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May 6, 2011

N.T. Wright Slams 'American Exceptionalism' in Osama bin Laden Mission

New Testament scholar calls President Obama out, alleging cowboy vigilantism.

Popular author and New Testament scholar N.T. Wright has accused the world of giving America a free pass for violating Pakistan's sovereignty and killing an unarmed man during the recent attack that killed Osama bin Laden.

The former bishop of Durham sent a short statement to The Times' religion correspondent Ruth Gledhill in which he pointed out that Americans would be "furious" if Great Britain's military had staged an unannounced raid against hypothetical Irish Republican Army terrorists and killed them, unarmed, in a Boston suburb.

The only difference, Wright says, is "American exceptionalism."

"America is allowed to do it, but the rest of us are not," said Wright, who is now the research professor of New Testament and early Christianity at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland. "By what right? Who says?"

President Obama, Wright says, has "enacted one of America’s most powerful myths," the vigilante hero going outside the law to execute "redemptive violence" against an enemy who has rendered the legitimate authorities impotent. "This is the plot of a thousand movies, comic-book strips, and TV shows: Captain America, the Lone Ranger, and (upgraded to hi-tech) Superman. The masked hero saves the world."

While this myth may have been a necessary dimension of life in the Wild West, Wright says, it also "legitimizes a form of vigilantism, of taking the law into one’s own hands, which provides ‘justice’ only of the crudest sort."

"What will we do when new superpowers arise and try the same trick on us?" he asks. "And what has any of this to do with something most Americans also believe, that the God of ultimate justice and truth was fully and finally revealed in the crucified Jesus of Nazareth, who taught people to love their enemies, and warned that those who take the sword will perish by the sword?"

Wright, a prominent figure in the Church of England, has gained fame on both sides of the Atlantic for his academic and popular writings on the New Testament and the historical Jesus. Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams also commented on bin Laden's death this week, admitting to "a very uncomfortable feeling" about reports that bin Laden wasn't armed when he was killed "because it doesn't look as if justice is seen to be done."

"When we are faced with someone who was manifestly a 'war criminal' as you might say in terms of the atrocities inflicted, it is important that justice is seen to be observed," Williams said.

Comments

*Sigh*

He is comparing Apples to Oranges, in that there was nothing hypothetical about Bin Laden's guilt. Were the UK to decide to raid an American city after years of work with the US and Obama to capture a killer of thousands, it would be a different relationship based on over a century of allied relationship.

Even then, the good bishop is playing with emotionally charged hypotheticals that. Working within a country, with the countries blessing, for the greater part of a decade to capture an elusive mass killer is not unannounced. It is not a surprise to Pakistan, nor the rest of the world, that we were looking for Bin Laden in said country.

The American Exceptionalism charge in this case rings hollow. Despite my deep appreciation for NT Wright's works and insights, I wish his harangues against the US had a bit more substance should he desire to keep using them.

I agree with Justin.

Yikes....hate to say it but N.T. is way off base here.
OBL is responsible for the deaths of thousands if not close to a million people around the world. His organization has claimed the responsibility for death tolls in train wrecks, emabassy bombings, sinking ships, Lebannon, World Trade Center etc. etc. This is a KNOWN mastermind behind too many murders to count. Is N.T. suggesting that since OBL was unarmed, that makes some colossal difference in regards to his guilt. America would have unanimously given him the death penalty & why not... Should the taxpayers be burdened with years of expense of OBL to rot in jail here in the US? Or, at the risk of him escaping, should they have attempted to transport him to some country in the middle east to have him tried there in a court of his own choosing. Perhaps to later be broken out of prison by his fellow terrorists.

NO...NT Wright is so wrong in this case. In addition, he makes the US sound like the criminal & not OBL...
OBL infiltrated & subverted all the laws of our counrty when he sent in his team of thugs to plan 9/11. He has many crimes under his belt & none portray him as a man worthy of a trial or years in prison as that would be too good. Justice has been served.

Wright's point about the USA harbouring IRA terrorist supports and activists is spot on. From reports on the bin Laden killing, it does seem that he was unarmed and therefore bringing him before a criminal court justice to be seen and observed to be seen would have been a reasonable option.

Justin the fact that you can show differences between the IRA and Bin Laden does not answer the question NT Wright raises. You are just making a strawman argument without considering the main point.

There was a time when the IRA did don't employ a democratic approach to make changes but chose violence against the people of the UK.

NT Wright points out that for the USA to act outside of international law is to weaken the very law that you seek to defend.

Please don't try to make this about arguments that it is nog about by stretching the analogy to breaking point. It does not help your cause.

The USA had every right to look for justice after the tragedy of 911. If it is to be a force for peace it cannot expect to act in ways that disregard the self-detemination of other nations lightly.

NT Wright brings the world a reminder of this by asking what it would be like if the shoe was on the other foot.

Thanks

Al

Mr. NT Wright, seems to me just like one more in a long, long list of hyper-inflated egos, that populate christendom nowadays; from left to right, from top to bottom.

I'm sick of hearing/reading about OBL being unarmed at the moment of his capture.

So unarmed were the pilots, the flight attendants, the passengers including women and children on all 4 planes on 9-11-01. Unarmed were also thousands in the twin towers in NYC, in the embassy in Kenya; and where else?

Oh well is a very long, long list of people including muslims who were brutally killed under direct orders of OBL.

Like always and many before him. He uses an illusionary hyphotesis, that without realizing it, shows his real state of mind. He is worry about Irish terrorists hiding somewhere where they haven't been found yet. And that if caught should be handle like OBL, so the field will be even with US. He conveniently "forgets" the entire history of WW II. That to me at the moment, amounts to nothing more than ungratefulness and a sick sense of entitlement.

.

4th paragraph above should've read: Oh well is a very long, long list of people including muslims who were brutally killed under direct orders of OBL while they all were UNARMED.

Wright asks, "And what has any of this to do with something most Americans also believe, that the God of ultimate justice and truth was fully and finally revealed in the crucified Jesus of Nazareth, who taught people to love their enemies, and warned that those who take the sword will perish by the sword?"

First off, I don't know any Christian who celebrated Osama's death. Most of us are just relieved to know that he is no longer a threat. For those of us who take the Bible seriously as he mentions, revenge was not a motivating factor, rather justice. Evidently, Wright also has a problem with capital punishment. But, capital punishment doesn't degrade human dignity, it affirms it.

I cannot comment on how Osama was taken out, I have not followed the story in detail, but it should not be overlooked that he declared war on the US long before the attack on 9/11. If he would have sought to surrender and cease the war efforts that he continued to perpetrate around the world, it would have been gladly welcomed.

For a review of the various attacks instituted by Osama: http://www.city-journal.org/2011/eon0503cb.html

I appreciate Wright's work on the historiography of the resurrection and the Gospels, but I reject his liberal, left leaning political views.




There is a little known background on NT Wright's social parody....

