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Survey: Support for Torture High Among Churchgoers
Surveys & Statistics
Written by laika   
Friday, 01 May 2009 08:14

At CNN:

The more often Americans go to church, the more likely they are to support the torture of suspected terrorists, according to a new survey.

More than half of people who attend services at least once a week -- 54 percent -- said the use of torture against suspected terrorists is "often" or "sometimes" justified. Only 42 percent of people who "seldom or never" go to services agreed, according to the analysis released Wednesday by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life.

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EaglesFan113   |2009-05-01 12:28:43
Here we go again. CNN trying to make Christians look bad,but want do expect from a very biased network. Thats why I can't stand these news outlets anymore,spreading their poropaganda to the people.
PerpetualAgnostic   |2009-05-01 13:40:05
Are you saying the report is incorrect or misleading in some way?
emperorbma   |2009-05-01 15:33:35
Quote:
More than half of people who attend services at least once a week -- 54 percent -- said the use of torture against suspected terrorists is "often" or "sometimes" justified. Only 42 percent of people who "seldom or never" go to services agreed, according to the analysis released Wednesday by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life."


I'm no statistical genius, but it sounds to me like they were playing games with the statistics to make it say more than it actually does.

Let's start with what we do know:
1. There are 4 categories which did not count as "non-response." These are "often", "seldom", "rarely" or "never."
2. Population group "regular church attendees" has a statistic of 54% for the two categories: "often justified" and "sometimes justified."
3. Population group "non-church attendees" has a statistic of 42% for the category "never justified."

Analyzing this, we find that 46% of the "regular church attendees" did not say "always justified" or "sometimes justified." By comparison, the statistic for non-church attendees who did not choose "never justified" was 58%.

Translated, this means that 58% of the non-church goers said torture was "often" or "sometimes" or "rarely" justified and 46% of the regular church attendees would say torture is "rarely" or "never" justified.  Since I know the only other option than non-answer is "rarely justified," that means the statistical difference falls to it.

Now, by their own admission, the statistical sample size was small and biased to a certain race, so I am reasonably sure the margin of error has to be larger than +/-5%. A 4% difference is statistically within that margin of error. At worst, if I considered that the difference in the "rarely" is large, it could possibly raise my statistic to an 8% difference, which is possibly significant, but to a rather small degree and if we consider the fact that we're comparing the opposite sides of the statistical range, the +/-5% means that there is a maximum normal range of 10% difference between opposing views.

Now, in comparison to their pie chart, for the projected parameter for the entire population, the statistic shows 49% of all people say "sometimes" or "often."  Again, the difference is only about 5% overall and can be within the expected margin of error for most statistics. The only thing we can really say is that 49% of the population thinks torture is generally justified, which is pretty much expected in a coin toss and that regular church goers are 5% (i.e. within margin of error) more likely to see less of a problem than the average Joe.

In my opinion, the numbers were presented in a manner to make them appear more startling than they really are by showing the "negative" (ones with social stigma) options for one side and the "positive" (ones without stigma) options for the other side. If they were being honest, they would have shown "negative" and "positive" options for both groups and let the readers decide on whether the statistics were accurate. Frankly, IMHO, the statistic is unimpressive and can be explained within the normal behavior of statistical distributions.
OrionBlastar   |2009-05-04 13:57:42
That is because Ted Turner aka Captain Planet, doesn't like Christians and compares Christians to Hitler. He orders CNN to display Christians in a bad light. I am sure that survey was rigged and only given to Fundamentalist Christian churches.
docbob  - One thing missing   |2009-05-01 17:24:51
They seem to say that it is some times justifiable. When is that sometime? If my kids were held by a bad guy and they could only be saved if I got info from him, would I torture him to get the info or let my kids die?

I think I may torture him, but I can not say for sure till I was in the situation.
PerpetualAgnostic   |2009-05-01 18:23:58
That raises an interesting question. Do we have to be in a situation like that, in order to be ably to rightly decide how God wants us to respond?
Jim   |2009-05-01 21:39:25
I'd say that's one has already been answered.
PerpetualAgnostic   |2009-05-01 21:41:52
But what about to protect others?
laika   |2009-05-01 22:45:19
PerpetualAgnostic wrote:
But what about to protect others?


as opposed to doing it for fun or profit?
emperorbma   |2009-05-02 01:40:21
Quote:
as opposed to doing it for fun or profit?


The question you pose leads to more interesting questions:
To expand the matter of profiting from torture: What of mercenaries and, by extension, all soldiers?

The Bible does specifically mention soldiering and the Old Testament has many soldiers whom are not condemned by God. That is the room in which the "just war theory" tends to survive. Nonetheless, Christian pacifism considers all wars wrong and I am not sure exactly how they handle the OT wars except to consider them "spiritualized" representation of the struggle with sin. There is a traditional precedent for arguing either case on the matter of warfare in general and, by extension, torture as an aspect thereof.

Now, Scripture doesn't really say much about mercenaries, though. Mercenaries may or may not be considered soldiering depending on one's perspective on the matter. Certainly, there was no qualms of hiring the Swiss Guard by the Popes, so mercenaries have some precedent as being accepted as not violating the command of Christ. Nonetheless, most Christian churches haven't wielded or used armies directly in recent times and probably won't for the forseeable future. Countries, on the other hand, that is an open game. We definitely have some room to criticize torture which is not justified in any way whatsoever, but there must be an honest consideration of conscience (preferably guided through the Holy Spirit) when one decides just how far the limit goes.

... and on the topic of "fun" with torture: What of the Marquis de Sade and Leopold von Sacher-Masoch?
On this, it is fairly obvious that from what God has said in Scripture that He considers it wrong to cause pain to people who are obviously unwilling participants.

However, deriving pleasure from causing pain to a consenting party hasn't really been tackled directly, although most people extrapolate His "no" for causing pain to the unwilling is also a "no" for causing pain to the willing. Of course, in that point, no one has really dissected the case of those who seek pain for "fun," either, except probably with the same rejection of the causing of pain in general. Frankly, I'm rather glad that this issue isn't discussed in Scripture since it is a rather unsavory one to consider at all, but because people do stuff like this it is an issue nevertheless.

