| Re: Concerning the Sword|
Concerning the Sword: A Hutterian Apologia of 1577
[Article IV of the Great Article Book]
EDITED BY LEONARD GROSS*
TRANSLATED BY ELIZABETH HORSCH BENDER, ET AL.
This translation first appeared in the January 2009 issue of the Mennonite Quarterly Review.
Anyone who says a Christian can be in the government, which defends the wicked, destroys devout true believers (for that is what takes place), kills the innocent Jesus as a revolutionary and sets Barabbas, who committed murder in the revolt, free; and promotes savage horror and kills the friends of God while boasting of being the servants and slaves of God, but does not want to see or listen to the Son of God or his people; such a man strays far away from the truth.
Likewise: Christ, the Lord, tells John in his Revelation that in the place and realm where Christians (true Christians) and Gods faithful witnesses are put to death for their faith, there is the devils throne and dwelling-place (Rev. 2:[9-10]). The tyrants and murderers of the devout ought to hang this inscription around their necks and write it on their helmets and thrones. Otherwise the Lord himself will do it, so that they will not be able to blot it out unless they repent and become new men.
Pilate could be considered holy, Herod pious and honorable, if one compares their deeds with those of the princes, who boastfully call themselves Christian and evangelical. Herod and Pilate (who after all did not boast of Christ and his faith) did, to be sure, kill Christ, who was leading 4,000, 5,000 or 7,000 people about in the desert and teaching them (Mt. 14:; 15:; Jn. 6:). They tolerated him a long time, and finally, as though under compulsion, they put him to death.
But these, who boast of having Christ and his truth, whenever they can find a single true Christian who leads only two or three people out of their ungodly lives and their adulterated church, such a person they put to death thirstily, and cannot tolerate him. How can they then be Christians? Much to the contrary: consider the sins, vices and great blasphemy and desecration the powerful enact against God, which they shower upon the acts of God and Christ to such a degree that the very elements pale and trembleeven Pilate and Herod did not do such! not to speak of their exorbitant pomp and presumption. Alas, what
50. Text reads: 2 Cor. 2; 1 Jn. 2.
Christianity this is! Whoever is able should sweat blood and weep over such Christians. And boast as they may, their deeds are in plain view, so they cannot deny them; from this it follows once moreand doubly so that they cannot be Christians. It would be a fact: If taking usury, snatching everything for themselves, violating girls and married women, fornicating without shame, creating widows and orphans, drinking up and laying to ruin the countryside and its inhabitants were Christian and evangelical, they would be the greatest multitude and their warriors the best Christians.
Christians and the world are as different as heaven and earth. The world is world and remains world and acts like the world, and all the world is one world. The Christian, however, is called out of the world and is required no longer to conform to the world (Jn. 15:; 2 Cor. 6:[14-18]; Rev. 18:; Rom. 12:), no longer to be its consort (Eph. 5:[6-7]), no longer to walk in its disorderly confusion (1 Pet. 4:[1-6]), no longer to pull its yoke (2 Cor. 6:[14-18]).
Worldlings live according to the flesh, which rules them. They believe no one is around to observe; therefore they need the sword in their realm. Christians live according to the Spirit, which rules them. They believe the Lord is watching, that he is attentive; therefore they do not need the sword among themselves.
The Christians victory is the faith which overcomes the world (1 Jn. 5:). The worlds victory is the sword with which it conquers.
To Christians is given an inner joy; they have joy in their hearts, holding to the unity in the Spirit through the bond of peace (Jn. 14:[15-27]; Eph. 4:). The world has no peace; by sword and coercion alone it attempts to keep outward peace.
The Christian has patience, as the apostle writes: Since therefore Christ suffered, . . .arm yourselves likewise with the same mind.51
The world arms itself for the sake of revenge; it fights.
The Christian who can suffer everything for the sake of God is the most honorable. The world considers most dutiful the one who can defend himself with the sword against everyone else.
To sum up: Friendship with the world is enmity52 with God (Jas. 4:), and whoever desires to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.
51. 1 Pet. 4:1.
If being a Christian could be accomplished with words and an empty name, if Christendom could regulate itself as it desired, if Christ would take pleasure in what pleases them, and the cross itself were to be sustained by means of the ugly sword, then rulers and subjects, indeed, most of the world, would probably be Christians. However, since man must be born anew (Jn. 3:), must die to his old life in baptism (Rom. 6:[3-4]), and with Christ arise to a new life and Christian walk, that cannot be the case. It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man (specifically, those who are rulers over others) to enter into the kingdom of God or into true Christianity (Mt. 19:).
(1) So says the world: The words of Christ, the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them and their great men exercise coercion, but it shall not be so among you (Mt. 20:; Mk. 10:; Lk. 22:), refer only to the apostles, and do not include the church as a whole. Answer: This was spoken not only to the Twelve but to all the churches and members of Christ in general. It does not say, It shall not be so among you twelve, but just as Christ did not domineer, so we also should not domineer but follow after him in cross-bearing and suffering.
Here, in peace there is no cutting to bits; but through the cutting sword, peace is cut up. Isaiah the Prophet says that Christ will bear the government upon his shoulders (Isa. 9:), and not possess or defend it with the sword, but maintain it by teaching. Likewise, the Apostle says, We are oppressed (1 Cor. 4:[9 ff]); and Christ is given as a sign that will be opposed (Lk. 2:). Also: If they persecute me, they will persecute you (Jn. 15:). If they have called the householder Beelzebub, how much more will they do so to those of his household (Mt. 10:). Being addressed as gracious lord and as Beelzebub are two very different things. All of this is now common knowledge, that no Christian can be a gracious lord or a ruler, or be so addressed by the world, nor will the rulers be Christians.
52. In Friedmann, the text reads: freundtschafft; the original codex reads: feündtschafft.
53. A series of seventeen polemical responses to some of the worlds questions begins here, numbered consecutively, and continuing through point 87.
(2) They say: But after all, the apostles carried swords. For when Christ was about to be seized Peter drew his sword and cut off the High Priests servants ear (Mt. 26:). Answer: It was like this. At that time Peter had a sword because they had just killed and eaten the Paschal lamb according to Jewish custom; and he took it because he had clearly understood from the Lord that he would on that very night be betrayed and taken. For the disciples were still clinging to much Jewishness. It does not follow, however, that we are to do the same.
