Monday, January 22, 2007

Do conservative evangelicals regret justifying the Iraq war?

The Baptist Standard has an interesting article about how some conservative evangelicals may be changing their stance on the war in Iraq - despite justifying it with a "just war theory" before the wary began.
By Robert Marus - ABP Washington Bureau
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.
The 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.
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.”


Anonymous said...

One must rely on the information made available. The justifications for the Iraq war may be supportable; however, what seems to be coming to light is that the premises relied upon are being called into doubt. Part of that blame rests with those who provided or failed to provide information. Part of the blame rests with those we trust to analyze and report on the available date objectively. And of course, each of us shares in any blame for not questioning what those in authority and those reporting were telling and not telling us.

Peter Attwood said...

One cannot imagine Jesus or the prophets and apostles being deceived by the "justifications" put forth for this war. Indeed, Jesus warned that deceivers would arise that would "lead astray, if possible, even the elect." There's no suggestion in our Bibles that this can't be helped if we truly are his disciples; on the contrary, if we continue in his word, we will truly be his disciples, and we shall know the truth, and the truth shall set us free - not least from the lies and corruptions of this present world.

We have no business trusting the analysts of this world to guide us rightly, and we need not complain when they fail to do so.

Disciples are supposed to be the light of the world, not the analysts of this world the light of the disciples.

The problem is simply that these "Christians" are conformed to this world, besotted with it, as has been the case since our fathers stepped off the boat in 1620 to make a worldly kingdom of God where they could serve God without being persecuted. Ever since, Christians have desired to befriend this world and be disciples of Jesus at the same time - receiving its praise and the best seats in its synagogues, and hoping thereby to seduce or coerce it into the kingdom of God.

This makes us enemies of God, as James stated, and makes it impossible to hear from God, who does not covet such praise or worldly position. If we are deceived, it is no one's fault but our own if we want to be where God doesn't and we want to stay away from where he is (Matthew 25:31-46).

The backpedaling today is the same way they slowly backpedaled from white supremacy in the 1950s and 1960s. If we don't want to keep returning to such folly like the dog to its vomit, as we have done these 400 years, we need, as the Dixie Chicks put it, to "LEARN from our history, and do it differently."

As long as we keep white-washing it and otherwise kidding ourselves, we are refusing to learn, and we won't do it differently, as the past 400 years in America have shown.