- The Church and Its Orthodoxy (Conformity) Toward War: Part 1
- The Church and Its Orthodoxy (Conformity) Toward War: Part 2
- The Church and Its Orthodoxy (Conformity) Toward War: Part 3
- The Church and Its Orthodoxy (Conformity) Toward War: Part 4
- The Church and Its Orthodoxy (Conformity) Toward War: Part 5
- The Church and Its Orthodoxy (Conformity) Toward War: Part 6
- The Church and Its Orthodoxy (Conformity) Toward War: Part 7
- The Church and Its Orthodoxy (Conformity) Toward War: Part 8
Dr. Robert Moyer states twice that the source of his answers will be the Word of God, and then qualifies the statements by saying that “. . . we shall try to be honest . . . .” Unless he had some help I will assume that the “we” is he; and as a doctor of religion I would also assume something more than just trying to be honest. I think Mr. Moyer has purposely allowed himself room in his interpretation of Scripture for outside influences and a little dis-honesty. But, be that as it may, let’s deal with the facts of the Bible and discount any attempt to integrate mere opinion.
We Americans like to take pride in our system of government, but our system is not Christian; if we are to equate it with a system it would be more like the Jewish Old Testament system of, “An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth” and not the system of mercy and love instituted by our Lord Jesus; and the picture above of the goddess justice emphasizes that perfectly.
The primary difficulty for Christians, new and old alike, is their inability to differentiate between the Old and New Testaments in regards to understanding the Christian position on war. Mr. Moyer begins his effort by maneuvering the thoughts of his readers to accept that the Old Testament’s attitude toward war carries over to the New Testament. The Old Testament view of war does not carry over or transfer literately in to the New Testament, but very many, if not most, Christians celebrate the fact that they have found deliverance from having to finally live at peace with those who hate them. Advocates of Christian war like to ignore the fact that Jesus clearly differentiates between the Old system and the New, and even accused the religious authorities of His time of not being able to understand the meaning of the Old Testament, and claimed that if they did understand they would know that the Old Testament spoke of Him (see Matt. 22:29, Lk. 24:27, 44-45, Jn. 1:1, 14, 5:46-47). Paul in Hebrews 1:1-3 says,
“In the past God spoke to our forefathers 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 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 . . . .”
Whether or not we understand all that the Old Testament represents with its wars and killing we can be absolutely sure that none of that carries over into the New Testament except in symbolism or riddle for the Christian. When we try to mix the two we are sure to have problems in understanding and living the Christian life. I don’t believe I have ever spoken to an American Christian that some reference has not been made to the Old Testament in a bid to sanction war for the good of the Church and the progress of the Kingdom. So, Mr. Moyer also first tries to get his readers to agree with several of his assertions of which the Old Testament and New Testament are in agreement, with the intention of creating a flow of understanding from the Old Testament to the New Testament producing a mixture in their minds.
He initiates a series of questions by asking, “Is Human Government Ordained of God?” He states that, “Human government is just as truly a Divine institution as is the Church.” This emphatic statement clearly attempts to cause the pliable Christian to draw similarities and parallels that will lead them to acquiesce to certain predetermined conclusions. But, even simple Christians should know that all governments are ordained by God; this is not deep theology. The Old and New Testaments show plainly that it is God who rules all things and establishes and destroys kings and kingdoms, according to His good pleasure.
Then, Mr. Moyer asks, “Does God Ever Take Life?” This is similar to the previous question and here again he wins a resounding YES, and the chorus of up-and-down bobbing heads picks up pace. Anyone who has ever been in sales can identify this ploy, of achieving a succession of agreements before asking for the sale. But, he also uses another sales tactic. After he asks the question he answers by saying, “Our answer is Yes.” By using the word “Our” he continues to build a solidarity and defense against contrary views and fortifies–his–conclusions. In the rest of his answer to this question he continues to draw parallels between the Old and New Testaments. He here uses the illustration of Samuel killing Agag (1 Samuel 15:32,33) to enforce his principal that God sometimes use individuals to act in His place. Mr. Moyer does not use any New Testament Scripture to prove his point because there are none, and continues to lead his readers along a deceptive line of reasoning.
