The FAQs: How the Russia-Ukraine War Is Linked to Religion

March 17, 2022 to 5:09 PM GMT+3

By Trevor Hunnicutt

 and David Brunnstrom

35 minute read

“China firmly opposes any words and deeds that spread false information and distort and smear China’s position,” Yang said, according to the official Xinhua news agency. Beijing’s official newspaper, the People’s Daily, carried a column noting the inaccurate U.S. intelligence that led to the Iraq invasion.Chinese and U.S. flags flutter near The Bund, before U.S. trade delegation meet their Chinese counterparts for talks in Shanghai, China July 30, 2019. REUTERS/Aly Song/File Photo

WASHINGTON/BEIJING, March 17 (Reuters) – The Biden administration made a carefully orchestrated gamble this week, issuing a series of public and private threats to Beijing that it will face consequences if it supports Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

In these days of toil and bustle, when more is compressed into a decade than was formerly the portion of man’s allotted span, many of us Christians are like Martha of Bethany, who was “cumbered about much serving,” and “careful and troubled about many things,” and in our anxiety to work for the Lord we neglect to choose the “good part,” “the one thing needful,” which her sister Mary took, and which shall not be taken away. We fail to take the necessary time to sit “at Jesus’ feet, and hear his word.”

The weapons of carnal warfare vary and change with the onward march of scientific discovery. But the holy arms of the Christian remain ever the same. Like the Father of Lights, who changeth not, in them “is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.” The same arms which apostles, prophets, and our own dear Saviour used are the only true weapons for the Christian to-day. Beautifully has it been said of the Reformers and the Reformation: “The Reformation was accomplished in the name of a spiritual principle. It had proclaimed for its teacher, the word of God; for salvation, faith; for king, Jesus Christ; for arms, the Holy Ghost; and had by these very means rejected all worldly elements. Rome had been established by ‘the law of a carnal commandment;’ the Reformation, by ‘the power of an endless life.’” Whatever is accomplished in the line of Christian reformation in this day and age of the world, will be accomplished in the name of this same spiritual principle. Jesus never sought the civil power as an aid wherewith to accomplish his mission, and on one occasion, at least, he distinctly refused it. Adapted From The Book The Perils of The Republic of The United States of America by Percy Magan Tilson,1899

The union of church and state in Rome hastened and actually wrought the ruin of that apostate republic. So even now will this union hasten and cause the ruin of this so far apostate republic. And the sketch of the history of the former was written in the book of the prophet Daniel then, and closed up and sealed until now, so that they that be wise may understand what to do to escape the evil and the ruin that will come, and even now hastens,-a ruin that will come to this modern great Republic as surely as came the ruin of that ancient great Republic. PRUS 165.4

It has been urged by many that there is a duty incumbent upon the United States to take the ………. for the purpose of Christianizing the natives, even although such occupation be against the wishes of the inhabitants, and contrary to the principle of government by consent. It is argued that the opportunity to purchase the islands constituted a “divine call” to this “Benjamin of nations” to enter that neglected part of the Master’s vineyard. Zealous advocates, in earnest tones, tell of the blessings which will accrue to these benighted souls when an army of missionaries, filled with an undying love for those who know Him not, can, without fear of molestation, proclaim, beneath the protecting ægis of the stars and stripes, the sufferings of the Saviour and the joys of the better world. Vividly they portray how much more rapidly the gospel can be carried to those who know it not, when the islands are controlled by the government of the United States, than it could possibly be if these isles which wait for His law were ruled by the heathen. These are for the most part a devoted and consecrated class of people, who are thoroughly conscientious in the views they express.

The strategy was capped by a tense, seven-hour meeting in Rome on Monday between U.S. President Joe Biden’s national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, and China’s top diplomat Yang Jiechi.

Having fired loud diplomatic salvos at Beijing, Biden administration officials are still debating the next steps to take to ensure China does not help Russia evade Western sanctions or supply weapons to Moscow as casualties mount in Ukraine.

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One result of the Rome meeting was announced on Thursday – Chinese President Xi Jinping will speak with Biden on Friday about “managing the competition between our two countries as well as Russia’s war against Ukraine,” the White House said.

It is not likely to be an easy conversation.

Beijing was combative in the Rome talks, people briefed on the interactions say. One U.S.-based person briefed on the meeting described Chinese officials’ response as “tough” and “offensive.” Another said simply that the talks did not go well.

Washington is now sorting through a host of unanswered questions, including where any “red line” regarding Ukraine that China would need to cross to trigger a U.S. response is, and what exactly that response would be, administration officials say.

