Pax Americana (Is The United States A Modern Day Roman Empire?)

U.S. President Joe Biden approved military airstrikes against Iranian-backed militia groups in Syria, the Pentagon confirmed on Thursday. | Feb 28, 2021

INTRODUCTION

On February 25th, the President of the United States, Joe Biden, ordered an airstrike on a militia group in Syria.

The airstrike was ordered in retaliation to multiple rocket strikes by the militia in Iraq, including a deadly-strike that hit a U.S. coalition base in Irbil, a town in Northern Iraq.

The U.S. dropped seven precision guided munitions totally destroying nine structures and partially destroying two. Current reports say there were 22 casualties, these numbers have yet to confirm exactly what type of casualties these were, however the Pentagon is confident their strike was effective in eliminating their target.

The Pentagon and President Biden himself justified the bombings as “defensive retaliation” as protected by Article II of the U.S. Constitution, the president having power as commander and chief to order the strike as a protective measure for service men and women, and article 51 of the U.N. Charter which provides countries the right of “self-defense” in response to an attack.

The attacks against the U.S. coalition base came shortly after Biden’s initiative to revive the 2015 Iran Nuclear Agreement.

All of these efforts are said to protect the world from violent attacks against peaceful people. That’s debatable, and I would say that if you take a bird’s eye view of what is going on it’s reminiscent of ancient Rome. The western world, and particularly the United States, want to keep their collective thumb on the middle east, and the middle east is tired of it.

So let’s explore this comparison.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

THE HUMBLE BEGINNINGS OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE

Augustus of Primaporta, perhaps a copy of a bronze statue of ca. 20 B.C.E., Early 1st century
Marble, originally colored

Little is known about the early days of the Roman Empire, but I think the history of how the Romans became the unbeatable force they were known for by the time of the 2nd Century helps us to understand the perspective I’m going to present in this blog.

Nine miles north of Rome in the year 483 B.C.E. was a city of similar stature and just as, if not more successful, as Rome herself. This was the city of Veii which was inhabited by the Etruscan’s. Rome and Veii began warring against each other annually in order to seize each others lands and grow in power and stature.

In 406 B.C.E. Rome began a ten year siege against the city of Veii and in 396 B.C.E. whilst being besieged Romans tunneled underneath the city walls and overtook it. After defeating the Etruscan’s at Veii Rome immediately doubled in size, stature, and resources.

As time went on Rome spread its wings over the west encompassing current day Italy, France, Spain, Great Britain, Poland, Romania, Greece, reaching down into Turkey, Syria, Iraq, Israel, and northern parts of Africa.

As Rome expanded its territories its riches grew as well. Many of the nations it conquered were ports or areas of heavy trade, or these areas were rich in resources, and also expanded the collection of taxes.

During the expansion the military leader Gaius Julius Caesar became a well known public figure and rose to power before his assassination in 44 B.C.E. Though never officially gaining the title of Emperor, his successor Gaius Octavius Thurinus, later known as Caesar Augustus, became the first emperor of Rome.

ROME AND THE MIDDLE EAST

Roman Empire in 117 C.E.

As a Christian, a great example of Roman occupation is that of the land of Israel, also known as Judea or Palestine. (I will use them interchangeably)

The history of Israel is a complex power struggle. The land was given to them after the Exodus, but suffered hundreds of years of invasion and struggle from surrounding nations. Then they install a system of monarchy.

After this the country fell into civil war around 930 B.C.E. and split into the North Kingdom of Israel with it’s capital being Samaria, and the Southern Kingdom with it’s capital being Jerusalem.

In 721 B.C.E. the Assyrian Empire had captured the Northern Kingdom of Israel and took captive its inhabitants sweeping them away into Assyria. Then in 597 B.C.E. Babylon swept through the Southern Kingdom of Judah, destroying the city and the temple and carrying off the rest of the Jewish people into exile.

The people of Judah, under the authority of Persian King Cyrus, were allowed to return to Jerusalem and rebuild the city in 538 B.C.E. 50,000 Jews returned to the promised land under Persian rule.

Between 334-331 B.C.E. Alexander the Great defeated the Persians and takes over control of Persian territories, and began the Hellenization of the middle east. Until Alexander’s death in 323 B.C.E. and the Greek empire was split into four segments Ptolemy ruled Egypt and Palestine (Israel).

Alexander Mosaic (c. 100 B.C.E.), ancient Roman floor mosaic from the House of the Faun in PompeiiItaly, showing Alexander fighting king Darius III of Persia in the Battle of Issus

During the time period after Alexander’s death the Greeks set up a system of cities where Greek settlers and soldiers could live. These cities included Abila, Dion, Gerasa, Gadara, Hippos, Pella, Philadelphia, Raphana, and Scythopolis.

The Ptolemies lost control of Palestine (Israel) to the Seleucids who controlled the regions of Syria and Babylonia.

