This is my (in)activity log. You might like to visit my employer
Novell which is an amazing company, and also
Dell who in days of yore provided me with a
free laptop for Gnome development / conferences.
Also if you have the time to read this sort of stuff you could enlighten
yourself by going to Unraveling Wittgenstein's net or if
you are feeling objectionable perhaps here.
Stuff Michael Meeks is doing
- Chewed mail, it seems Jacob is burning away in
the snapshot stakes, excellent.
- Back to reconciling gal diffs, sigh; still,
could be worse. Committed the first sed job, updated my
version - hacked out scads of conflicts.
- The Mono project seems to be coming along really
nicely, the MSIL emitter is coming along well I understand,
operator overloading getting sorted, class handling falling
into line, all bringing the possibility of bootstrapping on
a free system much closer.
- Committed the gal stuff to tag 'gal-2'.
- J' phoned up to say Duncan had changed his mind
wrt. dinner tonight, so I loose the girl until very late.
- Started struggling with python, trying to learn
the language, persuade emacs to indent it sensibly, and fix
the libglade2 translator. Made glade2 build again.
- Spoke to Colin McCormack on the phone about
Gnomes, Basics, and Monos - and about his gigabyte scale
object database thing, on sourceforge somewhere.
- Managed to get the libglade-convert script a
lot more up to scratch in several areas, the gnome-terminal
dialog now has an almost sensible GtkNotebook. It's lovely
to hack on libglade though - very sweet stuff.
- Knocked off for some theology and food ! wrote
up Gorden's sermon on War; a lengthy read or
listen but I found it very rewarding.
- We agnoize as to what an appropriate response to
this is. The President calls for a 'war' against Terror.
- We must surely pray for our those in uniform
that God might protect them, strengthen and encourage them
and allow them to do what is right. And also to protect them
from adding to the wrong by taking yet more innocent life.
- The scriptures enjoin us to pray for peace, and
so we do. But what does the scripture have to say about this
war or indeed any war. What does the Bible say ?
- So, everything hinges on the Old Testament,
and the exegetes attitude towards it, there being two
seemingly equal and opposite errors into which excellent,
wonderful Christians have been apt to fall.
- The old testament is virtualy 100% applicable,
the 'everything carries over' position.
Which further splits into two schools:
- Palestine is the holy land and
- America is the holy land - or whatever
nation you call home.
- Or, the old testament is virtualy entirely
inapplicable to modern warfare.
- Firstly, the school of thought that some small
chunk of land in the middle East is uniquely 'holy' ground,
and thus the ownership of it is non negotiable, The West Bank
can never be on the negotiating table. This was the pre-supposition
that inspired the crusades 11th->13th Centuries, which eventualy
cost ~5 million lives. It began with the offence taken when the
Turks took over the holy land.
- Exodus 32 was invoked to justify the cleansing of
the land, even with the sword. Moses called to his contemporaries
when they were wallowing in idolatory and said "Who's on the Lord's
side" and the Levites repented, and in the first 'ordination' of
what became the priesthood ran among the people and cut down all
the unrepentant Israelites. Serious about keeping defilement from
the presence of God.
- The transferal of the Old Testament precedent willy
nilly to the modern day started with the supposition that the 'holy
land' was still over there, the holy city still Jerusalem.
In Judges 5:23 the people are condemned for not fighting
to cleanse the holy land - it's not optional for the people of God.
- The problem of course is that that bit of territory
in the middle east stopped being the holy land even in the old
testament. What makes the land Holy is the presence of the holy
God, and the visible manifestation of the holy spirit.
- Sinai was originaly mount Zion, but God's spirit went
ahead of the people into Jerusalem.
- In Ezekiel 10:18 the prophet sees the spirit of God
departing from the city and the temple, leaving it defenceless.
When the holy spirit leaves, it's no longer the holy land, because
he is the one that makes it holy. God promises to be with his
people where they are instead.
- Jeremiah counsels the Israelites to surrender since
God's spirit had left, and they would die by their own sword.
- So the question is now what is the holy land?
has the kingdom been forfeited ? is there now another Jerusalem
to look for ?
