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I have been asked by colleagues to write a reply to Mr. David Hagopian's two articles concerning "Operation Rescue." My first inclination was to refuse. I am quite busy and the first article was quite long and involved and required diligent study in order to reply. But after a time of prayer and reflection, I agreed to do it for two reasons. First, I am deeply committed to life and the promotion and protection of it, and "Operation Rescue" provides a proper and vigorous expression of that attitude for me. Secondly, after wading through the first Hagopian article, I found it intellectually dishonest and scripturally inaccurate, which was offensive to me. On that basis, I managed to churn out somewhere in the vicinity of 5000 words in detailed response to the first Hagopian article.

At that point, I was provided with the text of the second article. The second article, appearing in the July/August issue of Antithesis, is as long as the first, about 13,000 words, and moved me back to my original inclination, which was not to answer. If anything, it is more involved and of the same integrity level as the first article. Now again, after prayer and reflection, I am forced to modify that decision. For your consideration, I offer a fairly short and concise reply to what I consider the major errors of Mr. Hagopian's position. I also offer a short and pithy criticism of what I consider to be the major flaw in the theological position from which Mr. Hagopian seems to proceed. I am mindful that the works of God do not need my defense, for He is able to care for Himself. The Gamaliel principle still operates. If you fight against God, you will be destroyed; if you try to defend God in your flesh, you waste your time and energy.

Point One: Rahab the harlot, civil disobedience, and God

(a) Rahab was clearly an inhabitant and a citizen of Jericho (Joshua 2:1).

(b) There is no indication that Rahab had any contact with or knowledge of the God of Israel before the encounter described in this passage of scripture.

(c) Rahab apparently hid the men before the king issued his order to turn them over (Joshua 2:4).

(d) Rahab lied to the king and his emissaries after she found out what he wanted her to do and continued to disobey him (Joshua 2:4-21).

(e) In James 2:25 we are told that Rahab's conduct is considered righteous.

I should think that anyone could see where this takes us: Rahab's temporal allegiance must be to her king, yet she disobeyed him in a very important matter. She treasonously hid enemies to the state. She lied about hiding them. She snuck them out of town in direct disobedience to the lawful dictates of a lawful authority. There is no question that it was and is approved by God. It was approved by a God that Rahab only knew by recent reputation. I contend that where one act of civil disobedience is done and approved by God, then all acts of civil disobedience are open to scrutiny and the possible conclusion that they are not only approved by God but inspired by Him.

And I further claim that God is not necessarily interested in seeing if every other possible remedy has been exhausted and that every fainthearted believer has been satisfied before He moves. Sometimes God gets rough in a hurry before you and I are prepared for it.

Point Two: The example of breaking up the kingdom

(a) At the point of Solomon's death, there is no question that God was displeased with him and his reign. His lustful ways with women and the introduction of idolatry moved God to break up the kingdom of Israel. See I Kings 11 and 12.

(b) God forecast what He would do about breaking up the kingdom (I Kings 11:9-13).

(c) God raised up three rebellions against Solomon and his son Rehoboam. They are Hadad, the Edomite (I Kings 11:14), Rezon, the son of Eliada (I Kings 11:23), and Jeroboam, son of Nebat, who was an Israelite (I Kings 11:26).

(d) God gave ten tribes into the hands of Jeroboam and told him He was doing it (I Kings 11:31).

(e) After God did it, He announced it to all through the prophet Shemaiah (I Kings 12:22-24).

(f) Note carefully that the response of the ten tribes to Rehoboam's messenger was not in the Martin Luther King tradition; they killed him and would have killed the king too (I Kings 12:18).

So, I ask you Mr. Hagopian, where is your prohibition of civil disobedience now? God inspires it, God endorses it, God orchestrates it when He wants to and outright rebellion as well. The prohibitions against civil disobedience are in your mind, not God's. The prohibitions against violence are God's plan for now, not necessarily forever.

You and the rest of the modern day pharisees and judaizers have an agenda which, while decrying the status quo, goes to great lengths to protect it. You cry out for a return to biblical principle while ignoring the premier principle: "Our God is in heaven, He does whatever pleases Him" (Ps. 115:3). Your patronizing attitude and pseudo-intellectual convolutions do not completely hide the truth of the matter. You are a coward! And you represent, albeit eloquently, the viewpoint of cowardice, eminently displayed by your profession. What we have have here is a two part 25,000 word exercise in self-protection and self-gratification. You have positions and wealth to protect. The only thing more disgusting than your resolute poltroonery as a member of the bar, is the pusillanimous poltroonery of the vast majority of pastors of the American Church who wallow in their 501C-3 status. Galatians 5:12 is fulfilled in you. "As for those agitators, I wish they would go all the way and castrate themselves!" I adjure you to check to see if this not be the case physically; it is certainly true spiritually.

