Thesis: To examine the Christian’s attitude toward war.
(1) War has been a reality of life from very early on in human history.
(2) Generally, there are 3 school of thoughts about war:
(a) #1: Activism – It is right for a Christian to participate in any war declared by his/her government because government is ordained by God and he/she must submit to his/her government.
(b) #2: Pacifism – It is wrong for a Christian to participate in any war because it is wrong for a Christian to kill under any circumstance.
(c) #3: Selectivism – It is right for a Christian to participate in just wars.
(3) What is the Biblical view?
I. Government is ordained by God.
A. Romans 13:1-7
1. Matt. 22:21 – give to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s
2. John 19:11 – no power … if it were not given … from above
3. Titus 3:1 – be subject to rulers and authorities
4. 1 Peter 2:13-14 – be subject … to every human institution
B. Yet, God’s laws always supersede man’s laws (cf. Acts 5:29 – obey God rather than man).
1. Dan. 3 – 3 Hebrew youths didn’t bow
2. Dan. 6 – Daniel prayed
3. Matt. 2:13-14 – Jesus’ parents fled from Herod
II. War, at times, is approved of by God.
A. Gen. 14 – Abraham warred against the kings after they had committed aggression against Lot and the text seems to imply that this was done with God’s approval
B. God often commanded Israel to go to war (cf. 1 Sam. 15; Deut. 20:16-17; 2 Chron. 13:15-16; 20:29).
III. All killing is not viewed as murder.
A. Command: “You shall not kill” (Exod. 20:13)
1. Yet, capital punishment was still practiced (cf. Gen. 9:6).
2. Also, killing in self-defense is understandable (Exod. 22:2).
3. Further, an entire chapter is devoted to instructions from God for conduct when at war (Deut. 20).
B. What about Jesus’ statements which seem to advocate pacifism?
1. Matt. 5:39 – Do not resist one who is evil … turn the other cheek
- “Jesus is speaking more of insult than injury” (Geisler 230).
- Consider this:
Ø Matt. 26:52 – Don’t spread the gospel with a sword
Ø Luke 22:36-38 – Sell mantle and buy a sword
Ø “Swords are not valid weapons to fight spiritual battles, but they are legitimate tools for one’s civil defense” (Geisler 227).
2. Matt. 5:44 – Love your enemies
- Also taught in the OT where wars did occur with God’s approval.
3. Other NT texts:
a. Rom. 12:17-19 – repay no one evil for evil … do not avenge yourself
b. 1 Pet. 2:18-24 – did not revile in return
- These texts seem to speak of enduring persecution for faith in Christ and not of military service under authority of state.
IV. Therefore, a Christian’s involvement in a just war is in accordance with Biblical teaching concerning violence.
A. Criteria for a just war:
1. Must be prompted by a just cause
2. Must have a just intention
3. Must be engaged in as a last resort
4. Must be initiated with a formal declaration by properly constituted authorities
5. Must be characterized by limited objectives
6. Must be conducted with proportionate means
7. Must respect noncombatant immunity
B. Norman Geisler adds:
1. A just war is one in defense of the innocent
2. A just war is one fought to execute justice
3. A just war must be fought by a government
4. A just war must be fought justly
(1) If everyone practiced Christian principles, then war could be avoided.
(2) However, not everyone does and evil, at times, persist.
(3) All that it takes for evil to continue is for good people to do nothing.