At this time the entire Middle East is under the control of the Greek Seleucids who wanted to Hellenize the known world. In Jerusalem the Jews were able to govern themselves under the authority of the High Priest of the Temple, however the Seleucid paid off the high priest at the time, Antiochus Epiphanes, and placed their own Hellenistic high priest named Jason.

The office of high priest becomes a pay to play position, and changes hands to the highest bidder, but soon the Temple in Jerusalem becomes a temple to Zeus and in 167 B.C.E. a pig is slaughtered on the altar and this begins to Maccabean revolt.

In 142 B.C.E. the Jewish people win full autonomy and control of Palestine and become relatively free within the Seleucid Kingdom.

Another Civil War erupted in Israel during the seventy years of independence (known as the Hasmonaean Dynasty) the Jewish people had gained. They governed themselves under a High Preisthood system, meaning the High Priest acted also as the governor of the region. This flew in the face of orthodoxy as the Torah states that the Kingship and the Priesthood were to remain separate.

Then in 65 B.C.E. two brothers, Hyrcanus II, who was supported by the Pharisees and Aristobolus II, who was supported by the Sadducees fought over the right to rule Israel and caused so much destruction that Rome was called in as a third party arbiter to settle the conflict.

During this time Pompey was riding through the Middle East conquering territories, including Syria. After conquering Syria the city of Damascus was added to the Greek system of cities for their settlers and the system became known as the Decapolis.

In 64 B.C.E. Pompey rode into Jerusalem and placed Judea under the control of Rome. In 37 B.C.E. Herod the Great was appointed as the King of Judea by Rome.

Rome would allow a province to self-govern, keeping their customs, religions, currency, and way of life, however the province would have to be subordinate to Rome . They weren’t to make war with any other nations without permission from Rome, they weren’t allowed to hold alliances without the direct permission from Rome, and they were to pay taxes and tributes to the Empire of Rome. Most areas were slowly assimilated and the peoples given Roman citizenship.

Roman soldiers were stationed in every city of the Roman Empire, including Israel and the rest of the Middle East in order to maintain the Pax Romana (Roman Peace). If an insurrection or riot popped up Roman soldiers would squash it immediately.

The Roman soldiers did not respect the Jewish people nor their customs and religion. During the Hellenization period, gymnasiums, bath houses, and Greek temples were built all across the Middle East and even in Judea. These structures were places where Greek and later Roman customs flourished. In the gymnasiums Greek and Roman men would play sports naked, and bath houses were places where they would bath together. These customs flew in the face of the Semitic people all over the region.

At the death of Herod the Great, Judea came under the direct control of Rome administration even though Herod passed his throne to his descendants. During Roman occupation and relative peace Herod began to refurbish the walls of Jerusalem and the Temple. In 66 A.D. after nearly 100 years of living under the rule of Rome Titus sieged the city and in 70 A.D. the second temple was destroyed, the nation of Israel was utterly annihilated.

In the most famous of the panels, Roman soldiers carry the Jerusalem Temple spoils on parade, including the menorah, the showbread table and trumpets, which were then deposited in Rome’s Temple of Peace. Courtesy Yeshiva University Arch of Titus Digital Restoration Project.

In reading all of this history a question always rises in my head. Why Israel? Why the Middle East?

WHY THE MIDDLE EAST?

Aerial view of the citadel in the ancient city of Aleppo, Syria Sygma/Getty ImagesCITADELLE D’ALEP EN SYRIE

If one paid attention in any Western Civilization class it always starts with the Fertile Crescent also known as the Cradle of Civilization. This area has three rivers, the Tigris, the Euphrates, and the Nile all feeding the land life and stability. This is the place known for the beginnings of agriculture, technology, science, mathematics, astronomy, the wheel, and most important to ancient culture, trade.

This region was home to so much trade, not just by water ways, but also land. Not only trade but this area is steeped in history and tradition and is a frequent place to travel for pilgrimages and festivals. Millions of people would descend on these areas in the ancient world, and more people means more money, and more money means more taxes.

What about now? What resource, outside of history and tradition, does the Middle East hold for the rest of the world?

According visualcapitalist.com, 41.3% of global crude oil is exported from the Middle East.

While this map is fresh in your mind let me show another map.

This begs the question. Why is America in the Middle East?

THE HISTORY OF THE U.S. IN THE MIDDLE EAST

An American soldier stands guard during a joint patrol with Turkish troops in the Syrian village of al-Hashisha. Photo: Delil Souleiman/AFP/Getty Images

During World War II American troops were station in Iran in order to transfer military supplies to Russia and also to protect Iranian oil. Upon withdrawing in 1947 the U.N. granted a partition plan of Palestine giving 57% of Palestine to Israel. Eleven minutes after this land was given to Israel, Truman recognized the legitimacy of the State of Israel.

In 1953 Eisenhower order the CIA to stage a coup against the Iranian leader Mohammad Mossadegh, who was opposed to British and American influence in Iran.

