N. T. Wright Gets It Wrong . . .

is the title of an article in “The Daily Standard” by Joseph Loconte which critiques Wright’s critique of the war on terror. Very interesting analysis of Wright’s thought on the issue.

Loconte is the author of The End of Illusions: Religious Leaders Confront Hitler’s Gathering Storm and he sees the need for religious leaders to confront the threat of our day, Islamic fascism. N. T. Wright, he says, has failed to respond appropriately to the rise of Islamic fascism, instead directing his ire at the governments of the United States and the United Kingdom who are prosecuting the war on terror. The article concludes as follows:

N.T. Wright’s instinctive hatred of war is surely admirable: It is not for nothing that Jesus included “blessed are the peacemakers” among his beatitudes, or that it continues to inspire the faithful across religious traditions. Nevertheless, Wright’s angry and simplistic utterances against military action threaten to confuse Christianity with a partisan agenda. The great sorrow of the bishop from Durham is that by politicizing the gospel–even in the name of peace–he may actually discourage many from responding to its offer of grace and genuine peace, peace with God.

It all brings to mind again Frodo’s lament over the intrusion into his world of a new Shadow of Evil. I wish it need not have happened in my time. Something like this shadow, something unspeakably malevolent, has appeared and taken root in Islamic societies. We must debate the most prudent and just ways to confront it. We must be vigilant about our own inclinations toward injustice and learn from the mistakes of arrogance already made. Yet we cannot appease this darkness, rationalize it away, or wish it had not happened in our time. It has happened.

What we must now decide–what only the work of enlightened preaching and sober statesmanship can help us decide–is what to do with the time given to us as we seek to overcome it.

To read the article in its entirety, click here.

Denny Burk also addressed this issue several months ago in relation to an article released then in First Things critiquing Wright’s lecture on “Where is God in the ‘War on Terror’?”

7 comments

  1. I’m sorry….but Joseph Loconte has it all wrong. The gospel is political, and because it creates an alternative polis it calls forth a people who refuse to participate in killing as a means toward social ends.

  2. Thanks for posting this article Steve.

    Pitting American/British foreign policy over against Islamic fascism and vice versa overlooks recent history. The CIA along with Pakistan’s intelligence agency (ISI) helped to create Osama Bin Laden and his loose network of terrorist cells (Al Qaeda) in order to drive away the Soviets from Afghanistan in the 80s. These facts are not disputed. In other words, Osama and Al Qaeda were our allies. Now, some years later, we invade Afghanistan with its American made Al Qaeda and throw in a war with Iraq based on faulty (cooked?) intelligence.

    We used Al Qaeda to have our way with the Soviets and now we’re using Al Qaeda in a different way — to establish a Middle Eastern presence (among other things) in Afghanistan, Iraq and now perhaps Iran. The only difference is that in the former case Al Qaeda was the “friend” and in the latter Al Qaeda is the “enemy.” Both cases, however, achieve desired ends. In some fashion putting the cross hairs on Islamic fascists is putting the crosshairs on us.

    Leconte is right. Islamic fascism is a problem. Wright is correct. The American and British governments war on terror is a problem. In my view Islamic fascism is a little fish which is swallowed up by the bigger fish of a warmongering government which uses terrorism and the perceived threat of terrorism to accomplish its premeditated goals in the Middle East.

    911 provided the “new Pearl Harbor” necessary to pursue military preeminance in the Middle East. Wright is not reading Roman history into our present situation but accurately seeing a parallel between pax romana and pax america. Al Qaeda provides a convenient international ‘boogy man’ used “to maintian American military preeminence, to secure American geopolitical leadership, and to preserve the American peace.”

    Since the invasion of Iraq there have been over 1 million civilians killed in that country. Who’s the bigger fish?

    Note: the estimates of Iraqi civilian deaths linked above are the only two estimates I have found whose methods are published. Both methodologies have been used by American and British governments in the recent past and a British medical journal states that their estimate (the first link) is the “standard way of measuring mortality in very poor countries where the government isn’t very functional or in times of war.” Despite this President Bush does not “consider it a credible report.”

  3. I’m sorry to see that you believe that, Bryan.

    But consider this…if Islamic fascism is not our enemy, then why do they openly express their hatred of the Jews and the West?
    The Ba’ath Party int he Middle East has direct ties to Nazi Germany. Saddam’s uncle (the man who raised Saddam Hussein), had direct ties with Nazi Germany. In my opinion this is still World War II. The war has just slept and moved to a different front.
    And, if the extermination of Jews was wrong in the 40’s, then it still must be wrong today.

  4. Perhaps I’m not being clear. I think Islamic fascism is a problem and they do have hatred for USA/Jews/West. I’m arguing that they are not the biggest problem and can be manipulated to further other agendas — like keeping the Soviets out of Afghanistan for instance. We have the power to manipulate terrorist organizations and history proves this.

    I never heard the Hussein link to Nazi Germany (do you have a reference?) but it would not surprise me. World leaders don’t think like you and I. When Iraq was at war with Iran we supported Hussein who sent over some mustard gas to Iran. Why would we support someone who has direct ties with Nazi Germany? Because at the time it served our interests. Then a short time period later, he then becomes the enemy. We have the position of strength, not them.

    World leaders don’t think like you I. One day you are the enemy, the next you are the ally. If a group/country can be used to pursue other ends, they will be used.

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