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 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 many 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, 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?

Reasons Christians Give to Say Violence by Christians is Legitimate

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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.

Does Just War Exist?

by Jon Kauffman

I am not convinced that it is possible for a Christian to fight a just war.

Aquinas’s conditions for a Just War – jus ad bellum

  1. The war must have a just cause – eg against invasion, or for self-defence – and not to acquire wealth or power.
  2. The war must be declared and controlled by a proper authority, eg the state or ruler.
  3. The war must be fought to promote good or avoid evil, with the aim of restoring peace and justice after the war is over.

Later conditions developed by other Christians – jus in bello

  1. The war must be a last resort when all peaceful solutions have been tried and failed, eg negotiation.
  2. The war should be fought with ‘proportionality’, with just enough force to achieve victory and only against legitimate targets, ie civilians should be protected.
  3. The good which is achieved by the war must be greater than the evil which led to the war.
An altarpiece in Ascoli Piceno, Italy, by Carlo Crivelli (15th century)
Thomas Aquinas, PD

Reasons I question the possibility of Just War.

  • I do not see anything in the teachings of Jesus that allow for Just War of violence by Christians.
  • I do not see anything in the teachings of the church prior to St. Ambrose that states Christians may be involved in violence.
  • The prophets such as Isaiah and Jeremiah began teaching a way foreshadowing non-violence.
  • How does a Christian soldier stop fighting if he finds out he in an unjust situation?
  • How does a Christian stop a war that does not meet the just war criteria of Aquinas?
  • If a countries foreign policy does not have a system to test each military endeavor to determine if it is a just war, can a Christian fight in such a military?
  • How is a war determined to be just by the US government?
  • Christians in Germany and Christians in Great Britain both thought they were fighting a just war in World War one. If both sides claim to have Just cause can both sides be following Jesus when they declare Just War?
  • Are we arrogant when we claim our side is right and God is protecting our country when we attack other Christian nations who think they are fighting a just war?
  • Osama Bin Laden in his letter to America after 9/11 talked about the decades of bombing of innocent people in the Middle East by the US and it’s allies. If he was fighting an invading enemy and thought God was on his side and would help him win, was he fighting a just war?
  • Some Christians claim that any war the United States fights is a just war. If we allow the government to make moral decisions for us, are we worshiping the government?
  • If we allow the government to protect us instead of trusting God for protection, are we worshiping the government?
  • If we support a government fighting an unjust war are we endangering our souls?
  • What do we do with the teachings of Jesus that contradict Aquinas’ just war theology?
  • When I was young I was tempted to join the military. I did not. When I start thinking about the answers to the above questions, I cannot come up with good reasons how a Christian could violently support any empire that has ever existed while following the teachings of Jesus.

Making arguments Taking Scripture Out of Context

Some Christians take Biblical passages out of context to justify violence. A few examples:

Romans 13.

Romans 13 says we are to be subject to the ruling authorities, however Paul never gives permission to Christians to disobey God in order to be subject to the ruling authorities.

Some Christians even use Romans 13 to justify wars such as the Revolutionary War. Paul was unjustly imprisoned by a repressive Roman government. The injustice of Great Britain against the American colonies was far less than the injustice St. Paul experienced from Rome. I believe the Revolutionary War was not a just war in the eyes of St. Paul.

I am of the opinion we must read Romans 13 in the light of Romans 12. Is it possible to overcome evil with good when you are bombing innocent women and children.

Can a Christian fight in a military taking revenge for 9/11 and protecting Americas wealth and easy living by protecting oil wells owned by American companies?

I think we must also take these passages in context with Romans 8:28. God always brings about good for those who love him through the actions of evil men. We do not need to join in their evil activities.

For the first 3 centuries of Christianity, three times the Roman Empire tried to wipe out Christians like Hitler tried to wipe out Jews. These Christians remained faithful because God works for the good of those who love him through all things.

We can also compare the good that God brings when our enemies conquer us as compared to the good brought about through God using Babylon to bring about good for the Jews when they were taken captive and taken to Babylon.

