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but they are for war

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Food Chains
and the War on Terror

Considering the killing that goes on in the food chain, some theologians have divided evil into two categories: the first category is demonic evil.  Demonic evil includes murder, conspiracy to murder, thoughts of murder, suicide and killing for pleasure or gain.  The second category is natural evil.  Natural evil is also called badness.  This is the evil that’s inherent in being alive within the context of a sinful world. 

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Codex Sinaiticus

New Testament:

from the famed discovery

 

The earliest, oldest New Testament text has finally been released to the public.  You may read the Codex Sinaiticus online - but only if you know Greek!  To read it inCodex Sinaiticus New Testament H T Anderson English English, you need the only English translation we know.  The H. T. Anderson English Translation of the Codex Sinaiticus, with the three extra early New Testament books and the Sonnini Manuscript of Acts 29 included, and the original absences of certain verses (put in there later by the 'church') is now available only at here.  

THIS IS NOT A CHEAP, SCANNED-IN FACSIMILE. This is a first edition of the text published in easy-to-read Georgia font with plenty of room between verses for your notes.2 points between verses, hard or soft cover.

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The Nazarene Acts
of the Apostles

Also known as
The Recognitions of Clement

Ever wonder why PAUL and not PETER received the mission to the lost tribes?  Wasn't Peter the stone upon which the "church" was to be built?  In this new translation of the Nazarene Acts, we follow Kefa (Peter) as he itinerates from Jerusalem and up the Mediterranean coast up to Tripoli, as recorded in the journals of his successor, Clement of Rome (Phi 4:3).  Every message Kefa preached, the company he kept, and the great works of faith the the Almighty accomplished through him are herein recorded.  This 300 page volume has been 'hidden' in the back of an obscure volume of the "Church Fathers" all this time.  Could it be that, in establishing the Gentile 'church' by pushing away from Judaism, this history was purposely hidden?

Snyder Bible Home   
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Matthew 18:21-35,
Sirach 27:30-28:7,
Psalm 103:6-18,
2 Corinthians 10:4-6

Matthew 18:21-35, Then Peter went up to him and said, "Master, how often must I forgive my brother if he wrongs me? As often as seven times?" 22. Yahshua answered, "Not seven, I tell you, but seventy-seven times.  23. 'And so the kingdom of Heaven may be compared to a king who decided to settle his accounts with his servants. 24. When the reckoning began, they brought him a man who owed ten thousand talents;25. he had no means of paying, so his master gave orders that he should be sold, together with his wife and children and all his possessions, to meet the debt. 26. At this, the servant threw himself down at his master's feet, with the words, `Be patient with me and I will pay the whole sum.' 27. And the servant's master felt so sorry for him that he let him go and cancelled the debt. 28. Now as this servant went out, he happened to meet a fellow-servant who owed him one hundred denarii; and he seized him by the throat and began to throttle him, saying, 'Pay what you owe me.' 29. His fellow-servant fell at his feet and appealed to him, saying, `Be patient with me and I will pay you.' 30. But the other would not agree; on the contrary, he had him thrown into prison till he should pay the debt. 31. His fellow-servants were deeply distressed when they saw what had happened, and they went to their master and reported the whole affair to him. 32. Then the master sent for the man and said to him, `You wicked servant, I cancelled all that debt of yours when you appealed to me. 33. Were you not bound, then, to have pity on your fellow-servant just as I had pity on you?' 34. And in his anger the master handed him over to the torturers till he should pay all his debt. 35. And that is how my heavenly Father will deal with you unless you each forgive your brother from your heart."


 The Food Chain

   In fourth grade, we learned about the “food chain.”  In the sea, sea plants and a variety of tiny animals called plankton are at the very bottom of the chain.  Feeding on these are animals of the next order – snails, jellyfish and starfish.  Other little animals and fish feed on both plankton and snails.  These in turn are eaten by larger fish such as tuna, mackerel and snapper.  These fairly large fish are then eaten by larger fish, like sharks, which are ferocious predators.  Who eats the shark?  You can find him on the menu in Pensacola.  And that’s how the food chain usually works: the big guys eat the little guys.