Few people know the history behind the Lone Ranger. Prior to dawning mask and gun and becoming "The Lone Ranger," Joe American was an independently wealthy innovator who had moved to an area of the old west where a lawless bad guy Alberto Kyda (Al for short)was tormenting the towns people. Al had an incredibly large gang that was overwhelming to the local sheriff, whose name was P. K. Stan. Sheriff P.K. Stan and his deputies were grossly under-manned, under-trained, and under-funded to fight the network of Al's bad-guys.

Joe America decided to help. Joe met with Sheriff Stan and agreed to provide funding, training and all the necessary resources to rid their region of Al Kyda and his gang. Over the course of nearly 10 years Joe provided approximately 20 billion dollars worth of resources to Sheriff Stan—in fact Joe thought they were the best of friends. (Joe even developed an endearing reference for Sheriff Stan, he called him "Kemo Sabe). The agreement between Joe America and P.K. Stan was a seeming unending supply of resource with the single goal being to rid the land of Al Kyda and his gang. Joe America even assisted in supplying technology for the sheriff to have nuclear capabilities to defend against tribe of Indians that were wanting to take over as well.

In time Joe America learned that Sheriff Stan had become good friends with the bad guys and even helped provide a place for them to live in safety—a place from which they could operate their ongoing bad guy stuff. All the while the towns-people still suffered from the actions of Al and his gang. The day that Joe dawned the mask and became the Lone Ranger, was the same he discovered Kemo Sabe Bin Lyin about the location of Al Kyda..

And that's the true story.

The interesting FACT is the truth of the Americans.... ie "he wasn't armed"...I'd add we think to that as I doubt if OBL would have been "unarmed" or given himself up.

Had he been armed and put up a resistance then NT Wright would have been ok with that? What hypocrisy. Jesus did say to love your enemies and to do good to those that hate you BUT no-where does he say let your enemy kill you... and please don't bring up "turn the other cheek" for in context that means "if any gives you a back-handed slap ie insults you - because of your beliefe in me then turn the other cheek and be insulted again for me(Jesus)

NT is wrong.

I may not agree with N.T. Wright on some things, but he raises a good point. We sent in special forces and shot an unarmed man in the head. Why couldn't they capture him? The myth being perpetrated is that capture was not an option as it would have inflamed more terrorism or made him some kind of jailed hero.

We (America) is not always in the right just because we claim to have God on our side.

The point made by N T Wright and others that bin Laden was unarmed is significant. It was quite possible for a well-planned attack by well-armed and well-armoured posse of Navy Seals to have captured bin Laden without killing him or the other unarmed people with him.
Putting bin Laden on trial would have demonstrated that the US respects the international rule of law and repudiates killing anyone without a fair process. But we now know this was never the intention of the attack. It was purely an assassination.
Those who ordered and carried out this murder of bin Laden and his companions have shown the world they have the same morality as those who ordered and carried out the murders of those in the twin towers.
Though the numbers killed are different, they are both equally evil. Obama is now in the same moral category as Osama. This is so sad.

I am circumspect in my opinions on these things. The reality is the US has usurped itself (over the past century) as the country which dictates international morality (for better and worse). This has permeated in American Christianity likewise - thus American theologions and Christians seem to hijack the standard that is 'to be obeyed'.

As far as the Bin Laden situation goes; difficult to judge. Did the soldiers have reason to think they were in danger when they shot him (reports are he was a fragile man)- operations like this happen so fast is it that easy to go in and arrest a person? Going into Pakistan (which is a country which abuses human rights) without permission is potentially unwise and arguably arrogant. On the otherhand I don't picture Pak letting US in easily (were they, Pak culprits?).
I don't know why we were shown pictures of prominent gov officals watching Osama's killing?
Fact is US can do as they please, others can't.

It is *both* the case that the arrogant American exceptionalism (or solipsism) he speaks about is a reality *and* that in this case OBL's victims should loom much, much larger in our considerations than OBL.

As the father of a SEAL, I find a certain irony here. If my son shot an unarmed terrorist he would face severe consequences(3 SEALs recently face court martial for punching a terrorist in the stomach).He would also be hung out to dry by the current administration. But when Obama could get Osama, it was no longer an issue of military protocal. As usual, it comes down to subjective decision making based on what Obama thinks is best or fair. The rule of law usually takes a back seat when Obama doesn't think it is fair. The treatment of Chrysler creditors was the first great indicator that law is trumped by Obama's concept of fairness. Don't expect Obama to be constrained by law. Fairness is the paradigm he works out of and fairness is defined by him.
If Obama could be king he'd do it.

As far as I'm concerned, America can go anywhere anytime to get the bad guys who kill Americans. You who descry this approach are ivory tower armchair liberals who couldn't care any less about the innocent as long as your contorted sense of justice is followed. Your's is a foolish consistency and is the hobgoblin of small minds.

Are you being ironic, Dan? Yours is a classic statement of the American exceptionalism that N T Wright claims causes such dismay among its allies and hatred among its enemies.
Christians in other nations are waiting patiently for the Faithful in the US to justify this exceptionalism in terms of Biblical morality - or to show repentance. So far, neither. Which is really very sad. Also extremely dangerous.
So I hope you are just teasing.

In case you haven't noticed, we aren't fighting an enemy who is brave enough to wear a uniform and who is located in one single place. They hide behind civilian clothing, they keep on the move, and they use women and little children as shields. Even Hitler at least wore a uniform and we knew he was at least in Germany. This isn't a normal war. And you may be incapable of thinking of it as a war, because you forget the attacks like the first World Trade Center bombing, the attack on the USS Cole (where Clinton had the onboard soldiers unarmed btw). It's always nice having these liberal presidents who make us easy victims, let's see them take the same steps, and there were many other attacks as well of innocent people. I suppose the Seals were to "guess" that none of the people hiding with osama weren't armed. We'll never win a war again with the pacifism expressed by *some* Americans. In the OT, btw, they rejoiced in their victories of killing the enemy. God did not tell them not to. We can be sorry he never came to believe in Jesus, but we can rejoice that a mass murderer will do no more murdering. Most pacifists are pacifists until they happen to be the one hurt or have a loved one die. My father fought in WW2 and my grandfathers both fought in WW1. Back then, wars were wars, they were fought hard and without pity for every victim, in the hope that the war would be shorter and not prolonged.

It is quite amazing that N.T., a New Testament professor, makes one of the classic blunders in New Testament studies by taking a truth from Jesus that is applicable on a personal level and misapplying it to a national and judicial level - "love your enemies" and "he who lives by the sword will die by the sword". If we follow his argument all the way through we should never apply the sword judicially, which is hardly what Jesus meant. Old Testament nubies make the same mistake by thinking "an eye for an eye" was meant on a personal basis, when it was meant for a judicial basis alone. When people become over emotional they usually make these kind of mistakes, but for someone like N.T., once approached he should admit his abuse of Scripture.

It has been reported that several weapons were found in the room with Bin Laden, and that he was lunging for one of them when they broke in. It is pretty inconceivable that bin laden would not have weapons, as that is how he lived and now, died.

