View Full Version : A Christian view of Authority and War

11-07-2010, 10:33 PM
I was recently accosted by a brother for my stance on the war. My stance of course is that this decade of imperial brutality and murder was not only unjustified but morally reprehensible. My detractor made the argument that I could not stand against this war on any moral foundation when God himself had led the Israelites into countless battles against his enemies. “The Old Testament is nothing short of a long line of wars and battles.” He said. After hours of debate on foreign policy and the blunders of the American federal government we parted ways, but something in his argument never sat right with me. So after a few months of considerable thought I decided to lay out clearly what the Lord had laid on my heart. I hope this speaks and resonates with you the way it does with me.

To suggest that aggressive preemptive wars against a peoples or a nation is acceptable and just because God led his people into wars in the Old Testament is intellectually bankrupt. We can pick apart the argument by classifying its logic as having fallen pray to the fallacy of the undistributed middle. Wherein both sides of the stated analogy shares one element in common, but yet has a world of difference both in the origin and application. This is usually demonstrated as a three part dissection. If the analogy is to be illustrated in three segments then (A) represents who is in authority, (B) declares what the just course of action is and (C) is the application of the authorities decree.


If we start with (A) we realize that there is no comparison between God and Man. God is of course supreme authority, there are no restraints or limitations to his power, to suggest otherwise is an attempt to put God into a box and to mold him into a tool that meets only our narrow utilitarian needs. God cannot be questioned in his actions, nor can he be looked upon with contempt for having “killed” a group of peoples. We must understand that God kills everyone eventually. If he truly is omnipotent and all powerful then dying is simply a matter of circumstance rater than a moral quagmire. Dying of old age, being struck by lighting or succumbing to disease are all equally purposeful and planned. Man of course does not have this type of power. He has never been given the authority to arbitrarily decide whether a group of people of even a single individual lives or dies. If he decrees a death sentence or plots to carry one out he either must have the express permission from his creator or the action must be within the constraints of the authority that God has instituted. Even in (A) we see a complete divide in the aforementioned argument, but let’s continue ahead for the sake of driving home each point.


Let’s refresh, (B) encapsulates what the just course of action should be. Justice is something that is clearly defined in scripture, and I would even go so far as to say that the need for justice is written on the very fabric of our souls. For every negative action there is an equal if not exponentially negative reaction that is lumped upon us. We see this time and time again throughout scripture. The inverse is true with actions that are committed in righteousness. If we are to accept this basic philosophical axiom then we must be ready to comport that God given authority must also be ruled by this principle. There are no loopholes to justice. Even David, whom God loved and adored, was subject to the negative reaction of his wickedness as King. This should suggest to us that there are specific and clearly marked parameters to mans authority. And if man acts improperly and strays outside the lines of justice and authority then we are not bound to obey them in the slightest.

If our goal and mission is to adhere solely to Gods will and righteousness then to obey or facilitate the evil proclamations and decrees of a wicked ruler, is to value his interpretation of authority over Gods, who is the very architect of its institution.

So if a man in a position of authority is to make a judgment on what the just course of action is to be in any situation, it must be in line with true justice and stay inside the parameters and limitations of man held authority. The next question for us to then ask is what, if any, are the proper restraints of mans authority? We have already established that even those in power are subject to Gods justice and that there are certain limitations seen imposed on rulers in scripture. Let’s look at the physical limitations of man. Man cannot give permission for any person to exist. It is not within his power to control. Nor does he have the power to control any mans thoughts, beliefs or even actions for that matter. Since no man requires permission from another man to undertake any of these tasks then naturally we should exclude these from the list of actions that man has authority over. It would be asinine to even entertain the concept that man could effectively rule over that which he cannot touch, and that which is neither tangible nor fully understood. He might as well decide to make a war on gravity and declare it illegal for anyone to be subject to its effects.


(C) is the application of the authorities decree. This is the only area in which the analogy shares even the remotest of similarities. It does so only in a simplistic view of its end result, which is the taking of human life by force for a predetermined cause or ideology. Other than that it shares nothing in common. Let’s remember that the taking of life by God and that of man have a sea of difference between them. While the taking of life by God through man is committed by man, it is still authorized by God. There are some that would say that since God is in complete control of every action and has an express purpose for all things and occurrences, then a preemptive and aggressive war is therefore justified as being within the dictates of Gods will and timetable. This argument completely negates the order to abstain from wickedness. Yes, God works all things for his good and has promised to bring light out of the darkness. But he does not command us to commit acts of sin and darkness to we can bring about the light. Shall we sin so that grace should abound? Should we harden our hearts like pharaoh so we can lead a people out of bondage? Surely hardened acts of evil will be committed until the earth has ended, but are we not commanded to live each day in righteousness, are we not called to be the salt of the earth?

This logic of attributing the justice of Gods actions to our own selfish endeavors is not only intellectually dishonest it is morally, spiritually and scripturally reprehensible. Those who would bend and twist the history of scripture in an attempt to reinterpret God and his will are nothing more than serpents of pharisaical descent. They are bent on wearing the clothing of the sacrificial lamb so as to promote their own twisted agenda for temporary and fleeting personal gain, and ultimately, control over others lives and possessions.


So what are we as people to do when we are so obviously outnumbered by popular opinion? When we as Christians have grown up inside of a church that it consumed with partisan rhetoric? Should we condemn the church and the body as broken? Do we shake the dust from our feet as make our exodus?

What’s your opinion?