Guest Opinion: Physician, heal thyself

A recent guest opinion from a retired physician concluded, "Some specifics are required for a credible promotion of both God and patriotism." The good doctor criticized an earlier opinion calling for a "return to God and Patriotism." Citing ambig...

A recent guest opinion from a retired physician concluded, "Some specifics are required for a credible promotion of both God and patriotism." The good doctor criticized an earlier opinion calling for a "return to God and Patriotism." Citing ambiguity in that call, he proceeded to muddy the waters with straw man arguments, moral relativism, and political sophistry that actually lent eloquence to the supposed inadequacies of his target.

In the first paragraph, he reveals his political purpose as he concludes, preposterously, "The recent Senate committee report on torture provides an apt working example, and the differences between President Bush and President Obama are instructive."

Well, the differences might indeed be instructive, but less so than the similarities. Our soldiers remain in all the same countries - plus additional countries - as when Bush left office. They're in more danger now, with their mission less defined, but there they are. Gitmo remains open, and, instead of "enhanced interrogations" of prisoners not legally covered under the Geneva Conventions, we now assassinate our enemies with drones, gather no intelligence, and produce "collateral" deaths as before.

The doctor also inserts his conviction regarding the "ineffectiveness" of waterboarding, used on Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, mastermind of 911, which was directly responsible for the demise of Osama bin Laden.

Now, there's an assertion lacking credibility.


(Groucho Marx once found himself in the doctor's dilemma, and barked, "Who are you going to believe? Me, or your own lying eyes?" But we're not dealing with movies, or Dr. Hugo Z. Hackenbush, are we?)

As for the aptness of the "Senate Report," how can one call it such when it was compiled entirely by one caucus, and was chaired by someone with personal bones to pick with the agencies she was investigating? Those "specifics" must only be required in writings by the great unwashed.

The piece fails in its interpretation of Dietrich Bonhoeffer's "Ethics," cherry-picks quotes from theologian Leander Keck, and misdiagnoses the Iraq war.

With a personalized summary of Bonhoeffer, the doctor argues "the moral witness of Christians should not consist of one sphere for biblical religion (or church) separated from another sphere for the so-called secular world." God, he tells us, "is over all, and all are accountable to God."

Well indeed He is. Including over those offering, with straight faces, the bifurcated defense of presidents who habitually lie, and those whose titillating use of cigars is dispensed as merely part of their "private" lives, with no bearing on their public roles.

Bonhoeffer's own words, regarding assisting in efforts to assassinate Hitler, are more relevant:

" ... the ultimate question for a responsible man to ask is not how he is to extricate himself heroically from the affair, but how the coming generation shall continue to live."

Of his actions, Bonhoeffer said, " ... when a man takes guilt upon himself in responsibility, he imputes his guilt to himself and no one else. He answers for it ... Before other men he is justified by dire necessity; before himself he is acquitted by his conscience, but before God he hopes only for grace."


The analysis of Keck is also most revealing. Keck's complaints about what has been called "cafeteria Christianity" were those of a biblical purist, bemoaning a concept of God that ignores biblical reality:

"If praise is the heart of worship, then making worship useful destroys it, because this introduces an ulterior motive for praise. And ulterior motives mean manipulation, taking charge of the relationship, thereby turning the relation between Creator and creature upside down. In this inversion, the living God, whose biblical qualities like jealousy and wrath have been tamed, has been deprived of freedom and, having been reduced to the Great Enabler, now has little to do except warrant our causes and help us fulfill our aspirations. This now completely benign deity may still evoke a sense of wonder, but little awe and less mystery, and no fear of the Lord at all. The opening line of the Westminster Confession is now reversed, for now the chief end of God is to glorify us and to be useful to us indefinitely."

I think a simple admonition of my own would wrap things up quite nicely: Physician, heal thyself.

GUY GREEN was a 2014 candidate for Brainerd mayor

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