It seems to me that many Christians attempt to conflate what the Bible commands the individual Christian with what the Bible expects from a government (be it "christian" or heathen). It is not the duty of our country to "turn the other cheek" or to love their enemies but it is the duty of each of us as individuals. I "mourned" UBL's death as he was (and is yet) a member of the humanity that Jesus died to save but I did not mourn his fate as dealt out by our government. He was the one who lived by the sword and died by the sword. America has many things it needs to worry about in being accountable to Almighty God. Dealing thusly with a violent man like UBL does not seem to me to be one of them

Dan, Barbara, Larry, Mark, we are listening to you carefully and lovingly, as Christians in other parts of the world.
But we are still asking, along with N T Wright, why it is morally defensible for armed Americans to enter another country and assassinate without trial those accused of past atrocities, but it is not morally defensible for others to enter America with the same intent.
This is a reasonable question for Christian brothers and sisters to ask of one another, is it not?

I can understand how Dr. Wright wants somebody brought to trial through appropriate channels if the person was a criminal. This person who our our soldiers killed in the line of duty in Pakistan was no criminal. He and his followers are sworn enemies of the United States. Our country is at war with these radical savages and our leadership warned the world not to harbor our protect these cowards who has killed innocent men women and children. Only a fool would argue that Pakistan was unaware that this savage was living just a country block from Pakistan's equivalent of our West Point. Were we supposed to wait until Groundhog's Day for this guy to show his face or wait until he sends out a child, young girl or mentally retarded boy to suicide him or herself in order to blow up a bus full of elderly people. Dr. Wright should read John Kennedy's inaugural address to understand our foreign policy.

Emotion often overtakes logic and reality. As many have already concurred, it's not always possible to act on the basis of "higher standards" of UN or in this case, a UK theologian. Stacy points out the reality of war, pointing to WW I, WW II. There were great atrocities that took place despite the rules of engagement and war. The court of common sense concluded that OBL was guilty of crimes of war, and I believe Pres. G. W. Bush, in declaring war on Al Quaeda, warned OBL that America would find him and bring him to justice, "dead or alive." Obama carried out that same sentence. He was found. He was killed. Justice took place.

There is very little concerning America's twentieth-and-twenty-first century war programs which is not open to serious question. If Iraq had NO weapons of mass destruction, despite the hysteria of the zionist (anti-Christian) main-stream media and the zionist-sponsored politicians in Washington, and the illegal Iraq war led to hundreds of thousands of deaths of men, women and children, compared with only three-thousand-plus on Sept 11 2001, and if many professional people in the US and elsewhere still believe that bin Laden had nothing to do with 9/11 [see ae911truth] and if America sided with Josef Stalin in WW2 after Stalin and his Jewish commissar Lazar Kaganovitch had already been responsible for 6-million plus kulak deaths in 1932-3 (ten years before the US entered the European part of WW2), and if Roosevelt handed Eastern Europe including Poland to Stalin in spite of this at the Yalta Conference and in spite of Poland's freedom being the subject of the cause of WW2, and if the Japanese government had signaled that they wanted to negotiate a surrender 3 weeks before the US dropped the atomic bombs on the civilian populations of Hiroshima and Nagasaki (Robert Junck Brighter than a Thousand Suns (1958) pp. 189-191, Martin J Sherwin A World Destroyed (1975) pp. 235-237), then something is seriously wrong somewhere...

Liberal history spin in action.

It is hard to see our country harboring a known terrorist without telling the British government. For years we have come to understand that Pakistan, while having strong friendship with the United States, is split in its alegiancebelow the top leadership of government. We had no choice but to assume that secrets could not be kept. We pointed out a flaw in Pakistan's government. I am sure they will make an effort to correct that flaw in the future.

Bin Laden was about a block away from Pakistan's version of West Point. Why are you "certain" that the Pakistani government will correct the "flaw" that they can't be trusted? What special revelation do you have that they will correct this? They obviously knew where he was for a long time and were silent. I feel like I'm surrounded by Christian Scientists or some group that doesn't really believe that evil exists. Evil does exist and is our enemy, who has attacked unarmed civilians many, many times, by the thousands.

Whenever any nation around the world has a problem, to whom do they come running? America. This "Exceptionalism" stems from the fact that we have become the big brother/nanny for the rest of the world. Given that "status" -- which we have not as much sought as had thrust upon us -- Mr. Wright may want to cut us some slack.
He has also set aside the mounting suspicion that Pakistan may have actually been harboring OBL, which would make alerting Pakistan tantamount to alerting OBL to our plans.

Dear author-film producer,
You claim 'The court of common sense concluded that OBL was guilty of crimes of war'.
Is this the same court of common sense that sentenced 3000 Americans to death on 9/11 after earlier crimes of war committed by the USA in the Middle East and elsewhere?
Is it the same court of common sense that will now justify foreign death squads entering the USA to kill unarmed Americans accused of war crimes?
Committed Christians across the world, including in the US, fought long and hard for processes of international law to be put in place. Can you see that these latest actions of the US administration in subverting international justice make this world - and especially the USA - a much more dangerous place?

Brian, which nations have come running to America as a big brother/nanny in recent years?

No one in these comments has referenced Wright's citation of the "Myth of Redemptive Violence." This term is explained more fully by Walter Wink in this essay:
http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/content/cpt/article_060823wink.shtml

this is very simple. mr wright's analogy of the IRA doesn't wash. we are not at the mercy of IRA elements within our intel community. can anyone conceive that a man from the IRA responsible for the death of 3000 brits could be living for FIVE YEARS RIGHT DOWN THE STREET FROM WEST POINT? seriously? the very fact that he was living there indicates that pakistan was not to be trusted and therefore we needed to take action. secondly OBL was not the type of individual that you put on trial b/c you're giving him a platform to spew his foolishness as well as putting the entire world in danger in regards to kidnappings, hostages, for exchange etc.. thirdly is mr. wright really arguing that if OBL committed a 9/11 style attack against the UK that the SAS wouldn't be dispatched to do the exact same thing? it is also amazing to note he misapplies christ's "live by the sword" quote but he doesn't deal with paul's more relevant "the soldier doesn't bear the sword for nothing, he is god's servant sent to distribute justice" which is exactly what occured.

@SC: Not teasing, pilgram. OBL was the bad guy -plain and simple. And I don't know how you think you can speak for those around the world who are waiting for Christians to justify this act or repent. Most likely, those around the world are just as glad OBL is now room temperature. I frankly don't care what you think, and I am not obligated to answer your silly question. Write the Pentagon, instead, why don't you?

I also agree with Justin. I think N.T.is of the mark on this one.
I don't believe OBL was unarmed.If he was it would be the first time. Perhaps he did not have the gun in his hands, but he was not unarmed. Do people expect the seals to let him shoot at them first with his machine gun?
Was Deborah also wrong in killing Sisera when Israel was at war with him? At least OBL was awake.

Who really cares what NT Wright has to say? This is war. Frankly if OBL would have been captured it would have made him into a rallying cry for terrorist propaganda and even more people would be killed. NT Wright is just a whining liberal that doesn't realize thousands of US troops everyday protect his hind end. That's right NT. Your Great Britain has been saved too many times by the blood of US troops because you guys were to idiotic to fight Hitler from the get go!

