The Political Church: What Happened to Just War?

http://www.andrewcorbett.net/articles/images/just-war/just-war001.jpgI was teaching Sunday school class not long ago. It’s a class of more or less young adults – most with children of school age. And I asked them if they’ve ever heard of “just war” doctrine. It was a throw away question intended to lead to a discussion of where the church and government must sometimes part ways on the question of war. But no one had ever heard of “just war.” Not a one.

Now, this is a class of over 30 adults, nearly all with college degrees, some with graduate degrees. Many had attended a Christian college. Most had attended church all their lives. They’d all been adults during the Iraq War. And not a one had even heard of the church’s teachings on just war.

Why not? I have a theory or two.

For people my age (56), we grew up during the Cold War – where the US and other Western nations joined forces to oppose godless communism – and “godless” is no exaggeration. Communist parties in the old USSR, China, Cambodia, and other nations worked to destroy Christianity and replace it with communism. The communist state must command the total loyalty of the people, and there was no room for rival loyalties. The communist party understood better than we Christians often do how dangerous Christianity is to any state that demands unquestioning loyalty from its people.

Therefore, for my generation, all wars seem automatically just because they were nearly all fought to oppose communism until Iraq I. Obviously, Viet Nam is a major exception, but the issue for most Christians wasn’t whether to fight the war but whether to fight it as it was being fought (very foolishly). Most white, Christian churches supported the war in Viet Nam in principle.

For those a generation older than me, World War II was the very definition of a just war. Hitler remains the very definition of evil in this country.

But WWII and the Cold War created a rare exception to human history. After all, before WWII was WWI –which seems hardly just at all. And before that was the Spanish-American War, which was plainly a war of conquest by the US.

The injustice of WWI is amply demonstrated by the mess the winners made of the world, imposing unjust, foolish laws on Germany (helping to create Hitler and WWII) and the mess that is Iraq, drawing boundaries for the convenience of the reigning world powers – France and the UK – giving no thought to what was fair or right for the people they ruled.

Of course, many have questioned the justness of Iraq I, Iraq II, and Afghanistan, and some are more defensible than others. The point is that the church has gotten so used to just wars – at least, wars that seemed just – that we’ve forgotten the necessity of testing the government’s decisions against God’s will.

After all, it would be absurd to argue that all wars the President or Congress wants to declare are necessarily just and God-approved. Surely we can agree that God doesn’t approve all US wars because we are God’s special nation executing his will perfectly here on earth!

And if we concede that not all wars fought by the US are just – that is, consistent with God’s morality – then surely we need to be studying what the Bible says are just and unjust wars.

Now, it’s not an easy study. Christians disagree – and have for nearly as long as there have been Christians. Some of us are pacifists, refusing all military service and considering all war unjust. Others believe that some wars are in fact just and that Christians may fight in just wars – but absolutely may not fight in an unjust war. And evidently there are Christians who believe Christians may fight in any war the United States wishes to fight, regardless of whether the war violates God’s will. And if you think about it, that’s a position that really can’t be defended.

But it’s the de facto position of many churches, because many churches never even ask whether war in general or a particular war violates what the Bible teaches. And it’s at least possible that there’s been a war or two that was against God’s will. It’s possible.

During WWI, many in the Churches of Christ were pacifists, based on the writings of David Lipscomb, and so they refused the draft and many went to jail rather than sin against God.

By WWII, the Churches had largely rejected the views of Lipscomb and, following Foy Wallace, Jr., had become avid proponents of war against Germany and Japan. And soon, the entire notion of judging wars as just or unjust disappeared from our teaching. I doubt that Churches of Christ are unique in this regard.

It’s not an easy thing to develop a thoughtful theology of just war. Many have tried, but modern warfare greatly complicates things. But for now, that’s not quite where I want to go with this. Rather, I just want to observe that a denomination without a theology of just war is a denomination caught up in idolatry.

After all, if we are to judge wars solely on prudential grounds – can we win? Will we become more prosperous? Will we become safer? – then our approach is selfish because the standard is entirely about us – not others, not our neighbors, and not our enemies. And if “love your enemies” means anything, it means treating them as humans made in God’s image whose lives and fortunes matter, just as ours do.

That is not to say that never is war permitted, but that whether war is justified in the eyes of God must be determined consistently with his word – including the Sermon on the Mount and the two greatest commandments. Indeed, any theory of just war that gets far from those roots is likely not a very good one.

On the other hand, I’m not of the school of thought that therefore all war is necessarily impermissible. After all, sometimes violence is needed to prevent greater violence – and violence against evil is necessary to protect the innocent against violence – and this is, I believe, the God-given role of government.

Back in the series on Pacifism, we considered the arguments for and against pacifism at length, and I’m not anxious to re-engage the subject. Rather, I just want to observe that it’s very wrong for the Churches of Christ to have no moral teaching regarding war. Indeed, it’s idolatry because we’ve replaced God’s judgment with our political leaders’ or our own. And I don’t think we’re only American denomination to have done so.

(Mat 4:10 ESV) Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.’”

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103 Responses to The Political Church: What Happened to Just War?

  1. Alan S says:

    Jay,

    "Spanish-American War, which was plainly a war of conquest by the US."

    I think you seriously mischaracterize the Spanish-American War. If it really was, "plainly a war of conquest by the US" it was a very badly managed one – we only intended to keep Puerto Rico and Guam (I guess you could also count Wake Island) – all other "conquests" were liberated or never retained at all.

    It would better and far more accurate to characterize the war as "liberation" (as in Cuba and the Philippians) or better yet, war for extension of U.S. inluence. But calling it a war of conquest is a dumb and inaccurate statement.

    Blessings!

  2. laymond says:

    Jay said, " And evidently there are Christians who believe Christians may fight in any war the United States wishes to fight, regardless of whether the war violates God’s will. "

    Firstly how do we determine it is against God's will,
    secondly show me a war in the Old Testament God objected to.
    I have heard it said that the Old Testament God, could rightly be called "The God of War"

  3. Todd Collier says:

    Alan,

    Cuba had been a fixation for American Expansion since the 1840's and was the main point of the war and we "liberated" Cuba so that it could have and maintain a government that would protect our own business interests – which that government did with varying degrees of democratic trappings until Fidel came on the scene. The Phillipines is even more blatant. We developed a special sidearm just to help us quell rebellions in the Phillipines and their military was interwoven into our own right up till WWII and until recently (and perhaps it continues) due to that special status Phillipinos were a regular feature in the supply and food service segments of the US Navy.

    So sorry, but yes, the Spanish American war was a war of naked empire building – Teddy even said so. The powers that be in business and politics were jealous of the economic might of Britain, France and Germany and wanted colonies to keep up. We conquered them from Spain and then set up puppet governments to do our bidding.

  4. David Himes says:

    Jay writes:
    "Rather, I just want to observe that it’s very wrong for the Churches of Christ to have no moral teaching regarding war. Indeed, it’s idolatry because we’ve replaced God’s judgment with our political leaders’ or our own. And I don’t think we’re only American denomination to have done so."

    I disagree that "Churches of Christ", collectively are in any position to take a position on this topic.

    Governments are ordained of God. Were the Centurians in Acts told to leave the military service of Rome? No, they were told to love one another as Jesus loved them.

    I think we are sometimes guilty of making faith an institutional characteristic, when it is an individual one.

  5. Todd Collier says:

    Laymond,

    Maybe simpler than you think:
    If we are attacked – its a just war.
    If a quiet peaceful country is invaded and we rise to protect them – its a just war.
    If a force of undeniable evil rises which threatens world peace – it may be a just war. (Timing is the thing)
    If we attack the weaker nations just because we can – it is not a just war.
    If we exceed what is necessary to correct an evil and restore peace – it is not a just war.

    The funny thing is the world knows this without plainly stating it because every aggressor in history tried to place themselves in the top categories.

    The real question is, how do Christians declare their determinations.

  6. Todd Collier says:

    But our faith is both personal and institutional. Try as we might we cannot divide the two. There is personal belief and practice and there is group faith and practice. There is local and there is "universal."

  7. Alan S says:

    Todd, you are not correct. Cuba was granted independence immediately. Philippians were more of a problem and were not granted independence immediately, but were granted autonomy almost immediately (including a locally elected parliment), and independence promised even before McKinley was assassinated. What's more, the Spanish – who were clearly intent on empire building – were paid $20 million for the territories the US maintain control over – three small islands: Puerto Rico, Guam, and Wake.

    US influence was expanded and may well have been one of the intentions, but to call the Spanish-American War a war of conquest is wrong, inaccurate, a gross mischaracterization, historical revisionism at its worse, and a naked display of ignorance of that war, its short-term results and its long-term consequences.

    You can call the Spanish American War a war to spread American influence, you can call it a war to showcase American military strength, you can call it a war to stop European imperialism in the Western Hemisphere (continuation of the Monroe Doctrine). But only ignorance and blind revisionism would ever dare to call it a war of conquest.

    Blessings

  8. Alan S says:

    Obviously I meant Philippines and not Philippians :-)

  9. John says:

    Have you ever done a review of Yoder's Politics of Jesus?

  10. Outstanding article, Jay. Books like 'How Diplomats Make War" and "War is a Racket" by General Smedley Butler raise questions about the justness of many wars. It is amazing to me how even raising the question of just war angers many Christians. I appreciate Todd's comment that even the world understand some of this better than Christians. I think Rom. 13 has been used to stifle questions and place Chrisitans in the position of blind subservience to government.

  11. laymond says:

    Todd said "The real question is, how do Christians declare their determinations."

    Why not let Jesus determine that.? If they are friends , fight for them.

    Jhn 15:12 This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.
    Jhn 15:13 Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.

  12. Laymond – to your question about a war in the OT God objected to, look at 1Kings 22. When the false prophets were preaching war Jehoshaphat could tell something didn't ring true, so he asked if there was a prophet of the Lord they could inquire of (v.7). That, to me, is an important principle for preachers today to consider. Many preachers today preach obedience to the government without questioning (if the government happens to be in the hands of a political party the preachers agree with).

    Other stories that may not be considered wars but at least military action include the attack of the sons of Jacob against the Shechemites (Gen. 34) and Israel's action against AI. God's disapproval may not be expressed in the Shechemite story, but Jacob was uncomfortable with it. And even though AI fit in the overall purpose of God, he was still angry that Israel had not dealt with her sin. One component of Just War is Just Action. If an action is not just (such as abusing pows or conquered women), it nullifies the justness of the war claims. Cf. Amos 1, where God exorciates against the military actions of several nations.

