Jim Denison on How We See the World Changes How We Experience the World

Jim Denison is the founder and CEO of the Denison Forum, a nonprofit Christian media organization that comments on current issues through a biblical lens. The views expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.


President Trump told the nation yesterday that no Americans were hurt by Iran’s missile attack in response to the death of Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani. He stated that Iran appears to be “standing down” and indicated that American forces would not respond further.

Unsurprisingly, reaction in America to Soleimani’s death has fallen largely along partisan lines. For example, a Fox News commentator stated that “Soleimani was an unparalleled organizer and a pitiless murderer. His death was richly earned.” A CNN commentator, by contrast, called his killing a “reckless gamble.”

This partisan divide is sadly familiar, of course. But I recently read an explanation for it that was both insightful and relevant to more than our politics.

FOUR WAYS TO DO FOREIGN POLICY 

New York Times columnist Ross Douthat views American foreign policy through a prism developed by scholar Walter Russell Mead, who created this famous typology named for four American statesmen:

  • Hamiltonian: protection of commerce
  • Wilsonian: moral principle
  • Jeffersonian: maintenance of a democratic system
  • Jacksonian: populist values and military strength.

Douthat describes the Hamiltonians as “business-minded internationalists, cold-eyed and stability-oriented and wary of wars that seem idealistic rather than self-interested.” He describes the Wilsonians as “idealists, whether neoconservative or liberal-humanitarian, who regard the United States military as a force for spreading democracy and protecting human rights.” He claims that most foreign policy leaders in Washington “belong to one of these two groups.”

According to Douthat, however, “far more American voters are either Jacksonians or Jeffersonians.” He describes Jeffersonians as “more common on the left than on the right,” an impulse that “regards global hegemony as a corrupting folly and America’s wars as mostly unwise and unjust.” Their defining attitude is “No blood for oil.”

Douthat locates the “Jacksonian tendency” as “more common on the right than on the left” and describes it a “pugilistic nationalism that’s wary of all international entanglements but ready for war whenever threats arise.” Its essential credo is “More rubble, less trouble.”

According to Douthat, President Trump is a Jacksonian working within the Hamiltonian-Wilsonian strategic framework that dominates Washington’s political leadership. As with much of the president’s agenda and actions, the killing of Maj. Gen. Soleimani doesn’t fit within their ideology, which helps explain the polarization and rancor of our political discourse.

Whether you agree or disagree, it’s important to note the formative power of a leader’s worldview in shaping foreign policy in practical ways. How we see the world goes a long way toward determining how we experience it.

SEEING IRAN THROUGH SPIRITUAL EYES 

The same is true for us spiritually. For example, a church worker in Iran told CBN News that, forty years after Iran’s Islamic revolution, there’s another spiritual revolution underway in his country.

He states, “More people have come to faith [in Christ] in Iran in the last forty years than in the previous 1,400 years.” Believers there say that persecution in Iran is not hindering the church. In fact, it is growing it.

One missional leader explains: “When the persecution stops, the growth stops. What we want is the Gospel to spread far and wide and deep in Iran.”

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Source: Christian Headlines