Seals 1 OBL 0. Go SEALS.

Forget all the emtionalsim. Discuss Bishop Wright's thesis. Is there such a thing as "American exceptionalism?" If there is, how should a Christian respond?

......for he is God's servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God's wrath on the wrongdoer.(Romans 13:4) Obama, being a governing authority, approved by God Himself, can, according to this verse carry out God's wrath on a wrong, unjust action. What needs to be made clear, is "if you do wrong" can be applied to Bin Ladin? I believe it can. I do have a problem with the intrusion into sovereign territory, but I believe the rules of war for all involved nations, allows going after enemy commanders under most circumstances. And certainly a case can be made that Pakistan and the USA were cooperating in the apprehension of Al Queda operatives. Capture was okay, and the backup personnel put in place, indicates this. However, I think the prevailing plan was to kill him. I believe justice was done by the President. It would have been wrong if I had done it!!!

Greetings again,
Some here troubled by N T Wright’s questions seem to be answering him with (a) this is war, or (b) this isn’t a normal war, or (c) OBL was clearly guilty so no trial was needed, or (d) Pakistan did nothing, so the USA could do anything, or (e) OBL got what he deserved.
These are understandable responses, if arguable. But for Believers, the questions we have a duty to ask one another include: if Americans can defy international law, how can we expect others to respect it? Will Americans now accord their enemies the right to enact similar killings on American soil as legitimate acts of war, or are such actions morally wrong? How can we square the US administration’s actions with New Testament principles?
Several posts here seem still to be saying ‘America is different: rules for everyone else do not apply to us.’

@SC: I admit I have only skimmed through these posts and so may have missed it, but I haven't seen anybody here make the claim that "America is different: rules for everyone else do not apply to us."
In my opinion, if somebody had committed murder, and the authorities went to another party and allied themselves with them in an effort to apprehend that person. Then I later learned that these "allies" were actually harbouring and essentially providing a safe haven for, and thus protecting the perpetrator, I would think it pretty safe to assume that the capture of that criminal should not be entrusted to them. Given that, nor would I trust them enough to grant permission to allow the authorities to go in and capture this person themselves (contra N.T. Wright's analogy re: the UK and the IRA in Boston).
As others here have already said, I highly respect and appreciate Wright's work re: early Christian history and NT studies. But this is yet another instance in which I find his political positions to be not just suspect, but downright unfortunate.

Dear Cuchulainn, Thank you for this thoughtful response. The original article provoking this dialogue claims America sees itself as different from the rest of the world in matters of international justice. Many respondents here do seem to have confirmed that this is their view. Specifically, it is evil for others to enter the US and kill people in retaliation for perceived prior offences, but it is not evil for the US to enter other countries to do the same.
I and a minority of others here believe this outlook to be dangerous for the world, especially for Americans, and contrary to Gospel values.
Yes, you are right about not trusting Pakistan to effect the capture of OBL. So no problem with the US attempting that raid. The problem is that it was a raid with intent to murder rather than to apprehend.
From official reports we now know that the intelligence information indicated that an arrest should have been possible. And from all reports, we can see that an arrest (of an unarmed man in his pyjamas with no weapons in the building) would certainly have succeeded.
Tragically, this makes violent reprisals in the future against Americans more likely. The US can decry these and lash back, but it cannot now claim them to be morally wrong.

1) Exceptionalism – is to excel and stand out, having shown ability above the average. It should never be used as an excuse to say that the ‘rules’ don’t apply to the ones who are exceptional.

2) Any legitimate discussion of the morality of this event cannot be taken out of the context of war in which it occurred.

(@SC – You state that it is arguable that the U.S. was at war with Al Qaeda, a highly organized terror group which has repeatedly acknowledged that OBL was in fact their commander in chief. Since OBL himself declared war against the U.S. in video format, how can you support any other possibility? To suggest that he was ‘just kidding’, or that the U.S. was on morally shaky ground to declare war in response to the 3,000 lives lost in the cowardly attack on 9/11 is an insult to the American people.)

Are there differences between the International Laws of peace time and the Rules of Warfare?
Is there moral legitimacy to assassinating an enemy’s commander-in-chief during warfare?
Do the rules change if he’s hiding in a country whose government is purported to be an ally?

3) It would not surprise me to learn that IRA terrorists are hiding in the U.S., (9,629,091 sq mi w/ over 3 billion people – look how long it took them to find Ted Kaczynski). Is there any evidence that the U.S. government knowingly aiding them to do so? Has the U.S. ever hindered in any way the capture of an alleged criminal who was located on its sovereign soil?
If so, then the U.S. is unquestioningly morally wrong in this and under those circumstances I personally would condone the U.K.’s military taking steps to bring to justice any such hidden terrorists.

4) My first thoughts were of Dietrich Bonheoffer. This hero of the Christian faith participated in a plot to assassinate Adolf Hitler. If the plot had succeeded would Mr. Wright have considered him to be morally wrong? Would Bonheoffer have been wrong if Hitler was hiding in Russia? If Bonheoffer and his group of assassins had been working for the government of the U.K. during WWII would that have changed the morality of his actions?

OSL was a military target by his own making. He knew it. The U.S. declared it after 9/11 in unmistakable terms.

@SC – “Specifically, it is evil for others to enter the US and kill people in retaliation for perceived prior offences, but it is not evil for the US to enter other countries to do the same.”

Again, you have taken this event (and the reactions to it) out of context of the declared state of war.

I’ve re-read the comments here and I simply do not see this response. While you may think this is true, I don’t find it in the responses here as you indicate. What I do find is people reacting with emotion who are glad that OSL – a mass murderer whose majority of victims were innocent civilians – is dead. And just like King David, they rejoice in the death of their enemy.

“Tragically, this makes violent reprisals in the future against Americans more likely. The US can decry these and lash back, but it cannot now claim them to be morally wrong.”

If Hitler had stepped up the deaths at the concentration camps because of Bonheoffer or Valkyrie would the world have said he had moral grounds to do so?

You’re comparing mass murder of civilians in an attempt to terrorize a population with specific military actions and a known military target whose guilt was beyond question.

Godwin's Law, RepublicSupporter.
First person to make a comparison with Adolf Hitler automatically invalidates their argument.
Just when this was getting constructive ...

Yes, RS, yours was a gratuitous reference. OBL is no Hitler. Not even in the same universe. The total number of deaths even OBL's worst enemies can attribute to Al Qaeda attacks outside declared war zones Iraq and Afghanistan is of the order of 3800.
That is 3800 too many, certainly. And this includes many of my French countrymen killed in Karachi, Madrid and elsewhere. So we here in Europe have suffered too.
But remember that George W Bush's futile invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan have resulted in more than 7000 young Americans killed. And as many as 100,000 civilians killed, including women and children.
Perspective please.

I found all the comments very interesting. I'm a Brit and when NT Wright was the bishop of Durham he was my father-in-law line manger. I also have a grandfather who is an American living in Florida so one could argue that I have sympathises on both sides of the argument .