You should be very sure that we, the people of "Operation Rescue" are far from perfect and our words and actions are likewise imperfect. But also be very sure that the movement is a movement of the Very God of Gods. It is a prophetic movement of God, and you will fight it at your peril, and you will account for your actions ultimately.

John Gill

Operations Director of Operation Rescue of San Diego, California -- He has been associated with Charismatic Renewal, Marriage Encounter, and Pro-Life action groups for many years.

Mr. Hagopian Responds:

The editor of Antithesis and I have been known to enjoy a good prank every now and then -- especially at each other's expense. Just a few weeks ago, for example, I submitted a brief article for publication that really took him by surprise, until he figured out that it was only a prank. I braced myself for the day when he would return my prank in kind.

With some embarrassment, I must now confess that when I first received Mr. Gill's letter, I thought it was the editor's long-awaited retaliation, especially since it so grossly caricatured both my person and position, oozed with logical fallacies, and violated almost every editorial convention Antithesis has adopted. Much to my surprise and horror, however, I later learned that the letter was no joke at all. Mr. Gill really was the Operations Director of Operation Rescue, San Diego, and the letter really was a serious albeit futile attempt to refute my two articles on O.R.

Although I believe that Mr. Gill's "criticism" is more pathetic than "pithy," I nonetheless offer the following brief remarks in response.

Rahab and the Hidden Spies

Mr. Gill criticizes my use of the example of Rahab [1] and argues that because Rahab's disobedience preceded the king's command and her specific knowledge of God, my appeal to Rahab was erroneous. [2] This argument, however, is fraught with error.

First, Mr. Gill assumes -- without adducing any textual evidence -- that Rahab's disobedience preceded the king's edict,[3] and that Rahab knew God by reputation only.[4]

Second, Mr. Gill fallaciously moves from these suspect assumptions to the implied conclusion that the example of Rahab (1) disproves the Biblical criteria I articulated in my articles and (2) justifies O.R.'s rebellious and physically coercive tactics. However, until he explains what he means by "civil disobedience" and provides Biblical criteria for what constitutes justifiable civil disobedience, we have no way to assess whether O.R.'s actions are Biblical in general or are analogous to the example of Rahab in particular.

To make matters worse, he doesn't address the ways in which the example of Rahab is patently distinguishable from O.R.'s illegal and coercive tactics.[5] Instead of reasoning soundly from the example of Rahab, Mr. Gill simply leaps to the horrifying conclusion that believers are to presume that God approves and inspires all civil disobedience.[6]

Third, Mr. Gill again asserts, without adequate Biblical warrant, that God is not concerned about exhausting legal remedies before He "gets rough." Sadly, Mr. Gill begs the very questions he needs to prove: (1) that Christians can disobey the State even if they have legal means by which they can obey God,[7] and (2) that O.R. is a prophetic movement inspired by God (i.e. that God is "getting rough" via O.R.). Since God does not do that which contradicts His Word, we must first faithfully resolve what His Word requires of us vis-a-vis O.R. Mr. Gill merely assumes that O.R.'s tactics are inspired by God.

Solomon and the Divided Kingdom

Mr. Gill then appeals to the divided kingdom and argues that because God inspired, endorsed, and orchestrated the divided kingdom, O.R.'s tactics are inspired, endorsed, and orchestrated by God.

First, we should reel in utter dismay that Mr. Gill appeals for his justification to the actions of a group that is the most arrogant, rebellious, idolatrous, and God-despised in all of Biblical history. But then again, it is not all too surprising that O.R. apologists mistakenly appeal to such precedents to bolster their own rather arrogant theology.

And this brings us to the real problem, namely, that Mr. Gill fallaciously assumes that what is the case ought necessarily to be the case. God can and often does raise people -- even wicked people -- to accomplish His foreordained purposes. But this is not to suggest that what these people do is necessarily normative for us as believers. After all, God allowed the brothers of Joseph to sell him into slavery and the religious leaders and Roman soldiers to crucify Christ, to name only two Biblical examples. And although God foreordained these evil acts, divine foreordination didn't exonerate the wicked agents. What the brothers of Joseph and those who crucified Christ meant for evil, God meant for good (Gen. 45:5-9; 50:20; Acts 2:23). Thus, Mr. Gill cannot just assume that the division of the united kingdom normatively justification for O.R.'s rebellious and physically coercive tactics.

