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Posts Tagged ‘Gulf War’


With the possibility of military action against Syria (an act of war though we are not declaring war), it seems like a good time to talk about war, and just war theory in particular. To do this, I’ll be drawing from John Frame in The Doctrine of the Christian Life. He covers war under the 6th commandment. (Other books you may want to consider are: War, Peace and Christianity- Questions and Answers from a Just-War Perspective, and Between Pacifism and Jihad: Just War and Christian Tradition.)

First of all, we must recognize that war is a manifestation of the Fall brought about by Adam’s sin. People fight and war because they don’t have what they want (James 4). The roots of war are found in covetousness and bitterness. War itself is not just, but is brought about by sin directly or indirectly (seeking to redress the sin of another nation). For example, it was sin for Iraq to invade Kuwait. Their covetousness, our Saddam’s, drove them to do it. The coalition forces sought simply to end the unjust occupation of Kuwait.

As Christians, we need to remember that the kingdom of God is not advanced by the sword. This is one difference between Christianity and Islam. We seek conversions to spread the kingdom of God which is not of this world. It isn’t concerned with geo-political states. It transcends national boundaries. It is not advanced by “killing the heathens.” We recognize that holy war did take place in the time of the Old Testament. There it was an intrusion of God’s final judgment upon particular nations for their many grievous sins flowing out of their idolatry. Abraham couldn’t receive the Promised Land yet because their “sins were not yet full.” This anticipates the final “holy war” at the end of time which is initiated by Satan as he deceives and gathers the nations thru the 2 beasts he has invested with power as counterfeits to Christ and the Spirit.

This doesn’t mean there won’t be religious wars. The gospel can provoke a violent reaction from governments against their people (persecution) or other nations (war).

Scripture, as Frame notes, “respects the military vocation.” Citing John the Baptizer, repentant soldiers are not told to leave the military, but to serve well. Paul and the other Apostles never call for soldiers to leave their soldiering.

It is important for us to remember that no nation on earth is in a covenant relationship with God like Israel was in the Old Testament. No nation will therefore engage in a real holy war like they did. As a result, the rules for holy war in Deuteronomy 20 are not for us, being bound up in Israel’s unique covenant status with God.

Many believe the New Testament calls for pacifism. This is particularly true of the Anabaptist tradition. In their view, the state is necessarily evil, opposes God and as God’s people we are not to be allied to it, particularly in war.

“In the pacifist view, God permitted war during that time as a concession to Israel’s hardness of heart, as he then permitted divorce”

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