George W. Bush invoked “Gog and Magog” while planning to invade Iraq

But now, let’s move on to something a little lighter, like World War III,

First thing, I better distance myself from the source. The Council for Secular Humanism is not going to give President Bush’s (or even my own) religious beliefs a fair hearing. Let is be noted that the report is put forward by a bunch of atheists and they have some reason to suspect the motives of  religious people.

The scene is the build-up to the Iraq war and putting together a “coalition of the willing.” Bush calls Jacques Chirac, the President of France.

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.”

The Old Testament Book of Ezekiel speaks of Gog and Magog, and not in very glowing terms either. God, in fact, denounces them in Chapters 38 and 39. Chirrac called on a theologian by the name of Thomas Roemer to explain the context of this strange behavior.

James A. Haught, author of the Secular Humanism article, discusses his sources.

In 2007, Dr. Romer recounted Bush’s strange behavior in Lausanne University’s review, Allez Savoir. A French-language Swiss newspaper, Le Matin Dimanche, printed a sarcastic account titled: “When President George W. Bush Saw the Prophesies of the Bible Coming to Pass.” France’s La Liberte likewise spoofed it under the headline “A Small Scoop on Bush, Chirac, God, Gog and Magog.” But other news media missed the amazing report.

Subsequently, ex-President Chirac confirmed the nutty event in a long interview with French journalist Jean-Claude Maurice, who tells the tale in his new book, Si Vous le Répétez, Je Démentirai (If You Repeat it, I Will Deny), released in March by the publisher Plon.

Not really understanding the import of this disclosure, and too anxious to condemn former President Bush as a”drunk” and a “crackpot,” the Secular Humanist analysis misses the enormous influence of Dispensational theology in American culture.

To be a little more precise, we are dealing with “Dispensational Premillennialism” There is a rightful Christian expectation of Christ’s literal return to earth to fully establish his reign over a redeemed cosmos. Some folks, however, have always tried to read prophesy in the same way we read history. Those who hold this form of interpretation have some very definite ideas about the tribulation, and specific events leading up to the Second Coming.

We are living in the “end times,” which began with the resurrection. Nonetheless, plenty of religious thinkers have had ideas on the matter including William Miller, Cyrus Scofield, and Herbert W. Armstrong. The entire Left Behind series has given birth to a new generation of premillennial believers. Apparently President Bush is among them.

If this story about Bush is true, and it certainly seems possible, there are two apparent difficulties in his application of prophetic interpretations. The very idea that we are able to distinguish the identity of modern nations based on ancient texts poses some problems. The other, even worse, idea is that, by starting a shooting war, we can help God along in fulfilling His eternal plan.

The Bible is dependable and Jesus is coming back. It is a tricky practice, perhaps even dangerous, to impose our own limited human understandings on biblical texts. When approaching scripture (especially for me), a little humility goes a long way.

In the realm of public policy, it would have been so much better if the president also had opinions available from orthodox Christians taking a different eschatological approach. (Like the big word? Pretty impressive, huh?)

Let me add that these opinions are my own.

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About patlynch
I am a broadcaster in Arkansas, a former freelance writer and political columnist in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. Writing Coach. Speaker. Director of the Christian Foundations for Ministry program, and presently enrolled in the Anglican School of Ministry Master of Ministry program.

One Response to George W. Bush invoked “Gog and Magog” while planning to invade Iraq

  1. Jen512 says:

    I have to disagree with your characterization of secular humanists as “a bunch of atheists.” Atheists believe that there is no God, whereas secular humanists simply reject the idea that organized religion is the only path to morality and ethics. Humanists endorse universal morality based on the commonality of human nature, and that knowledge of right and wrong is based on our best understanding of our individual and joint interests, rather than stemming from a transcendental or arbitrarily local source.

    Many secular humanists, including myself, do believe in God, they just don’t affiliate themselves with any particular religion. “Agnostic” may be a better way to describe them, instead of “atheist”.

    I’m curious though, how do you know that we are living in the “end times”?

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