The Briefing 08-11-14

The Briefing 08-11-14

The Briefing


August 11, 2014

This is a rush transcript. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

It’s Monday, August 11, 2014. I’m Albert Mohler and this is The Briefing, a daily analysis of news and events from a Christian worldview.

1) Centrality of US to world politics a temporary stewardship

Even as the situation around the world seems to turn more complex and more deadly virtually every day, a very interesting article has appeared in The Telegraph in London, written by Dan Hodges.  The headline is this: “We May Not Like it, but Isis and Iraq Remind Us That We Need America to Be the World’s Policeman.”  Dan Hodges writes from a very interesting perspective.  He also writes as a British citizen, and looking at the present in the context of the recent history of the 20th century, he says it’s become increasingly clear that someone needs to take charge on the world stage. Someone needs to be a policeman in a world of increasing danger, mayhem, and lawlessness.  As he looks around the world, only one nation can fulfill that role, if imperfectly and inadequately, and that is the United States of America. When we consider the fact that the United States is often maligned either for acting or for not acting, we recognize that at any one of these critical turns, the United States seems to be the actor that the people, either hope will act or hope will not act, but no other nation comes even close to the centrality of purpose in history currently played by the United States of America.  To have this now argued by someone like Dan Hodges, in the pages of The Telegraph in London, should tell us something.  But his argument is particularly potent. In perhaps the most important sentence of his essay, he writes this:

There is only one thing worse than the United States acting as the world’s policeman. And that’s the United States not acting as the world’s policeman.

He looks back to last week’s centennial anniversary, the beginning of the First World War, and he writes this:

The League of Nations, established at the Paris peace conference, was supposed to be the guardian of that everlasting peace.

That was the peace that was supposed to come after the war to end all wars. World War I which was concluded only after the United States, very reluctantly entered that world conflagration. He then wrote:

But the League of Nations collapsed. The world was again plunged into war. And the US was again forced to come to the world’s aid. “The US cannot act as our policeman,” the world said in gratitude, once that conflagration was over. So the United Nations was established.

He continues:

And today the United Nations is now as effective at enforcing peace and the rule of law as the old, defunct League. We spend a huge amount of time in this country (that means Britain) debating the failings of the European Union. But compared to the UN, the EU is a model of excellence in international governance.

He points to the face that the current leadership of the United Nations, General Secretary Ban Ki-moon, is basically not a real factor in terms of world affairs, especially in places appoints of crisis.  He issue statements but no one’s listening.   Dan Hodges then goes on to write:

The UN is no longer fit for purpose. In fact, the UN quite clearly no longer has any idea what its purpose is. The best that can be said for that benighted organization is that it’s morphed into an extension of the Red Cross.

Looking back to the United States, Dan Hodges argues that when Europeans and others around the world say they don’t want America to be the world’s policeman, he says what they really mean is: I don’t want America to be the world’s policeman and the world’s prosecutor judge and jury, as well.  Hodges says that’s a fair argument, but at the moment, he writes:

With the implosion of the authority of the UN, there is no effective prosecutor, judge or jury.

He points to the fact that:

Earlier this week the UN patted itself on the back for the successful conviction of Khmer Rouge leaders Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan.

They were guilty of horrifying genocides in the nation of Cambodia in the 1970s.  He continues:

They are 88 and 83 respectively. Their victims – an estimated two million of them – died 40 years before. Pol Pot (the dictator who was at the heart of that genocide) himself never faced justice.

In other words Dan Hodges, says even United Nations claims a major victory, it comes 40 years too late to be, in anyway morally or legally meaningful.  He writes this:

If we want a world based on laws then someone ultimately has to enforce them. And there is only one state on the planet with the means and inclination to do so. That state is the United States. Like it or not America is the world’s policeman. It may occasionally prove to be an inefficient, ineffective and even irresponsible policeman. But if we want any semblance of international order, it’s the only the policeman we have got. For that reason alone we – and God – should indeed bless America.

