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Compton
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Joined: 2005/2/24
Posts: 2732


 War and Scripture

Why am I bringing up this volatile topic? To breed division? To talk politics? No. Mainly because, as a Christian, I am forced to think about it everyday. Aren't we all? It is heartbreaking. (I'm sure the topic of Christians and War has come up in various threads.) I thought about posting this in the "lounge" area but I am hoping to tie our strong opinions to scriptural wisdom. Are there any sermons on at SI that tackle war?

On a personal note, I confess a certain amount of instability in this area. I can not deny being double-minded on this topic. After 9-11 it was clear that The Taliban had a death wish for picking a fight with the US. And I sincerely wondered if the policy of injecting democracy into the Middle East was perhaps the only realistic solution I have heard anyone come up with for stabilizing that region and ultimatley quelling radical terrorism. I am horrified over the atrocities of the war in Iraq, but I console myself with the fact that 121 million people now have the right to vote...and perhaps hear the gospel. Furthermore, much of the peace rhetoric in this country is wed to other antichristian motives.

Yet, where does the policy of preemptive war lead us? Are we really going to abandon the air bases we have built in Iraq? I am concerned that we have stirred up a hornets nest and have doomed our children to fight an endless string of proactive wars that are based on some vain hope in Pax Americana.

Yes, I have a divided heart. Like I said...war is heartbreaking.

Back to the bible. In a sermon at his Atlanta church, Charles Stanley defended the "war on terror." Stanley said that, "Throughout Scripture there is evidence that God favors war for divine reasons and sometimes uses it to accomplish His will. He has also given governments and their citizens very specific responsibilities in regards to this matter."

Let me quote John Macathur on the scriptural position that Government Has the Right to Punish with Death...which is the closest scripture I could find on warfare.. Referring to government Paul writes,(Romans 13:4)"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, an avenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil."

If you do what is evil, be afraid, because God has given the government the right to bear the sword--and it doesn't bear the sword for nothing. You don't spank or fine people with a sword; you kill people with a sword. So Paul is saying that government is given the right to inflict final punishment--the punishment of death. God has ordained civil government to bear the sword for the purpose of putting evildoers to death. If you have ever wondered if capital punishment is biblical, you have your answer from this verse. The sword is a symbol for death."

The bible has many verses that say the same thing. For example there is Numbers 35:33 which says,

"So ye shall not pollute the land wherein ye are; for blood defileth the land: and the land cannot be cleansed of the blood that is shed therein, but by the blood of him that shed it." The land will never be cleansed of shed blood until that blood is requited.

Clearly the law requires blood for blood as expressed famous passage from Exodus 21: 23-25 And if any mischief follow, then thou shalt give life for life, Eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot,Burning for burning, wound for wound, stripe for stripe. (I would say that the Taliban committed some mischief...)

Yet this passage echoed in Leviticus 24, is also the nexus of the whole debate because later Jesus tells us:

""You have heard that it was said, 'Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.' But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you."

Christians who oppose war believe that we, having died with Christ, are no longer married to the law but to Christ Himself and therefore are free to Love our enemies as He taught.

These Christians claim to leverage the cleansing of the temple incident to support war and violence in general misses the spiritual heart of Jesus. He was protecting the worship of God...which is exactly the same motive claimed by Christians who oppose war. They argue that Jesus is betrayed by republican religous conservatives, especially "hawkish pro-war" church leaders in America.

In the book "Gods' Politics" Jim Wallis writes in a chapter entitled "Blessed are the Peacemakers:"We always should be reminded that Jesus did not say 'Blessed are the peace lovers' (which of course everybody claims to be). He rather said, 'Blessed are the peacemakers', which is always a much more difficult task. Furthermore Wallis asserts that Christ is defamed when American military policy uses Christian rhetoric to descibe naked assertion of self-interested power. He claims: "In the name of anti-communism, the US violated its own professed values again and again, by backing a succession of ugly regimes that killed tens of thousands of their own people, trampling on every human right that Americans hold dear... We have never really stood up for Palestinian human rights and self-determiniation or served as an honest broker for Middle East peace with our ally Israel. After the first war with Saddam Hussien, we ultimately made the Persian Gulf safe, not for democracy, but for our own oil interests. And for fifty years, US nuclear weapons policy has been based on a willingness to exterminate hundreds of millions of people. The US has led the world in weapons sales, which have fueled conflicts around the globe...

To start some things off let me give some links to Christian organizations who offer different perspectives.First, those who are feel that war is realistic and unavoidable.(There are many...)

MC[url=http://www.orderofcenturions.org/]Order of the Centurions[/url] is a group that tries to walk in the tradition of those first Roman soldiers who became praiseworthy Christians even as they served Romes' Legions.

[url=http://www.amcf-int.org/]Association of Christian Military Fellowships[/url]

Second, those who feel war is a betrayal of Christs' life and teaching. (There are many...)