In 1958 Civil War broke out in Lebanon against its Christian leader, and Eisenhower ordered a landing on the city of Beirut. In his memoirs Eisenhower wrote, “we feared the worst…the complete elimination of Western influence in the Middle East.”

Throughout the 1980’s the Reagan administration provided support not only to Israel’s expansion in Palestine, but also provided intelligence information and arms to Saddam Hussein during the Iran-Iraq War, believing that Saddam was going to destabilize Iran and end the Islamic Revolution.

During the Presidency of George H.W. Bush he expanded our military presence in the Middle East to contain Saddam Hussein.

After the terrorist attack on the U.S. on 9/11 George W. Bush continued building forces in the Middle East in order to spread democracy to Iraq and Afghanistan while at the same time supporting undemocratic regimes in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and other North African nations.

President Donald Trump has revoked a policy set by his predecessor requiring US intelligence officials to publish the number of civilians killed in drone strikes outside of war zones.

According to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism from January 2002 to January 2019 there have been a minimum of 14,040 confirmed airstrikes.

The number of strikes seems to rise with successive presidents following W. Bush.

CONCLUSION

This seems to be the tactic of America. Eisenhower revealed it in his memoirs. We have to maintain a Western influence on the Middle East. Our worst fear is losing it. That’s why, just like Alexander the Great spread his forces through the Middle East to Hellenize the world, W. Bush spread out our forces into the Middle East to Democratize it.

Bush dropped his bombs to maintain order, so did Obama after him, Trump after him, and now Biden.

My question comes to this, what business do we have in the Middle East? What would we do if another country had military bases around our country and patrolled our streets?

Think about the American Revolution for a moment. British soldiers patrolling the docks of the American colonies and those who live in these colonies rebel against them, killing British soldiers because they no longer want to be under their thumb. They attack them, blow them up, destroy buildings that house them. Yet we celebrate our own independence while maintaining that the Middle East can’t have theirs. We have to patrol them, and we have to monitor, and we have to maintain that the world can use up their resources.

We have to keep the Pax Americana around the known world.

The Tragedy of Donald Trump (A Literary Analysis of The Trump Presidency)

U.S. President Donald Trump addresses a joint news conference with Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison in the East Room of the White House in Washington, U.S., September 20, 2019. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

INTRODUCTION

This past week Donald Trump made history by being the first president to be, not only impeached twice, but also to be acquitted of impeachable offenses twice.

These recent events that have unfolded have made a lot of Americans upset who feel that President Trump should come to justice for inciting an “insurrection” against the American government.

There are a few patterns I have seen throughout the entire Trump presidency and I believe those patterns have led us to what I can only consider as scapegoating of Trump which I find to be a tragedy, not as in a disaster, but more in the literary sense.

So what I want to do is consider the literary roots of tragedy and scapegoating, introduce you to René Girard’s mimetic theory, and analyze the presidency of Donald Trump with this framework.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

TRAGEDY AND GREEK MYTHS

Greek theater at Dionysia (the city of Dionysus)

THE ORIGIN OF THE WORD TRAGEDY

Think about the word tragedy for a moment.

The etymology (origin) of tragedy is the Greek word tragōidia. This word is a combination of the two Greek words tragos ‘goat’ and ōidē ‘song’.

Quite literally the word tragedy is “goat song”.

Isn’t that weird? Some suggest that the term goat song could be in reference to satyr-plays that were performed during the Festivals to Dionysus (Dionysia) of Ancient Greece.

During the Dionysia three tragic plays would be performed to honor the god of debauchery Dionysus.

THE IMPORTANCE OF DIONYSUS TO TRAGEDY

Pentheus, the king of Thebes, being ripped apart by the Bacchae.

In Ancient Greek myth the god Dionysus was the god of wine and debauchery, but there is another part of his mythos that is rarely mentioned outside of scholarly circles and that’s the story of his dismemberment by the Titans by the order of Hera (wife of Zeus).

Zeus cheated on his wife Hera with a mortal woman (I feel most Greek myths start this way), and Dionysus was the result, but before his birth Hera ordered the mortal woman to be killed so Zeus saved Dionysus’ life by hiding him in his thigh.

As Dionysus grew into a child, Hera still wanted him dead and so ordered him to ripped apart and devoured by the Titans. His heart was preserved by the goddess Athena and from that Zeus resurrected him into a god.

As part of Dionysian worship an animal is viciously ripped apart and sacrificed to Dionysus in order to retell his death and resurrection.

In the tragic play The Bacchae the King of Thebes, Pentheus, is ripped apart by the Bacchae (followers of Dionysus) because of his denial of Dionysus’ deity.

Dismemberment was central to Dionysian ritual, along with debauchery and wine and Satyrs (half-goat, half-men in Greek myth) that were also associated with debauchery and wine and mischief and therefore connected to Dionysus.

At the Dionysia “goat songs” or “satyr-plays” were performed in honor of the tragic divinity of Dionysus.

