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A featured Bible study leader at this week’s Baptist World Centenary Congress is on record as saying the war in Iraq is justified and that he agreed with President Bush that Saddam Hussein posed a destructive threat to the world.

After attending a White House briefing one week before the U.S. and United Kingdom launched “Operation Iraqi Freedom” in March 2003, Blackaby told Agape Press that Bush is not only a believer but also surrounds himself with godly people.

“Two weeks ago, I had the opportunity of being at the White House for a briefing, and I was profoundly aware of the number of people who really know the Lord who surround the president,” Blackaby said. “The person who talked first said, ‘You need to know today the president and the White House [are] in perfect peace. He’s been with his Lord.'”

Blackaby, a Southern Baptist, is among speakers scheduled to lead Bible studies at the 2005 Baptist World Congress, which runs Wednesday through Sunday in Birmingham, England.

A retired denominational leader, Blackaby will participate in the meeting despite the fact that his Southern Baptist Convention voted last year to withdraw from and stop funding the Baptist World Alliance.

The Southern Baptist Convention passed a resolution in 2003 supporting the war in Iraq. Other Baptists, including leadership of the Italian Baptist Union, oppose it.

Blackaby said the Bible gives leaders the authority to invoke war to liberate people from evil tyrants, and that those resisting the president’s authority risk bringing God’s judgment on themselves.

Regarding Saddam, Blackaby said: “I think absolutely President Bush believes the destructive potential of what we’re facing is real and extensive. And with the proliferation of the terrorists in almost every nation of the world, they could [use] just a little vial of biological or chemical ingredients, and we have no antidote for it.”

Blackaby said while war is costly it is sometimes necessary in a world marred by sin.

“The war may be from God,” Blackaby said, quoted March 28, 2003, on a Christian Web site. “In the Bible, he has often used war for his purposes–to punish evildoers or draw his people back to himself.”

Blackaby is best known as co-author of Experiencing God, a workbook published by LifeWay Christian Resources that has sold more than 4 million copies since its release 15 years ago. According to a recent Barna survey, he is one of the 10 most influential authors named by Protestant pastors.

Blackaby was a pastor in Canada for 12 years before moving to the United States to become director of prayer and spiritual awakening at the North American Mission Board. He later served as a special assistant to the presidents of four Southern Baptist Convention agencies, before retiring in 2000 to start Blackaby Ministries International.

In his book Blackaby outlines “seven realities” of experiencing God. They include “God speaks by the Holy Spirit through the Bible, prayer, circumstances and the church to reveal himself, his purposes and his ways” and that “You come to know God by experience as you obey him and he accomplishes his work through you.”

Some fundamentalists accuse Blackaby of putting Christian experience ahead of the Bible.

But the most controversial part of Blackaby’s message is that it is a tragedy when Christians fail to make the connection between calamities they read about in the newspaper and God’s judgment as prophesied in Scripture.

In January Blackaby said at a workshop in Kentucky that last December’s tsunami in Southeast Asia might have been divine retribution, noting that the path of heaviest destruction spanned countries identified for persecution and martyrdom of Christians.

“If you read the Old Testament, especially, God is very concerned how the nations treat his covenant people,” Blackaby said. “The nations that persecuted, offended and killed his people, God came down and destroyed them. And he’s the same God today. He’s just as concerned about his people.”

Speaking to Woman’s Missionary Union in June 2002, Blackaby said he believed the terrorist attacks of 9/11 signaled that God was beginning to remove a hedge of protection from around the U.S.

Quoting God, Blackaby said: “I knew what was coming…. I came expecting good fruit from my people, but I have not found it, so I have set in motion my judgment…. I hold you accountable for making a difference in your nation. My questions to you are: Where are you? What are you doing? What are you letting me do in your life?”

In a Sept. 18, 2001, interview, Blackaby told Intercessors for America he believed God was trying to warn the nation to turn toward God.

“In Isaiah 5 we read of when God’s people turned away and God said, ‘I’ve been protecting you.  And that was part of a covenant that I made with you–I would protect you. But if you do not follow in my ways, I will remove that protection.'” Blackaby said. “In the first verses of Isaiah 5, he describes his people as a vineyard, and he declares, ‘I’ll take the hedge away, I’ll take the wall down, and you won’t have any protection, and then the enemy can come.'”

“Therefore, a sensitive Christian, one who knows the Scripture, knows that there’s no way that the enemy could do such a disastrous thing without the permissive will of God,” he continued.

Blackaby said when a nation goes to war, “the outcome of that battle may well rest on the holiness of the people of God.”

“There is a direct connection between the holiness of the people of God and the success of the nation in which they live,” he explained.

Recently Blackaby said he is convinced that God has told him that revival is coming among Native people in Canada and the United States. He said he has been praying for such a revival for 60 years, and he heard God tell him his prayers had finally been heard.

On occasion Blackaby’s forecasts have missed the mark, however.

In 2001, he said God was at work among CEOs of the top Fortune 100 and Fortune 500 companies, calling it a hopeful sign for America’s spiritual future.

“I’ve never seen the activity of God this deeply in the business community as I do right now,” he told National Religious Broadcasters in Dallas. “When I talk to these CEOs, I tell them you’ve got to spend an unhurried time with God–do it in the morning.”

That was before accounting scandals and accusations of fraud against church-going CEO’s at corporations like Enron, Worldcom and HealthSouth Corp.

Bob Allen is managing editor of EthicsDaily.com.

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