Saturday, May 10, 2008

Does the Bible Support a Just War?

I had often wondered is it wrong for a nation to use arms to defend itself, is it wrong to use deadly force if necessary to protect your self or others? This is the question I use to ask myself and maybe you are asking yourself the same question. I have found this article in my Apologetics study Bible that I found fascinating. No I didn’t look to this source only to form my conclusion or opinion on war but it did help and it sums it up. This article is formed fully upon on what God’s word says.

While the Bible doesn’t approve of war for every cause, and while it encourages peace with all persons (Rm12:18, “If possible, on your part, live at peace with everyone.”), it nonetheless indicates that peace and justice sometimes require war (Mt 24:6, “ You are going to hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, because these things must take place, but the end is not yet.) This is made clear from many considerations. First, the Bible does not prohibit all taking of life. For instance, killing in self-defense is justified (Ex 22:2, “ If a thief is caught in the act of breaking in, and he is beaten to death, no one is guilty of bloodshed.), as is killing in capital punishment (Gn 9:6, “ Whoever sheds man’s blood, his blood will be shed by man, for God made man in His image.) Government is divinely authorized to use “the sword” (Rm 13:4, “For government is God’s servant, avenger that brings wrath on the one who does wrong.”) , as Jesus Himself recognized (Jn 19:11, “You would have no authority over Me at all,” Jesus answered him, “If it hadn’t been given to you from above. This is they the one who handed Me over to you has the greater sin.”) . Second, under the law, God spelled out the rules of warfare for Israel (Dt20). Third, While Jesus forbade His disciples from using a sword for spiritual purposes (Mt 26:52), He urged His disciples to buy a sword if necessary for protection (Lk 22:36-38, “The he said to them, “But now, whoever has a money-bag should take it, and also a traveling bag. And whoever doesn’t have a sword should sell his robe and buy one. For I tell you, what is written must be fulfilled in Me; And he was counted among the outlaws. Yes , what is written about Me is coming to its fulfillment.” “Lord,” they said, “look, here are two swords.” “Enough of that! He told them.) . Forth, John the Baptist did not say that armies should be abolished and did not call for repentance from serving in the office of soldier (Lk 3:14).

The Bible commnds Christians to obey their government (Rm 13:1-7; Ti 3:1; 1 Pt 2:13-14). However, there are limitations to such obedience. When the government commands worship of idols or a king (Dn 3:6), forbids preaching the gospel (Ac 4-5), or orders the killing of children (Ex1) , then it is a believers duty to disobey. Likewise, if government engages in unjust warfare, believers may dissent. However, like Daniel 6, the three Hebrew young men, and Peter in (Ac 4-5), those who disobey government must accept the consequences meted out by the state.
Several conditions for just war are given in the Bible. First, it must be declared by one’s government (Rm 13:4). Second, it must be in defence of the innocent and/or against and evil aggressor (e.g., Gn. 14). Third, it must be fought by just means (Dt 20:19).

In addition to the above reasons for a just war policy, biblical arguments for total pacifism are flawed. For example, Jesus’ command to turn the other cheek (Mt 5:39) refers to a personal insult ( like a slap in the face), not to bodily harm. Indeed, even Jesus refused to turn His cheek when a smitten unjustly ( Jn 18:22-23). The exhortation to love our enemies does not preclude this use of force to restrain them from killing us (cp. Paul’s instigation of government intervention for his protection in Ac 23)
Article by: Norman Geisler.

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