Another important part of these “goat songs” was the sacrificing of goats before the festival and after the festival.

OEDIPUS REX AND THE SCAPEGOAT

There’s a theme forming here, that of goats, but more specifically the scapegoat.

If you’ve never read Oedipus The King by Sophocles, it’s the story of Oedipus the King of, curiously enough, Thebes. A plague has befallen the city of Thebes and the city is wondering what Oedipus is doing about it.

Oedipus has sent someone to the Oracle to see why the plague has fallen on his city, and the Oracle reveals that the plague is because the murderer of the former King of Thebes has taken residence in the city. So in order to get rid of the plague Oedipus needs to rid his city of this murderer.

Turns out the murderer was Oedipus himself. After finding out the truth Oedipus gouges out his eyes and exiles himself from the city freeing them of their affliction.

In the tragedy, Oedipus Rex, Oedipus is seen as a pharmakos, where we derive our English word pharmacy. Pharmakos is also another Greek ritual where a single person stands in the gap for the entire plague stricken community. Another term we can use for pharmakos is scapegoat.

Oedipus is a quintessential scapegoat.

French anthropologist René Girard believes that, what he calls, “the scapegoat mechanism” permeates, not only ancient cultures but also, our current culture.

SCAPEGOATS AND YOU

‘Scapegoat’ (1854-1855) by William Holman Hunt.

In the book of Leviticus, God lays out a ritual that the people are supposed to take part in during Yom Kippur (The Day of Atonement). Yom Kippur is the day where all of the Jewish people are forgiven of their sins that have accumulated throughout the year.

During Yom Kippur the High Priest takes two goats, one is a sin offering to the LORD slain at the altar, and the other is the scapegoat.

The High Priest would pray over the scapegoat and place the sins and wickedness of the people “on the head of the goat” and release him into the wilderness, expelling the sins of the people out of the city.

RENÉ GIRARD’S SCAPEGOAT

I mentioned above that Girard thought about the scapegoat as not just a literary device or critique, but an actual phenomena that occurred in ancient culture and still permeates society today. This claim comes from how often the scapegoat is used in tragic dramas and mythological renderings of history, as well as historical accounts of public human sacrifice in order to appease the gods.

In his book, I See Satan Fall Like Lightning, Girard recounts the story of a collective stoning that takes place in Ephesus that is instigated by Apollonius of Tyana, which is sometimes known as “the pagan Jesus”, because it is said he performed miracles as a prophet.

So in the story of Apollonius, there is a plague in Ephesus, sounds familiar, and to rid the city of this plague Apollonius calls the townspeople into the theater to look at a statue of “the averting god” Hercules, but there was a beggar there that looked, assumingly, to be blind. Apollonius demanded the crowd to pick up stones and kill the beggar, calling him “an enemy of the gods”.

At first they seemed disturbed with the idea, but the story says the old man turned his eyes to reveal demonic flames within them, and so the people fervently hurled stones at him killing him.

The affliction of the people turned against one person, a pharmakos.

In ancient Mesopotamian civilizations such as the Babylonians and Assyrians as well as the ancient Central American cultures were known to commit human sacrifice in order for crops to yield fruit, or ward off famine.

Girard does not view all affliction as being necessarily pestilence, plague, or famine but ultimately manifests itself in violence.

In the story of the Bacchae we see a crowd of women being frenzied into violence, the same can be said with Apollonius and the Ephesians being riled into an uncontrollable violence. He sees this violence as inherent and not circumstantial. Violence is a plague upon the people.

In the story of Oedipus the crowd demands answers, they demand a sacrifice, a scapegoat.

Girard says this,

“The real source of victim substitutions is the appetite for violence that awakens in people when anger seizes them and when the true object of their anger is untouchable.”

René Girard, I See Satan Fall Like Lightning

For Girard, the scapegoat mechanism is intrinsically tied to the violent nature of men, and is therefore tied to the need of catharsis (relief from emotions).

Though the problem or issue may be drought, famine, pestilence, plague, the answer to the ancient world is always violent expulsion.

The question is are we any different today?

THE ESCALATION OF MIMETIC VIOLENCE




1. Protestors demonstrate outside of a burning fast food restaurant, May 29, 2020, in Minneapolis. Protests over the death of George Floyd, a black man who died in police custody Monday, broke out in Minneapolis for a third straight night.


2. Supporters of US President Donald Trump protest inside the US Capitol on January 6, 2021, in Washington, DC. Demonstrators breeched security and entered the Capitol as Congress debated the a 2020 presidential election Electoral Vote Certification.

“Those who make up the crowd are always potential persecutors, for they dream of purging the community of the impure elements that corrupt it, the traitors who undermine it. The crowd’s act of becoming a crowd is the same as the obscure call to assemble and mobilize, in others words to become a mob.”

René Girard

Girard’s “scapegoat mechanism” is just that. It’s a mechanism and therefore has to be triggered. What’s the trigger?

