Dallas megachurch pastor Robert Jeffress has once again defended his assertion that President Donald Trump has biblical authority to take out North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, this time suggesting that it's a good thing that his "Christian pacifist" critics weren't around during World War II.
Jeffress, who pastors the 12,000-plus member First Baptist Dallas and is one of Trump's closest spiritual advisers, received much criticism last week after he released a statement citing Romans 13 to suggest that "God has given Trump authority to take out Kim Jong Un."
Jeffress' statement came shortly after Trump vowed to respond to North Korea with "fire and fury like the world has never seen" if it threatens the security of the United States.
Jeffress received backlash from Christian critics from both the political right and political left.
Mark Tooley, the president of the conservative Washington, D.C.-based think tank Institute on Religion and Democracy, wrote in an op-ed for the National Review that "neither the Bible nor Christian tradition supports a prominent Baptist pastor's assertion that God has specifically ordained Donald Trump to 'take out' the North Korean regime."
The Rev. Chuck Currie, the director of the Center for Peace and Spirituality at Pacific University and an ordained minister with the United Church of Christ, called Jeffress' comment a "direct contradiction to the teachings of Jesus, the prince of peace."
In an interview with Religion News Service published on Monday, Jeffress responded to his critics by stating that they are "either people who are ignorant of what the Bible says or people who don't believe what the Bible says."
"But if you had listened to some of the Christian pacifists we're hearing today in World War II, when Hitler was marching toward world domination, we would all be speaking German and saying 'Heil Hitler,'" Jeffress argued.
Jeffress clarified his remark from last Tuesday by saying that "the Bible has given government the authority to use whatever force necessary, including assassination or war, to topple an evil dictator like Kim Jong Un."
Jeffress assured that his statement wasn't merely saying that "God ordained President Trump to nuke North Korea."
"That authority comes from Romans 13. Paul said that government has been established by God to be an avenger of those who practice evil," Jeffress explained. "I made it very clear that Romans 12 says we are to forgive one another when people offend us — don't repay evil for evil, but overcome evil with good."
"But in Romans 13, Paul isn't talking about individual Christians. He's talking about government," Jeffress continued. "Government is an organization God uses to bring vengeance against those who practice evil."
Greg Laurie, a California-based evangelist and senior pastor at Harvest Christian Fellowship in Riverside, told The Christian Post last week that he agrees with Jeffress' comments.
"This effectively would be an act of self defense. We are not threatening to destroy a nation for the sake of being aggressive or wanting to conquer them or take their territory from them. We are seeking to protect the citizens of the United States of America and the president has, in fact, sworn to do that when he took his oath to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States and defend the citizens of the United States of America," Laurie said. "So when a person like Kim Jong Un, who has nuclear weapons and continues to do test firings and so forth and then, specifically threatens to attack Guam or American soil, we can't take this lightly."
"The president, the military and of course, the police and those who are in positions of authority, according to Scripture, have been placed there by God. The Bible says, 'They do not bear the sword in vain,'" Laurie continued. "So I do think that they have the responsibility of doing their job. It's interesting because when Paul made that statement, Rome was in power — hardly a virtuous nation. So I do agree with that statement [made by] Dr. Robert Jeffress, who is a friend of mine. I agree with that statement."
Laurie stressed that he believes the president should do everything in his authority to de-escalate the situation between both nations.
In his op-ed, Tooley wrote that it is "safe to say" that "no serious segment of Christian tradition has understood Romans 13 to specifically sanction blanket authority for any particular ruler of any nation to 'use whatever means necessary . . . to stop evil' anywhere in the world."
"The Just War tradition, among other conditions, typically calls for lethal force as a last resort," Tooley said.
In his interview with RNS, Jeffress explained that "Trump wants a diplomatic solution."
"But if diplomacy fails, he has the God-given authority to use force to remove an evil dictator," Jeffress stated.
Correction: The Rev. Chuck Currie has informed The Christian Post that he is not a proponent of pacifism but subscribes to the Just Peace theology. He believes in the "responsibility to protect in extraordinary circumstances." He opposes the first strike use of nuclear weapons.