This may appear to be a naïvely pietistic view of the realities of global politics, too rooted in a Christian view of the transformative power of love to gain a hearing in our secular age. The world respects strength, not mealy-mouthed pastoral reflections on love.

Things are not that simple.

Presidential declarations of death to our enemies have been cloaked in the rhetoric of the Jewish and Christian Scriptures. If presidents have invoked Christianity’s sacred texts, we can look for the ethic of the Cross in their moral reasoning.

Mr. Biden quoted Isaiah 6:8 in his remarks after the airport attack. In this verse, God asks the prophet, “Whom shall I send? Who shall go for us?” Mr. Biden used this text to speak about the willingness of U.S. troops to answer the call to serve. But that passage is not about service members agreeing to fight for America. It is about God commissioning a prophet to speak in his name.

The Book of…

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