In the words of Girard that trigger is “mimetic desire”.

Charts are always useful.

In it’s most simplest explanation mimetic desire is when rivalry is created by the competing of similar, if not the exact same, objects of desire.

Some rivalries want the same thing, but have different modes or methodologies in order to reach them. What this rivalry does is escalate mimetic violence, turning it into mimetic contagion.

Violence increases and becomes more contagious until somewhere down the line it becomes uncontrollable and is need of catharsis and in Girard’s theory activates the need for an object of our catharsis. A scapegoat.

TRUMP THE SCAPEGOAT OF THE AMERICAN PEOPLE

I believe the United States has been in a state of mimetic rivalry for many decades, preceding even my birth.

We’ve perpetuated this idea that there are two parties with competing goals, however it’s not the goals that are different.

The supposed desire of both parties is the common good for the commonwealth, however the methods are what is different and so there is this escalating tension and we see it manifest itself in riots, and protests, and insurrections, and civil unrest.

Power shifts back and forth and the common good of the common people seems to be less and less of a priority and so tensions rise until a pandemic arises to further divide the people, and they look around and look for someone, something to blame.

The collective blame has come and it has been cast upon the 45th President of the United States, Donald Trump.

Of course this isn’t the first instance that blame has been cast onto Trump.

Kids in cages? Trump.

Increasing national debt? Trump.

Lost your job? Trump.

Racism? Trump.

Sexism? Trump.

Fake news? Trump.

Riots? Trump.

Mobs? Trump.

Russian collusion? Trump.

Crops won’t grow? Trump.

Rain doesn’t come? Trump.

“Everywhere and always, when human beings either cannot or dare not take their anger out on the thing that has caused it, they unconsciously search for substitutes, and more often than not they find them.”

René Girard, The One Who Comes By Scandal

When we don’t wish to cast blame upon ourselves or those who could have done something about it but didn’t we cast blame on the archetype of our problems.

There are those who would paint Trump as a misogynist, racist, homophobic, tyrant megalomaniac who wants nothing more than to control people and use them. The problem with this impeachment and even the former is to view Trump as the source of all of our problems and we can not see what he truly is, a scapegoat.

René Girard says that having a scapegoat is to not know that you have one.

It’s as if the people are crying out, “Impeach Trump and our crops will grow!”, “Impeach Trump and our rivers will flow with water again!” “Impeach Trump and the sun will shine forever as we hold hands and dance into the sunset,” but little do they realize that Trump is not the source of the ever growing issues in our country, that’s the difference between Oedipus and Donald Trump.

In the Greek tragedy Oedipus was the correct target for the plight of the people in the story, he was truly guilty, or so the story tells us.

This is not to say that Trump is flawless, but is he guilty of being the source of all of our problems in the U.S.?

Donald Trump, from my perspective, is a symptom of the issues our society has been facing for years, if not decades.

Trump was voted in by people who wanted the appearance of honesty, because politicians have been lying for decades. So they voted the only guy who didn’t look or sound like the rest of them.

The people who rioted in Minnesota want freedom, justice, equality, truth and peace.

The people who stormed the Capital want…freedom, justice, equality, truth and peace.

In 2020 people voted in a guy who didn’t look or sound like Trump, because Trump has been cast as the plight against the American people.

“If only we can assure that he won’t come into power again,”

“If we can cast him out for good, place our sins on the orange head of Trump and send him out, then maybe our crops will grow, our plague will go away,” and everyone will feel a collective sense of catharsis as we watch our scapegoat gallop off…

…into the wilderness.

Nancy Pelosi’s Calling The Capitol Building A “Temple of Democracy” Should Worry Christians

written by Matthew Glover

Interior of U.S. Capitol Building, D.C.
Copyright: Brandon Kopp Follow me on: Twitter | Google+ | Instagram | Phototourism DC Like what you see?: Buy Prints | Contact Me About Other Uses

INTRODUCTION

I’ve never been inside of a temple of any sort, and by temple I mean the physical building like the ones found in Mexico belonging to the Aztecs, or Sumeria, even the structures in ancient Greece or Rome.

I’ve always wanted to go to Israel and see the Western Wall, the last vestiges of Herod’s Temple that stood in Jesus’ day.

The closest I’ve ever been to the temple of first century Israel, or even the Wilderness Tabernacle used by the Israelite people of Exodus, was at the Christian “Theme Park” The Holy Land Experience. They have a whole façade that replicates the front of Herod’s Temple, nowhere near the scale of course.

In another area of the park there is a huge model of the entire city, and even a replica of the wilderness tabernacle, where actors would portray what the priests did inside.

Model of the tabernacle in Timna Valley Park, Israel SONY DSC

It was definitely an awe inspiring imagination because of what it meant.

These actual places, that these representations modeled, were places where, in my faith, the presence of God filled.

I’ve also never been to the Capitol, let alone inside the Capitol Building in D.C.

The pictures are absolutely stunning, but they look a lot like ancient Roman temples.