Another thing that must be kept in mind is the question that is being avoided till all the correct votes are in. The question which is not yet being asked is, “Does God Ever Ask for Christian Participation in government or killing?” Only when all the inertia is in the right direction will he venture here.
Next question; “Is All Killing Murder?” And, again he asks an easy question, and the answer is No; and again the consensus of agreement continues to build. We know God takes life, and that He acts through men on occasions; and God is no murder, so obviously some killing is not murder. God also uses nations to fulfill His wishes. In Deuteronomy 7:2 he gives us the example of God commanding the Israelites to utterly destroy the Canaanite nation. With this question he is building his case for New Testament Christians killing people in concert with their nation. He draws the net tight by making the conclusion that, “Killing by an individual is prohibited, but killing by a nation is permitted. Scripture does not allow personal vengeance or retaliation.” So, are we to conclude that what cannot be done as an individual can be done in concert with an organized band sponsored by government? And, can we go further and tell those who are angry and seeking revenge that they should join the military so that their venting of anger will not be counted as vengeance?
Governments are God’s instruments for maintaining a show of civility among the peoples of the world till such time that He withdraws His restraining influence, (2 Thess. 2:7). All governments are good or bad according the will of God. God’s perfect way is that there to be no manmade governments; all governments are a rejection of God rule, as we see in Samuel’s word to Saul, (1st Samuel 8:7). When Jesus returns He will have the title deed to planet Earth and at that time He will tread out the winepress of God’s anger, poured out against all those armies who come out against God with a vengeance. The perceived Christian manipulation of government through the ballot box will not effect in any way God’s control, as we have witnessed in the past election.
Mr. Moyer continues this section by saying, “The Bible recognizes a man’s right to defend his person, his property, his dear ones––and his country, too.” By using the word “Bible” in this sentence he leads one to believe that the entire Bible, Old and New, supports his belief; it does not! If he would have said “The Old Testament” then there would be no argument, because everyone of his illustrations come from the Old Testament: Exodus 20:13, Deuteronomy 7:2, Numbers 35:9-34, and Exodus 22:2,3. He does not, nor can he, give one example from the New Testament in support of “Is All Killing Murder?”
Mr. Moyer plays what he thinks is a wild card, at the end of this section, by asking a rhetorical question, hoping to close the net tighter on his supposition. He asks, “Would you defend your home or your dear ones from attack?” He answers absolutely that, “Certainly you would.” Unfortunately, Mr. Moyer, there are no wild cards, only truth and error.
Those who are new to this concept of New Testament non-resistance may be like Mr. Moyer and ask yourself, “Yes, but what if . . . ?” This question should be asked, because it is not as if there aren’t any answers for the Christian, and that we are stuck with only what we can glean from Old Testament codes, symbols, examples, illustrations, and representations, or to shoot from the hip with educated stabs in the dark. We can rest assured that all of the “What if . . .?” questions can be answered satisfactorily from the New Testament.
Let’s take Mr. Moyer’s question, of using violence to protect our family, and pose it a little differently, and see if it still holds up under New Testament light.
Mr. Moyer’s question naturally plays on our instinct to protect our families from harm. I am not ashamed to say that if you are a Christian and have presented the Gospel to your family, and they have accepted, that there is not a greater thing you can do than to cover them with this greatest of graces, and to put them in the loving care of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. The Gospel is the greatest of all possible protective measures that can be taken, or presented.
Now, let’s look at this question in the light of the Gospel. When we ask such a question we must not assume an answer on the level of the flesh, or we will surely go astray. We must ask this question, and expect an answer from the New Testament.
