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The Christianization of War and Violence, Pt 1

This article is an introduction to a most disturbing question: Have American Christians been deluded about the issue of war and violence?

Part one

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!

Series NavigationThe Christianization of War and Violence, Pt 2 >>

6 replies on “The Christianization of War and Violence, Pt 1”

Steve,
At the risk of taking this off-topic, I urge you to thoughtfully consider the origins of the doctrine of the Trinity. Might it be possible, that – just as so many other areas of doctrine have become distorted, hidden, and outright changed from the simple truths revealed by Jesus and his apostles – the plain and simple understanding of who God Yahweh) is and is not might also have been changed? The mixture of pagan Greek philosophy with Christian teaching distorted so much in those early years – why should the truth about God's nature have been exempt?
The simple truth is that nowhere in scripture, OT or NT, is God named a 'triune being'. The Jews where adament in their claim that Yahweh was one – not 'three-in-one', but simply 'one'. See how language itself has to change to accomodate this foreign doctrine – for those who believe in the Trinity, the word 'one' no longer means what it does in every other usage. 
Obviously, I have revealed my hand about my rejection of God as Trinity. He is God alone, and Jesus is his human son, now elevated to God's right hand to reign and rule with all of God's power. I trust that you will not burn me at the stake for this confession. (Historically, those who defended the Trinity acted with violence, while those who questioned the validity of this doctrine never resorted to violent methods to validate their claim). I believe that one cannot be a seeker of the forgotten and rejected truths of early Christianity without seriously calling into question this most pagan of teachings. Some Anabaptists, whom you mentioned in this article, discovered this in the 16th and 17th Centuries, were driven to Poland (called 'Socinians' by then) and were eventually persecuted into obscurity. 
Since gaining – with the help of others – a new insight into the nature of God and his Christ, my faith has deepened and I understand the scriptures in a new, and better, light. I'll say no more, but leave it to you as a fellow truth seeker whether to pursue this matter, as always remaining true to your own conscience and the grace of God given you by the Holy Spirit.
If this post is not appropriate at the end of this article, please move it to somewhere else, or don't show it all. 
Danny.

Hello Danny,

The Trinity is a hot topic with most Christians; it is not with me. Honestly, I don’t see why everyone gets so upset over the matter. It is as if they are afraid that God will say to them when they die, “Sorry, you are rejected. You did live a most excellent life, but you got the doctrine of the Trinity wrong, so you are going to Hell; that little error of yours cost you Heaven.”

Christians on both sides speak as if everything hinges on this one issue; and it is the same with those who push the issue of baptism and the security of the believer; poppycock! It is as if God’s mercy and forgiveness can’t get past a misunderstanding of some doctrine?

I have been around many of these people all my Christian life, and for the most part their lives stink with worldliness, yet they stand firm on some pet doctrine that they believe is more important than a Godly life.

Please don’t tell me your doctrine; show me your life. Do people see Jesus when they look at you? If all your doctrine is correct yet you fail to display to the world the life of Christ, you have failed completely, although you may have won a following.

Why is it so important to believe that one-is-one, or that three-is-one and one-is-three? Because it is a matter of truth? or it is a matter of idol worship? These same people are riddled with error of one kind or another, which is nothing but believing a lie, and all of them, no doubt, have televisions in their homes, which if this cannot be called an idol, on a national scale, then there is no such thing as an idol.

I have spent a big part of my life in this arena and have seen no fruit come from it.

If I would separate you as a brother it would not be on the basis of this doctrine, it would be on the basis of your life; are you following after Jesus.

Steve Blackwell

Please comment on whether or not you agree with Mr. Folz’s rejection of the Trinity in his response to your post.

I really liked your first three paragraphs. I fully agree with your warnings against the false militancy of the heretical NAR and other Dominionists.

You started losing me in the fourth paragraph.

There are no contingencies that allow a Christian to get involved in government at any level or to even vote? God’s word reveals at least two involved in government service in the Old Testament: Joseph and Daniel. That shows that God is not hostile to government service by his chosen ones. I could be part of His plan. Jesus told His disciples at one point to buy a sword if they didn’t have one. It seems reasonable to me that the purpose was for defense against attack.

I agree that we should detest war and killing. Yet the governing authorities are in place by Divine order and are to bear the sword to keep evil in check. War-mongering or looking for a fight certainly isn’t godly, but protection of the helpless from the violence of wicked men is noble and good.

If necessary, I do not see how it is unbiblical to put my life in harm’s way to protect my wife and children or someone who is defenseless, and to use force as a last resort, when all peaceful means have failed or cannot reasonably be employed. My aim would be to protect, not to be violent for violence’s sake.