   On land, humans are also at the top of the food chain; we eat just about anything.  I was reading this week that one of the great culinary delicacies is something called Balolo.  If you’re a gourmet, you can sample Balolo only twice a year if you’re willing to go to Fiji to get it.  Some say it’s worth going there just to eat some.  Balolo is of course a mouth-watering plate of wriggling red sea worms.  Sounds delicious, no?

   From a theological point of view, the food chain is a necessary evil of living in a dog-eat-dog world.  In order to survive, the big fish have to kill the little fish in the process of eating; the lion has to kill the beautiful antelope; the human being takes the life of the steer or shark or chicken or oyster in the process of consuming it.  Oysters are eaten alive.  I learned that the clear liquid lapped from the shell is their blood.

   It’s been said that nature’s killing is ‘humane’ with very little suffering involved, yet what killing can possibly be ‘humane’?  ‘Humane’ indicates the actions of humans at their best.  But humans are killers by nature and far more dangerous than sharks, which we fear.  The Bible says that some humans are nothing more than brute beasts.  Humans kill whether they eat or not; they routinely kill their young. 

   There seems to be some justification in the food chain, for in death, even the biggest, meanest bear, or the greatest, most powerful human, is devoured by tiny worms and loathsome parasites.

 

Two Evils

   Considering the killing that goes on in the food chain, some theologians have divided evil into two categories: the first category is demonic evil.  When it comes to killing, demonic evil includes murder, conspiracy to murder, thoughts of murder, suicide and killing for pleasure or gain.  Men and animals may commit demonic evil.

   The second category is natural evil.  Natural evil is also called badness.  This is the evil that’s inherent in being alive within the context of a sinful world.  When it comes to killing, natural evil includes killing for food, or the natural instinct for overpowering that most meat-eating beasts possess, whether they actually eat the prey or not.  I’ve witnessed cats that kill mice they never intend to eat; they torture them for fun.  We call this kind of natural evil play.  Some humans like to play with other organisms; they enjoy torturing and would kill if they thought they could get away with it.  An animal hasn’t the sense to understand the moral ramifications of torture, but every human has that ability.  Being at the top of the food chain or being powerful enough to get away with cruelty is never an excuse for demonic evil.  The Gospel tells us that those who torture today will be tortured tomorrow.

 

Big Food Chains

   History has testified to a food chain of nations.  National identities come and go.  The strong devour the weak.  We saw in World War II an epitome of demonic evil as Germany swallowed up the Sudetenland, then Poland, Austria, France ….  Before that, Russia swallowed half of Asia.  China swallowed the other half.  Japan swallowed up islands of the sea as though they were so much Balolo.  The demonic evil of these nations cost hundreds of millions in human lives.  So much for the food chain: people feasted on people.  When we realize that these “swallowers of nations” were forced to regurgitate by the United States’ interference into their affairs, we can understand that, as the great power, had we acted sooner, we might have lost more of ours but saved millions of others.

   In those days, the United States was entirely a Judeo-Christian nation.  The ethics that fueled America were derived solely from the Bible.  Although our response to despotism in our world was very tardy, it turned out to be righteous in the long run.  Yahweh has been with us.  But by the 21st century, the make-up of the United States has changed drastically.  Although the Bible (as it has traditionally been interpreted) is still influential, its power is waning.  While the European Union has become the most religiously apathetic of all nations, the US has recently been named the most religiously diverse nation on the earth.  The unity of faith and ethics we enjoyed in the last two hundred years is ending very quickly.  Let’s hope our resolve to live up to the high ethical standards of the Bible remains even when the Bible is but a memory. 

