War and Pacifism In the Christian Tradition

War and Pacifism In the Christian Tradition
2002 by Jefferis Kent Peterson, I

Lecture 1


Five Examples:

You are a police officer, sworn to uphold the peace and to protect the public. You see a mugger pull a gun upon a citizen he has just robbed. The mugger points the gun and the citizen’s head, and cocks the hammer. You are sure he is going to shoot.

What would you do? What do you think Jesus would do?

You are a citizen. Your country is attacked. Do you join the military and go to war to defend your country? What would Jesus have done?

You are a citizen. Your country has decided to round up all the Jews, to put them in concentration camps. It has not yet decided to kill them. It has also forbidden you to preach Jesus or to practice your faith in any public or private way.

What would you do? Would you revolt? Would you join the underground? What would Jesus have done?

A murderer and rapist breaks into your home, threatening you, your wife and children. Jesus said, “turn the other cheek”love your enemies”and pray for those who despitefully use you.” What would you do? What would Jesus do? (Consider how the Moravians, Amish, and Mennonites would respond.)

You are on the street, a man comes up and threatens to kill you because he knows you are a Christian? Would you fight back? What would Jesus do?

These five examples of evil circumstances, are the same types of threats that Christians have faced throughout the ages. How do we respond to such threats? What is the Christian way to respond? Many Christians throughout history have chosen differently. Taking Jesus as an example and taking seriously his saying about “turning the other cheek,” some Christians have counseled against violence in any setting. The Amish, Moravians, and Mennonites are examples of Christians who have refused to use violence under any circumstance. They are faithful in practice to what most of us believe we should do. While other Christians have gone so far as to advocate rebellion against the state in certain circumstances. John Knox, the founder of Presbyterianism, advocated the overthrow of Catholic Monarchy in Scotland. How could he come to this position and still be faithful to Jesus? And in-between, it appears that Christians from almost every age have been involved in the military and police, fighting to preserve the laws and to protect their countries in times of war. Tonight, we shall begin to examine what it means to follow Jesus in the face of hatred, war, persecution, violence, and death. As we shall see, there are no easy answers and many questions. An we shall begin our study with the attitude of the early Christians towards violence in the face of sometimes extremely violent circumstances.

The New Testament

Part of the reason there is so much disagreement among Christians as to whether or not we should use violence, is because there appears to be a contradiction in the Scriptures themselves. On the one hand, there are Paul and Peter’s statements that those who bear the sword are ministers of God’s wrath, and through the military and police, God punishes unrighteousness and sin (Romans 13:1-7; I Peter 2:13, 14). On the other hand, there is Jesus, who counseled non-violence and who surrendered his own life rather than harm anyone. Many Christians firmly believe that any use of violence is a sin. And they appeal to Jesus as the example: Jesus never used violence. He suffered and submitted to unjust punishment, even to death. And although he had the power to raise armies, both physical and spiritual, he chose to do neither. Rather, he suffered rather than respond in kind. And in so doing, he gave us his example to follow. Jesus never advocated the use of violence for his followers; as a matter of fact, he told his disciples not to use violence. He expected his followers to be persecuted, and he told them how they should respond when they were mistreated.

From the Beatitudes, Jesus tells us to accept persecution joyfully:

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the sons of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when men revile you and persecute you and utter all manner of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so men persecuted the prophets who were before you., (Matt. 5: 9-12)

And the most convincing testament of Jesus against the use of violence is the counsel to “love your enemies.” Matt. 5:38-48. If you love your enemies, how can you raise up a sword against them? Jesus tells us to turn the other cheek, and not return hatred for hatred, violence for violence. How then, can we be his followers and still strike back? How can we join the military or the police, if we are not to use violence?

Finally, when it came time for him to suffer, Jesus laid down his own life rather than raise a finger against anyone. He left us the example of dying and of surrendering to death rather than fighting to preserve our lives. How can we do differently?

And Jesus’ teachings were universally interpreted by the early church to forbid violence by Christians under any circumstance[1] . “”For this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you and example, that your should follow in his steps””(I Peter 2: 19-24). The most convincing evidence that all early Christians saw Jesus’ example and words as necessary teachings to be followed is that no Christians in the N.T. used violence to fight against those who persecuted them, but all chose to suffer violence instead. They followed Jesus’ example. There was no option to follow Jesus and to take up arms against the State. It was an either/or proposition. Either follow Jesus’s example, and give up self-defense, or use violence, and give up following the Lord.

Why did Jesus forbid his followers from using violence?

1) Jesus came to save humanity from sin and to bring each person into relationship with God. Since the changes Jesus wanted to make in each individual involve a change of heart, there is no way these changes could be made to happen through force. Love is an emotion that is given freely and cannot be coerced. And true righteousness does not come from fear of punishment, but through a reformed heart where sin is no longer desired.[2]

2) Since love breaks the cycle of violence in the world, Jesus became the perfect example of love. And in order to convince the world of the reality of God’s love, Jesus commanded his disciples to return love in the place of hatred, even if that meant being willing to endure suffering even unto death. Why? Because if people saw the commitment and patient love the disciples had for their enemies, that godly love might shame those who are violent and even bring repentance. They might then see their evil and, and so be converted. The example of God’s love would not be seen, if Jesus’ disciples were fighting back with swords.

3) Jesus came to announce the Good News of eternal life. All worldly powers pass away and are already being destroyed. Jesus came to give us a hope that lives beyond the grave. Jesus did not consider this earthly life important enough that we should kill each other to stay alive, rather we should concentrate on our eternal relationship to God. Therefore, instead of fighting to preserve our earthly blessings of life, wealth, etc. we should be willing to give these up in order to bring others into the kingdom of God. (Matt: 10: 16-23; 32-39.)

Jesus did not want us to rebel against the authorities, but by our witness to convert them to faith! That is the reason Jesus did not advocate violence and the reason he appears to forbid revolution.[3] And true to their calling, thousands upon thousands of Christians were martyred for their faith in Jesus Christ. They did not rebel, but subjected themselves to death. In the N.T., not a single Christian, prophet, or apostle, advocated violence, but all of them willing surrendered their lives to proclaim the gospel. They did not fight back! In fact, when the Apostles were beaten for preaching Jesus in the Temple, “they left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name,” (Acts 5:41).

So if none of the followers of Jesus used violence nor saw how violence could be used by Christians, how did we get to the place where such Christians as John Knox, could advocate open rebellion against the Queen?