[url=http://www.sojo.net/]Sojourners[/url]

[url=http://mideastchristians.virtualactivism.net/]Middle East Christians against the war[/url]

One thing I am not divided on is this: God loves soldiers. Who was the first Gentile conversion baptised by Peter? Cornelius, who was both a soldier and a man who God found much favor in. Furthermore, I love soldiers. Who else but soldiers could conduct the unpleasant business of liberating the US colonies, defeating Napolean, crushing fascism in Europe, bleeding out communism, and continuing to serve the ideal that good must be stronger then evil? I am not so heavenly that I don't cherish those who have been willing to pay the ultimate price for those who cannot or are unwilling to fight.

Let the mother of all threads begin ;-)

(Just kidding.)

MC


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Mike Compton

 2005/3/31 18:03Profile
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Joined: 2003/6/3
Posts: 4792


 Re: War and Scripture

Br. MC wrote:

Quote:
And I sincerely wondered if the policy of injecting democracy into the Middle East was perhaps the only realistic solution I have heard anyone come up with for stabilizing that region and ultimatley quelling radical terrorism.



Democracy is not of God, it was created by men during the times of the Greek and Roman empires 2500 years ago. The book of Daniel describes the successive deterioration of world governments.

32 This image’s head was of fine gold, its chest and arms of silver, its belly and thighs of bronze, 33 its legs of iron, its feet partly of iron and partly of clay. 34 You watched while a stone was cut out without hands, which struck the image on its feet of iron and clay, and broke them in pieces. 35 Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver, and the gold were crushed together, and became like chaff from the summer threshing floors; the wind carried them away so that no trace of them was found. And the stone that struck the image became a great mountain and filled the whole earth.

Dan. 2:36 “This is the dream. Now we will tell the interpretation of it before the king. 37 You, O king, are a king of kings. For the God of heaven has given you a kingdom, power, strength, and glory; 38 and wherever the children of men dwell, or the beasts of the field and the birds of the heaven, He has given them into your hand, and has made you ruler over them all—you are this head of gold. 39 But after you shall arise another kingdom inferior to yours; then another, a third kingdom of bronze, which shall rule over all the earth. 40 And the fourth kingdom shall be as strong as iron, inasmuch as iron breaks in pieces and shatters everything; and like iron that crushes, that kingdom will break in pieces and crush all the others. 41 Whereas you saw the feet and toes, partly of potter’s clay and partly of iron, the kingdom shall be divided; yet the strength of the iron shall be in it, just as you saw the iron mixed with ceramic clay. 42 And as the toes of the feet were partly of iron and partly of clay, so the kingdom shall be partly strong and partly fragile. 43 As you saw iron mixed with ceramic clay, they will mingle with the seed of men; but they will not adhere to one another, just as iron does not mix with clay.

Do you see that the nature of the forms of governments are less pure with each successive empire? "As you saw iron mixed with ceramic clay, they will mingle with the seed of men; but they will not adhere to one another, just as iron does not mix with clay." A democracy presents two or more opposing views so a consensus must be reached. People will always have opposing views.

In Christ
Jeff


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Jeff Marshalek

 2005/4/4 11:46Profile
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Joined: 2003/6/3
Posts: 4792


 Re:

Brother MC wrote:

Quote:
One thing I am not divided on is this: God loves soldiers. Who was the first Gentile conversion baptised by Peter? Cornelius, who was both a soldier and a man who God found much favor in.



Many a man has come to cry out to God for salvation during these times of judgement. War is the result of sin. War is the fruit of following the paths of Satan. What man does for harm God always turns it for good to those who will love Him.

In Christ
Jeff


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Jeff Marshalek

 2005/4/4 11:57Profile
Compton
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Joined: 2005/2/24
Posts: 2732


 Re: impure

Quote:
Democracy is not of God, it was created by men during the times of the Greek and Roman empires 2500 years ago. The book of Daniel describes the successive deterioration of world governments.



I should've been careful to state that I never imagined that democracy or capitalism to be of God per se. Yet democracies have one virtue over dictatorships; internal power and policy can change frequently without bloodshed. 20th century history has, for the most part, shown this to be the case. Even if radical elements are elected in Iraq, in a true democracy they have a chance to be replaced without a bloody coup.

Is it a fool-proof plan? Hardly! But I am tired from digesting end-times prophecy pop-culture for more then 20 years. I am ready to teach my children more then just packing their bags and waiting for armageddon. Left Hehind is just the latest entertainment property in a product category I like to call "mystery of babylon bubblegum." Remember Salem Kirbans' 666? and Hal Lindseys' Late Great craze? These popular books imply that it's almost unbiblical to hope for peace...

Perhaps, there will be some good that comes from the awful war in Iraq. Just maybe, if there is a chance for positive change in the middle-east it may be partialy achieved through democracy and constitutional law that allows for religous toleration. I know real life is messy under any government but consider the history of Islamic fundamentalism and Communism(and athiestic fundamentalism) upon it's own people. Changes in power can be downright grisly on the powerless.

For instance in the newly formed USSR, even before Stalin took power Lenin had managed to kill almost 10% of the Russian people through civil war, collectivization and the resulting famine. This era saw the war against the saints waged by the Bolshevik regime through such organizations as the Soviet League of the Militant Godless. Inspite of brief glimpses of religous freedom it would be 60 years later before the gospel could be preached openly in Russia. So, I believe history proves that modern democracy is more tolerant to religion...although democracy certainly does not insure it. The US and Europe are proving that.

