Monday, April 8, 2024

It’s Monday, April 8, 2024. 

I’m Albert Mohler, and this is The Briefing, a daily analysis of news and events from a Christian worldview. 

Part I

Massive Moral Questions Surround the Killing of World Central Kitchen Workers in Gaza: Considering the Issues Beyond the Headlines

Much of the world’s attention and conversation has had to do with the tragedy that took place in Gaza last Monday when seven workers for the aid group known as World Central Kitchen were killed in what is now acknowledged to have been an Israeli military strike. Now, almost immediately, this became headline news all over the world. And for reasons that we can certainly understand, especially when we’re talking about aid workers here, and we’re talking about video and photographic evidence, that is just absolutely devastating.

You’re looking at a convoy of three vehicles, and you have successive attacks undertaken by the Israeli military, the IDF, and it is not known exactly what kind of attack it was right now. But in any event, it was absolutely devastating. One after another, all three of the vehicles were destroyed, and the persons who were within them as well. That included seven aid workers. One of them, by the way, carrying an American passport, an American citizen. So regardless of the circumstances, this was going to be catapulted into international attention, and it was going to stay there for some period of time.

But this is where things get really interesting and where we need to think very, very carefully. First of all, we need to categorize what took place here. By any designation, it is a tragedy. We’re talking about the death of seven people, and we’re talking about the death of seven people who were non-combatants, even though they were in a combat zone. And we’re talking about human beings, made in the image of God, who were there to try to help other human beings, made in the image of God, particularly and specifically through the provision of food.

Now, the aid organization known as World Central Kitchen was established back in 2010 by celebrity Spanish chef José Andrés. Now, Andrés established it in the aftermath of the 2010 devastating earthquake in Haiti. And since then, the World Central Kitchen’s been involved in philanthropic and aid efforts all over the world, including, by the way, some incidents in the United States, particularly linked to hurricanes and other natural disasters. Something else to note is that the Israeli military, and indeed the Israeli government, took responsibility for the action almost immediately. The big question of course, is how in the world could this have happened? You had immediately José Andrés and others who came out and said, “Look, this was coordinated with the IDF. The IDF knew exactly what this convoy was, exactly where it was moving, exactly who was in it.”

Now, within a relatively short period of time, indeed by the end of last week, the IDF had followed up on a pledge to investigate, and the Israeli government came back and said that it was a mistake, a tragic mistake. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel referred to the incident as “a tragic case of our forces unintentionally hitting innocent people.” Now, there are many governments involved because among the seven casualties in just this one case, there are several nationalities. All of them, of course, are crying out for an investigation, and immediately there is a sense that something went horrifyingly wrong.

Now, this is where Christians need to think carefully. When something like this goes wrong, in particular in a war zone, you have some, very, very difficult questions to answer and frankly, difficult questions even to ask. For one thing, the who is responsible became very, very clear, very, very fast. The only military force there with this kind of skill, and this does require skill. It was a precision hit. The only military units capable of this kind of targeted action were those of Israel itself. So Hamas has deadly intent, deadly ideology. They have deadly plans, but they don’t have the ability to carry this out.

The next issue is, was it intentional or unintentional? And at this point, there’s some very important calculations we just need to keep in mind. Number one, Israel said straightforwardly, “It was unintentional.” Now, I’m going to take Israel’s word for this and for another reason. There is no sane rationale why Israel would have done this intentionally. So I’m going to take the Israeli government at its word here as a democratically elected government that is accountable to its own people, and frankly, accountable to the international press in a way that, as we’re about to mention, Hamas certainly is not. There is no reason that Israel would’ve brought this controversy on itself at such a delicate moment in its relationship with other nations. Just in terms of pressing the military agenda, it must press there in Gaza, in order to eliminate or at least significantly reduce the threat of Hamas. And so if you add it all up, nothing adds up to Israel having done this intentionally.

Now, a question that follows that is, if it was an intentional, how exactly did it happen? And at this point, it appears that it was a logistical and communications problem that, by the way, has the benefit of making sense. So even as World Central Kitchen and other non-governmental organizations offering aid have been coordinating with the Israeli armed services, the fact is that even though permission was given, and there was a clear understanding of the purpose and of the personnel in this particular convoy, there was some military unit that did not get that word. Furthermore, we know something about how Israel’s process is working here because there are indications from inside the Israeli government that there was someone who reported, that someone with a weapon was in one of those three cars. And thus, that is likely what triggered the action on the part of someone who clearly did not know. But let’s just say clearly should have known, that this convoy had the permission of the IDF to go forward.

