Shekinah Glory

How the First Gulf War Helped My Faith

I will admit that I was a bit naive when I entered Moody Bible Institute. Matriculating into the International Ministries department I was fascinated by both Hudson Taylor and Albert Schwietzer. I wasn’t sure what or where I was going overseas, but I was convinced that they needed something that I had. They needed Jesus!

Now, I considered myself a good literalist. I had not yet descended the staircase to secular humanism. What would push my descent from the holiness church of my youth was the first Gulf War. On campus there was a giddy excitement when our conflict began. People sat around glued to the television hanging and cheering every type of excursion that arose. For myself, I couldn’t be quite so happy. I was a literalist after all. I took certain passages quite strictly, and in my youthful readings of scripture I was left with a position of war that was quite pacifist. Blessed are the peacemakers was clearly not cluster bombing Baghdad. So, I was surprised that others could so easily advocate unlimited war by the United States and still claim to be a scriptural literalists. Yet, that was where I found myself, in the midst of a school that unambiguously supported war.

When the war begain our chapel services and classrooms became decidedly pro-war. Other students talked in ernest about victory and prayer meetings were set up to pray ferverantly for our troops and a swift victory. On that first night I felt sadness and fear. In front of the only television allowed in the dorms we huddled to watch what coverage the networks were allowed to show. People were cheering like it was a college football game.

A few weeks into the war, I noticed one of my dorm mates doors was filled with headlines from the war and military paraphenalia. Everytime I passed it gave me a strange lonely feeling. When he engaged me in a heated conversation about the war I admitted that to hime that I was against any military action. The fear and rage that I felt in that moment was truly terrifying.

I let the genie out of the bottle. Up until that point I only encountered people on campus questioning my salvation because of questions against dispensationalism, but I had never felt the full force of unbridled anger. Congenial debates were replaced with red-faced yelling. When some classmates found out, it seemed that they treated me differently. I was told that if I didn’t support the war I should move to another country. In their anger and unquestioning support, I felt changed. It was like I had lost something. I had begun to lose trust in the religion of my youth, a trust that it had the faith that I needed to find real answers for my life. It was another step on my staircase to a inclusive and mercy filled faith.

Now I’m so grateful for experiences like that. They helped me to think of the places that I merely accepted the interpretations of faith surrounding me and that were deeply a part of me. Yet, I am even more grateful that it pushed me away from a type of faith that I believe was abusive and diminishing of humanity. Without experiences like the first Gulf War, I would have never been given God’s strength to leave.


9 Comments so far
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I wonder how the latest war has affected the bible school cohort?

Comment by Jesse Quam

effect/affect- perhaps effects effect affect.

Comment by Jesse Quam


I suspect that over time even at Moody this war has caused some examinations of conscience.


Comment by pastorofdisaster

Unfortunately, the pro-war crowd overlaps with orthodox Christianity (except, of course, for the historic peace churches). And it seems that militarists and Brand Xians both feel attacked when someone offers a contrary opinion. But you know, when it comes to speaking out against innocent people (especially children for Christ’s sake) being bombed out of their homes, it’s more than a contrary opinion. I’m beginning to think that non-violent opposition to ALL WAR is a moral imperative for anyone who truly wants to follow Jesus.

Comment by heartyheretic

It is hard to have a just war theory that allows for strip bombing and massive collateral damage. Plus, any nation that can blow up the world several times over has a serious ethical crisis in the face of armed conflict. Especially, when the current administration discusses using nuclear weapons pre-emptively.

Comment by pastorofdisaster

thank you for this, Pastor. As I’m sure you’ve gleened by now, my faith and my pro-peace stance are firmly tied.

I wish there was a church around me pastored by someone like you. I think I’d actually go back to church.

Blessings to you and your family…

Comment by Grace


From following your writings it sounds like your faith is flourishing.


Comment by pastorofdisaster

Funny I was at Moody, during the first gulf war. I watched the coverage on TV in the lounge. I don’t remember the events the same you do. I consider myself opposed to war, but I do see it as an event that at times becomes necessary although regrettable. I didn’t see the same pro-war attitude you say you saw. To me it seems most people kept there focus where it was before the war… living for the Kingdom of God.
My memories of Moody (which took place during the same time) are quite different. I was overwhelmed with the love that the students had for each other. I really saw exemplified how we are to love one another as believers in Christ. I also saw a passion for loving God and saw this lived out everyday in the lives of most students.
You seem a little bitter for some reason.

Comment by Joel

Thanks Joel for visiting. I am happy that your experiences with Moody were so fulfilling and hope that they continue to nurture a positive view of faith. I however had a different experience. Among 1500 students it would be odd if there wasn’t a diversity of experiences. You did cause me to return to re-read what I had written (it has been a few months since I wrote this). I think that having gratitude for being given the strength to leave a situation that is abusive is a gift from God. Where you read bitterness, I feel gratitude. Gratitude is a positive emotion. I also am grateful to all the wonderful people that I met at Moody who taught me about faith (even if it is one that I no longer share). Yet, I do not want to deny that there might be anger or bitterness. These are not helpful alone, but are like any other emotions. They need to be experienced, prayed over and let go. Denial is also something that didn’t help me. Denying that these things occurred at Moody is just as unproductive. Again I am glad that you had such a positive time at Moody, I hope that you will forgive some of us who did not completely share your experience for being honest about ours.

Comment by pastorofdisaster

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