Nor does it say that all of them had swords. They at that time still observed the Passover, but that does not mean that we should also keep it. Christ celebrated the Jewish Passover with them so that he might fulfill it, and instituted the Lords Supper to be held henceforth.
Thus it happened then that Peter was still going to fight with the sword so that Christ would cancel out the law, who rebuked him, Put your sword back into its place, for all who take the sword will perish by the sword.54 With these words he absolutely cuts off the use of the sword and requires of his people (among whom there is no place for the sword, as he plainly says) that they put it down. And Peter then put it into its place and left it there.
Consequently one finds nowhere that the other disciples ever again produced or drew a sword. Hence we should not pull out a sword in Christs church, for the worldly sword and the spiritual sword cannot dwell together in one sheath; each has its own sheath. The spiritual one belongs to the church of Christ, the worldly one to the world among the wicked, who strike with it.
That is why he announced to them that evil and punishment are attached to it; that whoever fights with the sword will be vanquished by it. For like a madman one will thereby have drawn the sword upon himself. The instrument with which one conducts his affairs will be the instrument of his reward or punishment; one sword whets the other
(Prov. 27:), one rascal punishes the other, and thus they remove peace from the world (Rev. 6:).
Therefore, what the immature disciples did in ignorancefor which Christ rebuked them and gave them a commandtook place as an example for us, that we should not do so. For Christians are to fight with the cross and overcome with the cross, never wiping out or repaying insolence with insolence or audacity with audacity.
For the man who comes sword in hand does not have good intentions, and it is the first signal for seeking refuge. Therefore Christians cannot be
54. Mt. 26:52.
servants or bearers of the sword, nor assert power or wage war with it, because they have committed themselves to the one who taught peace.
Peter also denied his Lord;55 would you therefore say, Peter did it, and thereby testify that it is right to deny Christ? Oh, no! Thus likewise for using the sword, for which he was rebuked.
| 2009/12/27 13:23||Profile|
| Re: John Jay on Biblical view of War|
John Jay on the Biblical View of War
First Supreme Court Chief Justice John Jay
Founding Father John Jay (1745-1829) was appointed by President George Washington as the first Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court. In addition to serving on the Supreme Court, Jay had a very distinguished history of public service. He was a member of the Continental Congress (1774-76, 1778-79) and served as President of Congress (1778-79); he helped write the New York State constitution (1777); he authored the first manual on military discipline (1777); he served as Chief-Justice of New York Supreme Court (1777-78); he was appointed minister to Spain (1779); he signed the final peace treaty with Great Britain (1783); and he was elected as Governor of New York (1795- 1801). Jay is also famous as one of the three coauthors, along with James Madison and Alexander Hamilton, of the Federalist Papers, which were instrumental in securing the ratification of the federal Constitution. John Jay was a strong Christian, serving both as vice-president of the American Bible Society (1816-21) and its president (1821- 27), and he was a member of American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions. In this series of letters, John Jay expounds on the Biblical view of war.
. . . .
Whether war of every description is prohibited by the gospel, is one of those questions on which the excitement of any of the passions can produce no light. An answer to it can result only from careful investigation and fair reasoning.
It appears to me that the gospel not only recognizes the whole moral law, and extends and perfects our knowledge of it, but also enjoins on all mankind the observance of it. Being ordained by a legislator of infinite wisdom and rectitude, and in whom there is no variableness, it must be free from imperfection, and therefore never has, nor ever will require amendment or alteration. Hence I conclude that the moral law is exactly the same now that it was before the flood.
That all those wars and fightings are unlawful, which proceed from culpable desires and designs (or in Scripture language from lusts), on the one side or on the other, is too clear to require proof. As to wars of an opposite description, and many such there have been, I believe they are as lawful to the unoffending party in our days, as they were in the days of Abraham. He waged war against and defeated the five kings. He piously dedicated a tenth of the spoils; and, instead of being blamed, was blessed.
What should we think of a human legislator who should authorize or encourage infractions of his own laws ? If wars of every kind and description are prohibited by the moral law, I see no way of reconciling such a prohibition with those parts of Scripture which record institutions, declarations, and interpositions of the Almighty which manifestly evince the contrary. If every war is sinful, how did it happen that the sin of waging any war is not specified among the numerous sins and offenses which are mentioned and reproved in both the Testaments?
To collect and arrange the many facts and arguments which relate to this subject would require more time and application than I am able to bestow. The aforegoing are hinted merely to exhibit some of the reasons on which my opinion rests.
It certainly is very desirable that a pacific disposition should prevail among all nations. The most effectual way of producing it is by extending the prevalence and influence of the gospel. Real Christians will abstain from violating the rights of others, and therefore will not provoke war.
Almost all nations have peace or war at the will and pleasure of rulers whom they do not elect, and who are not always wise or virtuous. Providence has given to our people the choice of their rulers, and it is the duty as well as the privilege and interest of our Christian nation to select and prefer Christians for their rulers.
. . . .
In my letter to you of the 16th October last, I hinted that I might perhaps write and send you a few more lines on the question, whether war of every description is forbidden by the gospel.
I will now add some remarks to those which were inserted in my answer to your first letter. In that answer, the lawfulness of war, in certain cases, was inferred from those Divine positive institutions which authorized and regulated it. For although those institutions were not dictated by the moral law, yet they cannot be understood to authorize what the moral law forbids.
The moral or natural law was given by the Sovereign of the universe to all mankind; with them it was co-eval, and with them it will be co-existent. Being rounded by infinite wisdom and goodness on essential right, which never varies, it can require no amendment or alteration.
Divine positive ordinances and institutions, on the other hand, being founded on expediency, which is not always perpetual or immutable, admit of, and have received, alteration and limitation in sundry instances.
There were several Divine positive ordinances and institutions at very early periods. Some of them were of limited obligation, as circumcision; others of them were of universal obligation, as the Sabbath, marriage, sacrifices, the particular punishment for murder.
