Jesus was not speaking as a prophet when he said, “You will hear of wars and rumours of wars.” Anyone with a basic understanding of history or politics knows that. Jesus had a point to make: how we respond to news of war.
What response did Jesus expect from his disciples? Christian responses to war have been polarized, as if Jesus said one of these: Continue reading “Jesus on war: pacifism, or just war?”
Open Romans 13:1-7.
We discussed what this passage says about the authority of the state. Now we turn to the question of whether God authorizes governments to conduct wars, and whether it authorizes Christians to kill enemies in war.
Romans 13:4 is the crucial verse, and I’m going to argue these points:
- carrying the sword refers to punishing wrongdoers, not prosecuting war;
- the New Testament does not instruct the state about war;
- followers of Jesus must not go to war, because our King forbids it.
Here’s the context:
Continue reading “Should Christians go to war? (Romans 13:1-7)”
It makes a difference who we label as “enemy.”
Turkish people are fascinating. The merchants of Turkey engage you in conversation, showing an interest in you as a human being before they try to sell you something. There’s one conversation I’ll never forget.
He had camels for hire. I mean, the camels were rather obvious. He walked with us for a bit. Learning we were Australians, he asked, “You’re visiting Gallipoli?” Gallipoli is the stuff of legend. The ANZAC troops landed there in World War I to capture the strategically important Dardanelles for the British. They held out bravely, though thousands lost their lives. 100 years later, Australians still remember the ANZACs with a public holiday each April. Continue reading “Who is our enemy? (Matthew 5:43)”
Should Christians go to war?
Open Matthew 5:43-48.
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus paints a picture of the earth restored under God’s government. Earthly governments have always relied on violence to conquer each other and build kingdoms. (See Why war?) Israel’s prophets envisaged a day when the Messiah would sort out their enemies and restore peace under God’s reign. Their useless swords would be repurposed as tines for the plough (Isaiah 2:4; Micah 4:3). It’s a wonderful vision. What a difference it would make to repurpose the world’s military spending — US $1.6 trillion dollars— to growing food instead of preparations to kill people!
So should the nations just demilitarize now? And if their enemies refuse, should God’s people unilaterally demilitarize? What would happen if we didn’t fight back? Continue reading “His kingdom in a violent world (Matthew 5:43-48)”
If you don’t understand who your enemy is, you fight the wrong people.
Open Matthew 4:1.
Why on earth would the Holy Spirit lead Jesus out into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil? Continue reading “The Spirit led Jesus to be tested? (Matthew 4:1)”
Jacob was petrified of facing Esau, until he found he had a bigger fight on his hands.
I hope that reading the Bible as the story of the God’s kingdom is helping unfold its core message to you. It really does make a huge difference. Even those who write commentaries on the Bible have difficulty making sense of the text if they miss this perspective. Continue reading “Discovering God’s army (Genesis 32:1-12)”
If you love high-drama action stories, you’ll love this! Abram left everything for the land where God promised he would establish his nation, yet the whole project is constantly under threat: Continue reading “The threat of war (Genesis 14:1-16)”
Honesty moment: do you skip over the genealogical lists when you read the Bible? Can’t see the significance? Genesis 10 lists the names of 70 nations, but there’s an intriguing message right in the middle. Continue reading “Why war? (Genesis 10)”