  13. Tim Archer says:

    Alan, Cuba's "independence" was pretty relative. Read up on the Platt Amendment. If nothing else, ask yourself by what right the U.S. continues to occupy the land at Guantanamo Bay if we truly respect Cuban independence.

    Grace and peace,
    Tim Archer

  14. Tim Archer says:

    Jay,

    So what do Christians who enter into military service do when their nation enters into a war that isn't just? In what way do they "refuse to fight"? How would you envision a Christian picking and choosing when to participate in fighting once part of the military?

    Grace and peace,
    Tim Archer

  15. Jay – a number of Israeli soldiers are in jail today b/c they refuse to participate in anymore abusive action against Palestinian civilians. There is even an organization of former Israeli soldiers trying to inform other Israelis about some of their nation's unjust actions in war. They have several videos on youtube.

  16. Tom says:

    When an enemy declares war on the "ungodly" way of life of western nations in the name of God (Allah) and calls it "Holy War" (Jihad), how should our essentially godless government respond in a way that is "just" in the eyes of God? Or perhaps more to the point, how can the Christian determine how he may "justly" participate in whatever action our government decides to take? This seems to me to be one of the most difficult and timely questions we now face. Can we simply stand and wait until a regime develops an atomic bomb by which they can then wreck havoc on the populace and interests of any western nation such as ours? Is not preemptive action sometimes justified? I fear that the current leaders of the US would have neither the stomach nor resolve to fight and win a just war like WW2.

  17. Adam says:

    Using violence to defend our lives, our interests, or our goals is patently un-Christlike. Using violence in defense of the defenseless or the weak or the outcast is a much harder issue to deal with. Whether it be the old woman getting mugged or the small, resource rich country being invaded – this is difficult.

    I say difficult because the ideal – maybe even the norm – for Christians is the example of Chirst. We are not to use violence to defend the defenseless, but to take the killing blow on ourselves, using our death as freedom for the oppressed and conviction for the oppressor – like Jesus.

    The difficulty has to do with the prior, Godly commitments that we have already made – like to wives, kids, communities, etc. I can't help but think this is part of what Christ means when he talks of hating family, etc, and that this is what Paul means when he talks of the easier path of staying single.

    What is the better honoring of the commitment to my family – my severe injury and/or death in the standing with the victimized, or my use of violence to overcome the aggressor? Intellectually I know it is the standing with the victim, but I'm not yet able to do that fully.

  18. Todd Collier says:

    Alan,

    Calling me ignorant is not helpful to the discussion.

    A war that is intended to expand your sphere of influence is a war of conquest.

    Kicking out an opponent and setting up puppets to govern in your stead is conquest.

    I really don't know why this is such a sticking point with you. And my opinion on this matter is not "revisionism." National and international leaders at that time were saying the same thing. the press throughout the 1880's and 1890's were full of calls to expand our power in the same manner of the colonial powers of the day. This is flat out no questions about it fact. Now you can argue to what extent the facts directed national policy, but the facts remain the facts and I am not ignorant to point them out.

  19. abasnar says:

    In which war is the Kingdom of God to engage? Which nation is (not) the enemy of our King, and by which means are we to fight?

    As soon as Christians talk about war they seem to forget that they are first and foremost citizens of God's Kingdom. Our ways are different than those of the world. They may have their just or unjust wars as they please, these are not and will never be the wars of our Lord Jesus Christ, so they are not ours either.

    So, I say, the question of just or unjust wars does not really concern us who have already beaten our swords into ploughshares, who already study war no more, since we laid down our sword and shield by the riverside.

    Is the question of just or unjust war ever addressed in the scriptures? Not really, besides that God used war as a means of judgment on behalf or against Israel. But since God does not conquer or defend an earthly state any more, he is out of this business. That His Kingdom is not of this world makes that clear.

    I really appreciated the CoC before WWI because of their stand on Nonresistance. And I loved to read Alexander Campbells address on war – what a masterpiece! We still hold fast to that understanding of the Sermon on the Mount and really – I shake my head in disbelief, when I see a brother wearing Camouflage and pledging his allegiance to a colourful but meaningless peace of cloth.

    Wow! I haven't written this way for a looong time, but boy, this really makes me mad!

    Anyway, I do love you, brothers
    Alexander

  20. K. Rex Butts says:

    Alexander,

    AMEN!!!

  21. Alan S says:

    Tim, I am familiar with the Platt Amendment. But to say establishment of Guantanamo Bay Naval Base showed lack of respect for Cuban independence begs the question of if ANY US base violated ANY country's independence. The answer is clearly that is does NOT. All conditions of the amendment except for Guantanamo were lifted within a generation. The same was to be true for the Philippines except for the delay caused by WW2, and all conditions spelled out after the SAW were completed soon after WW2 concluded. The reason for the naval base now is different than then, and I think is an entirely different subject than the SAW’s intention.

    Todd, to call the SAW and its results a conquest is to stretch the definition of "conquest" to ridiculous proportions that cannot be supported by common sense or history. I am sorry your do not like your revisionism being called for what it is, but the facts are the facts. The SAW was initiated for many different reasons – some noble, some questionable, and in some cases there were post-war revisions to the initial reasons. But conquest was NEVER the reason for the engagement of the US in the SAW. And conquest certainly was NOT the result. Not short term and not long term.

    Blessings.

  22. Zach Cox says:

    The Spanish American War was no different than the many subsequent wars the U.S. engaged in. An event was blamed on a false enemy (remember the Maine) and used as a pretext to go to war. Every war since has followed the same pattern of either blaming a fabled enemy or creating one. WWI– Woodrow Wilson and J.P. Morgan cronies sinking the Lusitania, WWII– FDR's provoked Pearl Harbor attack (with foreknowledge as early as January of 41), Cold War–take your pick, but Operation Northwoods and the Kennedy assasination are two obvious ones, Vietnam–Gulf of Tonkin which has since been declassified to essentially have never taken place, and then there's the USS liberty and Israel's attack on it, then the first gulf war, the second, 9-11 and on and on and on. War on drugs, war on poverty, war on terror, war against global warming, etc. All used to gain control and take liberty. Of course this will be labled revisionist, but I would argue the textbooks coming from the large publishing houses with the rosy picture of America always doing the right thing are revisionist and intentional.

  23. Gary Cummings says:

    War is sin. That is my only comment on this topic.

  24. K. Rex Butts says:

    The problem with just war is that it requires moral-doctrinal system to be built up based on an extrapolation (proof-text) of scripture and in some sense that is done against the context and theological trajectory of scripture. And why? Because Jesus' teachings about loving and praying for our enemies (not killing them), carrying a cross (rather than a sword), and following him (the actual way he lived) is too difficult? Tell that to Jesus when he returns and tell that to thousands of our brothers and sisters in Christ who paid with their very own lives as well because they refused to break out their swords along with their "horses and chariots" in the face persecution and injustice.

    As couple of other things: 1) Some defend just war on the basis that scripture never tells us that Cornelius or any other military person who became a Christian leaving the military. This argument is grasping at straws. There is no evidence that I am aware of in early Christian history of any Christian taking up sword against another human for any reason and yet there is evidence of the early post-apostolic church teaching against such violence. The question that needs to be asked: Are we to follow a teaching that goes back to Augustine or the teaching that goes back to Jeuss which later was elaborated by Christians such as Justine, Clement of Alexandria, and Tertullian?

    2) It is a myth that the United States entered WWII on the grounds of just-war in order to end a great injustice taking place in Europe and Asia. It is true that there were horrible acts of injustice being committed by the Germans, Italians, and Japaneze but the US knew about those acts of injustice for quite some time and sat idle. Even more so, as horrible as the Holocaust was,what about Russian Gulag? If the US was committed to ending acts of injustice, why ignore that? The simple answer is at the time Russian power was not a threat to the US. And that is the same reason for the US entering WWII – not because its interest was stopping injustice but because the Allied powers had finally became a threat to US power and so WWII (like most, if not all wars) was persued by the political leaders to protect a political kingdom of this world.

    Why in the world would any Christian want to fight to protect a kingdom of this world that will – if we believe Jesus is Lord of all – fall at the feet of Jesus one day? Perhaps if we would get back to the business of fighting for the Kingdom of God with weapons such as love, cross, confession, preaching truth, etc… then the world might actually believe that Jesus is Lord. But as long a Christians keep occupying themselves with the business and protection of worldly kingdoms, the world laughs at our claim that Jesus is King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

    Grace and peace,

    Rex

  25. John says:

    Just Wars are very, very few and very far between. They are not always easy to recognize; but I believe that the Christian aproach to war is to always see them as evil.

    A question I prefer to ask those who are so quick to defend war is, what do you do with Paul' statement in Eph 6:5, "..slaves, obey your masters". The point I'm making is that many conservatives, in keeping with their literal approach to all scripture, comment on this verse saying that if an individual finds self as a slave then that person must live peacebly under their master's yoke. But they create the inconsistency of claiming you can fight to keep from being enslaved, but not after becoming enslaved.
    If I had to give a definition of a just war it is one where the needed deliverence of a people from oppression and destruction is unmistakable; not to spread a particular way of life.

  26. Zach Cox says:

    Rex,

    I'll take your WWII comments further. The U.S. was one of the largest financiers of Hitler, both monetarily and idealogically. Ford foundation, Carnegie foundation, Rockefellar foundation, GM, and IBM made WWII possible. Prescott Bush (father and grandfather of two former U.S. presidents) was a huge Nazi supporter and financier. In fact his bank was seized for trading with the enemy! Hitler even referenced American scientists and their eugenics in Mein Kampf. They were his heroes (spelling?). But you wouldn't know any of that from a high school or college textbook.

  27. Guy says:

    Just a few months ago we had a very lengthy discussion about pacifism about which almost no one could completely agree on what the Christian's obligations were with respect to war and violence. The lack of consensus in that discussion was explanation enough for me as to why the church doesn't have strong, vocal teachings about war.

    –Guy

  28. K. Rex Butts says:

    Zach,

    I had heard before that the US had some early financing of Hitler but I have never known the details…and you're right, that won't be told in any history textbook.