The Lord of the Sabbath caused the day to be changed. The ordinances of Moses suffered the Israelites to exercise more than the original liberty allowed to marriage, but our Savior repealed that indulgence. When sacrifices had answered their purpose as types of the great Sacrifice, etc., they ceased. The punishment for murder has undergone no alteration, either by Moses or by Christ.
I advert to this distinction between the moral law and positive institutions, because it enables us to distinguish the reasonings which apply to the one, from those which apply only to the otherordinances being mutable, but the moral law always the same.
To this you observe, by way of objection, that the law was given by Moses, but that grace and truth came by Jesus Christ; and hence that, even as it relates to the moral law, a more perfect system is enjoined by the gospel than was required under the law, which admitted of an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth, tolerating a spirit of retaliation. And further, that, if the moral law was the same now that it was before the flood, we must call in question those precepts of the gospel which prohibit some things allowed of and practiced by the patriarchs.
It is true that the law was given by Moses, not however in his individual or private capacity, but as the agent or instrument, and by the authority of the Almighty. The law demanded exact obedience, and proclaimed: Cursed is every one that contineth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them. The law was inexorable, and by requiring perfect obedience, under a penalty so inevitable and dreadful, operated as a schoolmaster to bring us to Christ for mercy.
Mercy, and grace, and favor did come by Jesus Christ; and also that truth which verified the promises and predictions concerning him, and which exposed and corrected the various errors which had been imbibed respecting the Supreme Being, his attributes, laws, and dispensations. Uninspired commentators have dishonored the law, by ascribing to it, in certain cases, a sense and meaning which it did not authorize, and which our Savior rejected and reproved.
The inspired prophets, on the contrary, express the most exalted ideas of the law. They declare that the law of the Lord is perfect, that the statutes of the Lord are right; and that the commandment of the Lord is pure; that God would magnify the law and make it honorable, etc.
Our Savior himself assures us that he came not to destroy the law and the prophets, but to fulfill; that whoever shall do and teach the commandments, shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven; that it is easier for heaven and earth to pass, than one tittle of the law to fail. This certainly amounts to a full approbation of it. Even after the resurrection of our Lord, and after the descent of the Holy Spirit, and after the miraculous conversion of Paul, and after the direct revelation of the Christian dispensation to him, he pronounced this memorable encomium on the law, viz.: The law is holy, and the commandments holy, just, and good.
It is true that one of the positive ordinances of Moses, to which you allude, did ordain retaliation, or, in other words, a tooth for a tooth. But we are to recollect that it was ordained, not as a rule to regulate the conduct of private individuals towards each other, but as a legal penalty or punishment for certain offenses. Retaliation is also manifest in the punishment prescribed for murderlife for life. Legal punishments are adjusted and inflicted by the law and magistrate, and not by unauthorized individuals. These and all other positive laws or ordinances established by Divine direction, must of necessity be consistent with the moral law. It certainly was not the design of the law or ordinance in question, to encourage a spirit of personal or private revenge. On the contrary, there are express injunctions in the law of Moses which inculcate a very different spirit; such as these: Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people; but thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. Love the stranger, for ye were strangers in Egypt. If thou meet thy enemys ox or his ass going astray, thou shalt surely bring it back to him, etc., etc.
There is reason to believe that Solomon understood the law in its true sense, and we have his opinion as to retaliation of injuries, viz.: Say not, I will recompense evil; but wait upon the Lord, and He will save thee. Again: Say not, I will do to him as he hath done to me. I will render to the man according to his work. And again: If thine enemy be hungry, give him bread to eat; and if he be thirsty, give him water to drink; for thou shalt heap coals of fire upon his head, and the Lord shall reward thee.
But a greater than Solomon has removed all doubts on this point. On being asked by a Jewish lawyer, which was the great commandment in the law, our Savior answered: Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and the great commandment, and the second is like unto it: Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets. It is manifest, therefore, that the love of God and the love of man are enjoined by the law; and as the genuine love of the one comprehends that of the other, the apostle assures us that Love is the fulfilling of the law.
It is, nevertheless, certain, that erroneous opinions respecting retaliation, and who were to be regarded as neighbors, had long prevailed, and that our Savior blamed and corrected those and many other unfounded doctrines.
That the patriarchs sometimes violated the moral law, is a position not to be disputed. They were men, and subject to the frailties of our fallen nature. But I do not know nor believe, that any of them violated the moral law by the authority or with the approbation of the Almighty. I can find no instance of it in the Bible. Nor do I know of any action done according to the moral law, that is censured or forbidden by the gospel. On the contrary, it appears to me that the gospel strongly enforces the whole moral law, and clears it from the vain traditions and absurd comments which had obscured and misapplied certain parts of it.
As, therefore, Divine ordinances did authorize just war, as those ordinances were necessarily consistent with the moral law, and as the moral law is incorporated in the Christian dispensation, I think it follows that the right to wage just and necessary war is admitted, and not abolished, by the gospel.
You seem to doubt whether there ever was a just war, and that it would puzzle even Solomon to find one.
Had such a doubt been proposed to Solomon, an answer to it would probably have been suggested to him by a very memorable and interesting war which occurred in his day. I allude to the war in which his brother Absalom on the one side, and his father David on the other, were the belligerent parties. That war was caused by, and proceeded from, the lusts of Absalom, and was horribly wicked. But the war waged against him by David was not caused by, nor did proceed from, the lusts of David, but was right, just, and necessary. Had David submitted to be dethroned by his detestable son, he would, in my opinion, have violated his moral duty and betrayed his official trust.
Although just war is not forbidden by the gospel in express terms, yet you think an implied prohibition of all war, without exception, is deducible from the answer of our Lord to Pilate, viz.: If my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, etc.
At the conclusion of the Last Supper, our Lord said to his disciples: He that hath no sword, let him now sell his garment and buy one, They answered: Lord, here are two swords. He replied: It is enough.
It is not to be presumed that our Lord would have ordered swords to be provided, but for some purpose for which a sword was requisite; nor that he would have been satisfied with two, if more had been necessary.
