Sunday, June 09, 2013

Violence and War - A Shipwrecked Faith


I Tim. 1: 18 This charge I commit unto thee, son Timothy, according to the prophecies which went before on thee, that thou by them mightest war a good warfare;
19 Holding faith, and a good conscience; which some having put away concerning faith have made shipwreck:

Before I enter into the meat of my post let me say two things. First, I respect the sacrifice men and women have made in the military even while disagreeing with the entire principle of violence as it pertains to the kingdom of God. On an earthly level many have shown selfless bravery.

Secondly, I acknowledge that the Old Testament is filled with acts of violence seemingly approved and even caused by God. Honestly, I cannot completely reconcile some of those things. I just have to leave that mystery in God’s hands. However it is very clear that we live in a new and better covenant with better promises. And our faith is completely tethered to Christ Jesus and His life and teachings and His sacrifice for our sins. Our faith cannot be an amalgam of New and Old Testament teachings. God has His purposes back then but His purpose now comes through His Son.

Heb.1:1 God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets,
Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds;

Also before we proceed let me deal with one portion of Scripture which is the standard bearer for many who embrace the just war principle as a part of God’s kingdom in this age.

Lk.22: 35 And he said unto them, When I sent you without purse, and scrip, and shoes, lacked ye any thing? And they said, Nothing.
36 Then said he unto them, But now, he that hath a purse, let him take it, and likewise his scrip: and he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one.
37 For I say unto you, that this that is written must yet be accomplished in me, And he was reckoned among the transgressors: for the things concerning me have an end.
38 And they said, Lord, behold, here are two swords. And he said unto them, It is enough.

Instead of going into great detail here let me provide a link which adequately addresses this issue. Suffice to say that it is bad Scriptural interpretation to cull out a couple of verses and allow them to contradict the overwhelming New Testament teachings to the contrary. HERE is that link.

War is a repugnant business which includes people making money, the Bourgeoisie sending the Proletariat to die for them, and it is the pathway where millions of innocent lives find death. And many if not most of these deaths are not of the painless variety. Fear becomes a tangible experience on the battlefield. Through war men’s hearts become hardened and many times certain nationalities or ethnic groups are looked upon as less human and of less value than others. When men see their friends killed right in front of them they cannot help but hate and subtly and openly demand revenge. Anyone who has seen the movie Platoon has seen many aspects of war.

During war and also in preparation for war and the buildup of the military corruption looms large. I have dealt with that HERE.

But through war human life in general is devalued. We now have created a way in which a man can sit sipping a coffee while operating a joystick which can and does drop bombs on suspected terrorists as defined by the west. The hypocrisy is breathtaking. Those early Americans who hid behind trees and shot at British troops and then ran are considered heroes while those that do the same thing against American troops are terrorists. Extricating the American Indians from land the white man desired through genocide is part of American folklore and dealt with in history books with a creative and self serving sterilization.

The view that war is sometimes approved and even directed by Jesus is founded upon the view that God desires us to love America and defend her at all costs. It is no secret that many believers have a subtle and open view that America is special to God and that this country was formed as a collective that follows Jesus, or a Christian nation. As ludicrous and observably false as that is it is still proudly embraced by millions who name the name of Christ. To be fair it has been engrained in us since birth through the church as well as the secular world. It is one of the few platforms where Satanists, cultists, agnostics, atheists, Catholics, Protestants, Jews, and a wide variety of others can join hands, hold their hands over their hearts, and sing together with tears welling up in their eyes. It is also the platform where they will fight together and die together.

Obviously the teachings about not being unequally yoked are overlooked when it comes to nationalism. But it is that very principle which has invited all kinds of unchristian practices into the church and has brought open idolatry right into the body of Christ. And the natural progression of such thought culminates with embracing war as an option. There are many startling aspects of this phenomenon that are most disturbing. Listen as prayers are made in the Sunday gatherings that beg God for His protection for “our” soldiers which is an open petition in Jesus’ name that we can kill more than they. And in the midst of the horror called war it takes on a competitive spirit. We rejoice as each city falls into our hands and we take great comfort in the fact we are “winning” the war. “Mission Accomplished” is our rallying cry even though many thousands have died and gone to a Christless eternity and many more will return maimed physically and emotionally. Many children are left with one parent and many spouses are now alone. But the President can put on a flight jacket, be flown to the deck of an aircraft carrier, and garner applause as he claims complete victory. It is bizarre to say the least but it is also accepted as part of the overall pageantry of war.

And what is most disturbing is that all of it is embraced fully by those who profess to follow Christ. It is very difficult to get an American Christian to even take the time to thoroughly and vulnerably delve into the subject with an eye toward the teachings and life of Jesus. If you reject violence as a believer you are looked upon as some freak who never grew out of the 1960s. The American evangelical world is so imprisoned by a patriotic spirit that the teachings of Jesus are made to conform to that spirit rather than seeing the obvious disconnect between what Jesus taught and the dictates of nationalism.

Do you doubt the strength of that deception? Well look at the overall and clear teachings of nonviolence throughout the ministry of Jesus. Could it be any clearer? And yet people will bring up those verses in Luke and use them as foundational to suggest that sometimes Jesus desires war. And why do they do that? It’s because the spirit of nationalism has been so deeply held in our psyche that we no longer even question its Scriptural authenticity. And yet Christianity at its core is forgiveness and a pervasive benevolence. Now in the light of that try and push a square doctrinal peg into that round spiritual hole. As I have said, nationalism is the only shoehorn which can force war into the teachings of Jesus.

