To Baghdad and Beyond

To Baghdad and Beyond

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English
124 Pages

Description

'To Baghdad and Beyond' is the story of a young evangelical couple who followed the conviction of their faith into a war zone and discovered an alternative to the violence of empires and the complicity of quietism in the "third way" of Jesus's beloved community. Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove writes of his journey from a rural Southern Baptist church to Iraq in a time of war to a Christian community of hospitality in an urban neighborhood. Excited by ways that Christian hope is taking concrete form, Wilson-Hartgrove describes a new monastic movement that is witnessing to a world at war that another way is possible.

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Published 21 April 2005
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EAN13 9781725242920
Language English

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To Baghdad and Beyond: How I Got Born Again in babylon
Jonathan WilsonHartgrove
Cascade Books A division of Wipf & Stock Publishers 199 West 8th Avenue, Suite 3 Eugene, OR 97401
To Baghdad and Beyond: How I Got Born Again in Babylon Copyright©2005 by Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove ISBN: 1-59752-111-6 Publication Date: April 2005
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For Leah, my traveling companion to Baghdad and beyond, and Jim, who has shown us the Way.
Table of Contents
Preface ................................................................................... vii By Tony Campolo
Introduction ............................................................................. 1 Ye Must Be Born Again
Chapter 1 ................................................................................. 6 When God Calls
Chapter 2 ............................................................................... 25 A Communion of Saints
Chapter 3 ............................................................................... 43 Into the Desert
Chapter 4 ............................................................................... 59 By the Waters of Babylon
Chapter 5 ............................................................................... 77 What Happened in Rutba
Chapter 6 ............................................................................... 95 Rebuilding in the Ruins
Preface
hen Christians in the early church read the book of Revelation, W they understood its symbolism. They realized that Babylon, the wicked city described in the latter part of this book, referred to the dominant societal system in which they lived. It referred to the Ro-man Empire. As contemporary American Christians read the book of Revela-tion within the dominant societal system in which we live, we must ask ourselves whether or not our own nation-state has become the modern equivalent of the Roman Empire. We must ask, “Has America become Babylon?” That is the question that Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove, the author of this book, endeavors to answer. In Revelation 17:5, Babylon is described as “The Great Whore.” She is viewed as a societal system that seduces people into worshiping her by offering them an array of alluring consumer goods that they find irresistible. According to what we read in chapters 17–19 of the book of Revelation, the merchants who participate in the economy of Babylon grow rich as they profit from the sale of these things. It is of no consequence to these merchants that they are profiteering in a global economy that is contingent on the exploitive exhaustion of natural resources (see Rev. 18:3, 12–13). The wealth that they gain is all that matters. To the dismay of all who live in Babylon, the day comes when the
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Empire falls. From that day, the merchants weep because the economic benefits that Babylon provided for them are no more. The industries of Babylon close down; and the music that once blared through its streets is heard no more (Rev. 18:22). Alas, Babylon is no more, and those who worshiped Babylon weep. But there is another reaction to Babylon’s fall. It is the celebration of the angelic hosts. They cheer because the violence on which the empire depended for maintaining its powerful hegemony over the earth is ended. The bloodshed necessitated by its social policies is ended (Rev. 19:1–3). For all of this the angels shout, “Alleluia!” Is this what will happen to America? Will ours, the only standing superpower in the world today, one day collapse? Is this apocalypse a foretelling of our national destiny? Babylon, in the imagination of Israel, was once the city of Nineveh, the city referred to in the book of Jonah. But the difference between Nineveh and Babylon is notable. When confronted with its sinful ways, Nineveh repented and thus, escaped the fate of its successor. Is it pos-sible that America, like Nineveh, might repent? Is it possible that our nation could change its ways? And if such repentance was to occur, would we not all have to undergo a spiritual conversion that would enable us to see ourselves and the rest of the world through new eyes? This book is about a young couple who left the comforts and joys of university life to make a journey to Iraq and in making that journey underwent a “born again” experience. It is the story of Jonathan and Leah Wilson-Hartgrove and their bold adventure of faith when they, as Christian peacemakers, traveled into Iraq just as the second Gulf War was getting underway. As you read their story, you will be chal-lenged to rethink your own views about war—not just this war, but any war. You will be led to ask if being Christian requires following the clear admonitions of Jesus to love our enemies and obey the biblical mandate to overcome evil with good. In the end, you will likely ask yourself whether the Jesus who told all of his followers to put up the sword lest they die by the sword, trumps all those theologians, from St. Augustine to John Calvin, who argued a “just war.” These young people do not simply call us back to the Christianity of the Sermon on the Mount; they model for us some possible ways to
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create alternatives to Babylon. They tell us how new communities of faith, marked by Christian hospitality and monastic discipline, are growing up in places across America. They are offering a countercultural way of life that heralds something about the coming Kingdom of God. In the closing chapters of the book of Revelation, we not only read about Babylon, but we also read about another city. It is the New Jerusalem! When the Christians in the first century read about the New Jerusa-lem, they knew that it represented the new humanity that was being created by the resurrected Christ. They understood that this New Jerusalem was the church. This young couple is asking whether we are willing to become part of this alternative society or whether we will continue to be part of an acculturated ecclesia that is comfortable in Babylon and legitimates its way of life. It is the ultimate question about our historical destiny and it is asked and somewhat answered in the existential struggles of the brave young couple you will read about in the pages ahead.
Tony Campolo Professor Emeritus Eastern University St. Davids, Pennsylvania
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