Whatever may have been the purposes for which swords were ordered, it is certain that the use of one of those swords soon caused an event which confirmed the subsequent defense of our Lord before Pilate, and also produced other important results. When the officers and their band arrived, with swords and with staves, to take Jesus, they who were about him saw what would follow. They said unto him: Lord, shall we smite with the sword? It does not appear that any of the eleven disciples who were with him, except one, made the least attempt to defend him. But Peter, probably inferring from the order for swords, that they were now to be used, proceeded to smite a servant of the high-priest, and cut off his right ear. Jesus (perhaps, among other reasons, to abate inducements to prosecute Peter for that violent attack) healed the ear.
He ordered Peter to put his sword into its sheath, and gave two reasons for it. The first related to himself, and amounted to this, that he would make no opposition, saying: The cup which my Father hath given me, shall I not drink? The second related to Peter, viz., they who take the sword, shall perish by the sword; doubtless meaning that they who take and use a sword, as Peter had just done, without lawful authority, and against lawful authority, incur the penalty and risk of perishing by the sword. This meaning seems to be attached to those words by the occasion and circumstances which prompted them. If understood in their unlimited latitude, they would contradict the experience and testimony of all ages, it being manifest that many military men die peaceably in their beds.
The disciples did believe and expect that Jesus had come to establish a temporal kingdom. They trusted that it had been he which should have redeemed Israel. They knew not the Scripture, that he must rise again from the dead; questioning one with another what the rising from the dead should mean. Even after his resurrection, they appear to have entertained the same belief and expectation; for on the very day he ascended, they asked him: Lord, wilt thou at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?
The order for swords, and the declaration that two were enough, tended to confirm that belief and expectation, and to inspire a confidence that he who had commanded the winds and the waves, and had raised the dead to life, was able, as well as willing, to render the two swords sufficient to vanquish his enemies. Could anything less than such a firm belief and confidence have prompted eleven such men, and with only two swords among them, to offer to smite with the sword the armed band, which, under officers appointed by the Jewish rulers, had come to apprehend their Master?
Great must have been the disappointment and astonishment of the disciples, when Jesus unexpectedly and peaceably submitted to the power and malice of his enemies, directing Peter to sheath his sword, and hinting to him the danger he had incurred by drawing it: amazed and terrified, they forsook him and fled. This catastrophe so surprised and subdued the intrepidity of Peter, that he was no longer ready to go with his Master to prison and to death.
It seems that perplexity, consternation, and tumultuous feelings overwhelmed his faith and reflection, and that his agitations, receiving fresh excitement from the danger and dread of discovery, which soon after ensued, impelled him with heedless precipitation to deny his Master. This denial proved bitter to Peter, and it taught him and others that spiritual strength can be sustained only by the spiritual bread which cometh down from heaven.
The Jews accused Jesus before Pilate of aspiring to the temporal sovereignty of their nation, in violation of the legal rights of Caesar. Jesus, in his defense, admitted that he was king, but declared that his kingdom was not of this world. For the truth of this assertion, he appealed to the peaceable behavior of his adherents, saying: If my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews, but now is my kingdom not from hence.
Pilate, who doubtless well knew what had been the conduct of Jesus, both before and at the time of his apprehension, was satisfied, but the Jews were not. They exclaimed: If thou let this man go, thou art not Caesars friend; whosoever maketh himself a king, speaketh against Caesar. We have no king but Caesar.
You and I understand the words in question very differently. Is there the least reason to infer from the belief and conduct of the disciples, that they were restrained from fighting by the consideration that their Masters kingdom was not of this world? On the contrary, did they not believe and expect that he had come to restore one of the kingdoms of this world to Israel? The fact is, that they were ready and willing to fight. Did they not ask him: Lord, shall we smite with the sword? It was his will, therefore, and not their will, which restrained them from fighting; and for that restraint he assigned a very conclusive reason, viz., because his kingdom was not of this world.
To the advancement and support of his spiritual sovereignty over his spiritual kingdom, soldiers and swords and corporeal exertions were inapplicable and useless. But, on the other hand, soldiers and swords and corporeal exertions are necessary to enable the several temporal rulers of the states and kingdoms of this world to maintain their authority and protect themselves and their people; and our Savior expressly declared that if his kingdom had been of this world, then would his servants fight to protect him; or, in other words, that then, and in that case, he would not have restrained them from fighting. The lawfulness of such fighting, therefore, instead of being denied, is admitted and confirmed by that declaration.
This exposition coincides with the answer given by John the Baptist (who was filled with the Holy Ghost) to the soldiers who asked him what they should do, viz.: Do violence to no man, neither accuse any falsely, and be content with your wages. Can these words be rationally understood as meaning that they should receive wages for nothing; or that, when ordered to march against the enemy, they should refuse to proceed; or that, on meeting the enemy, they should either run away, or passively submit to be captured or slaughtered? This would be attaching a meaning to his answer very foreign to the sense of the words in which he expressed it.
Had the gospel regarded war as being in every case sinful, it seems strange that the apostle Paul should have been so unguarded as, in teaching the importance of faith, to use an argument which clearly proves the lawfulness of war, viz.: That it was through faith that Gideon, David, and others waxed valiant in fight, and turned to flight the armies of aliens; thereby confirming the declaration of David, that it was God who had girded him with strength to battle; and had taught his hands to war, and his fingers to fight.
The gospel appears to me to consider the servants of Christ as having two capacities or characters, with correspondent duties to sustain and fulfill.
Being subjects of his spiritual kingdom, they are bound in that capacity to fight, pursuant to his orders, with spiritual weapons, against his and their spiritual enemies.
Being also subjects and partakers in the rights and interests of a temporal or worldly state or kingdom, they are in that capacity bound, whenever lawfully required, to fight with weapons in just and necessary war, against the worldly enemies of that state or kingdom.
Another view may be taken of the subject. The depravity which mankind inherited from their first parents, introduced wickedness into the world. That wickedness rendered human government necessary to restrain the violence and injustice resulting from it. To facilitate the establishment and administration of government, the human race became, in the course of Providence, divided into separate and distinct nations. Every nation instituted a government, with authority and power to protect it against domestic and foreign aggressions. Each government provided for the internal peace and security of the nation, by laws for punishing their offending subjects. The law of all the nations prescribed the conduct which they were to observe towards each other, and allowed war to be waged by an innocent against an offending nation, when rendered just and necessary by unprovoked, atrocious, and unredressed injuries.