The late British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, speaking of America as the indispensable nation, made very clear that the United States was indeed sometimes a clumsy leader and actor on the world stage. But as Churchill made very clear, you simply can’t look at the 20th century and explain why the world escaped so many despotisms in disasters without the intervention of the United States.  If indeed the United States and not been instrumental in winning the First and Second World Wars for the Allies, you can hardly imagine the darkness and despotism that much of the world would be in even today. The same we now know is also true, of the third great world war of the 20th century, we now know as the Cold War against Communism.  Americans reading an essay like this, published in a major British newspaper, by a rather liberal British columnist can feel justifiably proud and indeed somewhat relieved that at least someone in the world understands the American predicament.  But in this country it’s clear that many Americans, indeed perhaps even most Americans, are unsure exactly how the United States should play this kind of role in very confused and confusing times.


Furthermore, even as the United States is now in somewhat of a retreat from this role as the world’s policeman, the necessary intervention on humanitarian grounds in Iraq in recent days has proved that once again, America simply cannot escape history, we cannot escape the world situation, and we cannot escape our own national role in the international order.  But this is understood best is the stewardship. A stewardship the demands a great deal of the United States, and a stewardship that sometimes, if not continually, frustrates the United States.  A stewardship that isn’t answered by any simple formula of the application of foreign-policy, and a stewardship that we must understand is for a period of time that is granted to the United States that will not endure forever.

The Bible makes clear that the pattern of history in a fallen world is of the rising and falling of nations.  There are no permanent empires. There are no enduring kingdoms.  The only permanent and enduring, indeed eternal kingdom, is that which would to be brought in full at the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ.  In the meantime, all of these multilateral efforts, such as either the League of Nations or United Nations, though undoubtedly well intended, simply become parables of the fact the human beings are incapable of governing ourselves, certainly in terms of global order. In a Genesis 3 world,  sin so affects every part of the geopolitical system that our only hope for an effective government and rule of law is that which begins in the smallest unit, where that law is observed and enforced and then moves out to the larger context.  Lawlessness and the rest of the world cannot be corrected by any unilateral action of the United States, or as Mr. Hodges makes abundantly and wisely clear, by the multilateral efforts of anything like the United Nations.  As with any stewardship in a biblical context, our responsibility is to do our best, knowing that we will give an answer for our performance in our stewardship and understanding that at our very best we’re woefully inadequate. What we need is not a new multilateral organization. What we need is a reign of peace, and that is why we pray as the Lord taught us, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

2) James  Brady’s death ruled homicide as consequences of sin unfold over 30 years later

It’s very hard to imagine how in the world one can construct a worldview without the Christian understanding of sin. That becomes clear in some headline news that appeared over the weekend.  For example, in the state of Virginia, a coroner has ruled that the death of James Brady, the former Press Secretary to President Ronald Reagan, who was horribly injured in the attempted assassination on the President by John Hinckley on March 30, 1981, was a homicide.  James Brady died on Monday in Alexandria, Virginia.  That’s Monday of this past week.  He was 73 years of age. On March 30, 1981 he was standing outside a hotel with President Reagan, after Reagan had given an address, when he, along with the President and a District of Columbia police officer and a Secret Service agent, were wounded by John Hinckley, in his attempt to assassinate the President of the United States.  As is well-known, President Reagan recovered rather miraculously from a very serious injury from the bullet that struck him, after ricocheting off the presidential limousine.  It was James Brady, the Press Secretary, who took a direct hit, by a bullet to his brain.  From that point in 1981 until his death last week, James Brady bore devastating consequences of that brain injury.  He became a prominent spokesman for gun control, along with his wife, but his death last week presented the coroner, there in that county in Virginia, with a very serious question what characterized his death.  In the end, the verdict was that the death was a homicide due to complications from that attempted assassination attempt that took place over 30 years ago.  It’s a very interesting legal question.  There are those who are now debating whether or not John Hinckley will face additional charges due to the fact that the death of James Brady was ruled to be a homicide.  There are others who think that is actually unlikely.