In short, yeah, there's a lot of room to discuss the topic and a lot of arguments from either side... even though we're a way away from just "protecting others" and have moved into the realm of one's duty regarding personal honor and personal preference.
emperorbma   |2009-05-02 01:04:22
Your objection is why there are two dominant theological positions on this matter:
1. "Christian pacifism" permits nothing that could be seen as violating the principle of "turning the other cheek." Even if it is to protect someone whom they love.
2. "Just war," on the other hand, maintains that "turning the other cheek" has a limited context (specifically, in reference to personal slights) and that the call of Christ permits someone to act to defend another person in various non-preemptive ways.

Adherents to the former tend to be Anabaptists. Adherents to the latter tend to be Catholic or (non-Anabaptist) Protestant. The Eastern Orthodox are not mentioned since it is hard for me to pin down exactly where they fit in this schema. From what I recall, they consider all killing sinful, but I leave it to those wiser in that point to elucidate the matter.

In every case, however, there should be some rather strong qualms about the use of torture even for Christians who consider warfare to be a permissible option in some cases.
grizzly  - re:   |2009-05-02 12:35:04
emperorbma wrote:
The Eastern Orthodox are not mentioned since it is hard for me to pin down exactly where they fit in this schema. From what I recall, they consider all killing sinful, but I leave it to those wiser in that point to elucidate the matter.


A good explanation of the Orthodox position may be found at http://www.oca.org/QA.asp?ID=55&SID=3. Basically,

Quote:
[T]he Orthodox Church follows Christ and the apostles in teaching that the relative and morally ambiguous life of this world requires the existence of some form of human government which has the right and even the duty to "wield the sword" for the punishment of evil.... But still, if a man will be perfect and give his life totally to Christ, he will of necessity renounce military service as well as any political service which always and of necessity is involved with relativistic values and greater and lesser evils and goods.... Thus total pacifism is not only possible, it is the sign of greatest perfection, the perfection of the Kingdom of God. According to the Orthodox understanding, however, pacifism can never be a social or political philosophy for this world.
emperorbma   |2009-05-04 02:32:23
The Orthodox have never failed to impress me in that, while being on the one hand very strongly culturally rooted within national cultures, they also manage to maintain a recognition of the distinct tension between the purity of Christianity and the realities of the world. This is one of the things that has never really impressed me with Thomas Aquinas, who tended to focus on (the rather worldly) Aristotelian virtues as "preparatory for grace" and coherent with it, but this topic was very well established in the Eastern theology.  (Of course, Aquinas wasn't denying these, but his Scholasticism tended to dull the focus on this tension) In general, this topic tends to remind me a lot of Augustine's The City of God. Even though the Orthodox tend to eschew Augustine, in general, his position seems rather reflective of the struggle inherent in all Christianity.

According to Augustine, we live in a world with the tension between the "kingdom of the world" (Augustine's "City of Man") and the perfection of the Kingdom of God. (Augustine's "City of God") The ideal is the Kingdom of God, where all pursue Godliness. Nevertheless, we live in the world in which the necessities of the world often result in behavior that is less than the perfection of God.

Likewise, as would be expected of an Augustinian theology, this distinction is also central to the Lutheran understanding of the Two Kingdoms (i.e. dominions) of God as well. Of course, Luther tends to describe the "left-hand" kingdom of the world (inc. government) as a valid Christian pursuit, in distinction to the E.O. position on the matter that government is a "less than ideal" position. Conversely, as members of the "right-hand" Kingdom of God, the citizenry and the Church, we are to exemplify all the virtues of Christ through faith, forgiving transgression and remaining faithful to our call and vocation as examples of Christ in all things. Nevertheless, it is pretty clear that there is, indeed, a dynamic tension between these two aspects of our nature as a Christian.

According to Lutheran theology, it extends even to within the believer themselves being that all Christians are fundamentally simul justus et peccator: redeemed by God's grace and pure before God through Christ, yet still sinful beings who rely continuously on God's grace and the work of Christ, through Word and Sacrament, and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit to remain faithful children of God, being wholly unworthy recipients yet loved by God nonetheless.

Digressing, since I obviously have gone on a tangent, I think it is pretty clear that there is some commonality in the underlying positions behind all of Christian thought on this matter...
Jim   |2009-05-04 16:05:25
Yup. Even if you hold that something like a "just war" exists, that still pretty far from saying that Jesus thinks it's fine to hook a car battery up to someone's scrotum.
emperorbma   |2009-05-05 00:06:10
A good point, as always. On the other hand, what if this same guy and his buddies were planning to blow up your family and your home? Not saying the torture is justified, but it puts a context on the reasons why people may want to rely on it at least...
wezlo   |2009-05-02 08:12:47
"I would use the ring out of a desire to do good...."
PineHall  - LotR   |2009-05-02 10:47:53
A LotR reference! There is no doubt that you are the Wezlo!

So the easy route of torture would end up corrupting us, leaving only the harder, but correct, route of not using torture.
metallurge  - re:   |2009-05-04 22:20:58
wezlo wrote:
"I would use the ring out of a desire to do good...."
Yesss...
OrionBlastar  - But what about   |2009-05-04 13:54:52
the Book of Revelation? Christ doesn't turn the other cheek in that book. He leads his army of Angels to defeat evil.

The first slap to the cheek is free, we can turn the other cheek, but if they slap the other cheek? Are we supposed to fight back then?
Jim   |2009-05-04 16:06:23
70 x 7 big guy
OrionBlastar   |2009-05-05 14:04:23
I think I've turned the other cheek about a million times by now in my life. All I got out of it are sore cheeks and being laughed at by my enemies.

When does the Book of Revelation come in to play? I'm tired of being a punching bag.
wezlo   |2009-05-05 18:13:51
The book of revelation comes into play when you become a martyr. As you're not there yet, keep turning the other cheek..
emperorbma   |2009-05-05 18:57:31
That still doesn't stop the white robed martyr from saying "how long Lord?" (Revelation 6:10)
laika  - A Torture-based Theology   |2009-05-03 00:40:50
torture saves. interesting opinion from The Washington Post below. i'm surprised no one here made this connection between an apparent (as empy has pointed out) comfort with torture among regular churchgoers

Quote:
White Evangelical theology bases its view of Christian salvation on the severe pain and suffering undergone by Jesus in his flogging and crucifixion by the Romans. This is called the "penal theory of the atonement"--that is, the way Jesus paid for our sins is by this extreme torture inflicted on him.