Lecture 2

Biblical Attitudes Toward Civil Government

When Peter raised a sword to fight, Jesus said, “Put away your sword; for all who live by the sword shall die by the sword”” (Matt. 26:52)

But what happens when a soldier or a senator or a governor becomes a Christian? Since Jesus told his followers to lay aside their weapons, should every Christian immediately lay aside the swords and the power of office and become a farmer or craftsman; or should the new Christian use the power of office to administer justice, to protect fellow Christians from thieves and robbers, and to protect the nation from invasion? Should he turn over the government to unchristian and godless hands, or should he work with in it, using his power to reform it and make it more just and humane? These are the questions the early Christians faced as new converts came from all walks of life. Christians came from the ranks of the soldiers and government. What were they to do? {The same question would be faced by businessmen in a different light. Should I give away all I have, as Jesus told one rich man to do[4] , and become a monk, or should I pay a just and generous wage to my workers, but keep making more money so that I can hire more and/or give more to charity?}

The Bible gives us two separate teachings: 1) Jesus’ command to his followers to lay aside the sword, not to resist evil, and to turn the other cheek; and 2) Paul’s teaching on the role of government:

Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore he who resists the authorities resists what God has appointed” he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain; he is the servant of God to execute his wrath upon the wrongdoer” For this reason, you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, (Romans 13:1-7).

If Jesus said not to resist evil, then how can those who are killing evildoers by the sword be ministers of God? Can you take up the sword in the service of country, of peace, or of government, and still be a Christian?[5]

For most Palestinian Jews, the government of Rome did not represent anything good, but a monstrous evil. There was slavery and injustice; the government officials were mostly corrupt, people were deprived of homes and lands without compensation; people were impressed into service without pay; taxes were taken without representation, the citizens were even taxed to the point of poverty; and worst of all, there were times when those in Rome would not even allow the worship of God to continue. Many Jews wanted to rebel and throw out the cruel imperialism of Rome. But Jesus did not advocate the overthrow of the government. Nor did Paul. Paul, in fact, was a Roman citizen. And he, along with many other Christians, saw in Rome a great blessing. How could Paul see in this evil government a great blessing?

In the Old Testament, God created the heavens and the earth out of the waters of chaos that surrounded them (Gen. 1:1-10). By God’s Spirit and Word, God put a firmament, an inverted bowl, in the heavens to keep this sea of chaos is at bay. If God were to withdraw his Spirit, the sea of chaos would come crashing in on all life and destroy it. This is what happened with Noah (Gen. 8:1-3): God opened windows in the firmament, and the waters of chaos came flooding in. For the Hebrews, chaos was the representation of evil or Satan. Order, is the mark of God’s Creation. Creation is sustained only by God’s Word and creation is always threatened by the waters of chaos.

It is for this reason that Paul saw the Roman government as a minister of God. The Roman government, although plagued by corruption and injustice, had brought peace and order to the “whole” world. The Pax Romana, or the Peace of Rome, was the sign of God’s order in creation which allowed commerce and travel and civilization to flourish. Before Rome, petty states were constantly at war, but now the whole world knew one system of justice and order. But not only had the Pax Romana provided peace for commerce, this protection of the Empire allowed the spread of the Gospel throughout the whole Mediterranean world. Under the umbrella of earthly peace, the Gospel was spreading and flourishing. Paul saw in the government of Rome a sign of God’s providence in providing fertile soil and easy roads for the gospel to spread from one end of the earth to the other.

For this reason Paul saw that in spite of the injustices the government sometimes committed, the government was the work of God, and so Christians were not to oppose it but to support it and to work within its framework to spread the Gospel of Christ. Paul knew that if Rome fell, then the waters of chaos would come in and destroy God’s order in the world. Criminal elements, endless revolts & wars, and barbarian invasions, would disrupt the peace and prevent the spread of the Gospel. Revolution would not be a work of God, but of Satan, who worked through chaos to unravel the fabric of society and to thwart the Word of God (2 Thess. 2:1-11). So, in Paul’s eyes, it made no sense for a Christian to resist the government and to overthrow it, for that would mean that a Christian was opposing God and inviting Satan in. Therefore, rather than resist, a Christian was to do everything he or she could to redeem the powers and the people who ruled. Christians were to witness to them, even to suffer if necessary, rather than fight and rebel. And it was hoped that through their witness, the rulers and soldiers themselves would be converted to serve Christ. In the end, even though both Peter and Paul were killed by Rome, they did not advocate its overthrow, for they knew as long as Rome continued, the Gospel would spread.

So if the government was good, when a soldier or magistrate was converted, should he give up his authority and position? If God has appointed the governments as ministers, why wouldn’t it be right for a Christian to become a policeman or a soldier to protect the public peace, to suppress evil, and to administer justice? And, since the governments had been appointed by God, wouldn’t it be alright to join God’s service in the military? And since an invasion by another country was a work of Satan against God’s ordained ministry of government, wouldn’t it be right for a Christian to fight to defend his sovereign government, from outside attack? Isn’t that also service to God?

Apparently, early Christians did not think so. Although there were some who were converted in the military, there is very little record of any Christians in military service until 170 A.D. And even then, they are mentioned disapprovingly by Christian writers. Tertullian defends Christianity, on one hand, by saying that Christians are everywhere: in the Emperor’s service, the Senate, the Army. But that was his apologetic stance to the detractors of Christianity. What he says to Christians is that the call of Christ to love one’s enemies is in conflict with military service, wherein their soldiers are required to shed blood. And he said that Christ, “in disarming Peter, unbelted every soldier.”[6] (cf. Matt. 26: 52.). To be in the military is not compatible with the call of Christ. Most early church leaders forbid military service, taking Jesus’ teaching on non-violence as the authority for faith and practice. Some churches excommunicated those who joined the military, saying that no Christian could shed blood. And those who were excommunicated could never enter the church again.

There were other objections to military service as well: those in the service were almost required to become part of the Emperor cult, sacrificing to Caesar as God, and to wear insignias appealing for protection to the pagan gods like Jupiter and Mars. How could a Christian also acknowledge and worship idols? There are records of Christians in the military, who after being converted, chose martyrdom rather than continue to take up the sword or to wear these insignia.[7] In addition, the Empire forbid Christianity from time to time. How could a Christian soldier put fellow Christians to death for the faith that he himself believed?

