News Articles

Missionary disagrees with Clinton over King Hussein’s eternal fate

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–The late King Hussein is with God, President Clinton said after the Jordanian leader died Feb. 7.
Not only is Clinton wrong, replied a Southern Baptist missionary, but his statement is “potentially devastating” to the souls of lost Muslims.
The missionary, Ken Lovelace, who works in evangelism in Portugal under the International Mission Board, made his comments in two on-the-record letters e-mailed to Baptist Press.
Clinton, in a 13-paragraph statement issued after Hussein died from cancer in his native land, concluded by saying:
“The Koran teaches you belong to God and you return to him. Today, my friend is in Paradise and God has welcomed home a good and faithful servant.”
Clinton’s comments were repeated in a full-page New York Times ad purchased Feb. 14 by the Center for Middle East Peace and Economic Cooperation in New York City honoring the 63-year-old Hussein who led Jordan 47 years and often took a lead peacemaking role in the Middle East.
“This kind of eulogy may have been politically correct,” Lovelace reacted, but Clinton could have found a better way “to say something nice about King Hussein.”
“Considering the fact that Clinton claims to be an evangelical (Baptist) and serves as president of a nation with a great evangelical heritage, it is absurd to imply that King Hussein, although one of the Middle East’s greatest rulers (politically speaking), was being welcomed home by God.”
Lovelace continued, “Though perhaps seen by many as a ‘good book,’ the Koran falls drastically short of any viable representation of the true and living God. Only the Word of God, the Holy Scriptures, The Holy Bible is authoritative for life and the life beyond. And this same Bible assures us that the only ones who will be welcomed home by God are those who have repented of their sins and have received Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Gift of God, the Messiah, as Lord and Savior.
“Some may think my comments cold in light of Clinton’s attempts at comforting a grieving family and nation,” Lovelace acknowledged, “but a better comfort would be to tell the truth about the Truth so that others can avoid the same destructive, damning eternity void of God and all that is good.
“Eternity is too long and hell is too hot to mouth meaningless mantras in a vain attempt to comfort grieving hearts.”
Lovelace observed it is “humbling to know how closely the world listens to and watches America. It is like they take their cue from us. … Dare I say that the president’s comments on the Koran in those few seconds may have done more damage to our ‘image’ as a Christian nation before the world than anything else he could have said?”
Clinton’s comments quite possibly send a message that America is “open to Islam” or “other anti-Christian ideas as well,” Lovelace wrote. “Only time will tell what the president has undone.”
Lovelace added he fears U.S. churches “will become so comfortable that the enemy of apathy will creep in and strangle the life out of them.”
He urged Baptists “to get serious about this business of praying for our leaders and, especially, for the leader that represents us before the world. Because the things that a president is allowed to say and to get away with are representative of the spiritual condition of a nation, I pray that American Christians will join me in falling on my face before God to pray for revival. To pray for a spiritual awakening. To pray for our leaders. To pray for our churches. To pray for our pastors. To pray for our missionaries …that we might somehow avert the judgement of the Righteous One. May God help us if we don’t.”
Lovelace, before his appointment as a missionary in 1996, was pastor of a Baptist church in Spring Hill, Fla., from 1993-96 and, earlier, pastor of a church in Belvidere, Ill., and associate pastor of evangelism at Travis Avenue Baptist Church, Fort Worth, Texas.
An Arkansas native and graduate of Ouachita Baptist University in Arkadelphia, Ark., he earned master of divinity and master of arts in religious education degrees from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth.
A phrase spoken by Clinton — that “Adolf Hitler preached a perverted form of Christianity” — during his remarks at the National Prayer Breakfast Feb. 4 also has drawn criticism.
William Donohue, president of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, responded the same day, “Hitler was a neo-pagan terrorist whose conscience was not informed by Christianity, but by pseudo-scientific racist philosophies. By asserting that Christianity, no matter how distorted by Hitler, can somehow be linked to the politics of genocide is irresponsible.
“Hitler hated the Catholic Church,” Donohue said, “made plans to kill the pope, authorized the murder of thousands of priests and nuns, and did everything he could to suppress the influence of the church.”
Clinton’s comment also sparked a Feb. 17 column by Scripps Howard News Service religion columnist Terry Mattingly, who quoted several Christian-sounding statements by Hitler, along with observations from Ron Rosenbaum, author of “Explaining Hitler: The Search for the Origins of His Evil.”
“The problem is that Hitler was all over the map when he talked about religion, including Christianity,” Rosenbaum told Mattingly. “When it was useful for him to appear Christian, in order to manipulate the masses, then he did so. But then in private comments he was much more candid about his hatred of Christianity.”
But because Hitler’s hate was rooted in a pseudo-scientific racism, not religious faith, Rosenbaum said it would have been more accurate to say that Hitler preached “a perverted form of Darwinism, rather than a perverted Christianity.”