However I would say that NT Wright is on very difficult ground , making a judgement call on an irrational situation with the likes of Osama bin Laden and using a rational book like the New Testament to make that judgement call

Cheers

Bruce

Okay, let's continue the conversation, RepublicSupporter.
It seems the US has the choice to deal with Al Qaeda members as criminals or enemies of war.
If the former, then there is a good chance that with international cooperation members can be arrested and dealt with through due judicial process. This happened in South Africa with the Umkhonto we Sizwe in the 1950s (led by Nelson Mandela), in Europe with the Red Brigades in the 1970s and has happened with other terrorist groups elsewhere.
Or is there a declared war between the US and Al Qaeda as two armed combattants?
If so, then do the Geneva conventions of warfare apply?
Were the attacks on the US from 1993 to the present legitimate acts of war?
Will you regard reprisals following the assassination of OBL as legitimate also?
Finally, why would Christians choose to support the latter, with the inevitable loss of civilian life this entails?

"...U.S., (9,629,091 sq mi w/ over 3 billion people..." 3 billion people? ;-)

I greatly appreciate N. T. Wright's books and his theological statements. I don't know why he feels he has to make pronouncements on American foreign policy. It seems a stretch to me to make Jesus' words to individuals about loving their enemies into national policy. Jacques Ellul pointed out (rightly, I believe) that "Every state is founded on violence and cannot maintain itself save by and through violence" (Ellul 1969, 84). Paul, being one of Wright's favorites, told the Roman church, "If you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer."

Yes, I think the record shows that war has been declared by two armed combatants. However, only one of the combatants is a sovereign nation. The other combatant is a highly organized fanatic religious group with stated goals of murder and mayhem and with members scattered throughout the world and who are allowed to operate with varying degrees of tolerance/support by governments (particularly in the Middle East and parts of Asia) who themselves are both friendly and hostile to other sovereign nations under attack. This indicates there is not necessarily a good chance of international cooperation.

Yes, I consider every jihad terrorist attack as an act of war, regardless of whether it is claimed to be in retaliation / reprisal by Al Qaeda or not. I consider it so without regard to whose citizens are injured and without regard to within what country’s borders the attacks happen. While the U.S. has been a primary target because of the wealth and success created by the ‘American Exceptionalism’ Wright condemns, they are not the only targets of Al Qaeda’s racist jihad terrorist attacks. 9/11 was not retaliation. The U.S. was not the aggressor here; they are defenders of liberty for both their own citizens and for the world at large. Any country that does not fully support ferreting out terrorists within its borders creates a question of their being a ‘trusted ally’.

Honestly, I have not read the Geneva Convention to be able to speak to any specific rules of warfare. I would hope that those individuals charged with overseeing foreign policy in the U.S. government have done so (yet I am sad to say that most of the members of the U.S. congress do not even know what is in the U.S. Constitution so this may be mere wishful thinking.) However, based on their cowardly actions of targeting innocent civilians, including women and children, it is reasonable to assume that this is not a document that Al Qaeda adheres to. In this instance it appears that it is only the sovereign nation that is being expected to use diplomatic cooperation to capture enemies of war. Is it reasonable to hold one combatant to standards the opposition does not abide by, if in doing so even more lives are put at risk? At what point does the concept of ‘greater good’ apply?

I can’t speak to “the attacks on the U.S. from 1993”, and I would need you to define your criteria of a “legitimate act of war” to address this question.

Wright misapplies Jesus’ personal teaching to a government responsible for its national defense. Therefore he mixes theology with politics in an inappropriate way.

He paints a picture of ‘vigilante justice’ in part by point of claiming that OBL was not armed, when it was in fact reported that weapons were within reach. (A handgun in a glove box at a traffic stop makes a person armed just as surely as does an AK-47 leaned up against a wall in your home.)

OBL grabbed his wife and threw her into harm’s way. This is not a reasonable action for a person to take who presents themselves as being unarmed. Such a person would have raised his hands demonstrating that he was not a threat. OBL’s cowardly response very well may have been done to distract the SEALs in an attempt to arm himself and any SEALs who fired shots were well within their rights to prevent that from happening.

Sovereignty and Protection

You kill a snake by cutting off it’s head. Will that tick off (rile up) other snakes in the nest? Yes. But the appropriate response to a venomous snake infestation is to take out as many of the snakes as possible. And it makes good sense to go after the biggest ones with the most venom first.

What if the viper’s nest is located on your neighbor’s property and several of the family members who live there are known to think the snakes should be allowed to multiply and prosper?

But your children and the other children in the neighborhood are at risk of being bitten, do you refrain from action on the legal grounds of property lines or do you eradicate the nest?

What if you have reason to believe those snake loving family members will relocate the snake nest away from your reach before you can convince the head of the family to take action?

Did the U.S. take out their enemy’s proclaimed commander-in-chief for additional reasons that do not support the protection of innocent lives that will clearly remain at risk as long as this jihadist organization prospers with OBL alive? Possibly, but that is a moot point because it does not negate the primary objective.


Contrary to his detractors, N. T. Wright is "spot on"...

America is not the kingdom of God, and America is not God's sword.

The throngs that celebrate extrajudicial killing better wake up to what this really means before it's too late.

Dear Republic Supporter, I think I can see why we disagree.
“While the U.S. has been a primary target because of the wealth and success created by the ‘American Exceptionalism’ Wright condemns, they are not the only targets of Al Qaeda’s racist jihad terrorist attacks. 9/11 was not retaliation. The U.S. was not the aggressor here; they are defenders of liberty for both their own citizens and for the world at large.”
Do you really believe this?
Surely it is understood these days that since 1945 the US has conducted more than 30 unprovoked invasions of other countries in pursuit of its own economic and political interests - many of them Muslim countries. These, along with US support for the ongoing dispossession of the Palestinians by Israel, would seem to have provided ample justification for retaliation in a might-is-right world view.
Just since 1991, how many innocent people have been killed by Al Qaeda attacks? About 3800. How many have been killed by US military action? More than 220,000.
Perhaps it would help if we all tried to view recent history through the eyes of the victims.

SC
No, it is not so “surely understood” as you state.

I do not allow myself the luxury of hiding behind blind patriotism, as a Native American, my opinion is that a number of the military actions within my country were less than honorable. However, I do think there are many in the foreign countries where U.S. military actions took place who would completely disagree with your assessment.

I do not believe ‘might-makes-right’. I don’t even believe in a ‘majority rule’.

What I do believe in is the concept of noblesse oblige. I believe history supports that the majority of the conflicts where U.S. military became involved were over communist threats to existing governments and while that is a ‘political interest’ it is a noble one. As a ‘super power’ after WWII we were obligated to defend aggression across the globe. I also believe that there were situations where the U.S. joined with other countries in political struggles opting to support what can be viewed as the lesser of two evils. If there were secondary issues of protecting U.S. economic interests along the way, so be it, but that does not negate a higher mission.

Yes, I wholeheartedly support Israel’s return to and occupation of their traditional homeland.

And also yes, I do now see why we disagree.

