| THE WAY OF PEACE|
A study that every Christian should prayerfully consider:
THE WAY OF PEACE
-A. Ralph Johnson
Should Christians participate in military service? This has been a problem since early centuries of the church. History tells us that early Christians refused, and this became one of the things that increased pressure for persecution. However, that was under a pagan power. As beneficiaries of a Christian influenced government, in many respects serving to protect us from our enemies, are we not obligated to obey the government and share in the responsibilities of maintaining it, just as we are to pay taxes? These are tough questions that need to be considered.
I. THE MATTER OF OUR PERSONAL SECURITY RESTS WITH GOD
A key issue is whether we have faith in Gods power to care for us.
A. Scriptures concerning Gods protection
Jer. 17:5-7. Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm.
Prov. 29:25. The fear of man bringeth a snare: but whoso putteth his trust in the Lord SHALL BE SAFE.
Compare Mark 6:33-34. Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all of these things shall be added unto you
be not anxious for the morrow.
Ps 27:1-3. my heart shall not fear: though war should rise against me
Compare Ps. 118:6. The LORD is on my side; I will not fear: what can man do unto me?
8 It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in man.
Rom. 8:28. All things work together for good to them that love the Lord.
Prov. 16:7. When a mans ways please God he maketh even his enemies to be at peace.
2 Peter 2:9. The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations.
Compare 1 Cor. 10:13. There hath no temptation taken you but such as man can bear: but god is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above what you are able: but will with the temptation taken you but such as man can bear: but god is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above what you are able: but will with the temptation also make a way of escape
31 What shall we then say to these things? if god be for us, who can be against us? 32 He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? 33 Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth. 34Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 36 As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. 37Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. 38 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, 39 Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
B. The importance of accepting suffering if God wills.
1 Peter 3:8-14
8 Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous: 9 Not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing: but contrariwise blessing; knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing. 10 For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile: 11 Let him eschew evil, and do good; let him seek peace, and ensue it. 12 For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil. 13 and who is he that will harm you, if ye be followers of that which is good? 14 but and if ye suffer for righteousness' sake, happy are ye: and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled;
1 Peter 2:21-23
21 For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: 22 Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: 23 Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously:
And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb, and because of the word of their testimony: and they loved not their lives unto death.
1 Cor. 4:10-13.
being reviled we bless; being persecuted, we suffer it
1 Thes. 3:3-4.
That no man should be moved by these afflictions: for yourselves know that we were appointed thereunto
that we should suffer persecutrions.
Heb. 11:25. Choosing to suffer with the people of God than to suffer the pleasures of sin for a season.
1 Peter 5:10
the God of all grace
after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, establish, strengthen, settle you.
Fear not them that kill the body and after that can do no more
fear him that after he hath killed hath power to cast into hell
II. THE MATTER OF NATIONAL SECURITY RESTS WITH GOD
Prov. 21:1. The heart of the king is in the Lords hand, he turneth it whithersoever he wills.
26 And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation;
5 I have made the earth, the man and the beast that are upon the ground, by my great power and by my outstretched arm, and have given it unto whom it seemed meet unto me.
Daniel 4:25, 32; 5:21.
the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will.
1 Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.
(Note: ordained is translated appointed in Matt 28:16; Ac. 22:10; 28:23)
PROBLEMS PRESENTED BY THE TEACHINGS OF THESE TEXTS:
1. Since the fate of a nation rests in the hands of God, then in the absence of divine authorization, the person who resorts to violence to raise up, bring down, or preserve a nation, can be intruding upon the province of God. He will be taking into his own hands that which properly belongs to God.
-Matt 22:21. Give unto God the things that are Gods
-Rom. 12:19. Vengeance belongeth unto ME, I will repay saith the Lord.
2. Without direct revelation we cannot be sure which side God intends to support. Therefore, our participation may place us in a position of fighting against God. In the Old Testament, when God established a physical nation and was demonstrating to the heathen nations the superior power of Jehovah in supporting his people over the ability of the pagan gods to support them, he provided prophets to guide his people as to what wars they should fight. They were not at liberty to choose which they should fight or not fight or even the extent of devastation they were to produce. God directed so they would not be opposition to His objectives.
-Isa. 30:1-2. God condemns them for trusting the protection of Egypt and not asking him.
-1 Sam. 28:3-19. Saul received no revelation from the Lord and because he then sought Samuels guidance through a witch, he died (cf. 1 Chron. 10:13).
-1 Kings 22:1-40. The prophet Micaiah consulted Ahab. Ahab died for ignoring him.
-1 Sam. 15:1-23. Saul was condemned for not killing ALL of the Amalekites.
The fact that God provided such special revelation to guide His people when He wanted them to wage war, is an indication that participation in war was not intended in the absence of such revelation.
Would God leave His people to grope blindly amidst the whims and propaganda of greedy men? Since both sides usually share to some extent in the wrong, and one abuse begets another, how can fallible men accurately determine the amount of blame and the extent of punishment to be meted out in national struggles? Do the wrongs on both sides justify Christians on each side slaughtering each other? Is it a case of, our nation, right or wrong? Are we to discover which side God supports by destroying or being destroyed? Even if we could determine which nation was the more wicked, what if God (as he did in the Old Testament) wants to punish His people by using a wicked nation?
3. Since ALL governments stand by the will of God (cf. Rom. 13:1-2), if we resist ANY of them without Gods direction, are we not resisting the ordinance of God?
4. God is not limited to our strength in order to accomplish His objectives.
-Is. 40:15-17. The nations are as a drop of a bucket
all nations before Him are as nothing.
-Ps. 2:1-5. He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the Lord shall have them in derision.
-Zech. 4:6. Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the Lord.
cf. Ex. 13:14-16. God saved Israel out of Egypt without fighting.
cf. Isa. 37:33-37. God saved Jerusalem from the Assyrians without fighting.
cf. 2 Chron. 20:17-23 (cf. verses 1-16) Jehosophat saved without fighting.
cf. 1 Sam. 19:1; 20:31; 23:26-28; 24:1-22; 26:7-25. David refused to fight against Saul. God protected him and ultimately brought about Sauls death.
