The decades-long conflict between Iran and the United States resurfaced in January 2020 with the death of an Iranian general by a U.S. drone attack, prompting speculation of what might come next. An overwhelming majority (86 percent) of American evangelical leaders said that the United States should seek to de-escalate tensions with Iran, according to the January Evangelical Leaders Survey.
“U.S. evangelical leaders are concerned with peace and security in Iran and throughout the Middle East,” said Walter Kim, president of the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE). “Many know Iranian Christians and churches, and lament the widespread suffering among Iranian people. Our leaders know that the situation with Iran is complex and reject simplistic answers.”
Many leaders, like Steve Jones, president of The Missionary Church, started with the biblical imperative of peace-making. “Jesus called us to be peacemakers, so we should want that for our country as well, remembering that the Scripture includes the phrase, ‘as far as it depends on you’ (Romans 12:18). Lasting peace between parties requires the willing participation of both. Therefore, we should always offer a pathway to peace that is good-hearted and sincere, but doesn’t violate principles of reciprocity, integrity and verifiability,” he said.
Comments from evangelical leaders indicate a recognition for the role of military power in preventing abuses and keeping peace. They see war as a last resort and place most emphasis on the imperative of diplomacy and peacemaking.
“Based upon the weight of Scripture, Christians ought to be the slowest of any group to support military intervention and demand the greatest amount of evidence before we are convinced that a war is justified,” said Rich Nathan, pastor of Vineyard Columbus.
Michael Henderson, lead pastor of New Beginnings Church in Matthews, North Carolina, said, “The United States should always seek to preserve peace instead of war. A first response should be to de-escalate the tensions that stand between two nations. Scripture admonishes us to understand one another. Having a meeting of the minds helps create understanding that can lead to potential peace.”
The Evangelical Leaders Survey is a monthly poll of the Board of Directors of the National Association of Evangelicals. They include the CEOs of denominations and representatives of a broad array of evangelical organizations including missions, universities, publishers and churches.