Robert Jeffress is the pastor of a Southern Baptist Church in Texas. He is also one of the more vocal supporters of the Trump presidency. Jeffress made news by appearing to proclaim God’s favor on the idea that Trump might bomb North Korea. This happened at the same time the President set the world on edge with his now famous “fire and fury” tweet at the North Korean dictator. Jeffress, from the media perspective, is speaking for evangelical Christians and the fact that many seem to be approving of war. Quote from Jeffress…
“In the case of North Korea, God has given Trump authority to take out Kim Jong-Un,” Jeffress told CBN News.
While shocking to hear a pastor speak like this in these terms on a national stage what Jeffress is saying on the face is true even if I personally am uncomfortable with how he said it. The fact that Jeffress is pulling from is Government has a unique role in regard to war. In an earlier blog post I wrote “Many want Government to replace the Church. They want Government to be compassionate and serving the community. The problem however is that Government has a unique authority to bring wrath and Governments have always had the authority to kill and to imprison”.
Trump as a man or as an individual does not have the authority to kill and wage war but as President of the United States he has a unique authority given by God wage war which involves killing people and sometimes innocents. I know this version of Christianity is shocking in the American age of separation of Church and State but find the following words from Paul to the early Church who were subjects of the hated Roman Empire.
Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. 2 Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. 3 For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, 4 for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. 5 Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience. Romans 13:1-5 ESV
When Jeffress states Trump has authority to kill Kim Jong-Un the statement taken in context appears to be correct. As President Trump is a governing authority and God has given governing authorities the right to “bear the sword”.
So why is the quote and so disconcerting to so many Christians who already understand the role of Government and God’s Authority? Missing is a point of clarification to bring balance to the statement that Trump has the God given right to wage war. What is missing is the role of Christians in this high stakes drama. The role of the Christian is to pray for peace and to pray for the President in the way of peace. I fear that too many Christians desire war. It may be war is a given but for Christians the first desire until the very last moment should be peace.
First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, 2 for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. 3 This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, 4 who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 1 Timothy 2:1-4 ESV
God’s desire is for people to live in peace. Peace is a blessing to everyone. Prosperity is possible in peace. The president and the Church should not be belligerent, hateful, or escalating tensions with those around us.
If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Romans 12:18 ESV
But know that if forced and if the time has come “if possible” is no longer possible then the President holding the authority of government has a mandate from God to wield the sword in a just and restrained manner. Do governments and men in power abuse authority? Of Course, and they will answer to God, it also means Christians must be all the more diligent in prayers for peace.