ISIS and Christian Response

As readers know from my opening post, I’m skeptical about the use of force by Christians, even when they are operating in their capacity as government officials. The continuing escalation of America’s new war against ISIS (actually not new at all, but more of a resumption of the previous military excursion in Iraq), means that I’ve been thinking again about the Christian relationship to state violence, and how to respond to our latest foray into international power projection.

I could (and do) take issue with America’s ISIS war on pure policy grounds. As noxious as ISIS surely is, it seems rather obvious to me (and others) that America is being baited into another massive investment of resources and prestige in a region that is chaotic, mostly dislikes us, and that we flat-out do no not understand. We’re inserting ourselves into this war despite the fact that our “allies” in the region clearly want no part of it, or are using us in this situation to advance their own agendas, and are really hoping that America will just take care of the dirty, impossible work of dealing with the threat to them from ISIS without simultaneously upsetting their own stakes in the conflict.

But that doesn’t seem to matter much, because it seems that Washington’s power brokers just can’t hold themselves back when it comes to fighting new wars. As Andrew Sullivan recently noted on his blog, it appears nearly impossible for our governing establishment to restrain themselves “when they have a big shiny military and see something they don’t like happening in the world.” The human temptation to wield power is enormous, and never more so than when one has an extraordinary amount of it. Even Barack Obama, a man who is by all accounts deeply conscious of the ways that his Christian faith might interact with his policies (especially when it comes to using military power), has been inexorably traveling down the path of greater military engagement with ISIS.

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