God uses evil men to control the violence of evil men.

Matthew 8:5-13

Some Christians have mentioned to me that when Jesus healed the centurion’s servant, he was demonstrating that violence by Christians is acceptable. The centurion was an enemy soldier. It is possible the centurion was one of the soldiers involved in killing Jews on crosses, as was common at that time.

Rather than demonstrating that violence was acceptable, Jesus was showing us how to treat our enemy. Jesus healing the centurion’s servant is like an American Christian supplying Osama bin Laden with a dialysis machine in 2002. Or an American doctor helping a close adviser of Hitler during World War Two.

Ephesians 6

Amazingly some have suggested that because Paul compared Christian service to military service that this means it is acceptable for Christians to use violence. In verse 12 Paul clearly says that our struggle is not against flesh and blood. And in 2 Corinthians 10:4 Paul says the weapons we fight with are not weapons of the world.

Ephesians 6 is showing us that fighting evil like Jesus fights evil is dangerous and we will suffer losses. Fighting for Jesus is a real war. More real than any war fought by Kingdoms of this world. But we have the resurrection on our side.

When we sign up to fight for Jesus, we experience true freedom. It is a freedom that does not need a government to pamper us in our faith. A Christian can live under a government run by Boka Horam and die by the sword a few days later and have greater freedom than a Christian living in the United States.

Today completes the seventh year that I’ve been posting a daily picture on Twitter; I have yet to grow tired of the beauty around me. Picture: Copyright © 2020 by Leon Kauffman

Matthew 4:8-10

Some Christians claim that we as Christians have the responsibility to use violence if we are in government. Jesus passed the test of government in Matthew 4. Why are we different than Jesus?

Exodus

God demonstrates in the crossing of the Red Sea that he will fight for his children.

Throughout history many Christians have been miraculously delivered from evil men. More Christians died for their faith in the 20th century than throughout all history before that.

Living as a nonviolent Christian is not safe in this world. But I would like to suggest that it is safer to be killed by our enemies when we are loving them than it is to live in the temporary freedom and wealth earned by killing our enemies.

Copyright © 2020 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.

Reasons Christians Give to Say Violence by Christians is Legitimate

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Reasons Christians Give to Say Violence by Christians is Legitimate

By Jon Kauffman

I have been asking Christians why they feel it’s acceptable for Christians to use violence for 40 years. Listed below are reasons I have been hearing. I have provided a link to my response. I am planning to post responses to more of the reasons.

Arguments people have given me to suggest that it is acceptable for Christians to us violence:

  1. Protecting your family when violent people come.
    See my response:

    Agent X, Blogger, “Intruder”.

    How Jesus Fights Wars
    .
  2. Protecting your country when violent armies come.
    See my response:

    The Flag and Daniel.

    What About Hitler?
    .
  3. Protecting religious freedom.
    See my response:

    Should a Christian Fight for Freedom?

    How Jesus Fights Wars.
    .
  4. Protecting vulnerable neighbors when violent people come.
    See my response:

    SERMON OF SUBVERSION: SERMON ON THE MOUNT

    Violence and Responses.
    .
  5. They feel like they are doing the right thing.
    See my response:

    Hiroshima and Mass Murder?
    .
  6. Some say we have the right to self-defense. Keith Giles wrote a Christian Bill of Rights. See it here: “Christian Bill of Rights.” Pastor Giles did not include self-defense and I agree.
    .
  7. Soldiers have good medical benefits. Should a Christian put medical benefits as a higher priority than following the teachings of Jesus?
    .
  8. Soldiers have good educational opportunities. Should a Christian put education as a higher priority than following the teachings of Jesus?
    .
  9. The military teaches discipline. It takes great discipline to follow the teachings of Jesus. Which is a higher priority?
    .
  10. Veterans are recognized as heroes.
    See my response:

    Why I Can’t Thank Veterans.

    What Do We Owe Veterans? Or The Last Native American
    .
  11. Theologians such as St. Augustine and Martin Luther have justified Christian use of violence. The issue is settled and we don’t need to talk about it anymore. See my response:

    St Augustine’s Mistake.

