imagesWhen asked as to what he thought of the possibility of war in Iraq, Bono, lead singer of rock group U2 said:

“We do not want to make a martyr out of Saddam Hussein. Its not the ’60s. We have complex problems. We need new solutions.”

Bono pointed out what is often overlooked in the rhetoric from various sides of the debate. The problem with Iraq is a complex one.

This complexity is well illustrated by Stefan Thiel in a recent article on two key German positions on war and Iraq (Newsweek, International Edition, March 17, 2003, 52) Thiel notes that the many in Germany today who are against war against Iraq, look back to 1945 and the German experience of being bombed. This group feels that no one should ever experience such horror again.

However there is another group in Germany who are open to the idea of a war against Iraq. This group looks back to 1938 and remembers “when the Western powers caved in to Adolf Hitler in an attempt to ‘preserve’ the peace. A little war then might have gone a long way, saving millions of lives…”

Which view is the correct one? Like Bono said, the issue is a complex one. Bonian wisdom.

That the Iraq situation is a complex one is something that needs to be said. Listening to the spokespersons from the various sides of the debate, one gets the impression that the Iraq issue is all about:

Peace Global terrorism Oil The profits of the military industrial complex Facing up to evil The rule of law Democracy Prophetic fulfilment U.S. Hegemony A clash of civilizations

I’m sure you could add to the list. Take your pick. What is the threat of war in Iraq all about?

Truth is, it’s about many things. It is complex.

But we don’t like complex. We like things simple. That way we don’t have to do too much thinking. Unfortunately our desire for things to be simple makes us vulnerable, ripe to be shanghaied by the diverse agendas of different interest groups.

But life in a fallen world is often complex. And our refusal to accept complexity is a dangerous form of denial. It’s so much simpler to study the Word in isolation from the pressing issues of the day. Or retreat into a mystical experiential spirituality that relieves us of the need to take responsibility for the issues before us.

It may be that our desire for simplicity is a memory of Eden. And therefore what will be ours again in the eschaton. But in the meantime we have to live, think, decide, in this time, in this world.

Perhaps the painful complexities of issues like Iraq will drive us to cry out “come Lord Jesus” as we realize afresh that the ultimate solutions of humankind’s problems will come from outside history. Meantime we cry out to the Lord for the promised heavenly wisdom that we so desperately need this hour (James 1:5-8).

At the very least we should tread tentatively and humbly. And even when we have decided, and there will be times when we have to decide, we will be gracious to those who decide differently from us.

What about Iraq then?

Jesus makes it absolutely clear that power and violence will never be the way to advance Kingdom purposes. (Matthew 26:47-56) Yet the Scriptures allow that in a fallen world, the state may have to wield the sword to punish wrongdoing. (Romans 13:1-4) One thing for sure, God is on the side of the weak and the powerless, the orphans and the widows. (Psalm 68:5)

How do we apply these principles to Iraq? Buy me a cup of coffee and I’ll tell you my position. But I’m not sure you’ll be happy with it. I’m not happy with it. But I have come to terms that this side of heaven I have to live with ambiguity and uncertainty. I take comfort that they are reminders that we live in a world in transition. And that there’s a better world a’comin’.

Your brother, SooInn