Saturday, May 19, 2007

See, They Told You So on Iraq

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania issued in March 2003 the statement, The Church asks for prayer that there be no war in Iraq.

"A war against Iraq will lead to great harm for humanity and God's creation, in Iraq and for the Arab world.

"War against Iraq can sharpen religious animosities between Muslims and Christians throughout the world. Therefore we call upon all who are in position to decide for or against war with Iraq, and upon the government of Iraq, that they do all within their power, that they pray for wisdom and boldness from God, and demonstrate sensitivity to the world at large, by averting war.

"No one will be ashamed if this war does not take place except Satan. His Excellency President George W. Bush of America, and His Excellency President Saddam Hussein of Iraq, will be victorious and heroes before God and before the world if they prevent this war from taking place.

He further said that the plans of the church will be adversely affected should war take place, and he explained that the time has now come for the church, through its dioceses and institutions, to place emphasis upon investment plans in order to reduce the load carried by members of the congregations who are already affected by increasing poverty.
Restating, "War against Iraq can sharpen religious animosities between Muslims and Christians throughout the world.".

Years later, guess what? Religious animosities between Muslims and Christians has sharpened throughout the world. From a Voice of the Martyrs press release:
"The bodies of seven Christian workers were recovered in Parang town where they were kidnapped by Abu Sayyaf Muslim extremists. VOM sources report that the Christian workers' bodies were found in the jungles of Jolo by soldiers, days after they were seized while heading to a government road project."
Who wouldda thunk?! ;) Now for anyone to hit anyone is a sin. I have a conviction that the Christian bible accurately describes the Creator and His plan for salvation. I disagree philosophically and spiritually with Islam in that it is a works-based religion. Martin Luther wrote in the Large Catechism of Muslims' relation to God: "They cannot be confident of his love and blessing, and therefore they remain in eternal wrath and damnation. [paragraph 66]"

So there are many reasons why a Christian might want to witness to those in the faith of Islam.

The purpose of this post however is to point out how bigotry against Muslims does not advance the Christian faith. Nor does blaming others for the fruit of our own sin. the headline of that press release I posted is "More Beheadings from 'Peaceful' Muslims". My responses to the use of such language in that title are severalfold:
  • Aren't there a number of times in human history, if not our foreign policy since 2003, where one could put scare quotes around the word peaceful in ' "peaceful" Christians' ?
  • Didn't some of those on the ground like these Tanzanian Lutherans, who look "Islamofacism" in the eye every day and are most likely to be its victims, warn us about how an unjust war could lead to strife against the Church?
  • If there were a reason to want to witness to Muslims, it is because they "cannot be sure of God's favor to them" and will not be able to achieve it on the basis of their own works. It is neither because this thing called Christianity is somehow a partisan ally in geopolitics, nor because our witness is motivated by a desire to ensure the safety of our neighborhoods and global interests. If so, let me off here.

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