By Mark Tooley @markdtooleyhttps://mobile.twitter.com/markdtooley
In about 1985 as a college student I first heard and learned of Brother Andrew, the famous Dutch evangelist and missionary especially renowned for working covertly behind the old Iron Curtain. It was a gathering of the National Religious Broadcasters at a Washington, DC hotel. He was an amazing speaker and story teller. The mood in the room was electric. The hymn “All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name” spontaneously drove the ballroom audience to its feet. In those still Cold War days, the demise of the Soviet Bloc seemed impossible. Brother Andrew offered hope of winning the oppressed under communism, and maybe even their oppressors, to Christ. I bought his book “God’s Smuggler” and loved it.
Since the Cold War’s end, Brother Andrew has focused on majority Muslim countries. He emphasizes building rapport with Muslims while offering them Christ. His organization, Open Doors, has for years reported on global persecution of Christians. In many ways Brother Andrew is a great man whom God has deployed powerfully.
So Brother Andrew’s denunciation of the U.S. Navy Seals’ killing of Osama bin Laden in a recent CHRISTIANITY TODAY interview (http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/channel/utilities/print.html?type=article&id=103400) is saddening if not shocking. Here’s his quote:
CT QUESTION: Not long ago of course Osama bin Laden was assassinated, and the whole world rejoiced. Thousands have died in drone assaults. What is your response to such killing?
BROTHER ANDREW ANSWER: I have been speaking in meetings in America, and part of my sermon was, “Have you prayed today for bin Laden?” People were rather shocked, and some people said, “I must confess. I have never prayed for bin Laden, but now I do it.” Bin Laden was on my prayer list. I wanted to meet him. I wanted to tell him who is the real boss in the world. But then he was murdered, I call it. Murdered, because he didn’t shoot back. He had no resistance. That’s not warfare. And I have had too much of that. A good number of my own friends in Gaza have been assassinated. Liquidated they call it in their terminology. I call it murdered.
So was the terrorist mastermind “murdered?” Or was the U.S. or any government justified in killing a monster who had slain thousands of innocents with undoubted intent to continue? Should the U.S. Navy SEALS who risked their lives on a perilous mission into Pakistan have further imperiled themselves and their mission by attempting to extract Bin Laden alive from his nest for shipment to Guantanamo or wherever? Would justice and peace have been served by Bin Laden’s prolonged detention leading to a possible trial and execution by the U.S., amid endless publicity and inevitable bestirring of and amplified violence by Bin Laden’s followers globally? Or was not Bin Laden’s quick, pathetic end far preferable, politically and morally?
I wonder if Brother Andrew thinks the U.S. airmen who in 1943 shot down the targeted plane of Admiral Yamamoto, orchestrator of the Pearl Harbor attack, should instead have tried to steer the admiral to a safe landing and genteel captivity. Even this comparison is not fair since Yamamoto was a uniformed officer of a nation state waging conventional war. Bin Laden was a terrorist meriting no special protection by the rules of war or morality. The U.S. Navy SEALS, under lawful command of the U.S. President, were complying with Saint Paul’s admonition that God equipped the state to wield vengeance against evil doers.
Then there’s Brother Andrew’s complaint that many of his “friends” in Hamas controlled, rocket firing Gaza have been “murdered” by, presumably, Israel, as it tries to defend its own people. He’s of course right to offer the Gospel to all people. But should an evangelist describe terrorists and their supporters as his “friends?” Why are the U.S. Navy SEALS murderers but Hamas zealots who seek Israel’s destruction and fire rockets at civilians “friends?”
God bless Brother Andrew in his sincere evangelistic and humanitarian pursuits after 60 years of courageous Christian service. But his spiritual gifts seem not to include political judgement and understanding the state’s providential purpose and distinct calling very different from the church’s vocation.