Debate: Can a Christian ever justify supporting a war?
We will consider these areas in the light of the previous lesson you will need to apply your knowledge to these ideas.**All three monotheistic religious traditions have a version of holy war in their history. The question is, how do they use this heritage today? It is dead in Christianity (although anti-Semitism is still an issue), but it is alive and well in Islam and in Judaism among the radicals and fundamentalists.
Jihad: all three traditions have it: conquest of the promised Land, crusades. However, many Jews, Christians and Muslims spiritualize the idea of the holy war: transforming it to the battle of the self with the demons & temptations.**Jesus declared that the life of the Christian will be different than the life of the Old Testament Jew. One of the areas of change is in the Christians relations with other people. Love is now to be the overriding concern. He said, You have learned that our forefathers were told, 'Do not commit murder; anyone who commits murder must be brought to judgement. But what I tell you is this: Anyone who nurses anger against his brother must be brought to Judgement. if he abuses his brother he must answer for it to the court; if he sneers at him he will have to answer for it in the fires of hell. Jesus does not even allow a Christian to be angry with someone! (Mt 5:21-24) What then will He do with those who kill? Jesus taught, You have learned that they were told, Eye for eye, tooth for tooth.' But what I tell you is this: Do not set yourself against the man who wrongs you. (Mt 5:38-39) What a strong statement! Only the Son of God could call for such faith in Gods control of the situation. Is He telling us that the Christian life is to be lived in the Kingdom of God and not in this world? The apostle Paul spoke on the subject of peace, Let us pursue the things that make for peace and build up the common life. (Rom 14:19) And The Kingdom of God is justice, peace and joy, inspired by the Holy Spirit. (Rom 14:17) The disciple James said, The wisdom from above is in the first place pure; and then peace-loving, considerate, and open to reason; it is straightforward and sincere, rich in mercy and in the kindly deeds that are its fruit. True justice is the harvest reaped by peace-makers from seed sown in a spirit of peace. What causes conflicts and quarrels among you? Do they not spring from the aggressiveness of your bodily desires? You want something which you can not have, and so you are bent on murder; you are envious, and cannot attain your ambition, and so you quarrel and fight. (James 3:17-4:2)Early Church Practice The early church took these teachings of Jesus and the apostles very seriously. Guided by the Holy Spirit, they were strong pacifists. They did not identify with any earthly nation but rather claimed citizenship in heaven, considering themselves as strangers and aliens on the earth (Heb 11:13-16 and I Peter 2:11). They believed that the governments were given by God and therefore to be obeyed when it did not conflict with obeying God (Acts 4:19; Rom 13:1-6 and I Peter 2:13-14). However, Christians could not be judges nor soldiers as this would place them in positions where they may be responsible for taking someones life. Most serious scholars of church history today agree that for the first three centuries of the Christian church, Christians rejected not only emperor worship and idolatry but also participation in the military. Obedience to the gospel, the early church held, was consistent only with a position of nonresistance and not serving in the military.
*Franciscans are pacifists who point to St. Francis of Assisi, whose 11th-century movement was responsible for the collapse of the feudal system in war-torn Italy. This occurred because they refused to bear weapons in support of their lords conquest for landa clear example of pacifism at work.Pacifists find scriptural support for their views in New Testament commands to non-resistance: But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also (Matthew 5:39); Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good (Romans 12: 21);Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace (Romans 14:19).Mennonites - refer to themselves as "nonresistant" or "defenseless. The Mennonites are a group of Christian Anabaptist denominations named after the Frisian Menno Simons (14961561), who, through his writings, articulated and thereby formalized the teachings of earlier Swiss founders. The teachings of the Mennonites were founded on their belief in both the mission and ministry of Jesus Christ, which they held to with great conviction despite persecution by the various Roman Catholic and Protestant states. Rather than fight, the majority survived by fleeing to neighboring states where ruling families were tolerant of their radical belief in adult baptism. Over the years, Mennonites have become known as one of the historic peace churches because of their commitment to nonviolence.
*Quakers believe that war and conflict are against God's wishes and so they are dedicated to pacifism and non-violence. And from a practical point of view they think that force nearly always creates more problems than it solves.**Pragmatic argument: to show no resistance to evil is a great show of power. Christianity is based upon a paradox of power. Christianity is a way of self-sacrifice, way of the cross. The Saints play an important part the beliefs of Christians throughout history esp RC & Orthodox These people are considered to be role models of the highest order. How does the story of St Martin link into our topic?
