The last article in my refutation of Dr. Robert Moyer’s pamphlet, The Christian and War, left off by answering his question, “Does God Ever Authorize Human Governments to Take Life?”. Now we will continue to unravel his web by probing his next question.
“Should Nations Ever Declare War?”
As is his normal way of proceeding he says, “Our answer is Yes.” Mr. Moyer and his giant six foot rabbit both agree that nations “should” declare war. In a world where every nation is unrighteous, war is inevitable, and God uses one nation to judge another nation in His continual effort to maintain a balance, wars will occur; but to say they “should,” according to God’s ideal plan for earthlings, is not true. God judges these warring nations for their disobedience and rebellion to His plan, as we read in Revelations. So to say nations “should” declare war is not the whole story. The only sense in which they “should” declare war is in the sense that they are controlled by a sin nature, and are obedient to that nature, in which Satan reigns supreme; but God will, no less, hold them responsible for their rebellion.
Mr. Moyer never tires of using the Old Testament to build his house on shifting sand. He correctly submits that “. . . war is a judgment of God upon nations,” and that, “There is only two causes that bring war; man’s sin and God’s wrath.” So, would it be reasonable to assume that those who are involved in war are either under God’s wrath or are sinners participating in an act of sin? He takes no qualms in quoting Jeremiah in regards to, “a universal war sent in judgment upon the nations of the earth. . .,” to support his theses of “just” war. I wonder if he has any idea that those nations, of which God has a controversy, are the same nations that he is trying to building a case for, and that he considers “just;” and it is these nations that he is approving for Christian military service.
The controversy of which Jeremiah speaks, and which draws the wrath of God, is no less than their unrighteousness toward Him in their acts of unfaithfulness, rebellion, war, violence, injustice, and lack of love and mercy toward their fellow man. Jeremiah 25:27-33, Hosea 4:1-2.
Should nations ever declare war? The real answer is No, unless they are guilty of the controversy and decide to contend against the Almighty in His courtroom of the open field. God will allow man to have his way in war just as He has allowed divorce because of man’s sinfulness, but divorce is also part of the controversy, Malachi 2:10-16; God hates divorce. If nations were truly Christian they would not declare war; and it follows that if a person is a Christian he should not participate in the unrighteous affairs of these nations, including military service, police forces, or political action of any kind, together with voting.
The same Jesus who said that there will always be “wars and rumors of wars” also said, “If My Kingdom were of this world, then would My servants fight.”
The effort expended by Mr. Moyer in his pleas for Christian complicity appear more and more comical when seen through the eyes of truth, but he persist with yet another silly question.
Does God Enjoy War?
From a non-Christian point of view it may appear that God does enjoy war and death, and there is a place for this to be answered, but not now. Non-Christians are confused by this question and the confusion is not made any less so by Mr. Moyer’s repeated rejection of our peace offering and his transmuting a defenseless dove into a bird of prey.
God is a God of peace and love and His Son is the exact expression of that attribute; and the above question is just another ploy to flesh-out an argument for God-sanctioned killing; but it does give me an opportunity to say a word about justice.
I would not want to be a judge. Sending someone away to die is a heavy load to endure. God is the perfect Judge, with perfect justice, and He is a merciful. Although we may not understand all the death of the Old Testament, it is easy to understand the mercy exhibited in the person of His beloved Son in the New Testament. All permissible options have been extended to forgo a sentence of death and to establish a relationship of peace between God and man, not least of which is His patience, forbearance, longsuffering, and mercy. If God enjoys war and death He could have justly destroyed the whole human race for not fulfilling His perfect requirements; but He has instead held out the olive branch of peace by offering and allowing His own Son to satisfy that necessity for perfect justice.
“Whom God hath set forth to be a PROPITIATION (a satisfaction of His just requirements) through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God” Romans 3:25.
Of course God takes no joy in war or death of men, but His justice must prevail, and unless this free gift of the exoneration from all guilt is accepted God is without recourse; justice must have satisfaction.
Did Christ Teach Anything About War?