  29. Alan S says:

    Jay – when you start down the road of historical revisionisn, you wil draw out all kinds of nutty theories by those who think they are supporting you.

    Blessings

  30. Alan S says:

    The Anti-defamation League has publiched the following: "Rumors about the alleged Nazi "ties" of the late Prescott Bush, the grandfather of President George W. Bush, have circulated widely through the Internet in recent years. These charges are untenable and politically motivated.

    "Despite some early financial dealings between Prescott Bush and a Nazi industrialist named Fritz Thyssen (who was arrested by the Nazi regime in 1938 and imprisoned during the war), Prescott Bush was neither a Nazi nor a Nazi sympathizer. "

    As for Spanish American War goals, the Teller Amendment to the US Declaration of War in 1898 stated that the US, "hereby disclaims any disposition of intention to exercise sovereignty, jurisdiction, or control over said island [Cuba] except for pacification thereof, and asserts its determination, when that is accomplished, to leave the government and control of the island to its people."

    Blessings

  31. K. Rex Butts says:

    I do think Jay has a point when he suggest that Christians participating/supporting war who do not know the historical criterion of just-war (from a Christian perspective) have their decisions about a "just war" made for them by politicians.

    And that in itself is a sad reality.

  32. Alan S says:

    Rex, I agree with that point Jay has made. I only regret the stooping to historical revisionism to try to prove it. Such a good point needs no revisionism.

    Blessings

  33. Zach Cox says:

    I can only assume "nutty" was meant to be thrown in my direction, but I'll take the label if it is some kind of Orwellian Newspeak for "telling the truth." If pointing out that Prescott's Union Bank, of which he was one of seven director's, had it's assets seized under the trading with the enemies act makes one "nutty," so be it.

  34. Zach Cox says:

    And Alan, stated war goals and actual reality are often much different.

  35. K. Rex Butts says:

    Alan,

    I think the historical revisioning taking place is being done by the kingdoms of this world (e.g., Western Democracy, Communism, etc… on to nations such as Russia, USA, etc…). They are revising the truth of history to make themselves out to be their own gods instead of surrendering their ideologies and "revisioned" understanding of history (past, present, and future) to the one living God who has told us the truth and laid out for us the history of life, from creation to consumation.

    Grace and peace,

    Rex

  36. Larry Short says:

    Wow! I didn't know war was a murder trial with motives.
    Unfortunately politictics is messy and people align to protect their agenda, not the entire conflict. Somebody financially benefits from every conquest.
    Unlike baseball, there isn't a perfect war, where the reason to start, how its conducted, and how it ends are perfectly just. On a smaller scale, rarely is there a perfect police action, where the police used just the right tactics and miinimal force for justice.
    Now, I think Jesus and apostles knew that governments were not perfection. Still the theology is that they are an agent of God for justice. If you could say that about Roman Emporers, US presidents and military cheifs probably look fairly good.
    Rex, I do not accept the "argument of straw" for military of NT times. The NT seems to support people doing government jobs, like military (no one ever asked to leave) and even tax collectors doing their job honestly.

  37. K. Rex Butts says:

    Larry,

    That is funny to read your comment and to see to alluding to people trying to protect their agenda…wow.

    The mere mention of people serving as tax colletors, military personel, etc… in scripture tells us nothing except for what there occupation was at the time. If you are going to base an agument for the NT supporting such occupations, you need a little more than the silence of the NT as to what such people went on to do with their lives. And you must realize that citing these examples to support your contention is to use them in an ad hoc fashion. But what do you do with what Jesus did say about loving enemy (not killing them), carrying a cross (not a sword), and following him (his way of life as well as his teachings)? And what do you do with all the early historical Christian evidence that believe such participation in the military/political powers of this world was wrong…a view held by Christians up until Augustine became buddies with Constintine?

    The just-war theory could be a correct ethical choice for Christians, though I am not convinced (and I once held to the just-war viewpoint). But in many comments, articles, and books, I have read by Christians trying to defend just-war and military participation, what I see is much looking past the elephant in the room – namely Jesus who call us not just to believe in him but to live like him. I am not saying that those who hold to just war do not care about being a disciple of Jesus but in their effort to defend just-war and military participation, they cling to a moral dogma called more or less the doctrine of just-war that is built on proof-texts and ad hoc arguments rather than Jesus himself who is the perfect revelation from God of who God has called his people to be. If someone is going to convince me that there is such a time when Christians can justly participate/support in war, they need to convince me that Jesus would be participating in and supporting this war.

    Grace and peace,

    Rex

  38. Alabama John says:

    I hope this is not going to our young men fighting for us in foreign countries or in the VFW or American Legion Halls around this country!'

    The most violent wars ever fought were done by Gods people at His direction and help. I cannot imagine being told to kill all, women, small infants, children, and even the animals. How I feel for the men that obeyed and did so. Doesn't say those in the military were ordered to do this while those pacifist went somewhere else. I don't think I could even if God directed me.

    Will any of you, believers in war or not, on here answer me truthfully please, Could you? Would you?

    Would disobeying that commandment by God send you to hell?

    I was taught those that fight and destroy what is ahead of them do not do it because they hate those in front of them but do it becuse thay love those behind them.

  39. Donald Newton says:

    If all war is sin, then God is a hypocrite. I know God is not a hypocrite, therefore all war must not be sin.

  40. Zach and K. Rex – I appreciate your comments.

    Historical revisionism has been discredited b/c it runs so counter to current thought about historical events and contemporary interpretations of them. Some revisionist thought may be "nutty." But, allow the thought or proposition to stand on its own if it can. To declare it revisionist and thus discredit it before giving it fair voice is an unrecognized and unfair form of censorship. It also shows how we are more prone to respond emotionally to a charge rather than investigate it.

    On financing war … it is even in the standard textbooks now that the U.S. financed Britan during WW1. When Germany, France and Britan considered ending hostilities in 1916, U.S. financiers had fits. How were they going to get their investors' money back? In a highly financed war it is best to declare unconditional surrender, not b/c the losing side is necessarily so bad, but b/c we must make them pay reparations so we can cover the cost of financing the war. Shortly after this turn in 1916 the U.S. took new interest in the war, one in which we would be actively engaged. And we were, much to the delight of the lenders.

    For years this information was considered "nutty" revisionist propaganda propagated by historians like Harry Elmer Barnes. Today it is in standard college textbooks. Today's revisionism may become tomorrows old news, once it is politically tame enough to allow it circulation.

  41. Anonymous says:

    Amen Donald!

    Jesus certainly didn’t speak as though He is opposed to war, Luke 14:31-32, “Or what king, going to make war against another king, does not sit down first and consider whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? Or else, while the other is still a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks conditions of peace.”

    Paul, writing in the first epistle to Timothy 5:8 “If any one does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his own family, he has disowned the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” Provision means more than just food, shelter, and clothing. It also includes safety, security, and protection from harm.

    God’s Spirit can lead us to fight righteously, Hebrews 11:32-34 “And what more shall I say? For the time would fail me to tell of Gideon and Barak and Samson and Jephthah, also of David and Samuel and the prophets: who through faith subdued kingdoms, worked righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, became valiant in battle, turned to flight the armies of the aliens.”

  42. K. Rex Butts says:

    Anonymous,

    You really need to familiarize yourself with the entire ethical conversation on pacificism and just-war before resorting to such a stretching arguments with the scriptures you so badly proof-text.

  43. K. Rex Butts says:

    Donald,

    Might it be possible that in the Old Testament God was working within the realities of the world that embraced war but now in these 'last days' God has shown us all who we are to be and how we are to live in Jesus? Given your reasoning, it would still be ethical to stone disobedient children and those who committ adultery…unless God is a hypocrit.

  44. Anne says:

    Rex,
    "And that is the same reason for the US entering WWII – not because its interest was stopping injustice but because the Allied powers had finally became a threat to US power and so WWII (like most, if not all wars) was persued by the political leaders to protect a political kingdom of this world."

    You might be leaving out that the US also entered WWII because our greatest ally, England, was being nearly destroyed by the Germans, and where do you fit Pearl Harbor into the mix?

  45. Anonymous says:

    Rex, how old am I, what are my skills….you are who knows the answer to everything ….just some advice Rex, don't accuse people you've not met of being unfamiliar with something just to try to fix your hurt ego.

    Donald, I agree with you….God is not a sinner.

  46. Zach Cox says:

    Anne,

    Though the question was not posed to me, might I add my two cents? First, there would have been no holocaust or WWII were it not for the resources (financial and idealogical) provided by powerful figures within the United States and other Western governments. I could list many corporations whose hands are stained with blood from the holocaust, but suffice it for now to mention IBM. IBM made it possible for Hitler to round up the Jews and subsequently exterminate them. They were the solutions company and they provided Nazi Germany with the "solution" to their problem. I will provide more details if need be. Second, FDR and the American government intentionally provoked the attack on Pearl Harbor, knew about it in advance and intentionally removed the resources needed to protect the American soldiers lives which were lost that day. I will refrain from citing certain sources on that issue that might lead to the charge of nuttiness and refer you to the chapter in Judge Andrew Napolitano's new book Lies the Government Told You, "We're not going to send your boys off to any foreign wars." I imagine most readers on here respect him as a reliable source and not some "conspiracy theorist" (though conspiracy is the exact right word). He devotes several pages to documenting these facts about Pearl Harbor. So that is where Pearl Harbor fits into the mix–it was a perfect opportunity for the U.S. to sacrifice thousands of it's own people on purpose so that the American people might be stirred up to support a war that prior to Pearl Harbor over 80% of Americans didn't support. Sound familiar?

  47. K. Rex Butts says:

    Anonymous,

    I don't know everything and I never have made such a claim but I do know something about the ethical discussions of just-war and pacificism and that is why I find it hard to believe that anyone who has read up on the issue would make the arguments you are making. I am sorry if that offends you.

    Grace and peace,

    Rex

  48. Anonymous says:

    You didn't offend me Rex, you are not the first and not the last person to try to slander someone who doesn't agree with you, again you don't know me and it shows in your arrogant speech.

  49. Jay Guin says:

    Alabama John,

    I've read Yoder's the Politics of Jesus. Great, great book. I don't agree with all his conclusions, but it's a vitally important read. Highly recommended.

  50. K. Rex Butts says:

    Anoymous,

    I am sorry…my comment wasn't meant to be slander and anyone who does know me knows that I would not be slanderous to someone. So please accept my apology.