- Even in our own day although no one is calling for a crusade
there are some who have made the same mistake, imagining that
some land in the middle east is uniquely holy land, some city
that has a right, a title for Israel, for the people of God, that is
non negotiable, land that would include parts of the west bank,
that must never be put on the negotiating table, because God says
it's holy land.
- The new testament tells us that there is a holy land,
a mount Zion, a city of God - but it isn't there!
- In Hebrews 12:18-25 we read
But you have come to Mount Zion, to the heavenly
Jerusalem, the city of the living God. if you're a
Christian the city of God where he lives with his people
in his midsts is where we are. ... You have come to
God, the judge of all men, to the spirits of rightious men
made perfect, to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant
- But you say; I want a Zion that can be touched, not
this spiritual nonsense; Great ! there is a Zion to fight
for, a holy city; the new Jerusalem - problem is, it's
coming out of heaven Then I saw a new heaven and a new
earth ... I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming
down out of heaven from God Rev 21:1-2. You're welcome
to go to battle for that. No defiling presence will be
allowed in that city; we'll be thoroughly sanctified then.
- Well the other mistake, is not to equate it with
something in the middle east, but say no - it's America.
- Ever since John Winthrop in 1629 pronounced that the
Mass Bay Colony was "the city opon a hill" this has been
entrenched in the thinking of many, especialy the Mass
Puritans, equating America's body politic with the Israel
- Because of that some odd things happened.
- Indeed, there are many promises that God makes to
Israel that it would be just wonderful to have today.
- God promises his protection over Israel, unless
the people sin. Leading to the misguided assumption
that somehow he has 'removed his protection' now for
- Exodus 34 promises that whenever God's people would
go to worship all the soldiers could leave their
fortifications because on those days God would protect
the borders without them.
- Here in Massachusets, were convinced of this view
would leave their guns at home when they went to Church.
Unfortunately the Indians hadn't read those passages,
and they didn't seem to hesitate to attack on the
- One of the earliest laws was enacted so that you
had to bring your musket to church so that at least even
if you had faith enough to believe God would protect you
the state would overrule that, and your submission to the
state would mean we wouldn't all get wiped out.
- Other similar uses of the sword. A law in 1675
dealing with people leaving church in the middle of the
service. It was the law, you had to go to church -
the sermons were 2-3 hours, as you went out of the door
it became just unbearable. So the good commonwealth
passed an order to lock the doors, and post marshals
at them, guarding them so you couldn't leave.
- All of this happens when you have the crazy notion
that our nation is Israel. We have to give greater
account of the difference between the old and new testaments.
- Israel was a Theocracy - America is not.
- Jesus said - My kingdom is not of this world, if
it were my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by
the Jews. But now my kingdom is from another place
John 18:36. In just saying this, Jesus prohibits us from
resorting to the power of the sword to impose biblical
precepts on one another, that would have been appropriate
in the old testament Israel but are certainly not appropriate
- The opposite view of course is the one to which many
christians are attracted. Nothing, or virtualy nothing carries over.
- After all didn't Jesus say to Peter "Put your sword back
in it's place ... for all who draw the sword will die by the sword"
- It's assumed that nothing carries over, Jesus in his
sermon on the mount says I tell you, love your enemies, do
good to those that hate you, bless those that curse you, pray for
those that mis-treat you ... If someone strikes you on the right
cheek, turn to him the other also Matthew 5. and so on.
- This seems to tell against an overly facile assumption
that everything carries over from the Old Testament, it seems we're
being called to a sort of personal pacifism.
- Tolstoy argued from this that we should get rid of our
judges, magistrates - unless they just forgive, and likewise there
must be no armies. An attractive view, but is that the point ?
- We have to avoid excessive literalism here as in many
other texts. This verse is in the context of passages of if your
right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away.
- We want to know what does he mean ? In the context most
commentators have argued that he is condemning not self defence but
a spirit of revenge.
- Indeed in John 18:22-23 Jesus is struck on the cheek by
his captor, and does say here you missed the other one !
but ... why did you strike me did he ask us to do something
he didn't ?
