This article is an introduction to a most disturbing question: Have American Christians been deluded about the issue of war and violence?
Christians lead the parade with a grand patriotic show of support when it comes to what they consider a “just war” cause. I was part of that parade for a long time. The Churches I attended wrapped the Cross in the Red, White, and Blue, and they were the first to stand and recite the pledge of allegiance. Loyalty to God and country were of equal value, and to say otherwise was to pick a fight with God, and His protectors. To have a Christian worldview in America includes being a patriot, and to understand the Bible through the filter of the Constitution, and the false history that is built around it. Even to write a paper like this appears to many as anti-American, and as an extension of that, anti-Christian. On issues that are less volatile than Christian patriotism I have been addressed in no uncertain terms to remove names from my mailing list, but that is alright, I complied with their wishes, but there is no compromise with truth, it must ultimately prevail, regardless of our biases.
I have written in other letters that the Bible consistently, from cover to cover, shows without any exceptions, that the human race is a deceived race. The majority of the immense numbers of souls that have populated this earth have come and gone never knowing they had swallowed a colossal lie. Jesus’ arrival 2000 years ago was the answer to the riddle of the Old Testament and everything we see going on around us. His answer was at the same time the most difficult and the simplest of solutions. His only requirement was that we believe Him and follow Him; the difficulty was and is, we love the darkness of this world, which is our first loyalty.
There is a spiritual awakening going on in America, but it is not the Spirit of God. People in droves are looking for the answer, and are drawn to Christian Nationalism, ecumenism, bestselling books like The Harbinger and The Shack, the New Apostolic Reformation, Heretic Gospel Television, Word Faith Preaching, The New Age Movement and Oprah, Jim Wallis’ left leaning liberal pacifism, the America for Jesus gathering in Philadelphia, or religious buildings of many kinds. These are all the machinery and tools of men to forego the simplicity that is found in the Kingdom Spirituality of the meek and lowly Jesus. These are all the various forms of disobedience and rebellion against the manifested Godliness required to enter God’s Kingdom. The characteristics of that Kingdom are exemplified in His offspring, presented and displayed to the world as a present reality, and as His Kingdom come to earth. That presentation by the early Christians, of the first 300 years, is what “turned the world upside down” and attracted those whose hearts yearned for a supernatural peace not found through devises, programs, rules, legislation, or mental exercises–created to trick the mind into a false sense of love and peace–that allows for all sorts of contingencies.
There are certain characteristics that are inherent to man and the one that is the most visible, and deadly, of all our natural inclinations is our ability to do harm or violence to our fellow creatures. When we became Christians one of the first things we probably learned about was turning the other cheek and not to repay evil for evil. Then when a little time elapsed we no doubt joyfully learned of the many contingencies which allowed us to pay back evil with evil and still listen to sermons about Jesus the Prince of Peace, to proclaim Peace on Earth and Goodwill Toward Men, and to sing along with popular songs of Grace and Peace. We didn’t learn these contingencies from the Bible; we most likely learned them at Church, from the pastor and deacons, or from our family or school. Now the bad news; there are no contingencies that allow Christians to do evil for a good cause or a bad one. There are no contingencies for military service and to kill in the name of Christ; and there are no contingencies that allow any Christian to get involved in government at any level or to even vote, or place a placard in our yard. God neither wants or needs a Christian police force.
It would be well worth the time for every follower of Jesus to examine the first three hundred years of Church life to find for him or herself the truth of the matter. It is nearly impossible to find quotes from early Church history that support Christian participation in war. It wasn’t until the time of Constantine in AD 313 that Christians began to take part in state sponsored conflict. But, if you look for early quotes supporting the Biblical place of nonresistance you will find many, here are just a few:
Marcellus, ?-298 A.D.
“I threw down my arms for it was not seemly that a Christian man, who renders military service to the Lord Christ, should render it by earthly injuries.” “It is not lawful for a Christian to bear arms for any earthly consideration.”