    Grace and peace,

    Rex

  51. Part of Just War theory is taknig account of as much information as we can. One of the greatest tragedies of WW2 was being denied valuable information. Germany invaded Poland b/c 1) Poland was assassinating German civilians living on land given to Poland at the end of WW1. Germany tried to negotiate a settlement but couldn't because England interfered. That is actually point 2) England promised Poland military support if Germany retaliated against Poland. England had the secret assurance from Roosevelt that we would come to England's aid if she got into the war. All Roosevelt needed was time to convince Americans that we needed to enter (Pearl Harbor?). A number of historians, even British ones, regard England as the real instigator of the World War.

    We date WW2 at the beginning of Germany's entry into Poland. Why not begin the dating of it when Poland began murdering Germans? Or Russia entered Europe with military might, and killed millions in Eastern Europe?

    These are some of the concerns of Just War – know as many of the pertinent details as possible. If we had known about England and Poland, we might have decided to have sat that war out. But powerful interests kept that knowledge from us until years after the war.

    Read "The Case of Tyler Kent" available on line.

  52. abasnar says:

    About Cornelius and others

    Maybe some background information might be helpful.
    In NT-times Jews were exempt from military service in the Roman Empire, and so were the Christians, who were viewed as a Jewish sect.

    So the letters naturally did not have to address this question of Christians going to war. But we see a Roman officer who was baptized. Yet, we see or read nothing about further instruction given to this man; so all we can say is hypothetical concerning Cornelius.

    But what we can say for sure: He was taught the words of Jesus including the Sermon on the mount. Knowing His command of loving our enemies must have had an impact on the way Cornelius would carry out his business henceforth; otherwise Jesus' words are just meaningless sounds or letters.

    But how did the churches deal with the matter as soon as it reached more and more Roman citizens and even Soldiers? There were quite a number of Christians in the Roman Army in the second and third century, men who heard the gospel. Many of them became martyred because they followed Christ rather than their officers. So what was expected from those people?

    In the Dictionary of Early Christian Beliefs David Bercot gives the following summary:

    The quotations above clearly demonstrate the early church's opposition to war (doctrinally there was no question about this issue). Yet, the early Christian writings also mention the existence of Christian soldiers. The quotation from Tertullian below explains this seeming contradiction. Although disallowing Christians to join the military, the church (at least by the close of the 2nd century) permitted converted soldiers to remain in the army after baptism – so long as they did not use the sword, take oaths, or engage in idolatrous practices.

    Hippolytus bears witness to this practice in his Apostolic Tradition (ca. 200 AD). … Concerning persons coming to baptism, Hippolytus writes: "A soldier of civil authority must be taught not to kill men and to refuse to do so if he is commanded, and to refuse to take an oath. If he is unwilling to comply, he must be rejected for baptism. A military commander or civic magistrate who wears the purple must resign or be rejected. If an applicat or a beliver seeks to become a soldier, he must be rejected, for he has despised God." (Ap.Trad. 16)

    … Tertullian: "Of course, if faith comes later and finds someone already occupied with military service, their case is different. For example, there is the instance of those whom John the Baptist received for baptism, and of those most faithful centurions. I mean the centurion whom Christ approved, and the centurion whom Peter instructed (Cornelius). Yet at the same time, when a man has become a believer and faith has been sealed, there must be either an immediate abandonm ent of the military office, which has been the course of many – or else all sorts of quibbling will have to be resorted to in order to avoid offending God. And such quibbling is not allowed even outside of military service"

    So we can imagine, what Cornelius and others did – maybe they set the precedents for these instructions themselves – we don't know for sure. But we can see easily, that these instructions are in complete harmony with the words of Christ and even John the Baptist who said to the soldiers:

    Do violence to no man, neither accuse any falsely; and be content with your wages. (Lk 3:14)

    So, at least, being a soldier was no deal any more. But the phrase "Do violence to no man" is terrific! The NIV paraphrases: "Don't extort money" and makes it sound that it is only about taking money violently. But the Greek is very simple andf straightforward:

    medena = to no one
    diaseisete = do violence; (lit.: to shake thouroughly)

    This does not limit it to extorting money, but includes all sorts of violence – also John preached about the Kingdom of God, so he did not talk about "earthly necessities", but about the radical lives the citicens of God's Kingdom are called to live. And we saw, that's exactly how the early church (fluent in Koine Greek) understood and applied it.

    So where does that leave us? We don't need to speculate about just and unjust wars. This question has no relevance for us whatsoever. But we need to restore, to rediscover, to reemphansize the teaching of Christian Nonresistance. We need to urge our brothers to leave military service as quickly as possible, and we must not allow anyone who has already been baptized to join this institution of the world.

    And, yes, this would change the U.S. dramatically …

    in Christ
    Alexander

  53. don says:

    On 7 Dec 1941, this country was attacked and this provided the impetus for going to war with Japan. Congress had to be persuaded to go to war with Germany. Before this event, the isolationist movement-think stay out of another European war-was strong and gaining strength; after Dec 7, it practically disappeared.
    I start my comment with this little bit of history to discuss "just/unjust wars". I propose that all wars are never just-are are what they are, wars. Destruction, loss of life, turning the clock of civilization backwards are some of the things that happen. WWII caused the loss of over 50 million people. Then add in the loss of WWI, since WWII was basically a continuation of the first one and the price goes higher.
    W/O WWI, the Russian revolution might have turned out differently and the 150 million + that died in the name of communism might have been able to still walk on earth.
    Review man's history and war has always been with us-I doubt that there is any place on earth where the soil has not soaked up the blood of the fallen.
    As Christians, we must realize that there is a difference between the world and the Way. The world fights, kills, tries to get ahead at the cost of others. The Way is put yourself last to be first. Serve others to be great. Love is the greatest gift, doing good works is required. The world starts wars, either individually or country by country. We cannot confuse the two.
    What we can do is teach the gospel, show the love of Jesus, walk in faith-despite the persecutions that come because of such a walk.
    Paul teaches us in Romans who is in charge.
    I am sure Christians through the ages have wrestled with the question of war and we are no different.

  54. alanrouse says:

    And evidently there are Christians who believe Christians may fight in any war the United States wishes to fight, regardless of whether the war violates God’s will. And if you think about it, that’s a position that really can’t be defended.

    Maybe it would be better to say you have not found a defense for that position that you are satisfied with. Someone might be satisfied with Jesus' instruction to soldiers, which notably does not address any "just war" matters:

    Luk 3:14 Then some soldiers asked him, "And what should we do?" He replied, "Don't extort money and don't accuse people falsely—be content with your pay."

  55. alanrouse says:

    BTW, here are the NET bible notes on the question of "extort money" in Luke 3:14:

    40 tn Or "Rob no one." The term ?????????? (diaseis?te) here refers to "shaking someone." In this context it refers to taking financial advantage of someone through violence, so it refers essentially to robbery. Soldiers are to perform their tasks faithfully. A changed person is to carry out his tasks in life faithfully and without grumbling.

  56. Alan S says:

    Rex, I agree with you to the extent that revisionism is ther taking of a very small bit of truth and making it the entire truth. That is what is happening with many of the crack-pot theories promoted on this comment thread, and you are right, it is what the world does with God's Truth

    Blessings and peace to you, too

  57. Larry Short says:

    My worry is that the ultimate end to some of this thinking is the only Christians are Amish! We must abstain from the world, in order to avoid supporting any vice.
    Can a Christian be a tax collector? a policeman? a spy? Etc. Everything is partially politically corrupt. Even if you are a good cop, you may be enforcing bad laws. Do we have to leave the system? Seems like John the baptist did, but Jesus didn't.
    Some of this has been lived before, as the monastic movement was strong in the second century. It's safe unless God decides we should have been helping the world not fleeing it.("go into all the world")
    To me war is a very large police action. Perhaps nations should have supported Germany rescuing citizens in Poland, but stop there.
    Read the man born blind in John's gospel for a God's eye view on our actions. The Pharasees wanted to know who sinned but as a second agenda deny the miracle by tossing anyone accepting it out of the synagogue. The blind man's parents avoid direct answers because they want to keep their social circle. Just like war, people mostly do things for personal selftish reasons. Jesus could have avoided creating this turmoil by leaving the man blind!

  58. Anne says:

    I guess I should get out of the house more often. I'm even a history major and I've never heard of some of the historical theories that have been cited on this post.

    @Zach, I've not heard of Napolitano's book and I do enjoy seeing him on television, but I would have to see what sources he cites for FDR. That theory has been around since WWII and I think most creditable historians discount that he actually let the Japanese bomb Pearl Harbor. There are always wild baseless rumors that abound, i.e. that Bush knew in advance of the World Trade Towers.
    And in reply to an earlier post you say that all of your arguments would be labeled revisionist, well in short, yes they would. I take it from some of your posts that the USA is always the instigator in any military action of the last century or so?
    I guess all of this is straying from the original post, sorry Jay.

  59. K. Rex Butts says:

    Larry,

    I don't know how participating and supporting in an war that drops bombs big enough that one knows for sure the bomb will kill uninvolved civilians (a violation of the Christian just-war criterion) is a large scale police action. While police officers do have to use deadly force on occasions, except for the rogue policeman, they never use any unneccesary force and that force is not to taget innocent bystanders in the process of aprehending the criminal.

    I cannot answer for everyone but as one who holds the pacafist position, I do not believe pacaficism equals passivity or a withdrawl from the world. While Jesus teaches us to lay down our swords and instead love our enemies, that love is defined by his self-sacrificial service to others…and even when it involves the dangerous risk of our own lives. What that looks like practically in any given historical situation takes wisdon and faith. It may mean that a local church or churches send groups of Christians over to serve in whatever capacity is needed…and not just "our troops" but serve everyone. Coincedently and saddly, I once had a church member who had supported his child joining the military for the first desert storm war say that such a suggestion is too dangerous (why are some Christians willing to risk for the kingdoms of this world but not for the Kingdom of God?). It is the same sort of service that several of my Christian friends did by taking their vacation time and travel to Haiti to help with the recovery effort there. In another scenario, it may be the Christian who starts a youth basketball league in a violent urban neigborhood that gives the youth an alternative to just becoming another violent statistic.

    I hope that answers a bit why "Christian" pacafism should not be understood a passivity or withdrawl.