There’s yet another question here, and that is thus, who bears responsibility? Well, in one sense, that is to say in the most proximate sense, the closest person or the closest moral agent you can put blame on here is going to be the Israeli government because this is something that was undertaken by the Israeli military. Israel has made that very clear. They have acknowledged that. They’ve also acknowledged it was a mistake. So you’re talking about responsibility here. But then again, Israel is in the context of war, and it is to this truth that we have to keep bringing back the conversation over and over and over again. Israel did not declare this war. Hamas did. Israel has not wanted to endanger civilians, Hamas has, intentionally by embedding itself within a civilian population of Palestinians there in Gaza, in order to make it as deadly as possible for Israel to defend itself, and to eradicate Hamas as a military threat.

And so as you’re looking at responsibility here, I just want to come back again and again to say in terms of the military action, the most important actor to blame here is Hamas. That is not to say that Israel does not bear responsibility. Now, there are other issues here, and this has to do, of course, with what can be learned. And I think you can count on the fact that Israel is going to respond to other incidents, and this is going to go all the way down the chain of command. By the end of last week, Israel had announced that it had undertaken an internal investigation, and that two senior military authorities had been sacked, fired, because of this incident.

Now, in a situation like this, are there only two persons who deserve blame? Almost assuredly not, but it is a principle of military ethics that that responsibility goes up, not down. And so, if there was a problem in communication, there clearly was. If there was a problem in the chain of command, there clearly was. If there was a unit that acted without proper authorization here, and there clearly was, it is not a junior military authority who’s going to bear a responsibility for that, but somewhat of more senior status. And that’s true in any military operating by a code of ethics.

Okay. But as you know, there’s more to it than that because there is an international context. And we’re speaking here in the United States, there is a domestic political context. And in this context, you had President Biden and the Biden administration savagely going after Israel in a way that should strike us as being at least partly false. Now, that’s not to say that the American administration should not be outraged by the death of the civilians, of course it should be. It is not to say that the United States administration, the White House, our State Department, our military authorities should put pressure on Israel to adequately investigate this, hold persons accountable, and fix whatever needs to be fixed. No, that is all right.

The problem here is that you have the American government speaking to Israel, in a way it would not allow itself to be spoken to. So I want to be blunt that. The United States, in the war that we prosecuted in Iraq and in Afghanistan, was guilty of doing the very things, at least on a similar scale, that took place here. And that is not to say that these things are without moral consequence, or without moral meaning. They are filled with moral consequence and moral meaning, but the fact is that the United States would not allow itself to be either investigated or to be deterred from its military objective by another power, even an ally such as Israel.

Now, of course, Israel is small compared to the United States. The United States is large, but that does not make the United States morally superior simply by the status of size and of influence around the world. It is true, it’s just a matter of fact, that Israel is now in a very exposed position before the world. And it is an equation that is so lacking in any form of equality because you’re looking at Hamas. It’s a terrorist organization. It wants to be known as a terrorist organization. It wants to inflict terror. It is not a democratically elected government. It is not a constitutionally restrained government. It is not an accountable government. And so as Israel is undertaking this effort against Hamas, it is a very unequal situation. Now, Israel knows that, and Israel has to deal with that because it’s also a fact of life that we operate within an international context in which what other nations think does eventually matter.

Now, when it comes to the United States, the U.S. often has to decide, all right. How much does it matter? And just over this weekend, after acknowledging responsibility, after launching and finishing at least a preliminary investigation, after stating that it is going to correct whatever needs to be corrected in order to allow more aid to get into Gaza and to do so quickly, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the Israeli government went on to say, it is not going to be deterred from undertaking the military action that is necessary and indicated for its own national survival, even with international outcry against it. Now as of late yesterday, it’s also clear that Israel is withdrawing at least some military forces from Gaza. It’s unclear exactly what this means, exactly what comes next. Israel has made clear that it does not intend to allow Rafah to be a continuing outpost for Hamas and that it will conclude its military operation there. Exactly what that means, we don’t know.

Now, as we discussed, there is a great deal of human suffering going on there in Gaza. And as I’ve said, the blame primarily has to be addressed to Hamas. But that doesn’t, in any case, alleviate the very real suffering and the need for people in the world to seek to mitigate that suffering and to try to say, feed the hungry, and take care of people with shelter and medical aid, other forms of physical and immediate emergency aid. And so many organizations around the world, World Central Kitchen is one of them, are seeking to move into that space as quickly as possible in order to help as many people as possible on the largest scale possible. And so we just have to hope that that will be a successful effort and that increasingly, food, medical supplies, other very necessary items will be getting into Gaza and frankly, will be distributed to the right people and used in the right way when they get there, because there’s no reason why we should trust Hamas to do anything other than mistreat the Palestinian people, even when it comes to disrupting this kind of aid.