When questioned as to why Christians did not join and serve in the military by the pagan Celsus; Tertullian and others replied that the establishment of government was of no concern to Christians; they were to pray for it, but not to fight for a worldly matter. The government was God’s ruling power for the world, not the church. And Christians were not to concern themselves with what worldly people did or with passing earthly governments, which rise and fall. Christians were to be concerned with the eternal kingdom of Christ and with saving souls.

In spite of all the words against military service by church leaders, it seems that many, many Christians did not heed their leaders any more than they do today. The people were involved in every level of government and service. But every Christian, in the past and in the present must face this question: how can any Christian serve in the military or the police since Jesus told his followers to put away their swords? Is it a conflict of faith?

Well, what changed the Christian attitude towards involvement in the affairs of government? What made military service an acceptable form of Christian service? It seems attitudes changed when the Empire became tolerant of Christianity, and changed forever when the emperor himself became a Christian. This happened under Constantine.

Lecture 3:

What Happens When the Government is Redeemed?

By 303 A. D., the Christian Church had grown so large that it was seen as a possible threat to the government of Rome. With its hierarchical structure and close knit fellowship, the Church seemed like a state within a state, over which Rome had no control. Even though it had never rebelled, to the Emperor, “Augustus Caesar” Diocletian, the Church was a threat which he was determined to irradicate. He began a systematic persecution of clergy and laity alike. In the eastern half of the Empire under “Caesar” (vice-emperor) Galerius, the persecutions were severe; but in the west, “Caesar” Constantius (the father of Constantine) was sympathetic to Christianity, and he only closed church buildings.

In 306, Constantius died, and the army in the north-west declared his son, Constantine, Caesar. While in Africa, Maxentius vied for the throne. Maxentius’ army was larger, and in 312 Constantine and Maxentius came face to face at the Mulvian bridge at the Tiber river. Constantine’s army was smaller, almost too small for the task. But that night, Constantine had a dream, “By this sign, you will conquer.” The sign was the first letters of the name Christ: XP. This monogram was hastily painted on the helmets and shields of his soldiers before the battle the next day. That day, the West was Constantine’s. The Christian God, it seemed, had given Constantine victory.

In 313, the “Edict of Milan” gave to Christians full freedom and legal equality with all other religions in the West. By 323, Constantine controlled the entire Empire and finally ended the persecutions. The Christians rejoiced. They saw in Constantine a new “Joshua” or a new King David. God had sent his people a deliverer, but not only that, God had now established an earthly Christian kingdom. And the people had been delivered not through non-violence, but through bloodshed and by force of arms. Somehow, the ethics and example of Jesus no longer seemed to be adequate. How could Constantine rule the Empire without using force of arms? If he turned the other cheek or turned the government over to non-Christians, then even worse evils would come.

Early Christian ethics were in-house ethics: they were meant to govern the conduct of a small, persecuted minority. The concern of Christians was to transform the Church, not to transform the world. But now Constantine elevated Christianity to the new status of the Imperial Faith. Christians now had the opportunity (and the responsibility! ) to restructure society to conform to the standards of the Gospel. Since Christians had been given the power of government, they not only had the power to write laws, now they also had to enforce them! Jesus’ teaching and counsel gave very little help in such matters. He never talked about the possibility of Christians ruling, only of Christians suffering at the hands of rulers. How were Christian rulers to behave?

Constantine and his descendants eventually forbid pagan worship and threatened those who practiced unholy religion with death. They also persecuted “unorthodox Christians.” Now Christians had the power to persecute Christians! Sunday work was forbidden. And other reforms were implemented. Above all, Christians could worship Jesus without fear of persecution, and for that they gave thanks to God. Under Constantine’s favor, Christianity grew rapidly.

As Christians faced the tasks of governing and participating in civic life, they faced the one dilemma we all face: the problem of practicality. As Christians, we may all want a just and compassionate society, but we may disagree on how to make it just. What laws will help the poor? And how do we write those laws? The laws we write will be imperfect at best. We can only do the best we can. The question is, then, what methods of reform will produce the greatest practical good and the least amount of evil? What laws will have the net effect of creating the most love? We should end discrimination and try to end racism. Can this best be done by job quotas, by bussing school children to encourage racial integration, or simply by making racial discrimination in employment a criminal act? Should we get rid of welfare and replace it with workfare and job training? Should we build up an arsenal large enough to keep peace through strength, or should we negotiate and lessen the tensions by economic and cultural exchange? Should we hope to change our society by running for office, or should we preach and teach, and hope through our example to persuade others also to follow Jesus? Should we bring justice to South Africa (or Ethiopia or Angola or Afghanistan) through economic pressure, or should we sponsor a revolution? Should we lessen terrorism around the world by assassinating Quaddaffy? Which way is more just? Which way will less innocent people die? These questions are part of the problem of practicality. How do we bring the most Christian justice to the society in which we live? And do we have right to act?

Example: You are a Christian magistrate in India. You see the majority Hindus attacking, beating, and killing the Muslims, who are a small minority in your province. The police can only stop this violence by threatening to shoot some of the Hindu rioters. Do you send your police in to stop the bloodshed? Whatever you decide, people most likely are going to die. (Now the question is, not whether people will die, but how many will die. What is the Christian response?)

Five Responses:

The Response of the Martyrs: The basic belief of this group of Christians is that the world is inherently evil and that Christians are and must be separate from it: “We know that we are of God, and the whole world is in the power of the evil one,” (I John 5:19). “We cannot use the world’s means to bring about a holy end, namely love. We must show by example, whatever the circumstance, what Christ would do.” There is no hope in this attitude of influencing or exercising control over the government. There is also very little faith that the governments are under God’s direction and control. God has given this power over to Satan until the end of the age. For this reason, there can never be a Christian society. Because Law and power and force govern society, while the Church is governed by Love. And love cannot use coercion, which is the weapon of the world. For example, an executioner is a necessary instrument of government, but it is wrong for Christians to become one. And since Jesus did not come to establish an earthly kingdom, the Church is also not responsible for the social order. Jesus’ call for uncompromising obedience to his word will lead all Christians to a life of suffering. And it is through this suffering and through this radical obedience that the Church gives a prophetic witness to the world. For Jesus’ kingdom ethics require a radical obedience which reveals God’s judgment on all human institutions.

Into this category fall the early Christians, Mennonites, Moravians, and some pacifist Christians. It is a common attitude of small persecuted minorities.

