Former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein has been executed by hanging at a secure facility in northern Baghdad for crimes against...
I just finished watching the execution of the man who stood in the way of the Shiite takeover of Iraq, Saddam Hussein. I've watched not a few people die. Saddam appeared to die bravely, calling on the name of his god, telling his Shiite executioners to go to hell.
Saddam was a very bad man, but I don't believe that he went to the gallows believing that. I think that he believed that he was an effective leader, the kind of man who did what he had to do in order to rule this amalgam called Iraq. Saddam could have evaluated himself by other leaders in that part of the world and concluded that he was no worse than they. I don't doubt that he thought of himself as a martyr as the noose was placed around his neck. As he called on the name of his god, I think that he anticipated Paradise, imagining that his god would welcome him as one who had defended the faithful against the sectarian Shiites and the enemies of "the Prophet."
That's the frightening thing about what the Bible teaches regarding human nature. Total depravity doesn't mean that any human is as bad as he possibly can be, not even Saddam, Mao, Hitler or Stalin. Total depravity means everything that we do is polluted by sin, and so we cannot please God. It means that no part of human nature has escaped the effects of sin, not even our minds. Total depravity means that I can think I'm doing something really good when I'm actually doing something really bad. Jesus warned his disciples that "a time is coming when anyone who kills you will think he is offering a service to God" (John 16:2).
Even people who have a relationship with God through Jesus Christ must be careful about assuming that they really know themselves. The Apostle Paul evaluated himself very cautiously: "I care very little if I am judged by you or by any human court; indeed, I do not even judge myself. My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me. Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait till the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of men's hearts. At that time each will receive his praise from God" (1 Corinthians 4:3-5).
Our natural tendency is to demonize other human beings as if they deserve hell and we don't, or as if they deserve hell more than we do. The trouble with that is that there are many factors that determine our judgment, factors beyond our present ability fully to comprehend. Jesus told us: "That servant who knows his master's will and does not get ready or does not do what his master wants will be beaten with many blows. But the one who does not know and does things deserving punishment will be beaten with few blows. From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked" (Luke 12:47, 48).
Taking that into consideration, I may actually deserve hell more than Saddam. I was raised in a Christian home and church. In the mid-twentieth century, when I was being educated, the public schools of South Carolina were essentially Christian schools: I had to memorize the Ten Commandments in grammar school, where I also learned about sin and grace. I have had the benefit of college and seminary, and, like my father and grandfathers before me, I am an officer in the Church. When I was unconverted, I would sometimes wake up in the middle of the night and see my mother on her knees beside her bed. This daughter of a pastor learned early on that the most effective tool in parenting is prayer. My mother has been dead for a decade and a half, but I have a wife who prays for me like my mother did, and I have hundreds of other people who regularly pray for me, too.
Saddam Hussein, on the other hand, had virtually none of the privileges I have. Saddam Hussein was born a decade before me into a very turbulent world. He never knew his father and was raised by his devout Sunni Muslim maternal uncle. Under his uncle's tutelage, Saddam developed a strong patriotic bent and became involved in politics while a very young man. But Middle Eastern politics has usually been a very brutal enterprise, especially since the defeat of the Ottoman Empire at the end of World War I, and Saddam learned early on that brutality counted for more than charisma in his world.
I have been given very much; Saddam was given very little. Judged by the principle of Luke 12:47, 48, I cannot think of myself as fairing better in the Judgment than Saddam -- if I have to stand on my own merits. My only hope is my faithful Savior Jesus Christ, who with his precious blood has fully satisfied for all my sins, and redeemed me from all the power of the devil. That really is my only hope, but it is my sure hope, and living with that hope, I know that I can die in peace.
While there are valid reasons for opposing intervention in Iraq, I object to some listed in the prior post:
Depleted uranium (DU) is not a question of foreign policy, but of weapon safety. Note, DU is primarily of value for armor-piercing rounds, which are of little use against insurgents who don't drive tanks or APCs.