One of the very, very difficult things here, and it’s not particularly honest in the world’s conversation, is that Israel is presented as the obstacle to getting this aid to the Palestinian people. When it needs to be acknowledged that if Hamas were to retreat, if Hamas were not to continue as a military threat, if Hamas were to surrender, there would be no problem getting this aid to the people in Gaza. But that is not likely to happen, and so the world will continue to hope for as much aid to get into the people there suffering in Gaza as is possible. Understanding that when we are looking at the situation there, what is presented in the international media and what’s discussed by international leaders for their own political reasons is not necessarily tied to anything real on the ground.

Part II

The Announcement Is That No Announcement is Coming: ‘No Labels’ Attempt to Establish Major Third Party Fails — Why?

But next, as we come back to the United States, it’s very interesting that over the weekend, there was a big political announcement, but it was the announcement that no announcement is going to be forthcoming. So what are we talking about? We’re talking about the political movement known as “No Labels.” This was presented as the latest big manifestation of an effort from people who designate themselves within the center, moderates, in the American political spectrum to try to come up with a legitimate, powerful, politically credible third party as an alternative to the Democratic Party on the one hand and the Republican Party on the other. As I said, this is just the latest effort on the part of people to try to create a middle ground that would include in this country a middle party, a third party, as it is known.

It’s referred to as a third party because going all the way back to our earliest political history, the existence of the political parties has been a reality. And even as George Washington was famously, at least by his own declaration, even though he was a member of a party, he wanted to be nonpartisan. He wanted the presidency not to be identified with a party. He said that partisanship and a division into two political parties would be politically dangerous if not fatal for the American constitutional order. But as soon as his second term of office was over, the next presidential election, and everyone thereafter, has basically been framed by a two-party reality.

And at least since the second half of the 19th century, that has meant the Democratic Party and the Republican Party. So as you look back, and go back to, let’s just say, the second half of the 19th century and all of the 20th century now into the 21st century, after every president’s name, there is a D or an R. Now you compare the American system and our constitutional order in this political reality, D and R. Or in another case, you could say blue and red, the Democratic and Republican structure. You look at Great Britain, and even as there are two major parties right now, they would be the Conservative Party and the Labour Party, you have a constellation of third parties. And the Liberal Democrats have at least in some elections, a fairly good showing. When you look at other European constitutional systems, it’s clear that many of them are multi-party systems, but you usually have at least two major parties. Over time, you may have a shifting of position, relative position among the parties. But generally, you have something close to two parties, even in Great Britain.

You even have the same thing in a nation like Israel, which is perhaps one of the most fractious parliamentary systems that most Americans may think of. Now, whether that’s an honest designation or not, when you compare the Democratic histories of nations such as say, Italy and Greece, that’s another matter. But nonetheless, Israel famously right now has a prime minister, the head of a coalition government, which means it’s not just one party, even though he’s been identified for decades with the Likud Party, a conservative party. It is a constellation of parties, members of parliament, so that you get a majority. Thus, he’s prime minister. But in the United States, we don’t have a parliament. We have a Congress. And we don’t have a prime minister. We have a president. And in our system, you have an electoral college that actually casts the final votes. And thus, the big question is, who gets to 270 electoral votes? And here’s the reality is it turns out, it is almost impossible, and at this point, it has been politically impossible, for a third party to have a successful run at the presidency.

Now, you do have to put a footnote in this because you do have to talk about 1912. What happened in 1912? Well, Theodore Roosevelt had been president, but he left office before he served a second elected term and allowed William Howard Taft to become the Republican nominee. He was elected president. Four years later, Roosevelt’s fed up with Taft. And even though he does not win the Republican nomination, he runs on a third party popularly known as the Bull Moose Party. And the Democratic nominee that year is Woodrow Wilson. Woodrow Wilson, the Democrat, wins the election. He’s elected president, but the candidate who got the second-largest vote was Theodore Roosevelt, who was not the Republican nominee. The Republican nominee, William Howard Taft, actually came in third. So there’s a footnote. But the third party, and let’s just face it, it was an unusual third party with a former President of the United States with the last name of Roosevelt. And even though he came in second, he did not win the White House on a third party ticket. Since then, to be honest, no third party has come even close.

Now, let me tell you who loves the idea of a third party, the American political class. They love it as an idea, and the media love it because it gives them a fascinating story. And the media can come back every four years with the question, is this perhaps the third party that is going to disprove the rule and going to win the White House? And the answer every single time is that shortly after the election, people are saying, “What in the world are you talking about? I don’t even recognize the name of the party.” The other people who would love to find a third way are those who are somewhere by their own definition in the political middle. Now, as I’ve argued, just in worldview issues, it’s hard to imagine who could actually be in the middle of this mess, especially when we’re not talking about marginal tax rates as the main issue of division, or even say, trade policy. We’re talking about matters of life and death, like abortion. We’re talking about a basic distinction in the way we look at reality, between the two parties.