Therefore, in the absence of a directive from God, responsibility for the death and devastation that we cause in such struggles will rest squarely upon us.
5. Since the outcome of such struggles is not dependent upon our strength, the increased slaughter and devastation produced by our participation without authorization of God becomes a senseless waste. What about responsibility for the widows, orphans and possible deaths of other Christians? What about the suffering and the maimed? What about the matter of sending lost souls into eternity by our trigger finger?
6. Since, in the absence of divine revelation, only God knows whether a nation is to rise or fall, it is presumptious for us to decide what God should do. Our responsibility is to ourselves to the will of the Lord.
7. Since the rise or fall of a nation rests in the will of God, then its security can only be assured by its citizens sustaining the kind of relationship with what makes Him pleased to favor them. Someone has said, America is great because she is good. When she ceases to be good, she will cease to be great. Arbitrarily taking things into our own hands is an abdication of our responsibility to give place to the wrath of God (Rom. 12:19) and discards the source and means of our true security.
God has told us how we can achieve real security with Him.
-1 Tim. 2:1-2. PRAY for those in authority that we might live in peace.
-James 4:1-3. (cf. 3:13--) Ye fight and war and receive not because ye ask not.
-Rom. 8:28. ALL things work together for good to them that love the Lord.
-2 Cor. 10:1-6. God has provided weapons and armor which are mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds: casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of god. (cf. Eph. 6:10-18)
I am not a pacifists. I am aggressively pressing the battle with the weapons God has providedweapons that do not snuff out mens lives, but save their souls. Hatred cannot be purged from the earth by more killing. Blood only calls for more blood, and there is no such thing as a war that ends wars.
The fact is that the person who takes things into his own hands actually weakens the likelihood that God will preserve him and the nation he supports because he is demonstrating a lack of faith with God. The materialist may scoff at the idea of winning by not fighting but the foolishness of God is wiser than men and the weakness of God is stronger than men (1Cor. 1:25; 2:14).
If our participation in a war cannot favorably alter the outcome, then is it not a violation of the responsibilities of Christian stewardship, to participate? (Matt. 25:14-30)
-Consider the eroding effect of military life upon the spiritual growth of the Christian.
-Consider the fact that you are not free to work for the Lord as you otherwise could?
-Consider how your time, talent and example are channeled into the business of making widows and orphans wholesale.
| 2009/9/25 15:25||Profile|
| Re: THE WAY OF PEACE|
III. THE PROBLEM OF FULFILLING GODS OBJECTIVE OF BEING AT PEACE WITH ALL MEN?
Isa. 2:1-4. they will learn war no more
Note: This has reference to the church. Compare Luke 24:45-47 the law shall go forth from zion and 1Tim 3:15. speaks of the church as the house of God.
1 Tim. 2:1-2. that we may lead quiet and peaceable lives
James 3:134:1-3. peaceable, sown in peace, whence come wars
from your lusts.
Rom. 3:15-17. The way of peace they have not known.
2 Pet. 3:14. Be found in peace at his coming.
Matt. 5:5, 9. Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the children of God.
Heb. 12:14. Follow peace with all men.
Rom. 14:17, 19. The kingdom of God is
follow after things which make for peace.
Note: It does not say, be at peace with Christians. It does not say, blessed are the war-makers.
IV. THE PROBLEM OF MAINTAINING THE CHRISTIAN GRACES
Mat. 5:38-48. It hath been said, an eye for an eye
But I say, resist not evil
turn the other cheek
love thy enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you
(cf. 7:12. The Golden Rule).
Rom. 12:14-21. Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not
Recompense to no man evil for evil
live peaceably with all men
avenge not yourselves
if thine enemy hunger, feed him
Be not overcome of evil, but OVERCOME EVIL WITH GOOD.
Gal. 5:14, 19-23. The fruits of the Spirit are love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness
1 John 3:15. He that hateth his brother is a murderer
no murderer hath eternal life.
Try to imagine the chaplain just before the battle saying, Go out there and love your enemies, return not evil for evil. How do you say, I love you brother and then blow his brains out?
I am reminded of the story about the old Puritan who was getting rather upset with a pushy salesman. He walked over to the wall, took down his hunting rifle, and pointed it at the fellow and said, Friend, I would that no harm would come to thee, but thou art standing where I am about to shoot!
It is a lot easier to rationalize these contradictory concepts in the detached circumstances of home than in the viscous reality of combat. When you have a man in your gun-sight, there is just you and him and God. You pull the trigger a fraction of an inch and suddenly there is just youand God! I have never heard a man say that in that moment that he was demonstrating love. There was just fear, hate, or a desire not to think about it at all. The sickening feeling of taking a mans life tends to make men doubt reality, or to have a loathing for what they are doing that even causes them to doubt the reality of God.
Some may rationalize and become so hardened that they actually derive pleasure out of brutality, but for most it is a gut-wrenching experience. One man I read about had come to enjoy the sport of killing men after he had been in combat for a while. He declared bluntly, Kill a communist for Christ! War is not pretty and to compensate for the fear and hatred, some are turned into monsters. Others are emotionally shattered and scarred forever. After training to be killers it is no easy job for these men to return to living normal lives in society.
V. THE PROBLEM OF THE TEMPLE OF GOD AND KILLING?
Because King David had shed blood and made war, God would not permit him to build the temple (1Chronicles 22:8). How then can we, who are living stones in the spiritual temple of God, participate in killing? (cf. 1Cor. 3:16; 1Pet. 2:15) Note that this very analogy of our relationship to the temple is used to show our need to be separated from other sins such as idolatry and adultery. (1Cor 6:15, 19; 2Cor. 6:16)
VI. WARNING AGAINST TAKING UP THE SWORD OR SUPPORTING CAPTIVITY
9 If any man have an ear, let him hear. 10 He that leadeth into captivity shall go into captivity: he that killeth with the sword must be killed with the sword. Here is the patience and the faith of the saints.
