Robert Jeffress, the pastor of First Baptist Church in Dallas, Texas, has drawn withering fire from the left for defending the president’s moral, biblical, and God-given right to use military force to neutralize the threat from North Korea and its dictator Kim Jong Un if circumstances warrant.
Said Jeffress, God has given “rulers full power to use whatever means necessary - including war - to stop evil.” Jeffress said this after President Trump promised “fire and fury” if North Korea puts American lives in harm’s way.
Robert Jeffress is exactly right and his critics are exactly wrong.
In Romans 13, we are told that civil government derives its authority from God. “There is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God” (Romans 13:1). Civil government is not man’s idea, it is God’s. And the political authority civil government has, every last bit of it, has been delegated to it by God himself.
This, of course, does not mean that everything civil government does is right, not by a long shot. Since political leaders receive their authority from God, they are accountable to God for the way in which they use it. God has given man, including political rulers, free will, and given to those rulers clear instructions how that free will is to be exercised. Woe to that political leader who abuses God’s gift of free will to misuse God’s authority.
The prophets repeatedly excoriated the kings of ancient Judah and Israel for misusing God’s authority in political affairs, and warned them that God would judge them for it.
To provide a modern example, the authority that Hitler exercised was delegated authority. He misused it to disastrously evil purposes, and God judged him for corrupting His power by using the military might of the allied armies to destroy him, much as God used the ancient power of Babylon to judge the wayward kings of Judah.
Romans 13 tells us that God has granted authority to civil government to use lethal force to punish evil. Civil authority “is the servant of God for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain” (Romans 13:4). The sword, of course, is an instrument of deadly power, and has been entrusted to government as an instrument of justice, both in capital punishment and in war.
To tack this down in a way that removes all doubt, the Apostle immediately adds, “He (civil government) is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer” (Romans 13:4). This is how God fulfills his promise, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay” (Romans 12:19).
Jeffress told CBN News, “I’m heartened to see that our president -- contrary to what we’ve seen with past administrations who have taken, at best, a sheepish stance toward dictators and oppressors -- will not tolerate any threat against the American people.”
North Korea responded to the president’s “fire and fury” comments by threatening to bomb Guam, which is an American territory. He is now apparently making plans to target Guam with intercontinental ballistic missiles, aiming to have them splash down within 20 miles of American soil. A more naked act of aggression would be hard to imagine, and certainly warrants a vigorous response in kind.
Christian theologians generated what is called the “just war” theory, to identify under what circumstances a Christian political leader may justifiably resort to lethal force in the defense of the citizens he has a sworn duty to protect.
The first principle of a just war is that its cause must be just. This means that innocent lives must be in danger, and intervention must be necessary to protect them. If North Korea begins raining down missiles from the heavens, endangering the innocent civilians who live on Guam, that is all the just cause a president would need.
With regard to the innocent North Korean lives that would be lost, their blood would be on the heads of their corrupt leaders who forced America to use lethal force in self defense.
War is a terrible thing. But there are worse things than war, and one of them is not going to war when it is necessary to protect innocent life. Kudos to Robert Jeffress for spelling out in no uncertain terms the biblical case for war, and kudos to President Trump for his willingness to use American military might to protect our fellow Americans.