And yet you did have a group that was backed with a lot of money that identified itself as “No Labels” and announced a matter of something like a year ago that they were going to run a credible campaign, and that they were assured of the fact that they’re going to get a big name as their candidate. And so they really did shoot big. They talked to people like former New Jersey Republican Governor Chris Christie. They talked to people like West Virginia Democratic Senator Joe Manchin. And evidently both of those would be candidates who were at least willing to have some conversation. But the fact is neither one of them was willing to run on a third party ticket because here’s the absolute surefire thing. If you are a brand name American politician, and you do allow your name to be put on a ballot for a third party, that’s the last thing you’re remembered for.

It is certainly true that there are not just a few, not just a few wealthy people. There are an awful lot of Americans by the millions who would like some option other than either President Biden or former President Trump for the 2024 presidential ballot, but that is not likely to happen. I think the editors of the Wall Street Journal probably spoke for an awful lot of Americans when they said that if there is good news to be had here, the good news is that either one of these two party candidates can serve only one more term. And at this point, that’s where we are in April of 2024.

Part III

If You Don’t Worship the Creator, You’ll Worship Creation: The Confusion Behind Today’s Solar Eclipse

But of course, there’s another reason why people are going to remember April the 8th, 2024, and that is because of a total solar eclipse that is going to cross the continental United States. It’s not going to happen again until the 2040s. And what makes this so important is that there are millions and millions of people who are going to have the opportunity to see it. And if they don’t see the totality, there are millions more of Americans who are going to be able to see a considerable partial eclipse of the sun.

So what does all this add up to? Well, it’s a reminder to us of the distinction between the creator and creation. This is something really important that Christians need to keep in mind. If you do not know, and worship, and clearly confess the creator of the heavens and the earth, then you’re going to worship the heavens,  and or, the earth. It’s also true that most human beings who lived in previous generations really didn’t understand what exactly was going on, although it’s also fascinating to see how some of the most brilliant human beings of previous generations and even centuries were able to come up with some degree of predictability and understanding of the movement of the sun and the moon that brought about what is known as a total eclipse.

But still, the big draw is the sheer mystery of the thing. And you know that this leads to all kinds of issues throughout, say, the animal kingdom, where frankly they have no celestial understanding whatsoever. And you have animals that all of a sudden receive the physical triggers, the visual triggers that it’s night. And they start to do night things, when, as it turns out, this eclipse is going to be less than five minutes. And guess what? That’s going to be the shortest night they’ve ever known.

I think it is wonderful for Christians with full safety precautions, of course, to observe this kind of eclipse wherever you are in the world, and to understand it is a testimony to the regularity, the wonder, the grandeur of this world that is crying out the glory of God. And I’ll admit, I’ve got my glasses, and I’m intending to get as much of a view as I can get of the partial eclipse we’re going to see in Louisville, Kentucky, just a very short distance from where there will be a view of the total eclipse. So that is to say, I am not going to be in what is called the zone of totality, but at least I’ll be close to the zone of totality, and I’m pretty totally excited about that.

But okay, just before we leave today’s program, I want to tell you that there are inmates in the prison system in New York State that have sued based upon what they claim are their religious liberty rights to be able to be outside and to view the eclipse in its fullness and to do so in mass together, not to be just inside a prison cell and miss the eclipse. The interesting argument here is that it’s a religious liberty argument. There are some devotees of Santería, a pagan religion, but there are others who are claiming that they have some theological or religious rationale for demanding that their religious liberty rights would allow them to be out in the prison yard during a total eclipse.

And we simply ask ourselves the question that you know the prison authorities are asking, and that is, what could possibly go wrong? New York prison authorities say that they’re going to allow it given the religious liberty concerns. And I think it’s safe to say that when the eclipse is over, they’re not just going to be counting celestial bodies. They’re going to be doing a quick count of human bodies as well.

I’m happy to tell you that Southern Seminary’s next preview day is coming up, and it’s coming up fast. It’s going to be on Friday, April the 12th. 

In our secular age, we see an increasing need for those who are called to ministry, and we see the need for them to be trained with the highest level of biblical and theological education for a lifetime of faithful service and faithful conviction. That’s why Southern Seminary is committed to providing rigorous theological education that you and the church can trust. That preview day, April the 12th, you’ll tour our beautiful campus, meet our world-class faculty, and learn how God is using Southern Seminary to train faithful ministers of the gospel.

Listeners to The Briefing, now get this, can register for free at by using the code, now, you’ve already figured this out, TheBriefing. I look forward to seeing you there. 

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.

R. Albert Mohler, Jr.

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