49 When they which were about him saw what would follow, they said unto him, Lord, shall we smite with the sword? 50 And one of them smote the servant of the high priest, and cut off his right ear. 51 And Jesus answered and said, Suffer ye thus far. And he touched his ear, and healed him.
51 And, behold, one of them which were with Jesus stretched out his hand, and drew his sword, and struck a servant of the high priest's, and smote off his ear. 52 Then said Jesus unto him, Put up again thy sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword.
54 And when his disciples James and John saw this, they said, Lord, wilt thou that we command fire to come down from heaven, and consume them, even as Elias did? 55 But he turned, and rebuked them, and said, Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of. 56 For the Son of man is not come to destroy men's lives, but to save them. And they went to another village.
VII. CHRISTIANS DO NOT WAR AFTER THE FLESH
1 Now I Paul myself beseech you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ, who in presence am base among you, but being absent am bold toward you: 2 But I beseech you, that I may not be bold when I am present with that confidence, wherewith I think to be bold against some, which think of us as if we walked according to the flesh. 3 For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: 4 (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) 5 Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; 6 And having in a readiness to revenge all disobedience, when your obedience is fulfilled.
There is not one place in the New Testament where any Christian participated in carnal war, nor was any Christian ever told to do so. Rather, we are to be separate from such things. The fact is that when we trust Gods power concerning personal and national security, the prime motivation for war is removed. It is not easy to overcome the life-long conditioning to strike back but we must shake free from the picture of soldiering as a gallant crusade to thwart the forces of evil. The emotional grip is powerful but Christians can see the true futility and injustice of war.
It takes considerable honesty, faith, and courage to face the scorn of ones fellows. It takes great courage to do this in the face even of imprisonment and disgrace, even against part of the military that would be unlikely to enter combat. Ironically, this nation, which has granted the right to refrain from military service is the strongest in the world.
THE PROBLEM OF BOUNDARIES
Sometimes it is not easy to determine just how far we may go in cooperation with the military. Does responsibility cease with the man who fires the bullet? --with the one who transports them? or with the one who manufactures them? What about the medic that prepares the men for battle?
The armed service is a TEAM. Every part is essential to the effective job of killing. The man who thinks that in the medics he will not be contributing to the success of the team is laboring under a delusion.
The Army Field Manual, FM 8-10 says, The primary duty of medical troops as of all other troops is to contribute their utmost to the success of the command of which the medical service is a part. The mission of the medical service in a theater of operations is to contribute to the success of the military effort througha. Conserving Manpower. Military strength is preserved by seeing that only the fit take the field, by protection of troops against unnecessary hazards to health and efficiency, and by effective care and early return to duty. b. Preventing adverse effects of unevacuated casualties on combat efficiency. Casualties within any combat unit restrict its movement. Lack of care and proper evacuation reduces the soldiers willingness to take necessary risks. Both can be prevented by adequate medical aid and rapid evacuation. The essentiality for physical fitness is a critical factor in the combat efficiency of troops. Military history is rampant with examples of battles that were lost and campaigns that failed solely because the troops were immobilized by disease.
What activities outside the military might be involved? This is a more difficult problem, and one that must be approached with caution. The fact that the line is not always easy to recognize is not justification for disregarding its existence. One rule I find helpful is that of leaving the margin of error on my side of the line. The fellow who is always crowding the line is exposing a weakness and will inevitably step over from time to time. If we are going to be safe we must start with the right attitude towards safety.
The following are some ground rules to consider.
1. We are free to perform such services as would exist in the absence of war. (All must eat, so raising and selling food would be permissible.)
2. It must not be the development or fabrication of a military weapon. (Thus, one might make steel but could not form it into guns, bombs etc. Some areas such as making trucks, ships etc., which may be used for either peaceful or military uses where involvement with weapons is not present may be open to debate. The basic rule here is, if in doubtdont. (Rom. 14:23)
3. Whatever we do must not be such as to interfere with our life of service for Christ.
4. Since Jesus taught that taxation levied against us belongs to Caesar we are not responsible for what the government does with it.
| 2009/9/25 15:38||Profile|
| Re: THE WAY OF PEACE|
DEALING WITH OBJECTIONS
OBJECTION: Does not Rom. 13:1-7 teach that we must obey laws of the land?
Yes, even if you lived under Stalin or Hitler. ALL governments are ordained of God. (There is NO POWER but of God) If you resist any of them you will be in violation of Rom. 13:1-2. However the text designates the extent of their power as being that which is for good. James 4:1-3 shows us that war is NOT good. Since all nations derive their authority from God, the higher authority takes precedence over any earthly law in any area where there is conflict.
Acts 5:29 puts the issue pointedly, We must obey God rather than men.
It is stretching credulity pretty far to maintain that the suffering, destruction and wholesale killing of both soldiers and civilians is good. Is it good to drop a bomb that wipes out a whole city of 100,000 souls? Dare we assume such a responsibility without a command of God?
OBJECTION: Does not Rom. 13:1-7 empower the government to use the sword against evil doers?
Yes, and only evil doers. These powers have to do with their power over their citizens and not wholesale killing of the citizens of another state. All powers are ordained of God and therefore the citizens of one have no right to kill citizens of another. Even within the state this does not justify throwing a bomb that kills people en mass. There is a vast difference between the state restricting itself to punishing the guilty, and the realities of the carnage of war.
It may not always be easy to distinguish when the punishment of evil doers changes to a struggle for the state but God has made such a distinction and it is up to us to see that we stay on His side of the line. We do not war after the flesh (2Cor. 10:3).
