Christians Call for Prayer After Iran Attacks on US Base in Iraq

Protesters burn a U.S. flag during a demonstration over the U.S. airstrike in Iraq that killed Iranian Revolutionary Guard Gen. Qassem Soleimani, in Tehran, Iran, Jan. 3, 2020. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)

Evangelicals may differ about the best response to Iran’s Jan. 8 missile attack against military bases in Iraq housing U.S. troops, but they seem united in acknowledging the gravity of the situation and calling for prayer.

America confronts “a sober moment in history as we face possible armed conflict against Iran,” said Douglas Carver, former chief of chaplains for the U.S. Army, noting that a military response “has always been America’s last resort.”

Carver, the North American Mission Board’s executive director of chaplaincy, called Christians to “pray for the president and his advisers as they weigh the serious risk of taking retaliatory military action, or in taking no action at all in order to deter an escalation of aggression.”

The early-morning attacks included 22 Iranian missiles fired at two military bases in Iraq that housed American and Iraqi troops, The New York Times reported. No U.S. or Iraqi casualties were reported at either base, with damage apparently limited to infrastructure.

The “limited nature of the strike,” The Wall Street Journal wrote, may signal that Iran “wanted to respond to the targeted killing of its top military commander, Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani, without triggering American retaliation.”

Soleimani, head of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard’s elite Quds Force, was killed Jan. 3 in Baghdad by a U.S. military strike ordered by President Donald Trump. Over the past two decades, Soleimani allegedly coordinated thousands of killings in Iran and internationally, including attacks against U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.

In a White House address Jan. 8, President Trump appeared to deescalate the conflict. He defended his decision to eliminate Soleimani, reported “only minimal damage” at the two military bases and warned Iran to cease its “destabilizing” behavior in the Middle East. Trump announced new economic sanctions against Iran aimed at pressuring the Islamic nation to cease its nuclear weapons program and “end its support for terrorism.”

“We do not want to use” our military against Iran, Trump said. America seeks “to work together” with Iran on “shared priorities” and help Iran achieve “a great future” of “harmony with the nations of the world.”

Some observers have worried America could be on a path to war with Iran following Iran’s downing of U.S. drones, threats of military action, protests at the U.S. embassy in Iraq, the killing of a U.S. military contractor in Iraq last month by Iranian-backed militias and retaliatory U.S strikes in Iraq and Syria.

The buildup culminated with Soleimani’s death and Iran’s missile attack. Iran’s population of 83 million exceeds the combined populations of Iraq and Afghanistan, where American forces have been deployed for nearly 20 years, portending a difficult war should one ensue.

Southern Baptist ethicist Richard Land told Baptist Press Soleimani’s killing was morally justified in light of the powers given to governments in Romans 13. He expressed gratitude “for both the American soldiers’ sake and for the mullahs’ sake” that Iran’s retaliation “didn’t succeed in killing any Americans,” which would have provoked “significant consequences.”

U.S. officials now should talk with Iran, said Land, former president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC), with three objectives: for Iran to stop sponsoring terrorism, stop seeking to destroy Israel, and cease its nuclear weapons program.

Land hopes strength exhibited by the Trump administration in its action against Soleimani will cause Iran’s Islamic leaders to make “a new calculation” if they contemplate future attacks against Americans: “When you send out your foot soldiers to commit murder and mayhem and kill innocent men, women and children, it’s not your foot soldiers that are going to die. We’re going to kill you.”

Daniel Heimbach, a Southern Baptist ethics professor who advised President George H.W. Bush during the 1991 Persian Gulf War, said the complexity of America’s dealings with Iran underscore the need to pray that “God gives our leaders wisdom, patience, and self-control and restrains those stirring trouble.”

“We are contending with forces of irrational ideology that do not perceive their own self-interest in objective terms,” Heimbach, senior professor of Christian ethics at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, said of Iran’s leaders. “So while U.S. actions may be morally justified, I do not know enough to assess whether what we are doing is optimal or another course of action could be better…. Miscalculating what we do can be incendiary.”

Click here to read more.
Source: Baptist Press