- Also, it is not asking us to turn our neighbours
other cheek, not legislating bystander apathy - if you see your
neighbour about to be raped raped; you don't yell to them "turn the
other cheek" you intervene because you are to love your neighbour
as yourself, and you love a God that loves Justice, and if he does
that ought to be exhibited in our passion to see that right be done.
- So how are we to enterpret the scriptures on this.
- Ultimately both camps are wrong, and both are right.
What has confused the issue is the failure to notice what is so
unique about the old testament law on war, and particularly a vital
distinction that many readers miss.
- There are two kinds of wars;
- Holy wars - wars of Infinite Justice and
- Wars of defence - just Just wars.
- Every war fought by Israel in the OT. was a holy war,
what does that mean ? It does not mean it was for religious
reasons ? it doesn't mean that wonderful 'belivers' were getting
all worked up about something and said "lets go kill 'em".
- A holy war is when God is fighting. As our
text (Deuteronomy 20) verse 4 he is the one who goes with
you to fight for you against your enemies. It's his war,
it is where he goes, because he is behind it and personaly
present in it.
- It was the norm in the OT to make it clear to
everyone that a holy war was being waged because you fight
with inferior weapons and reduced man power.
- You want a situation where it's David vs. Goliath,
(1 Samuel 17) so it's clear that you come against me with
sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name
of the LORD Almighty...
- Israel was prohibited alliances, they didn't want
England or anyone else joined with them, because they wanted it
clear that the LORD can save whether by many or by few.
- When Gideon was called to holy war with initialy
32,000 men against 135,000 enemies, God said you have
too many men for me to deliver Midian into their hands
Judges 7, there's only a 4:1 disadvantage - we've got to get
it up to 35:1 so it's clear it was God's victory.
- In Deuteronomy 20 we hear the whittling down,
after being reminded that the LORD was going to fight, the
officers, the generals the macho men vs. 5 say to the army:
That is what a holy war looks like.
- Anyone who got engaged but not married let him go home
- Anyone who has built a house and not enjoyed it
should go home
- Anyone who has planted a vineyard and not enjoyed
it's fruit ( 5 years from plant -> enjoy ) should go
- you can almost hear "Anyone who'se favoirite TV
program is on tonight" ... We don't need you - go home !
we don't need anyone but God.
- And particularly anyone afraid, should not fight
because faith and fear are antithetical.
- No-one in their right mind ( you might think ) would try to
apply this to today.
- As you might know the Childrens Crusade tried in in 1212 AD,
all little children, girls and boys age 12 thereabouts. Felt God's
call to wipe out the Infidels on the holy sites in the middle east.
- They marched defenseless, with no weapons, they came down to
southern France and stopped at the shore and expected God to open
the waters - but he didn't. Instead Kidnappers were present by the
dozens who took them by the thousands and sold them into slavery
- See, we're not fighting a holy war; that would have worked fine
back in the days of David an Goliath. It's garenteed to fail in our
time, other than when we're talking about spiritual warfare, then
the weakest of us is a mighty man or woman of God.
- In the handout we have the sermon Gordon didn't preach, in
which he sets out the distinction between the unique wars that Israel
fought (of infinite justice) and other wars.
- The Canannites had been sinning for 400 years and the land was
ready to vomit out it's inhabitants. He didn't flood them but appointed
his people as judges, and though they held no animosity for these
people they were to eliminate them, to wipe them out. No terms of
peace, any more than a judge offers a murder terms of peace.
- It was Israel's job to see to God's justice. It wasn't their
idea. How is this any better than a bunch of fringe crazies in some
movement of Islam believing that God is happy with them terrorizing
the rest of the world and taking innocent life.
- To make a parallel this is what it's like; you don't have Moses
and Joshua having a little prayer meeting and God speaking to them
in their hearts; and us having to believe that God said it.
- Instead what you have to have is Allah or God appearing in a
pillar of fire, that causes water to divide, that destroys all of
it's enemies and utters in all of our hearing his commands and
authorises this battle of conquest and dispossesion. Not subjective,
- Secondly, you've got to have the pillar of fire be so objective
that he feeds you while you're making your way to the battle front,
water out of a rock etc. and just to make clear - well if we apply
it to the modern situation: if the terrorists had not hijacked
planes, but instead had had a prayer meeting at the base of the
towers, and a prayer walk around the towers once a day for 6 days
and on the 7th day 7 times, and then - to our horror - we saw on
live TV the towers collapse without any use of explosive, then,
then we better get very serious with God. Then we better repent and
listen to the message.