OBJECTION: What about Cornelius, a soldier of the Roman army? (Acts 10)
Here we have a case of a soldier becoming a Christiannot of a Christian becoming a soldier! At the time of his conversion he was performing ordinary police responsibilitiesnot engaged in war. We dont know what he did after his conversion.
Any argument drawn from silence concerning the future of his military status is pretty frail. It is just as easy for me to conjecture that he must have resigned. The fact is that NOTHING is said about his future life. We have no record of any changes whatsoever that he needed to make in his life beyond baptism but it is pretty presumptions to declare that he would need to grow in nothing.
If silence proves that Cornelius continued in the military and we must do the same, then what does it teach us about becoming publicans (as in the case of Zachaeus. Lk. 19:1-9) or harlots (Mat. 21:31-32)? Certainly the prohibitions against favoring captivity would apply to him just as would commands against stealing, adultery and extortion. (cf. Lk. 3:14)
OBJECTION: Did not John the Baptist tell the soldiers to be content with their wages?
Yes, the soldier, living under the Old Testament and performing the function of a policeman was told this. He was also told that he was to do violence to no man (Lk 3:14). if he was obedient we may presume that he did BOTH of these things, but this is not an argument for Christians killing people in war.
OBJECTION: Doesnt it say there will be wars and rumors of wars? (Mat. 24:6-10; Luke 21:9-21)
Such arguments sound like the fellow who believed that if there was a gunfight in the street that he should get into it so he wouldnt be SHOT AS AN INNOCENT BYSTANDER!
It also says that there will be false-prophets. Must we join them?
Actually, the text teaches just the opposite. It tells them to pray and when they see the armies they are to flee. It is significant that in this, the only place in the New Testament where it deals directly with what the Christian is to do when confronted by a war, they are told to flee. Do we have any authority for doing anything else? (Mat. 24:16, 19)
OBJECTION: What about Jesus driving the moneychangers out of the temple?
Not one word is said about any man being struckmuch less killed. The Greek text indicates the scourge was used to drive the animals. Furthermore, Jesus had authority to do anything he pleased, but he specifically disavowed any sympathy with taking life. (Lk. 9:55-56; Jn. 18:36). Above all, this certainly has nothing to do with the mass violence of war.
OBJECTION: Did not Jesus say to buy a sword? (Luke 22:36-38)
Was he telling them to prepare for war? Was the gospel to be spread by means of physical swords? Certainly two swords among twelve men were a bit inadequate to wage war! Perhaps his request was related to the prophecy, he shall be reckoned among the transgressors. Even if we suppose this to provide for defense in restraining an evil doer, it is a far cry from a war between two nations that spreads wholesale devastation. This is not s contradiction of Luke 9:55-56 and John 18:36. The fact that Peter misunderstood is evident from the rebuke of Jesus later. (cf. Mat. 26:51-52; Luke 22:49-51. cf. Rev. 13:9-10)
OBJECTION: Did not Jesus say that he came to set a sword upon the earth? (Mat. 10:34)
Are we to kill our parents and other relatives who disagree with us concerning Christ? if the sword here is to be regarded as literal, it certainly does not indicate that it is the Christian who would use it. The scriptures forbid Christians from returning evil and for many years after the New Testament they refused to participate in the army through their enemies used swords upon them. The parallel passage in Luke 12:51-53 indicates what he had in mind. It says he came to set division. The sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God, was the weapon provided for the Christians. (Eph. 6:17; 2Cor. 10:3-5)
OBJECTION: What if everyone quit fighting? Would not our country be destroyed and Christianity abolished?
Not as long as God is still God. Matthew 16:18 says the gates of Hades shall not prevail against the church. We trust in God and know that God will be victorious. Rome ruled the world and tried with all her might in every way possible to stamp out Christianity. Certainly the governments today are no more depraved than Rome and yet Christian were not to fight against Rome. In the end, Rome fell to the power of Christian influence.
If our whole nation turned Christian it is inconceivable as to the vast impact upon other nations. Certainly they would feel no need for vast firepower and destruction to be unleashed because they would feel no real threat. They might take over our nation, but in time Christians would just convert them or at least enough of them that any repression would be ineffectual.
However, the basic weakness with such arguments is that they do not really make any difference, if God does not want us to fight. They begin with a big empty if which is entirely presumptive. But 1Pet. 3:8-14 has an if that is the direct answer to this. But even IF ye should suffer for righteousness sake, blessed are ye: And fear not their fear, neither be troubled.
Besides this, Jesus rejected the idea of fighting for his kingdom. (John 18:36) We are to fight with the weapons of God. (2Cor. 10:3-5)
OBJECTION: What would you do if your wife or children were being molested?
The question is unfair and has no bearing on the issue. In the first place, I am being asked to tell what I would do in a situation that has never arisen. I dont know what I would do but my faith in God trusts that He would never permit it to take place. Secondly, is it right to say that if you defend yourself against an actual act of wickedness that therefore you are at liberty to join the wholesale devastation of a nation, which is characteristic or war? Thirdly, there is a difference between a forceful attempt to restrain a person, and the intent to take his life or vent revenge upon him. Fourthly, here again is the presumptive if. Is God going to permit this if to take place if I am right with him? Also, if he does then does that relieve me of responsibility to do as he said?
Since ifs are such appealing arguments I could easily counter with, If five men had the drop on you and you had no weapon, what would you do about someone molesting your wife? Does the fact of what you would do or not do prove that we can go to war whenever we choose? Does it prove that we can never be violent? Actually, it proves absolutely nothing. If my answer decides this issue then I say that I will not kill so you must not.
OBJECTION: What about wars in the Old Testament?
When God wanted men to fight he spoke to them through prophets to tell them which side He was supporting. There were times when they had to just lay down their arms and surrender to a wicked nation (Jer. 38:14-17). Also, it is often overlooked that at times they were even to kill the women and children (1Sam. 15:3). Does such a divine divine decision authorize us to do whatever extent we choose? Rather, the fact that we do not have such divine guidance today is an indication that we are not expected to do it.