Medieval Solution: The basic beliefs of this group or type of Christian is that governments can be basically good, since God created them. And even though nature and governments are fallen and imperfect, God can restore them to their purpose by adding his Spirit of Grace to the natural creation. So, governments can be redeemed. But until Jesus comes, God has different spheres of operation in the natural world. God works through the Church (faith) to change the human heart, while God works through government (law) to create an ordered and just society. Christians can serve God either as clerics or soldiers. But there is an implied hierarchy of Christian vocation. Monks, clerics, and priests are concerned with the human soul, and therefore, with higher, more spiritual and eternal matters, while soldiers, who shed blood, are burdened with earthly duties and cares. The clergy are more “holy” than the common people (The monks strive to imitate Christ, while soldiers only strive to imitate Joshua).

When Constantine exempted the clergy from certain requirements of civil service, especially military conscription, he effectively divided Christians into two classes, the priesthood and the laity, and he established this division of the holy and common into the structure of society itself. This division of Christians into two classes continued down through the middle ages and even into the present day.

Into this category fall the Catholic and the Eastern Orthodox.

Luther’s Solution: Luther believed that every human heart and all creation is corrupted by sin and that it cannot be healed or cured in this life. Every Christian, therefore, must live with the tension of being forgiven but still a sinner. Since evil cannot be healed or removed from creation until death, our only hope is to restrain and suppress evil in this life, not to remove it.

God created the government as his way of repressing evil in the world; the government has no ability to work for good. There is no distinction in Christians between the holy ones (clergy) and the commoners, we all live with this tension. The only difference is the occupation to which God has called you. Therefore, Christians who are in government experience the tension of having two paradoxical and conflicting demands placed upon them by God! If a soldier or a king, God has called you to use the sword to restrain evil, and that is a divine calling! But in your life as a private citizen, God has called you to follow the example of Christ: not to resist evil, but to sacrifice yourself and die if necessary, to reveal your obedience to Jesus. God rules the old creation through Law, but the new creation of the Church through Love. So every Christian in government feels the tension of being drawn in two directions. We cannot resolve the tension in this life. When we feel these conflicting demands, we are living on the cross. But we have the consolation of knowing that we are forgiven even if we must, as a minister of government, take a human life. Luther said our action would be determined by our calling: are we acting in our role as a private individual or as a minister of government (a policeman or soldier)? If we, as a policeman, failed to use force to stop a criminal from harming others, we could in fact be sinning against God. If however, someone were to threaten to mug us as a private citizen, our response might be different.

Calvin’s answer: Calvin agreed with Luther that Creation is corrupt, but he also believed that Jesus had come to redeem it and to restore it to perfection. While creation would never be perfected until Jesus returned, governments on earth could still have a good purpose.

Calvin did not believe that God had two standards for the world. God has one standard: love. Law is the application of Love in an imperfect world. Therefore there is one moral standard for both Church and society. Justice is justice for Christian and non-Christian alike, and both must be governed by God’s justice. While the Church, which is concerned about the human soul, cannot use force of arms, it is not wrong for a society, through its laws, to reflect the perfection and justice of God. Nor is it wrong to create a more perfect society through the power of the state. Christians then must fashion society according to Christian norms. In addition, the government does not exist only to repress evil (irradicate pornography and organized crime, e.g.) like Luther said, but also to move the world towards the good (feeding the poor, to keep Sunday free from labor so all may worship, e.g.). Indeed, a government run by Christians could become a Holy Commonwealth as Israel once had been. And the Church could work for the sanctification of the world. So, there is no reason a Christian cannot be a godly king, like Josiah, or take up the sword like Joshua, because even through the sword, we can work for the justice of God. And there is no distinction in holiness between the laity who serve in government, and the clergy who serve in the Church. All alike are called to obey God.

As we see, there is only one segment of the Christian church down through the ages that has forbidden the use of violence. But I believe each response to evil may have its place if a person is living by faith and trust in the Lord. I tend to agree with Luther that depending on the situation, God may call us to respond differently to evil; whether we are acting as a private citizen or as a minister of government. And if a Christian is willing to admit the possibility that God may call his servants to use the sword in some circumstances, the next question we may ask is can a government be so evil that it is a Christian’s right and duty to resist it or work to overthrow it? Next we will discuss the question of Revolution.


Lecture 4:

Just War Theory

Throughout history, as Christians have served in government, governments have inevitably clashed. Even governments of the same religion and denomination have found themselves at war with one another over issues such as land, money, and real or imagined offences. At such times, Christians in government may be called upon to use the resources of the military to protect the citizenry, if all attempts at negotiation fail to achieve peace with justice. While it is not within the scope of this course to examine the entire development of the theory of when it is right to wage war, it is necessary to take a brief view of the “Just War” theory.

As stated before, as governments became Christianized, Christians in government were faced with the necessity of using force to defend the country from attack and punish crime within their borders. As ministers of God, they found themselves ordained to use the sword. Prior to Constantine, Christians who served in the military were suspect of living a compromised lifestyle. Nevertheless, there were many Christians in many branches of government service. And when the Empire found itself under attack, they were used to defend it. However it was not until Augustine wrote the City of God, that any of the early theologians came up with a positive assessment for Christian involvement in military service. Augustine wrote his work to explain how Christians could be called upon to defend the nation from attack in response to the first sack of Rome by barbarians. From Augustine on, the theory of a just war has been considered by the Church.

Over the centuries, the idea of the legitimate use of force has been refined. Initially the issue was raised as Christians struggled with the fear that their involvement in the military would cause them to lose their eternal salvation. Out of that concern, the guidelines for Christian involvement in war evolved. But in modern times, the concept of just conflict has been secularized and applied to all international affairs, Christian or not. Now in the West, all nations are expected to abide by certain principles of justice even in the prosecution of war. Whether applied to revolutions or to conflicts between governments and nations, several tests of justice are applied:

1) Is the cause just?

2) Is there a reasonable chance of success?

3) Will more good than harm be done by the use of violent means?

4) Is the political goal proportionate to the cost paid and the suffering incurred?

5) Can the war be prosecuted against military targets?

6) Is or can the conduct of the war be just, or will it violate the immunity of non-combatants from direct attack?

7) Has an exhaustive effort been made to achieve these results through less drastic means? And is war engaged as a last resort?[8]

If these criteria are met, then the case for a just war can be made. The Allied resistance against Nazi Germany would fit this designation. So also, perhaps, would the French Resistance, whose can u online terrorist attacks against Nazi targets could be viewed as a legitimate attempt to restore lawful government in France.

