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Christians and War – Confronting Evil
Evil looked Christianity in the eye, and here in Australia the church blinked.
We knew Saddam Hussein and his regime were monstrously evil. The evidence was overwhelming. Now we’re getting more details.
Like the children’s prison, where kids were jailed – some for up to five years – for not joining the youth branch of the Ba’ath Party.
Like the Basra torture chamber visited by a BBC journalist:
To call all this a chamber of horrors is a cliché - and this place is beyond cliché. The hundreds or thousands that died here and were given no trial, no voice, cry out.
Or the one found in Nassiriya by US Marines:
We recovered photographs here that were on the floor in a pile that depicted bodies that had been burned. From the positions of the bodies, it appeared they may have been alive when they were ignited.
There were the explosive suicide vests, some stored at schools along with caches of weapons. According to Newsweek:
Every Iraqi school searched - more than 100 - contained a weapons depot. In one Baghdad school, Marines unearthed scores of black leather vests stuffed with explosives and ball bearings. Empty hangers suggested that some of the lethal vests were on the backs of would-be suicide bombers.
(An acknowledgement to Steven Den Beste for the above links.)
If there is one institution in our society which ought to be able to recognise evil it is the church. Yet so much of our own church here got caught up in the anti-American frenzy of the liberal media, which seemed to want to demonise President Bush.
Sure, there was hypocrisy on the part of the US, which had previously armed and encouraged the despotic Hussein. But humans aren’t perfect. That’s something else the church ought to know. The Bush administration might not have had pure motives, but in a battle with evil it’s surely not too hard to work out which side to support.
John Lloyd, former editor of Britain’s left-wing New Statesman, wrote about the left’s attitude to the war, but his comments could apply to the Australian church:
A large part of the British left - and the left elsewhere - has made a fundamental mistake. In opposing the invasion of Iraq, it has shown itself incapable of thinking through not only the nature of the world as it is today, but also its own claims to be the leading force in making the world better….
Relativism is crucial to this argument: others are as bad; others have weapons of mass destruction; others have attacked neighbours. Why pick on Iraq? Why pick on anyone? What moral basis can the developed West possibly claim?
The argument about this war cannot be readily squeezed into left-right categories. It is best conducted on the basis of truths, which should be self-evident and held in common: that Saddam Hussein has run a state unparalleled (as far as we know) in sadistic cruelty, perpetrated by a Ba'ath party and security apparatus licensed to slaughter, torture and rape…
I’ve been reading The Younger Evangelicals by Robert Webber. He sees enormous potential for the church in America from an emerging generation of leaders with quite new thinking about what it means to be a Christian. He writes:
The post-modern September 11, 2001, world has led to the recovery of the biblical understanding of human nature. The language of sin, evil, evildoers, and a reaffirmation of the deceit and wickedness of the human heart has once again emerged in our common vocabulary. The liberal notion of the inherent goodness of humankind and the more recent Evangelical neglect of the language of sin and depravity have failed to plumb the depths of the wickedness that lurks in the human heart. The younger Evangelical approaches humanity with a more realistic and biblical assessment of our estrangement from God.
April 14th, 2003