For Christian conservatives, severe pain and suffering are central to their theology. This is very clear in the 2002 Mel Gibson movie, The Passion of the Christ. Evangelical Christians flocked to this movie, promoted it and still show it in their churches, despite the fact that it is R-rated for the extraordinary amount of violence in the film. It is, in fact, the highest grossing R-rated movie in the history of film. The flogging of Jesus by the Romans goes on for fully 40 minutes. It is truly the most violent film I have ever seen.

The message of the movie, and a message of a lot of conservative Christian theology, is that severe pain and suffering are not foreign to Christian faith, but central.
PinocchiosFurniture  - Statistics Appear Valid   |2009-05-03 21:52:44
The statistics appear to be valid.

After all, those who claim to be 'Evangelical' also tend to be political 'Conservatives'.

And political Conservatives/Evangelicals were the one who justified their cruel means.

The BIG question is whether or not torture should ever be condoned by Christians at all.

Catholic and Protestants have condoned torture in the past to root out 'heretics' and the only real heretics that were exposed in the process were those who did the torturing.

In my view, torture is NEVER justified for any true Christian...and torture is nothing but a tool of the Devil and of one's own flesh to be deceive there can be derrived some kind of 'protection' from this barbarism...none of which God ordained.

It is better to DIE in the service of God unjustly...but to gain eternal life in the process... than to KILL or MAIM another in order to gain political power or fleshly temporal 'protection'....yet lose one's eternal soul by so doing.
emperorbma   |2009-05-04 01:39:34
Quote:
Catholic and Protestants have condoned torture in the past to root out 'heretics' and the only real heretics that were exposed in the process were those who did the torturing.

* - emphasis mine

So, hang on a second, does this mean you believe that Michael Servetus was an orthodox (cf. Trinitarian) Christian? If not, you might want to be careful with your generalizations lest you call orthodoxy a heresy and heresy orthodoxy...

While I agree with the principle that torture is not a shining pinnacle or a good example of orthodoxy and, IMO, we Christians ought not be relying on torture (probably ever...), I do disagree that those who were torturers were exclusively the ones defying orthodoxy. Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant churches have all, at various times, used on torture as a means without actually compromising their theological orthodoxy. Does this mean I consider the torture a good thing? Not at all, but neither would I call all who used torture heretics because there would be no orthodox Christians in all of existence.

In fact, many heretics have never resorted to torture. Consider Marcion. Despite the fact that he never tortured anyone, he is no less a heretic. Marcion whom, I shall remind you, said that the God of the Old Testament is a different God than Jesus Christ. Neither did the Manichaeans, the Mandaeans, the Yazidi or an innumerable host of other heretics. This is not to say that all heretics have never used torture, either, since the Arians, who denied the deity of Christ, most assuredly have brought about many tortures and forced conversions under their regimes, such as the Visigoths or other Barbarian cultures.

The fact of the matter is that both the orthodox Christian and heretic "christian" have, at times, used torture. For that matter, so have some atheists (such as Mao Zedong)... and, if we think paganism is better, the Romans were the ones torturing Christians in the Colosseum. In my opinion, the use of torture was just as wrong for every one... but the fact of the matter is that use of torture was clearly not the metric for which we determined orthodoxy. Rather, it is whether their beliefs are in accordance with the Scriptural and, for some, traditional principles of their faith.

On the other hand, whether torture can be considered orthopraxy is a matter which can be debated. It may well be that orthopraxy is sometimes divorced from orthodoxy and, certainly, we all have sinned in some way against God even if our sin isn't that of going out and torturing someone else. (although, ultimately, all sin led to the torture of Christ... even those which don't involve us pulling on the rack, per se)

Orthodoxy should, but does not always, reflect in correct behavior and even those who don't hurt people in one way will sin in some other way because we are all sinful and it was for that Christ died.
metallurge  - re:   |2009-05-04 03:23:32
emperorbma wrote:
It may well be that orthopraxy is sometimes divorced from orthodoxy
(...)
Orthodoxy should, but does not always, reflect in correct behavior (...)
John 14:12 (NASB):
Quote:
"Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I go to the Father."


John 14:15 (NASB):
Quote:
"If you love Me, you will keep My commandments."


John 14:21-24 (NASB):
Quote:
"He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me; and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will disclose Myself to him."

Judas (not Iscariot) said to Him, "Lord, what then has happened that You are going to disclose Yourself to us and not to the world?"

Jesus answered and said to him, "If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him. He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine, but the Father's who sent Me."


Mark 12:28-34 (NASB):
Quote:
One of the scribes came and heard them arguing, and recognizing that He had answered them well, asked Him, "What commandment is the foremost of all?"

Jesus answered, "The foremost is, 'HEAR, O ISRAEL! THE LORD OUR GOD IS ONE LORD;
AND YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND, AND WITH ALL YOUR STRENGTH.'

"The second is this, 'YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.' There is no other commandment greater than these."

The scribe said to Him, "Right, Teacher; You have truly stated that HE IS ONE, AND THERE IS NO ONE ELSE BESIDES HIM;AND TO LOVE HIM WITH ALL THE HEART AND WITH ALL THE UNDERSTANDING AND WITH ALL THE STRENGTH, AND TO LOVE ONE'S NEIGHBOR AS HIMSELF, is much more than all burnt offerings and sacrifices."

When Jesus saw that he had answered intelligently, He said to him, "You are not far from the kingdom of God." After that, no one would venture to ask Him any more questions.


Mark 5:43-48 (NASB):
Quote:
"You have heard that it was said, 'YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR and hate your enemy.' But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.

For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? If you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same?

Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect."
Orthodoxy and orthopraxy cannot be divorced. Torture is not orthopraxy. It cannot be reconciled with loving one's neighbor.
emperorbma   |2009-05-04 08:52:03
Quote:
Orthodoxy and orthopraxy cannot be divorced. Torture is not orthopraxy. It cannot be reconciled with loving one's neighbor.


Quote:
1 John 1:5-10

This is the message we have heard from Him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.  But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.

If we say we are without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is merciful and just to forgive us our transgression and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we are without sin, we have made Him a liar and His Word is not in us.


