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A Plea for Purity: Sex, Marriage, and God, by Johann Christoph Arnold
Foreword by Mother Teresa of Calcutta [Alibris]

Pope Benedict XVI issues annual message for peace
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Why Forgive?, by Johann Christoph Arnold
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A Personal Response to President Bush's Address to the Nation

Mr. President, I respect you deeply. You are daily in my prayers. I humbly ask that, in this moment of world crisis, you lead our nation by putting your trust in God alone and not in our military superiority.

An Iraq War memorial in Lafayatte, California. (Photo by Jef Poskanzer)


[Editor's Note: The letter below was sent to us for publication this morning by Johann Christoph Arnold, senior pastor of Church Communities International. Formerly known as The Bruderhof, these communities are devoted to radical Christian discipleship in the spirit of the early Church. Rooted in Anabaptist traditions, they work closely with Catholics and other Christians and people of good will.

Mother Teresa wrote an introduction to Pastor Arnold's book,
A Plea for Purity: Sex, Marriage and God. Steven McDonald, the Catholic former New York City police officer who was shot in the line of duty and who forgave the young man who crippled him for life, has traveled to the most conflict-ridden areas of the world with Pastor Arnold, preaching reconciliation. Pastor Arnold and members of his community have also met with Pope Benedict XVI. Because of their prophetic Christian witness to the full range of Gospel values, we're publishing Pastor Arnold's personal response to the President's speech last night on the Iraq War, which has also been hand delivered to the White House.]

January 10, 2007

Dear Mr. President:

I was disappointed and frightened by your long-awaited address to the nation on Iraq. Your words will not leave one person in the entire world unaffected. Therefore, I hope you will feel my love and concern in writing. The "new course" that you propose for Iraq is flawed and will lead to disaster. It will bring more death and destruction to friends and enemies alike. Most of all, it leaves God out of the picture.

The 'new course' that you propose for Iraq is flawed and will lead to disaster.
Mr. President, I respect you deeply. You are daily in my prayers. Even on TV, it is obvious how lonely you must feel, separated from your fellow Americans and from the entire international community. Yet there are millions of people who would love to help you, and pray for you, if only you would reach out to them. This is why I want to reach out to you and humbly ask that, in this moment of world crisis, you lead our nation by putting your trust in God alone and not in our military superiority.

The world is full of fear because of the events that have occurred since our country started the "War on Terror." No one has become any safer.

We cannot ignore the important lessons that are taught to us in the Old and New Testaments. For God is a jealous God. He will not let Himself be mocked. He wants our leaders to lead us in humility and compassion. When King Ahab realized that he had done wrong, he tore his clothes, and put on sackcloth and fasted (1 Kings 21:27). When Jonah finally preached the word of God to Nineveh, the king himself rose from his throne and laid down his robe, uncovered himself with sackcloth and sat in ashes. When God saw this humility, he relented from the disaster that he had planned to bring upon them (Jonah 3).

In Isaiah 1:15-16, the kings of Judah are warned sternly about leaving God out of the equation:

When you spread out your hands in prayer, I will hide my eyes from you. Even if you offer many prayers, I will not listen. Your hands are full of blood; wash and make yourselves clean. Take your evil deeds out of my sight. Stop doing wrong.

In the same way, the words of the prophet Obadiah speak directly to this moment:

We cannot ignore the important lessons that are taught to us in the Old and New Testaments.
Behold, I will make you small among the nations; you shall be greatly despised. The pride of your heart has deceived you, you who dwell in the clefts of the rock, whose habitation is high; you who say in your heart, 'Who will bring me down to the ground?' Though you ascend as high as the eagle, and though you set your nest among the stars, from there I will bring you down," says the LORD. (Obadiah l: 2-4)

Mr. President, you profess to be a man of God. Show the world that the words of the prophets are still true today, and pray with us that God will not forsake our nation even in its darkest moment.

God wants to give more grace. That is why the Apostle James writes, "God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble" (James 4:6).

As a pastor who has worked with government officials for years, I feel a special burden for your task, and would strongly desire to meet with you to discuss these matters further.

Respectfully,

Johann Christoph Arnold
Senior Pastor
Church Communities
International

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January 11, 2007

JOHANN CHRISTOPH ARNOLD has written numerous books and articles, and is the senior pastor of Church Communities International, an international communal movement dedicated to a life of simplicity, service, sharing, and nonviolence.

©2007, Johann Christoph Arnold. All rights reserved.

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READER COMMENTS
02.02.07   filiaecclesiae says:
"Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God." - Matthew 5:9It should never be denied that the atrocities committed by Saddam were precisely that - atrocities. However, the American motivation in attacking him and his regime was neither to avenge nor to correct these acts of horror. Against the strong advice of the international community and the (literally) daily pleas of Pope John Paul II, we entered Iraq as a "preemptive strike" to prevent Saddam Hussein and his government from becoming a larger threat to the region and the western world. As you may recall, our attack was largely rationalized by a belief that Saddam was harboring "weapons of mass destruction" for use outside his own country. We did not attack Saddam to save innocent Iraqis, who have inadvertantly become the victims of the war. Now, nearly four years later, the number killed by this war (including many innocent civilians) has topped the number of lives taken by Sadam and his regime, with no end to the bloodshed in sight. To conclude with the words of the late John Paul II, "'The arrogance of power must be countered with reason, force with dialogue, pointed weapons with outstretched hands, evil with good." The time is long overdue for American Christians to echo his words to our president. Thank you, Mr. Arnold, for doing just that. Our Lady, Queen of Peace, Pray for Us!

01.28.07   emel says:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/comment/story/0,3604,1036571,00.htmlthis is a link to a very interesting article by Michael Meacher MP published in the Guardian in 2004. It raises very serious questions that have not yet been dealt with by the Bush administration.

01.27.07   troubledgoodangel says:
There were huge tactical mistakes made by the people responsible for strategy in Iraq beginning with the day the Americans first entered Baghdad. I have written at that time that it was monstrous oversight on part of the Generals not to clamp a martial law that very day for the purpose of disarming the bad guys before they had chance to regroup. I also said that there should have been a zero arms policy imposed that day except for plastic knives. I was convinced then, and I am still now, that the majority of the Iraqis would have gladly tolerated this inconvenience, knowing well as they knew that the alternative was tens of thousands of their own children dead in sectarian violence! But because we the "letter writers" have no clout, my advice was totally ignored and wiped out from public view. Another issue was the troop surge, which clearly was necessary then, to enforce the proposed never-to-be martial law the day Anerica entered Baghdad ... before the sectarian animosities spiralled out of control. This was my second advice that was ignored and lost in the abyss of history. What we have now is an unspeakable quagmire of hate and brutality unparalleled, a quagmire that could have been avoided had the four-star Generals listened to the "unskilled in strategy" ordinary people like you and me!

01.16.07   tslarkin says:
In Matthew 5:17 Jesus Christ said "Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them" and it clearly states in Leviticus 24:17 "'If anyone takes the life of a human being, he must be put to death." Does Mr. Arnold believe that the Christian thing to do is to leave despots in power who murder hundreds of thousands of their people. God commanded that justice be served against murderers. With the leadership of President Bush, America has finally dealt with the evil of Sadam. America is now responsible for assuring freedom in Iraq and leaders of Christianity now have the opportunity to spread Christianity in Iraq.

01.11.07   Godspy says:
Mr. President, I respect you deeply. You are daily in my prayers. I humbly ask that, in this moment of world crisis, you lead our nation by putting your trust in God alone and not in our military superiority.

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