Second, Mr. Gill again arrogantly begs-the-question that God is the One who inspires, endorses, and orchestrates O.R.'s tactics such that O.R. is "a prophetic movement of God." Amazingly, though, Mr. Gill makes this prophetic claim after admitting that the people, words, and actions of O.R. are far from perfect. Even assuming that the gift of prophecy exists and can be attributed to mass movements, Scripture requires perfect accuracy of prophets and threatens death by stoning for those who speak presumptuously in the name of God. And speaking of stones....

Sticks and Stones: Mr. Gill and Mud-Slinging

After unsuccessfully attempting to "refute" my criticisms of O.R., Mr. Gill launches into a grotesque and pathetic example of personal assault by (1) calling me a pharisee, judaizer, and coward, (2) accusing me of engaging in pseudo-intellectual convolutions, acting out of self-protection, self-gratification, and poltroonery, (3) urging me to castrate myself (spiritually speaking of course!), and (4) questioning my ultimate spiritual destiny.

While name-calling and mud-slinging may be O.R.'s common practice to persuade the unwary, such uncharitable tactics fail to justify O.R. In the end, then, Mr. Gill only embarrasses himself and his cause. Mr. Gill demonstrates a fervent zeal. Unfortunately, though, it is a misdirected zeal which is "not in accordance with knowledge" (Rom. 10:2).


[1 ] To help readers place Mr. Gill's criticism in context, I claimed that Christians are obligated to disobey the State only when they satisfy two Biblical criteria, that is only (1) when they are commanded to sin (either by being commanded to do what God forbids or by being forbidden to do what God commands); and (2) when they have exhausted all available means of obeying God. To flesh out the first criterion, especially as concerns being commanded to do what God forbids, I appealed to the Hebrew midwives, Moses' parents, the Hebrew youths (Shadrach, Meschach, and Abed-nego), Rahab, and the magi.

[2 ] Mr. Gill thought that my appeal to Rahab was so erroneous that he had to restrain himself from accusing me of intellectual and spiritual dishonesty. I appreciate his restraint at this point, even though he chose not to exercise it in his opening and closing paragraphs.

[3] Even if true, Mr Gill's appeal to silence fails to disprove the Biblical criteria I articulated. The only way this argument would refute my case would be if the prohibition of treason failed to contradict God's commands. Mr. Gill can't even prove the prohibition of treason, let alone demonstrate that the prohibition failed to contradict the Word of God. The bark of Mr. Gill's argument is far worse than its bite.

[4] This assumption is unfounded for two reasons. First, even unbelievers who have never heard of God, nonetheless may obey Him, albeit formally (Rom. 2:12-16). So even assuming that Rahab knew nothing about God by means of special revelation, she could nevertheless have obeyed Him. Second, Scripture informs us that Rahab knew far more about God than mere reputation would allow: Rahab knew specifically that the God of Israel was the sovereign truth-telling Lord who was faithful to His covenant people (Josh. 2:9-13). Were Mr. Gill to read Joshua 2 in the light of Scripture as a whole, he would no doubt notice that the authors of Hebrews and James commend Rahab for evidencing true faith in God by what she did (Heb. 11:31; Js. 2:25). Thus Rahab's actions emanated from far more than mere reputation of God; they emanated from a well-spring of true faith in God.

[5] Rahab, for example, harbored spies in her own house and did not trespass on the property of others. Moreover, she did not physically coerce others in Jericho to do that which was contrary to their will.

[6] Contrary to Mr. Gill's flippant assertion, Scripture informs us that our operating presumption (i.e. the general duty or prima facie obligation) is that we are to obey the State unless the State commands us to sin and puts us in a position where we must choose between God and man. For those interested in the Biblical basis, see Antithesis, Vol. I, No 3, pp. 10-14, 33.

[7] Contrary to Mr. Gill's point blank assertion, I offered detailed arguments proving that Christian must disobey the State only if the command to sin puts them in a position of choosing between God or man. See Antithesis, Vol. I, No. 3, pp. 14, 33. I also argued that members of O.R. have legal means by which they can save life. Ibid., pp. 38-39.

7-18-96 tew
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