Quote:
Do you see that the nature of the forms of governments are less pure with each successive empire? "As you saw iron mixed with ceramic clay, they will mingle with the seed of men; but they will not adhere to one another, just as iron does not mix with clay." A democracy presents two or more opposing views so a consensus must be reached. People will always have opposing views.



You bring up a great perspective. I wouldn't mind hearing a little more about this idea. I have often wondered at the irony of it...A recent liberal pundit observed that democrats are going to have to admit to the defeat of socialism in the US. Even as I smiled I realized that unbridaled capitalism could very well be the launch platform for all sorts of anti-christ machinery. (Can you see how Hal Lindsey has shaped my view of the world?)

Ultimately I don't hold much stock in mankinds' genius. My original post obviously wasn't to argue for the greatness of democracy but to hear some scriptural insights on war and Christians. I think you have given me some great insights by observing the fragility and prophetic futility of mans' government according to Daniel. Again, please feel free to elaborate whenever you get a chance. Thank you!
Quote:
Many a man has come to cry out to God for salvation during these times of judgement. War is the result of sin. War is the fruit of following the paths of Satan. What man does for harm God always turns it for good to those who will love Him



Amen. Well said brother!

MC


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Mike Compton

 2005/4/4 14:06Profile
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Posts: 4792


 Re:

Brother Mike wrote:

Quote:
So, I believe history proves that modern democracy is more tolerant to religion...although democracy certainly does not insure it. The US and Europe are proving that.



I look at religious freedom in a different light. Scripture teaches that the nation of Israel is the nation that God has chosen over all other nations.

Deut. 9:1 “Hear, O Israel: You are to cross over the Jordan today, and go in to dispossess nations greater and mightier than yourself, cities great and fortified up to heaven, 2 a people great and tall, the descendants of the Anakim, whom you know, and of whom you heard it said, “Who can stand before the descendants of Anak?’ 3 Therefore understand today that the LORD your God is He who goes over before you as a consuming fire. He will destroy them and bring them down before you; so you shall drive them out and destroy them quickly, as the LORD has said to you.

Deut. 9:4 “Do not think in your heart, after the LORD your God has cast them out before you, saying, ‘Because of my righteousness the LORD has brought me in to possess this land’; but it is because of the wickedness of these nations that the LORD is driving them out from before you. 5 It is not because of your righteousness or the uprightness of your heart that you go in to possess their land, but because of the wickedness of these nations that the LORD your God drives them out from before you, and that He may fulfill the word which the LORD swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

I believe during the time of the Gentiles, all other peoples have had the door open to them. Yet, God still has chosen Israel as a nation unlike all other nations. Now, if we look for God's will for the nation of Israel, we find that He did not permit "religious freedom" in His nation. What does this say about the current wisdom of this age? Is freedom of religion that allows men to worship other gods good for any nation?

Just a thought.

In Christ
Jeff




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Jeff Marshalek

 2005/4/4 16:01Profile
Compton
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Joined: 2005/2/24
Posts: 2732


 Re:

Quote:
I believe during the time of the Gentiles, all other peoples have had the door open to them. Yet, God still has chosen Israel as a nation unlike all other nations. Now, if we look for God's will for the nation of Israel, we find that He did not permit "religious freedom" in His nation. What does this say about the current wisdom of this age? Is freedom of religion that allows men to worship other gods good for any nation?


Jeff,

Most excellent point!

Admittedly your perspective is more like that from Heaven...I know that one day the Earth will see a true theocracy under Christ. Untill that day I guess I would rather see a secular democracy that is friendly to "religous freedom."

This freedom is important even within the boundaries of Christendom. For instance, although many American colonies were ostensibly founded on the premise of religous freedom, their governments did not always establish such freedom. The Massachussets and New Haven Colonies were particulary intolerant of the Quakers; passing severe laws that impeded their commerical endeavors and punnishing with fines, imprisonment, whips, brands, and hot pokers through the tongue.

This not imply of course, that I believe God endorses freedom in the secular sense. On the other hand I imagine he isn't always honored by magisterial church/state relationships.

Bless you brother,

MC


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Mike Compton

 2005/4/4 17:44Profile
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Joined: 2003/6/3
Posts: 4792


 Re:

Br Mike wrote:

Quote:
This freedom is important even within the boundaries of Christendom. For instance, although many American colonies were ostensibly founded on the premise of religous freedom, their governments did not always establish such freedom.



Your statement reminded me of a Scripture that I read this morning.

28 Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. 29 For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. 30 Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves. 31 Therefore watch, and remember that for three years I did not cease to warn everyone night and day with tears.

The freedom you speak of can only come when the overseers of the church are submissive to the Holy Spirit. Paul warned that wolves would come in among the flock to make disciples of themselves. The events of history that you mention remind me of this precept. A disciple of a man can never experience the freedom that can only be found in being a disciple of Christ. Instead, disciples of men remain in bondage to the depravity of man.

In Christ
Jeff


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Jeff Marshalek

 2005/4/5 12:33Profile





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