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Letters to the Editor

September 22, 2021 at 5:24 a.m.

Misunderstanding Christian authority leads to wrong conclusions about Christianity

In his most recent Letter to the Editor on Sept. 15, Oren Piper asserted, using several examples, that Christians were "infantile" and that "faith is the greatest enemy of human reasoning, logic, and critical thinking." However, his argument suffered from a major weakness: It cited sources of authority that are not authoritative for all Christians as if they were.

Four major sources were cited: a quote from Martin Luther, the Texas GOP platform from 2012, a sermon illustration from a pastor named Marvin L. Jackson, and the words of Jesus in Matthew 11:25. While Luther may be respected among many Christians as a leader in the Protestant Reformation, not everything he said was true or authoritative for Christians. In some cases, he was frankly wrong and interpreted the Bible improperly. Second, no political party platform is ever authoritative for a Christian for purposes of determining Christian theology. If Christians are thinking as they should, they do not derive their theology from their politics; instead, they decide their politics based on their theology, which comes from proper interpretation of the Bible. Third, the words of individual pastors should not be considered authoritative, since human beings can misinterpret the Bible. The words of pastors are authoritative if and only if they line up with the Bible. Because none of these sources are authoritative for Christians, they should not be taken as accurate descriptions of the relationship between faith and reason.

However, Piper's citation of Matthew 11:25 is noteworthy. While Jesus does say in this verse that God "has hidden things from the wise and understanding," it is a misinterpretation of the passage to say that the mind and intellect are unbiblical (or something to that effect). In verses 25 and 26, Jesus contrasts "the wise and understanding" with "little children." Anyone who has a family understands that little children are always in need of care. They are not self-sufficient. "The wise and understanding," therefore, are not those who are intellectual, but those who think they need nothing. This does not condemn wisdom but instead condemns self-sufficiency. There are also a number of Biblical passages in which reason is commended. In Acts 17, Paul reasons with the Thessalonian Jews from the Bible, and with Athenian philosophers from nature and their own poets.

Because Piper has not understood that the Bible is the only source of Christian authority, he has necessarily misunderstood what Christians believe.

Jonathan Marks

Siloam Springs

Biden's messy Afghanistan withdrawal

How messy was Biden's withdrawal compared to the messy 20 years of our war in that country, which only accomplished the singular objective of eliminating Bin Laden's leadership of Al Qaida in the first 10 years? Al Qaida was not effectively eliminated. The Taliban, still including Al Qaida, and infiltrated by ISIS, took control of the country in a matter of days.

The 13 American lives lost was tragic and heartbreaking for us but, how many American lives were lost during the 20 years? Especially during the last 10 years after the decimation of Bin Laden's leadership of Al Qaida. How many Americans still grieving their loss? How much of American blood spilled, of coalition countries, and of Afghans and how much money expended in the abject futility of those last 10 years?

How does the messy withdrawal from Afghanistan compare with the messy entrance into the war in Iraq? President George W. Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, and Bush administration press secretary Ari Fleischer were experts in deceiving the news media and thus convincing most of America that a pre-emptive attack on Iraq was necessary to eliminate Iraq's WMDs and Al Qaida connection. Both claims were false.

The CIA did make mistakes but, Bush and company hid all the dissenting intelligence reports and exaggerated the WMDs.

"For bureaucratic reasons we settled on one issue, weapons of mass destruction, because it was the one reason everyone could agree on," Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz told Vanity Fair in 2003.

Scott McClellan (Fleischer's deputy) put it this way in his own memoir, "What Happened": "In the fall of 2002, Bush and his White House were engaging in a carefully orchestrated campaign to shape and manipulate sources of public approval to our advantage. ... Our lack of candor and honesty in making the case for war ...further distorted and obscured a more nuanced reality."

Far more than 13 American lives, Iraqis and others were squandered in that farce deceptively instigated by Republicans. But now, the super hypocritic Republican Party wants to claim that Biden botched his responsibility.

For a clear and sobering examination of how we became a nation divided against itself with distrust, hostility, even hatred between political parties and the American people, watch the PBS Frontline Documentary "America After 9/11."

Watch anytime just Google "America After 9/11 PBS."

Oren Piper

Siloam Springs

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