Gary,

No I do not agree with Steve Foltz’s take on the Trinity, but I would not burn him at the stake for believing otherwise. I fellowship with many whom I believe have worse, and more serious, errors than Steve, and most of them are dyed in the wool patriots who live in direct disobedience to our Lord’s commands of nonresistance, where I believe Steve to only be in error.

You do ask a few very good questions, not new questions, only new to a generation of Christians who cannot conceive in their hearts a reason to not fight for a “good” cause. A good question to ask is, “Who decides what a good cause is?” I gave a few quote of early Christians in the article, but there are many others. the consensus of early believers were in agreement on this issue; check it out for yourself.

I suspect that I lost many, starting in that fourth paragraph. Christians everywhere believe that there are contingencies that allow them to disobey the express words of Jesus to “Resist not an evil man.” If we go with the contingencies you mention –

“God’s word reveals at least two involved in government service in the Old Testament: Joseph and Daniel.” And,

“Jesus told His disciples at one point to buy a sword if they didn’t have one.”

“. . .the governing authorities are in place by Divine order and are to bear the sword to keep evil in check.”

“ I do not see how it is unbiblical to put my life in harm’s way to protect my wife and children or someone who is defenseless, and to use force as a last resort, when all peaceful means have failed or cannot reasonably be employed.”

–Then we have a real problem.

We cannot have God’s inspired word saying one thing one place and contradicting it somewhere else; I am sure you would agree with that. But, that is exactly what you have if I agree with your contingencies. Matthew 5 reveals the heart of Jesus to His followers. The Kingdom of which Jesus came to promote is the same Kingdom which now exists in Heaven, and of which earth is an outpost. Those who occupy this Kingdom on earth are citizens of this Heavenly Kingdom and live according to all of its rules, and have no voice in another kingdom. That city on a hill, of which Matthew speaks, is the glowing example of its citizens living out the life of their Master on this outpost called earth. It is this up-side-down kind of life that is the light that attracts so much attention, and wins for it a devoted following of Christ-like nonresistants. If the life that these citizens lead include taking the sword or keeping weapons of self-defense, or promoting a government that provides for all of that and more, then that Kingdom is no different than their old kingdom; ruled and established by men. If you have sworn allegiance to that government and it drops a bomb and kills people, you have killed them; if they abort unwanted children, you have aborted those children, if they allow for homosexuals to marry, you have given your approval by proxy, and if they engage in war and request your presence you are obliged to consent.

So, when we read Matthew – and it is very easy to understand – and you read somewhere else, or are told by someone, that it is O.K. to do the things that are against Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 5, then we have to conclude that there is a misunderstanding of those other passages and that your friend or pastor is mistaken or misleading you for selfish purposes of fear, taking of oaths, or patriotism, or some other reason, because Jesus did not allow for any contingencies.

I am not going to take a lot of time to answer each of your inquires, but I can assure you that there are answers; I have dealt with each of them personally, and when you discover them, and accept them you will experience a freedom that no government can afford or provide, not even the good ole US of A.

In my next article I do touch on the difference between Old Testament and New Testament views concerning these issues. So stay tuned.

Steve Blackwell
IndyWatchman

Dear brother Steve,
I am with you 100% in this. I have long regarded any person who signs their life over to the U.S. Military as a traitor to the cause of Christ. One cannot serve two masters! Yet, so many churches have invited Generals to speak before the congregation and promote the idea that freedom and Democracy are the purpose and intent of Christianity!
Thanks to the apostasy which occurred prior to Constantine, and Eusebius and his fellow "Christian" syncophantic admirers of this human emperor, we have all been brainwashed into accepting the traditions of men rather than the word of God. The doctrine of "just wars", teachings about souls ascending to heaven, purgatory, demonic torture of souls in hell, the Trinity and many other ideas unsupported by scripture are considered Orthodoxy for most so-called Christians.
I almost panicked one Sunday when someone who had hosted a Boy Scout meeting in the main sanctuary had neglected to remove the American and State flags from the podium. Our fellowship does not promote patriotism, per se', but many seem to have no issue with the idea of Christians volunteering to server as fodder for our corrupt government, fighting against people they are supposed to "love". I detest the idea that loyalty to country or nation can in any way be considered identical or compatible with loyalty and fealty to Christ.
Simply put, you cannot kill a stranger and also claim to love him. I struggle with some issues, primarily defending the weak and the poor, which means I think we must resist evil and protect children, women and family when we are able to. But, primarily, our call is to overcome evil with good.

Thanks for your feedback Steve.

Taking this stance in this day and age, especially as the war mentality continues to build, is a throwback to the bad old days of Caesar and world conquest. As this mentality takes on a life of its own Christians of the nonresistance sort may get a real taste of persecution as they are seen as cowards, turncoats, or anti-American. There will quickly be a separating of those who follow Jesus carrying a concealed weapon and those who don’t. As you reminded us, we cannot serve two masters; one being a warlord, the other Prince of Peace.

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