Greatest Heresy of All Time? Just War Doctrine?

By Jon Kauffman

Has the Just War doctrine created more division, hatred, and heretics in the church than any other doctrine?

Who is more heretical? A Mennonite who causes his church to divide arguing about the color of the carpet or a person killing our brothers and sisters in Christ because the government told them they were fighting a just war and needed to kill these Christians?

I recently read an article by Frank Viola and Greg Boyd, “Who are the Real Heretics.”

Viola and Boyd say that in the New Testament, “If a person divided a genuine church, they were guilty of heresy. Consequently, a person could be a heretic with the truth!” 1

Many people who ascribe to the Just War Doctrine are not heretics, but the Just War Doctrine causes a situation that creates heretics.

What doctrine has created a situation where more Christians kill each other? What doctrine has caused more hatred and division in the church?

What if Christians were willing to die like Jesus died on the cross? What would have happened in past wars if all Christians involved refused to fight and had allowed the enemy soldiers to kill them instead?

How many soldiers would have been willing to follow the orders of Hitler?

How many soldiers would have been willing to follow the orders of Winston Churchill?

In some wars, members of the same congregation have fought on both sides.

Christians fighting Christians killed 1/3 of the European population during the 30 Years War from 1618 to 1648. All sides claiming just cause.

In the American Civil War both sides claimed they were fighting a just war. Both sides claimed to be Christian. Between 620,000 and 750,000 soldiers died in that war, Christian brother killing and hating Christian Brother.

In World War I, both sides claimed to be Christian. About 20,000,000 people died. Over half were innocent civilians. Both sides claimed they were fighting a just war. Christians from Germany, Austria, Hungary, Bulgaria and Christians and Muslims from the Ottoman Empire killed Christians from Great Britain, France, Russia, Italy, Romania, Japan, and the United States. And vis versa.

If World War I had not been fought, perhaps World War II and the Cold War could have been avoided.

Consider the teachings of Jesus and his disciples.

Jesus said, 13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” John 15:13. NIV

Jesus died on the cross and said of his enemies as he died. “Forgive them for they don’t know what they are doing”

Jesus said, “Whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.” Luke 14:27. NIV

John said, Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates a brother or sister is still in the darkness. 1 John: 2:9 NIV

1 Who are the Real Heretics

Does Just War Exist?

Jesus and the Roman Centurion, Matthew 8:5-13

Reasons Christians Give to Say Violence by Christians is Legitimate

All My Posts (Links)

Copyright © 2021 by Jon Kauffman. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is gladly granted when used to further the Kingdom of God. Permission is gladly given to re-blog this post.

Author: Jon

Jon Kauffman graduated from Goshen College, earning a BA in Religion. Jon attended a Mennonite Church while growing up and currently attends the Salvation Army Church. Jon works as a drafter at TrueNorth Steel, Fargo, ND.

3 thoughts on “Greatest Heresy of All Time? Just War Doctrine?”

  1. Wondering if you have ever seen the movie “Joyeux Noel”? It’s about the truce on Christmas Eve, where German, French, and Scottish soldiers laid down their weapons to observe Christmas together for a few hours before going back to the trenches to try to kill one another. (Very what’s-wrong-with-this-picture.)


    1. I did not see the movie. I read Silent Night, The Remarkable Christmas Truce of 1914, by Stanely Weintraub. I think it is the same story.


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