The danger in war is that nations and peoples often deceive themselves about their true motives and the true justice of their cause. Under the banner of patriotism, nations are often convinced to go to war for what seem like high ideals, but in reality, the issues are no more noble than securing economic markets and increased political standing in the world. The danger is that Christians as well can be deceived by patriotic ideals that bear no relation to the real issues at stake. This danger is especially pronounced in our day, for governments have become very adept at propaganda, using the media and “leaks” to the press to influence public opinion. Even Christians are vulnerable to worldly, patriotic fervor. Therefore, the presumption against going to war must always be the operative stance for Christians as conflicts arise. And all attempts to provide peaceful resolutions must be made. The difference between the search for peace must always be held in balance with the need for true justice. The appeasement of Hitler by Neville Chamberlain before the start of World War II was a false and temporary peace that sacrificed smaller nations to appease Hitler’s appetite for power. In the end, Chamberlain’s false peace only led to a larger world war, and his solution is now viewed as an act of cowardice, not of courage.

So we must also weigh whether our actions or inaction will create a greater danger and so cause greater suffering when we consider engagement in armed conflict. Sometimes standing up and staring down a bully will prevent a fight, while cowardice will only encourage him. It is this strange lesson learned at the great cost of human lives in WWII that caused the United States to develop a doctrine of peace through strength when dealing with the Soviet nuclear threat during the Cold War. Aggression by the Soviets was met with an equal determination by the West to engage in conflict. The U.S. resistance of communist expansion in Cuba, Viet Nam, El Salvador, and Guatemala are examples of this policy. Yet this policy also led to needless bloodshed and to crimes against innocent civilians by governments supported by the U.S. Even legitimate dissent could get someone executed in these countries. And we were willing to support those questionable activities for the sake of resisting a larger threat: communism. I point out this controversy to highlight the difficulty we all face when we try to apply the theory of a just war to a concrete situation. The enemy and the goal can become unclear and the waters very muddy, as the innocent suffer along with the guilty. As in any war, the suffering of the innocent always takes place, and even more so when they enemy is not clearly defined, as in the case of a communist “conspiracy.” But in combating this supposed enemy, what does it say of us if we sink to the same level of depravity and injustice as our adversaries in order to secure our goals. How evil must we become to win? And if we win through those means, what have we become? Are we worthy of being saved?

The problem of war is that there is guilt and blood on everyone’s hands. And no one can claim to remain completely sinless when we use such means to accomplish our ends, even if our ends are just. So although sometimes necessary, war as a means to secure even temporal justice should make all Christians a bit uneasy.


Lecture 5:

A Government Turned From its Divine Purpose?

Jesus said to Pilate that Pilate had no authority except that which had been given him from above (John 19:11), and in another place it says that all authorities derive their power from Jesus, who is head over them all (Col. 2:10). If all governments, including even those that are corrupt and evil, only have power as it is granted them by God, then are we not fighting God if we rebel? Even evil authority God has allowed for some purpose, so should we fight against it? If we consider the depravity of Rome, with all its slavery and brutality and corruption, we would well reconsider whatever thoughts we might have of sponsoring a revolution. Even Rome was considered to receive its authority and power from God, and Christians were not to rebel against it. If they could not rebel, how can we? Certainly, many of the governments that exist today are no worse than Rome was; in fact, most are relatively just by comparison, including the former USSR, when compared to Rome. If Rome was so evil, and yet ancient Christians did not advocate revolution, under what conditions then could a modern Christian justify a revolt? Was the American Revolution just? How about the revolt of the Scottish Presbyterians against Mary Tudor and Mary Queen of Scotts?

These questions become even more difficult when we look to the end of the New Testament. In the book of Revelation, the attitude of Christians towards Rome changed dramatically. Written during the persecutions of the first century, the book reflects the growing belief that the Roman government was no longer a minister of God but had become entirely evil. Instead of allowing the spread of the Gospel, Rome had turned against God. Empire-wide persecutions were in force. Every citizen had to take a “loyalty oath” to the Empire by worshiping the Emperor as god. If they refused, their lands and property were taken without trial, their families were sold into slavery, and they could be put to death. It seemed that the Empire was serving Satan. Instead of being a minister of God’s wrath, it had become a servant of hell. In the book of Revelation (Chps. 17-18), Rome is described as the whore of Babylon, the Anti-Christ; an idolatrous beast that causes others to worship material riches and to turn from God. And yet even then, while Christian children are being dragged into the arena, to be torn to bits by wild beasts; even then the Christians did not advocate its overthrow. If no rebellion was advocated even in these worst of circumstances, even when the government was no longer serving God but Satan, how then could we ever justify a revolution?

The early Christians would not fight, but many of us think that this is not a practical policy for today. But before we reject pacifism as a reasonable alternative to military force, we should remember that it was the sacrifice and martyrdom of the early Christians that finally allowed Constantine to come to power. It was their willingness to die, even though they had done nothing wrong, that led to the conversion of the Empire. (In more recent years, this same acceptance of unjust suffering helped Gandhi and his followers gain freedom from the British and helped Martin Luther King, Jr. and his followers gain civil rights in the U.S.) So, the question may not be whether the example of the early Christians will work, but “are you willing to pay the price?”

As we said before, faithful suffering works so well that it eventually converts those in the government to Christ This situation gives rise to the question: “to whom do you submit if you are the governor or military commander?” So, suppose you were a military officer in the during the people’s revolution in the Philippines in the 1980’s. Would you support the old (and obviously corrupt) government of the Ferdinand Marcos, just because he was in power, or would you support the new government because it seemed just and had popular support, even though it was technically a “rebellion”? Which government was legitimate? Which one would you obey? In the same light, how do we determine whether any government is legitimate? At what point can we can say that a government should be overthrown?

One answer to this question is that we should never rebel or resist any government in power, now matter how evil it is. This is the position taken by the majority Church in Nazi Germany. Taking Romans 13 as an unqualified endorsement of all earthly rulers, even Hitler was to be obeyed as God’s minister! So, it was necessary for Christians to do whatever he commanded. (Against this position, the Evangelical Christian Church in Germany wrote the: The majority church was not faithful to the Scriptures because they conveniently ignored Jesus’ call to suffer for righteousness’ sake. God, conscience, and Scripture are to be placed in higher authority than any earthly ruler, and obedience to God must sometimes require us to disobey earthly rulers and to suffer for our beliefs.)

