Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Joseph Stalin, Adolf Hitler, and Pol Pot: Ordained of God?

This question inevitably came to mind as I was pondering my answer to a question posed in the blog Under the Crimson Line.

Ever since I can remember, I have abhorred government tyranny. Perhaps this is related to my father’s description of his childhood in Nazi Germany, where my grandmother kept their Jewish ancestry a closely guarded secret—or so she thought. At the end of World War II, she learned that their names were on a list of people who were next in line for a concentration camp.

After I became an evangelical Christian, I was startled to hear fellow believers say that God places all political leaders in power—even those who slaughter millions of innocent people. Because of my family history and passion for justice, I struggled with the idea that whoever wields a nation’s military might was appointed by God. I couldn’t understand how a perfect, holy, and righteous Lord would appoint rulers who would govern contrary to His laws and destroy those who were created in His image.

In the past century, nearly 170 million innocent civilians were murdered by their own governments (Death by Government, R. J. Rummel). In many countries, Christians are suffering unspeakable cruelty at the hands of political leaders. Is this ordained of God? Since God is completely good, fair, and just, what are we to make of Scriptures—such as Exodus 9:16 and Habakkuk 1:6—which appear to indicate that He raises up tyrants and mass murderers to rule over nations? What of Romans 13:1, which seems to suggest that anyone who happens to be in power, no matter how ruthless, sadistic, or wicked, is “God’s man for this hour”? How can we explain this to people who have endured degradation, brutality, torture, and rape at the hands of their rulers? Will we reach them with the love of God by telling them that He is the author of evil in the political realm?

For nearly fifteen years, I asked God for answers. I have spoken with pastors, Bible study teachers, a military chaplain, elected officials, government agents, and police officers, asking for their insights into this issue. I have read the heartbreaking stories of people who have suffered horrible injustices at the hands of their governments—until I could hardly stand to read more. Most importantly, I have cried out to my Savior, asking Him to show me the truth in His Word and through His Holy Spirit.

In upcoming posts, I will share some of what I’ve learned as I sought God’s heart about the purpose of civil government.


Blogger Beth said...

I can't wait.

October 11, 2006 2:15 PM  
Blogger Steve E said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

October 11, 2006 9:00 PM  

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