Mr. Moyer’s answer is “Yes.” He likewise confirms that his, “. . . argument is based on the Old Testament. . .” and defiantly asks, “Well, what did Jesus Christ teach?” as if to conclude that that would end the discussion and re-establish the Old Testament as the favored rule. I say he asks “defiantly” because he asks in plain view of, and in the face of, Jesus’ clear teaching on the subject, then he ignores the plain and pointed teaching for verses that are less clear but allows him to proceed undetected, and below the radar. Now that Mr. Moyer thinks he is within range of his target he boldly wrenches these words from the mouth of Jesus and twists them to suit his own desires.
At this point I think it is necessary to set some recognized ground rules for interpreting Biblical texts. If you look on the internet or in a theology book you will find about seven, eight, or nine rules, but for simplicity I have reduced them to three basic rules that can be easily remembered by non-theology students.
1. Let the New Testament reveal Old Testament truth. The New Testament is the final word from God through His Son on all subjects. Hebrews 1:1-14.
2. Keep your interpretation within the context, i.e. background and circumstances, of what is being talked about and what is happening. The contextual meaning may be carried over into other area, but only with great care.
3. Allow the clear and plain teachings to be foundational for all the other teachings where there is uncertainty. Do not twist the simple and easy teachings to permit your pet doctrines to breathe life, when there is no life in them.
This section, dealing with the question, “Did Christ Teach Anything About War?” will be a little longer because of all the subterfuge, chaff, and smoke deployed to hide the truth. I, too, will ask, “What did Jesus teach about war and violence?” Four things come quickly to mind:
1. God’s own declaration concerning His Son.
2. Jesus’ decisive word regarding the Old Testament.
3. The simple and plain teaching of Jesus.
4. And, the personal examples of Jesus and the Apostles.
Given more space and time I could state more evidence, but these four will suffice to make my point. With these three teachings we will lay a firm foundation on which to examine Mr. Moyer’s claims to the contrary. If I prove my point here, then we can look at the more controversial verses, like the ones Mr. Moyer uses, and find answers that are forceful and that leave the Scriptures unmolested by human conjecture.
1. The New Testament makes it very clear, in a definitive statement, what the relationship of the Old Testament is to the Person and authority of Jesus. Hebrews, of which we have already commented, will reiterated here again for the sake of retention. Hebrews 1:1-14
God’s Final Word: His Son
“In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven. So he became as much superior to the angels as the name he has inherited is superior to theirs. For to which of the angels did God ever say, “You are my Son; today I have become your Father”? Or again, “I will be his Father, and he will be my Son”? And again, when God brings his firstborn into the world, he says, “Let all God’s angels worship him.” In speaking of the angels he says, “He makes his angels spirits, and his servants flames of fire.” But about the Son he says, “Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever; a scepter of justice will be the scepter of your kingdom. You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness; therefore God, your God, has set you above your companions by anointing you with the oil of joy.” He also says, “In the beginning, Lord, you laid the foundations of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands. They will perish, but you remain; they will all wear out like a garment. You will roll them up like a robe; like a garment they will be changed. But you remain the same, and your years will never end.” To which of the angels did God ever say, “Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet”? Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation?”
2. What was Jesus’ decisive word concerning the Old Testament? We will now look at the words directly from the lips of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount; Matthew 5. I will not quote all the verse here, but just relate the authority of Him who is speaking. Jesus speaks on many subjects here and draws a wide circle around the Old Testament teaching, and the nature of humans to avoid capture, through their bending of rules and the manipulation of meanings.
Jesus says five times, “You have heard that it was said . . . .” “But I tell you . . . .” Matthew 5:27,28a; 31,32a; 33,34a; 38, 39a; 43, 44a. Where were these things “heard . . . said”? Of course the answer is in the Old Testament Law of Moses, but with an authoritative wave of His hand Jesus does not do away with the Law, but raises it to a whole new level of meaning, that closes the cell door on every person who has ever lived, outside of Himself. With the declaration of “But I tell you . . .” He establishes Himself as the sole authority and interpreter of everything that has come before Him. No other person has any right to overrule anything that has been spoken by Jesus or to build any other structure on the foundation of His sure words. When the Father’s Son speaks He leaves no room for presumption or creative thinking; His plain and simple words carry the weight of God the Father Himself; and the Father says, “Listen to Him.”
3. What are the plain and simple teachings of Jesus concerning war and violence?
To keep my promise of brevity I have decided to keep this question for the next posting. My fear is that longer articles will not get read, so please be patient. This question will take more space than I have allowed for myself in this article.
To be continued . . . .