Friday, March 24, 2006

War and the Christian

Christian Peacemaker Teams is a group that takes a pacifist approach to conflict and protests wars being fought, especially those with high visibility. I have only heard of their efforts in Iraq--do they also protest what the US and coalition forces are doing in Afghanistan and the Balkans? They also prefer to protest where it is more dangerous than the relatively safe confines of the United States and Europe.

Four members of the Iraqi protest team had been kidnapped. One, Tom Fox (and American), was killed. The remaining three were rescued by US and British soldiers.

The following statement comes the CPT web site:

[The ex-hostages] were in Iraq to learn of the struggles facing the people in that country. They went, motivated by a passion for justice and peace to live out a nonviolent alternative in a nation wracked by armed conflict. They knew that their only protection was in the power of the love of God and of their Iraqi and international co-workers. We believe that the illegal occupation of Iraq by Multinational Forces is the root cause of the insecurity which led to this kidnapping and so much pain and suffering in Iraq. The occupation must end.

Today, in the face of this joyful news, our faith compels us to love our enemies even when they have committed acts which caused great hardship to our friends and sorrow to their families. . . .

We pray that Christians throughout the world will, in the same spirit, call for justice and for respect for the human rights of the thousands of Iraqis who are being detained illegally by the U.S. and British forces occupying Iraq. During these past months, we have tasted of the pain that has been the daily bread of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis. Why have our loved ones been taken? Where are they being held? Under what conditions? How are they? Will they be released? When?

Notice the statement? It uses the word "released" rather than "rescued." Were the captives released voluntarily by their captors? If so, why were soldiers needed to free them?

Then they accuse the soldiers who had just freed them of creating the hostile climate that exists now in Iraq. Tell me, how many people have been killed with nerve gas in the last three years? How many new mass graves were created in the last three years? Can you really say live was better in Iraq under Saddam Hussein? Would this group have been allowed to protest any war Saddam was in and do this protest inside Iraq? I doubt it.

Some (many?) Christians have this idyllic notion of war and peace and that if we all play nice, then everyone else will play nice. They look at Jesus as the "Prince of Peace" and seek to promote "Peace on earth." What they neglect to consider are Jesus' own words that he "did not come to bring peace but a sword" and his own words that the end times would be marked by "wars and rumors of war."

Sometimes wars need to be fought--and won. We fight to protect our nation. We fight to free oppressed peoples, especially those entrapped in evil, murderous dictatorships. Isn't this an extension to charity to our fellow man? Isn't that a concept Jesus would embrace?

For a more in-depth look at what Scripture says about war, read my Lutheranism article. Or read more on the Just War Doctrine.

Does that mean as Christians we accept war as inevitable? We can pray for peace. We can also work for peaceful solutions within our own community. But to acquiese to evil is to deny that there is also good. Blanket pacifism is just as dangerous as unchecked militarism.

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