In the New Testament light of Jesus’ own words, to love Him above all other things, including your family, suppose for a moment that the government demanded that you deny Him, and that you should offer up the obligatory sacrifice to their god, “The Grand Architect of the Universe,” or the Statue of Liberty, or to the American Flag, or else they would kill your wife and children. What would you do? Or, say a terrorist held your family hostage, threating to kill them unless you detonate a dirty bomb in a highly populated area. Would you save your family at the cost of say 1,000,000 people? For the true Christian the answer is clear; he could not do it; he could not kill others or deny Jesus to save his family. Jesus has given us the answer. If we love our own life, or the lives of our family more than we love Jesus, we are not worthy of Him, or to wear the name of “Christian” (Matthew 10:33). Or, what if Jesus Himself instructs you, as a loyal servant to not “return evil for evil” (1 Peter 3:9), but to “overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:21), “Love your enemies” (Matthew 5:43, 44), or to “turn the other cheek” and “resist not evil” (Matthew 5:39). All of the “What if . . . ?” questions are answered the same way, obey the Lord. Mr. Moyer says we should resort to the sword, but Jesus says we should resort to obedience.
“Does God Ever Authorize Human Governments to Take Life?”
Mr. Moyer claims to rightly divide the word of truth, but from what I have discovered about him, that claim is a stretch; but on the other hand he never said he would be truthful, only that he would “try to be honest.” So far what he has done is to make the word of truth conform to his preconceived conclusions, and that is not honesty.
It is an elementary fact of theology that the Old Testament should be interpreted in the light of the New Testament. Mr. Moyer has repeatedly done just the opposite, and continues to do so in this latest question.
He states correctly that governments hold the prerogative to take life when necessary and that they exercise that prerogative on a regular basis. What he does not state is that those governments have also been given the prerogative to exercise mercy and that New Testament Christians are told to show mercy so that they can receive mercy, (Matthew 5:7, James 2:13), and Jesus exemplified this teaching when He was confronted by the Pharisees and asked to confirm the Old Testament teaching of Moses with the woman who was caught in the act of adultery. His verdict was mercy; “Let him who is without sin cast the first stone.” Governments are under laws and must be exercised within that construction, and have a limited ability to show mercy; laws limits mercy.
Governments do have the power to take life by way of capital punishment and through war, but I don’t think anyone with a sound mind would go as far as to say that governments cannot commit murder. Mr. Moyer further states that, “Do not get the idea that a Christian man may not be an officer of the law, that he may not sentence a man to death, that he may not be a paid executioner for the government.” My question to Mr. Moyer would be, should a Christian man put himself in a position where he has to disobey his Lord by rendering evil with evil, tooth for tooth, or to execute a merciless act that is contrary to the example of Christ, who is supposed to be his Master and Lord, and told to separate himself from the world, (Haggai 2:10-14).
Governments can, and do, commit murder routinely in their struggle to maintain their position in a world economy of conflicting ideologies, through assassinations of perceived threats, by falsely accusing anyone who may contribute to their strength by their absence, through unprovoked wars to gain geopolitical advantage over competing governments, through blindly turning their heads at the extermination of innocent victims of oppression, as Pius XII did with the Jews during WWII, the Inquisition and murder of helpless Christians during the Dark Ages, or the worthless deaths of thousands of Americans in Vietnam. All of this is done under the head of taking life by the authority of human government, and given a free pass by Mr. Moyer, but do we dare say that God sanctions this and that it is therefore, somehow, righteous and approved in His eyes?
Governments will do these things, and God allows it, but there is a day of reckoning, and Christians are commanded to separate themselves from all appearances of evil, and governments with their wholesale exterminations of life; are they not the most evil? What individuals do on a small scale, are we to commend when done on a large scale by God ordained governments? God has ordained all governments but He will exonerate no misdeed whether done individually or corporately.
Mr. Moyer further states that, “Mercy to the criminal is cruelty to the community.” Does he now accuse Jesus of wrongdoing for showing mercy to the thief who hung beside Him or the adulteress He saved from stoning? Jesus even showed mercy to them who had nailed Him to the cross, by asking His Father to forgive them. This is the example we see again and again in the New Testament, yet Mr. Moyer keeps his readers eyes and hearts locked on to the Old Testament eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth mentality of the old way. Jesus has shown us a better way, follow Him.
Stay tuned for Part 4