OBJECTION: Is it not inconsistent to draw the benefits of this country derived from the sacrifice of others and refuse to share in its defense?
The true source of the benefits of this country is GOD. It stands by the power of God, and its wealth is derived from God. By being true to God and bringing Christ into the lives of men I am engaged in the very highest form of contribution to its security. The man who REALLY undermines the security of our nation is the person who is unresponsive to His will. is it not then inconsistent for other men to draw from the benefits of this country which stands by the power of god, while refusing to share in returning the love and obedience which he asks?
Whenever one presents the truth he is always confronted by the inevitable array of objections. Usually, most of them are superficial and emotionally inspired. Some will be sincere difficulties. Some will be repeated time and again. I have here tried to deal with some of the most common and sometimes difficult problems.
However, I have found that for the most part there are two key factors which when solved tend to dissolve the difficulties.
First, when the person becomes fully informed on the subject. Usually the people who are the most vehement in their objection are those who have not personally been involved in the hideousness of war and the misery it produces, what it does to the men who do the killing, or have not assimilated the teachings and attitudes of the scriptures concerning this issue.
Secondly, when the person is freed of his anxiety for his future and fear of social intimidations. Many people are more concerned with what other people think than with what God thinks. It takes great courage to face the scorn of friends and intimidation of the law. It takes great faith to trust that God will work things out to his own good ends and we are not to be swayed by concern for our security.
For me, the whole issue is solved in this: I trust God. I believe that His word means exactly what it says. God has always taken care of me and I am not going to desert Him nor tell Him how He must run things. If He wills that I should suffer then I only pray that He will strengthen me to bear it courageously so that His name can be glorified and His objectives will be achieved.
| 2009/9/25 15:41||Profile|
| Re: |
Once again you have done a very good job on this subject.
I consider the general position you present as biblical and even what I call the higher or better way.
However, for all to keep in mind.
Born again christians who serve as military, police or in Government should understand they also have the hope of entering the kingdom.
They can execute their duties with Godly wisdom. They can function as legitimate brothers and sisters in Christ even if those duties require them to order the taking of life.
I know that you do not agree with this but I put in in here for others.
Lastly this will be my last post on this particular thread.
| 2009/9/25 17:22|
| Re: |
Like thingsabove, I can admire the effort and the sincere love that chapel put into his posts here. I certainly can see where he is coming from.
However, the issue is not that cut-and-dried for me. One thing I love about the Bible is its clarity when it comes to essentials like faith in Christ and the supreme command to love God and each other, and its wonderful fuzziness when it comes to many other things.
It makes the believer ever dependent on guidance by the Holy Spirit and reminds us of how little we are before the greatness of God. Each of us must always pray for His light in our lives, and look to Him alone for this.
In the end, we can trust that we will be judged fairly by our Father who loves us beyond all human understanding. As long as we live for Him, as His children, His ambassadors, His servants, and His friends, we are at peace.
In Christ's Love,
| 2009/9/25 20:59||Profile|
| Re: The Way of Peace|
Thingsabove and Leo,
It would seem the early church did not see the teachings of Jesus Christ and his disciples as
fuzziness and thus they taught and lived a life of non resistance.
Testimony of the earliest generations of Christians
Nonresistance, as discussed and taught in the earliest writings of Christians from the days of the Apostles to the Council of Nicaea in A.D. 325. This is a sampling of their consistent perspective, not an exhaustive list of references.
[In a defense to the Emperor regarding Christians:] "They comfort their oppressors and make them their friends; they do good to their enemies." - Aristides, circa AD 125, The Apology of Aristides, trans. from the Syriac, D.M. Kay / Univ. of Edinburgh; located in Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. 9, p. 276, Eerdman's Pub., English modernized.
"We will not ask you to punish our accusers. Their present wickedness is sufficient punishment." - Justin Martyr, c. AD 160, ANF Vol. 1, p. 165
"We used to be filled with war, mutual slaughter, and every kind of wickedness. However, now all of us have, throughout the whole earth, changed our warlike weapons. We have changed our swords into plowshares, and our spears into farming implements." - Justin Martyr, c. 160, ANF Vol. 1, p. 254
"I do not wish to be a king. I am not anxious to be rich. I decline military command." - Tatian, c. 160, ANF Vol. 2, p. 69
"We have learned not to return blow for blow, nor to go to law with those who plunder and rob us. Not only that, but to those who strike us on one side of the face, we have learned to offer the other side also." - Athenagoras, c. 175, ANF Vol. 2, p. 129
"[Jesus] commanded them ... not only not to strike others, but even, when they themselves are struck, to present the other cheek ... not only not to injure their neighbors, nor to do them any evil, but also, when they are dealt with wickedly, to be long-suffering." - Irenaeus, c. 180, ANF Vol. 1, p. 408
"The philosophers will then with propriety be taken up in a friendly exposure, ... but not in the manner of avenging ourselves on our detractors. Rather, it will be for the purpose of their conversion. For vengeance is far from being the case with those persons who have learned to bless those who curse." - Clement of Alexandria, c. 195, ANF Vol. 2, p. 347
"The spiritual man never cherishes resentment or harbors a grudge against anyone even though deserving of hatred for his conduct." - Clement of Alexandria, c. 195, ANF Vol. 2, p. 540
"Paul does not merely describe the spiritual man as being characterized by suffering wrong, rather than doing wrong. Rather, Paul teaches that a Christian does not keep count of injuries. For Paul does not allow him even to pray against the man who has done wrong to him. For he knows that the Lord expressly commanded us to pray for our enemies." - Clement of Alexandria, c. 195, ANF Vol. 2, p. 548
"Christians are not allowed to use violence to correct the delinquencies of sins." - Clement of Alexandria, c. 195, ANF Vol. 2, p. 581
