By Thomas Williamson
3131 S. Archer Avenue
Chicago, Illinois 60608
Please join us as we listen in on a counseling session
between the Reverend Ebenezer Dogood and a young member who has
questions about the church policy of endorsement of pre-emptive
wars in the Middle East.
REVEREND DOGOOD. It is our Christian duty to endorse and support pre-emptive wars such as the proposed attack on Iran. The people of Iran are Shiite Muslims, which makes them dangerous - they believe in the coming of the Mahdi, and that it is necessary for them to create war and violence in order for the Mahdi to come.
These beliefs cause them to hate American Christians, which means they may try to kill us someday. As a matter of self-defense, we have to kill them first before they have a chance to kill us.
NEW MEMBER. And as Christians we also have a duty to support the war in Iraq?
REVEREND DOGOOD. Yes, absolutely. We must stay the course in Iraq, and continue to fight on behalf of the al-Maliki government there.
NEW MEMBER. But al-Maliki and his government in Iraq are mainly Shiite Muslims. They believe the same things as the Shiite Muslims in Iran, they are influenced by Iranian clerics, they consider themselves allies and soul brothers of Iranian Prime Minister Ahmadinejad. I am confused - why is it our Christian duty to hate and kill Shiite Muslims on the Iran side of the border, and at the same time to fight on behalf of the Shiite Muslims on the Iraq side of the border? What does all this have to do with the Great Commission and the Gospel of Christ?
REVEREND DOGOOD. By fighting in the Middle East, we help create conditions that promote the advance of Christianity.
NEW MEMBER. But since we overthrew Saddan Hussein, about half of the Christians in Iraq, who were protected by Hussein, have had to flee the country. Conversion to Christianity is still punishable by death in Afghanistan.
REVEREND DOGOOD. Another reason for the war is, we are fighting for democracy in Iraq and the Middle East. This is a good cause which demands the support of all Christians.
NEW MEMBER. Most of the Iraqi people want the American troops to leave, so shouldn't we leave their country? That is what democracy is all about, rule by the people, right?
REVEREND DOGOOD. We cannot leave Iraq yet, because if we did, the Iraqi people would vote out any government that was willing to cooperate with America, Britain and Israel, and they would vote in some 90-year-old bearded guy in a black robe who wants to take the whole country back to the 12th Century. The same thing would happen in almost every other country in the Middle East, if full democracy was allowed without our benevolent guidance. Until the people of Iraq are ready to exercise their democracy in a manner that is beneficial to our interests, we cannot leave - it's for their own good. Yeah, we are fighting for them to be able to have democracy some day, but they cannot actually exercise it until they are ready for it.
NEW MEMBER. How would we feel if another nation invaded us and imposed their version of democracy on us, like we are doing in Iraq? Is democracy something that can be imposed on people by dropping bombs on them and torturing them?
REVEREND DOGOOD. As President Bush has stated, we are fighting the terrorists over there, in Iraq, so that we will not have to fight them over here.
NEW MEMBER. What evidence do you have that anyone in Iraq has ever come over here to fight us here, or has plotted to do so?
How does the presence of our troops in Iraq prevent any Iraqi who wants to fight us over here, from slipping out of Iraq and coming here to fight us here?
If Bush is so scared of terrorists coming over here to fight us here, why does he refuse to seal the border with Mexico, while our Border Patrol agents who try to catch criminals coming across the border are put in jail?
It just seems to me that if we pull out of Iraq and leave them alone, the Iraqis will hate us less and be less likely to come over here to fight us here.
REVEREND DOGOOD. It doesn't work that way. If we pull out, they will take it as a sign of weakness and come over here to kill us here.
NEW MEMBER. When we pulled out of Korea in 1953, how many North Korean terrorists followed us over here and how many Americans did they kill? How many North Vietnamese terrorists followed us over here when we pulled out of South Vietnam in 1975? How many Lebanese terrorists followed us over here when the great conservative hero Ronald Reagan "cut and ran" from Lebanon in 1983? How many terrorists came here from Somalia when we left Somalia in 1994?
