I was holding my breath the other week when Kim Jong-Un and Donald Trump – probably among the most unreliable political leaders of this age – were waging a war of words. Trump said that if Kim continues to threaten the United States they will be met with “fire and fury”, a statement he later said “wasn’t tough enough” (but what could be tougher?). The North Korean leadership almost immediately responded with threats of nuking the American colony of Guam, which likely would start the first nuclear war ever.
Thankfully, Kim later announced that he’s standing by, waiting for the next move by the “stupid yankees”. And I was able to breath again. But I’m taking short breaths, and pray that these madmen will come to their senses.
And then I stumble upon the comments by Southern Baptist Megachurch pastor Robert Jeffress, who as this crisis was at its peak boldly proclaimed that “God has given Trump authority to take out Kim Jong Un”. So how does Pastor Jeffress defend this claim?
“When it comes to how we should deal with evildoers, 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. In the case of North Korea, God has given Trump authority to take out Kim Jong Un.”
Now, it’s important to understand that Jeffress isn’t claiming any personal revelation here: he claims that based on the Bible alone, specifically Romans 13, one can reach the conclusion that God wants Trump to kill Kim. But Romans 13 emphasizes that all governments have the same authority:
Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. (Rom 13:1).
Thus, if Romans 13 means that Trump has divine authority to kill another government leader, then it also means that some other government leader could have divine authority to kill Trump. Paul isn’t differentiating between good and evil governing authorities, he says that they’re all established by God.
In fact, the government authority that ruled when Paul was writing this executed Christians, eventually killing Paul himself. That’s pretty evil.
Paul’s point is that no matter what horrible things kings and presidents do, God is in control. Not that American leaders have the right to kill other leaders while nobody has the right to kill them.
Jeffress bases his view not on the Bible but on partisan politics. He has previously stated that Obama paves the way for Antichrist (and, ironically, that we must stop demonizing politicians). Thus, Jeffress not only makes a huge distinction between American and foreign leaders, but also between Republican and Democratic presidents.
Still, Jeffress passionately argues that his view is Bible-based, whereas people who disagree with his view that Trump has divine authority to kill Kim Jong-Un either don’t know the Bible or doesn’t believe it:
“There are many well-meaning but misguided Christians who don’t understand what the Bible says about the use of force… The only reason they would take issue with my statements is that they don’t know what the Bible says or they don’t believe what the Bible says.”
This is a ”no true scotsman” fallacy. Clearly, evangelical scholars and leaders who don’t support Trump have read and believe the Bible. Jeffress is not only making inaccurate statements about what the Bible says, he’s sadly lacking much humility.
As a charismatic Christian, I’ve learned the importance of testing everything (1 Thess 5). And Jeffress’ statement was easy to test. His idea is not Biblical, it’s partisan. And he should commit to loving his enemies and being a peacemaker rather than fuelling the flames of war.
Micael Grenholm is editor for PCPJ. Having studied theology as well as peace and development studies in Uppsala, Sweden, Micael Grenholm’s passion is to combine charismatic spirituality with activism for peace and justice. Apart from editing pcpj.org he vlogs for the YouTube channel Holy Spirit Activism and is active with evangelism and apologetics both locally and online.