    Greatest Heresy of All Time? Just War Doctrine?

    Does Just War Exist?

    The Authority We Follow
    .
  12. Paul used the Armor of God (Military references) as a metaphor for Christian spiritual warfare. Ephesians 6:11-17. Because Paul referenced military equipment, that means he approved of Christians participating in military violence.
    See my response:

    The Armor of God, Ephesians 6:11-17
    .
  13. Jesus healed the Centurion’s servant and did not ask him to leave the military. Matthew 8:5-13.
    See my response:

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

    OUR FRIEND TALKS PACIFISM
    .
  14. Romans 13 teaches that Christians are to be subject to the state.
    See my response:

    Does Romans 13 Justify Christian Participation in Violence?

    Can Christians Join the US Military?


    .
  15. John the Baptist gave the soldiers advice and did not ask them to leave the military.
    See my response:

    Does John the Baptist Say Christians may Use Violence?
    .
  16. Christian’s must use violence to protect their constituents when they become involved in politics.
    See my response:

    Jesus’ Kingdom, The Kingdom of God

    Why I Won’t be Voting in 2020.
    .
  17. Christ himself said, If a man does not own a sword, let him sell his cloak and buy one. Luke 22:36. I follow Micheal Snow’s blog. Michael has written an excellent response to this argument.

    Two Swords: Enough. By Michael Snow.

    “No More of This!” (Why Jesus Armed and disarmed Peter) by Brian Zahnd.
    .
  18. The sixth commandment “Thou shalt not kill.” should read, “Thou shalt not murder”. If you are killing at the request of the state, it is not murder.
    See my response:

    Hiroshima and Mass Murder

    Who is God? Thou Shalt Not Kill
    .
  19. God commanded Israel to war against the inhabitants of the Promised Land. See my response:

    Seven Reasons the Old Testament Cannot be used to Justify Christian Violence

    Mary, Warrior of God.

    Does Isaiah 2:3-4 Teach Christian Non-Violence?

    God Is Not Violent: Korah’s Rebellion

    Jason Potterfield discusses Violence in the Old Testament:

    New Series: Violence In The Old Testament by Jason Potterfield
    Violence In The Old Testament. Part 2: The Problem by Jason Potterfield
    Violence In The Old Testament Part 3: Filter The Bible Through Jesus by Jason Potterfield
    .
  20. Most churches and their leaders support the Christian use of violence.
    See my response:

    St. Augustine’s Mistake
    .
  21. Pacifism is not safe and secure. Pacifists must depend on non-pacifists to defend them physically.
    See my response:

    “Neutering Male Courage.”
    .
  22. 1 Peter 2:13-17 justifies Christian military service.
    See my response:

    Does 1 Peter 2:13-17 Justify Christian Violence?
    .
  23. 2 Timothy 2: 3 & 4 justifies Christian military service.
    See my response:

    Does 2 Timothy 2:3 & 4 Justify Christian Military Service
    .
  24. Evidence of Pacifism in Early church is too fragmentary to know what they thought.
    See my Response:

    Does Isaiah 2:3-4 Teach Christian Non-Violence?

    SERMON OF SUBVERSION: SERMON ON THE MOUNT
    .
  25. “Pacifism is a satanic belief system designed to hurt innocent people and neuter male courage.”
    See my response:

    “Neutering Male Courage.”

    How Jesus Fights Wars.
    .
  26. “But for me,the strongest evidence that Christians can join the military in good conscience is God’s command to protect the innocent.”
    See my response:

    Brandon Adams, Veteran, Teacher
    .
  27. If Christians did not fight as soldiers, the whole world would fall apart. Christianity would be destroyed and civilization would end.
    .
  28. To prevent future terrorist attacks. Terrorists would destroy our country if Christians did not fight.
    See my response:

    “Neutering Male Courage.”
    .
  29. It is foolish for Christians to depend on evil people for protection.
    See my response:
    .
  30. Jesus is violent in the book of Revelation and uses violence to bring justice. If Jesus is violent we also can be violent.
    See my response:

    Does Revelation 19 Justify Violence by Christians?