    Grace and peace,

    Rex

  60. Anonymous says:

    Romans 12:18 “If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.” We should always try to have peace, the Bible says as much as possible we should live peaceably with all men. That doesn’t say it will always be possible, there are times that we will have to battle and it should only be after we have tried all other options first.

    There are too many pacifists who have a double standard. They can use force on those who would harm someone close to them, but someone who is employed with the government is wrong to use force on those who harm others.

    Many pacifists suggest that people who are employed with the government are not Christians. When we are speaking about decisions government has to make we are speaking about people…real people. The pacifists here speak as though none of the people making these decisions are of the Kingdom of God.

    There still are issues of protecting people today. There are evil dictators and leaders who enjoy slaughtering the weak and oppressed, it is a very real issue indeed. People in military positions, these Christians are guided by our loving and just God.

    I can say that I have seen more soldiers show true love for people more so than “pacifists”.

    I am walking down the street. I see a great big man who is beating a helpless little girl to death. I come up and I plead with him to stop. If he won’t stop, what does love mean? Love means I stop him in any way I can including, quite frankly, hitting him. What about the little girl? If I deserted the little girl to the bully, I have deserted the true meaning of Christian love and responsibility to my neighbor.

    Doing nothing to stop an attack on another person is not loving our neighbor.

    God has always wanted protection for those who are weak and oppressed. David was a man after God’s own heart. God has guided many of His people to battle, God does not do that which is evil.

  61. Guy says:

    What i *would* do and what i *should* do are not always the same thing. A person who *would* use force in one case and *wouldn't* use force in another case doesn't necessarily have a double standard. A person who believes he *shouldn't* use force in any case but *would* use force in some cases still doesn't necessarily have a double standard. That just means he doesn't live consistently with his own set of morals. But from what i understand of Scripture, that club includes everyone except Jesus.

    i don't personally know of any pacifists claiming that those in the government are necessarily non-Christians. i do know that some forms of pacifism include the belief that a Christian is sinning by participating in government. Other forms of pacifism include the belief that a Christian can be in a governmental position but cannot engage in violence or force or harm against others even when commanded to do so by a superior government official. Of course, supposing either of these beliefs were true, it could still be the case that a Christian violated them both yet did not cease to be a Christian in government. That would simply make him/her a Christian who is sinning. i understand that club is not sparsely populated either.

    i'm not sure where scripture teaches that the only means of protection of self or anyone else is force or violence.

    i highly recommend reading this blog post as food for thought:
    http://twofriarsandafool.blogspot.com/2009/11/hol

    Here's a quote from it:

    "The conversation usually goes like this: I say I am a pacifist. They respond with the usual hypothetical scenario about being a bystander to violence. I point out that there are a variety of nonviolent potential solutions to such a scenario. They push the hypothetical scenario to an extreme point where they allege the only options are violence or guilt by inaction. I say their scenario is contrived. They tell me I'm a horrible person for choosing personal holiness over the life of an innocent."

    What is frightening is the notion that the only two options in any given scenario are violence or abandonment. If we are that lazy in our thinking and that prone to err on the side of violence, that says far more about us and our depravity than does any lack-of-protecting-the-innocent examples.

    i thought we hashed all these matters out months ago. i guess we're doing it again. Surely Jay realized he opened the same can of worms when he wrote this post(?)

    –Guy

  62. Rance says:

    abasnar, wonderfully said. Unfortunately in the CoC this topic is an issue which it should not be. If people would study Christ and his teachings they speak for themselves. Thanks for your comments

  63. Rance says:

    Rex, thank you for your comments. I agree.

  64. Zach Cox says:

    Alan S,

    I'm curious if you would still use the same language (crack pot, nut) if you were sitting across the table from a brother or sister in Christ who had serious concerns?

  65. K. Rex Butts says:

    Anonymous,

    What is the example of Jesus who calls us to follow him? What did he teach? And what were the means by which he taught us to carry out those teachings?

    Why don't we begin addressing this who issue with the historical Jesus, the example he set and taught? By begining elsewhere, such as a hypothetical example of a child being beat on the streets, we are susceptible to making Christain ethics out to be whatever we want them to be (no matter how noble that intent is) and to fit whatever story we want them to fit, while allowing a piecemeal of scriptures to be absorbed into a utilitarian ethic in order to justify that ethic.

    We must first ask who it is that Jesus as taught us to be and how he showed us to be that by example and then ask ourselves how do we respond to the various examples of injustice and oppression as that person Jesus has called us, taught us, and shown us to be. Any other order seems to be putting the cart before the horse.

    Grace and peace,

    Rex

  66. Alan S says:

    Zach – about the theories, yes. About the people, never. And I already have when the occasion called for it. Historical revisionism must be called for what it is.

    Blessings

  67. Zach Cox says:

    Anne,

    I don't want to take the time to type out a bunch of stuff on Pearl Harbor unless you are genuinely interested; so let me know–long story short, what I'm saying is straight from declassified documents (1994) and testimony from those directly involved.

    I also wanted to speak to your statement about me thinking the U.S. is behind every major military confrontation of the last century. That's not entirely accurate because you can't blame an entire country for the actions of a small group of powerful people. It's probably more accurate to speak of centers of power, be they financial, corporate, military-industrial, as having infiltrated numerous governments and holding sway over them.

    And finally, I don't believe this is off topic of Jay's thread; after all, he's wondering why we don't have good theology about war. My belief is that the intentional hijacking of our faith for nefarious purposes is one of the biggest elephants in the room disturbing our pursuit of good theology.

  68. abasnar says:

    Dear Larry

    My worry is that the ultimate end to some of this thinking is the only Christians are Amish! We must abstain from the world, in order to avoid supporting any vice.
    Can a Christian be a tax collector? a policeman? a spy? Etc. Everything is partially politically corrupt. Even if you are a good cop, you may be enforcing bad laws. Do we have to leave the system? Seems like John the baptist did, but Jesus didn’t.

    To the point. But you can also become a conservative Mennonite or a Hutterite (they also use modern devices …) – or simply become a consistent follower of Christ without any name-tag.

    What, by the way, do you mean with "Jesus didn't" – do you mean he would have approved Christians that partake in things that are "partially political corrupt"?

    Maybe this is worth to think through:

    A Christian Spy might say: "Well, it is my job, and I am confident that I serve a just government, at least a just cause. Yes, I operate in secret and quite often I have to bend the truth in order to get my information – of course our Lord did not mean it in such an absolute sense when he said our Yes should be a Yes and the like. I mean, we have to be realistic, and – after all – we are to serve our country." – This Christian has no heavenly citicenship, has he?

    A Christian police officer might say: "You know, my job stands for justioce, law and order. So I serve my community and keep the neighborhood safe. I swore an oath of allegiance (I mean, honestly, Jesus surely did not mean that litereally when he said we shall not swear oaths …), and I have to execute all laws, that all Christians have to obey anyway because of Romans 13. C'mon if every Christian would point to Acts 5:29 this country would be a mess, wouldn't it? Of course sometimes I have to execute laws, that are not really fair; and it might happen that I lead someone to the electric chair who is really innocent – but is that really my business? Do you really think we should point to every evil around us?" – Now, this Christian has no real hunger or thirst for righteousness, has he?

    A Christian Politician might say: "I belong to the Democrats (or Republicans) and I have to defend and promote the agenda of our party. Of course, not everything in it would be approved by the Lord – but, hey, I am not really unequally yoked with unbelievers there. We don't agree on everything, but … And of course I pledge my allegiance to the flag every day, because we are one nation under God, aren't we?" – Now, does this Christian preach the Kingdom of God or the illusions of men?

    No, Larry, becoming Amish is probeably not the first alternative (but not the last either) – It would not be the worst to reduce our involvement into worldy things (entertainment, the way we dress, our pursuit of wealth etc …).

    So, I am convinced – the longer the more – that we cannot be friends of the world without becoming unfaithful to our Lord. We have to find ways to live and to earn our living that are in harmony with His will. And we have to teach that to our younger brothers and sisters BEFORE they already made a decision which profession they are going to learn and to practice. That's Kingdom-Theology down to earth.

    In Christ
    Alexander

  69. Alabama John says:

    We all sin and know if we repent we get forgiveness. Why not kick the big mans butt, save the little girl and maybe even miss services on Sunday while doing it. There are certainly worse things you could be doing. Then repent and get forgiveness. We can have it both ways. God makes allowances for that. I think He would give you a thumbs up!

    I've seen a wreck on the highway, people needing help and some would not help because it would cause them to be late for Sunday services and it was a sin to miss. Better to sin and miss and ask for forgiveness.

    What about the being obedient to the powers over us command? Some are drafted into service and no matter what you do in the military, handing out clothing, cooking, medical, cutting grass, you are still supporting the war effort in some way. What do you do at your work? Most do something in some way that is also supporting the war. Have you quit?

    Remember "Rosie the Riverter", my mother worked in a factory building airplanes in Chicago, Illinois and we all were proud of her. A real pacifist would quit work? You, as a civilian or service man both equally participate and support the war as your taxes are being used to support the war effort so a real pacifist should stop paying them and take the consequences? Have you?

    Talk is cheap and theorys are only just that when you get down to the nut cutting aren't they!

  70. abasnar says:

    Dear Alanrouse

    You said.

    BTW, here are the NET bible notes on the question of “extort money” in Luke 3:14:

    40 tn Or “Rob no one.” The term ?????????? (diaseis?te) here refers to “shaking someone.” In this context it refers to taking financial advantage of someone through violence, so it refers essentially to robbery. Soldiers are to perform their tasks faithfully. A changed person is to carry out his tasks in life faithfully and without grumbling.

    I looked it up, and you may be right with this. The problem is, this word does appear only once in the NT and once in the LXX (3Macc 3:21). Especially the LXX text would support this understanding. But there is a difference between these two verses:

    Lk 3:14 "Do violence to no one" – the text does not mention money in this sentence
    3 Macc 7:21 "And no one in any way robbed them of their goods" – here it is translated with to rob and it mentions the goods.

    That's all (both NT and AT incl. Apocrypha). So maybe, yes, John meant extorting money. If you take his words to the tax collectors and to the soldiers together it seems to me, that one of the big "incentives" in these professions was to be able to gain some extra-money under the flag of the authorities. So John made these professions jobs with minimum wage, something no one would choose or desire considering that these jobs were the opposite of being prestiguous.