Another answer to this question is that any revolution which seeks justice is justified. John Knox, the founder of Presbyterianism, gave a radical reinterpretation of Romans 13. Being asked how he could square his rebellion against royal authority with Romans 13, he replied: “The power in that place must not be understood as the unjust commandment of men but the just power wherewith God hath armed his magistrates and lieutenants to punish sin.”[9] In other words, rebellion against unjust authority is not forbidden in Scripture. While this interpretation is the foundation for our justification of our American Revolution, it opens up a can of worms: all manner of revolutions and rebellions are now “scripturally” justifiable, since justice is in the eyes of the beholder.

But are there criteria for a legitimate (godly?) revolution? Many of us would say that a government is only legitimate if it has the support of the people. But is democracy the condition of legitimate, godly government? Not necessarily. Look at Iran: the Ayatollah is democratically and popularly supported, but he is more bloodthirsty than the Shah ever was. He murdered all his opponents and sent children ahead of his tanks as human minesweepers. The Shah may not have been “just” by our standards, but perhaps his autocratic rule was better for the people than Iran’s present “democracy.” Even Adolph Hitler was democratically supported and popular. Democracy alone cannot be the standard for legitimacy. Perhaps benign kings and dictators are called by God to preserve order and peace in some lands (as in ancient Israel). And, as we can see from the Scriptures, even Rome, with all its corruption and injustice, was still ordained by God. So we cannot find an excuse for revolution in every injustice, nor can we advocate revolt simply because the government is not a democracy. So how do we tell when we should be involved with or support a rebellion?

As Christians gained control of the government, they looked for answers to these questions about violence and war and revolution in the O.T.. They looked for a definition of just, legitimate, godly government. A godly government, said the scriptures, is one which honors the laws of God, preserves the Sabbath, and insures justice for the poor. In the O.T., there is a recognition that some rulers are ungodly and evil. The prophets were continually sent to corrupt kings to call them to repentance. God promised to protect governments and kings that obeyed standards of justice. But he himself moved to destroy governments that were evil. Revolutions were a part of that O.T. life, and some rebellions were instigated at divine command (see 2 Kings 9). If God could distinguish between just and unjust governments and if he could anoint leaders to overthrow unjust kings, could not Christians do the same?

John Calvin gave us modern standards for a just and responsible government. Calvin said that civil government is appointed by God to “cherish and protect the outward worship of God, to defend sound doctrine of piety and the position of the church, to adjust our life to the society of men, to reconcile us with one another, and to promote general peace and tranquility.”[10] If a government ignored this responsibility, it was no longer serving God. And though Calvin did not advocate popular rebellions, it is precisely his definition of “legitimate” government that led to later arguments in support of godly revolutions, because Christians who are able to determine when a government is violating its purpose given it by God are also able to determine when they should work for its overthrow.

Calvin agreed with Paul that the purpose of government is to foster the spread of and obedience to the gospel. An illegitimate government is one which suppresses true faith. By this analysis, the governments of Roman Popes and French Catholic kings (who were intolerant of and persecuted members the protestant faith) were illegitimate governments, and Christians had the right and duty to resist.

It is but a small step from recognizing illegitimacy to advocating overthrow, and although Calvin did not approve of revolutions, he did give us a blueprint for armed resistance:

1) Private citizens and individuals are never to revolt or rebel against the government, because Christ counseled submission to authorities.

2) Even when kings and magistrates abuse and misuse the law to such a degree that they no longer reveal God’s justice, they may still have the authority of God “to punish the wickedness of the people.” So, even if the government is determined to be illegitimate, public obedience is required to all the laws that do not conflict with the law of God. And then, only civil disobedience and non-violent resistance of those particular laws are sanctioned for private citizens.

3) While it is not right for the people to rebel, magistrates are allowed to overthrow kings. Magistrates are appointed by God to restrain the willfulness of kings and to protect the people. They must resist the lawlessness of kings through force of arms if necessary, or face God’s judgment for their dereliction of duty.[11]

In the U.S., Calvin would say that if the government began to persecute Christians and to deny individuals their rights because of their faith, then members of the judiciary, Senate, and House; state governors; or even generals would have the right and duty to foster armed resistance, since all are sworn to uphold the Constitution. In feudal (non-democratic) countries, princes, dukes, earls, etc. would have that responsibility. So Calvin allowed rebellion not by the people, but by those with duly constituted authority. (Calvin’s view raises an interesting question for us, since the Constitution describes our government as “of the people,” and the Founding Fathers meant to ensure the rights of the people against any tyranny by investing the people with the right to bear arms. According to our Constitution, we have the right to overthrow any tyranny (even elected) that would threaten to deprive us of our individual liberties. Every individual, then, may have the responsibility and the duty of supporting and protecting the Constitution, since we are the government. However, Calvin would probably say that, as a republic, we have entrusted our protection to our elected representatives to a large degree; and it is to them we should appeal for protection. And it is our representatives who would have the right to lead us in an insurrection if the Constitution were threatened.)

But in any case, no secondary authority would have the right to rebel as long as freedom of worship were allowed. The justification for revolutions is essentially religious, in the protestant tradition, not political or economic. Revolution is justified only if it is to restore or establish true worship. (Calvin allowed, however, that purely political tyrannies can also be overthrown by secular revolutions. These revolutions might indeed also be brought about by God, whether or not the participants in the rebellion knew they were serving God, for God is able to use even men’s evil for a good purpose.)

It is but a short step from Calvin to John Knox, the Scottish Presbyterian revolt, the American Revolution, and to revolutions around the world. Knowing our history, we should not be too quick to condemn revolutions in other parts of the world on the basis of conflict with God’s decree of obedience to those in authority (Romans 13). If others are struggling for justice, perhaps we should support them instead of stand against them.

We are however, still left with the question: When is a government just? When is it serving God’s purposes? When has it become so evil that it should be overthrown? This question is hard to answer. Perhaps we should not subvert a government so long as there is religious freedom, even if it is communist or totalitarian, because people who have religious freedom often find ways to reform their government. Maybe a government which commits genocide (Nazi Germany, Cambodia under Pol Pot, Marxist Ethiopia, or the U. S. & Communist China with their millions of abortions and forced abortions) should be overthrown.[12]

Christians with a clear conscience and with views derived from the Word of God can come to diverse conclusions about the appropriate response to the nature of evil in government. The decisions are especially difficult for those Christians who are actually in government. We do not always have a clear and certain knowledge of God’s perfect will, and so we should always live in humble fear as we make those decisions. We are called to live by faith, which means that we must decide by searching the scriptures and our hearts for answers. And if we believe we must fight, we should never take that course of action lightly. We should, in fear of judgment, commit ourselves to God’s providential care, knowing that he is Lord over both life and death.