REVEREND DOGOOD. You need to look at the big picture, instead of getting bogged down in all these details. The war in Iraq is part of a greater crusade against Islam worldwide. It's us or them - we have to wipe them out, or else they will destroy us. President Bush is our fearless leader in this glorious clash of civilizations, and you need to follow his leadership without question.
NEW MEMBER. Then why is our government giving $2 billion a year in aid to Egypt, as well as lavish foreign aid to most other countries in the Muslim world, including the Palestinian Authority, Jordan, Lebanon, Pakistan, etc? What kind of strategy is that, to first give them billions of dollars in aid, and then try to wipe them out?
And why does Bush support the establishment of an independent Kosovo state, when everyone knows that this state will be controlled by thuggish Muslim terrorists and drug dealers who are friends of Osama bin Ladin? How does the establishment of an independent Muslim narco-state in Europe fit into the grand plan of fighting Islam?
REVEREND DOGOOD. I have to admit that I don't understand everything that President Bush is doing. But we must remember that our President is all-wise, that he has access to intelligence information that we do not know about and which cannot be released, and therefore the President makes wise decisions based on that secret information. It is our duty as fundamentalists to follow and support the President's leadership without asking questions. If at any time we doubt or oppose the President's program for fighting Islam, then the terrorists win.
NEW MEMBER. Why didn't you give the same measure of obedience to Bill Clinton when he was President?
REVEREND DOGOOD. Our sacred duty of absolute obedience to the President applies only to Republican Presidents. No way would it apply to a Democrat, especially not a draft-dodging, pot-smoking womanizing socialist like Bill Clinton. Nor would it apply to that miserable harridan Hillary, in the event that she is elected President. She doesn't love Jesus like President Bush does. She is a member of the apostate liberal Christ-denying pro-abortion United Methodist Church, you know.
NEW MEMBER. So is Bush. And if Bush loves Jesus so much, why does he celebrate Muslim holidays in the White House, why does he say he prays to the same god as the Ayatollah Sistani, why does he say it doesn't matter if you are a Christian or a Muslim? If the Muzzies are really out to destroy us all, don't we need a leader who doesn't act like he is on their side?
REVEREND DOGOOD. We may not always understand the President's strategy, but it is our duty to obey. It is not for us to reason why. It is for us to do or die. As fundamentalists, we are to be known as men under properly constituted authority, and right now President Bush is that authority, and if you do not like it, you must lump it.
NEW MEMBER. But Bush has repeatedly stated that we have no plans to attack Iran, and that he plans to follow the diplomatic approach with Iran. Yet you keep calling for us to nuke Iran. In what sense can that be called "following Bush" when Bush is asking us to support an entirely different strategy?
And if Bush is the final authority, why did you condemn Bush and preach against him when he called for the establishment of a Palestinian state, which he described as an important element in his war on terrorism?
REVEREND DOGOOD. That's different. When the President proposes something that goes against the best interests of Israel, then we must oppose him. As good fundamentalists, our first loyalty must always be to the state of Israel, not to the United States. This is why we sometimes may have to fight wars on behalf of Israel, even if those wars are costly to America and do not always advance our interests. In the 2004 Presidential debates, both Bush and Kerry publicly stated that we are fighting in Iraq on behalf of Israel. Whatever your political party affiliation, you should have no problem with a policy that was endorsed by both major party Presidential candidates.
NEW MEMBER. If our final authority is Israel, then why in 1995 did you condemn Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin's peace plan with the Arabs? And in 2005, you preached against Prime Minister Ariel Sharon for giving back land in the Gaza Strip that had been stolen from the Arabs, and you said God punished him with a stroke for giving that land back.
REVEREND DOGOOD. Sometimes the Israelis do not know what is good for themselves, so we have to intervene.
NEW MEMBER. Who then is the final authority as to what is good for Israel?