Thus two kinds of justifiable warfare arose: one against domestic malefactors; the other against foreign aggressors. The first being regulated by the law of the land; the second by the law of nations; and both consistently with the moral law.
As to the first species of warfare, in every state or kingdom, the government or executive ruler has, throughout all ages, pursued, and often at the expense of blood, attacked, captured, and subdued murderers, robbers, and other offenders; by force confining them in chains and in prisons, and by force inflicting on them punishment; never rendering to them good for evil, for that duty attaches to individuals in their personal or private capacities, but not to rulers or magistrates in their official capacities. This species of war has constantly and universally been deemed just and indispensable. On this topic the gospel is explicit. It commands us to obey the higher powers or ruler. It reminds us that he beareth not the sword in vain; that he is the minister of God, and a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil. Now, if he is not to bear the sward in vain, it follows that he is to use it to execute wrath on evildoers, and consequently to draw blood and to kill on proper occasions.
As to the second species of warfare, it certainly is as reasonable and as right that a nation be secure against injustice, disorder, and rapine from without as from within; and therefore it is the right and duty of the government or ruler to use force and the sword to protect and maintain the rights of his people against evildoers of another nation. The reason and necessity of using force and the sword being the same in both cases, the right or the law must be the same also.
We are commanded to render to our government, or to our Caesar, the things that are Caesars that is, the things which belong to him, and not the things which do not belong to him. And surely this command cannot be construed to intend or imply that we ought to render to the Caesar of another nation more than belongs to him.
In case some powerful Caesar should demand of us to receive and obey a king of his nomination, and unite with him in all his wars, or that he would commence hostilities against us, what answer would it be proper for us to give to such a demand? In my opinion, we ought to refuse, and vigorously defend our independence by arms. To what other expedient could we have recourse? I cannot think that the gospel authorizes or encourages us, on such an occasion, to abstain from resistance, and to expect miracles to deliver us.
A very feeble unprepared nation, on receiving such a demand, might hesitate and find it expedient to adopt the policy intimated in the gospel, viz.: What king, going to war against another king, sitteth not down first and consulteth whether he be able with ten thousand to meet him that cometh against him with twenty thousand; or else he sendeth an embassage, and desireth conditions of peace that is, makes the best bargain he can.
If the United States should unanimously resolve never more to use the sword, would a certified copy of it prove to be an effectual Mediterranean passport? Would it reform the predatory rulers of Africa, or persuade the successive potentates of Europe to observe towards us the conduct of real Christians? On the contrary, would it not present new facilities, and consequently produce new excitements, to the gratification of avarice and ambition?
It is true that even just war is attended with evils, and so likewise is the administration of government and of justice; but is that a good reason for abolishing either of them? They are means by which greater evils are averted. Among the various means necessary to obviate or remove, or repress, or to mitigate the various calamities, dangers, and exigencies, to which in this life we are exposed, how few are to be found which do not subject us to troubles, privations, and inconveniences of one kind or other. To prevent the incursion or continuance of evils, we must submit to the use of those means, whether agreeable or otherwise, which reason and experience prescribe.
It is also true, and to be lamented, that war, however just and necessary, sends many persons out of this world who are ill prepared for a better. And so also does the law in all countries. So also does navigation, and other occupations. Are they therefore all sinful and forbidden?
However desirable the abolition of all wars may be, yet until the morals and manners of mankind are greatly changed, it will be found impracticable. We are taught that national sins will be punished, and war is one of the punishments. The prophets predict wars at so late a period as the restoration of the Israelites. Who or what can hinder the occurrence of those wars?
I nevertheless believe, and have perfect faith in the prophecy, that the time will come when the nations will beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning-hooks; when nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. But does not this prophecy clearly imply, and give us plainly to understand, that in the meanwhile, and until the arrival of that blessed period, the nations will not beat their swords into plowshares, nor their spears into pruning-hooks; that nation will not forbear to lift up sword against nation, nor cease to learn war?
It may be asked, Are we to do nothing to hasten the arrival of that happy period? Literally, no created being can either accelerate or retard its arrival. It will not arrive sooner nor later than the appointed time.
There certainly is reason to expect, that as great providential events have usually been preceded and introduced by the intervention of providential means to prepare the way for them, so the great event in question will be preceded and introduced in like manner. It is, I think, more than probable, that the unexpected and singular cooperation and the extra ordinary zeal and efforts of almost all Christian nations to extend the light and knowledge of the gospel, and to inculcate its doctrines, are among those preparatory means. It is the duty of Christians to promote the prevalence and success of such means, and to look forward with faith and hope to the result of them.
But whatever may be the time or the means adopted by Providence for the abolition of war, I think we may, without presumption, conclude that mankind must be prepared and fitted for the reception, enjoyment, and preservation of universal permanent peace, before they will be blessed with it. Are they as yet fitted for it? Certainly not. Even if it was practicable, would it be wise to disarm the good before the wicked cease from troubling? By what other means than arms and military force can unoffending rulers and nations protect their rights against unprovoked aggressions from within and from without? Are there any other means to which they could recur, and on the efficacy of which they could rely? To this question I have not as yet heard, nor seen, a direct and precise answer.
Source: The Correspondence and Public Papers of John Jay, Henry Johnston, editor (New York: G. P. Punam's Sons, 1893), Vol. IV, pp. 391-393, 403-419, letters to John Murray, October 12, 1816 and April 15, 1818. [John Jay's writings are available on CD-Rom from WallBuilders]
| 2009/12/27 14:28|
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Wonderful read. Thank you, John.
| 2009/12/27 17:01||Profile|
| Re: |
This is the last paragraph of John Jays response.
"But whatever may be the time or the means adopted by
Providence for the abolition of war, I think we may, without presumption, conclude that mankind must be prepared and fitted for the reception, enjoyment, and preservation of universal permanent peace, before they will be blessed with it. Are they as yet fitted for it? Certainly not. Even if it was practicable, would it be wise to disarm the good before the wicked cease from troubling? By what other means than arms and military force can unoffending rulers and nations protect their rights against unprovoked aggressions from within and from without? Are there any other means to which they could recur, and on the efficacy of which they could rely? To this question I have not as yet heard, nor seen, a direct and precise answer."
| 2009/12/27 23:11|
| Re: |
Chief Justice Jay says........