Who among us is without sin that we may call a torturer a heretic? Who among us has not, by some action or inaction, caused distress to another person?
Jim   |2009-05-04 16:08:03
Oh, come on. You can do better than that. Heretic is not the same as sinner, and you know that.
emperorbma   |2009-05-05 00:07:09
Probably, but when I posted that I think I was somehow off my A-game...
PerpetualAgnostic   |2009-05-04 16:35:18
I can't really tell if this passage is condemning...

(a) continued sinful behavior, or
(b) continued sinful behavior without admitting sinfulness, or
(c) continued unrepentant sinful behavior

Is there some important distinction between the terms "walk in darkness" and being "without sin"?
metallurge   |2009-05-04 22:17:44
The important distinction in the passage is between:

* saying we are without sin (walking in darkness, trying to hide in the bushes as Adam & Eve did after sinning)

versus

* confessing our sins, accepting mercy and forgiveness, being cleansed by the blood of Christ (not the same as saying we were never dirty to begin with, nor that we will never get dirty again) (walking in light, having fellowship directly with God, walking with Him in the cool of the day, as Adam & Eve did before they sinned)
emperorbma   |2009-05-05 00:09:44
Indeed, I concur with this excellent analysis. Very few Christians have said that no Christian ever sins, despite being redeemed by grace. I think it was only the Pelagians and a few Judaizers who have even intimated such a thing.
metallurge   |2009-05-05 00:41:37
OK, so, using your scripture, into which 1 John category must a defender of torture/unrepentant torturer fall?
emperorbma   |2009-05-05 02:10:25
Quote:
torture/unrepentant torturer


I would first note that this is a false equivalence. Simply defending that torture may be necessary does not mean one considers every act of torture justified and certainly does not always indicate unrepentance. It is possible that the torture is considered to be distasteful and is principally considered wrong but that it is being weighed against the other potential consequences, as I discuss in my other post. (cf. prisoners' dilemma)

As it is written "If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.  Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord. To the contrary, if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good," (Romans 12:18-20) but what if the thought is not of avenging oneself but protecting others? Likewise, what of the fact that "[rulers are] 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) does this not mean the state has a certain prerogative to execute God's wrath in some cases? In a sense, it is kind of a battle between which neighbors we need to protect more and there is sometimes no obvious way to choose both (with choosing both being the ideal situation)...

Furthermore, as it is written, "it is better to suffer for doing good for doing evil," (1 Peter 3:17) but negligence is also sinful. (cf. James 4:17) One can make a case that it is negligent to fail to gather the information necessary to protect one's neighbor from harm and one's enemies do not usually volunteer information to help. Obviously, we are not God but we can be put in a position where we do have other peoples' lives in our hands and need to weigh one person against others. (e.g. rescuers do this when choosing whether to rescue one person or other and have limited resources or time.)  Nevertheless, it is also written to "love thine enemy," (Matthew 5:44) so we cannot simply fail to consider the enemy's need either and Romans makes clear that we should do kindness to our enemy insofar as it relies on us. The question, then, is whether torture is exclusively denying the enemy's need or whether it is an attempt to balance the competing needs of one's neighbors in the eventual hope that both can live together peacefully.  Unfortunately, we do not live in Shangri-La or the mystical pony kingdom where happy elves prance, people fight over things and certain things are necessary to defend the people of either side.  Sadly, an enemy's reticence to divulge information makes them an obstacle to the objective of protecting one's neighbors from harm so it really is a conflict of interests between neighbors and we are concerned for both...

As far as my own conscience on this matter goes, I think the torturer him/herself should be repentant and reticent and, if not, they are certainly placing themselves in a dangerous position with regards to Salvation. As far as defense of torture goes, it is a matter of conscience and, unless it is a "blank slate" or otherwise ignoring the importance of concern for one's enemy, it is a valid position. In either case, torture is obviously non-ideal and should be avoided whenever possible. As I intimate below, however, I have questions about whether we can issue a blanket condemnation against all torture... it is obviously not a straightforward and easy question for me given the weighing of all considerations.
PerpetualAgnostic   |2009-05-07 11:47:03
So does this mean that God has issued instructions to Christians that are logically impossible to satisfy, due to being in conflict for situations like this one?
emperorbma   |2009-05-07 14:08:25
Quote:
So does this mean that God has issued instructions to Christians that are logically impossible to satisfy, due to being in conflict for situations like this one?



Quote:
When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished, saying, Who then can be saved? But Jesus looked at them and said, "With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible." (Matthew 19:25-26)


You see, there is a reason why the Law cannot save. The instructions are such that only one man can actually fulfill them, and none of us are Him. The letter of the Law is such that no sinful being can fully keep it in its perfection, but that is why we are clothed with Christ and God has placed His Holy Spirit upon us. The Law can only be fulfilled by Christ and those who are in Christ are covered with His merit and grace.

Was it for no reason that the Apostle wrote "Such is the confidence that we have through Christ toward God. Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God, who has made us competent to be ministers of a new covenant, not of letter but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. (2 Corinthians 3:4-6)

The Law is written to make manifest our sinfulness, but only Christ brings salvation. (cf. Romans 3:20)
PerpetualAgnostic  - re: re:   |2009-05-04 08:05:00
metallurge wrote:
Torture is not orthopraxy. It cannot be reconciled with loving one's neighbor.


But consider the ticking timebomb justification for torture. You have the choice of one neighbor being tortured, or no neighbors being tortured but 1000 neighbors dying. Which are you to choose?
metallurge  - re: re: re:   |2009-05-04 22:03:09
PerpetualAgnostic wrote:
But consider the ticking timebomb justification for torture. You have the choice of one neighbor being tortured, or no neighbors being tortured but 1000 neighbors dying. Which are you to choose?
False choice. It implies that one is God, with the power over life and death, and the omniscience to make such a choice. Moreover, it falsely shifts responsibility where it does not belong. The responsibility for the bomb is with the bomber, not the interviewer.
emperorbma   |2009-05-05 01:13:45
Let me present this scenario, then...
A person who is physically gifted with much strength lives in a peaceful town. A vicious band of marauders enters town and puts people to the sword, looting and pillaging as they go.

Should the strong, able person:
a) sit idly by professing that it would be wrong to do violence to the invaders?
b) act to defend his or her neighbors with their God-given strength?

