dictates of faith

At the Dallas Observer, the always provocative Bible Girl tells the story of Brother Andrew, a person who shows what it really means to put his religion above politics. Brother Andrew is an evangelical by the most basic definition: a man whose sole pursuit is converting people to follow Jesus Christ.

He first became known for smuggling Bibles into Communist countries during the Cold War. Now he travels to the Middle East to support Christian communities there, including visiting a madrasa in Pakistan that was attended by Taliban founder Mullah Omar. This pursuit has led him to some truly radical stances, away from the politics on the Iraq War that we normally associate with evangelicals:

“Under Saddam Hussein,” Brother Andrew told me in an interview, “the church was pretty much left alone.”

Not so today. Brother Andrew’s co-author, Janssen, says more than half of Iraq’s Christians are refugees in Syria, Jordan and northern Iraq. That’s 700,000 Christians uprooted from their cities and forced to run because of extreme religious persecution brought on in the aftermath of sectarian violence.

“Did anybody ever stop to think about the consequences on the church?” Janssen asked. “And yet the church is being scattered because of the fighting. We’re destroying the very solution to the problem.”

Brother Andrew picked up this theme in soft-spoken but emphatic words. “It’s scary,” he said, referring to the destruction of the Iraqi Christian churches. “It’s self-defeating, now more than ever before, because of the possibilities we [Americans] have at our disposal to make a change there. But it is not a change toward the kingdom of God. It’s a change toward our concept of liberty and democracy, capitalism, materialism, whatever.

And he goes further:

Brother Andrew has challenged Christians to pray for Osama bin Laden. The enemy, he says, is not bin Laden — it is “the Deceiver,” Satan.

“Is Osama bin laden more deceived than the farmer in Texas who does not believe in God?” Brother Andrew asked me.

Well, I said, he’s a bit more dangerous, don’t you think?

“Because [bin Laden] has other opportunities, yeah,” Brother Andrew said. “But spiritually speaking, you’re either lost or you’re saved.”

I don’t agree with Brother Andrew that Jesus is the only way to salvation or that converting everyone to follow him is how to solve all the world’s problems. But I have to admire his courage to stand up for those beliefs in a way that is non-violent but still involves great danger to himself.

I think it raises serious questions for anyone who claims to derive their political views from Christianity. A recent poll found that 60 percent of young evangelicals say that using military force in Iraq was the right decision, compared to 41 percent among all young Americans. After seeing Brother Andrew’s example, how do you reconcile supporting the Iraq War with being a good Christian?

It’s not a rhetorical question; I’d really like to hear the answer.

U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Shawn Weismiller.

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One response to “dictates of faith

  1. Pingback: an undoing world « Gene Lewis Perry

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