing story, and yet scary at the same time.

First you have a Levite who is threatened By people from the tribe of Benjamin. Next, you have this man "sacrifice" his concubine for his own safety. Then you have his callous nature toward her body to awaken Israel to the problem in it's own midst. The tribe of Benjamin rejects correction and gears up to defend it's own tribes lawlessness.

Now Israel (minus Benjamin of course) assembles and army of 400,000 to fight a civil war and reestablish justice and unity. In the first to battles, Israel loses 22,000 and 18,000 men. In the third battle Benjamin loses 25,000 men and is defeated as a force that protects evil.

The following is part of a commentary I read about this event and I feel that it could be applied to America today.

God used this to humble the whole nation. They had to understand that the horror of the crime at Gibeah was not merely the result of the sin of one group of men, or one city, or even one tribe. The whole nation had to be humbled because they first thought that the sin problem was only in Benjamin. Israel had to see that that nation as a whole had a sin problem.

After the first failure, Israel was sorry and wept. But it was only after the second failure that they put their repentance into action by fasting and made a sacrifice for sins. Sorrow and weeping are not enough if they are not matched by real repentance and taking care of the sin problem through sacrifice - the sacrifice of the cross.


When I look at the sin that abounds in Hollywood or San Francisco, I'm thinking along the lines that Israel was thinking..."That's not my problem." From this story, you get the impression that God doesn't look at nations that way. Would America be willing to pay the cost that Israel paid to bring justice and decency back to America. I don't think America, as a whole even wants to return to a God honoring type of decency.

Scary and sad at the same time.

Sincerely
24 posted on 09/02/2007 1:32:23 PM PDT by ScubieNuc
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To: ScubieNuc
But the big part of the story that is relevant is the part where tribe that did’nt show up to help fight against the evildoers were punished big time also.
25 posted on 09/02/2007 3:52:35 PM PDT by AmericaUnited
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To: ScubieNuc
Read chapter 21. The tribe of Jabeshgilead did'nt bother to help fight against the evil and they were killed for it.

And the children of Israel said, Who is there among all the tribes of Israel that came not up with the congregation unto the LORD? For they had made a great oath concerning him that came not up to the LORD to Mizpeh, saying, He shall surely be put to death. ...
8 And they said, What one is there of the tribes of Israel that came not up to Mizpeh to the LORD? And, behold, there came none to the camp from Jabeshgilead to the assembly. 9 For the people were numbered, and, behold, there were none of the inhabitants of Jabeshgilead there. 10 And the congregation sent thither twelve thousand men of the valiantest, and commanded them, saying, Go and smite the inhabitants of Jabeshgilead with the edge of the sword, with the women and the children. 11 And this is the thing that ye shall do, Ye shall utterly destroy every male, and every woman that hath lain by man.

26 posted on 09/02/2007 3:58:24 PM PDT by AmericaUnited
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To: AmericaUnited
Ahhh. That story is in Judges 21, not Judges 19 and 20.

The commentary I read about slaughtering the city was that was a bad decision based on a bad oath.

Who is there among all the tribes of Israel who did not come up with the assembly to the Lord? . . . He shall surely be put to death: Here again Israel did something that seemed right at the time, but was actually a horror. They decided to slaughter a whole city of Israel, a city that refused to join with Israel in the fight against Benjamin.

i. This is doing one bad thing to make up for another. Israel instead should have repented of their foolish oath made at Mizpah, and they should have agreed to give their daughters as wives to the men of the tribe of Benjamin, renouncing the foolish vow of Judges 21:1.


Sincerely
27 posted on 09/02/2007 5:03:35 PM PDT by ScubieNuc
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To: Clear Rivers
I am from Muhlenberg County Kentucky, which is named after Gen. Peter Muhlenberg, seen here in this statue inside the U.S. Capitol!

Click to see wikipedia.org info on Gen. Peter Muhlenberg

Peter Muhlenberg Statue
U.S. Capitol

"In January of 1776, Muhlenberg sent word for his congregation to gather for his farewell sermon. Ascending his familiar pulpit, he preached from Ecclesiastes 3:1-8. The sermon glowed throughout with devoted patriotism as the man of God told his people of his own resolve to fight and, if need be, to die for his country. He closed his message with these words: "In the language of holy writ, there is a time for all things, a time to preach and a time to pray, but the time for me to preach has passed away." Then in a voice that re-echoed through the church like a trumpet blast, he exclaimed, "And there is also a time to fight, and that time has now come." After pronouncing the benediction, Muhlenberg threw off his clerical gown and stood before his people in full military uniform. Stepping down the aisle, he ordered the drums at the door to beat for new recruits. The whole village gathered at the church to learn what strange event had turned a quiet church meeting into a scene of bustle and excitement."