The Biden administration is waiting to see what China does before deciding on a course of action. “We’re going to be watching closely,” said White House spokesperson Jen Psaki on Monday. A senior U.S. official said they would be looking at what military, economic, or other support is being provided to Russia.

The United States on Monday told allies in NATO and several Asian countries that China had signaled its willingness to provide military and economic aid to Russia to support its war in Ukraine, an accusation that China denies.

Sullivan had warned before the talks that China would “absolutely” face consequences if it helped Moscow evade sweeping sanctions over Ukraine.

China, which announced a “no limits” strategic partnership with Russia in February, may find it hard to change course and back down after a threat was made public, said Kevin Gallagher, who leads the Global Development Policy Center at Boston University.

“This wasn’t a good strategic move,” he said. “Like the United States, China has a domestic constituency.”

He Weiwen, senior fellow at the Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies at Beijing’s Renmin University said: “The U.S. has an intention to crackdown on China, and the Russia-Ukraine conflict provides a reason for it to do so,” describing the U.S. warnings as “blackmail.”

Sources in the Biden administration and diplomats in Washington and Europe say Western countries had been sending private warnings to Beijing about China’s support for Russian President Vladimir Putin for weeks before the Rome meeting.

Russia has denied asking China for military assistance, and China warned this week of “false information,” in apparent reference to U.S. statements.

“China firmly opposes any words and deeds that spread false information and distort and smear China’s position,” Yang said, according to the official Xinhua news agency. Beijing’s official newspaper, the People’s Daily, carried a column noting the inaccurate U.S. intelligence that led to the Iraq invasion.

Some U.S. allies also quietly questioned the intelligence Washington was relying upon regarding the Russian and Chinese conversations, several European diplomatic sources said.

SANCTIONS DISCUSSIONS NOT ADVANCED

Discussions between the United States and its military allies of any coordinated sanctions that could apply to Beijing are not advanced, according to one person involved in those conversations.

A move to sanction China over Ukraine would have potentially dire consequences, not just for China, but for the U.S. and global economies, analysts say.

China trades vastly more with the United States and its NATO than it does with Russia, and the Chinese economy relies heavily on international markets and capital. However, the talks between Sullivan and Yang did not focus on trade, one U.S. official noted.

Biden entered office regarding China as the key foreign policy challenge of the era, one that required a more hardline defense of democratic values against autocratic competitors.

But Biden hoped that his candid personal relationship with China’s leader could defuse the likelihood of a Cold War or a direct military clash between the world’s current superpower and its rising superpower, including over the status of Taiwan.

“China is either going to side with Russia and reinforce the sense that it has joined an ‘axis of autocracy,’ or it is going to put significant space between Moscow and Beijing and demonstrate that it genuinely cares about preserving even a basic relationship with the rest of the world,” said Scott Kennedy, a China expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

“If it turns down this opportunity, it’s not clear to me there will be a next time to meet and set aside differences. The ball is entirely in Beijing’s court.”

FURTHER READING FROM THE BOOK THE PERILS OF THE REPUBLIC OF THE UNITED STATES BY PERCY MAGAN TILSON, 1899:

The same God who watched over the nation of the Amorites, and destroyed them when their cup of iniquity was full; the same God who kept record of the gay pleasures and grievous sins of the people of Sodom and Gomorrah, and who consumed them in the fearful flames when they had passed the unseen line,-that same One also kept watch over the republic of Rome, and is keeping watch over the republic of the United States. In the wonderful prophecies traced with the pencil of the Holy Ghost, the history of these last two is written, and was written long before either came into existence. It was written “to the intent that the living might know that the Most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will.” PRUS 158.2

