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Jesus Would Have Bombed Baghdad


Gregory J. Rummo

“What would Jesus do?”—It’s a question that has been bandied about by SUV haters and more recently, those wishing to generate provocative discourse over the justification for America’s involvement in the war in Iraq.

The question is drawn from the popular Christian novel entitled “In His Steps,” written by Charles M. Sheldon and first published in 1897.

Sheldon wrote “In His Steps” to show to his congregation what could happen to a church and their community if its members would live based on the principles of what Jesus would do in every situation in life. Although a fictionalized account, the book demonstrates powerfully what could happen if Bible believing Christians would “take up their cross and follow Jesus.”

What would Jesus do? is a relevant question even though the war in Iraq is now a fait accompli. The correct answer can only be found, however, by understanding who Jesus was.

He was God.

He was the “I AM” of the Old Testament, the one who gave Moses the Ten Commandments from Mount Sinai. He was the same God who told Noah, “From the hand of every man's brother I will require the life of man. Whoever sheds man's blood, by man his blood shall be shed; for in the image of God He made man.”

He was the same God who explained in Deuteronomy, “…If anyone hates his neighbor, lies in wait for him, rises against him and strikes him mortally, so that he dies…[T]hen the elders of his city shall send and bring him from there, and deliver him over to the hand of the avenger of blood, that he may die.”

And he was the same God who, throughout much of the Old Testament sanctioned war against those nations who threatened Israel’s national security.

This kind of rhetoric is anathema to religious liberals who prefer to keep Jesus on the exegetical leash of peacemaker while ignoring the larger context of God’s complete revelation of himself in both testaments.

Jesus did speak often of peace (“Blessed are the peacemakers…My peace I leave with you…”) but he also warned Peter after the zealous apostle cut off the high priest’s ear, “All who take the sword will perish by the sword.”

Jesus rarely directed his teachings toward anyone other than individuals or small groups; his disciples or the Pharisees for example.

Jesus was after the heart of man. His was a one-on-one ministry. He only made token reference to the government, reminding Christians that they were to render to Caesar what was the emperor’s just due.

Nothing Jesus taught contradicted Mosaic Law. “Turning the other cheek” did not negate, “an eye for an eye,” the former being an admonition to the individual against exacting revenge, the latter, a point of law emphasizing that it was the state’s purview to exact justice.

Indeed Jesus was very explicit on this point, stating, “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled.”

The biblical concept of a just war was first explained St. Augustine of Hippo, a 4th century Church father. Augustine's conditions for just war continue to influence Christian thinking today. The conditions included the conflict being waged under the authority of a ruler, the party undertaking the war having the right intentions, the war being waged by proper means and a nation's rights violated by an actual or imminent attack. Other points include the use of diplomacy to avert a war and proportionate benefits of the outcome compared to its foreseeable evils.

Clearly the US’s invasion of Iraq meets these criteria: It has been waged under the authority of the President of the United States, with the intent to protect its own safety from attack by terrorists while liberating an oppressed people from a horrible dictator guilty of committing unspeakable and recurrent atrocities. Diplomacy for the last twelve years failed and the proportionate benefits have already far exceeded even the most ebullient expectations.

Those seeking God’s point of view regarding war would benefit greatly from a survey course on both the Old and New Testaments. A proper understanding of who Jesus was is a pre-requisite for understanding the answer to the question, “What would Jesus do?”


Gregory J. Rummo is a syndicated columnist. His website is

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