In any event, this points from the Christian worldview perspective to a very important understanding about sin.  The consequences of sin sometimes are far in the future.  The Scriptures speaks about the sins of the father being visited on future generations; the teeth of their children being set on edge by the sins of the fathers.  We understand that sin can have consequences beyond our own finite human lives, but in the case of that shooting that took place on March 30, 1981, a shooting that made world headlines and continue to hold those headlines for a very long time, a case that was made most famous of course because the would-be assassin was determined to kill no one other than the President of the United States.  This is a reminder to us all of the long-term consequences of sin.  Sin has immediate consequences, of course, but perhaps the most devastating consequences are those that are visited far into the future, sometimes delayed, not only in terms of one lifetime, but successive lifetimes.  Over 30 years ago, John Hinckley pulled the trigger on that cheap handgun and gravely, almost mortally wounded the President of the United States, a police officer, a Secret Service agent, and led to devastating consequences in the bullet that entered the brain of James Brady.  Whether legal authorities will decide to act on this coroner’s inquest determination remains to be seen, but this much Christians know, there is no escaping the final court of judgment.  That is certainly true for John Hinckley, but it’s also true for every single one of us, and that’s why the gospel is such good news.

3) Nixon’s resignation reminder that sin often made worse by coverup

We spoke on Friday about the 40th anniversary of the resignation of President Richard Nixon as President of the United States. We spoke about the moral meaning of that anniversary, and of the fact, that if anything the resignation of Richard Nixon, back in the year 1974, pointed to the fact that no citizen of the United States is above the law even, the President of the United States. But now there’s also a good deal of information flooding into us that wasn’t known to Americans in 1974.  Just in recent months, almost 4,000,000 words of additional transcripts from the Nixon administration have been released by the national archives and made public, and in those 4 million words is a treasure trove of moral and historical information.  One of the things becomes clear is the fact that President Nixon did not consider the break-in at the Democratic headquarters during the course of his campaign in 1972 to be a major issue. On June 21 of 1972, that’s four days after the break-in, President Nixon, in the Oval Office, told his aide, H.R. Haldeman, that he didn’t think the country cared much about the break-in and the controversy in the news.  He said:

“Most people around the country probably think this is routine, that everybody’s trying to bug everybody else, its politics.”

President Nixon agreed with his personal secretary’s declaration that the break-in of the Democratic headquarters was a third-rate burglary.  A third-rate burglary it might’ve been, and what becomes clear from the perspective of 40 years of history, is that President Nixon did not fall from power.  He did not resign from his office as President of the United States because members of his campaign broke in the Democratic headquarters.  No, he resigned because of the massive cover-up that followed that break-in.  It was during the cover up that the President undoubtedly committed those high crimes and misdemeanors that would’ve led the House of Representatives to impeach him and the United States Senate to convict him of those crimes.  That’s why he resigned from office.  As Richard Leiby of the Washington Post wrote just recently:

Perhaps he was right. But you know what people have been saying since Watergate. It’s not the third-rate attempted burglary that matters — it’s the monumental cover-up.

And there is a crucial issue for the Christian worldview, as well.  Sin is bad enough, and sin can’t be discounted in terms of the very essence of the sinfulness of sin, but what makes in often worse, is the fact that the cover-up that follows is far worse than the sin that originated the cover-up.  Had President Nixon simply told the country the truth in 1972, he almost surely would have remained in office until the end of his second term. That third-rate attempted burglary likely would have become a footnote in history, but it didn’t, and it didn’t because the President entered into a conspiracy to obstruct justice, to hide from the truth, to lie to the American people, and to commit crimes far beyond that burglary that led to his downfall.  As the 40th anniversary of his resignation continues to be a part of the American conversation, we need to keep this in mind.  Even the secular world understands that it was the cover-up, not the original crime that led to the downfall.  That has deep Christian meaning because on the other side of Genesis 3, the sin is bad enough; the lies about it just make it far worse.