Perhaps the pompophilic propensity and pontification here by Tom, outside his orbit of inquiry and expertise, might be better applied to his NT studies?

Perhaps, America should have stayed mum and isolationist when Hitler bombed London.

And horrors, D-Day on 6 Jun 1944!

And horrors, British soldiers traisping across North Africa in WW2.

Here's Tom's big mistake. He's an authority on a few subjects and, ergo, this warrants--in his mind-- pontifications in other areas. Tom, tend to your own affairs.

A pretty sorry set of comments.

Wright, and those who agree with him, might ask why the most ‘Progressive’ President in US history, Barak Obama, approved the mission and has not backed away from his conviction that the mission was necessary. I’ll admit to my tendency toward ‘American Exceptionalism’ if Wright will admit to a tendency - as a cleric and academic - toward being somewhat disconnected from simple (albeit ugly) geopolitical realities in this fallen world. If you are to the left of Obama, you are out of bounds.

OBL was the most wanted criminal in the world for 10 years, and we’re supposed to tip-toe around when a window of opportunity opens? For many reasons, I would have preferred he be taken alive, but I’m not going to second guess the President and military on the strategy. Presumably, the risk would have been greater to the Navy Seals if they had tried to take him alive, so I can respect the ‘kill’ decision.

Wright, whose work I admire, seems to have a low opinion of the US. So be it. He might take note of the conspicuous absence of dancing in the streets, and over-the-top triuphalism in the wake of this successful mission, in contrast to celebrations in the ‘Arab street’ when OBL’s 911 killed 3000 of us.

Ah, dear Republic Supporter, if only this were so! Noblesse oblige.
You have read history, so you will know that every aggressive power which has invaded another country has always done so for the greater good. Including You-know-who who invaded Poland in 1939 to protect innocent refugees. All military attacks, including the many atrocities by Al Qaeda, have only ever been to achieve world peace – except when seen from the perspective of the attackee. This is something Americans curiously seem to find difficult. Which I think is N T Wright’s point.
Every civilised country believes it strives for and achieves noblesse oblige. For most this means fully supporting the United Nations and its international conventions. For all, except the USA, Israel and Sudan, this means supporting the International Criminal Court. For all, except the USA and Afghanistan, this means ratifying the historic Kyoto agreement on climate change. For all, except the USA and Greece, this means overseas development aid. (The USA and Greece are last on the list of OECD countries in ODA generosity). For all, except the USA, this means using penal sanctions as the last rather than first resort. (The USA tops the world list of prisoners per population by a huge margin.)
And the list could go on. Noblesse?
The world wishes this were not so, because the USA was once great and could be great again. But history and present reality must be faced. Both starkly affirm the validity of N T Wright’s thesis.
Stacy

Jerry, I don't know where you get your information, but you don't seem to be addressing the situation as we know it.
As someone else posted here recently, we now know that the intelligence the US had about OBL’s house gave them the options to pursue a raid which sought to demand a surrender first, shoot to disable and apprehend second, and kill third. We now know from official reports that the first option would certainly have succeeded. US Navy Seals – 40 of them – are well capable of overpowering an unarmed elderly invalid in his pyjamas in bed with his wife in a building with no weapons. But their orders were to kill all males, disable all females. Mission accomplished.
Here in Europe the dancing in the street outside the White House we saw on TV last week was virtually the same as seen in 2001.
Having read everything here carefully, it is not N T Wright who is disconnected from the realities of the world.


SC, Sorry. I just don’t buy your argument that every power who took action believed they did so for the greater good, if for no other reason than because not all countries or those who govern them are civilized.
The American Experiment – A Constitutional Republic - first and foremost values life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for the individual, and our founders expressly set up a limited government to achieve this goal. This is the essence of what made us great. Obviously not all countries are willing to give up their sovereignty or their souls to bow to the dictates of the U.N. or other international organizations.
You & Wright have redefined the term ‘Exceptionalism’from its traditional meaning: to excel; and have used it to claim an attitude of: self-exemption.
You may believe that you speak for the ‘world’ and you may wish whatever you want, but I believe that the evidence of the vast number of people who continue to risk life and limb to enter the U.S. for its opportunities and benefits paints a very different picture.
-----
BTW: I checked and according to the OECD, between 2001-2009, the U.S. had a net disbursement of $215,005,360,000.00 USD. This was by far the most generous country listed, with the closest 2nd runner up giving less than half that amount.
You need to check your facts. http://www.oecd.org/document/39/0,3746,en_33873108_33873886_46462759_1_1_1_1,00.html

Hi again RepublicSupporter,
Dictionary definitions of exceptionalism seem to differ. The meaning of the term in N T Wright's thesis is fairly clear, and I think his point has been validated by much of the discussion here.
Yes, the quantum of overseas development aid is higher from the US than any other country. But the term 'ODA generosity' usually refers to ODA as a percentage of gross national income. From the second chart on this page you will see Greece is last and the US is second last among OECD countries.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Official_development_assistance
Cheers,
Stacy

So what? The total actual amount of aid is what is most important - 22.74 billion dollars from that greedy, mean and proud USA compared to 3.97 billion from Sweden. As a liberal I'm sure you'd take the 3.97 billion dollars. Maybe it hasn't occurred to you but a millionaire who gives 1% of his/her annual income to charity still helps more people than if I give 10% of mine. And if you were a country in dire need of assistance would you rather look to Sweden or the USA for help? But that is not all that the USA has given to the world. You don't include the blood and treasure the USA has given to save the world several times over from tyrants [and you can't even begin to measure that cost to us!] So tell us how many times has Sweden rushed to bail out some country that was threatened either by natural or man-made disasters? Nor do you include the money that USA Christians give in overseas aid. You can compare apples to oranges all you want, but your rationalizations look silly when you look at real amounts. By the way, if it weren't for the USA and Her sense of exceptionalism you'd be speaking Japanese right now. Thanks for nothing.

IN THE BEGINNING, Cain killed Abel, the 1st human killing before all the various beliefs and religions to the Sovereign Power of any notions of God and Creation came into being in this world.

These days, the Mark of Cain does not even fit into the equation in the thinking of the People, especially among the self-proclaimed believers in the God of Genesis and Jesus.

Because Cain feared Capital Punishment, God said I will put a mark on your forehead so no one will kill you for any reason. If they kill you, it will be 7 times worse.

Today, killing is big in politics and business. In the nominally Christian West, the remnants of the last high paying manufacturing jobs are producing the weapons of mass destruction and mass killing consuming $trillions of dollars every year. The People consent to having to live within and under that power structure of this world.

We are now living in the Time of the Revelation of the Days of our lives and our generations.

for thy merchants were the great men of the earth; for by thy sorceries were all nations deceived.
And in her was found the blood of prophets, and of saints, and of all that were slain upon the earth.
Revelation 18:23-24

If the self-proclaimed believers in the Saving Grace of Christ understood those simple, plain English words and vision in the Bible, the Bible Fundamentalist Christina TV personalities would be calling for regime change in America, the worlds biggest manufacturer and supplier of weapons of mass destruction to the world.

