by Laurence M. Vance: Is
God Against Drones?
it not for the support offered by several tens of millions of evangelicals,
militarism in this deeply and genuinely religious country becomes
inconceivable." ~ Andrew Bacevich (Colonel, U.S. Army, Ret.).
This is one
of the most sobering statements in Dr. Bacevich’s important book
New American Militarism: How Americans Are Seduced by War
(Oxford, 2005). Whether you agree or disagree with evangelical support
for militarism, the fact remains that the largest group of Americans
that the government can count on to support the institution of the
military, the empire of troops and bases that encircles the globe,
large defense budgets, overseas military interventions, the perpetual
war on terror, and now torture
is evangelical Christians – and the more conservative the more bloodthirsty.
If there is
any group that should oppose these things, it is conservative Christians
who profess to be in subjection to the Bible. There is something
gravely wrong with evangelical Christianity when socialists like
Hedges and Noam
Chomsky get it right and conservative Christians get it wrong.
are looking in the Bible, but they are looking in the wrong place.
Everything in the Bible is written for us, but not to us. Although
there are some exceptions, most Christian warmongers are Janus Christians.
Janus was the
two-headed Roman god of gates and doors. With faces that looked
in two different directions, he could see forward and backward at
the same time. Because he was considered the god of beginnings,
our first month, January, was named after him.
So, what do
many evangelicals have in common with the Roman god Janus?
are always looking backward to the Old Testament or forward to the
Book of Revelation to justify Christian participation in U.S. government
wars and military interventions.
We are continually
told by every Christian apologist for war and the military that
because God sponsored wars in the Old Testament against heathen
nations (Judges 6:16), and used his chosen nation of Israel (Deuteronomy
7:11-12) to conduct them, that this justifies Christian killing
for the state in some foreign war.
But since the
president of the United States is not God, America is not his chosen
nation, the U.S. military is not the Lord’s army, the Christian’s
sword is the word of God, and the only warfare the New Testament
encourages the Christian to wage is against the world, the flesh,
and the devil, Christians who look backward to the Old Testament
to justify their warmongering are looking in the wrong place. The
Lord has made no promise since Old Testament times to any nations
or individuals that he would fight and kill their enemies or help
them to do so.
warmongers not only appeal to the past, they also look to the future.
Here is an example from, of all places, a theological journal:
Himself will engage in actual, blood-shedding, life-taking warfare
when He returns to set up His kingdom is significant. He cannot
be the Righteous One, the Holy One, if war is inherently evil
and the combatant’s role satanic. When He comes, the Lord will
instruct His people to engage in that future warfare (cf. Obad
15-21). Would He demand His people to commit sin? Of course not!
Therefore, warfare cannot be inherently sinful. Rev 19:11-21.
his future kingdom by force is certainly significant, but completely
irrelevant to men engaging in aggressive warfare today. It does
not follow that because the Lord will instruct people to war on
his behalf in the future that it is okay for people to war on their
own behalf now. Just as Christ ruling all nations with a rod of
iron (Revelation 20:15) does not mean that it is permissible for
a world dictator to do the same now. Warfare without the express
command of Christ is certainly inherently evil and sinful. Offensive
war is nothing but wholesale murder; defending one’s country from
attack is not waging war at all, it is self-defense – but only when
it is truly defensive, which, of course, it rarely is. God is holy;
men are sinners. No one is innocent in relation to God. The Lord
could wipe out the bulk of mankind like he did with Noah’s flood
(Genesis 7:21-23) and still be just as holy. No man has any right
to kill his fellow man – on any scale – just because God has the
right to do so himself or by the means of his choosing. It can’t
be emphasized too much that Christ judges and makes war "in
righteousness" (Revelation 19:11); man never does.
Oh, Janus Christians
do appeal to the New Testament to try and justify Christian participation
in U.S. government wars and military interventions, but when they
do their arguments are worse than pathetic. For example, in the
aforementioned theological journal, the following arguments are
given "supporting the believer’s participation in the military":
- Jesus’ approval
of a king who waged war against a wicked people (Matt 21:33-41).