And that’s a problem…

On January 6th, 2021 House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi stood in front of the House Chamber and uttered these words, “To those who engaged in the gleeful desecration of this, our temple of democracy, American democracy, justice will be done.”

This wasn’t the only opportunity she took to cherish the sacred dwelling of this deity she called “democracy”.

During her acceptance speech on January 3rd she commented, “As Speaker of the House, it is my great honor to preside over this sacred ritual of renewal, as we gather under the dome of this temple of Democracy to begin the 117th Congress.”

These words are disturbing to me. “Why?” you may ask…

There are a few reasons. Let me go over them.

TABLE OF CONTENTS:

THE TERM TEMPLE DENOTES A PLACE OF WORSHIP

In ancient antiquity, as early as ancient Mesopotamia, temples have been an integral part of the community because it was a place to worship the god of the community. Whether that god be some ancient deity that lived on the highest precipice or the deified king himself, the temple is where the community could offer their sacrifices and worship them.

The practices that took place in these places of worship varied.

In ancient Sumeria, the people would construct these large buildings called ziggurats. These places were constructed with rooms at the top to house the gods so they could find rest.

Neo-Sumerian Great Ziggurat of Ur, near Nasiriyah, Iraq

Many ziggurats were equipped with bedrooms for the gods, and kitchens so the priests or priestesses could prepare food for them to eat.

Some temples were built around altars dedicated to their gods where different practices were carried out in the service of those gods.

The book of Exodus lays out plans for the people of Israel to build a “wilderness tabernacle”. A place to house the very presence of God.

So what does this make the Capitol Building, if it is a temple of democracy? What type of worship takes place here?

Some may think I am taking this analogy too far and this is not what Nancy Pelosi meant, but I would argue that her recent remarks about the attack on the Capitol Building as “desecration” strongly suggests that she sees it as a place where veneration for the system, and those who are a part of it, should take place.

However, the Capitol Building does not house a god, and the people working their are not priests.

OUR REPRESENTATIVES ARE NOT PRIESTS

There I will meet with the people of Israel, and it shall be sanctified by my glory. 44 I will consecrate the tent of meeting and the altar. Aaron also and his sons I will consecrate to serve me as priests. 45 I will dwell among the people of Israel and will be their God. 46 And they shall know that I am the Lord their God, who brought them out of the land of Egypt that I might dwell among them. I am the Lord their God.”

Exodus 29:43-36 (ESV)

Consecration and sanctification are words used a lot in religious settings, and are definitely used a lot in the Bible and they mean a separation.

Making something holy or sacred is to separate it from the normal and mundane as something supernatural, or extraordinary. To make something Holy is to elevate it from the common.

Even in the ancient Greco-Roman temples there was a pool before going near the altar where the priests and priestesses would wash, no common citizen was allowed into the interior of the temple.

The duties of priests are seen as civic duties in order to bring the people in favor with the gods, or in the case of the Jews, God.

In contrast the duties of our representatives, here in the United States, is the common good and protection of our freedoms. The duties that are seen as “sacred rituals” are not in service of the people for some deity, but is in service of the people FOR the people themselves and to protect and serve THEM.

One could argue this is what Pelosi means when she says “democracy”, however there is no evidence this is her opinion as she stands in allegiance with legislation that benefits other nations and not the citizens she is sworn to serve.

WHAT IS THE SACRIFICE MADE ON THE ALTAR OF DEMOCRACY?

US Soldiers in Iran

If we continue our analogy of the Capitol Building being a temple, every temple has an altar where sacrifices are made.

If you live in America you’ve probably heard this saying:

“Our troops sacrifice their lives and freedom so that we can enjoy it”

As the priests go into the ancient temples they carry with them bowls filled with the blood of bulls, sheep, goats, or doves to sprinkle on the altar in order to absolve the people of their transgressions. Then they filet the meat and spread it over the coals as a burnt offering to please the gods, or God.

What does America do? What do we sacrifice?

We send our troops off to war in foreign countries to not only “protect” the democracy we live under, but to spread it to other said countries.

I don’t want to belabor this point, because it will probably upset a great majority of people reading this right now, but if we take this analogy to its logical conclusion we will continue to perpetuate this idea that in order to appease our deity, Democracy, at the altar inside the Capitol Building the human sacrifice we take part in is inevitable, necessary, and a good thing.

DEMOCRACY IS NOT A GOD TO BE WORSHIPPED

American Flag

I will make this final point, and this is the pinnacle of my argument; politics is a public service not a religious ritual and democracy is not a god to be worshipped.

When the Babylonians built the first iteration of the Tower of Babel, the Bible says they did this to “make a great name for themselves.”

I’m sure the Babylonians felt the need to unite civilization under one banner, one nation, and do what’s right for them as long as they gathered them under one image.

That’s not what democracy is supposed to be about. Democracy, in my humble opinion, is not about uniting nations together under one rule and one law, but to protect the citizens who our representatives are responsible for.