There are many who believe that the churches and churchmen should have nothing to do with politics. None hold this view more stanchly than I do. Nevertheless, it is as true to-day as it was in centuries past and gone that prophets and priests are sent by the Lord to warn kings and nations concerning the retribution which will be visited upon them by the King of kings and Lord of lords, if they depart from the path which a divine hand has mapped out for their feet. In this sense, and in this sense only, do I believe that the voice of the ambassadors of Jesus Christ should be heard in the courts and congresses of human powers, of earthly governments. And it is because I firmly believe that if the United States persists in the course she has entered upon, her ruin and the ruin of the world can be the only result, that I have penned these lines. Prophets were sent to heathen kings, as well as to the monarchs who sat on Israel’s throne. They were sent because God loved the people, and did all that infinite love and mercy could do to save them from a general doom. If the nation as a whole heeded not, as was often the case, there were individuals who listened to the voice of the ambassadors of the Lord, and were kept from the dire troubles which God sent upon the rebellious state. My life has been devoted to the affairs of religion and spirituality. I have never been a member in any sense of any political party, and have never in my life cast a vote in city, State, or national elections. In saying this I would in no sense judge my brethren who have considered it their duty to do this; suffice it to say that it has been my conviction that as a citizen of the kingdom of heaven, and as an ambassador of Jesus Christ, I would serve humanity the best by holding entirely aloof from the political strifes which divide men into factions and parties, and devoting my strength to the sweetest of all ministries, that of reconciliation between Christ and sinners. It is only in instances like the present, when the things which are done are the things which are warned against in the Word of God, that I feel free to lift my voice and pen, trusting and praying that the spirit in which I write may rest upon and enter into those who read. With me the events which are now transpiring are not the working out of mere political theories, but of great prophetical principles. It is for this reason that I write. It is because I wish my position upon this matter of Christians in politics to be clearly understood that I have taken time and space for this digression. PRUS 158.3

In the Bible, by the pen of the prophet Daniel and of the revelator John, we have in advance of its enactment the history of Rome and the United States, the two great republics of the West. Daniel spake, and said:— PRUS 159.1

“I saw in my vision by night, and, behold, the four winds of the heaven strove upon the great sea. And four great beasts came up from the sea, diverse one from another. The first was like a lion, and had eagle’s wings: I beheld till the wings thereof were plucked, and it was lifted up from the earth, and made stand upon the feet as a man, and a man’s heart was given to it. And behold another beast, a second, like to a bear, and it raised up itself on one side, and it had three ribs in the mouth of it between the teeth of it: and they said thus unto it, Arise, devour much flesh. After this I beheld, and lo another, like a leopard, which had upon the back of it four wings of a fowl; the beast had also four heads; and dominion was given to it. After this I saw in the night visions, and behold a fourth beast, dreadful and terrible, and strong exceedingly; and it had great iron teeth: it devoured and brake in pieces, and stamped the residue with the feet of it: and it was diverse from all the beasts that were before it.” 18 PRUS 159.2

Such is a part of the vision. Daniel was grieved and troubled, and he asked one of “them that stood by,” “the truth of all this.” He was told that the great beasts are “four kings which shall arise out of the earth.” Not content with this answer he said: “I would know the truth of the fourth beast, which was diverse from all the others, exceeding dreadful, whose teeth were of iron, and his nails of brass; which devoured, brake in pieces, and stamped the residue with his feet…. Thus he said, The fourth beast shall be the fourth kingdom upon the earth, which shall be diverse from all the kingdoms, and shall devour the whole earth, and tread it down, and brake it in pieces.” 19 PRUS 160.1

Now these four kingdoms are named outright in other places in the Bible. They were Babylon, Medo-Persia, Grecia, and Rome. Rome was the fourth, and was diverse from all before it, in that it was a republic. Now it was while it was a republic that Rome “devoured, brake in pieces, and stamped the residue with his feet.” Moreover, in Daniel 8:24, 25 it is written of this same power: “And his power shall be mighty, but not by his own power: and he shall destroy wonderfully, and shall prosper, and practise, and shall destroy the mighty and the holy people. And through his policy also he shall cause craft to prosper in his hand; and he shall magnify himself in his heart, and by peace shall destroy many: he shall also stand up against the Prince of princes; but he shall be broken without hand. And the vision of the evening and the morning which was told is true: wherefore shut thou up the vision; for it shall be for many days.” PRUS 160.2

Just what was this crafty, peaceful, destroying policy, and how his power became mighty, but not by his own power, has already been set forth clearly from the history in this chapter. By the history I have shown that Rome, being a republic, a government of the people, made high pretensions to liberty and to the love of liberty, only for the sake of liberty; that for this reason Rome pretended to love and desire liberty for other people; that the little states of Greece were struggling against monarchies, that they might themselves be free and be republics. Solely from love of liberty for the sake only of liberty, and for the sake of humanity, Rome sent her armies and navies across seas to fight the battles, and win the causes of those other peoples, only to set them free from oppressive powers, to enjoy the blessings of liberty of which Rome was the conservator in the world. And then when the battles were fought, the victories won, and the peoples delivered, those peoples were not free. They were more bound, and more hopeless than ever before, because of Rome’s greater power than that of the former oppressors. And to-day no man can intelligently read that history of the republic of Rome before any audience in the United States without that audience seeing the republic of the United States perfectly outlined up to date. PRUS 160.3