- After Peter
cut off the ear of the servant of the high priest (John 18:11),
Jesus did not tell him to rid himself of his sword, merely to
resheath it – for future use?
- In John
18:36 Jesus stated that it would have been proper for His disciples
to defend His kingdom with swords if it had been an earthly kingdom.
In the first
Scripture cited, there is neither a king nor warfare mentioned in
the biblical passage cited. Strike one. In the second Scripture
cited, the Lord told Peter to put away his weapon because he had
to fulfill Scripture and be taken and crucified. Strike two. In
the third Scripture cited, the author is exactly correct – it would
have been proper if Christ’s kingdom were an earthly kingdom – but
defending Christ’s kingdom is about as far removed as waging war
for the U.S. military as one can possibly get. Strike three.
If there has
there ever been a case of the word of God being "blasphemed"
(Titus 2:5) or handled "deceitfully" (2 Corinthians 4:2)
and more than this I have never seen it.
because they are so blinded by the state and the military, have
failed to notice the ethical instructions for Christians found throughout
the New Testament.
are admonished to "be patient toward all men" (1 Thessalonians
5:14), to not "render evil for evil unto any man" (1 Thessalonians
5:15), to "abstain from all appearance of evil" (1 Thessalonians
5:22), to "abhor that which is evil" (Romans 12:9), to
"bless them" that persecute them (Romans 12:14), to "live
peaceably with all men" (Romans 12:18), to "avenge not"
themselves (Romans 12:19), to "overcome evil with good"
(Romans 12:21), to "follow after the things which make for
peace" (Romans 14:19), to be "slow to wrath" (James
1:19), and to "seek peace, and ensue it" (1 Peter 3:11).
should be marked by their love (John 13:35; 1 Thessalonians 3:12),
quietness (1 Thessalonians 4:11; 2 Thessalonians 3:12), holiness
(1 Thessalonians 4:7; 1 Peter 1:15), hospitality (Romans 12:13;
Titus 1:8), meekness (Ephesians 4:2; Titus 3:2), longsuffering (Galatians
5:22; Colossians 1:11), forbearance (Ephesians 4:2; Colossians 3:13),
subjection (Titus 3:1; 1 Peter 5:5), temperance (Galatians 5:23;
2 Peter 1:6), godliness (1 Timothy 2:2; 2 Peter 1:16), humility
(James 4:10; 1 Peter 5:5), and good works (Ephesians 2:10; Titus
should be more willing to accept suffering than to inflict it (2
Timothy 2:3, 4:5; James 5:10; 1 Peter 2:20-21, 3:17, 4:1, 16).
should pray that they "may be delivered from unreasonable and
wicked men" (2 Thessalonians 3:2) instead of calling for U.S.
military action against them.
The New Testament
ethic for the Christian is one of peace, endurance, acceptance,
non-violence, non-aggression, and non-retaliation. Does this mean
that we invite foreign armies to bomb our cities and land on our
shores? No, but it at least means that Christians have no business
being part of the U.S. military and supporting or participating
in the invasion, subjugation, and occupation of other countries,
the bombing, maiming, and killing of foreigners on their soil, the
doing of things that provoke hatred toward the United States and
create terrorists, like nation building, intervening in the affairs
of other countries, and policing the world.
matter how many people the Jews killed in the Old Testament or how
many times the Lord ordered them into battle; likewise, it doesn’t
matter how many people will die at some future Battle of Armageddon.
What matters is right now under the New Testament in the Church
Age. For a Christian to not know that is to manifest a tremendous
ignorance of the Bible he professes to believe. Christians should
be New Testament Christians, not Janus Christians.
M. Vance [send him mail]
writes from central Florida. He is the author of Christianity
and War and Other Essays Against the Warfare State, The
Revolution that Wasn't, Rethinking
the Good War, and The
Quatercentenary of the King James Bible. His latest book
War on Drugs Is a War on Freedom. Visit his
© 2013 by LewRockwell.com. Permission to reprint in whole or in
part is gladly granted, provided full credit is given.
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