Not to rule or govern, but to protect and serve.

Democracy is not some god to be worshipped, but is a system that protects the freedoms of individuals to live their lives how they see fit.

COULD I BE WRONG?

Could I be wrong about how Speaker Nancy Pelosi is using this type of language? Could she be elevating the duty that the representatives are supposed to be doing?

I hope so.

However, from a Christian perspective this language is…well holy and should be reserved for what a temple is and should be.

Not some building where people argue and divide their country, but a location that houses the very presence of God.

Heaven on Earth.

The Failed Election Prophecy of 2020 (A Rebuttal To An Argument Against Prophecy)

by: Matthew Glover

President Joe Biden speaks during the 59th Presidential Inauguration at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021.(AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, Pool)

INTRODUCTION:

“The results of the current election prove that gifts of the Spirit, namely prophecy, have ceased.”

This is a cessationist argument.

What is cessationism?

Cessationism is simply the belief that the gifts given on the day of Pentacost, and the ones spoken of by Paul in 1 Corinthians, have ceased.

When did they cease?

Cessationist believe that the gifts ceased after the Apostolic Age, meaning they stopped at the death of the last apostle, John.

In short after the death of John, who wrote The Book of Revelation, gifts such as speaking in tongues, and prophecy stopped and no longer happen.

The subject of cessationism is quite vast and so I want to focus on the gift of prophecy and this past election. I actually want to focus on a recent argument presented on Tik Tok.

So let’s break this down.

TABLE OF CONTENTS:

THE PROPHECY OF DONALD TRUMP THAT NEVER HAPPENED

President Donald Trump delivers his inaugural address after being sworn in as the 45th president of the United States during the 58th Presidential Inauguration at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Friday, Jan. 20, 2017. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

I’m sure if you watched anything put out by the Evangelical Christian movement on social media, print, or television you would have seen a menagerie of “prophecies” stating that Biden did in fact steal the election, the truth was going to come out immediately, the election was going to be overturned in favor of Donald Trump and he was going to continue his presidency and “Keep America Great”.

However, that’s not what happened.

There are still those who believe that Trump will pull out a victory from somewhere and fulfill the prophecy given to them by God.

This has created a noticeable divide on Christian social media between those who believe these prophecies, those who don’t, and those who believe that the gift of prophecy has ceased.

A Cessationist’s Argument (Ephesians 4:12-13)

A Screen Shot from the Tik Tok Video I will be discussing. (I have marked out any identifying markers).

Tik Tok is already a pretty rough terrain. Once you have, sort of, figured out how to program your algorithm you still get strange stuff. I get a lot of videos from “Christian Tik Tok” and a vast majority I agree with because they are usually pretty basic. What can you really ask for, given only 15-60 seconds to present an idea. However, the video pictured above showed up on my “For You Page” (Feed).

This individual claims that the Trump prophets are equivalent to the prophets of Baal in 1 Kings 18. I don’t agree with that, but I do have my opinions about these “prophecies” that have been going on, but that’s not the argument I wish to address. The argument I wish to address is that prophecy has ceased.

Let me lay out the argument that I will be rebutting beginning with his reading of Ephesians 4 presented from the King James Version (KJV) of the Bible.

12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:

13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man,

Ephesians 4:12-13a (KJV)

I will address the usage of “13a” in my rebuttal.

Here is his argument based on this passage:

  • The gifts (namely prophecy) were meant “till” or until – which gives these things an expiration date.
    • The unity of faith is talking about the Jews and Gentiles now being one in the faith as stated in Galatians 3:28.
    • The knowledge of the Son of God is the saving knowledge of Jesus, it has come to us, and you can’t be saved without this.
    • Unto a perfect man refers to being “in the perfect man” meaning you are “in Jesus” meaning saved, and Jesus lives in you.

This is a lot. There are some points that are not wrong, but I believe they are being USED incorrectly. So let’s refute this, shall we?

RefuTing the Argument Step by Step

YOU FORGOT ABOUT VERSE 11

The first rebuttal I have to make is this. Ephesians 4:12-13a is either A. not addressing spiritual gifts but offices, or B. the gifts being referred to in these verses are offices themselves.

See if we move our stubby little fingers to Ephesians 4:11 ( I will be using the ESV from now on because it’s MUCH easier to understand).

“And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers,”

Ephesians 4:11 (ESV)

These are offices given. Apostles, prophets, evangelists, “shepherds” (pastors), and teachers have been given FOR the perfecting of faith, the work of ministry, and the edifying, or building up, of the body of Christ, the church.

If we are to believe that the gifts referred to in this chapter in these verses have ceased, then why do we still have evangelists, and pastors and teachers? Why have those “gifts” not ceased, because THAT is the context of this passage?

I’m sure our friend still believes that the office of pastor, evangelist, and teacher are still suitable for today.

Why would he be okay with that?

Because there’s still work to do.