 

Religion Food Chain

   Regarding religion, history has also testified to a food chain of world religions.  Christianity, once fueled by righteous enthusiasm, later spread by conquest and force because the ecclesiastical and temporal leaders kept the scriptures from the people.  They promulgated doctrines of conquest and depravity totally unsupported in the New Testament.  Christians are never to use force to convert people or use the Bible as a foundation for subjugating others. 

   Islam swallowed up the bastions of Christian origins in the Middle East by offering spoils to its most militant adherents, including a blissful heaven to those who died during holy jihad.   Although militant Christianity is at its ebb, militant Islam is now at its flow.  Who would think that modern people would trade the lives of innocent bystanders in homicide bombings in return for heaven with seventy virgins?  Sound like a lot of heavenly troubles to me.  We might understand better if these terrorists simply wanted to die for a good cause.  But their cause is as demonically evil as their acts of murder.

 

Nationalism and Evil

   Of course, people have the intellectual ability and spiritual potential (at least individually) to overcome both demonic and natural evil, if one is disposed to do so.  Let’s look at the current trend in our country toward nationalism as an illustration of demonic evil.  Although our morality as a nation can hardly be described as righteous, despite our religious diversity, we are among the most moral nations.  That’s not saying too much – for we’re also the most powerful.  It might be surprising that we are also the most hated nation in the world.  No, that’s not surprising at all.  We have many enemies, most of whom simply hate what we stand for and hate the Elohim some of us try to serve.  However, our detractors would do whatever they could to live here, at least long enough to destroy us.

   By all accounts, our nation is poised to invade another nation with devastating military force far beyond that which Iraq can possibly defend itself against.  Polls, even those derived from the most liberal of sources, unanimously agree that Americans are in favor of the invasion of Iraq and several other middle eastern nations, even though the number of American casualties is projected to be very high.  When I read about the incredible volume of poisonous agents that were confiscated by UN inspectors before they were expelled from Iraq four years ago, I too made the decision to favor an invasion.  Reading about thousands of tons of incredibly toxic substances that were made for use on us made me wonder just how much of that stuff was in our country now, or in Russia, or in China.

   In the aftermath of 9-11, it’s said that Americans turned back to the Almighty like never before.  This may be true; however, what I saw was our citizens becoming more nationalistic, not more righteous. Battle flags were raised everywhere, and the attitude became one of taking revenge in the name of America, in the name of those killed in New York City, Washington and Pennsylvania, or in the name of America’s Elohim, whatever that name is.  The feeding frenzy for revenge was no better exemplified than in the news media, where one can still watch several channels dedicated exclusively to stirring up passions against enemies in the war on terror.  “We deserve to bomb the hell out of somebody, anybody, and continue on bombing until our own greed for torture and murder is satiated – until the debt is completely paid.”  Such is a demonically evil, yet very common, attitude

 

Saudi Arabia – Would You Believe…

      Even though virtually all the terrorists that stole those airplanes last year were citizens of the richest nation in the world, Saudi Arabia, a nation well-known to support global jihad with millions in oil money, it wasn’t Saudi Arabia that was chosen for punishment and revenge, but Afghanistan, a nation destroyed already by ten years of war with Russia.  In the war against terror, our greatest enemy, Saudi Arabia, is also our greatest financial ally.  Figure that out if you can.  Afghanistan’s at the bottom of the food chain and has been picked to pieces by greater powers for generations.  Arabia, like us, is at the top.  To avenge ourselves on Saudi Arabia wouldn’t cost much in terms of human lives, but it would cost plenty in terms of American votes, especially as the gasoline runs out.  It’s like someone said, “We’ve met the enemy and he is us.”

