The Common Good

Iraq and Christian Identity

I got a LOT of responses to my post at the end of last week, in which I said the war in Iraq presents the American churches with an issue of Christian identity. Nobody really denied the fact that the worldwide body of Christ is overwhelmingly against the war and the whole thrust of American foreign policy in the post-9/11 era. And that fact remains true even for evangelical Christians around the world. The global body of Christ has no deep trust in the political motivations or geopolitical interests of the U.S., nor do they welcome American hegemony in their regions of the world. Some of my responders have no real concern that their perspective as American Christians in support of their government's war policy puts them in a distinct minority among believers around the world. But many others, like me, are worried by the American Christians who are more allied with their own government than they are with their brothers and sisters across the globe, especially when our nation is the world's military and economic superpower. One of those e-mails came from my own pastor, Scott Garber of Washington Community Fellowship. Scott said:

I just wanted you to know that I especially appreciated your emphasis on Christian opinion outside the US. Very well put. Your question about whether American Christians know things that others don't really gets at the hubris of our ethnocentrism. Though most American Christians have never even seriously considered this question, that further bit of ignorance is no excuse. And the matter of misplaced loyalties and kingdom confusion is a serious one. In fact, it was the subject of my July 4 sermon this year.

I also read a moving piece by Andrew Sullivan, an articulate conservative who supported the war but now has no heart for it. I share his reflections with you in A Humbled President.

The case was so weak, the argument so thin, the evidence for optimism so obviously strained, that one wondered whom he thought he was persuading. And the way he framed his case was still divorced from the reality we see in front of our nose.

And my Beliefnet colleague, Rod Dreher, had this to say in his post The Absurd Bush Speech.

I found myself watching the president's speech tonight astonished and infuriated that he had the nerve to say the things he was saying. I don't know if it's worse to imagine that he's cynically saying things he doesn't believe, or that he really believes such nonsense. Whatever the case, it was a deeply dishonest speech.

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