By Paul Eidelberg
Jews and Christian believe, and without denying free will, that all that occurs in this world — both good and bad — is somehow providential and ultimately intended for our benefit. This belief poses an intellectual challenge, especially in view of all the bloodshed and suffering now going on in the world. We are compelled to think about or speculate on how that which we deem bad serves the good. Well, only the good Lord, by virtue of His Infinite Intelligence, can really answer this agonizing question. This kind of question goes back at least to Job, and the best we mortals can do is offer partial and no doubt inadequate answers.
So, with this qualification in mind, I will mention only one case that has deeply concerned me: “How does the election of Barack Obama, which I (and many others) deem bad serve the good?”
I will consider only one good consquence of his election. The fact that Mr. Obama declared early on that America is not a Christian nation, and the fact that he demoted Judaism in his Inaugural Address, have triggered a flood of new books on America’s Christian and Judaic foundations. I have even incorprated much of this material in my latest book on American Exceptionalism. I look at these new books as a providential sign for both America and Israel. Hence, even though we are concerned (and should be) about the shortcomings of those at the helm in America and Israel, this prompts us to think about what these two greatest of nations stand for, what makes them Exceptional, and what must be done to preserve their singular heritage.
In the above post, I wrote the following:
America was founded by Christians whose religious text does not justify violence and injustice. Judaism influenced the formation of America’s ideals as well. Although some Torah laws and punishments seem abusive to moderns, only in the Promised Land–Israel–is violence permitted in the due process of upholding law. Because the vision of Islam encompasses the conversion of the world, its justifications of violence and abuse make it dangerous. Nevertheless, as long as criminal laws exist and are strictly enforced, Americans can expect moderation from adherents of American Islam and all others.
It should have been noted that even though the New Testament does not justify violence and injustice the Christianity has condoned similar atrocities as Muslim have been accused. The Church inherited the Roman Empire from the successors of Constatine, who made Christianity the religion of the empire. It would not be difficult to find in Canon law abhorent commands similar to those found in the sacred texts of Islam. The same can be said of the oral Torah if the Talmud is regarded as its recorded form. Many do. Yet, researchers have found some pretty terrible laws or interpretations of laws in that oral law.
All of which should remind Americans of the founders’ wisdom of found in the principles and text of their legal documents like the Declaration of Independence. Their history as citizens under the rule of the British Empire made them conclude that the separation of institutional powers of church and its governance and of civil governance was the only way for liberty and faith to prosper. They were of the view that all institutional authority tends to moral corruption and depotism. The religious Romans proved it. The Israelite kings proved it. The Catholic Church proved it. The British monarchs and Parliment proved it. The Anglican Church proved it. Islam has also proved it.
I recently read an article by a “liberal” Saudi Arabian author. He came to the conclusion that the problem with religion is that all believers regard their religion as superior to all others. Becauser of this, all conflicts are the result of this sense of superiority. His remedy is the elimination of all religion. However, some scholars writing about the history of the Separation of Church and State have shown that secularists are as religious as others regarding their secular beliefs. Moreover, the socialist version of secularism is just as dangerous as religious fundamentalism. Its destructiveness was proved by the millions of citizens killed by the USSR, China, Cuba, and other secular governments. The millions of aborted children proves secular America is not really different. The only difference is that America’s violence is justified as a private property right for convenience sake. Violence perpetrated by the above was to silence critical political dissent and disobedience.
The problem will never resolve until humanity’s behavior conforms the one who created them in His image. Tolerance will cease to exist from our vocabulary because the law of justice, morality, peace, and love will have become the unshakeable lifestyle of all. Only God could possibly accomplish such a miracle. Because the human condiition is one of self interest seeking, the end of human peace efforts always ends up resembling the peace won by the Caesars. That is what the end time scenarios of prophecy techers seem to be about. That is the expressed experience of Israelis under Oslo. I don’t know, but maybe Iraqis and Afghanistanis regard American peace the same way.
Nevertheless, Jesus said, “Blessed are those who keep trying.” (Mt. 5:3-20)