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, 9 Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates a brother or sister is still in the darkness. 1 John: 2:9 NIV
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Genesis 1:1
There was war in heaven and Satan was thrown from heaven.
Many scientists tell us the universe is 13.7 billion years old. What if Satan was thrown from heaven 13.7 billion years ago? Did Satan’s fall from heaven cause the universe to begin dying, as the universe expands it grows colder. The beginning of violence?
Scientists tell us that the earth is 4.5 billion years old. What if as God created animal life at each step of what scientist call evolution. Satan interfered and introduced death and violence each step of the way. Dinosaurs killed dinosaurs.
THE FALL OF MAN
Then God created Adam and Eve. They lived in the Garden of Eden as equals. They sinned and because of man’s stronger physic, man protected woman from the dangerous animals and evil men and used his greater strength to provide food and shelter. Man abused his strength and power over women.
Cain killed Abel. God protected Cain from revenge, but Cain and his descendants created cities and government and used the power of violence to protect thenselves. The sin of men brought about great violence.
God repented of creating man because of their violence. He started over with Noah and promised never to wipe out mankind again. God would find a way to overcome the sinfulness and violence of man without using a flood.
Man built violent and evil empires such as Sumer, Egypt and the Akkadian Empire. These empires used war and violence to control and enslave people.
GOD REVEALS HIMSELF
God began revealing himself to man and bringing about the salvation of man by becoming a friend to Abraham.
God sent Joseph to Egypt to save his family and Egypt. Joseph became vizier of Egypt during the reign of Amenemhat III. 1,2 Pharoah gave Joseph and his family a home in city of Avaris in the land of Goshen.
God blessed the Israelites, they had many children and there was a great multiplication of their numbers.
A pharaoh (Sobekhotep III)1. who did not know Joseph, enslaved the Israelites.
Then Dedumose II1,2 is confronted by Moses. God through many miracles convinces pharaoh to let his people go. 600,000 men, their wives and children leave Egypt. The pharaoh changes his mind and pursues the Children of Israel to the Red Sea. God fights for Israel and defeats Egypt, casting the pharaoh’s army into the sea.
God is leading his people to a way of nonviolence and love of enemy as he protects his people in weakness and they win a great victory.
God fights for Israel and they defeat Jericho and many other fortified cities. God is the protection of Israel.
THE TIME OF THE JUDGES
Often the Children of Israel refuse to depend on God and take their defense into their own hands. Sometimes they depend on God and win great victories in weakness, such as in the time of Gideon.
Through the law of Moses and the prophets, God teaches his people that he wants them to care for the widow and orphan, the poor and the helpless and to show compassion to the foreigner. God wants his people to trust him for protection.
FALLING INTO VIOLENCE LIKE THE NATIONS
In Deuteronomy 17: 14-20 Moses gives guidelines for a King.
Often the people take detours and do not depend on God for protection.3.
The people take a major detour and against the advice of Samuel crown Saul King.
The Kings do not follow the guidelines set by Moses.
Saul begins to depend on his own strength like the nations and loses his Kingdom to David.
David, a man after God’s own heart, defeats Goliath.
For hundreds of years during the time of the Judges, Israel did not maintain a standing army. The Israelites did not know war.
David, as King becomes a man of great violence. He depends on his own strength. Instead of depending on God, David hired foreign mercenaries to fight for Israel and to train soldiers for Israel.
David displays the sword of Goliath. Was he displaying his own great military prowess?
Because of his great violence, God does not allow David to build the Temple.
Solomon builds the temple. He also does not follow the guidelines set by Moses for a King. Solomon worships idols and has many wives. Solomon accumulates great wealth.
The Kingdom divides after the death of Solomon, some Kings allow God to fight for them and they are successful. Some Kings depend on themselves and end in defeat.
GOD PUNISHES ISRAEL
With the Babylonian capture of Judah, the King experiment ends.
God is showing his people that they will live in the nations and be a blessing to the nations.
With Ezra and Nehemiah, the people return to Israel so that the messiah can be born in Bethlehem and die and raise from the dead in Jerusalem in fulfillment of prophecy.
Alexander the Great conquers Jerusalem in 332 BC.
The Jews rebel in violence.
In 63 BC Pompey conquers Jerusalem for Rome.
The Jews rebel in violence.
God does not allow the Jews to win against their oppressors. God is leading them to be a blessing to all the nations and to live out among the nations, he does not allow the return to the rule of earthly kings of Israel.
JESUS, KING OF PEACE
Jesus is born.
He is tempted in the desert by the devil to take political power. The Kingdom of God on earth is not an earthly kingdom, but a Kingdom with members living in every nation.
Jesus preaches the Kingdom of God. He teaches us to feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, visit the prisoner to love our brother and sister and to love our enemy so that they can become our brother and sister.
Jesus sent out his 72 disciples representing the 72 nations of the earth as mentioned in Genesis. Jesus sees Satan fall like lightening from heaven. See Luke 10.
The zealots wanted to fight violently for freedom. Simon the zealot is Jesus disciple. But Jesus teaches peace.
Jesus died without resistance to conquer his enemies when he had 12 legions of angels at his disposal.
50 Jesus replied, “Do what you came for, friend. Then the men stepped forward, seized Jesus and arrested him. 51 With that, one of Jesus’ companions reached for his sword, drew it out and struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his ear. 52 “Put your sword back in its place,” Jesus said to him, “for all who draw the sword will die by the sword. 53 Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels? 54 But how then would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen in this way?” Matthew 26:50-54
After the resurrection Jesus sends his people to preach to every nation. His Kingdom is a part of every nation. Jesus allows persecution in Jerusalem to push the Christians into all the world.