"[The pagan] Hippias is put to death for laying plots against the state. No Christian ever attempted such a thing on behalf of his brethren, even when persecution was scattering them abroad with every atrocity." - Tertullian, c. 195, ANF Vol. 3, p. 51
"If dragged to trial, [the Christian] does not resist." - Tertullian, c. 197, ANF Vol. 3, p. 110
"'Nation will not take up sword against nation, and they will no more learn to fight.' Who else, therefore, does this prophecy apply to, other than us? For we are fully taught by the new law, and therefore observe these practices ... [The new law] changes the primitive ferocity of swords and lances to tranquility. It remodels the primitive execution of war upon the rivals and enemies of the Law into the peaceful actions of plowing and cultivating the land." - Tertullian, c. 197, ANF Vol. 3, p.154
"Men of old were used to requiring 'eye for eye, and tooth for tooth' and to repay evil for evil, with usury! ... But after Christ has supervened and has united the grace of faith with patience, now it is no longer lawful to attack others even with words, nor to merely say 'fool,' without danger of the judgment ... Christ says, 'Love your enemies and bless your cursers, and pray for your persecutors'"- Tertullian, c. 200, ANF Vol. 3, p. 711
"If someone attempts to provoke you by physical violence, the admonition of the Lord is at hand. He says, 'To him who strikes you on the face, turn the other cheek also.' Let outrageousness be worn out by your patience. Whatever that blow may be, joined with pain and scorn, it will receive a heavier one from the Lord." - Tertullian, c. 200, ANF Vol. 3, p. 712
"For what difference is there between provoker and provoked? The only difference is that the former was the first to do evil, while the latter did evil afterwards. Each one stands condemned in the eyes of the Lord for hurting a man. For God both prohibits and condemns every wickedness. In evil doing, there is no account taken of the order ... The commandment is absolute: evil is not to be repaid with evil." - Tertullian, c. 200, ANF Vol. 3, p. 713
"Christ plainly teaches a new kind of long-suffering, when He actually prohibits the reprisals that the Creator permitted in requiring 'an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.'" - Tertullian, c. 207, ANF Vol. 3, p. 370
"The Lord will save them in that day even His people like sheep ... No one gives the name of "sheep" to those who fall in battle with arms in hand, or those who are killed when repelling force with force. Rather, it is given only to those who are slain, yielding themselves up in their own place of duty and with patience rather than fighting in self-defense." - Tertullian, c. 207, ANF Vol. 3, p. 415
"Shall a Christian apply the chain, the prison, the torture, and the punishment, when he is not the avenger even of his own wrongs? Shall he stand guard for others more than for Christ? Shall he do it on the Lord's Day, when he does not even do it for Christ Himself? Shall he stand guard before those temples that he has renounced? Shall he take a meal where the apostle has forbidden him? ... You will see by a slight survey how many other offenses there are involved in the performances of [military] camp offices. And we must hold them to involve a transgression of God's law." - Tertullian, c. 211, ANF Vol. 3, p. 99, 100.
Celsus, the pagan critic, says, "'[Christians] also have a teaching to this effect: that we should not avenge ourselves on one who injures us.' Or, as Christ expresses it: 'Whoever will strike you on the one cheek, turn the other to him also.'" - Origen, c. 248, ANF Vol. 4, p. 634
"We slander no one, for we believe that 'revilers will not inherit the kingdom of God.' And we read, 'Bless them that curse you; bless, and curse not.' Also, 'Being reviled, we bless.'" - Origen, c. 248, ANF Vol. 4, p. 654
"Do not willingly use force and do not return force when it is used against you." - Commodianus, c. 240, ANF Vol. 4, p. 212
"When a Christian is arrested, he does not resist. Nor does he avenge himself against your unrighteous violence even though our people are numerous and plentiful." - Cyprian, c. 250, ANF Vol. 5, p. 462
"We may not hate. And we please God more by rendering no return for wrong. Therefore, we exhort you to make satisfaction to God. Do this while you have the power, while there yet remains in you something of life ... We do not envy your comforts, nor do we conceal the divine benefits. We repay kindness for your hatred. In return for the torments and penalties that are inflicted on us, we point out to you the ways of salvation." - Cyprian, c. 250, ANF Vol. 5, p. 465
"The Christian has departed from rage and carnal contention as if from the hurricanes of the sea. He has already begun to be tranquil and meek in the harbor of Christ. Therefore, he should allow neither anger nor discord within his breath. For he must neither return evil for evil, nor bear hatred." - Cyprian, c. 250, ANF Vol. 5, p. 488
"Do no one any injury at any time; provoke no one to anger. If an injury is done to you, look to Jesus Christ. And even as you desire Him to forgive your transgressions, also forgive others theirs." - Theonas of Alexandria, c. 300, ANF Vol. 6, p. 161
"Does Venus Militaris also preside over the wickedness of [military] camps and the debaucheries of young men?" - Arnobius, c. 305, ANF Vol. 6, p. 478
"[True] religion is to be defended, not by putting to death, but by dying. Not by cruelty, but by patient endurance. Not by guilt, but by good faith. For the former belongs to evil, but the latter to the good ... For if you wish to defend religion by bloodshed, tortures, and guilt, it will no longer be defended. Rather, it will be polluted and profaned ... And, therefore, when we suffer such impious things, we do not resist even in word. Rather, we leave vengeance to God. We do not act as those persons who would have it appear that they are defenders of their gods, who rage without restraint against those who do not worship them ... What if [a man] rushes wherever injustice will call him? Such a man does not fulfill the duty of virtue. For he who tries to return an injury desires to imitate that very person by whom he has been injured. In short, he who imitates a bad man cannot be good." - Lactantius, c. 304-313, ANF Vol. 7, cf. pp. 157-160, 182-185
| 2009/9/26 13:15||Profile|
| Re: |
I do not wish to be drawn into an argument over this. My personal beliefs are based on what the Spirit reveals to me from Scripture. Knowing that we are all men and prone to error, I don't hold much regard for what others say, even if they were first century Christians or more modern "giants of faith". Men can have different views: I may be remiss in my understanding of the Spirit while others may be correct, or it could be the other way around. So I have always relied directly on the Holy Spirit for guidance.