    See how Jesus fights: “Holy War.” video by Greg Boyd
    .
  31. Christians can fight in any war. The war does not need to be just. The only requirement is that the Christian must fight heroically.

    Can Christians Join the US Military?
    .
  32. Ryan Callahan has written one of the best defenses for Christian violence than I have heard or read over the last 40 years of asking. Ryan said, “Good to meet you Jon. I agree that as followers of Jesus we should be men of peace. The Bible is also clear in 1 Corinthians 13:7 that love always protects. Defending your family is not a matter of violence. It is a matter of love.” Closely related is Phil Robinson’s defense of Christian violence.
    See my Response:

    Protecting Our Families Like Jesus

    See the very interesting conversation between Ryan and Agent X.

    Ryan Callahan, Author, Blogger and Everyday Minister
    .
  33. My friend, Mark Netum told me a story that he felt demonstrated the need of Christians to fight.

    Mark Nettum, Veteran, Retired. Does Matthew 13:24-29 Teach Nonviolence?
    .
  34. “I have no problem with people Christian or otherwise for that matter choosing not to defend themselves ( particularly if doing so would involve violence) I do have an issue with people who refuse to defend OTHER people and/or tell people that it is wrong to use their legal right to self defense.” I found this quote on Christian Forums.

    See my Response:

    Can Christians Join the US Military?


    .
  35. Philippians 2:25 and 2 Timothy 2:3,4 clearly justify serving as a soldier.
    See my response:

    Do Philippians 2:25 and 2 Timothy 2:3,4 Justify Violence by Christians?
    .
  36. In Numbers 32, two tribes of Israel wanted to stay in Gilead and discontinue fighting. Moses spoke severely to them therefor we also should fight in war.
    .
  37. One friend said, “Jesus often saves people in the military so it must be alright to work in the military.” Jesus saves people who once were prostitutes and thieves. That does not indicate that is acceptable for people to remain prostitutes and thieves.
    .

What arguments for violence have I missed? Please feel free to point out any errors in my thinking.

A Few New Testament References That Support A Nonviolent Position:

What arguments for violence have I missed? Please feel free to point out any errors in my thinking.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is dirk-willem-2.jpg
In the Sixteenth Century at least 1500 Anabaptists were tortured and killed because they insisted on living by the teachings of Jesus. An Anabaptist, Dirk Willem was imprisoned to be killed.

Dirk escaped prison and was fleeing for his life. He crossed a pond covered by a thin layer of ice. His pursuer fell through the ice. Dirk turned back and saved his enemy from drowning. The man he saved, grabbed him and held him for arrest. On May 16, 1569, Dirk Willem was executed by fire.

I absolutely agree with you that war is not compatible with Christian belief. It’s the reason I long ago ceased to call myself a Christian. I believe that there are circumstances in which war is justified and would cite the activity of Adolf Hitler and his followers. Had the rest of the world permitted the Nazi’s to continue with their programme, which included unspeakable violence against large numbers of our fellow humans based on their ethnicity/religious beliefs/failure to meet a supposed ideal of physical and mental perfection, neither you nor I would be alive today. Frank Parker

I find Frank’s honesty refreshing. I remain a Christian and believe it is wrong for Christians to participate in war.

Many times the use of violence seems logical and right, but Jesus taught non-violence and gave us the example of a life and death of non-violence. Nowhere in the teaching of Jesus is violence taught as an acceptable alternative to non-violence.

Jesus as the Son of God has the right to ask his followers to live lives of non-violence if that is what he wants to do.

40 years and I have not found any reasons that Christians use to justify violence, that I felt is convincing.

When We Disagree.

Contact me: jonkauffman01@gmail.com.

Copyright © 2019 by Jon Kauffman Permission to reprint in whole or in part is gladly granted, provided full credit and a live link are given.
Permission is gladly given to re-blog this post.

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