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Iraq:  A 'Just War', or Just a War?

War has been declared on Iraq.  Rick Warren of Saddleback Church has written an article entitled "What Does the Bible Say About War?"   My response follows:

Dear Rick,

Grace and peace to you in Jesus’ name!

In response to your article:

There is no question that we should  be fighting a war in Iraq.  The question is, What sort of weapons should we be using?   The Bible says,

For though walking about in flesh, we do not war according to flesh.  For the weapons of our warfare are NOT weapons of the flesh, but are mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds,  pulling down imaginations and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought into the obedience of Christ” (2 Cor. 10:3-5)

Jesus’ personal “marching orders" were as follows:

The Spirit of the Lord Jehovah is on Me; because Jehovah has anointed Me to preach the Gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound;  to preach the acceptable year of Jehovah and the day of vengeance of our God”  (Isaiah 61:1-2; Luke 4:18-19)

His commission included all of the reasons you give for a “righteous” war, namely:  "To preserve freedom ... To protect the innocent ... To stop the spread of evil".  But did Jesus enlist soldiers armed with physical weapons to accomplish these ends?   Not at all:

… Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, then My servants would fight so that I might not be delivered to the Jews. But now My kingdom is not from here.”  (John 18:36)

I don’t see how you can seriously compare one man with a whip of cords (John 2:15) with a quarter million soldiers equipped with trillions of dollars worth of armaments.  It was not the whip which drove out the money-changers  (one man against  the entire Temple guard?) – it was the conviction of the Holy Spirit.

Your article says:  ‘If Jesus had been a total pacifist, every time he saw a soldier, He would have said, “Leave your army! Come follow Me.” He never once said it was morally wrong for them to be in the service.’ But soldiers were not just warriors: they were in effect the policemen of the day.  And Jesus’ silence does not necessarily indicate approval.   Neither did He say to the woman at the well, “Leave your adulterous relationship” (John 4:7-26).  He generally let the Holy Spirit do the convicting.

Before the U.S., Britain, and Spain declared war, how many American Christians were there in Baghdad, fighting as the Scripture tells us to fight:

… in pureness, in knowledge, in long-suffering, in kindness, in the Holy Spirit, in love unfeigned,  in the Word of Truth, in the power of God, through the weapons of righteousness on the right hand and on the left” (2 Cor. 6:6-7)

I looked on the Web, and  was unable to find any evidence of pre-war American Christian activity in Baghdad, except at the following sites:


Only when war threatened did Americans even begin to pray for Iraq -- because our self-interest was threatened.  But the conditions of oppression and bondage

We Christians should have started fighting this war a long time ago.  Why do we always neglect the spiritual battle until it’s already too late?

Suppose that instead of an army of a quarter million soldiers, we had raised an army of a quarter million Christians to pray and fast for Iraq's deliverance.

Prayer:  "Blessed be the LORD my strength, who teaches my hands to war, and my fingers to fight"  (Psalm 144:1).  Teach us, Father, how to "fight the good fight of faith" (1 Tim. 6:12).

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Last Revised: March 24, 2003

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