Let me ask this question. Are we to receive the redemption of Jesus and secure a place in heaven but still live according to the teachings of Moses or the founding fathers or the conservative movement? Or is salvation an all encompassing life change that not only secures us a place in eternity with Christ but also demands that we lose our lives for His sake and live a life which is demonstrably different than our patriotic neighbor? Can we take the average life of a moral patriot, add the name of Jesus, and still live the same way? Can we just use Jesus to sanctify a life which still operates in the dictates and mores of this world?

And make no mistake this issue of war and violence and being loyal to an earthly nation is absolutely foundational as to what the faith called Christianity actually is. Yes, have we concocted a bizarre and bastardized lifestyle and called it “Christian”? And if that is a legitimate question, then do we have enough thirst for Christ to actually investigate what Jesus said and taught and lived and make any necessary adjustments to the way we think and live? Or are we comfortable, well fed, prosperous, and prone to leave well enough alone. Or in other words,

I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing”.


Anonymous said...

Christians in the west and everywhere are living off the sacrifices of others. We live day to day in complacency doing our thing, running to and fro and we forget easily that we are partakers of the plunder of goods from sowing of wars and carnage.

And we don't think about how we got here. Our ancestors came to North America with nothing and had to aggressively labor, it was survival of the fittest, competitive, and whoever had the upper hand in military might won. So, we today, live on lands that were stolen, we live in prosperity because others fought and got maimed and died from the first colonialists to today.

I think on these things and feel like I do need to repent for my forefathers who may or may not have fought in holy wars, crusades, or civil wars. Yet, God also uses times of peace so that we can reach others with the gospel. We cant justify war, yet, we are living off the waves of those who stopped wars in their track. The only reason we are here, able to type, live comfortably, worship, work, eat, is because of the blood and sweat of those before us and at present. I know the Lord knows all these things, and this is why every day we need to realize how miserable we are, as men/women, and we should never tout our own horns as righteous in any way. We all partake of the sins of the world by just living under a government, any government. Someone's world was crushed and ruined so that we can live peacably and take advantage of the times of peace to do everything we can to spread the gospel.

But, in these last days, warring christians are not taking advantage of peaceful times; they only want empowerment and use force so they can still be the head, and that's not the Lord's way. If we all had faith enough as a mustard seed, we wouldn't need any military might; we'd be walking Ambassadors and would know we all should rely totally and trust in God to protect us from roving bands or hoards of enemies. I know this is simplistic thinking and in our sinful world, not realistic.

I don't believe the Church should be involved in foreign policy discussions. And I also believe soldiers can still come to the Lord and be saved and He is so worthy, and forgives us all if we ask. Because soldiers and we, those who rely on their sacrifices are all in this together. We are all found wanting in the ways of God. I dont see any difference between a soldier fighting and a christian back at home enjoying peace and selfishly enjoying the fruit of their labors, while we marry and give in marriage and party like there's no tomorrow. Lord, Jesus, help us all to pray for one another and remember none of us are righteous, unless covered by the blood of the Lamb.


Rick Frueh said...

We live in a land whose birth was against God unless God directs His followers to violently overthrow their government over taxes. On an earthly level we live here because some fought wars, but on a much greater level we are the planting of the Lord in the midst of a wicked and perverse people.
Sometimes peace and prosperity are a dangerous narcotic to the church. Living in earthly freedom is a mirage which has anesthetized the church.

Anonymous said...

Agree with your response and agreed with your post too. It's so hard trying to live in this world and hang on and keep God's perspective in all of this. I sometimes get overwhelmed.

I agree, the true Church is planted here and it has to work in the midst of every circumstance.


Anonymous said...

What did Jesus ask His disciples to pray?
Let's remember the words: For thine is the power and the glory for ever and ever. Amen. When we trust in His power He brings forth something glorious. LORD Jesus wants us to trust in God's power, so that He can bring forth a glorious peace in our lives.

Reine Gnade

Anonymous said...

James Bond is a false teacher!

The true follower of Jesus will reject the lies of Ian Fleming and his abhorrent James Bond creation.

Let's reject the lie that James Bond perpetrates, for the violent acts of man can't/will not save the world for us.

Let's look to a totally a different person, for salvation comes through Jesus Christ, the gentle and peaceable Prince of Purity.

Searchers for truth, James Bond isn't a great hero but a perverted villian. He doesn't offer rip-roaring entertainment, but gives us an example of what an ungodly man looks like in action.

Josef Sefton

Joseph Gaut said...

As a former military officer, I abhore violence and find the truth of your writing a bright light in a dark place. There is a sword, but not as this world thinks. As Jesus once spoke during a prayer session, "The sword of the Spirit, you will hear it." It is the living word of God, spoken to our hearts that tears down stongholds in high places. Elisha saw the defeat of a Syrian army without resorting to any violence. The weapons of our warfare are not carnal. I believe the Church will realize this and rise up in great power in our Jesus without firing a single cartridge as this world is cleansed.