Please understand that I am not saying you are wrong - it may be that I am wrong. It's just that I don't see this issue the way you do. I have been taken to task by others for understanding the Sermon on the Mount differently than they do, and I have no wish to argue about it.
Just wanted to say I respect your passion for the position you have taken on this.
| 2009/9/26 13:46||Profile|
| Re: Development of Christian Responses to War and Peace |
Development of Christian Responses
to War and Peace
by D. Stephen Long
Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary
Any discussion of the early development of Christian responses to war and peace is
complex and open to criticism. This is largely due to the fact that no simple or consistent
response was possible. The early Church did not have a commission that gathered and
issued a position statement on a Christians participation or non-participation in war like
the modern church does. It took some time for that kind of unity to develop before
specific pronouncements could be made.
The Jerusalem Council
There was, however, the early Jerusalem council which is noted in Acts 15 where the
Church met to determine what should be asked of Gentiles now grafted on to the Jewish
covenant. James offered the following conclusion to that council: Therefore I have
reached the decision that we should not trouble those Gentiles who are turning to God,
but we should write to them to abstain only from things polluted by idols and from
fornication and from whatever has been strangled and from blood (Acts 15: 19).
Because Jesus did not overthrow the law of holiness but fulfilled it, the early Christians
had to address what aspects of the Jewish holiness laws Gentiles would be asked to
observe. Three commands were still binding: avoid participating in things associated with
idols, fornication, and eating things that were not properly prepared. Or at least that is
most likely what was intended by the third conclusion from whatever has been
strangled and from blood.
However, some in the early Church interpreted these three conclusions from the
Jerusalem Council as commands to avoiding apostasy (idolatry), fornication, and killing.
The latter was a misunderstanding of the Jerusalem Council, but nevertheless consistent
with the Sixth Commandment given to Moses: Thou shalt not kill (or murder). These
three prohibited acts became the three grave sins for which the early Christians first
suggested no repentance was possible after baptism, and then gradually permitted one
repentance after baptism and finally would permit repentance for these sins as long as it
Participation in War
The Jerusalem Council did not make a ruling on how Christians should or should not
participate in war. The later tradition did interpret the Councils ruling as applying to
killing. Along with other biblical claims, such as Jesus charge to render unto Caesar
what is Caesars and unto God what is Gods as well as the teaching in the Sermon on
the Mount to turn the other cheek, the early Christians had to discern how best to witness
to Christs life, death and resurrection through participation or non-participation in
To simplify matters greatly, let me suggest that as the Christian tradition developed, two
passages of Scripture set the stage for various responses to the question of Christian
participation in warfare. They are both found in the 22nd chapter of Luke and occur at the Last Supper and in Gethesemne. In the first story Jesus tells his disciples that even though he sent them out previously without purse, bag or sandals and that they lacked nothing, now they should sell their purse or bag and buy a sword. The disciples tell him they have two swords with them, and Jesus responds, It is enough. In the second vignette, Jesus is being betrayed in the garden and one of the disciples whips out the sword and cuts off the ear of the slave of the high priest. Jesus undoes the violence and says No more of this.
Two Swords and Just War Tradition
In the Christian tradition, the first story developed into the doctrine of the two swords. It
stated that there are two swords by which God governs creation; one is wielded by the
secular power and one by the Church. The secular sword is real; it is the means of
violence, which should serve the end of justice. The Churchs sword is allegorical; it is
the power of binding and loosing, or excommunication. It makes judgments as to what
constitutes the holiness of life that the faith requires (See Matthew 16 and 18). Later in
the Christian tradition, this meant that the Church had an obligation to determine the
limits against which Christians could not transgress when they went to war as well as
how they should wage ware once they were in it.
Perhaps it was Bishop Ambrose (c. 340 397) who first developed this teaching by
drawing on the wisdom of the pagan philosopher Cicero. Cicero wrote that people owe
each other obligations even in wartime, especially not to kill the innocent or to use means
that exceeded the justness of the end for which they fought. Ambrose developed this
teaching for what became known as the Christian just war tradition. It permits Christians
to participate in war, but it limits what they can do. Christians must not abandon Jesus
command to love their enemies.
For someone like St. Augustine (354 - 430) war is permissible only to defend against an
unjust attack on ones neighbor and not to defend ones self. By the time we come to
Thomas Aquinas (c. 1225 1274)), the use of violence to defend ones self is possible
not because one is directly defending ones self, but because by defending ones self one
is indirectly defending others who depend upon you for their sustenance. But notice that
the notion of mutual deterrence, torture, total warfare, genocide, terrorism or preemptive
war which are primarily modern inventions violate just war teaching.
Most Christian churches, Roman Catholic, Anglican, Lutherans and Presbyterians for
example, stand in the just war tradition. This teaching is also shared among Jews,
Muslims and Christians. We have not always practiced it even though we were
commanded against unjust killing in the Sixth Commandment. But simply because we do not practice well our principles does not mean they should be ignored. That gives us all the more reason to abide by them.
The Roman Catholic Church once taught that pacifists were the enemies of humankind
and that war was an obligation if it was a just war. However, this is no longer an official
teaching of the Roman Catholic Church. It now has a pacifist tradition as do what are
called the historical peace churches. These churches argue that pacifism, or at least a
Christian refusal to participate in violence such as abortion, capital punishment and
warfare, bears witness to the most ancient tradition of thought in Christian tradition. They
make nonviolence a necessary characteristic of Christian discipleship.