Ignatius of Antioch, approx. 35-110 A.D.
“Take heed, then, often to come together to give thanks to God, and show forth His praise. For when ye assemble frequently in the same place, the powers of Satan are destroyed, and the destruction at which he aims is prevented by the unity of your faith. Nothing is more precious than peace, by which all war, both in heaven and earth, is brought to an end.”
Irenaeus, approx. 180 A.D.
“Christians have changed their swords and their lances into instruments of peace, and they know not now how to fight.”
Justin Martyr, approx. 138 A.D.
“The devil is the author of all war.” “We, who used to kill one another, do not make war on our enemies. We refuse to tell lies or deceive our inquisitors; we prefer to die acknowledging Christ.”
Tertullian, 155-230 A.D.
“But now inquiry is being made concerning these issues. First, can any believer enlist in the military? Second, can any soldier, even those of the rank and file or lesser grades who neither engage in pagan sacrifices nor capital punishment, be admitted into the church? No on both counts—for there is no agreement between the divine sacrament and the human sacrament, the standard of Christ and the standard of the devil, the camp of light and the camp of darkness. One soul cannot serve two masters—God and Caesar…But how will a Christian engage in war—indeed, how will a Christian even engage in military service during peacetime—without the sword, which the Lord has taken away? For although soldiers had approached John to receive instructions and a centurion believed, this does not change the fact that afterward, the Lord, by disarming Peter, disarmed every soldier.”
“Under no circumstances should a true Christian draw the sword.”
Origen of Alexandria, 185-254 A.D.
“We have come in accordance with the counsel of Jesus to cut down our arrogant swords of argument into plowshares, and we convert into sickles the spears we formerly used in fighting. For we no longer take swords against a nation, nor do we learn anymore to make war, having become sons of peace for the sake of Jesus, who is our Lord.”
There are many quotes like these from the Church of the first 300 years, and the thread of their devotion and conviction to follow Jesus’ rule of passiveness and nonresistance can be discovered, but it is not the most apparent. Today one would have to look at the Anabaptist tradition, or the Mennonites, Quakers, or the Amish to find anything resembling nonresistance. As a matter of fact history does not highlight the lives of the sects that practiced nonresistance, but rather focuses on the prevailing intellects of the day, the “movers and shakers” of Christendom like Luther, Calvin and others. When was the last time you read or heard anything about the Donatist, Waldenses, Albigenses? To speak truly there have been peace-loving nonresistants in every period of time since the Church was born, but they don’t get much press; even Jesus described His Church as a “little flock” and few in number. To talk about nonresistance and loving your enemies in a world gone mad with armed conflict may seem ludicrous on the surface, but to the true Christian it should find a ready heart.
Satan has been diligent in planting his tares and tending his garden; the message of nonresistance has found little soil in which to grow in the USA or the world. According to an article in the Christian Research Journal 14 percent of the US population is made up of evangelical Christians, but they, oddly enough, make up 40 percent of the military’s active duty personnel. If Catholics are included in that figure the percentage goes up to 77 percent.
In my estimation these numbers represent a rejection of the Gospel of Peace and Love and the Kingdom built on those principles. To which kingdom is our true loyalty? Jesus didn’t say, “Love your enemies, but if they don’t accept your offer, then it is O.K. to kill them, if necessary.” Does that Person we call Lord permit any contingencies in case of a violent rejection to the offer of love?
The stakes are very high in consideration of the answer to this dilemma; the question of our faith is on the line here. The Bible clearly draws a line in the sand and the words of Jesus are definitive on the matter. But, it would appear that the vast majority of “Christians” are on the wrong side of the line, and the consequences of being wrong on this issue could be disastrous. There is the Christianity of the Bible, then there is a popular Christianity, a sham, introduced by Satan, whose appeal is to the flesh. The Christianity of the world will have the earmarks and fingerprints of the world all over it.
The follow-up article to this will take a look at those earmarks and try and determine who they belong to, you may be surprised!