    But is the correct application then that a Christian might be/become a true and faithful soldier? And this question was answered in detail by the 2nd and 3rd century church of Christ – which I quoted above. John spoke to people who already were soldiers or tax-collectors before they repented. That's not the same as being a Christian considering joining the Armed forces. And that's the point. That's where sound Biblical teaching has to be restored in order to keep our young men from joining the military and other professions that are not suitable for citicens of God's Kingdom.

    But – before you anwer that – think about this question: How real is God's Kingdom (for you)?

    In Christ
    Alexander

  71. abasnar says:

    Dear Alabama John

    You, as a civilian or service man both equally participate and support the war as your taxes are being used to support the war effort so a real pacifist should stop paying them and take the consequences? Have you?

    Talk is cheap and theorys are only just that when you get down to the nut cutting aren’t they!

    So, if the government says: "Sin!" then do it, and God will give you both thumbs up? I doubt it. But you asked for examples:

    I would have been drafted in 1988, but I was a conscientuous objector. I had to write an apology with my reasons and face a trial – and with God's help I passed. That was challenging, a test of faith … and yet, quite simple.

    A different example (different subject, though): As I worked as a signmaker, a job came in that I refused to do: I would not make an advertisment for a red-light-local. I refused – but I was not fired because of that. It could have happened, though. What would you have done? Would you have taken and done this job? Would our Lord have taken that as a service to Him (as we shall view our work)?

    I could tell some more things, but I tell you something else: I read stories of martyrs, and they inspire me. Have you ever thought how you would react when you were imprisoned or tortured for Christ's sake? We'll see how the times will develop, but I want to be ready. I talked with a brother from Switzerland who even went to prison because he refused to be drafted. He was convincing.

    BTW I read an interesting book about people refusing to pay war-taxes – in the US that's easier than in Austria, because you fill out your own tax-forms. In Austria the tax is taken by the government before we get our wages (the company pays the taxes). On the other hand, Austria has almost a zero budget for its military and does not engage in wars. Anyway, there are people around who take even this issue very seriously – have you ever met one and talked with him? Might lead to a paradigm-shift …

    That's why I cannot agree with your approach: "First sin, and then repent" – If that works, what did the martyrs die for?

    In Christ
    Alexander

  72. Anonymous says:

    We must first ask who it is that Jesus as taught us to be and how he showed us to be that by example and then ask ourselves how do we respond to the various examples of injustice and oppression as that person Jesus has called us, taught us, and shown us to be.

    Absolutely we should as there are examples we can look at in the Hebrew Scriptures as well that tell us about God’s guidance.

    2 Timothy 3:15-17 “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

    The scenario with Hitler isn’t a what if, it was a fact that Hitler and the Nazi’s were slaughtering Jews as people stood idly by until God stepped in giving us a great big sign , Pearl Harbor, that we had better quit standing by and do something about it.

    So you are not for national security and protecting the weak. I am all for helping defend those who cannot defend themselves. I do not believe love is to sit idly while people are being slaughtered. People say to give defense and security and protection to the defenseless as long as me, my family, and friends aren’t part of it.

    Paul said that when it is possible to have peace with all men, peace is preferred, but it is not always possibile in all situations. I don’t believe love is to sit idly by when people are being slaughtered.

    The Hebrews writer says those who battled in wars were brave who worked righteousness.

    Hebrews 11:32-34 “And what more shall I say? For the time would fail me to tell of Gideon and Barak and Samson and Jephthah, also of David and Samuel and the prophets: who through faith subdued kingdoms, worked righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, became valiant in battle, turned to flight the armies of the aliens.”

  73. K. Rex Butts says:

    Anonymous,

    Wow, you completely ignored the elephant in the room (Jesus) in order to address situations of injustice without even considering how it was that Jesus taught us to act in such a situation. And so you say, "So you are not for national security and protecting the weak. I am all for helping defend those who cannot defend themselves. I do not believe love is to sit idly while people are being slaughtered. People say to give defense and security and protection to the defenseless as long as me, my family, and friends aren’t part of it."

    Well, what about Jesus? Did he not weep over Jerusalem know that as a weak people already oppressed by Roman rule that they would be slaughtered (Luke 19.42-44)? So was Jesus unconcerned about "protecting the weak, defending those who cannot defend themselves?" DId Jesus believe love meant "to sit idly while people are being slaughtered?"

    You are right about one thing. I am not for national security since all the kingdoms of this world have already been defeated at the cross of Jesus (cf. Col 2.15). The kingdom we are called to serve needs no protection, just witnesses.

    Grace and peace,

    Rex
    which by the way, we recall how he wept over Jerusalem

  74. K. Rex Butts says:

    Anonymous,

    I don't believe in sitting idly by while the world suffers and neither did Jesus. I just believe, because of my faith in Jesus, that if the world is truly going to see the life God wishes to redeem them for in Jesus then the world must see a people who live that redeemed life…the life Jesus lived. Or else, all the world continues to see is a reflection of its sad self and surely never any hint of what could be if it would realize that Jesus in not only the Truth and Life but also the Way (of life).

    Grace and peace,

    Rex

    Grace and peace,

    Rex

  75. Alabama John says:

    Dear Al;exander,

    I wouldn't of painted the sign either. Good for you.
    There are many times in the Bible where some disobeyed God and God didn't punish them becvause of the circumstances.
    What many, especially of the church of Christ call sin I don't see as something God would hold against you. Stopping a man from beating a child is one. If that is sin, then I would sin and ask for forgiveness and let it be in Gods hands.

    If I was starving, I would eat the shew bread too. I would of steadied the blessed ark too and see what that got the man meaning well. What was his eternal judgment? That's Gods decision. He may be getting a thumbs up.

    Lots of decisions, but what we usually see is pacifist attacking those in military and policemen and those responding in defence. Seldom do we see the attack or hard questioning of the pacifist to see if he is living what he is preaching. For most its just talk, or debating, They don't dig deep enough as we all support the military, police, government and war in some fashion.

    They don't walk the walk.

  76. Anne says:

    @Zach, Actually I was asking you if this is your stance that America seems to be behind all conflicts of the 20th and 21st century. From your previous posts it seems that was your view and I wanted to clarify that. No, but thank you, I don’t really care for any more info. I already have a degree in history, I know where to find it if I want to delve into that.

    I always find it a little bewildering when it is attempted to put blame on everyone but the evildoer. Just maybe we didn’t have to “invent an enemy”, but that there actually was an enemy. The Germans were not to blame for WW2, but evil corporations, Bush’s grandfather, the English, they were to blame. We were forced into WW2 by FDR, not by the Japanese. Wilson and Chase were to blame for the Lusitania, not the Germans. Islamic fascists are not to blame for our current war, but America, we created the terrorists. If only we hadn’t been so mean and meddling around the world, if we would just get out of Israel, if everyone wasn’t so poor and we are so rich…… the list goes on. If we had just not done these things the Twin Towers would still be standing. Americans are to blame for all the evil in the world because of our evil capitalist greed. Sorry to rant, but it does get a little old. There is no true Christian nation in the world, but America comes closest to it than any other.

  77. Anonymous says:

    Wow, you completely ignored the elephant in the room (Jesus) in order to address situations of injustice without even considering how it was that Jesus taught us to act in such a situation.

    You again make accusations at someone you’ve not met. I should say Wow as it seems you suggest the Bible ignores Jesus, here is what I commented:

    Jesus certainly didn’t speak as though He is opposed to war, Luke 14:31-32, “Or what king, going to make war against another king, does not sit down first and consider whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? Or else, while the other is still a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks conditions of peace.”

    Romans 12:18 “If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.” We should always try to have peace, the Bible says as much as possible we should live peaceably with all men. That doesn’t say it will always be possible, there are times that we will have to battle and it should only be after we have tried all other options first.

    Absolutely we should as there are examples we can look at in the Hebrew Scriptures as well that tell us about God’s guidance.

    2 Timothy 3:16-17 “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

    The Hebrews writer says those who battled in wars were brave who worked righteousness.

    Hebrews 11:32-34 “And what more shall I say? For the time would fail me to tell of Gideon and Barak and Samson and Jephthah, also of David and Samuel and the prophets: who through faith subdued kingdoms, worked righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, became valiant in battle, turned to flight the armies of the aliens.”

    God has always wanted protection for those who are weak and oppressed. David was a man after God’s own heart. God has guided many of His people to battle, God does not do that which is evil.

  78. K. Rex Butts says:

    I think one of the questions those in the CoC holding to the just-war position must answer is why is there a univocal voice of non-violence/pacafism in the early pre-Constitinian Christian history? Were they wrong about Jesus' intentions for his disciples, the church?

    The CoC loves the support of the early church history when it comes to a subject like baptism. We can't have it both ways. We can't listen to the voices of early Christian history when they agree with us but ignore them when they contradict us.

    Grace and peace,

    Rex

  79. Larry Short says:

    First, Rex thanks for a clear writing on a thinking man's pacificism.
    Abasnar, John the B. did his preaching out in the wilderness eating locust and honey, wearing coarase garments. Jesus went to the parties, dinners, and even created wine. John represents the monastic approach and Jeus, the great commission. However both styles are approved by Jesus. Jesus seems to support variety by "piped for you and you would not dance, played a diruge and you would not mourn." Some will seek the guru on the mountain top, others the consuel of their coworker. "All things to all people" by Paul.
    I beleive God accepts a lot of variety.
    Several have pointed out how intangled this is. Quick thought, a large chunk of the US federal budget is military. If you pay taxes you are supporting war. If that's wrong, you must get out of the system. But paying taxes to Caesar supported conquest and Jesus said yes, so……
    I think there is more love in helping the helpless againist the bully than by abstaining for non-violence. Most bullies are logical, if they can't get away with it, they quit. Good police, military lowers violence in the world.

  80. K. Rex Butts says:

    Anonymous,

    My statement about missing the elephant in the room was based on what you said in your previous statement at 5:18.

    As for your used Luke 14.31-33, it is a grave misuse of that passage about counting the cost of discipleship which is the point Jesus is making. While Jesus did not address war specifically, he certainly address how we treat are enemies (Matt 5.43ff).

    We can interpret scripture all day long apart from who scripture tells Jesus actually was, how he lived, etc… and as long as we approach scripture that way…well, it can justify about anything we want it to and then some.