November 11th, commonly known in the United States as Veterans Day, is the feast day of Martin of Tours, venerated by Catholics as the patron saint of conscientious objectors. He was born in what is now Hungary in 316, the son of an officer in the Roman army. He soon felt called to the life of Christ and became a catechumen in his early teens. He joined the Roman imperial army at age 15. Trying to live his faith, Martin refused to let his servant to wait on him. Once, while on horseback in Amiens in Gaul (modern France), he encountered a beggar. Having nothing to give but the clothes on his back, he cut his heavy officer's cloak in half, and gave it to the beggar. Later he had a vision of Christ wearing the cloak. St. Martin was baptized into the Church at age 18. Soon after, he felt that military service and Christianity were incompatible. Just before a battle, he announced that his faith prohibited him from fighting. Charged with cowardice, he was jailed. Later, the invaders sued for peace, and the battle never occurred. Martin was released from military service.St. Martin became a disciple of St Hilary of Poitiers and was baptized. From 360 onwards, Martin devoted himself to the monastic life; indeed, he is regarded as the virtual founder of Western monasticism. His houses were firstly at Ligug near Poitiers. In 372 he was elected Bishop of Tours by popular acclaim and his foundation at Marmoutier became a thriving monastery. In an age when Christianity was largely confined to towns, Martin saw monasteries as a way of promoting rural evangelization based on spiritual centers. He himself was a most assiduous bishop, visiting his flock and defending doctrine. He died on November 8th, 397. His great popularity as a saint was promoted largely by the biography of him, written by his friend Sulpicius Severus. In England, 'Martinmas' was a key time of the year; it was the time for hiring new servants and for beginning to salt meat to last through the winter.
*Exodus 20:13 states, You shall not murder. The Hebrew & greek words used here specifically refers to a premeditated, deliberate act by an individual to kill an innocent person. This is also the word Jesus uses in Matthew 5:21-22 (and elsewhere), and that Paul uses in Romans 13:9 (and elsewhere).One popular misconception of this command comes from the King James translation of Ex 20:13, which says Thou shall not kill. This is not an accurate translation. This is also apparent from the later allowances for the use of deadly force, and the judicial provision of capital punishment.Self Defence.Within the Judeo-Christian tradition, it has been well accepted that the individuals have a God-given right to self-defense, and a responsibility to defend ones family and/or the weak. This includes the potential use of deadly force. In Exodus 22, we read:If a thief is caught breaking in and is struck so that he dies, the defender is not guilty of bloodshed; but if he strikes him after sunrise, he is guilty of bloodshed.Here, using deadly force in defending ones self, ones family and ones property from an immediate threat is allowed, but vengeance (i.e. killing the thief after he has left) is not. In a similar vein, in Leviticus, we read:Do not stand idly by when your neighbors life is threatened. This is one of the laws supported by Jesus in his story of the Good Samaritan., Jesus instructs his disciples to acquire swords tools for which the only use is self-defence. Jesus told the Disciples But now if you have a purse, take it, and also a bag; and if you dont have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one.As such, it is apparent that Jesus is not opposed to personal defence from harm using deadly force. The purpose for which Jesus had his disciples get swords is indicated by the other items he referenced a purse and a bag, implements of travel. The swords were to protect the disciples on the roads (which were known to be frequented by common criminals), not to foment insurrection!Government: The purpose of government fits with the primary aspect of God order. In Genesis 1, when we are introduced to God, He is identified as a Creator who brings order from chaos, which weve discussed in depth as tohu uvohu. As such, the opposing force to God is chaos and disorder.The purpose of government is to provide order, as God provides order, through (1) a system of justice, (2) civil order and (3) common defense. Peter and Paul both affirm the governments role in providing order, and the Christians role in submitting to the civil authority provided by it. [The only right of the Christian in disobeying this authority comes if he/she is given an individual order by that authority to act directly in opposition to God (Daniel 3; Acts 5:27-32).]In short the government is a stand-in for Gods authority in preventing chaos, injustice, destruction and anarchy all of which are opposed to the very nature of God. Government is a way for the people to collectively organize, under Gods authority, to keep shalom within their own nation and between them and the other nations. Conversely, one would expect that the subject of war particularly as it pertains to professional soldiering would have been addressed in the negative (as an outright prohibition) if Gods stance on such a sweeping issue had changed during the intertestamental period. However, we do not find this, but, in fact, we are confronted with a silence on the matter when dealing with soldiers and military officials.Aside from Jesus active recommendation to the disciples to buy swords for self-defense, we have an instance where John the Baptist is directly answering questions about different professions & how they should live:What should we do then? the crowd asked.John answered, The man with two tunics should share with him who has none, and the one who has food should do the same.Tax collectors also came to be baptized. Teacher, they asked, what should we do?Dont collect any more than you are required to, he told them.Then some soldiers asked him, And what should we do? He replied, Dont extort money and dont accuse people falselybe content with your pay.Conspicuously absent is any denunciation of their...