Order and Peace
Oct 20, 2006
When God created the universe, it was said in Gen. 1:2, "And the earth was [or became] formless and void" (NASB). Man was given authority and the intelligence to bring order out of chaos, to "subdue" (Gen. 1:28) the earth. It is the job of science and all aspects of civilization to manage and develop this process of bringing order to all that is within our reach.
But we often confuse order with peace. They are not the same thing. Scientists discover natural laws that govern the universe, and government was instituted to do the same. Hence, our forefathers studied the Bible to unlock the secrets of what they called "Natural Law," for these laws were God's laws.
But when the American government decided to become secular back in the 1930's, our legislators assumed the power to create their own laws according to the logic of their carnal minds. A few generations later, we are now feeling the effects of that change, as we lose the war on crime and slide back into chaos.
Government feels the need to keep order through law, which is good as long as the laws are just. Yet mere order does not necessarily lead to peace. Peace requires the power of the Spirit, which lies only within the heart of man. Peace is not within the government's range of authority. Government can only work toward maintaining order through law, and their success or failure depends fully upon the justice of those laws.
The Old Covenant gave Israel a set of perfectly just laws through Moses. If the people had followed those laws with perfect administrators, the nation might have continued indefinitely. But that would have been possible only if the people possessed that inner peace by the Spirit of God. This was something the Old Covenant could not do. It required a New Covenant to bring peace to the heart of man.
Government is managed by people, and so it must derive its life from people. If those people reject the laws of God, then they will pass laws that are detrimental to society in the long run. For example, our entire prison system is based upon the goal of punishment, rather than rehabilitation. Inmates are given a number to dehumanize them. They are made to feel worthless and rejected by society, because the prime directive of the prison system is order, not peace. And then, when they see that prison does not change many of their hearts, they assume that they are "career criminals."
Fortunately, some are able to rise above the system, especially when they receive the positive influences of the Gospel of Christ. Often, prison ministries are the only real light that these inmates have. I send all books to prisoners free of charge, and these are passed around to multiple readers. I often feel as if I am in competition with the prisons for their very souls, because the system does everything it can to discourage them from rehabilitation and convince them that they will never amount to anything.
Insofar as the war in Iraq is concerned, American troops are trying to bring order out of chaos. The problem is that it takes far more energy to bring peace than to bring chaos. And when we attempt to bring peace to a nation whose primary religion focuses upon law and order rather than upon inner peace, this task is virtually impossible.
Much has been said in recent years about whether or not Islam is a religion of peace. The same might be asked about the Christian religion or about Judaism. Every religion envisions peace as its end-time goal. But the peaceableness of a religion is based, not on its peaceable goal, but upon its path to peace. Tell me how a religion envisions arriving at its peaceable goal, and I will then know if it is a peaceable religion.
Even Communism was a peaceable philosophy in its own eyes. They envisioned peace and harmony just as soon as all their opposition had been destroyed. That path to peace was war, because violence and force were the means to the end. To the extent that we see religion utilizing the same philosophy, that is the extent to which a religion is not peaceable.
When a religion or philosophy confuses order with peace, it assumes that peace is only attainable through law and must, if necessary, be enforced by war. This is also the root of the Bush philosophy that justifies the war in Iraq. We are attempting to establish peace through war, but in fact we cannot even keep order, because we cannot kill the enemies faster than they are recruited.
Whatever we may believe about Islam, one thing is clear. It presents law as the means to salvation. But law can only restrain the people's natural tendencies toward chaos and sin. The effect of law is not to change the heart but to drive the sin inward, creating anger and bitterness. Government then requires more and more oppression in order to maintain order. Saddam Hussein was up to the task, but we removed him from power and disbanded his army and government. Now we find ourselves trying to rule angry and bitter people who have no inner peace that only Christ can give. We are not used to such a mentality here in America, and so we are inadequate to the task of replacing Saddam's government and still maintaining order.
As Iraq slides into the chaos of civil war along sectarian lines, we will find that we are left with only two options: either (1) become absolutely ruthless and do as Saddam Hussein did, wiping out whole cities where the opposition is based or (2) change their hearts by the power of the Spirit through the love of God.
Our secular government is in no position to send them ambassadors for Christ to show them the true path to peace. So that leaves us with the first option, which we are unwilling to do. And so, it is only a matter of time before we arrive at the place where we must give it up as a lost cause.
The sooner we allow Iraq to split into three pieces along sectarian lines, the sooner we will be able to disengage ourselves with any semblance of dignity and illusion of victory. In my view, this is inevitable, and the sooner President Bush sees this, the better. Once those national boundaries have been established along sectarian lines, the people of each nation will have more in common to unify them. Islam in general is not a sufficient unifier as long as each sect thinks that the other is worthy of death and destruction.
Yet I realize that dividing Iraq into three nations will not bring peace. At best, order will be more achievable. Until those people's hearts are changed by the power of the Spirit, peace will not be achievable. The Big Stick approach will not work, because one cannot force people to love one another. Inherent in this warlike approach is the mentality of "us against them," which only serves to further divide people. This war has caused much of the Church to lose its evangelical vision and its missionary approach, for now we have adopted the view that they are the "enemy."
This is the worst casualty of the war.