Surrounded

“The enemy is in front of us, the enemy is behind us, the enemy is to the right and to the left of us. They can’t get away this time!”

― Douglas MacArthur

I couldn’t discover the context for that quote. Was it just blustering bravado? Perhaps a humorous quip at a point of deep discouragement. Or did the one surrounded see something that others did not.

MacArthur’s faith and witness are as complicated to pin down as any man of his time. It was an era when God was still assumed in public communication. But MacArthur’s spiritual views were politically radical even for his day. During the post-war reconstruction of Japan, MacArthur believed that that nation’s greatest need was … Jesus. Japanese journalist, Eiichiro Tokumoto comments on the state of his country after WW2, “There was a complete collapse of faith in Japan in 1945 — in our invincible military, in the emperor, in the religion that had become known as ‘state Shinto.’”  Noting that vacuum, MacArthur begged Christian agencies to send missionaries and when they came, he did all in his power to aid them.

Perhaps MacArthur’s missionary efforts were borne out of his growing disillusionment with political and military solutions to the world’s issues. After witnessing the destructive capabilities developed during WW2, he said, “Men since the beginning of time have sought peace… Military alliances, balances of power, leagues of nations, all in turn have failed, leaving the only path to be by way of the crucible of war. We have had our last chance. If we do not now devise some greater and more equitable system, Armageddon will be at our door. The problem basically is theological and involves a spiritual recrudescence (rebirth) and improvement of human character that will synchronize with our matchless advances in science, art, literature and all material and cultural developments of the past two thousand years. It must be of the spirit if we are to save the flesh.”

Instead of believing that mankind’s advances supplanted the need for faith … MacArthur believed that we could not survive without a spiritual rebirth and the reformation of our moral character. When he had to put a name to what he desired … it was Jesus. When he had to choose a tool, it was the Bible. In these convictions, MacArthur admitted what many so-called Christians will not … only Jesus can ultimately bring peace.

Unless you’ve made peace with the occupying forces in this world you must, at times, feel surrounded by the enemy. His propaganda machine belches and boast about the end of Christianity and the death of God. But lies will not change the fate of our foe. Though he surround us … he cannot escape. Jesus has come and … is coming!

For to us a Child is born, to us a Son is given, and the government will be on His shoulders. And He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end. Isaiah 9:6-7