Christians should be interested in winning souls for Christ but also preserving our heritage and the political environment that many of our forefathers fought and died for so that our religious institutions could flourish.
28 posted on 09/02/2007 5:13:25 PM PDT by DocRock (All they that take the sword shall perish with the sword. Matthew 26:52 ... Go ahead, look it up!)
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To: Clear Rivers
I am from Muhlenberg County Kentucky, which is named after Gen. Peter Muhlenberg, seen here in this statue inside the U.S. Capitol!

Click to see wikipedia.org info on Gen. Peter Muhlenberg

Peter Muhlenberg Statue
U.S. Capitol

"In January of 1776, Muhlenberg sent word for his congregation to gather for his farewell sermon. Ascending his familiar pulpit, he preached from Ecclesiastes 3:1-8. The sermon glowed throughout with devoted patriotism as the man of God told his people of his own resolve to fight and, if need be, to die for his country. He closed his message with these words: "In the language of holy writ, there is a time for all things, a time to preach and a time to pray, but the time for me to preach has passed away." Then in a voice that re-echoed through the church like a trumpet blast, he exclaimed, "And there is also a time to fight, and that time has now come." After pronouncing the benediction, Muhlenberg threw off his clerical gown and stood before his people in full military uniform. Stepping down the aisle, he ordered the drums at the door to beat for new recruits. The whole village gathered at the church to learn what strange event had turned a quiet church meeting into a scene of bustle and excitement."


Christians should be interested in winning souls for Christ but also preserving our heritage and the political environment that many of our forefathers fought and died for so that our religious institutions could flourish.
29 posted on 09/02/2007 5:14:24 PM PDT by DocRock (All they that take the sword shall perish with the sword. Matthew 26:52 ... Go ahead, look it up!)
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To: DocRock
my internet hiccuped, sorry for the double post
30 posted on 09/02/2007 5:15:14 PM PDT by DocRock (All they that take the sword shall perish with the sword. Matthew 26:52 ... Go ahead, look it up!)
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To: Clear Rivers

Evangelical Protestants are good people. That’s why the MSM despises them so much.


31 posted on 09/02/2007 5:17:22 PM PDT by Rosemont
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To: ScubieNuc

I have to disagree with the commentary. If a tribe did not want to help oppose evil, they should have been “eliminated”.


32 posted on 09/02/2007 6:01:18 PM PDT by AmericaUnited
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To: AmericaUnited
If a tribe did not want to help oppose evil, they should have been “eliminated”.

Well, on this, I'll have to disagree with you. Yes, I agree that not doing anything about evil is wrong. Yes, I agree that the tribe that didn't show up should have been chastised in some way. However, Israel backed themselves into a corner that God did not ordain (i.e. kill anyone who doesn't join up).

Jesus warns about making oaths in Matthew 5: 33-37

¶ Again, ye have heard that it hath been said by them of old time, Thou shalt not forswear thyself, but shalt perform unto the Lord thine oaths: But I say unto you, Swear not at all; neither by heaven; for it is God's throne: Nor by the earth; for it is his footstool: neither by Jerusalem; for it is the city of the great King. Neither shalt thou swear by thy head, because thou canst not make one hair white or black. But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil.

I can also see how Catholics may have used your understanding of Judges 21 to prosecute the Inquisition. If a person isn't taking a stand for the Church, then they are allowing evil to flourish. If they are not taking a stand against evil....kill them.

Sincerely
33 posted on 09/03/2007 8:24:08 AM PDT by ScubieNuc
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To: wearearepublic
"Why did God fire Saul and hire David? Because Saul, like George Bush, pussy footed around instead of killing all."

Even more to the point, why were the Jews forced to wander around in the wilderness for an extra 40 years? Because they were afraid to invade the land God gave them and exterminate every man, woman and child who were already there. Eventually Joshua decided to follow God's instructions and do just that.

34 posted on 09/03/2007 8:34:53 AM PDT by joebuck
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