A Texas Catholic priest has contradicted the Texas Baptist pastor and adviser to Donald Trump, Robert Jeffress, who controversially claimed earlier this week that the President has been given 'authority by God' to use nuclear force against North Korea.
In a statement to the Christian Broadcasting Network, Jeffress said that Scripture endowed 'rulers full power to use whatever means necessary – including war – to stop evil'.
Jeffreys said: 'In the case of North Korea, God has given Trump authority to take out Kim Jong-Un. I'm heartened to see that our president...will not tolerate any threat against the American people.'
However, this is a gross misunderstanding of Scripture, according to the Catholic priest Joshua Whitfield.
'No, God did not anoint Trump to nuke North Korea,' was the headline of Whitfield's article for The Dallas Morning News.
The idea that God has given such political power to leaders often stems from a misreading of Chapter 13 of St. Paul's letter to the Romans, Whitfield noted.
'Particularly, it's based upon those verses that call upon Christians to subject themselves to governing authorities because they serve the Lord as an "avenger who carries out God's wrath on the wrongdoer"' the priest wrote.
However, it is important to understand the context under which St. Paul was writing, Whitfield added. Paul was writing to people living under 'arbitrary and often anti-Semitic pagan rule, offering fellow believers a moral strategy for survival, on how to abide by Jesus' ethic of love until his coming again in glory'.
The passage is not meant to be read as 'a theology of politics, not a charter for Christian participation in the affairs of state, not a proof text for subservience,' he said.
'For Paul, it would have been unthinkable to consider a political ruler some sort of anointed Christian prince or president waging war on behalf of believers. We should remember that Paul was biblical, not Constantinian. He saw political authority as something ordered by God rather than ordained by him. Governments, wars, rulers, the innumerable fools of history: All of it, both good and evil, God mysteriously ultimately arranges according to his will,' he added.
Instead, Christians are called to imitate Jesus' way of peace, Whitfield wrote. 'That's what's biblical, not any sort of sacralizing of national leaders...we shouldn't be so quick to assume God's bellicose blessing (on aggressive use of force). It's why we should pray for peace.'