Pastor Robert Jeffress proclaimed last week that President Donald Trump has the biblical authority to “take out” North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in an effort to “stop evil” — but not everyone is on board with the preacher’s biblical interpretation.
“When it comes to how we should deal with evil doers, the Bible, in the book of Romans, is very clear: God has endowed rulers full power to use whatever means necessary — including war — to stop evil,” Jeffress said in a statement. “In the case of North Korea, God has given Trump authority to take out Kim Jong Un.”
As Faithwire previously reported, Jeffress acknowledged that there are some pacifists who will argue against his Biblical reference to Romans 13, which he says gives the government authority to deal with evildoers.
Such detractors may cite Romans 12, which says “do not repay evil for evil” but Jeffress believes that is only referring to individuals, not government. You can read Jeffress’ complete statement here.
David J. Dunn, a Huffington Post contributor, wasted no time in issuing a pretty tough rebuke of Jeffress’ arguments. Here’s just a portion of what he had to say:
To wax polemical for just a moment, this is one of the key weaknesses of Evangelical ways of reading the Bible in general. A naive concept of sola Scriptura (Scripture alone) lends itself to selective interpretation. (I am Eastern Orthodox, if it matters.) Still, one need not acknowledge Holy Writ as part of a living tradition to know that, when it comes to the Bible, context is everything. Yes, in Romans Paul calls the governing authorities God’s servants. But not much later, in the book of Revelation, John depicts the governing authorities as the pimps of the “Whore of Babylon.” What changed between the books of Romans and Revelations? Nero. Once Rome started killing Christians, Christians stopped thinking of Rome as the de facto minister of God’s justice. Whether or not Rome administrated God’s justice depended on whether or not its leaders judged justly. Often, they did not. Often, so later writers would depict, the governing authorities were the instruments of Satan, the slaughterers of the innocent.
Call me crazy, but I think the children of North Korea would count as innocent.
Furthermore, every letter an apostle has written in the New Testament is situational. It was written to its audience, not to us. Paul did not have Donald Trump in mind when he wrote Romans 13. Sometimes what Paul says is applicable to us.
And Dunn wasn’t alone. Steven Paulikas, an Episcopal priest, also published an op-ed in The New York Times titled, “Christianity Does Not Justify Trump’s ‘Fire and Fury.'”
Dunn called Jeffress’ theology “shockingly uninformed and dangerous” and said that it’s a reminder of how misguided statements can carry unfortunate power. The priest wasn’t done there. He went on to decry Jeffress’ purported “corrupted theology” and said that it has no biblical basis.
“President Trump’s language, which he intensified a few days later, evoked apocalyptic nuclear war,” Dunn wrote. “Despite what either of the men claim, there is no possible Christian justification for provoking such a conflict.”
As Faithwire previously noted, the controversy over Jeffress’ remarks came after Trump warned earlier this month that North Korea “best not make any more threats to the United States,” saying the country “will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen.”
North Korea responded by warning that it would carry out preemptive strikes against U.S. lands.