    Grace and peace,

    Rex

  81. K. Rex Butts says:

    Larry,

    Even though we don't agree on everything related to this issue I appreciate your contributions and reminder that regardless of our position, Christian pacifism cannot be passivity.

    Grace and peace,

    Rex

  82. Larry Short says:

    Rex, I really like your writing. Confession, I don't have a perfect theology on thiese issues. By nature I'm more a teacher than preacher, so reasoning togeher can lead to better thinking.
    I went to ACU during Vietnam war, and had many CO friends who went through hardships for their view. God didn't test me in this way, He gave me a very unlikely to draft allotment number, and I never was drafted.
    For years, I did ride buses and trains commuting to work via some rought areas ot this city. I intervened several times in theft and violence. Several times others would help but would not until another acted first. Love is active for good, and by my Lord self sacrificing. I beleive in James, show me your faith (or love) by your actions.
    "Blessed are the peace-makers" peace is MADE. That can be by teaching non-violence and stopping it. I'm sure we need both. By the way the moneychangers never gave Jesus a non-violent award!

  83. Larry Short says:

    Usually after the actions are done, the whys are written down, and people later beleive thats why they went to war. WW2 in Europe was to get rid of the evil Hitler. While it was known that Hitler had conquered his neighbors, the horrors now known were unkown when the US entered the war. We did not declare war on Germany to close the death camps.
    History channel ran Patton 360, some 8? hours of his generalship. One later hour is crossing into Germany, and finding the first small death camp. The troops that entered saw, and heard the prisoner stories, relayed this up the command chain. Patton came quickly to see if the reports were true. He was so incensed, that he went to the mayor of the nearest town to the camp, and made him tour it. The mayor was shocked and went home and killed himself.
    Evil needs to be exposed and resisted. Jesus did both.

  84. Anonymous says:

    The early church never condemned Christians for being in the military or police force. The physical presence of Christian tombstones is undeniable evidence that Christians were involved in the military before Constantine. Sir William Ramsey, in his book Luke the Physician, comments on an inscription for a Christian soldier from Lycaonia. He also stated, “it is certain that the armies of the eastern empire were largely composed of Christians.”

    The early church was not pacifist, but were men of faith who served with the utmost courage and steadfastness.

  85. K. Rex Butts says:

    Anonymous,

    That evidence only proves that the Christian died as a soldier. It does not tell us why he died. We do know that there were some in the military who became Christians and died because of that.

    What do you do with Jesus' statement "But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you" (Matt 5.44)?

  86. Larry Short says:

    The jumper on the bridge may need to be physically handled to get him off the bridge. Later thinking clearer, He may thank you.
    I think teaching God's will to our enemies is loving them. I think living God serving lives is love to God and His enemies. Seek not the ememy's destruction but our redemption. If only the semmetic world knew this. The Jews, Sunni, Shihitte, Kurd are always seeking the eye ffor eye. Killing the other will not bring your dead back.

  87. Anonymous says:

    Many times I have blessed enemies of mine by offering them money, food, and clothing, many times I have prayed for those who have used me and persecuted me. We should turn the other cheek when someone may slap you, try to offend you, or try to discredit you. Where does it say to turn the other cheek when other people are being slaughtered?

    What are your thoughts on this:

    Can a person be a Christian and serve in the military or police?

    What do you think our country should do when attacked?

    What do you think we should do when a neighboring country is being wiped out?

    If the only choice you had was to use violence to stop an attacker who is hurting your wife or child would you?

    When someone allows their neighbor to be attacked when they could have stopped it is that loving your neighbor?

  88. K. Rex Butts says:

    Can a person be a Christian and serve in the military or police?

    - That is a choice a person would have to make for themselves but I don't think I could in conscience because my understanding of the fidelity they require and some of the political objectives they are trying to accomplish runs counter to the Kingdom of God and the Lordship of Jesus Christ.

    What do you think our country should do when attacked?

    - What is "our country"? Scripture tells me that my "citizenship is in heaven" (Phil 3.20) and that I am an "alien and exile" (1 Pet 2.11) among this world. So though I reside within the borders of a nation and strive to obey its laws so long as they do not require the abandonment of my faith in Christ, what the nations do is their business. What does that have to do with me or any other Christian. Our business is (or should be) the Kingdom of God that are part of.

    What do you think we should do when a neighboring country is being wiped out?

    - Pray; cry out in lament as Jesus did in anticipation of Jerusalem's demise; if possible, go and serve those who are suffering; give of my money and material goods to help those who are suffering.

    If the only choice you had was to use violence to stop an attacker who is hurting your wife or child would you?

    - Well, here is where it does get a little muddy for me. First off, no I would not stand by and allow neither my wife nor my children to be hurt. I would even die to protect them. I do have questions as to whether their needs to be a distinction in the discussion on Christian pacifism when it comes to using a small amount of force to prevent an assailant from bring individual harm and using a WHOLE LOT of violence to protect and preserve the political agendas of this world. I could be wrong on this but there does seem to be a BIG difference between pushing, holding-down, even punching an assailant so that he will stop his attack and participating in a military effort to further the agenda of a kingdom that wants to assert its own sovereignty (which by nature is in opposition to the Kingdom of God). And make no mistake about it…much, if not all, of the US military violence is just like the rest of the worlds military violence: an effort in preserving its own destiny.

    BTW…there are accounts of Christian martyrs who refused to renounce their confession of Jesus Christ even as they watched their family being slaughtered before their eyes. Were they cowards or were they faithful to Jesus?

    When someone allows their neighbor to be attacked when they could have stopped it is that loving your neighbor?

    - You should ask Jesus that question when he knew Jerusalem was going to be slaughtered yet refused to call up the legions of Jewish zealots waiting to weild the sword in a revolutionary defense/attack against an oppresive Roman Empire.

  89. Alan S. says:

    Larry, I appreciate your comments. Too often, the unexpected or unintended consequences become what is remembered as the cause.

    Blessings

  90. abasnar says:

    Dear Anonymous

    The early church never condemned Christians for being in the military or police force. The physical presence of Christian tombstones is undeniable evidence that Christians were involved in the military before Constantine. Sir William Ramsey, in his book Luke the Physician, comments on an inscription for a Christian soldier from Lycaonia. He also stated, “it is certain that the armies of the eastern empire were largely composed of Christians.”

    The early church was not pacifist, but were men of faith who served with the utmost courage and steadfastness.

    I highlighted what I am referring to. Have you ever read one of their writings dealing with this questions? I have quoted two authors: Hippolytus and Tertullian. The Dictionary of Early Christian Beliefs has full SEVEN pages of quotes from the Ante-Nicene period on this subject. From men like Justin Martyr, Tatian, Athenagoras, Clement of Alexandria, Irenaeus, Tertullian, Hippolytus, Origen, Cyprian, Lactantius and Arnobius. From the end of this period comes the following quote (Dispoutation of Archelaus and Manes, 320 AD):

    Those soldiers were filled with wonder and admiration at the grandeur of the man's piety and generorosity and were struck with amazement. They felt the force of this example of pity. As a result, very many of them were added to the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ and threw off the belt of military service.

    The background to this is a tremenduous act of mercy by a certain Marcellus, who gave a large sum to buy free a number of prisoners. But the really intersting thing is: Becoming a Christian included very often the putting off of the military belt. So this was cristal clear even to these soldiers, that they would have to change their profession when they join Christ!

    Anonymous, you may read all the writings of the early church, they were all opposed to war, they all agreed that Christians must not join the army nor take any oath or pledge of allegiance. And – as I quoted above – Soldiers who became Christians, could stay in the military only under very strict conditions.

    So we have their clear written statements, and you point to a grave-stone. OK, we have to interpret this find in the light of the texts, and not take a silent stone and build a theology upon it while ignoring the written records.

    Are we to be pacifists?

    Mat 5:9 Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.

    Pacifist is from the Latin pax (Gen. pacis) for peace and facere for to make. Are we to be pacifists?

    If not, how are we to understand this blessing? What would our Lord Jesus expect us to do and to be, when He said these words other than to be pacifists, people who strive for bringing about peace?

    So in sum: Our Lord is not really hard to understand for those who have set their minds on the Kingdom. [deleted by JFG] What have you been baptized for? Just for the remission of sins? … Sorry for being so direct, but since you are anonymous, I write this for all who think the way you write, and not for you personally.

    Unless we learn to underderstand God's Kindom, we won't grasp the Gospel. If we don't grasp the gospel, we won't be saved at the end. You cannot conme to grips with pacifism, unless you got the idea of God's Kingdom as it was laid out in the prophets and proclaimed by our Lord:

    Is 2:4 … and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.

    Think about it … imagine you try to convince Christ himself of what you believe

    God bless
    Alexander

  91. Someone above mentioned the Lusitania. After all these years some "old truth" is being given fresh light. The British were using civilian ships to transport military equipment. This benefitted Britain in two ways – one, ease of transort of military equipment and 2) if the Germans caught on (which they did) and bombed the civilian ships (which they had a right to do since technically they were no long civilian ships but military ones), then world sentiment would turn against Germany. Also, America might even enter the war on the side of Britain, especially since Americans rode on the British ships, being uninformed, of course, of the presence of military supplies.

    Germany did catch on, but before bombing the Lusitania even took out ads in American papers warning Americans not to ride on British boats. (There are a number of good sources on this today, but here is one brief discussion: http://www.english.emory.edu/LostPoets/Lusitaniap

    Karl Menninger, in Whatever Became of Sin, discusses the Lusitania under the caption "Lies, Lies, Lies." He says, "For some thirty years the US Government purposely withheld the truth about the sinking from the public; it denied the facts and falsely accused German of an atrocity to arouse American sentiment against Germany … it was … exploited by the British and American governments to induce hatred i nthe American people toward the German people. In short, we were lied to by our leaders to maneuver our country into a war for political reasons and not to 'save democracy.'" Menningner also talks about the one man who tried to expose these lies, Sen. Robert La Follette, for which the Senate tried to expel him for treachery. For telling the truth and trying to save American lives La Follette was almost booted out of the senate!

    Studying these issues become very emotional b/c so much is at stake, not the least of which is the lives and honor of the men who served. Do we dishonor the men who died in WW1 if we point out the lies and treachery it took took on the part of our leaders to get those men in uniform? If we choose to perpetuate those lies and refuse to see the truth, don't we perpetuate a system of evil that will send other young men (and now women) to unnecessary deaths as well?

