By Robert Marus - ABP Washington BureauThe article references a letter by Chuck Colson who wrote argued that the classical definition of the Christian just war theory should be “stretched” to accommodate a new age in which terrorism and warfare are intertwined. He concluded that “out of love of neighbor, then, Christians can and should support a pre-emptive strike” on Iraq to prevent Iraqi-based or -funded attacks on the United States or its allies.
WASHINGTON (ABP)—As the number of American soldiers killed passes 3,000 and Congress debates President Bush’s latest strategy for winning the war, some Christians who supported invading Iraq in 2003 are wrestling with whether the invasion was a “just war” after all.
While most progressive evangelicals, mainline Protestant leaders and the Roman Catholic Church opposed the war prior to the March 2003 invasion, many Baptists and other conservative evangelicals justified the war in Christian theological terms.
“Military action against the Iraqi government would be a defensive action. ... The human cost of not taking (then-Iraqi dictator Saddam) Hussein out and removing his government as a producer, proliferator and proponent of the use of weapons of mass destruction means we can either pay now or we can pay a lot more later,” said Richard Land, head of the Southern Baptist Convention’s ethics agency, in a Sept. 2002 article published by the denomination’s news service.
Land later organized a group of prominent conservative evangelicals who signed an open letter arguing that the proposed Iraq invasion satisfied classic Christian theological criteria for justifying a war—often referred to as just war theory.
David Gushee, a Southern Baptist ethicist and professor at Union University in Jackson, Tenn., was much more cautious about the war than many of his fellow evangelicals from its beginning.
But Gusheee has turned increasingly against it in recent months. In a Dec. 11 column published by Associated Baptist Press, he cautioned his ideological cohorts.
“The massive carnage in Iraq should serve as a permanent reminder to my fellow Christian conservatives that war is a moral-values issue,” he wrote.
“Indeed, war is a sanctity-of-life issue. Every day’s body count in Iraq should drive this point home with greater and greater urgency. Every body that turns up with holes drilled in it, every head torn apart by gunshots, every soldier whose helicopter crashes and ends his life, every veteran who will spend the rest of his or her life with three or two or one or no limbs, is a human being of immeasurable worth, made in the image of God.”