- That's what happened at Jerico - to make it clear it wasn't
someone's figament of their imagination. That's what wars of
judgement were like, and incidentaly no innocent people were
killed, no collateral damage. All repentant people saved.
Otherwise the fire falls only on the guilty, that's God's
judgment, that's what wars of 'infinite justice' look like.
- The other kinds of wars are wars of defence, and wars of
defence are Just wars if the provocation is just, no. 1, namely
self defence period.
- No wars of agression were allowed. Verse 1, when you see
horses and chariots - the offensive weapons of the ancient world,
when you see them you're being attacked. Then you are authorised
to carry out just war, a war of self defence.
- The prosecution had to be just, only target combatants
and their willing acomplices: when you go to attack a city offer
terms of peace.
- Finally, the objective of Just war in the bible, is not
justice, it's peace.
- The wars of conquest had justice as their objective, and God
is the only one that is able to judge between the nations and
authorise such a war - and he isn't doing that now, and he
hasn't done that since the conquest of cannaan.
- Any other war is a Just war, if it is anything the Bible would
approve at all, and if it is a just war, the objective is just the
cessation of hostilities.
- You don't say "you destroyed one of our cities, we'll have
one of yours", you don't say "you took 6500 lives of ours, we'll
take 6500 of yours to make it even". Human beings are not capable
of exacting justice, and certainly not on their own behalf. When
you are a victim, you cannot be the judge.
- But we have a God who has the requisite authority and ability
to judge, and he will judge between the nations and command peace, even
to the ends of the earth.
- So what are we do to ? well, it's no comfort to anyone who doesn't
believe in God's justice, but if you do - you're great comfort is that God
will secure justice in the last day. Nothing has been missed.
- Do not repay anyone evil for evil, but be careful to do what
is right. In so far as it lies within you, live at peace with everyone,
do not take revenge my friends, but leave room for God's wrath, "for
it is mine to avenge, I will repay" [says the Lord] (Romans 12).
- God's wrath can be counted on. What is our job ? it is to pray
for Kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and
quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.(1 Timothy 2)
- Pray for the city into which we've been sent in exile
(Jeremiah 29) for the peace and prosperity of that city.
- We pray for peace, but you say "What good is this !?" -
"These terrorists are religious fanatics who will stop at nothing, they
hate us !, they think they're doing God a favour when they wipe us out,
whom they call Infidels!". Don't you know the story of the apostle Paul ?
- Paul started as a religious fanatic, who hated Christians, he
thought he was doing God a favour every time he wiped another one off the
face of the earth. God turned the enemy of the faith into it's most self
sacrificing friend. Even though I was once a blasphemer and persecutor and
a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief.
The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly. Here is a trustworthy
saying that deserves full acceptance, Christ Jesus came into the world to
save sinners - of whom I am the worst; but for that very reason I was shown
mercy, so that in me - the worst of sinners - Christ Jesus might display
his unlimited patience, as an example for all those who would believe on
him and receive eternal life
- You think God can actualy change a personality that radicaly ?
from someone given to violence - a religious fanatic, and turn him into
an apostle of love. Jesus did it, and so we pray with confidence to the
one who places a table before us in the presence of our enemies, and we
commit ourselves to lives of those who overcome evil with Good.
- Martin Luther King said "If we give into hate we'll be no
better than our enemies"
- Abraham Lincoln said "The best way to destroy your enemy is
to make him your friend".
- The LORD God says Do not be overcome by evil, but
overcome evil with good.
In case it's not painfully obvious: the reflections reflected here are my
own; mine, all mine ! and don't reflect the views of Novell, The
Lithuanian Gov't or Arnold Schwarzenegger. It's also important to
realise that I'm not in on the Swedish Conspiracy.
Occasionally people ask for formal photos for conferences,
Michael Meeks (email@example.com)