Most of the objections to the war strike me as simply silly, childish, or deliberately perverse. However there is one reservation I don't recall ever hearing, and it is the one that keeps troubling me.
It's doctrinal. Specifically, it's with President Bush's theology.
Let me hasten to say that I've no personal doubt that the man is a Christian. But he's a Methodist Christian. While that can mean a lot of things today, in the President's case, it seems to mean at least one troubling thing.
President Bush doesn't seem to grasp the nature of man Biblically. He speaks of the human spirit's universal longing for freedom. He seemed to believe that if we just were to take Saddam Hussein's boot of off the Iraqi people's necks, all would be well. After all, Islam is a religion of peace -- President Bush told us.
I'm no expert on Islam, but I do know a bit about the human heart. Brother Bush's notions about the human heart seem to reflect a liberal, slushy optimism, rather than open-eyed, steely Biblical realism. Left to himself, man will not find the right way -- he will go astray (Psalm 10:2-3; Romans 3:10-19). People are not innocent, let alone good at heart; they're dead in sin, and getting deader (Ephesians 2:1f.). Without Biblical revelation, a people will run wild (Proverbs 29:18, ESV or HCSB).
That is what we see in Iraq, and while I hope and pray for better, I know no reason to expect it.
But democracy worked in America, didn't it?
Well, no. Democracy was the last thing the Founding Fathers wanted. They wanted to create a Republic. Most of the Signers were Biblical Christians, and all of the signers had great respect for the Bible. They knew that the tendency of the human heart is to evil, it is to lust for power and possession, it is to tyranny. They had the moral framework to build a nation of liberty within law, with checks and balances built in, informed by a Biblical worldview and (specifically) a Biblical anthropology.
John Adams famously and well said:
[W]e have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. . . . Our constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.Make no mistake: to Adams, "morality" would be Christian morality, and religion would be the Christian religion.
This foundation is why America has stood for two centuries. To the degree that it has drifted and defected from that original informing Biblical vision, to that degree it is slip-sliding towards tyranny and a cycle of slavery again.
So where is that foundation in Iraq? Can a democracy be built and thrive that is not built on that Biblical anthropology? Can freedom function and thrive without that Biblical framework? Is "freedom" the be-all and end-all, and if they're free, we're done?
I don't think so.
Those are my abiding worries.
Now, I'll say this: if freedom in Iraq means Christians are free to proclaim Jesus, and if the Gospel spreads and prevails, then their freedom will really mean something.
Bush is reputedly quite the poker player. I wouldn't assume that he doesn't have this very thing in the back of his mind.
It's what comes out of his mouth that keeps me worried.