"Being also subjects and partakers in the rights and interests of a temporal or worldly state or kingdom, they are in that capacity bound, whenever lawfully required, to fight with weapons in just and necessary war, against the worldly enemies of that state or kingdom. "
He is making reference to the Apostles. Now here is an interesting point. In all the conjecture that arises by words spoken to soldiers, beit John the Baptist or Jesus(they were never told not to fight, ergo, fighting must be okay, possibly one of the weakest arguments ever raised, arguments from silence) here is an opportunity for actual proofs. I ask the readers, if the good justice is correct, then all living Apotles( and that was most of them) in the years of 67-70ad, would have been found to have been defending, to the death, their country which was being destroyed by Rome. If ever there was a time for a just war , surely it would have been then. And yet, no, they did not fight. Something to think about........Frank
| 2009/12/28 0:28|
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I ask the readers, if the good justice is correct, then all living Apotles( and that was most of them) in the years of 67-70ad, would have been found to have been defending, to the death, their country which was being destroyed by Rome.
Forgive me for jumping in late and not having read the entire post, but the above comment completely misses the point that in Romans 13 those that bear the sword are referred to as 'ministers of God' though there be no mention of their being 'saved' or not. (Though we know clearly that none of the Apostles were in gov't office fulfilling the calling of those in Romans 13, unlike many of the officers durring the war of independance who were also Presbyterian elders)
4 For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.
Government is as much an institution of God as marriage and the church. There has been a great message put out by Vision Forum which historically shows that whenever the balance of the three institutions is disrupted by the church then there arises problems.
Paul shows in Romans 13 that if you have been placed in gov't as a soldier/judge etc you have a God-given mandate to uphold justice and not 'bear the sword in vain'.
If you are a christian, then you have 2 distinct offices that aren't in conflict but will definitely take godly wisdom to excercise and carry out properly together.
If you are a believer and not gov't, you have no right to disrespect those that are 'God's ministers' whether they be believers or not, and especially if they are believers , who are carrying out their role in a goodly manner (though we are to respect the authority of even those that don't).
I once had the opportunity to show a christian police officer who was having some internal conflict Paul's words in Romans 13 which gave him great comfort and peace about carrying out his job.
A great book that illustrates this is called 'Behind Enemy Lines' written by an ex US Navy Seal who was asked to be on the elite team above the Seals and turned it down to go to MacArthur's Seminary and become a pastor. He shares very effectively how a christian soldier can go, with a peaceful conscience, to fight to defend the innocent.
I apologize if this is a repeat of previous posts.
| 2009/12/28 1:03||Profile|
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In all the conjecture that arises by words spoken to soldiers, beit John the Baptist or Jesus(they were never told not to fight, ergo, fighting must be okay, possibly one of the weakest arguments ever raised, arguments from silence) here is an opportunity for actual proofs.
I think you are unfairly misrepresenting the solid arguments presented by the Chief Justice in his treatise. You have oversimplified it to a point where it appears weak and without basis, which is not what one would conclude if one takes time to read the entirety of his letters. The absence of a "just war" during the first century AD means little in the face of a broad history of just wars ordered or supported by God in order to uphold his moral law in the old testament.
Our God does not change; He is the same yesterday, today and forever. The ordinances that needed to be revised in the transition between the old covenant (in the Law) and the new (in the Spirit) were all clearly dealt with in the NT by Paul, Peter, and the other Apostles. They had ample opportunity to teach a prohibition on future wars if they had been so led by God -- they did not. In fact, Paul, while teaching on faith, openly honored the warriors and rulers of the past who fought, conquered, and administered faithfully before God.
The fact that the nation of Israel was crushed and broken under the heel of the Romans (and other previous foreign powers) was the will of God. He would not have moved them through the Spirit to fight the Romans.
I respectfully suggest that you try reading the entire article with an open and teachable heart, and not with a set agenda.
| 2009/12/28 1:22||Profile|
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I ask the readers, if the good justice is correct, then all living Apotles( and that was most of them) in the years of 67-70ad, would have been found to have been defending, to the death, their country which was being destroyed by Rome. If ever there was a time for a just war , surely it would have been then. [b]And yet, no, they did not fight.[/b]
This isn't just about those who are called to be apostles. Some are apostles, prophets...and some are teachers. Others are not "full-time" or "office" ministers. Many (if not MOST) believers didn't hold such a decorated office or title. To this end, we really don't know the entire, extensive history of every believer in the early church.
We don't know how many believers served in the military, politics or other government jobs. The Book of Acts, after all, followed Paul and Peter (and a few others), and did not talk much about the life of, say, Cornelius the Centurion. Did he continue his service as a Centurion for Rome after his meeting with Peter? We just don't know because the Word doesn't say. Thus, to say that no believer during this period served in the armed forces of Rome (or elsewhere) is somewhat speculative at best. Furthermore, we really don't have any record of what the early believers would have done in other instances (such as if their families were attacked by an unlawful intruder). We can claim that writings of certain early Church leaders indicate a particular persuasion...but this too is merely a persuasion of a particular writer and not necessarily indicative of a "norm" and certainly unreflective of any sort of Scriptural requirement.
As far as believers who "fight" (at least, in battle)...I know some. I know some of the most sincere believers that I have ever met who serve or have served in the armed forces or police. These are godly men who certainly do not long to kill someone. They love the Lord. These men prayed about entering into such service and felt the liberty to do so. I suppose that some individuals can question whether or not they were "led" by God into such service. However, the fact remains that these men sincerely believe that they are serving the Lord during their military or police duty.
Again, I think that it would be incorrect to assert that none of the early believers "fought" in a sense of military service or in defense of their families (or others). There just isn't a complete record to make such a claim.
| 2009/12/28 1:35||Profile|
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I ask the readers, if the good justice is correct, then all living Apotles( and that was most of them) in the years of 67-70ad, would have been found to have been defending, to the death, their country which was being destroyed by Rome. If ever there was a time for a just war , surely it would have been then. And yet, no, they did not fight.