REVEREND DOGOOD. God is giving words of wisdom and revelation to His anointed televangelists such as Pat Robertson and John Hagee. These are great men of God who speak for Him - it is for us only to hear and obey.
NEW MEMBER. Isn't Pat Robertson the chap who got his girlfriend pregnant before they were married, and who says the Bible has errors in it? And didn't John Hagee commit adultery and then get divorced and remarried? Some "anointing!"
REVEREND DOGOOD. These men must have God's blessing on them - just look at how fabulously rich they are. Look, I see you are just not getting it so far, so I am going to share with you some deep theological arguments on behalf of our wars in the Middle East. These are reasons that you as a good Bible-believing fundamentalist should be easily able to understand.
The reason why we must fight in the Middle East is to fulfill Bible prophecy - specifically, the prophecy in Matthew 24:6, "And ye shall hear of wars and rumors of wars." There you have it - it is our duty to make this prophecy come true as a sign of the end times and to usher in the glorious Second Coming of Christ.
NEW MEMBER. I don't see how you can call war a sign of the end when Christ said at the end of verse 6, "But the end is not yet."
If it is our job as Christians to make that prophecy happen, is it also our job to make pestilences, famines and earthquakes happen?
The prophecy refers to "wars and rumors of wars." Would it be enough for us to merely spread rumors of wars in order to fulfill the prophecy, or do we actually have to go out and kill people? How many people do we have to kill?
In recent years, there have been wars going on in places like Sudan and Sri Lanka - wouldn't those wars be enough to fulfill the prophecy, without our having to go out and start another war in Iraq?
REVEREND DOGOOD. The wars in Sudan and Sri Lanka do not fulfill prophecy, because they are too far away from the Middle East and from the valley of Armageddon. So those wars do not help to fulfill the end-times scenarios of prophecy teachers like Hal Lindsey and Tim LaHaye - we need a war in a place like Iraq to really boost the Rapture fever and promote the sales of prophecy books and videos.
It is truly regrettable that innocent civilians in Iraq and Iran have to die in order for these prophecies to be fulfilled, but that kind of thing happens in war, and there is nothing we can do about it. If you are going to make an omelet, you have to break a few eggs.
Our wars in the Middle East may be tragic, but they are necessary in order to "set the stage" for Christ's coming. Christ cannot return to earth until dreadful conditions of chaos and violence in the Middle East, involving the deaths of millions of Jews, Arabs and Iranians, have been fulfilled.
NEW MEMBER. That sounds like what the fanatical Shiite Muslims say, that they must create chaos and violence in order for the Mahdi to return.
REVEREND DOGOOD. Yeah, it's the same concept, but the difference is we are killing in the name of Christ, not Mohammed.
NEW MEMBER. Our church doctrinal statement, which you asked me to read and sign, teaches the imminent, any-moment return of Christ. Yet now you are saying that Christ cannot return until we "set the stage" for His coming. And the other day in church you preached that Christ cannot return until the Muslim mosque in Jerusalem has been blown up and replaced by a Jewish temple with animal sacrifices.
REVEREND DOGOOD. You know, I hadn't really given this any thought, but our doctrinal statement may be wrong, since it conflicts with the newer insights from the prophecy teachers. We used to think that Babylon was a reference to the Roman Catholic Church - from the time of the Reformation until recent times, as represented by the teaching in Dave Hunt's book "A Woman Rides the Beast," Protestants and Baptists were almost unanimous in interpreting the Revelation passages on Babylon as a reference to the Papacy.
But after Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990, some prophecy teachers decided to identify Babylon as Iraq, so they deftly switched gears and rushed into print with books proclaiming that the rise of Iraq as modern Babylon was a fulfillment of Bible prophecy (incidentally making a lot of money on those books, although I am sure that was not their motive).
NEW MEMBER. If Saddam Hussein was fulfilling "Bible prophecy" by rebuilding Babylon, then why did we overthrow him and stop him from fulfilling prophecies that must come to pass in order for Christ to return?
REVEREND DOGOOD. Son, did anybody ever tell you that you ask too many questions?