Evangelical scholar looks at old war sermons
Charles Marsh, professor of religion at the University of Virginia and author of The Beloved Community: How Faith Shapes Social Justice, from the Civil Rights Movement to Today and God's Long Summer, has an op-ed in today's New York Times, in which he says American evangelicals "have amassed greater political power than at any time in our history. But at what cost to our witness and the integrity of our message?"

To illustrate how evangelicals sold out to the man, he "reread the war sermons delivered by influential evangelical ministers during the lead up to the Iraq war."

"As if working from a slate of evangelical talking points," evangelicals—he names Franklin Graham, Marvin Olasky, Charles Stanley, Tim LaHaye, and Jerry Falwell—claimed "the American invasion of Iraq would create exciting new prospects for proselytizing Muslims. … The single common theme among the war sermons appeared to be this: Our president is a real brother in Christ, and because he has discerned that God's will is for our nation to be at war against Iraq, we shall gloriously comply."

This view, Marsh says, is in marked contrast to the perspective of John Stott. The theologian and minister did not speak for or against the war, but told Marsh recently, "Privately, in the days preceding the invasion, I had hoped that no action would be taken without United Nations authorization. I believed then and now that the American and British governments erred in proceeding without United Nations approval."

Marsh longs for the evangelical unity of the 1974 Lausanne Covenant, mostly written by Stott.

"The signatories affirmed the global character of the church of Jesus Christ and the belief that 'the church is ...

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Ted Olsen
Ted Olsen is Christianity Today's editorial director. He wrote the magazine's Weblog—a collection of news and opinion articles from mainstream news sources around the world—from 1999 to 2006. In 2004, the magazine launched Weblog in Print, which looks for unexpected connections and trends in articles appearing in the mainstream press. The column was later renamed "Tidings" and ran until 2007.
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