Wednesday, November 11, 2009

LHP Review: War on Islamic Terrorism Edition

Webster, Alexander F. C. and Darrell Cole. The Virtue of War: Reclaiming the Classic Christian Traditions East and West The Christian Answer to the Peace Movement. Salisbury, MA: Regina Orthodox Press, 2004. 252 Pages. Paper. $19.95. (LHP)

Trifkovic, Serge. Defeating Jihad: How the War on Terror May Yet Be Won, in Spite of Ourselves. Salisbury, MA: Regina Orthodox Press, 2006. 335 Pages. Paper. $22.95.
Our TV screens have been filled with commentary. Was the Ft. Hood shooter a so-called "nut" or was he an terrorist rooted in radicalized Islam? The War on Terror rages on and blood has been spilled on our one of our own. 
Much of the traditional media has been reluctant to call the Ft. Hood massacre "terrorism" (,2933,574290,00.html).
Enter two timely books for your consideration published by Regina Orthodox Press.

In brief, author Serge Trifkovic is not politically correct. And as long-time readers of QBR know, that can be a very, very good thing. He calls for a victory in the war against jihad. And he actually believes it could be won.
The book shows its age, calling for an ethnic division of Iraq (304) similar to the proposals of some politicians before the military surge implemented amid much controversy, but leading to great success. Some may criticize the author for calling for an end to the openended decade-long policy of America being the world's policeman (262).
To summarize, the author holds that the greatest opponents to victory are not the terrorists themselves, but some within American society and western civilization that are inexplicably anti-West. To defeat jihad, the author calls for us and decision-makers to know our enemy, for America to dis-engage in the Middle East in appropriate ways, and to defend the homeland (using effective, but in ways that are not politically correct).
Pastors and Lutheran laypeople would benefit from this book in order to better understand the threat. We can pray for the conversion of Muslims to Christianity, especially those who have legally emigrated to the United States.
"A phenomenon initially based on local groups that have acquired global reach is morphing into a global network. Bin Laden's network may have been damaged but he could never have dreamed that the world, many years after 9-11, would be so favorable to his objectives.

"A new strategy is needed. The victory will come not be conquering Mecca for America but by disengaging America from Mecca.
- define and understand the enemy
- survey the defenses
- have a grand strategy

"Our strategy must entail denying potential terrorists a foothold inside the United States. And we must regain our moral, spiritual, and civilizational roots" (publisher's website).

Are not these goals compatible with the "peaceable and quiet life" we Christians so often pray for?

War, while regrettable, bloody, and tragic can be virtuous as a corporate manifestation of "self defense." While Gene Edward Veith's Christianity in Age of Terrorism may be a stronger and more timeless book overall, Webster and Cole's The Virtue of War has the benefit of demonstrating the theology behind just war (in the West) and justifiable war (in the East).
Traditional criterial for a Just War are put forth (51ff) and our own Martin Luther is quoted briefly but favorably (151-154).
I would love to have a further discussion with the authors about a denial of self-defense (67, Luther would disagree), prayers to St. George (79), and a confusing page on penance (215) that seems to deny Jesus' forgiveness covering all of our unrighteousness (1 John 8-9).
Christians are often aware that God says, "Vengeance is Mine" in Romans 12. Those same Christians are often unaware that the Lord's avengers in time "bear the sword" as His representatives until the Last Judgement (Romans 13).
"The way of life in the West is currently under assault, and Western Civilization hangs in the balance. Christians need to reclaim the great moral teachings on war and peace from the contemporary revisionists who would have Christians believe it is necessary to choose a “lesser evil” for a good cause or as a way of being “responsible” citizens of a nation-state.

"Professors Webster and Cole explore in detail the great moral teachings found in Holy Scripture, the ancient and Byzantine Church Fathers, canon law, manuals of penance, lives of the saints, liturgical texts, visual icons, the medieval Scholastics, the great Reformers, and even among modern theologians and literary authors. They present a powerful, genuinely ecumenical, meticulously documented, incontrovertible case on behalf of the moral teachings known to Eastern Orthodox, Roman Catholic, and Protestant Christians as the just or justifiable war traditions. This book provides a firm biblical, theological, and historical foundation for that confidence and is an incontrovertible answer to the “Christian” peace movement" (publisher's website).

This Veterans' Day, thank a veteran for his or her service to our country. Thank the family of a fallen solider for their sacrifice. Pray for peace in the name of the Prince of Peace. And pray for our leaders, our troops, those they serve, and for the salvation in Christ of all involved.

The Rev. Paul J Cain is Pastor of Immanuel Lutheran Church, Sheridan, Wyoming, Headmaster of Martin Luther Grammar School, Wyoming District Worship Chairman, and Editor of QBR.