This brings us to the second vignette in Luke 24 when Jesus told his disciples no more
of this when one of them (Peter) used the sword. For some in the early church, when
Jesus took the sword away from this disciple, he took it away from every Christian. In
fact, prior to the fourth century, the overwhelming testimony of the Churchs bishops,
pastors and theologians was that they were not to be soldiers. Their political witness in
the world was to be consistent with Jesus own, who did not seize power through the
sword but endured the cross. For this reason, he was vindicated and revealed as the true
Lord of all. As his obedient subjects, the sword has been taken away from us and we
must follow their gentle Saviour by way of the Cross rather than the sword.
Not every theologian or bishop of the early church made such an explicit witness against Christian participation in warfare. But notice the following witnesses.
Justin Martyr (c.
100 c. 165) an early Christian apologist wrote,
We [Christians] who had been filled with mutual slaughter and every
wickedness, have each one all the world over changed the instruments of war,
the swords into ploughs and the spears into farming instruments, and we cultivate
piety righteousness, love for men, faith and hope which is from the Father
Himself through the Crucified One.
In his essay explaining idolatry, Tertullian (160-225) an African Church father gives us
one of the most explicit statements that warfare is impermissible to Christians. He wrote:
But how will a Christian war, nay, how will he serve even in peace without a
sword, which the Lord has taken away? For albeit soldiers had come unto John,
and had received the formula of their rule; albeit, likewise, a centurion had
believed, still the Lord afterward, in disarming Peter, unbelted every soldier.
Origen, (185-254), an Alexandrine church father, made a similar argument and explained
that the Christians could not participate in violence because their origins were not like the
origins of all other nations. They were not founded in an act of violence against others,
but by the cross endured by Jesus. He wrote,
If a revolt had been the cause of the Christians existing as a separate group, the
lawgiver of the Christians would not have forbidden entirely the taking of human
life. He taught that it was never right for his disciples to go so far against a man,
even if he should be very wicked; for he did not consider it compatible with his
inspired legislation to allow the taking of human life in any form at all.
Moreover, if Christians had originated from a revolt, they would not have
submitted to laws that were so gentle which caused them to be killed as sheep and
made then unable even to defend themselves against their persecutors.
And St. Athanasius (296-373), one of the leading bishops responsible for setting forth
Christian orthodoxy, explains why it is Christians should believe Jesus was fully divine
because of the peace his death accomplished.
Who, then, is he that has done this, or who is he that has united in peace men that
hated one another, save the beloved Son of the Father, the common Saviour of all,
even Jesus Christ, who by his own love underwent all things for our salvation?
For even from of old it was prophesied of the peace he was to usher in, where the
Scripture says: They shall beat their swords into ploughshares, and their pikes
into sickles, and nation shall not take the sword against nation, neither shall they
learn war any more. And this is at least incredible, inasmuch as even now those
Barbarians who have an innate savagery of manners . . . and cannot endure to be a
single hour without weapons; but when they hear the teaching of Christ,
straightway instead of fighting they turn to husbandry, and instead of arming their
hands with weapons they raise them in prayer, and in a word, in place of fighting
among themselves henceforth they arm against the devil and against evil spirits,
subduing these by self-restrains and virtue of soul. Now this is at once a proof of
the divinity of the Saviour, since what men could not learn among idols they have
learned from him.
In what is called the Hippolytean canons, which were once attributed to Hippolytus who
lived from 170-236, but most likely written much later, we find rules for church
membership and discipline that refuse to allow soldiers into the communion of faith. It
states, A person who has accepted the power of killing, or a soldier, may never be
received [into the church] at all.5
What do these early witnesses tell us about the early Christians attitudes toward war and
One would be hard pressed to find a theologian or bishop of the church prior to St. Ambrose of Milan (339-397) who taught that Christians should be allowed to participate in warfare. Many said nothing about it. Many theologians, as the above quotes note, spoke against it. Some argued that those who wanted to be part of the faith must abandon it. We do know that Christians were found in the military and that some refused soldiering, even though it cost them their lives to lay down their swords.
This history is relatively non-controversial.
The controversy begins when we ask why? Why was the early church on the whole opposed to
Christian participation in warfare?
Some argue that this primarily had to do with the fact that soldiers during this time were
called upon to make sacrifices to the Roman gods and thus the problem with military
service was primarily idolatry. But the quotes from Tertullian and Origen above suggest
otherwise. For them the refusal of Christian participation in war and violence was directly related to the fact that Jesus inaugurated a new people who were commanded not to use the sword. They were to live holy lives that differed from the violence around them. This began to change about the fourth century. The conversion of the emperor Constantine is often viewed as the key reason for the change, but the historical record is much more complex than simply blaming
Constantine for a transition from the Churchs
non-participation in warfare to an enthusiastic participation. Nevertheless, we can invoke
the conversion of Constantine as a symbol for what was a change with respect to the Christian Churchs relationship to the warmaking power of governments. We became comfortable with it and merged throne and altar.
In Our Era
Now in our post-Christendom era, it once again requires an intentional effort to be a
Christian. It can no longer be acceptable that simply being a citizen of a so-called
Christian nation makes one a Christian.
While some bemoan this loss, others of us see in
it a gift from God where the Church is given the opportunity to recover its witness without
asserting the power of the sword.
Refusing to participate in warfare and violence, as Jesus did and the early Church bore witness to, may be a crucial step in cultivating our own witness in this post-Christiandom era.
Quoted in Cadoux, The Early Christian Attitude to War (New York: Seabury Press, 1982, p. 61.
Tertullian, On Idolatry in AnteNicene Fathers, p.73.
Origin, Contra Celsum, 3.7.
On the Incarnation, Library of Christian Classics, p. 106.
Cadoux, p. 122.
This article is part of a project on "The Theology of Peace and War". For further
information, go to http://www.mupwj.org/theologyofpeaceandwar.htm. Or contact
Methodists United for Peace with Justice at 1500 16th Street, NW, Washington,
D.C.20036 or at [email protected]
| 2009/9/26 19:09||Profile|