Our example of faith in the midst of uncertainty is Dieterich Bonhoffer. He lived in Nazi Germany. His choices were limited because of the incredible evil which surrounded him. He had to chose between two evils, not between evil and good. And he chose to attempt to assassinate Hitler. Why had he done this when the Bible says turn the other cheek? Because he said, although what he did was clearly evil, the only greater evil would have been for him to do nothing. Do you think God judged him for his choices? Were I in his shoes, I could do no better. Could I judge all those who went to war during WWII to defend our country and to fight Hitler? Perhaps there are times of necessary evil in which men of good conscience must take up arms against their will to fight and defend those values they hold dear. I am sure that God in his mercy does not judge those who, as a last resort, have decided to fight with worldly weapons against great injustice and evil.

Next, we will discuss other alternatives to revolution and resistance that have worked. And we shall discuss nuclear war.


Lecture 6:

An Alternative to War?

Early in our discussions, we talked about the legitimate rights of a nation to defend itself from outside aggression. Since governments have been ordained by God to protect the people and to keep peace, their duty includes national defense. This right to self-defense is the basis for what is commonly known as the theory of a “just war”. Among the guidelines for a just war, the action must be in self-defense or in the defense of another, innocent civilians must be excluded from harm as much as possible, and prisoners should be honorably treated. (Into this category would fall our fight against the Axis in WWII.)

But in our day, the ability to wage a just war comes into question. In a nuclear age, you cannot separate military from civilian targets. Besides that, whether a government initiates or merely retaliates, both aggressor and defender are destroyed by the very act of engaging in war. According to the criterion of self-defense, is there such a thing as a legitimate war of self-defense in a nuclear age?

In addition to that, we may legitimately ask, “Has God given anyone the right to kill 250 million people at the press of a button?” ” I would hate to push the button and then have to justify my action to God the next day; to explain why I had killed 250 million people in self-defense when I no longer had a country left to defend. Scientists also are convinced that even if we did not defend ourselves against a massive strike by a major nuclear power, there would still be no winners. The attack of an aggressor would be an act of suicide. For a large nuclear conflict would lead to a nuclear winter. Dirt and dust in the atmosphere which would prevent light from reaching the plants. The plants would not grow, so there would be no food for the animals or for humans, and within about three years, most, if not all, of life on this planet would die.

So this brings us to an necessary question: since it is human nature to have armed conflicts, are there reasonable alternatives to warfare in the modern world? Those who lived through WWII would not be quick to suggest pacifism as a real alternative for every situation. But the question really boils down to this: can we survive another world war? Martin Luther King, Jr. said that he was no doctrinaire pacifist, but he said that the existence of nuclear weapons changed the reasonable limits of war forever:

I felt that while war could never be a positive good, it could serve as a negative good by preventing the spread and growth of an evil force. War, as horrible as it is, might be preferable to surrender to a totalitarian system. But I now believe that the potential destructiveness of modern weapons totally rules out the possibility of war ever again achieving a negative good. If we assume that mankind has a right to survive, then we must find an alternative to war and destruction. In our day of space vehicles and guided ballistic missiles, the choice is either nonviolence or nonexistence.[13]

Martin Luther King believed that non-violent resistance and civil disobedience were alternatives to armed conflict. His path is a middle ground between complete surrender to evil and open war. In other words, there is a method of fighting evil without using evil methods. Instead of fighting with weapons, a Christian can confront with love.

When reflecting on how Gandhi liberated his country from the British without warfare, King said, “Christ gave us the goals, and Mahatma Gandhi provided the tactics.” What King meant was that Jesus taught us that love for enemies was more important than life itself, and he taught us that it is better to die than to kill. Gandhi applied that ethic of love and of voluntary suffering on a large scale. This method of social conflict is a possible alternative to war. If you are not going to fight to get justice, you can still work to achieve it. The alternative is to offer your own body as a sacrifice; to take suffering into yourself, and hope that the conscience of the aggressor or oppressor is so troubled by his evil that he will realize the immorality of his acts and repent. That is exactly what happened in Selma, Alabama, when the entire country watched as little children were bitten by police dogs, unarmed women were beaten with clubs, and unarmed men sprayed with water-hoses. It was so evil, and the hateful acts of prejudice so disgusting, that the conscience of America was panged. King and his followers brought the hidden evil and injustice in segregation into view for all to see by being willing to suffer without fighting back. They followed Jesus’ ethics, and it worked! But if his followers had used violence and preached revolution, the majority of whites would have considered King a dangerous revolutionary. But as it was, he became the innocent victim of racial hatred. And through suffering, he awakened the slumbering conscience of America. This suffering led to changes in the laws. Segregation was ended and equal rights were granted. Thus, the laws and the government were redeemed (as Paul preferred), not overthrown. These civil rights demonstrations exemplified the best possibilities of non-violent resistance.

But the reason that King was not a complete pacifist is that he did advocate the use of the just power of government to enforce just laws, like equal rights. He believed the power of government could be used to guarantee civil rights, restrain the evil and hatred of unjust men, and to punish those who continued to lynch and kill. (The national guard had to be called in to allow James Meredith to attend the University of Mississippi, to enforce voting rights, etc.) If the federal government had not enforced these laws, the South never would have voluntarily obeyed the Supreme Court, and all those legal gains in civil rights would have been lost. Power is still necessary in the service of justice. So, non-violence as a method is not an absolute, even for King, but is one alternative to armed conflict that might spare a nation from unnecessary and endless bloodshed.

Two more limits to the successful use of non-violence as a tactic for social change are 1) that it will only work in a relatively moral nation, whose people are law abiding and who are afflicted with a moral conscience; 2) the people must have access to the truth so they can witness the injustice for themselves and be shocked into change. There is little chance that these tactics would have worked in Nazi Germany, where the press was controlled. Without a free press, there would have been no way to appeal to the conscience of the majority. And when a government has so abandoned the pretense of morality that it can no longer be influenced by world opinion, then nonviolence has little effect. In Nazi Germany, Hitler would have authorized the early and secret assassination of men like King and Gandhi, who had such moral sway over the public, or he would have trumped up a charge of treason and executed them. And with the leaders gone, there would have been no rallying point for the resistance of the people.

