The Institute on Religion and Democracy (IRD) has issued a critique of a document released by the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) expressing concerns about nuclear armament and proliferation. The critique laments the loss of insight and the so-called leftward slide of the NAE not only because it has denounced things like alleged systematic torture but now also appears to be increasingly in favor of reducing the number of nuclear weapons in the world. The subject line of the IRD e-mail linking to this critique read: “Evangelicals for Nuclear Disarmament?” The question mark at the end suggests that the IRD finds it a strange curiosity that evangelicals would find nuclear disarmament desirable, an odd and curious suggestion from my point of view.
As with so many issues, the IRD once again seems to think evangelical Christianity has basically the same values as conservative American politics, but this matter of nuclear proliferation seems to illustrate the problem with that presupposition more clearly than some other issues. Evangelicals are typically identified by having a high Christology that affirms the full deity and full humanity of Jesus, believing in the full trustworthiness of scripture, and emphasizing the cruciality of the gospel in conversion. What is it about these basic tenets of evangelicalism that necessitates an affirmation of the value and necessity of nuclear weapons and a rejection of favoring nuclear disarmament? One wonders what the Prince of Peace thinks of the presupposition that his gospel commits his people to affirming the value of weapons capable of ending the lives of myriads of people and destroying the lives of countless others, of whom all are not only made in his image but objects of his sacrificial love.
I am reminded of the time that the sons of thunder thought it might be a good idea to call down fire from heaven to consume some Samaritans who would not receive Jesus (Luke 9:54). Their Lord and ours rebuked them indicating that, in his kingdom, we don’t do things that way.