"Jerry, I don't know where you get your information..."

Alan, it is not the 'information' in question here, but your and my interpretation of it. You and I could debate special military special ops all day long, and it would be nothing but absurd (since I assume that experts in such matters tend to blog on sites other than CT). My point is that ecclesiastics like Wright seem to relish speaking like experts on issues they know little about (Hollywood actors have the same habit).

So, I guess the operation was just a cake walk for the Seals, eh? Been in any firefights lately? Me neither, thankfully.

And, celebrations in the West in the wake of OBL's death were neither excessive nor widespread. Considering the criminal and his crimes, I would describe the response as restrained.

This will probably be the only time ever that I agree with N.T. Wright about ANYTHING; however, in this one case I must agree with him completely. It should be painfully obvious to everyone that this country, the United States, no longer follows the commands of God in practically anything it does. Please note also that the killing of Bin Laden is further proof that we are no longer a nation of laws. This has been the reality for quite some time, but I appreciate an incidence such as this one, because it makes it ever more public and obvious for all the nations of the world to see. This is indeed the end of America. R.I.P. U.S.A.

Interesting. It seems that thet Pakistan's military leader gave the U.S. permission to do exactly what happened:

From the Guardian:
"The US and Pakistan struck a secret deal almost a decade ago permitting a US operation against Osama bin Laden on Pakistani soil similar to last week's raid that killed the al-Qaida leader, the Guardian has learned.
"The deal was struck between the military leader General Pervez Musharraf and President George Bush after Bin Laden escaped US forces in the mountains of Tora Bora in late 2001, according to serving and retired Pakistani and US officials.
"Under its terms, Pakistan would allow US forces to conduct a unilateral raid inside Pakistan in search of Bin Laden, his deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri, and the al-Qaida No3. Afterwards, both sides agreed, Pakistan would vociferously protest the incursion.
"There was an agreement between Bush and Musharraf that if we knew where Osama was, we were going to come and get him," said a former senior US official with knowledge of counterterrorism operations. "The Pakistanis would put up a hue and cry, but they wouldn't stop us."
"The deal puts a new complexion on the political storm triggered by Bin Laden's death in Abbottabad, 35 miles north of Islamabad, where a team of US navy Seals assaulted his safe house in the early hours of 2 May."

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/may/09/osama-bin-laden-us-pakistan-deal?CMP=twt_gu

1) A private citizen (Bonhoeffer)
2) Joins a plot to assasinate a head of state (Hitler)
3) Let's canonize him!

1) A head of state (Obama)
2) Executes a mass murderering outlaw (UBL)
3) Let's condemn him!!!

These two statements are inconsistent!

Stacy has a point, FCA.
My own response was that you have made 6 assertions, of which only one is unarguable. So your postulates are not only inconsistent but incomprehensible.

I continue to be stunned by the gleeful reaction of most Americans to the shooting of an unarmed man in front of his family... and flabbergasted that so many readers of a Christian magazine weigh in with the same thumbs up. Have I missed the part of Jesus' teaching where he exempted the guilty and evil from forgiveness? Or does forgiveness not apply when it's Americans who are attacked and hurting?

NT Wright suggests rightly that US residents would be outraged if such "justice" were claimed by foreign powers in a US community. The defensive reactions to his opinion prove it. We have behaved as a nation above God's law, smug in the righteousness of our own retribution. I pray that God won't leave us on our own in this lonely place apart that we've chosen.

yeah because all those innocent people Osama ordered killed in the twin towers were armed to the teeth soliders right?
They were unarmed people and civlians. Osama was a general of an organized group with a military purpose he dedicated his life to completing.


Secondly forgiveness is for the one who repents and asks for it. Osama did neither. He was actively in the middle of planning many attacks and wrote in his journal how his supporters needed to focus on smaller cities and to make sure they killed as many Americans as they could.

Remember what Jesus said to the woman caught in adultery?

" But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. 7 When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” 8 Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.

9 At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. 10 Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”

11 “No one, sir,” she said.

“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and LEAVE YOUR LIFE OF SIN.”

(John 6-11-emphasis mine)

Osama not only did not leave his sin, he planned on doing it more and more and encouraged whoever would listen to join him in it.


As for the NT Wright matter, God bless him, but he is not a soldier nor the president. President Obama did the right thing mainly because Pakistan knew Osama was there (the town had a miltary training base on it) but did not notify the US (or take care of it themselves as good Allies would).

Being a soldier by the way is not condemened by Jesus. Soldiers defend civilians from outside threats. They kill enemies who would otherwise kill you. When soldiers asked Jesus what they should do he told them to be happy and not cheat but notice he did not say "stop being soldiers" (on the ohter hand:to the adultress he did say to stop 'her life of sin' ie -stop being an adultress).


Luk 3:12 And some tax collectors also came to be baptized, and they said to him, "Teacher, what shall we do?"


Luk 3:13 And he said to them, " [fn]Collect no more than what you have been ordered to."


Luk 3:14 Some soldiers were questioning him, saying, "And what about us, what shall we do?" And he said to them, "Do not take money from anyone by force, or accuse anyone falsely, and be content with your wages."

God forgives the "evil and the wicked" if they repent and turn from their "evil and wickedness", that is the whole point.

If a man is raping you and has not repented but is trying to come back to you and do it again, has he repented? No he has not and if the police can find him before he strikes again they will (the police will even invade his home to get him --thats the point).

Christianity is not about giving a free pass to evil and wicked people becuase its about "forgivness". Its about giving forgiveness to those who stop and change their ways (int he greek to repent means 'change your mind about your actions')


Authorities and punishments of lawbreakers are seen as God given in Christianity. As the scriptures say:

"Everyone must submit to governing authorities. For all authority comes from God, and those in positions of authority have been placed there by God. 2 So anyone who rebels against authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and they will be punished. 3 For the authorities do not strike fear in people who are doing right, but in those who are doing wrong. Would you like to live without fear of the authorities? Do what is right, and they will honor you. 4 The authorities are God’s servants, sent for your good. But if you are doing wrong, of course you should be afraid, for they have the power to punish you. They are God’s servants, sent for the very purpose of punishing those who do what is wrong." (Romans 13:1-2 NLT)


You see in Christianity there is evil and their is good. Forgiveness is for those who turn from evil to good. Punishment is for those who refuse to do so , who kill innocent people and then keep on doing it and heartily hope to do it again.

God bless Navy Seal team 6

PS My grandfather was from Greece and fought Nazis in WWII. The nazis did not repent nor stop killing innocent people in his village. He therefore fought them and killed as many as he could. He also hid a jewish friend of his in the back of his small local Eastern Orthodox church (with full support of the preist). You would condemn such brave men?

These were good and decent people doing what had to be done. Evil that is unrepentant does not want your forgivenss only your death.

Therefore you must fight it to the death.

Yes, and NT Wright would be speaking German right now if the Americans had not helped fight the Germans in WW2. God had the Israelites fight several wars in the Old Testament. God is still God and has been, and will be, for all eternity. Maybe some people should read Revelation, there will be a war at the end unlike anything we can imagine, and God will supernaturally intervene to protect Israel.

