Former President Bush said he relied on God for direction. Currently religious scholars re-examine his Presidency through remarks from former French President Jacques Chirac who maintains Bush saw the Iraq War as fulfillment of Biblical prophecy.
Belief.net, a website that does overviews of religious organizations and their teachings, in a recent posting takes a look at the matter. The site finds the accusation of Chirac quite extraordinary and worth a careful examination. The issues are further discussed by examining information from James Haught, editor of the Charleston Gazette and Chairman of the Council for Secular Humanism who had this by way of discussion today.
Haught looks at the statement reported to have been given by Chirac, as the former French President reviewed the contents of a telephone call he had in 2003 with former President George Bush. It was during this call that Bush told Chirac Iraq needed to be invaded in order to stop Gog and Magog, who are the Bible’s evil aids of the Apocalypse. This is a more detailed account of the top secret telephone call involving two great leaders of the free world, according to what has been reported.
“Now out of office, Chirac recounts that the American leader appealed to their “common faith” (Christianity) and told him: “Gog and Magog are at work in the Middle East…. The biblical prophecies are being fulfilled…. This confrontation is willed by God, who wants to use this conflict to erase his people’s enemies before a New Age begins.”
This episode, which Haught describes as bizarre, took place as President Bush was putting together the “coalition of the willing” in order to begin the invasion of Iraq. The account maintains that afterward Chirac was amazed by the contents of the call and “wondered how someone could be so superficial and fanatical in their beliefs.”
If this accounting by Chirac is true, Bush’s beliefs coincided with many Americans concerning the war. Professor S. Boyer, a professor emeritus of history at the University of Wisconsin writes an article entitled “The Iraq War Meets Biblical Prophecy.” He maintains that the Bible and fundamental teachings do influence the thinking and behavior of millions of Americans and relates a figure of 40% according to national polls. Many people believe in Armageddon and look for Biblical signs, Boyer says.
Professor Boyer goes on to reflect on something called the Darby prophetic system about the Rapture and Armageddon. This was an organized way of looking at Biblical prophecy put together by John Darby of the 19th century who as a churchman of the United Kingdom examined Biblical scriptures and related a series of signs of the last days that would give warning to when the world would end. These warning signs include the following “ wars, natural disasters, rampant immorality, the rise of a world political and economic order, and the return of the Jews to the land promised by God to Abraham.” According to Darby, the present era or dispensation would end with the Rapture when the believers are to be scooped into the bosom of Christ.
The argument is concluded with this statement from Professor Boyer that provide a backdrop of Bush’s beliefs with respect to Biblical prophecy and his mission as President that the Professor wrote before Bush left office. “But when our born-again president describes the nation's foreign-policy objective in theological terms as a global struggle against "evildoers," and when, in his recent State of the Union address, he casts Saddam Hussein as a demonic, quasi-supernatural figure who could unleash "a day of horror like none we have ever known," he is not only playing upon our still-raw memories of 9/11. He is also invoking a powerful and ancient apocalyptic vocabulary that for millions of prophecy believers conveys a specific and thrilling message of an approaching end -- not just of Saddam, but of human history as we know it.”
Despite reports of evangelical convictions of the former President and some Christians about Armageddon, the fact remains that not all Christians believe the war in Iraq and the incidents in the Middle East to predict the coming of the end of the world. The religious community is divided, as observed by Christian Today reports of August 11, 2009. The magazine gives a listing of different opinions on the subject of the end times, revealing the conflicts between different religious groups, both leaders and laity.
But what side of the argument was President Bush presenting with the War in Iraq? The speculation from Chirac and the articles about the telephone conversation, maintain he supported a fundamentalist view that the evildoers must be vanquished as prerequisite to the end times and the Rapture, with his role to fight against the evil on the side of Christian justice.