When nations are so depraved and when a people’s conscience is so seared that the murder of innocents stirs no pangs, then the hopes of pacifism and civil-disobedience fades. When the evil is so great, as in Nazi Germany, the only recourse, perhaps, is war. But the next time such an evil occurs, what alternatives do we have? Can we fight evil in a nuclear age with weapons of war? Perhaps, the balance of terror provides us the only security we have against renewed world conquest. But one fatal slip, and the balance of terror could destroy the world we intend to preserve. And there is an indication in the scriptures that the world may end by nuclear holocaust: 2 Peter 3: 4-11.

A question we might ask is how could we respond to the threat of conquest aside from nuclear weapons? Well, we might train every citizen in the use of weapons, as in Switzerland. In attempting to conquer and hold this much territory, an opposing army would be badly overextended and would eventually have to give up. Or, we could use non-cooperation, as Gandhi did. Or we could use the community tactics of pacifism that French protestants did in Southern France in WWII.[14] These Christians agreed together to secret Jews out of the country without the use of violence of any kind even against the Nazis. They simply would not cooperate with the Vichy government, although they made every appearance of being cooperative. They were willing to die themselves rather than kill. They were a perfect example of Christians working in community to follow the teachings of Christ. It is possible that Jesus’ ethics were meant for just such a covenant community as this one, and not as a guide for government’s enforcement of laws. {Which leads us back to the question: is there a difference between individual ethics and public ethics?}

A final issue I would like to raise is this: while we may recognize the legitimate needs of a nation to defend itself, according to Romans 13, there is a tendency of all nations to become idolatrous of their own security. By that I mean, nations will tend to seek security in the buildup of arms. They begin to trust their future to their own power and might, while they neglect their responsibility to the poor around the world. While it is right for a nation to defend itself, we must recognize that we can never have total earthly security. But there must come a time when we trust God to preserve what we cannot protect with our own hands.

While we cannot judge for other nations, we can judge ourselves. I would like to us to take a look at our pursuit of security from God’s perspective. Here is an interesting quote from Dwight Eisenhower, and it may reveal how we have supplanted our concerns for a just peace with a concern for security at any price:

“Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired – signifies in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children.

“The cost of one modern heavy bomber is this: a modern brick school in more than 30 cities. It is two electric power plants , each serving a town of 60,000 population. It is two fine, fully equipped hospitals. It some 50 miles of concrete highway.

“We pay for a single fighter plane with a half million bushels of wheat. We pay for a single destroyer with new homes that could have housed more than 8,000 people. This is not a way of life at all, in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron.”

What does God think of our pursuit of military might? When you think of all the people that could be fed, all the agricultural aid that could be given to Third-World farmers; if we had worked together with the Soviets to industrialize and feed the poor around the world, can we say that the unlimited pursuit of nuclear and military security is anything but idolatrous? Every day, people are dying because we have chosen this path rather than to develop the Third World. Every jet or rocket we buy takes food out of a little child’s mouth. This is not the justice which God seeks. This is a sinful need for security that is all out of proportion. In terms of things that are eternally important, God will not ask us how many missiles we built, but how many people did we feed and clothe; to how many did we reveal the love of Jesus Christ by our acts of charity and compassion (Matt. 25:31-46)?

The nature of faith is that we must learn to live with a certain amount of earthly insecurity and trust God to preserve us in spite of these threats to our lives. God brings down nations that seek security in worldly weapons and earthly alliances while neglecting the justice of God (Isaiah 30:1-5; 31:1-3; Jeremiah 17: 5-7; Hosea 10:13-15). He has promised to preserve nations even in the face of overwhelming odds, if they but seek to obey him (Isaiah 37). We cannot afford to neglect justice for the sake of earthly security. We will never find security from all foreign threats in nuclear arms; there will always be one newer weapon, one extra bomb. Besides that, we have enough weapons to destroy the world 10 times over. Why do we continue to build without limit? Why is there no end to our “need” for “legitimate” defense? Perhaps it is because we are not trusting God.

We will always have this insecurity. The question is, how will we live with it? God does not expect us to deprive ourselves of a legitimate defense, but somehow, somewhere we need to set a reasonable limit on how far we will go to capture earthly security. We cannot buy it. So there must come a point when we are willing to say, “enough is enough.” And if we put a reasonable limit on our expenditures, then with the rest, work for justice in the world. But woe to us if we do not, for then not even all the weapons under heaven can save us from the anger of God.

I hope this short course has been enlightening. I may not have made it any easier for you, nor given you clear answers; I may have just raised more questions. But I hope I have helped you to see how difficult these issues are. This should give us patience for those who disagree with us, for however we choose to respond to threat of evil, we cannot always be sure that we know the only right way! Day by day, we must all learn to trust God as we face the difficult decision of how to respond to the threat of evil.

[1] for a summary of early church views, see Militia Christi, The Christian Religion and the Military in the First Three Centuries, by Adolph Harnack (translated by David M. Gracie, Fortress Press, Philadelphia 1981.

[2] Ro 2:4 Or do you despise the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience? Do you not realize that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?

[3] Mt 26:52 “Put your sword back in its place,” Jesus said to him, “for all who draw the sword will die by the sword; Mt 5:39 But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.

[4] Mt 19:21 Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

[5] Augustine addressed this issue in his work, The City of God, which was written after the sack of Rome by barbarian invaders. Thomas Aquinas also determined that the prince was called of God to use the sword to defend the God ordained government in Summa Theologica, II/II Question XL, Art. 1.

[6] On Idolatry, chp. 19 (See The Ante-Nicene Fathers 3:73).

[7] Harnack, pp. 88-93.

[8] Ramsey, Paul The Just War: Force And Political Responsibility. Lanham, MD : University Press of America, 1983, p. 275.

[9] Dickinson, W. Croft, editor. John Knox’s History of the Reformation in Scotland, 2 Vol. Philosophical Library, 1950, p. 282.

[10] John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, IV:XX:2.

[11]Ibid., IV:XX:20-31

[12] see North, Gary: When Justice Is Aborted: Biblical Standards for Non-Violent Resistance. Dominion Press, P. O. Box 7999, Tyler, TX 75711.

[13] Martin Luther King, Jr. Strength to Love. Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1963, pp. 152-153.

[14]Hallie, Philip Paul. Lest Innocent Blood Be Shed : The Story Of The Village Of Le Chambon And How Goodness Happened There. New York: HarperPerennial, 1994.


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