Can anyone honestly say, then, that this person must simply allow the marauders to rape and pillage the town to no end? What town could survive such an assault if no one defended it? At its basis, this question is the heart of "just war" theory and one's answer to it determines one's stance regarding whether "just war" is a valid concept.

Whether or not the circumstances are relative, they are no less real than the absolute truth that we must serve God at all times, because the same God commands us to love our neighbors and to lay our lives down for their sake if necessary. Is it genuinely legitimate to say, then, that this person acting to defend his neighbor is not serving God? Non-ideal, I think, it is pretty easy to admit. However, when given a choice between letting your neighbor be wronged but maintaining your own idealism and defending your neighbor with all the fervor that your idealism commands, is it not better to defend those who are being wronged? Obviously, this is a matter of one's own conscience and one's own relationship with God.

Given that some people consider this "just war concept" to be a valid assertion, the question is, then, can torture ever fit into this schema? If it can, when? If not, why?

If we acknowledge that sometimes violence in defense of others may be justified, is there not a minute probability that torture may, in very rare cases, be necessary to prevent a greater evil?  For example, if one of these marauders who attacks had been found outside of a town and its inhabitants needed to know if the marauders were coming to their town next, but the scout would not volunteer the information. In that case, if it could prevent a greater evil, should we ever take that option or should we remain unsullied and quite probably let the worse evil come to pass?

Suppose that the invaders do not come, it would have been a good thing not to torture.  However, if the invaders had come, the advance information would have spared many lives. If we, by our inaction, are permitting that "worse evil," are we not just as much sinning as if we do the evil ourselves? One need not do an action to commit sin, for some sins are sins of negligence as James also tells us that "whoever knows what is right to do but does not do it, commits sin." (James 4:17) Thus, we have a Catch-22 in which no option allows one to be perfect and no option allows one to eschew sin. In the case, then, where we literally cannot avoid some evil, which option is best?

Unfortunately, I do not possess the answer to this and ask this merely as a thinker question...

Analytically, it seems like the entire issue is related to the "prisoners' dilemma," albeit quite modified. Namely, the option of "betrayal of one's accomplice/cooperating with the authorities" is replaced with "doing evil" and "incarceration" means, for the marauder, being tortured and, for the town, being destroyed. That and, being a marauder, means the probability that the marauder gas already "betrayed the accomplice/cooperated with the authorities" is significantly higher than 50/50 as it pays for an army to study the place it will attack, yet it is not 100%. [Yes, the "transformation matrix" is rather long, but the problem does seem an applicable one to describe the situation]
PerpetualAgnostic   |2009-05-05 15:38:33
Beautiful reduction. Thanks.
grizzly  - re:   |2009-05-05 17:02:34
PerpetualAgnostic wrote:
Beautiful reduction. Thanks.


9 paragraphs is a "reduction"? ;-)
Entity   |2009-05-05 17:17:01
For anyone dating back to the Berkana days, yes.
laika  - Kinky?   |2009-05-06 00:01:17
emperorbma wrote:
If we acknowledge that sometimes violence in defense of others may be justified, is there not a minute probability that torture may, in very rare cases, be necessary to prevent a greater evil?


for some reason i'm getting a mental image of you defending the joys of sex within marriage. it's almost like you're saying that torture could be a good and wholesome activity ordained of God if practiced within the proper context :-)
emperorbma   |2009-05-06 00:23:08
That's probably my fault, unfortunately, since I elected to bring up de Sade and Masoch in that other branch of the discussion. :P

As you may have guessed, I actually wasn't talking about that, but the actual ethical ramifications of torture in defense of others.

In all honesty, I'm a bit weirded out by BDSM type stuff, but I dropped it down there for consideration since I was curious about the general opinion on the matter.  Unfortunately, I suspect there may be a poll question on this if this trend continues. heh heh.
Entity  - Top Ten Reasons Catholics Favor Torture   |2009-05-04 11:47:28
From Don Moody at his TMP Blog comes the "Top Ten Reasons Catholics Favor Torture:"

Quote:
10. Using those hard wooden kneelers at Sunday Mass seems like a worse "stress position" than that used at Guantanamo.

9. Due to today's short attention spans, most Bible study classes never make it past that "eye for an eye" stuff in the Old Testament.

8. It's not just terrorists. If questioned further they also believe that Catholic Bishops should be tortured to disclose locations of pedophile priests that have been given a "second chance".

7. Waterboarding seems pretty mild compared to the last 40 minutes of "The Passion of the Christ".

6. Believes it was Jesus who said, "The ends justify the means'.

5. Infidel terrorists won't make the cut on Rapture Day anyway, so what's a little more pain?

4. A lot of those regular Catholic Church goers grew up eating fish sticks on Fridays. Now that's torture!

3. Spanish Inquisition nostalgia is a powerful thing.

2. Thought that whole "turn the other cheek" thing referred to the CIA's face slap questioning techniques.

1. Got confused and asked themselves WWCD? (What would Cheney Do?) rather than WWJD?


(H/T to InsideCatholic.com)
PinocchiosFurniture  - re:   |2009-05-05 18:48:19
emperorbma wrote:
Quote:
Catholic and Protestants have condoned torture in the past to root out 'heretics' and the only real heretics that were exposed in the process were those who did the torturing.

* - emphasis mine

So, hang on a second, does this mean you believe that Michael Servetus was an orthodox (cf. Trinitarian) Christian? If not, you might want to be careful with your generalizations lest you call orthodoxy a heresy and heresy orthodoxy...

While I agree with the principle that torture is not a shining pinnacle or a good example of orthodoxy and, IMO, we Christians ought not be relying on torture (probably ever...), I do disagree that those who were torturers were exclusively the ones defying orthodoxy. Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant churches have all, at various times, used on torture as a means without actually compromising their theological orthodoxy. Does this mean I consider the torture a good thing? Not at all, but neither would I call all who used torture heretics because there would be no orthodox Christians in all of existence.

In fact, many heretics have never resorted to torture. Consider Marcion. Despite the fact that he never tortured anyone, he is no less a heretic. Marcion whom, I shall remind you, said that the God of the Old Testament is a different God than Jesus Christ. Neither did the Manichaeans, the Mandaeans, the Yazidi or an innumerable host of other heretics. This is not to say that all heretics have never used torture, either, since the Arians, who denied the deity of Christ, most assuredly have brought about many tortures and forced conversions under their regimes, such as the Visigoths or other Barbarian cultures.