Even when Jesus ascended to heaven, the disciples were asking when he would restore the earthly kingdom of Israel:
6 Then they gathered around him and asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” 7 He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Acts 1 6-8.
Jesus said we must be willing to die in the same way:
Jesus said: 27 And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple. Luke 14:27
Paul continues the idea of a Kingdom of God that does not include a earthly kingdom. Paul tells us Christians do not fight with weapons of the world such as guns and knives and swords, but put on the armor of God. Ephesians 6.
11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Ephesians 6: 11,12
The Ephesians passage is reminiscent of Luke 10. Demons rule the nations.
The Jews rebel violently against Rome and suffer great defeat in 70 AD, just as Jesus predicts.
The church depends on God for protection.
Prostitutes, tax collectors and soldiers become followers of Jesus.
CHRISTIANS TURN TO VIOLENCE
Most Christians were pacifist but as time passed soldiers began to remain in the military. In 170 AD, the first soldiers to become Christian and to remain in the military are confirmed historically.
Christians in the military became a problem for the church.
The 300 Bishops in the Council of Nicaea (325 AD) addressed this problem and called Christians to leave the military.
“Those who endured violence and were seen to have resisted, but who afterwards yielded to wickedness, and returned to the army, shall be excommunicated for ten years.” Excerpt from Cannon 12 of the Council of Nicaea.
Then St. Ambrose, a master politician, was made bishop by popular demand. Ambrose called for the killing of pagans by Christians. The preaching of the gospel was put on hold and earthly power was grasped by Christians. Romans and Christians discriminated against pagans.
Soon only Christians could become soldiers in the Roman Army.
The military was used to force people to become “Christian.” Instead of preaching the gospel and teaching people to choose Kingdom of God through love, Christians turn to the violence of the world.
St. Augustine wrote about just war. Even his watered-down teachings concerning violence were twisted and ignored.
Christians fought for land and power and safety and did not trust God for protection.
Christians fought the Crusades to conquer Jerusalem and kill the Muslims. Christians are not loving their enemies and preaching the gospel to Muslims, they are killing their enemies like the nations of the earth.
Christian governments prove they are no better at peace than were the Empires of Rome and Egypt. The Holy Roman Empire, France and England fought constantly, Christian slaughtering Christian.
Thomas Aquinas refines the Just War theory.
Nations continue to ignore the teachings of Jesus. Nations and Christians alike refuse to follow Aquinas’ Just War theory.
Protestants and Catholics fought and killed each other. In the 30-year war 1/3 of the population of Europe died as this religious and political conflict raged. Were Christians becoming more violent than the world?
VIOLENTLY CONQUERING THE WORLD
Pope Alexander VI issued the Papal Bull ‘Inter Caetera,” on May 4, 1493. This came to be called the “Doctrine of Discovery” used by “Christian” European Empires such as Spain, England and France to conquer foreign lands in North and South America, Africa, Australia and India for profit. The Doctrine of Discovery allowed the United States to legally and with the blessing of the church steal land from the Native Americans.
The Unites States has fought many wars with Christian nations. Fighting for land, resources and power.
The United States became a nation as a result of the Revolutionary War in direct disobedience to Paul:
2 Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bringjudgment on themselves. Romans 13:2
Today many of the most vocal war mongers in America call themselves Christian.
In 1918 after Germany signed the peace treaty, Germans were starving. The US Congress voted not to send wheat to Germany. Nearly 1,000,000 Germans starved to death as a result. Because to the starvation Germans elected Hitler. If we had feed the hungry as instructed by Jesus could we have prevented World War II? And with that one act perhaps we could have prevented the Cold War? And the Korean and Vietnam Wars? See What about Hitler.
Jimmy Carter submerged the US in endless war in the Middle East to ensure large quantities of cheap oil for America. Military contractors make huge profits from the war in the Middle East. Soldiers protect oil wells to ensure profits of oil companies and the war continues. See “America’s War for the Greater Middle East.”
Can we in America be saved from God’s judgment for our violence?
Europe and America brought slaves from Africa. America fought the Civil War in direct disobedience to the teachings of Jesus. Christian brother killing Christian brother. This war was about power and greed. The south rebelling against unfair taxes and refusing to free their slaves. The North demanding taxes and politicians using the end of slavery as a means to gain political support. Great Britain ended slavery without war. Why not America?
We can see through history how true are the words of Jesus: Live by the sword die by the sword. America’s war and death continues in the Middle East as Christians fail to follow Jesus’ words of peace.
HAS SATAN WON?
Today Satan still seems to rule the Christian nations, as Christians fail to resist the temptation to rule through worldly politics. The same temptation Jesus overcame in Matthew 4: 8-10.
8 Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. 9 “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.” 10 Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.” Matthew 4: 8-10. NIV
Jesus and Paul gave us a way to defeat Satan if we only take it. See Luke 10 and Ephesians 6.
Today Jesus still calls us to love our enemies and preach the gospel to all creation. Our brothers and sisters, our fellow members of the Kingdom of God live in every nation.
How can we feed the hungry, house the homeless and give water to the thirsty when we join the military and kill the hungry and thirsty? Or join the military make more people hungry and thirsty? How can we love our brothers and sisters in Christ if we join the military and kill them? How can we love our enemies when we join the military and kill them?
Jesus will continue to build his Kingdom even when Christians do not follow his gospel of peace.
Remember that Jesus saw Satan falling when he sent out the 72. Jesus defeated evil on the cross and has won the victory even if Christians do not follow his teaching. Whatever our sin, we can all expect Jesus to work in our lives as he teaches each of us to become more like him.
Jesus will have the victory.
Coming soon: A new heavens and a new earth without death and violence.
Pharaohs and Kings: A Biblical Quest by David Rohl.
Patterns of Evidence, The Exodus, Documentary by Tim Mahoney