Although faithful Baptists may be united the world over when it comes to sharing the gospel, the Baptist response to the war in Iraq is as varied as its members.
Following the British government’s decision to get involved in the Iraqi invasion, the Baptist Union of Great Britain council issued a statement that the “prayers of Baptists continue to be for peace and justice.”<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office” />
British Baptist leaders lamented “the failure of war with the misery and suffering that inevitably results” and cited “the gospel imperative to engage in the costly task of peacemaking.”
The group did state that it would be praying for the military personnel and their families and urged swift humanitarian relief for the Iraqi people.
Denton Lotz, director of the Baptist World Alliance said in a statement that “War is always a failure of humanity to achieve God’s will of peace and thus a great sin!”
Lotz said the worldwide Baptist fellowship was praying for a quick end to the conflict, moral integrity for those countries aiding in the rebuilding of <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags” />Iraq and a permanent solution to the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. He also called upon Baptist the world over to send humanitarian aid to Iraqi refugees.
American Baptist Churches USA also called upon its members to be in prayer.
General Secretary A. Roy Medley said in a statement on the organization Web site that “We are compelled as a people of faith in Jesus Christ and as stewards of God’s precious creation to lay before God in prayer our concerns and petitions in a time of war.”
Medley offered up prayers for those on each side of the conflict whose lives and well-being are in jeopardy. He also called on Baptist to pray for world leaders “whose actions will impact millions.”
At panel discussion at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, meanwhile four of the Southern Baptist Convention’s top ethicists agreed that the war with Iraq was morally “justified.”
Daniel Heimbach, ethics professor at Southeastern, was one of those panelists.
According to the SBC Web site, Heimbach said that it is not God’s design for evil to rule and reign on earth. Instead, Heimbach said God vested governments with the authority to execute justice
“Because evil is real in the world, sometimes we have to fight as a last resort against evil,” Heimbach said.
Cooperative Baptist Fellowship coordinator Daniel Vestal has also issued a statement on the war.
“One of the voices in the biblical witness is lament–the sober questioning of actions that produce pain,” Vestal said. “It is the unsatisfied struggle with why there is senseless brutality and death. It is the anguished cry of human beings experiencing evil and suffering. Today, it is this voice that we sound.”
Vestal also said CBF would continue to pray for “peace, protection for lives at risk, for leaders around the world and for a quick resolution to this conflict.”
Jodi Mathews is news writer for EthicsDaily.com.