Now a point particularly to be considered is that this history of the republic of Rome was sketched in the book of Daniel three hundred and forty years before it occurred; and then that sketch was closed up and sealed, not for three hundred and forty years, not till 198 b. c. and onward; but for twenty-four hundred years, till “the time of the end.” PRUS 161.1

Why was that sketch of the Roman republic written, and then closed up and sealed until a time two thousand years after that republic had failed as a republic and become imperial?—It was because at this time, “the time of the end,” there would be another republic that would go over the same course as did that republic,-would apostatize from republicanism into imperialism. PRUS 161.2

Moreover it was a state composed of this apostasy of a republic into imperialism,-it was such a state with which the apostate church of early days, the man of sin, of the Bible, united, and this union made the papacy, “the first beast” of the Bible, as mentioned in Revelation 13. PRUS 161.3

In the same thirteenth chapter of Revelation it is written: “And I beheld another beast coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb, and he spake as a dragon.” 20 Here is depicted the rise of the United States, coming up peacefully out of the earth, instead of forming amidst long years of tumults and fightings, as was the case with all the other powers. It is represented as having two horns like a lamb. A horn in prophecy signifies power, and the two great principles which have given power to the United States and made her what she is to-day are Protestantism and Republicanism. But Protestantism and Republicanism are both in their spirit pacific; that is, they are lamblike, hence the words, “had two horns like a lamb.” It is obvious from this that should these two horns of power be plucked up, as it were, should they be abandoned, and Roman Catholic principles in things religious, and monarchical ideas in things civil, take possession of this government; then, at once, everything that is lenient and lamblike in the government would at that very moment disappear, and nothing but despotism be in their place. In other words, it is the prevalence of these two principles, Protestantism and Republicanism, which alone makes the government lamblike in its nature. PRUS 161.4

Now the nature of Protestantism is well set forth by D‘Aubigne, the historian of the Reformation. Speaking of the diet of Spires, where the famous Protest of the Princes was drawn up, and from which we get the name of Protestant, and the word Protestantism, he says:— PRUS 162.1

“The principles contained in this celebrated protest of the 19th of April, 1592, constitute the very essence of Protestantism. Now this protest opposed two abuses of man in matters of faith: the first is the intrusion of the civil magistrate, and the second the arbitrary authority of the church. Instead of these abuses, Protestantism sets the power of conscience above the magistrate, and the authority of the Word of God above the visible church.” 21 PRUS 162.2

This is the essence of Protestantism in very truth. There may be sects many and varied; but this is the underlying, fundamental, basic principle. True Protestantism opposes the “intrusion of the civil magistrate” in things pertaining to the church. PRUS 162.3

On this point George Bancroft, the great historian of the United States Constitution, has also said of the new nation:— PRUS 162.4

“Vindicating the right of individuality in religion, and in religion above all, the new nation dared to set the example of accepting in its relation to God the principle first divinely ordained of God in Judea. It left the management of temporal things to the temporal power; but the American Constitution, in harmony with the people of the several States, withheld from the federal government the power to invade the home of reason, the citadel of conscience, the sanctuary of the soul; and not from indifference, but that the infinite Spirit of eternal truth might move in its freedom and purity and power.” PRUS 163.1

And the very first amendment to the national Constitution reads:— PRUS 163.2

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” PRUS 163.3

Thus was the horn of power, the principle of Protestantism, established as a fundamental doctrine of the United States. PRUS 163.4

With equal truth it may be said that the “essence” of republicanism is, that “all men are created equal,” and that “governments are instituted among men deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.” PRUS 163.5

The principles of Protestantism are the true principles of Christianity,-the Christianity of the Bible. The principles of Republicanism are also the principles of God and the Bible in things civil. PRUS 163.6

But it is said concerning the beast which symbolizes the United States in the Bible that “he had two horns like a lamb, and spake as a dragon.” Here are two things happening together, at the same time, and totally incompatible with one another,-that which is lamblike speaking as a dragon. Now a thing that is lamblike can not possibly speak as a dragon, and still retain its lamblike disposition. It therefore follows that the Scriptures have portrayed that the United States will in name retain its lamblike principles of Protestantism and Republicanism, but in nature and in practise it will deny them. This is national hypocrisy; yea, it is national apostasy. There may never in these United States exist, openly, avowedly, and in name, a union of church and state, which constitutes in itself the abandonment of Protestantism; but the thing itself will be, and even now is, here. We may never have an emperor with a crown upon his brow; but Rome was imperial, and an empire for long years, while still retaining the image and name of a republic. PRUS 163.7