The fact of the matter is that both the orthodox Christian and heretic "christian" have, at times, used torture. For that matter, so have some atheists (such as Mao Zedong)... and, if we think paganism is better, the Romans were the ones torturing Christians in the Colosseum. In my opinion, the use of torture was just as wrong for every one... but the fact of the matter is that use of torture was clearly not the metric for which we determined orthodoxy. Rather, it is whether their beliefs are in accordance with the Scriptural and, for some, traditional principles of their faith.

On the other hand, whether torture can be considered orthopraxy is a matter which can be debated. It may well be that orthopraxy is sometimes divorced from orthodoxy and, certainly, we all have sinned in some way against God even if our sin isn't that of going out and torturing someone else. (although, ultimately, all sin led to the torture of Christ... even those which don't involve us pulling on the rack, per se)

Orthodoxy should, but does not always, reflect in correct behavior and even those who don't hurt people in one way will sin in some other way because we are all sinful and it was for that Christ died.


The use of torture, simply put, is HERESY.

One's 'theological orthodoxy' is not defined by what one BELIEVES, it is defined by what one DOES.
emperorbma   |2009-05-05 19:10:36
Quote:
One's 'theological orthodoxy' is not defined by what one BELIEVES, it is defined by what one DOES.


Wrong. Your usage of the word heresy is nonstandard and inaccurate. It is at variance with the dictionary:
Quote:
1. opinion or doctrine at variance with the orthodox or accepted doctrine, esp. of a church or religious system.
2. the maintaining of such an opinion or doctrine.
3. Roman Catholic Church. the willful and persistent rejection of any article of faith by a baptized member of the church.
4. any belief or theory that is strongly at variance with established beliefs, customs, etc.


I don't see anything about actions in here... because heresy is the antithesis of orthodoxy, i.e. right beliefs, not the antithesis of orthopraxis or "right behavior."

Moreover, your use of the word heresy is at variance with the Bible itself:
Quote:
But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed. And in their greed they will exploit you with false words. Their condemnation from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep. (2 Peter 2:1-4)


Put simply, heresy is false teaching not sinful behavior. Any other usage deviates from common (and even very precise theological) usage and is, therefore, invalid.
emperorbma   |2009-05-05 20:29:56
Extending this, the specific word, αιρεσεις, vocalized as "haeresis," and meaning (loosely) decision to reject the Gospel is the origin of our modern word heresy itself and is found in three exactly places in Scripture:

in 1 Corinthians 11:17-20, Paul wrote:
But in the following instructions I do not commend you, because when you come together it is not for the better but for the worse. For, in the first place, when you come together as a church, I hear that there are divisions (αιρεσεις; i.e. heresies) among you. And I believe it in part, for there must be factions among you in order that those who are genuine among you may be recognized.



in Galatians 5:18-21, Paul wrote:
But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.

Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions (αιρεσεις; i.e. heresies), envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.


...and the above quoted 2 Peter 1. All of these uses refer to dissension from true doctrine and creating divisions within the Christian faith rather than simply sinful behaviors. If one conflates heresy with sinful behavior, then all Christians are "heretics" because we "all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God," (Romans 3:23) Moreover, if Paul, and the Holy Spirit who inspired him, had conflated all misbehavior with heresy he would not have used the term in the manner he had considering that his entire emphasis was on Christ covering our shortfall through grace.

As it stands, however, all the Apostles (even James... see James 5:15-16) are in complete agreement that no one save Christ is without sin, even those who are Christians. As such, one should not water down the word heresy to refer to all sin because it undermines the integrity of the Message itself.

Now, do I say that orthodoxy should show forth in one's behaviors? By all means, since James concludes that "faith without works is dead," (James 2:26) and even Dr. Luther, who is falsely decried as an opponent of good works, teaches that "it is just as impossible to separate faith and works as it is to separate heat and light from fire!" Therefore, all will agree that true faith naturally shows forth in good works. But I don't equate orthodoxy with orthopraxis in all cases and certainly it isn't our works that earn our salvation, only God's grace received through faith.

As it stands and from Paul's own testimony, "heresies... shall not inherit the Kingdom of God," so weigh for yourself if it is just to use this term outside its proper context to proclaim anathema on those who are actually orthodox, which literally means "having correct belief," and who do not proclaim any other Gospel than that which they received through the Word and the Spirit of God. Even from the Lord's own words, it is said "whoever is not against me is for me." (Mark 9:40; Luke 9:50)
PinocchiosFurniture  - No. YOU are WRONG!   |2009-05-05 21:43:08
Your misguided and apostate Lutheran theology has prevented and perverted you from seeing the TRUTH!

That salvation IS of FAITH and WORKS!

It is NOT what one "believes" which saves him...
It is what one "DOES" that saves him...

And why Jesus so oftenly chastised the Pharisees, Saducees, Scribes, and Lawyers for not 'getting it'...

A man is 'saved' by what he DOES...and not by what he BELIEVES.

St James concurs...

Yet Luther heretical denounced James...and to his own damnation in the process....

WAKE UP! and get rid of your nonsensical theology...

WAKE UP! and be enlightened by the Holy Spirit!
emperorbma   |2009-05-06 00:15:32
I suppose we shall have to take a detour from the discussion of your misuse of the word heresy because I am now to be considered an apostate and perverted against the truth because I happen to have been called by the Spirit to a Lutheran tradition instead of a Roman Catholic one.

Let's go through what I say and I'll let you stop me at what point I'm a blasphemous apostate. In Mark 16:16, our Lord Jesus Christ declares that, "Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned." In John 3:18, "whoever believes in Him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God." Someone want to point me to where he says works here? How about Paul, who says "For by works of the law no man will be justified in His sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin," (Romans 3:20)

Or, what about "working out our salvation with fear and trembling?" (Philemon 2:12) Because "it is God at work in us to will and to do?" (Philemon 2:13) I honestly can't shoot myself in the foot...