Frank, since this was mentioned earlier in the thread I hope it will be alright to respond again to it also.
The disciples were warned to [b]flee[/b] from Jerusalem when they saw it being surrounded by armies(Luke 21:20-22).
The reason they were told for this was that God's wrath was going to be upon the people(Luke 21:23).
See also Mat 22:7, 23:32,34-36.
I think that Paul may have indicated this also 1Thessalonians 2:14-16.
I think the scriptures indicate the nation wasn't being destroyed by Rome. But by God.
Christopher Joel Dandrow
| 2009/12/28 7:42||Profile|
| Re: Concerning the Sword|
Concerning the Sword: A Hutterian Apologia of 1577
[Article IV of the Great Article Book]
EDITED BY LEONARD GROSS*
TRANSLATED BY ELIZABETH HORSCH BENDER, ET AL.
This translation first appeared in the January 2009 issue of the
Mennonite Quarterly Review.
(3) They say: When the Lord answered Peter, All who take the sword will perish by the sword (Mt. 26:), he meant that those who draw the sword on their own authority, and not according to its proper use, will be slain by the sword. Also that the words in Matthew 5:, You shall not resist evil or kill, do not refer to the government, but only to the individual. In the same way it says, Thou shalt not kill,56 yet on the other hand there were many laws on how to deal with this or that evildoer in order to eradicate evil. Hence, they say, there can be a ruler among Christian people.
Answer: They are trying to make these passages refer to special persons and deny their validity for worldly government, but it is obvious that Christ applied and cited this statement just as it was given to judges and rulers in the Old Testament (for among the ancients no one could have carried out such commands on his own but this had to take place through those officially appointed)with Jesus using not [the singular] thou, but you (note: the plural you which excludes no Christian):57 You shall not resist evil.
It therefore follows that such passages do not refer to particular individuals but apply to all Christians in general, that none of them is to fight with the sword or resist evil. When Peter struck out with his sword, Jesus told him to let them proceed, 58 as if he wanted to say, Just let them exercise their evil intentions, in so far as is permitted them. The deed has its judge, so we are not to avenge ourselves. That is the obligation of Christians in every age in adversity and tribulation. We do not oppose worldly authority instituted by God, but acknowledge that it is necessary in the world. We also commit ourselves to obeying them in outward matters in so far as this is right. But we do not transfer the dictates of the law to the New Testament.
55. Mt. 26:69.
56. Ex. 20:13 and elsewhere.
57. nit du, sonder ir.
58. Mt. 26 51-54.
In Leviticus we read that anyone who is convicted of adultery on the testimony of two or three witnesses shall be stoned to death without mercy (Lev. 20:;59 [Deut. 17:6]; Heb. [10:28]). Now if they want to transfer the government of the Old Testament to the New, they cannot ban the adulterer for his betterment as Paul teaches, but must judge him according to the severity of the old law. If they are unwilling to judge in accord with the Old and New Testaments they must judge in accord with the imperial laws like the heathen. So they act neither according to the Old, nor to the New Testament.
(4) They say: After all, Christ laid hands on and drove the buyers and sellers out of the temple with a scourge (Jn. 2:).60
Answer: This was still his prerogative, for the law was not yet annulled, and the New Testament had not yet been separated from the Old or confirmed by his death. For a testament is not valid, in force or confirmed until the death of the one who made it (Heb. 9:17). Then when that has taken place it is obligatory to follow it completely in every detail. But just as it is not true that a scourge is in itself a sword, it is also untrue and much more so that Christ thereby wanted Christians to apply or use human coercion against anyone.
(5) They say: How is it then that the law and the Gospel do not contradict one another, and that the law is not annulled by faith and is not supposed to be against those who live in the Spirit, and yet the law and the Gospel are not to be practiced together essentially by one person?
Answer: The function of the law and the office of Christ are widely different. For if the function of the law and the office of Christ were intended to be a single office or practiced together, then Christ would have done wrong in forbidding his disciples to take vengeance when they referred to Elijah.61
But the outward shadowy and servile law in the Old Testament that was laid upon former times, whether in reference to the priesthood or to the office of judgment, and the law concerning force having dominion over the nations or repaying and punishing evil with evil as was their practice, was only an outward foreshadowing of what is inward and
59. Text reads: Lev. 2.
60. Text reads: Mt. 21.
61. Lk. 9:54-55.
spiritual. It was not given to be valid and to stand forever in its former outward expression but to be valid only until an age of a better law. For if there is a change in the priesthood, there is necessarily a change in the law as well (Heb. 7:). If the first had been faultless or sufficient, it would not have been necessary to seek a second (Heb. 8:). But they were made aware of something lacking. Thus the age in which the outward and carnal law was given, in so far as its preparatory purpose and meaning are concerned, has not been supplanted, but fulfilled and completed in Christ (Mt. 5:).
Thus the outward law (which pointed to the inward and spiritual law and is no longer valid in the older sense) accomplished thisthat Christ is the end of the law. (Rom. 10:). For when he annulled the first and servile law he established the other, which is spiritual and makes known what the outward and servile law prefigured and represented (Heb. 10:), and he perfects and fulfills it and says that not one iota will pass from the law until all has been accomplished and fulfilled (Mt. 5:), and that he did not come to destroy but to fulfill.
Since the outward law did not last beyond the coming of the new and spiritual, which completes and fulfills the old and outward law (in its meaning), it follows that the two cannot be in opposition. Yet they cannot both be practiced together essentially or enforced as if they were the same. But Christ has made the two into one. He has broken down the middle wall and brought everything together, so that there is neither Jew nor Greek, but a new creation (Eph. 2:[14-15]), and all is under the New Testament, so that people are no longer followers of Moses or heathen but they are Christians (Gal. 3:;62 6:).
Therefore, as the Levitical priesthood and the judgmental law to punish the transgressor were given through Moses to be practiced together, so also Christ has inaugurated the royal priesthood 63 and also the royal law, which is spiritual and not carnal, for his followers, the Christians,64 to be practiced together in the Christian church, punishing transgression with exclusion (Mt. 18:).