War profiteering? The RCC may call profiteering a sin, but Scripture doesn't, so long as both parties negotiate prices freely. And it is politicians who make war, not industry. At least some industrialists in the past were pacifists (e.g. Henry Ford, Hugo Junkers), and most modern ones support leftist policies.
Iraq: Death of Reason has now been released to the public by Voice in the wilderness productions. This stunning new film attacks the Evangelical Church‚Äôs error in supporting the war in Iraq. Produced and directed by Raymond Schwab and Elliott Nesch of Beit Shalom Ministries, Iraq: The Death of reason addresses just war theory, Abu Ghraib torture, depleted uranium, the deceptions sold to the American public by the Bush administration, false flag operations, war profiteers and calls the Christian church to reconsider their position, since prior to invasion 79% of evangelicals supported military action. In Feb 2007 Raymond Schwab and Elliott Nesch will walk from Denver to DC to protest publicly the Christian support. This film is being offered for any size donation to their ministry to help raise funds for the upcoming walk.
For more info go to www.beitshalomministries.org
To view the film for free online go to:
Part 1: http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-4285458293746631497&hl=en Part 2: http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-8147818935080796713&hl=en Conclusion: http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=3845643139747749983&hl=en
Hell is a dreadful place, described by the Lord Jesus as the outer darkness, where the gnawing worm never dies and the burning fire is never extinguished (Matthew 22:13; Mark 9:48; Revelation 14:11). All of us deserve to go there (Revelation 20:13-15), and it will be a place of "weeping and gnashing of teeth" for everyone. But some people's experience in hell will be worse than others.
The Bible tells us that everyone has sufficient truth so that no one will have an excuse on the Day of Judgment (Romans 1:18-21). If a person had an opportunity to hear the gospel and declined it, his judgment will be more severe than that of somebody who had no such opportunity. But if someone has actually understood the gospel and refused to turn to Christ, his judgment will be the most severe of all.
The older I get, the more I am reminded that I need the blood of Jesus, not only for my sins, but for the sinful element in the things I attempt to do as an expression of my love for God, even when I do those things by the power of the Holy Spirit.
There is a Christian version of noblesse oblige: the greater my privilege, the greater my obligation and the more serious and sinful are my sins and the sinful element that remains in what I do.
Many Christians were praying no doubt that even in the late hour Saddam would hear the One True God of Israel speak to Him, and repent of his sins if not to accept Jesus as His Saviour, but sadly that doesn't appear to have happened. The irony is that he has now discovered the Truth and his rejection of it, thus his eternal fate is sealed and it ain't paradise with 70 virgins. We can only pray for the rest of the Muslim world as it also has to determine its path at this time, and that many would know Jesus as more than a Prophet, but rather the One who can save them unto eternity.
Please do not think Saddam Hussein never had an opportunity to hear the Gospel. Shortly before 9-11 Saddam Hussein hosted a conference of MiddleEastern Christian leaders in Baghdad. At least one of the pastors who received an invitation to attend this conference is very evangelical and is conservative in his doctrine and faith. This pastor knowing that the conference possibly was a setup to trap and to eliminate Christian leaders, choose to attended anyway. Although the conference organized by the Iraqi Government was somewhat ecumenical this pastor was also guaranteed a time to preach and to share his faith freely. Following his preaching he was able to carry on conversations with other delegates in attendance at the conference. I don‚Äôt recall whether he stated if Saddam Hussein himself ever attended any of the session, but by his own invitation Saddam Hussein during his life had the opportunity to hear the Gospel preached. This pastor also stated, after his return from Baghdad, that because Saddam Hussein did not trust the Muslim community, all of his personal staff were from the Iraqi ‚ÄúChristian‚ÄĚ Community. When Saddam Hussein died a lost sinner, it was not due to a lack of opportunity to hear the gospel.