Ah, how could I forget, James! Except, wasn't I quoting a statement from Luther that actually agreed with what James said!? Let's go over it again:
1. "faith without works is dead" (James)
2. "It is as impossible to separate heat and light from flame as it is to separate good works from faith." (Martin Luther)

Hm... I guess he sure decried the importance of good works there. Or, wait, maybe I'm being criticized because I don't think James was saying we had to earn our salvation through good works, but apparently neither did Christ or Paul, or even James for that matter. I think that it is fair to say that only a rather radical misinterpretation of Scripture is going to claim that faith won't result in good works, but the claim on the field is that we aren't earning our salvation by them! Even your own Catholic theologians don't teach that we earn our salvation, or else they would not claim to believe in the necessity of grace. (Shoot, I'm actually defending Catholicism at the same time as I'm being lampooned as an apostate by one)

Furthermore, you want to bring Luther's "rejection of James" to the field as if it is a real argument. For goodness sakes, your own theologians at the time of Dr. Luther had the very same questions about the authenticity of James!  These questions, in fact, dated to the early Christian Church and the councils at which the Book of James was canonized. Here's a word for you, Antilegomena. I guess Eusebius is also an apostate for considering James an antilegomena, and the Muratorian canon was also the work of heretics, since James is notably absent from it. Martin Luther's criticism was nothing unique and, in fact, does not even begin to constitute a valid criticism. By the way, it wasn't Luther's decision to remove the Deuterocanon because his Bible actually had them... and Lutherans, to this day, consider their canonicity an open question. Is Luther a blasphemer, but not Erasmus and Johann Eck (i.e. Luther's Inquisitor), who had made similar arguments? How very charitable, indeed!

Furthermore, you say to "wake up! be enlightened by the Holy Spirit." Try this one on for size:
Quote:
Therefore I want you to understand that no one speaking in the Spirit of God ever says Jesus is accursed! and no one can say Jesus is Lord except in the Holy Spirit. (1 Corinthians 12:3)


Actually, I know of one theologian who makes a rather strong emphasis about the fact that no one can believe in God except through the work of the Holy Spirit, but I leave it to you to guess his name. I'll give you a hint, it starts with Martin and ends with Luther. In his Large Catechism, he writes on the article of the Apostles' Creed, "For neither you nor I could ever know anything of Christ, or believe on Him, and obtain Him for our Lord, unless it were offered to us and granted to our hearts by the Holy Ghost through the preaching of the Gospel." Oh, but wait... what did I do at the beginning of this post?  Quoting myself, "our Lord Jesus Christ..."  Maybe I just haven't been enlightened, hmm?

As for nonsensical, it makes plenty of sense if someone actually cared to try... but I certainly wouldn't foist that upon anyone. I suppose it would come as a shock to you to say that we Lutherans actually teach the Real Presence of Christ (with a somewhat different explanation of how it is, but not the fact that it is) and consider the Sacraments (Lord's Supper and Baptism) important means of God's grace or that we consider ourselves part of the One, Holy, Catholic (i.e. Universal) and Apostolic Church (which does not mean only churches under the Pope for us) or that we maintain the Ecumenical Creeds (Athanasian, Nicene and Apostles') or that we actually catechize or that we actually teach the necessity of Confession and Absolution (both corporate and we have provision for private confession if requested), or the need for repentance or the fact that we keep Ecclesiastical seasons and holidays such as Ash Wednesday and Advent or the use of a liturgy (based on the pre-Tridentine masses) or the acceptance of the validity of icons and veneration of saints insofar as it does not distract from the worship of God... shoot, we even reference Mary at Christmas and Easter. Obviously, along with these, we keep the doctrines of Original Sin, the necessity and importance of the Church and its ministry, the necessity of a Divine Call to administer the Sacraments and all manner of practices that you'd be hard pressed to condemn since they define your own Catholic dogma as well.  You'd be hard pressed to say that Lutherans do not have a tradition of any sort, either, unlike certain Protestants. But, ah right, but Luther is the perennial albatross around our neck that will forever land us as being slandered as "perverters of the truth" by some folks.  An albatross I bear with honor, considering I believe that, by the grace of God, what he taught was right about grace and the Word of God and I stand by the Book of Concord as a faithful and true exposition of God's Word because it reflects what is taught within it.

Sure, I'm a real apostate, all right. I guess that I should "remove the log from my own eye before pointing the mote in another's, hmm?" (Luke 6:41) Heaven forbid that this "protestant" should be considered Christian so long as his knee does not bow to the supreme authority of the Pope.

P.S. Anybody notice that I didn't use Ephesians 2:8, which says expressly "you are saved by grace, through faith, not works"? That would have been too easy, after all... actually, I think it continues that "we are created in Christ Jesus unto good works," (Ephesians 2:10) which fills the rest of my point about works coming from saving faith, not earning our salvation...
PerpetualAgnostic  - re: No. YOU are WRONG!   |2009-05-06 08:07:27
PinocchiosFurniture wrote:
Your misguided and apostate Lutheran theology has prevented and perverted you from seeing the TRUTH!


Hey, come on. This had been such a civil discussion.
emperorbma   |2009-05-06 20:29:30
Unfortunately, I probably have only myself to blame since he's obviously reacting against my use of Martin Luther's quote...
Jim  - re: No. YOU are WRONG!   |2009-05-06 20:46:24
PinocchiosFurniture wrote:
Your misguided and apostate Lutheran theology has prevented and perverted you from seeing the TRUTH!


Yeah, EmperorBMA! Your sad devotion to that ancient religion has not helped you conjure up the stolen data tapes, or given you clairvoyance enough to find the Rebel's hidden fort!
emperorbma   |2009-05-06 21:04:35
I find your lack of faith... disturbing... :P
wezlo   |2009-05-07 11:49:25
Enough of this, EmperorBMA, release him...
emperorbma   |2009-05-07 14:09:54
As you wish...
PerpetualAgnostic   |2009-05-07 15:06:42
You don't scare me with your demographic ways, BMA.
holmegm  - re:   |2009-05-06 12:36:35
emperorbma wrote:
Given that some people consider this "just war concept" to be a valid assertion, the question is, then, can torture ever fit into this schema?  If it can, when? If not, why?


Yeah, this question is a lot more complicated than most people seem to think.