Right on Barbara and Yorgos. God bless.

I'm a reserve myself. If it comes to it Ill go and fight for freedeom. Freedom is not free.

Hooray, N.T. Wright for having the integrity and courage to say what needed to be said. Bin Laden was executed by a US death squad, and while he may have deserved a horrible fate, the US has done nothing to bolster its claim to further 'justice' and good ole 'democracy' by this action. The man should have faced trial and allowed to tell all he knew of the complicity of various power-brokers around the world in the aiding and abetting of Islamic extremism. I realise this is an emotional issue for Americans - we can all understand that - but the circumstance that so many of the comments above pillory N.T. Wright and fail to hear what he is saying can only lead to the conclusion that Americans (alas) still don't get it - they don't understand the depths of resentment that their global hegemony has created, and that their foreign policy so often resembles little more than the threat of 'do as we say, or else'. There must be a better way - a more honest and compassionate way - of conducting US affairs, and let's hope and pray that the leaven of the Gospel may yet permeate the whole loaf of US foreign policy.

Actually Im a Canadian and I agree with the "comments above" Tadmor. Besides Osama is a very dangerous man. The squad said they would have wanted to get him alive but they would have done that only if he was nude and obviously unarmed. In one of the journal entries of a terrorist (not Osama but a friend) he spoke of always having an explosive on himself to be able to suicide bomb if they ever try to get him.

Killing him the way they did was more merciful than the deaths of the poor people who had to die in the towers from fire or from dropping to their deaths out the windows.... a bullet was far more merciful than what he gave the americans.

I was terribly saddened by reading many of the comments posted here. Not only do they convey the superficial thinking of many American Chrisitians but they are also indicative of just how much American Chrisitianity has become Anti-Christ.

It's antichrist to kill a terrorist who killed over 3000 Americans by crashing airplanes into the twin towers?

Sandy, evil has been around for a long time. Sadley, it is something that permeates every human heart. Often, the more self righteous we are and the more we see ourselves exempt from the tragic human narrative of sin the more likely we are to engage and justify the kind of heinous crimes that characterized 9/11.

One sign of spiritual maturity is to recognize the extent to which our own hearts and minds have been captured by the powers of sin and death. All to often we have this tendency of pointing out the speck in our neighbors eye while ignoring the beam in our own.

We are rightly appalled by the barbaric actions of 9/11, in part because they were committed against us, but what about our own sins. On September 11,1973 our own government sponsered and assisted the violent overthrow of the duly elected government in Chile. The murderers that we sponsored and assisted were responsible for the deaths of at least ten thousand people.

That's the 9/11 that the people of Chile remember. We don't remember it of course because we have divided the world into good guys and bad guys with ourselves on the side of the angels. The Bible, however, reminds us that we have all fallen short of the glory of God.

God's way of dealing with evil is not through bombing, killing and voilence. God deals with evil through the self giving love of the Lord Jesus Christ on the Cross. In other words, God deals with evil by subjecting himself to our penchant for violence. And yes, every time we celebrate violence as an answer to evil we move in the direction of anti-Christ.

"God's way of dealing with evil is not through bombing, killing and voilence. God deals with evil through the self giving love of the Lord Jesus Christ on the Cross."

Nope. That's Gods way of dealing with SIN but crimes in the earthly realm require police and soldiers. Scroll above and read what jesus and paul in the New Testament said about respecting the authorities that God has given to punish evildoers. Please don't confuse the two.

Also re: Chile 1973. The leader whom you allude to was a far left wing communist who used his position to cancel democracy in Chile and the US naturally came to help fight him. I was there in Chile and was 30 years old at that time. Please don't give me nonsense about it being otherwise. Salvador Allende became elected but soon there after became a dictator in my country and even when our Supreme Court and the Chamber opposed him to try to stop his greed for power and dictatorship.

I agree with Stacey Carey.. And with N.T. Wright... From a Christian outside the US.

Osama bin laden would have killed more and more. America did the right thing. Osama was not a civilian. The thousands of innocent americans in the twin towers and those on the plane that crased in DC ---were civilians.

Joe P.
a Canadian

Ummm Jose, so the cross did not deal with evil???? You are going against scripture and 2000 years of church history. Evil, sin and death were dealt with on the cross. Christ is victorious over the evil powers of this world. They have been defeated. If we are true to the gospel we will live the gospel. And if you're telling me that living the gospel equates to violence against our enemies, then you clearly haven't read the text. Your ideology has certainly clouded your reading of scriptures, like so many Christians in America.

As for Allende. The facts are that he was democratically elected. And the will of the people was overthrown violently by a U.S. sponsored thug called Pinochet, who is notorious for his cruelty.

And lastly, American Christians just cannot stand the intellectual clout that NT Wright brings to the table on things such as justice. Your positions on moral issues are shown for what they really are: self serving moralisms for which the sins of others are condemned with no mercy and your own sins are excused by yourselves. It's the definition of self-righteousness. I sincerely hope for the downfall of this kind of American Christian nonsense that is blaspheming the name of our Lord around the world. Maybe then something good can rise up out of it's pitiful ashes. I affirm true Christian brethren in America. I don't know how you put up with this nonsense.

"I sincerely hope for the downfall of this kind of American Christian nonsense that is blaspheming the name of our Lord around the world. "


I agree brother and may the US go down along with it.
Perhaps a new order in terms of a compassionate christian state would be better.

Petrov, how about a one world gov't with a one world religion, that is "compassionate" towards all, and has no requirements at all, except that people cannot claim that their religion is the only correct religion? And we could have a one world currency and have the name of the leader stamped on our hand or our foreheads? Then we can all be under the antichrist in Revelation! NO THANK YOU.

We will only have a Christian world when Jesus Himself is ruling.

I see nothing wrong with Petrov's proposal. You American Christians are very selfish. You invaded Chile to get rid of Allende and your evil must stop. If it takes the downfall of American Christians and their evil government then it is a good thing.

And yes Barbara the gospel is the truth but we must be compassionate towards the other religions and philosophies as Allende was in Chile. He even had a close friendship with Che.

First of all this heretic wasn't there so he's just guessing about whether OBL was armed or unarmed. And if you follow his logic out there would be no reason to have an Army in the first place.

A Christian ideal for sure but hard to work in the real world where people want to kill you.

American exceptionalism is real because we've earned it. Just like British exceptionalism was real during the empire until they lost it.

I'm sure we as Americans will lose it too. But Christian Exceptionalism has been long lost ... especially thanks to heretics like NT Wright and their 'critiques.'

It is difficult for Americans particularly to think unbiased thoughts. We think ourselves to be a type of world father figure who must discipline those who get out of line. Those are some nasty presumptions when one thinks more holistic thoughts. Frankly, Dr. Wright's comment, that: it it is frightening that any old powerhouse can arise and come to violate some political boundaries, is not far from the mark. It has been happening for quite some time for us. Unfortunately it is now in our bones; it is now our worldview, and it is why we can't see it any other way.