 

Retribution

   It’s demonic evil that brings us together for retribution and feeds off our passion for vengeance.  Somebody will have to pay!” some feel.  We’ll flash our colors, demonstrate our might, show the world our resolve.  We’ll band together under the religion of the nation, under the nameless Elohim that we trust, under the red, white, blue and green, and we’ll go, fight, win, “defending” our liberty.  We’ll take some little guy by the throat and choke him until he pays up.  If he can’t pay or doesn’t even owe, what difference does it make?  Some little guy’s gonna pay.  We’ll take it out on his carcass, even as those who are far more responsible for our grief look gleefully on.   But the blood’s in the water.  Like sharks, some can hardly resist the frenzy.  I can hardly resist.  My friends, this attitude is demonically evil, we must resist the temptation to hate and seek retribution even though we are ourselves hated.  We will resist it!

 

A Reasoned Approach to War

   It should be our desire to take a reasoned scriptural approach toward war in general and this war on terror in particular.  After all,

We may never fight in the infantry,
shoot the artillery, ride in the cavalry,
We may never fly o’er the enemy,
but we’re in YHWH’s army.

You and I won’t be doing any fighting.  What manners of punishments or preventative measures taken are completely out of our hands.  The only part of it that we’ll be responsible for before heaven when the bombs fall is our own personal thoughts, words and actions regarding it all.  If we are believers in the Elohim described in today’s psalm and followers of the Anointed One who told today’s Gospel story, then we simply can’t sit back all cozy and accept a demonically evil approach to the war on terror.  Not from our countrymen; not from our friends; not from our families.  Me must take the high road and make others know that we do.

 

Peace Keepers

   If I can backtrack now a little – Some have criticized presidents for using the armed forces of our country as world police.  You may remember that in the past 15 years or so, the US has been involved in peacekeeping efforts in Bosnia, Haiti, Columbia, Somalia and now Afghanistan.  I think, if we do keep the moral high ground, that, though peacemaking is very dangerous in this lethal world, it’s a righteous and appropriate use of troops meant for war.  It’s far better to keep peace, even foreign peace, than it is to fight war.  War is hell, as some of you know first hand.  We as believers are called to be peacemakers and, if our country still hallows any vestiges of the will of our founders, our moral climate should be investing itself in activities that foster peace.  In fact, peacemaking should be pro-active; that is, when there are reasonable suspicions of another’s intention to make war (as in the case of store housing thousands of tons of chemical and biological weapons), we who have the might and the moral right should intervene immediately to neutralize such dangerous sources of demonic evil. 

   It’s too late to save the hundreds of thousands who have already died in Iraq and Iran as a result of chemical and biological warfare.  But it’s not too late to be proactive in saving the millions who remain.  To invade a sovereign nation as we are about to do puts us at terrible risk.  It’s like running your mower over a hornet’s nest.  That’s why, if we do, we must take the moral high ground and set our intentions aright. 

   At this point, we can pray and hope for the best.  It should never be our intention to exact payment by force, like the slave in today’s gospel lesson.  It’s not our intention to simply act as the shark at the top of the food chain and devour, devour, devour.  Nor are we to be like the cat that plays with the mouse and then kills it, leaving the destroyed thing behind.   It’s not our wish to be the pawn of the demonic evils we know as nationalism, religious fervor, vendetta or vengeance.  We repudiate our role as puppets on the strings of the principalities and powers.  We renounced all evil at our baptisms and we renounce it still.  We keep in mind that, because we have been forgiven a great debt, we should act as a grateful people; righteous people.  People of peace and prayer.

   You’ll never ride in the cavalry or shoot the artillery, but you’re still in YHWH’s army.  In regards to the kind of weapons we use, one great Christian warrior reminds us that:

The weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but mighty before Elohim to the casting down of strongholds, casting down imaginations, and every high thing that is exalted against the knowledge of Elohim, and bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ; and being in readiness to avenge all disobedience, when your obedience shall be made full. (2 Corinthians 10:4-6 ASV)

Let me reiterate that last line:  “Be ready to avenge ONLY when your own obedience is perfected.”

Jackson Snyder  September 13, 2002