Is using pain to get compliance always wrong? What about when a police officer uses it in apprehending somebody? Should he just shoot instead?
emperorbma   |2009-05-06 13:26:57
Actually, I think Martial Arts also falls into this category since its basic goal is to avoid killing and simply to incapacitate or detain an attacker.
PerpetualAgnostic   |2009-05-06 13:35:29
I'd say it depends on the martial art. At one end of the spectrum you have aikido, which lets you control someone with a minimum of discomfort or injury to them. At the other end are things like kempo and ninjitsu, which I think aren't far from pulling a gun on someone.
emperorbma   |2009-05-06 13:38:51
True enough, that is a good point. I was actually thinking more toward the aikido/judo end of the spectrum.
holmegm  - re: re:   |2009-05-07 14:53:57
holmegm wrote:
Is using pain to get compliance always wrong? What about when a police officer uses it in apprehending somebody? Should he just shoot instead?


Heck, I forgot ... in my state we have something called "certified store detectives" who can arrest people and hold them until the police arrive. "Actually, yes, we can keep you here."

Among their bag of tricks, since they aren't armed? Pain compliance techniques.

So people are being "tortured" occasionally down at my local department store.
emperorbma  - re: re: No. YOU are WRONG!   |2009-05-06 21:10:18
Jim wrote:
[ quote=PinocchiosFurniture]Your misguided and apostate Lutheran theology has prevented and perverted you from seeing the TRUTH![ /quote]

Yeah, EmperorBMA! Your sad devotion to that ancient religion has not helped you conjure up the stolen data tapes, or given you clairvoyance enough to find the Rebel's hidden fort!


side note: my reply looks better w/o the {voice="James Earl Jones"} fake tags for some reason... too bad we can't use real angle-brackets or spoiler tags to hide the "in joke, but not really an in joke because everyone on here has seen the film."

... and now my "posting Zen" is complete since the "extra commentary" is not in the reply. *wink*

P.S. Except for the fact that I'm silly enough to actually care about "posting Zen..." LOL
PerpetualAgnostic  - re:   |2009-05-07 14:14:37
emperorbma wrote:
You see, there is a reason why the Law cannot save. The instructions are such that only one man can actually fulfill them, and none of us are Him. The letter of the Law is such that no sinful being can fully keep it in its perfection, but that is why we are clothed with Christ and God has placed His Holy Spirit upon us. The Law can only be fulfilled by Christ and those who are in Christ are covered with His merit and grace.


But here's what confuses me. How could it be considered sinful to fail to obey two instructions from God (love your enemy; don't neglect to protect your neighbors) when, in a ticking timebomb case, they appear to be in logical contradiction? I don't see how even Jesus could navigate that.
emperorbma   |2009-05-07 15:05:38
Quote:
But here's what confuses me. How could it be considered sinful to fail to obey two instructions from God (love your enemy; don't neglect to protect your neighbors) when, in a ticking timebomb case, they appear to be in logical contradiction? I don't see how even Jesus could navigate that.


Ah, but He did you see. Let's start with the parameters of the original problem:
Quote:
But consider the ticking timebomb justification for torture. You have the choice of one neighbor being tortured, or no neighbors being tortured but 1000 neighbors dying. Which are you to choose?


There is, in fact, another option but no man born under sin can keep it. To be tortured oneself in place of all one's neighbors. Which is exactly what Jesus did. That hunk of wood is not just for show, it is the sin of the world being borne on the back of one man. It is the "bomb" exploding in the face of one man to save us all.

Quote:
For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many. (Mark 10:45, Matthew 20:28)


Quote:
[Jesus] said to [the Disciples], "Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in His name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem." (Luke 24:46: parallels in Mark 8:31, Matthew 16:21, 17:22, 20:19, Luke 9:22, 18:33, 24:7, 24:46, John 1:29, Acts 10:40, 1 Corinthians 15:4)


... and with this, one is enlightened.
holmegm   |2009-05-09 13:03:55
Christianity, Torture, and the Media

Pavlischek wrote:

One recurring element of the discussions has been dissatisfaction with the loose use of the term “torture.” Many public figures have carelessly used the word without clearly defining what they mean by it, a practice that has contributed to the confusion of the debate.

I first became aware of the dogged refusal to precisely define the term “torture” a few years ago and mentioned it in passing in a 2007 Books and Culture article critiquing the “Evangelical Declaration Against Torture.” In a response to my article, David Gushee, the primary author of the declaration, attempted to justify his decision not to define the term “torture” with any specificity. In fact, Gushee suggested that even asking for a more precise definition was an indication that one is “up to no good.” For seeking greater clarity Gushee has reportedly accused me of “quibbling.” When academic theologians and “ethicists” refuse to define their terms — and even question the propriety of doing so — we should not be surprised to find the public confused on a serious moral issue.
holmegm   |2009-05-09 13:26:28
Sharp guy, this Pavlischek:

Pavlischek wrote:
One might also be forgiven for thinking that were the views of the pacifist signatories widely accepted, moral issues surrounding of the rights of captured terrorists would be a moot point, since the prospect of Islamic radicals surrendering to those who pose no lethal threat would be rather slight.
Jim   |2009-05-09 19:51:13
I will say that the pacifist language in the notes to the Declaration is sloppy. It needs to be grounded in the self-sacrifice of Jesus not in some Enlightenment concept of human rights.
Jim   |2009-05-09 19:45:35
What I find odd is that Pavlischek linked the response by David Gushee where the latter said:

Quote:
Together we need to ask these national leaders to say that they abhor torture (as defined by both domestic law and international conventions and treaties, with waterboarding currently serving as a chillingly direct test case) and that they will from now on boldly declare their opposition to any use of torture by our government. We might also together ask them to reject the rendition of suspected terrorists to nations where they are sure to be tortured. We could call on them to support pending legislation that establishes the tough but limited interrogation techniques enumerated in the US Army Field Manual as the national standard for interrogations in every branch of the government, not because the Field Manual is perfect but because it is public and does indeed set some explicit limits—and not so much for the sake of the terrorists but for the sake of our own national soul.

So Gushee states that torture should be defined by existing national and international law including the Army Field Manual. Not sure why Pavlischek missed that.
laika   |2009-05-09 21:38:38
Jim wrote:
So Gushee states that torture should be defined by existing national and international law including the Army Field Manual.


and when, BTW, did water-boarding stop being torture? we called it torture when the Khmer Rouge did it in Viet Nam; after WWII, some Japanese were tried for war crimes for using that technique... it wasn't long ago that we called it torture...
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