    If we as Christians don't call a halt to his, who will?

    Note: another good book on the misconceptions and false hope surrounding WW1, much of it propagated by preachers, read "The War for Righteousness: Progressive Christianity, the Great War, and the Rise of the Messianic Nation" by Richard M. Gamble.

  92. K. Rex Butts says:

    Warren,

    And people wonder why the hard-rock band Black Sabbath wrote "War Pigs":

    Generals gathered in their masses
    Just like witches at black masses
    Evil minds that plot destruction
    Sorcerers of death's construction
    In the fields the bodies burning
    As the war machine keeps turning
    Death and hatred to mankind
    Poisoning their brainwashed minds
    Oh lord yeah!

    Politicians hide themselves away
    They only started the war
    Why should they go out to fight?
    They leave that role to poor

    Time will tell on their power minds
    Making war just for fun
    Treating people just like pawns in chess
    Wait 'til their judgement day comes
    Yeah!

    Now in darkness world stops turning
    Ashes where the bodies burning
    No more war pigs have the power
    Hand of God has struck the hour
    Day of judgement, God is calling
    On their knees the war pig's crawling
    Begging mercy for their sins
    Satan laughing spreads his wings
    All right now!

  93. Haven't heard of this song, thanks.

  94. Guy says:

    Rex,

    i love War Pigs! Great tune. There's not many mainstream protest tunes like that out these days it doesn't seem like. Anyway, i wanted to comment on your response to a question here:

    "If the only choice you had was to use violence to stop an attacker who is hurting your wife or child would you?

    - Well, here is where it does get a little muddy for me. First off, no I would not stand by and allow neither my wife nor my children to be hurt. I would even die to protect them."

    Isn't there a fundamental mistake in most of these hypotheticals? –that the only alternative to violence is doing nothing? i can't think of a single situation where my *only* alternative to doing nothing is violently engaging the attacker. The idea that violence is my only choice is completely fabricated and i don't believe it encapsulates any real world scenarios i can think of.

    Again, if we view scenarios and quickly conclude that violence is the only option, i think that proves at least as much is wrong with us than any failure to intervene demonstrates.

    i think you're absolutely right though: even if it turns out we are obligated to engage violently someone trying to mug our wives, that still doesn't prove it's permissible for Christians to engage in military violence. Far more issues are involved in the latter which are not decided by the former.

    –Guy

  95. K. Rex Butts says:

    Guy,

    You have a very good point. And I often find with questions such as those who are trying to find an inconsistency in the Christian non-violence/pacifism psotion, that they often want to make as though there are only two options: violence or victimization…and all the while ignoring the elephant in the room.

    Grace and peace,

    Rex

  96. abasnar says:

    A very good book written by a former US-soldier stationed in Germany goes through most of these questions:
    http://www.scrollpublishing.com/store/more-Change

    In his book the author describes the reasons why he left the army because of Christian convictions

    Alexander

  97. Anonymous says:

    Can a person be a Christian and serve in the military or police?

    - That is a choice a person would have to make for themselves but I don’t think I could in conscience because my understanding of the fidelity they require and some of the political objectives they are trying to accomplish runs counter to the Kingdom of God and the Lordship of Jesus Christ.

    So your answer is that a person cannot serve in the military or police and be a Christian.

    Will you take communion with someone who serves in the military or police, seeing you suggest a person can’t serve in the military or police and also be a Christian?

    What do you think our country should do when attacked?

    - What is “our country”? Scripture tells me that my “citizenship is in heaven” (Phil 3.20) and that I am an “alien and exile” (1 Pet 2.11) among this world. So though I reside within the borders of a nation and strive to obey its laws so long as they do not require the abandonment of my faith in Christ, what the nations do is their business. What does that have to do with me or any other Christian. Our business is (or should be) the Kingdom of God that are part of.

    (Phil 3:20) The people Paul spoke to lived in Greece but their citizenship was in Rome, they could understand Paul’s speech. They have a citizenship on earth but they have another in heaven. Those who set their minds on earthly things look at life from the standards of a world without God with a self indulgent viewpoint rather than the divine viewpoint.

    And since you are not a citizen of the US, then you can tell us that you don’t acknowledge on the census or on anything that you are a citizen of the US?

    Jesus never denied that He was Jesus of Nazareth.

    Christians acknowledged their citizenship in Rome who were part of Caesar’s cabinet and were honored, Philippians 4:22 "All the saints greet you, chiefly they that are in Caesar's household."

    What do you think we should do when a neighboring country is being wiped out?

    - Pray; cry out in lament as Jesus did in anticipation of Jerusalem’s demise; if possible, go and serve those who are suffering; give of my money and material goods to help those who are suffering.

    Absolutely, we should pray before we do anything, David was man of prayer and is a great example to follow, Hebrews 11:32-34 “And what more shall I say? For the time would fail me to tell of Gideon and Barak and Samson and Jephthah, also of David and Samuel and the prophets: who through faith subdued kingdoms, worked righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, became valiant in battle, turned to flight the armies of the aliens.”

    2 Timothy 3:16-17 “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

    We should give material goods, but the question was what should we do when our neighbor is being wiped out(slaughtered), or is defending and protecting the weak and oppressed not godly?

    If the only choice you had was to use violence to stop an attacker who is hurting your wife or child would you?

    - Well, here is where it does get a little muddy for me. First off, no I would not stand by and allow neither my wife nor my children to be hurt. I would even die to protect them. I do have questions as to whether their needs to be a distinction in the discussion on Christian pacifism when it comes to using a small amount of force to prevent an assailant from bring individual harm and using a WHOLE LOT of violence to protect and preserve the political agendas of this world. I could be wrong on this but there does seem to be a BIG difference between pushing, holding-down, even punching an assailant so that he will stop his attack and participating in a military effort to further the agenda of a kingdom that wants to assert its own sovereignty (which by nature is in opposition to the Kingdom of God). And make no mistake about it…much, if not all, of the US military violence is just like the rest of the worlds military violence: an effort in preserving its own destiny.
    BTW…there are accounts of Christian martyrs who refused to renounce their confession of Jesus Christ even as they watched their family being slaughtered before their eyes. Were they cowards or were they faithful to Jesus?

    I never said there aren’t people called to be martyrs, there are many, many martyrs throughout the whole Bible…which BTW includes those in the Hebrew Scriptures.

    And who are you to make such a huge claim that much of the people within the government and military are not guided by God?

    Too many pacifists have a double standard, they can use force to stop a person from hurting someone very dear to them, but someone who is employed with the government is wrong to use force to defend and protect others, according to Rex, that love only applies to him but not to others.

    When someone allows their neighbor to be attacked when they could have stopped it is that loving your neighbor?

    - You should ask Jesus that question when he knew Jerusalem was going to be slaughtered yet refused to call up the legions of Jewish zealots waiting to weild the sword in a revolutionary defense/attack against an oppresive Roman Empire.

    WOW, you totally avoided answering the question with a statement that is nowhere near a Biblical statement. If that is what you think about God you need to get to know Him better.

    Jeremiah 9:23-24 “Thus says the LORD: Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, Let not the mighty man glory in his might, Nor let the rich man glory in his riches; But let him who glories glory in this, That he understands and knows Me, That I am the LORD, exercising lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness in the earth. For in these I delight,” says the LORD.”

    God can and does protect and defend people supernaturally, I also believe God protects by guiding us to protect and defend others.

  98. K. Rex Butts says:

    Anonymous,

    For someone who accuses me of slander earlier, all I can say is that as you comment in anonimity (what are you afriad of?)…You have miscontrued what I actually said while also continueing to proof-text scripture without any hint that you have given consideration to how the historical life Jesus lived (including what he actually said) gives shape to how we interpret the rest of scripture.

    Yes I would share in communion with a Christian serving in the military and I have. I did not say that a Christian cannot serve in the military and please don't make sound like I did. I said that is a choice each Christian would have to make and I have made my choice which is that I could not serve in the military as a Christian.

    As for my statement about Jesus taking/leading no military action when he knew the attack Jeresulam was to come under…you should read Luke 19 and then ask why Jesus did not take such action when, based upon what we know about second-temple Judaism, there was no shortage of Jews looking for a messianic leader to lead the revolution against Rome.

    That is all I have to say. I disagree with your position about Christians participating/supporting violent ways of resolving worldly issues but you know what…I would still sit next to you in worship and share in communion with you, regarding you as my brother/sister in Christ.

    Grace and peace,

    Rex

  99. Anonymous says:

    I’m sorry Alexander I thought you could read well but as most people stuck on an agenda they are blinded by it and can only see what they want to see.

    The physical presence of Christian tombstones is undeniable evidence that Christians were involved in the military before Constantine.

    And by your saying I am no child of God by my disagreement on this issue, perhaps you need to get to know God better.

    Blessings

  100. Anonymous says:

    Rex, perhaps reading Zecharia will help you think more about what you said about Jesus not fighting for Jerusalem, not all things are in our time but are in God's time.

  101. Anonymous says:

    [deleted by JFG]

  102. Anonymous says:

    Jay, will you delete Alexander's comment on June 4, 2010 at 8:41 am, as it is slanderous and he cannot provide any such truth to his accusations about me.

    And I would appreciate it if you would delete my comment on June 4, 2010 at 6:37 pm.

    And I will try not to get into anymore discussions with Alexander, some people don't want to discuss issues but would rather try to slam on other people.

    Thank you Jay for your understanding.

  103. Jay Guin says:

    Anonymous and Abasnar,

    I have made the requested deletions, although I don't believe Abasnar's comment was slanderous. It was inappropriate, I believe.

    All,

    This thread has triggered a lot of interest. Many of the opinions expressed are responsible and well spoken, but some have been too personal.

    I'm ending this thread. We covered pacificism in considerable detail a while back. http://oneinjesus.info/index-under-construction/t….

    As I said in the original post, my reason for the post was not to re-initiate the conversation on pacificism, but to inquire regarding why the American churches have so little teaching on when/whether wars are unjust — ultimately arguing that the lack of such a theology shows American Christianity to be highly syncretic with patriotism.

    We have trouble telling the difference between Christianity and patriotism, and they are not at all the same thing. The merger of Americanism with Christianity is much broader than just war theory — and its implications are far reaching. It has a huge impact on our thinking.

    But I just wanted to create an awareness of the issue. We'll delve into it further when I get to the "To Change the World" series.

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