“till” is an unrealized expiration date

I agree that when someone says “until” that is usually associated with some sort of end. However, I don’t see any evidence that these things have happened, or that Paul even hints that these things he lists are even close.

Let’s look at another verse that speaks of the completion of the gifts. 1 Corinthians 13.

“Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away.  For we know in part and we prophesy in part,  but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away.”

1 Corinthians 13:8-10 (ESV)

Gifts will surely pass away, but Paul says, “when the perfect comes”. I don’t know what that means to you, but Jesus already came, and revealed himself to that generation. So the perfect already came once and left again, before Paul wrote these letters, so what perfect could Paul be talking about?

“The perfect man” as the King James puts it in Ephesians 4:13a? I will flesh that thought out at the end.

I believe Paul is talking about the New Heavens and the New Earth when, as Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15:

“When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written:

‘Death is swallowed up in victory.’

 ‘O death, where is your victory?

    O death, where is your sting?’

The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.”

1 Corinthians 15:54-58 (ESV)

“Be steadfast…knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain,” because the imperfect will be made perfect, and the partial will be made whole.

These things have not happened yet, and therefore the “gifts” in Ephesians 4 MUST still be available in order to “equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ.”

The Unity of the Faith (Galatians 3:28) Doesn’t Support Your Position

What does Paul mean by the unity of faith? Well let’s look and see what our friend thinks the unity of faith is, in Galatians 3:28:

“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.”

Galatians 3:28 (KJV)

In the Tik Tok video our friend states the verse above and says, “Jews and Gentiles are one in the faith.” (I want to point out he does not mention the male or female bit.)

The word Gentile is just another way of saying “non-Jewish”. The word is usually translated from the greek, “ethnos” meaning ethnic. Ethnically anyone who is not Jewish is a Gentile, or from another “nation”.

In the Bible, specifically the Old Testament, when you see the word “nation” it’s talking about the nation of Israel, and when you see the word “nations” with an s, it’s referring to everyone else.

So our friend says that Galatians is talking about the unity between the Jews and the Gentiles. Well, I agree…

in part.

The disconnect comes when one uses this verse to “proof-text” their point of view, when the verse is not giving evidence for such a thing.

In the book of Galatians “Messianic Believers” or Jews that believed Jesus to be the Messiah, were coming to the church in Galatia, which was made up of mostly Greek Gentiles, and telling them they needed to fulfill the law in order to truly be a part of the Jesus movement.

So, the Jewish believers were separating the non-Jewish believers by their practice, however Paul states, very clearly, that because of faith there is no more distinction. Jews and Greeks are now under faith and are now apart of one family.

He also separates the classes as well in verse 28, “no longer slave or free, male or female, you are all one (equal and apart of a singular movement together) in Christ Jesus.”

Yes, unity has come through Christ, however unity is still something to be accomplished to completion, or as Paul states in Ephesians 4:13, “until we all attain unity,” not only of faith, but also of, “knowledge of the Son of God,” meaning there are those who do not have this knowledge.

The knowledge of the Son of God is the saving knowledge of Jesus, it has come to us, and you can’t be saved without this.

As I closed the last section, I want to reiterate what Paul was saying in Ephesians 4:

“until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God,”

Ephesians 4:13a (ESV)

I still didn’t quote the entire verse. I will address that, but I want to tackle his argument here.

Paul says, “until we all.” Until all of us have grown into a unity of faith and into a knowledge of the Son of God. Paul continues chapter 4 with a call to maturity and growing which implies there are some that aren’t as fully developed in faith and knowledge. I would argue, that’s why we need, Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Pastors, and Teachers, to help us grow into maturity.

Paul also says this in his letter to the Philippians, “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling,” (Philippians 2:12).

When I was in the Baptist church there were these different phases of your salvation. Sanctification, edification, glorification.

Sanctification is the process of separating out, making one holy through salvation.

Edification is the building up and training; working out salvation.

Glorification is the final completion when faith is fulfilled and perfected.

The knowledge of the Son of God isn’t just one thing, but something we work through continually until the time of perfection.

Unto a Perfect Man – You Forgot About The Rest of Ephesians 4

I’ve already touched on this, but let’s finish out Ephesians 4:13 first.

“Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:”

Ephesians 4:13 (KJV)

If our friend were to have included, “until the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ,” to his argument it would have fell apart because it’s painfully obvious that no one living today has, as Paul says, “come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ.”

If you can’t understand KJV here’s the ESV:

“until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ,”

Ephesians 4:13 (ESV)

Until we all attain maturity that measures to the quality of the Jesus’ fulness.

Do you know anyone like that?

So maybe God has given these gifts to us, apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers, to help us attain perfect maturity so that we aren’t,

 “…tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ,  from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.”

Ephesians 4:14 (ESV)

Conclusion

We need to be cautious of false prophets, so that we aren’t tossed around believing everything we hear. We need to build each other up in love and make the body grow so that the perfect can come and these gifts can truly cease.

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