Friday, January 20, 2006


I saw this article in the NY Times today. For those of you who can't link there, the article, "Wayward Christian Soldiers" written by Charles Marsh, is about the problems that political power has caused on the Evangelical movement, especially with regards to how the Evangelical movement moved to a pro-war stance after 9/11. He reviews sermons given by prominent Evangelical leaders from 2002 to 2003 and finds something both surprising and disturbing.


The war sermons rallied the evangelical congregations behind the invasion of Iraq. An astonishing 87 percent of all white evangelical Christians in the United States supported the president's decision in April 2003. Recent polls indicate that 68 percent of white evangelicals continue to support the war. But what surprised me, looking at these sermons nearly three years later, was how little attention they paid to actual Christian moral doctrine. Some tried to square the American invasion with Christian "just war" theory, but such efforts could never quite reckon with the criterion that force must only be used as a last resort. As a result, many ministers dismissed the theory as no longer relevant.


Some preachers tried to link Saddam Hussein with wicked King Nebuchadnezzar of Biblical fame, but these arguments depended on esoteric interpretations of the Old Testament book of II Kings and could not easily be reduced to the kinds of catchy phrases that are projected onto video screens in vast evangelical churches. The single common theme among the war sermons appeared to be this: our president is a real brother in Christ, and because he has discerned that God's will is for our nation to be at war against Iraq, we shall gloriously comply.

Mr. Marsh is calling the Evangelicals to repentance. He is saying, "Maybe we made a mistake, and maybe we shouldn't be so convinced of our righteousness."

More than anything, he is questioning the "rightness" of the Evangelical position, and in that questioning he is admitting that maybe there is another way.

Whether right or wrong, it's the ability to question your own position that leads to dialogue with other people. I wish more people could be like Mr. Marsh.


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