They also say: The Son is never in conflict with the Father. He therefore does not break what the Father has once ordained, nor do away with it. So if the Father has ordained government it must also remain in Christ, or the Son would be in conflict with the Father.
62. Text reads: Gal. 5.
63. 1 Pet. 2:9.
64. Jas. 2:8.
Answer: It is true that the Son is not in conflict with the Father; the two are one.65 But it does not follow that what the Father had once established must remain in Christ. For then Christs grace would be in vain. The reason is that, after the fall, the Father condemned all men to death. But by his death Christ removed the might and power of death and has thus restored life in all who believe in his Name. He is therefore not in conflict with the Father but has instead fulfilled the Fathers promise. Furthermore, God ordained and commanded circumcision so firmly to Abraham that any uncircumcised male infant was to be cut off from the nation (Gen. 17:).66 But in Christ it is abolished. Also, the Father commanded that they love their friend and hate their enemy (Mt. 5:); when Saul did not do this, but spared the enemy, the king of the Amalekites, and let him live, he was expelled from the kingdom.
Nevertheless, Christ commands that we love not only our friends but also our enemies. There are many other things that the Father ordained, such as sacrifices, the Sabbath and the like, which have ceased and ended in Christ (in whom the essence is the same). Therefore one should not say so arrogantly that the Son is for that reason in conflict with the Father, but rather: What the Father has ordained in Christ will remain in him and will not be changedsuch as love, peace, unity and community. But what he has ordained outside of Christ, such as death, wrath, ruthlessness, cursing, swearing, revenge and their servants, will also be out of place in Christendom.
(7) They may also say: We find that the prophets prophesied about Christ. Yet they do not expel government from the institution of worship and service to God, but instead show what its office and service in Christ is really to be. As Isaiah says, Kings shall be your foster fathers, and their queens your nursing mothers.67 Likewise in the Revelation of John: The kings of the earth shall bring their glory and honor into the New Jerusalem.68
Answer: We believe that where the prophets foretell and predict about Christ they rejected nobody from the testament of Gods grace, because Christ is an open door into eternal life for all mankind. But the ruler under Christ must rid himself of his domination
65. Jn. 17:22.
66. Text reads: 1 Sam. 15.
67. Isa. 49:23.
68. Rev. 21:24.
and worldly reign because it does not befit a Christian to rule, but to be subject (Jn. 6:; Mt. 20:). Rulers must arm themselves with the mind of Christ, who suffered and bore the cross here on earth (1 Pet. 4:; Lk. 9:). They must also become children of his Spirit. They must pass through the eye of the needle (Mt. 19:), and enter through the narrow gate (Mt. 7:), which will brush the sword from their side.
They must turn around and become like children if they are to become Christians (Mt. 18:).
For the Prophet Isaiah, when he says, Kings shall become the foster fathers of the church of Christ, adds: With their faces to the ground they shall bow down to you and lick the dust from your feet (Isa. 49:). Elsewhere he says that every mountain and hill shall be lowered and made level with the valleys of the earth (Isa. 40:). That means giving up domination and power and splendor, becoming lowly, amending ones life and turning around; it means conversion. And it shows, by virtue of the new nature in the Spirit (Rom. 7:), that they will truly serve God and his church as Paul did, who was such a man. Paul says: We were gentle among you, like a nurse taking care of her children. So, being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own lives (1 Thess. 2:[7-8]).
Oh, I69 wish to God there were many such foster fathers and kings on earth who are made such kings and priests of God through the blood of Christ (Rev 1:). They would bring all their glory and honor, their crowns and fame, into the New Jerusalem.70 Here there is no mention of worldly kings and rulers of the world, for those who wield the sword and act violently and rudely are not foster fathers, but servants of vengeance among the ungodly of this world. And if they were supposed to bring their glory and honor, dominion, and pomp and pride into the New Jerusalem, then Lucifer would not have fallen but would well have been permitted to stay in heaven.
(8) The world says further: But we read expressly that when the soldiers came to John the Baptist and asked what they should do, he did not forbid warfare, but said, Do no violence or injustice to any man, and be content with your wages (Lk. 3:).
Answer: The law was not yet abrogated or brought to perfection. The curtain in the temple was not yet rent, and the New Testament not yet differentiated from the Old. John
69. One of the few places where the writer uses the first person.
70. 2 Cor. 1; 1 Thess. 2.
was simply a forerunner of the paths of Christ to make an opening and beginning in Israel (Mt. 3:). But Christ came to us from the Father fully prepared as a new and living path;71 he says then, since he came later, It was said to the men of old, You shall not kill;72 but I say to you, he who is angry with his brother shall be liable to the judgment; whoever insults his brother shall be liable to the council, and whoever says, You fool!
shall be liable to the hell of fire (Mt. 5:[21-22])not to mention him who kills. Likewise: You have heard that it was said, An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, a hand for a hand (Ex. 20:; 21:; Deut. 19:).
But I say to you, do not resist one who is evil. But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also (Mt. 5:).
Where, then, is there a place for a soldier in Christendom? There no soldier will or can stay, for the Gospel removes his sword; the combatant and defender with a sword has no place there. For the wolf must become a sheep and lay aside his wolfish fangs. The lion must eat grass like cattle. They shall graze together in one herd (Isa. 11:; 65:). For Christ and the apostles teach their followers: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you (Mt. 5:). The apostle Paul teaches:
Beloved, never avenge yourselves. Likewise, If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him drink (Rom. 12:[19-20]).
The apostle Peter writes to the brethren: Do not return evil for evil or reviling for reviling; but on the contrary bless, for to this you have been called, that you may obtain a blessing (1 Pet. 3:).
All of this and much more abolishes wars and soldiers in Christianity. Thus there remains a great difference between John and Christ. John baptized only with water unto penitence and repentance; but Christ, with the Holy Spirit and with fire. If we were to follow John the Baptist we would still have to observe the Jewish Passover and many other things, for he did not institute the Lords Supper; only Christ did. But God wanted them with their soldiers to follow John the Baptist and be content with their wages. How much pillage would then have been avoided! And if they did no violence or injustice to anyone, they would soon discontinue warfare, for wars and the deeds of warfare are nothing but violence and injustice.
| 2009/12/28 18:06||Profile|