Now the “first beast” was Rome, once a republic, but apostatized into an imperial monarchy, degenerated into a military despotism; united with a church once Protestant in principle, but apostatized into the papacy. The union of these two was, I say, the “first beast.” PRUS 164.1

Now when in the prophecy the image of the beast is to be made, it is said “to them that dwell on the earth, that they should make an image to the beast.” This shows that it is a government of the people where the image is made. And it is said to them that they shall make a union of church and state. This shows that this is all done in a place where there is no union of church and state. That is true of the United States at its formation, and it is not true of any other nation that was ever on earth. PRUS 164.2

These things show that the nation is first a republic, and that this nation is the one where these things are at last done. But these things can not be done in a true republic, for they are positively antagonistic to it in principle. For these things to be done in a country professing to be a republic, there must be an apostasy from the principles of a true republic. PRUS 164.3

Already there has been an apostasy from the principles of Protestantism, from the principle of a separation of church and state. The Congress of the United States, the executive, and the judiciary of the United States are already committed to the papal principles as opposed to Protestantism. This has already been done, by congressional legislation, executive action, and judicial decision. All three arms of the federal government have already interfered in behalf of a religious institution,-in behalf of Sunday and Sunday laws. Already here in the home of freedom men have been arrested and thrown into prison, and even committed to the chain-gang, in company with loathsome criminals, simply because they could not conscientiously observe the first day of the week. Into the history of this apostasy from Protestant principle I can not go. It is fully written out in other works. 22 PRUS 164.4

A true republic can never unite with papal principles; but now the Republic is apostatizing from republicanism and uniting with apostate Protestant principles, and this is in itself an “image to the beast.” PRUS 165.1

Already this nation has commenced to war against men who plead for republican principles in their island home; and according to the prophecy it is yet to go the furthest step in this awful path, and kill men for desiring Protestant principles in these United States. For it is written of the United States:— PRUS 165.2

“And he had power to give life unto the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed.” 23 PRUS 165.3

The union of church and state in Rome hastened and actually wrought the ruin of that apostate republic. So even now will this union hasten and cause the ruin of this so far apostate republic. And the sketch of the history of the former was written in the book of the prophet Daniel then, and closed up and sealed until now, so that they that be wise may understand what to do to escape the evil and the ruin that will come, and even now hastens,-a ruin that will come to this modern great Republic as surely as came the ruin of that ancient great Republic. PRUS 165.4

This national apostasy is proceeding daily before the eyes of all the people; and as national apostasy progresses, national ruin hastens. And with this national ruin comes the ruin of the world, and of every nation in the world. PRUS 165.5

There are many who believe that the churches and churchmen should have nothing to do with politics. None hold this view more stanchly than I do. Nevertheless, it is as true to-day as it was in centuries past and gone that prophets and priests are sent by the Lord to warn kings and nations concerning the retribution which will be visited upon them by the King of kings and Lord of lords, if they depart from the path which a divine hand has mapped out for their feet. In this sense, and in this sense only, do I believe that the voice of the ambassadors of Jesus Christ should be heard in the courts and congresses of human powers, of earthly governments. And it is because I firmly believe that if the United States persists in the course she has entered upon, her ruin and the ruin of the world can be the only result, that I have penned these lines. Prophets were sent to heathen kings, as well as to the monarchs who sat on Israel’s throne. They were sent because God loved the people, and did all that infinite love and mercy could do to save them from a general doom. If the nation as a whole heeded not, as was often the case, there were individuals who listened to the voice of the ambassadors of the Lord, and were kept from the dire troubles which God sent upon the rebellious state. My life has been devoted to the affairs of religion and spirituality. I have never been a member in any sense of any political party, and have never in my life cast a vote in city, State, or national elections. In saying this I would in no sense judge my brethren who have considered it their duty to do this; suffice it to say that it has been my conviction that as a citizen of the kingdom of heaven, and as an ambassador of Jesus Christ, I would serve humanity the best by holding entirely aloof from the political strifes which divide men into factions and parties, and devoting my strength to the sweetest of all ministries, that of reconciliation between Christ and sinners. It is only in instances like the present, when the things which are done are the things which are warned against in the Word of God, that I feel free to lift my voice and pen, trusting and praying that the spirit in which I write may rest upon and enter into those who read. With me the events which are now transpiring are not the working out of mere political theories, but of great prophetical principles. It is for this reason that I write. It is because I wish my position upon this matter of Christians in politics to be clearly understood that I have taken time and space for this digression.

Author: Adventist Angels Watchman Radio

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