The 700 Club with Pat Robertson

Bring It On: The War on Terror


When is it right to go to war?

The Catholic Church has a concept of a "just war" -- not a holy way, mind you, but a just war. I don't believe in so-called holy wars, that you're going into battle for a holy cause. Too often, such misguided jingoism leads to fanatacism.
But there are "just wars," when nations go to war to defend their people against aggression or to liberate the oppressed from wickedness. During World War II, for example, Adolf Hitler controlled most of Europe. He brought nation after nation under the domination of his wickedness, and in the process, he emptied Europe of a large part of its Jewish population. It was just and right for the United States of America to enter that war to prevent the annihilation of freedom and liberty and justice in those nations held hostage by Hitler.

Similarly, it was right for us to go to war after we were savagely attacked by the Japanese at Pearl Harbor. Franklin Roosevelt said that December 7, 1941, was a "day that would live in infamy."

We experienced a similar type of unwarranted, unprovoked attack on America on September 11, 2001. Consequently, it is appropriate for America to declare these attacks as acts of war, and the measured, calculated response of the U.S. has been within biblical grounds (see Romans 13:1-4). It is a just and right cause to do so.

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My name is Alec. I am 13, and I want to know if you can be forgiven for killing another human being? I ask this question because I have wanted to be a U.S. Marine since I was 8 years old. Since the terrorist attacks on this great nation, it made me think about it more.

Well, Alec, I was a lieutenant in the Marines and I served in Korea. The Bibles says, "He that wields the sword does not do so in vain, but he is a minister of God to execute judgment on evildoers" (Romans 13:4). I don't like war any more than any other thinking person. But the time does come when free people must defend their freedom and rescue those who are oppressed from wicked men who would enslave them and destroy them.

All countries have a right of self-defense. If they are attacked, it is perfectly appropriate to go to war against the attacker. The Marines have played a very valiant role in many significant battles in which the United States has been involved. I would tell you that you do not have to feel ashamed if you wish to join the Marines; nor, if you go into battle in a just war, of the fact that you may have to wound or even kill another human being who happens to be an enemy solider coming against you.

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How do we respond to non-Christians when they say, "Where was God on September 11?"

God is always here with us. But if we reject Him, He will leave us. If we seek Him, He will come to us. Scripture says, "And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart. And I will be found by you,' declares the LORD." It's not a question of where was God, but where were our hearts and our minds as individuals.

Similarly, the Bible tells us to call upon Him while you have the opportunity: "Seek the LORD while He may be found; call upon Him while He is near." The obvious implication is that a time will come when He will not be so accessible. He is near to each one of us right now, and He answers prayers. Even in the midst of the carnage following the World Trade Center attack, there were dramatic, miracu- lous answers to prayer. There were also incredible acts of bravery and compassion. These emotions oflove, compassion, and mercy come from God. When we honor firefighters and police who were willing to risk their lives to save other people, we're acknowledging God's activity reflected in human beings. Where was God on September 11 ? God was there. And He is there in the midst of every crisis that strikes your life.

Nevertheless, we must also remember that if we reject Him, His covering and His blessing can leave us. As a nation, we need to remember that in years gone by, our heavenly Father protected us. It behooves us as a people to remember our gracious Protector, our King, and our Lord, and ask Him to come and look after this, nation again.

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Does the Bible teach the "sovereignty of nations"? Do you believe the United States has the moral authority to remove cruel and abhorrent regimes that are in power throughout the world? Do you believe that God used Israel as the "policeman of the world" during Old Testament times?

I don't know anything in the Bible that talks about the "sovereignty of nations." God did say He set a boundary for the nations of the earth, and there is no doubt that that is the case.

But in terms of saying "sovereignty," what is Iraq, for example. What is the collection of tribes that was put together in the circle by Winston Churchill in 1922 when he was sitting in a hotel in Cairo, Egypt? What sovereignty do they have? The same thing with Jordan; it was a creation of the British. So many nations are the result of wars of aggression and so forth. If you look at Africa, you can see Zambia that was cut off of what used to be called Rhodesia. How did it get to be there? This is artificial.