4) European Human Rights Court denies a universal right to same sex marriage

On the same-sex marriage front really important news from Europe and the European human rights court which ruled, just a few days ago, that in Europe there is no absolute right to same-sex marriage. Keep that in mind when you consider that American liberals pushing for the normalization of homosexuality and the legalization of same-sex marriage keep pointing to Europe as the form and shape of the future. But in this case, the European human rights court, a very liberal and progressive court, ruled on a case that originated in Finland that there was no continent wide right to same-sex marriage.  The case did originate in Finland where there was a man who was married and had a child, who decided that he wanted be a woman.  The problem is that Finland doesn’t have same-sex marriage, and so, if he was indeed declared to be a woman, as the law in Finland allowed, he couldn’t be married to the woman who is currently his wife. But, the woman who was currently his wife said that she wanted to be married to him even if he transitioned to supposedly become a woman.  In an incredibly odd twist, the couple claimed that gaining a divorce because of the husbands sex transition, would be “against their religious convictions,” and so the couple, that has religious convictions about divorce but not about the stability of gender, went to the European human rights court, and the court declared just days ago:

“It cannot be said that there exists in any European consensus on allowing same-sex marriage.”

The court also pointed out

That same-sex marriage is allowed in only 10 of the 47 member states of the Council of Europe.

As a matter of fact, same-sex marriage is legal in only 18 countries, or as in the United States, parts of 18 countries out of the more than 200 listed in the CIA World Factbook, or the 192 member states of the United Nations.  Keep that in mind as we’re continually told that the legalization of same-sex marriage is a worldwide phenomenon that is simply unstoppable.  Most people in the world, and in most places in the world, there is no notion of any so-called same-sex marriage.

5) Parents often ones calling driving teens

Finally, here’s an odd twist for you.  American parents are very concerned about their teenagers driving, and for good reason, and they’re very concerned about their teenagers talking on cell phones while driving, a very documented risk.  And yet, as USA Today reported over the weekend, when it comes to who’s calling their teens on the phone while they’re driving, well, it turns out the many of the parents that don’t want their teens talking on the phone when they’re calling, are indeed calling their kids while they are driving the car.  A large percentage of the teenagers said that the parents had the rule that when the parent calls on the cell phone, the teenager has to answer the phone right away, even, as it turns out, if the teenager is driving a car.  Well, there’s another quandary about life in a fallen world. I’m not sure exactly what parents should do with that.  Perhaps, even as parents decided, they better talk with their teenagers about this issue, maybe we all better way until the teenagers come home

Thanks for listening to The Briefing. For more information, go to my website at You can follow me on Twitter by going to For information on The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, go to For information on Boyce College, just go to I’ll meet you again tomorrow for The Briefing.


Podcast Transcript

1) Centrality of US to world politics a temporary stewardship

We may not like it, but Isis and Iraq remind us that we need America to be the world’s policeman, The Telegraph (Dan Hodges)

2) James  Brady’s death ruled homicide as consequences of sin unfold over 30 years later

Coroner Is Said to Rule James Brady’s Death a Homicide, 33 Years After a Shooting, New York Times (Nick Corasaniti)

3) Nixon’s resignation reminder that sin often made worse by coverup

John Dean, sex machine? And other new revelations from the Nixon tapes., Washington Post (Richard Leiby)

4) European Human Rights Court denies a universal right to same sex marriage

European Human Right Court: No to Same-Sex Marriage, Breitbart (Austin Ruse)

5) Parents often ones calling driving teens

Parents drive kids to distraction, really, they do, USA Today (Sharon Jayson)


R. Albert Mohler, Jr.

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