"Thou hast given a banner to them that fear thee, that it may be displayed because of truth." — (Psalm 60:4)
"Lift ye up a banner upon the high mountain, exalt the voice unto them." — (Isaiah 13:2)
Devoted To The Defense Of The Church Against All Errors And Innovations
Vol.IV No.III Pg.13
October 1941

Justifying Combatant Service

Hugo Mccord

A chaplain in the United States Army presents reasons justifying, to his mind, active military service, even killing, by Christian men:

Cleansing the temple. (John 2:13-22) Jesus used the scourge but that is far from killing men. Under no circumstances would he kill, nor allow others: "Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of. For the Son of man is not come to destroy men's lives, but to save them." (Luke 9:55)

Centurion at Capernaum. (Matt. 8: 5-10) There is work that a Christian soldier can do, but he will not "destroy men's lives."

Not peace, but a sword. (Matt. 10: 34) To use this to justify bloodshed is to pervert the Word. See II Cor. 10:5; Eph. 6:17.

Wars and rumors of wars. (Matt. 24:6) "It is argued that Jesus here intimates that wars are inevitable in the present state of the world." True, and so are offences inevitable (Matt. 18:7), but woe to the man who takes part in either one.

Sell his garment and buy a sword. (Luke 22:36-28) Would two swords be enough for eleven men, twelve counting Jesus? Then two would be enough for what? for Jesus' purpose: to show by an object lesson that Jesus was not to be defended by carnal methods. "Put up thy sword." If we are not to defend the kingdom of heaven by bloodshed, are we to shed blood for any cause?

Matt. 26:52. "If the aggressor is to perish, how shall this be if not by the sword of the defender." By another aggressor. Witness Babylon, which slew God's people, and was slain by other heathen.

Luke 11:21. "The teaching being that the guarding of Gods makes for further security and peace in the community." Policemen are part of the powers that be. Christians will respect them, obey them, pay taxes, but a child of God shedding blood is another thing.

John 18:16. "The deduction from this text is that when the issue is one of loyalty to a worldly kingdom, Jesus would have his servants fight." Yes, but loyalty to Christ's kingdom comes first. "We must obey God rather than men."

Mark 12:17. "The argument from this passage is that Jesus himself teaches what the Christian's duty to his state is as well as his duty to God." Hitler is the German state; should Christians in Germany do what he says-invade weak countries?. We must obey the state so long as the state's laws do not conflict with God's.

Paul's military metaphors. "Paul is continually using military metaphors without ever inferring that the soldier's life is completely incompatible with Christianity." Compare the unjust steward: the Savior used an unjust life "without ever inferring that" it "is completely incompatible with Christianity."

John 15:13. "Some of the noblest of men comforted themselves in the very act of going over the top by quoting these words of Jesus." When there are Christians on both sides, as in our Civil War, where is the comfort? Killing not heathen, but Christians. Christians will lay down their own lives; they will serve on minesweepers, but they will not mow down the lives of others, whether Christians or heathen.

No weakness in Jesus. "He was not the kind of pacifist that twaddled his fingers and did nothing." Right, he fought evil, and fought it hard: he smote the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he slew the wicked.

Lincoln's statement. "I have never yet been able to evolve any other way to settle the slave problem except by drawing the sword." Two wrongs do not make a right. Moreover, slavery existed in Jesus' day, but he did not meet it by a sword. His spiritual sword (Eph. 6:17) is to cut into men's hearts and changes them from the inside. Literal swords do not change hearts. We may not do evil that good may come (Rom. 3:8).

Force to get justice. "No one who is a Christian can support force that is backing up injustice. We must determine what the motivation of our force is. Is it to help maintain justice?" Germans are taught they are fighting for justice and liberation from English tyranny. We Americans know their leaders are deceitful, but those lads believe they are dying for as just a cause as ours. Anyway, it is wrong to kill whether one is backing up injustice or justice. "When he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not, but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously." (I Pet. 2:23).

Policeman's club. A policeman clubbed people in making a path to go into a burning building to rescue a woman. Good, but he did not kill. Had he killed anybody, what gain tho he rescued the woman?

Quoting Lyman Abbott. "You ask me what Jesus meant by `Resist not evil.' He meant for you not to resist evil when it assails your personal interest, but that you may resist it to the death if need be, when it assails those whom it is your duty to protect." Were Christ in person being assailed today, would not American soldiers protect him to the death? But Christ would not allow it.

In the garden. "At the close of his life when the temple police came to arrest him, he confronted them and they fell backward to the ground, and not until his disciples had escaped did he suffer himself to be led away by the police. Whatever power he used on this occasion, the effect was physical." In none of the gospels is the idea given that he used power to knock them down-he could have called legions of angels had such been his motive. Nor is the idea presented that he refused to allow himself to he taken till his disciples ran off. But even if he had done those things, he did not kill, nor did he allow it.

All perish. "When Peter came to the defense of his Master, he told him to put up the sword, or they would all perish." I say respectfully such is a perversion of the Word. Put up thy sword, why? to save the eleven? Jesus said. "My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence." To save the eleven? No. Why? "My kingdom is not from hence."

The church's function. "The Church's function is to inspire men at every sacrifice to transform a pagan world into a kingdom of righteousness and justice on earth." Right, but how? By bloodshed and carnal force? If so, it defeats its own purpose, for bloodshed and carnal force are pagan. The devil is not to he fought with the devil's methods. Jesus could have called legions of angels and could have transformed a Pagan world into a kingdom of righteousness and justice on the earth by physical force, but that is not his way. A kingdom built on blood will die by it.

The ancient heroes. "It is not to be forgotten that the writer of Hebrews counts among the glories of faith that it inspired the ancient heroes to fight successfully the forces that opposed what seemed to be the way of God for men." Right, and so must we. We are to fight evil and all wickedness, but the weapons of our warfare are not carnal (II Cor. 10:5).