Now the question is delivering people from oppression. We are told in the Bible to loose the yoke of oppression and to set the captives free. We are told to deliver those who are under bondage.

What about Adolf Hitler? If we had let him go on, he would have subjugated Europe and made it a charnel house. He would have been killing ruthlessly. Sooner or later someone had to stop him. Who stopped him? Well, the United States joined by Britain stopped him. The French were pretty much impotent. The Low Countries had been overrun. There was nobody else. The Allied powers, which was the U.S. and Britain, essentially, and Australia and Canada came into it, the Commonwealth nations, but we took on Japan, who went after us.

The question is not one of what the Bible says. It is just practical politics. We don't have an effective United Nations. We tried it with the League of Nations and it didn't work.

Who is left? The United States is the major power. We have to take on that responsibility. We did it in Kosovo. Noboby much complained. I am amazed that they are complaining about Iraq. They are complaining about Iraq because the Germans get money out of it, France gets money out of it, and Russia gets money out of it. The Arabs don't want one of their Arab heroes put down even though he is a butcher. In Kosovo, we went in at the defense of the Muslims against the Christians. Everybody applauded and said it was a wonderful thing. We have to stop tyranny. It is a difficult role, and it is a very expensive role, and we have to pick our targets wisely. The next one will probably be North Korea, and we'll have to be cautious about that.

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I'm 17 years old, and my goal is to become a Navy SEAL. I want to protect the United States from enemies and do a job that I know I will enjoy. The problem is my parents and family hate the idea. What is the best thing for me to do in this situation?

You really need to pray about this. You are one year away from emancipation in our law, 18, and you can kind of do what you want to do, but you still need to respect the wishes of your parents. I have had some Navy SEALS working for us here. They are terrific guys, but that Navy SEAL training -- that will stretch you. It's a great achievement, though. I remember one friend who was quite wealthy was so proud of the fact that his son had made it into the SEALS, so to be a SEAL is a great achievement. It's an elite unit. But how can I tell you what to do? I think you need to work it out with your parents. In a sense, they may have more wisdom right now than you do. They may see a future ahead for you that you are cutting short. A lot of times, at 17 you lack the wisdom that your parents might have, so I think that you ought to pray together. 'I want to serve my country' is lovely, but you wait until you have to spend six or ten or twelve hours in freezing cold water in that SEAL hell week, and you will wonder if you didn't make a terrible mistake.

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Is honor more important in war than shrewdness? I'm thinking of the soldiers from Iraq who pose as surrendering and then kill our troops. Is everything fair in love and war?

If somebody invades your country, everything is fair. The idea of hiding behind civilians is brutal because you are sacrificing your civilians, and that is repugnant. In terms of ruses and in terms of shrewdness, if you were defending your nation, what would we do if somebody suddenly invaded the United States? We would be hitting them with everything we could. We wouldn't be playing by any Marcus of Queensbury rules. I can't fault the Iraqis on that one, but I can fault them on taking innocent men, women, and children and sticking them out ahead of their combat units, knowing that they are going to get killed, or forcing young boys to take guns and go out and shoot at the Americans, knowing that the Americans are going to them. That is an outrage.

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Everyone seems to have an opinion on whether Christians should go to war. I've heard people say that when Jesus comes back to earth again, He's coming as the "Lord of Hosts." How does the Bible explain the personality change of Jesus from meek and mild servant to a warrior King?

He came first as a suffering servant to die for our sins. When He comes back, He will come as a conquering ruler. He will be King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Every tongue will give Him praise and every knee will bow before Him. He will no longer allow this blasphemy and the things that have been going on in this world. He is going to begin a reign of peace. It says He will control them with a rod of iron. You read the second Psalm and you see what the Bible says. You also read Revelations. It says, 'Out of His mouth will come a sharp sword.' But that is because in the one time He came as a suffering servant. He came to suffer and to die. He came to show us the meekness and humility of God Almighty, but that meekness and humility only lasts so far, and then He picks up His emblems of power. He then will reign and rule forever, and when you reign and rule, you have to have authority. The government is on His shoulders. Along with it comes authority. You no longer allow people to kill and to torture and to maim and to rape. That has got to stop. And Jesus says, 'No more! I am now in charge.

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With all the war and threat of terrorism going on, I seem to be preoccupied with death. When we die, do we have to pass through some horrible valley like it says in Psalm 23: 'Though I walk through the valley of death, I will fear no evil'? I'm so afraid now I don't think I can make it through such a place.

The Psalm says it is the valley of deep darkness. We translate it as 'the shadow of death,' but it is deep darkness. What that Psalm says is that it doesn't matter how bad things are, I will fear no evil because You are with me. 'Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of mine enemies. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.' That's not bad.

You read the 91st Psalm. God doesn't take us out of trouble. There is this doctrine that is running around that says as soon as something bad happens, all the American Christians are going to get raptured. That is nonsense. It just isn't in accordance with the Bible. We, as Christians, will know suffering, and Christians have been suffering for centuries. But God is with us in the suffering. He takes us out of the suffering and He gives us glorious victory. That is what He promises us: not that He will take us out of it, but that He will give us victory in it. So you don't have to be afraid. 'Fear not,' Jesus said. 'I am with you.' Jesus Christ is with you. Do not be afraid.

For the Christian, death is homecoming. Death is that you are going to meet the Lord. Death is that you have got a crown of righteousness for those who love His appearing. If the time comes to die, Hallelujah! You are going to be forever with the Lord. Paul says I am in a straight betwixt two; I am torn between two: whether to depart and be with the Lord, which is far better, or to remain in the flesh, which is needful for you. Remaining in the flesh isn't such a big deal. With Jesus, there is no more sin, no more suffering, no more sorrow, no more tears, no more dying. Just joy unspeakable and full of glory. That isn't bad, so do not fear. The Lord will decide when, and when the time comes for Him to call you, it will be beautiful. Until then, you live for Him and rejoice in the life that He has given you.

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I hear so many people saying that Jesus would just turn the other cheek in terms of Iraq. Is Jesus a pacifist? I know He turned over the tables in the Temple, but do you believe that Jesus would ever go to war?

Jesus said if somebody strikes you on the cheek, you turn the other cheek. If somebody forces you to go one mile, you go two. If he takes away your coat, give him your shirt. Resist not evil is what He taught His people and His disciples, but He was not necessarily talking about governments.

The apostle Paul said, "He who wields the sword wields it not in vain, for he is a minister of God to bring justice or judgment against the ungodly, against the kidnapper, against the murderer." The thought of a police force and military use of force was certainly in the apostle Paul. You recognize that the first gentile convert was a Roman centurion. He was essentially a captain; he had a hundred men under him. He was the first one that the Holy Spirit fell on. Also, there was a Roman officer that Jesus talked about. He said, 'I haven't found such faith, no not in all of Israel.' He never told that man to quit the army. He never told him to be a pacifist.

I don't think pacifism, as such, is biblical. For the individual Christian, yes. We don't kick back against offenses against us. But in the collective sense of a government or of a world order, there has to be something to restrain evil.

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What is it about Israel that seemed to cause so much hate from Muslims?

Gordon Robertson

Well, actually I think it’s being inspired by other sources. And it’s not just within Islam. When you look through history, whether it’s the Assyrians or the Babylonians or the Egyptians, the Germans, the Russians, the Muslims just seem to be the latest that want to literally wipe out the Jewish people. And that’s because they’re part of God’s time clock. And when you see Israel start to come into being, then the enemy knows that the time is short. And Revelations talks about him being thrown down to earth and being very angry, because he knows his time is short. So if he can wipe out Israel, he can stop God’s time clock. So that’s part of it and I think the most significant part. The second part is that Muslims believe any land that was under Sharia, if they lose it it’s a disgrace. And so that is really fueling, “Let’s drive Israel to the sea, and let’s reclaim Jerusalem and put that entire land under Sharia.” That’s the sort of secondary reason, but I think the first one is the most profound, that there is a very spiritual reason behind it all.

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