Teaching That Pacifism Is God’s Word
June 2, 2015
Two days after writing against Memorial Day, Israeliteindeed wrote another strange post, this time beginning with a photo of two men each holding up a gun and a Bible. Though posing in such a way is certainly bad taste, I suppose such a photo could be an attempt to state that God’s Word does not condemn using guns if they are used to protect justice, liberty, and the lives of innocent people in jeopardy. It could even be an attempt to state that God’s Word actually commands that force, including weaponry, be used to combat evil.
As distasteful as the photo is, it is also distasteful that Israeliteindeed would make use of the photo in her argument for pacifism. By doing so, she is likening those who do not believe as she does with those who appear to be insensitive extremists. Furthermore, in informing us that “this picture is making the rounds in social media”, she reveals that she is much more entrenched in the world’s culture than she claims. By reading volumes of opinions, most of which are undoubtably void of the Spirit, she is taking precious time away from the reading of God’s Word and of attending to that which God called her to do –to preach the Gospel of holiness, power, and Spirit-filled living.
As I have said, Israeliteindeed, whose messages used to be full of Truth, are now continually full of error. Instead of sticking to the preaching of the Word, she has fallen into that practice which many bloggers often fall: Using the Word of God but twisting it in order to promote their own doctrine, agenda, or political viewpoint, even racism; and particularly of late, racism against Jews.
I do not claim to know which came first –Israeliteindeed’s replacement theology (her belief that God retracted the covenantal promises He gave the Israelites and handed them instead to His Church), or her belief in pacifism. But whichever the case, both of these intertwined beliefs of hers are not supported by Scripture.
I have pointed out the errors of Israeliteindeed’s replacement theology many times over the last year, so I will focus now on her error of pacifism:
Israeliteindeed speaks about imitating the apostle Paul. Yet let’s look at his words in 2 Tim. 2:3 where he tells us to endure hardship “like a good soldier of Christ Jesus.” Why would Paul, if he was a pacifist, liken our service to Christ with that of a military servant? Paul goes on in verse 4: “No one serving as a soldier gets involved in civilian affairs –he wants to please his commanding officer.” Is there any mention of how (supposedly) evil it is to serve as an armed soldier? No, instead Paul insinuates that it is an honorable profession. In Eph. 6:10-17 where he compares our spiritual armory with that used in physical battle, there is no hint there either of any condemnation of it.
Let’s look at the passage where John the Baptist warns that those who do not repent “will be cut down and thrown into the fire.” (Luke 3:9) Different groups within the crowd, including some soldiers (v. 14), asked John what they should then do. (v. 10-14) What was John’s response to the soldiers? Did he say, “Oh, you soldiers are partakers of an ungodly, violent vocation and you must immediately quit. In fact, if you kill anyone, you are murderers and antichrist.” –? No, rather John told them, “Don’t extort money and don’t accuse people falsely –be content with your pay.” (v. 14) It is very clear that John was advising them to be content and act justly, and that they could remain being soldiers.
What about what Jesus taught? When He taught us, as individuals, to “not resist an evil person” (Mt. 5:39), which, by the way, we should compare with His command to refrain from throwing our pearls before swine (7:6), did our Lord say, “Do not resist a nation or group which comes against another nation or group with selfish, unjust intent”? Did Jesus ever deny that a country has a right and a responsibility to protect its citizens or request an ally nation to help do so? Did Jesus ever teach that a king does not have the right to order his servants to protect his kingdom? No, instead many of Jesus’ words teach the opposite. In fact, if we read Luke 22:36, we can see that there are times when Christ will directly order even individuals to carry a weapon.
In John 18:36 when our Lord states that if His Kingdom was presently of this world, His servants would fight to prevent His arrest, Jesus also, in using the word “now”, alludes to the Day when “the kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord” (Rev. 11:15), conquered by Him and “the armies of Heaven… riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean.” (19:14) We know these servants of Christ’s are the saints, for “(Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of the saints.)” (v. 8 ) Therefore, when “the kings of the earth and their armies gathered together to make war against the rider on the horse and His army” (v. 19), the wicked were killed –physically killed. (v. 21) For “With justice He [Christ Jesus] judges and makes war.” (v. 11) Jesus makes war. And He does so even now from His throne in Heaven in order to restrain evil from accomplishing full rule. (Ps. 144:1,2 // Mt. 10:34 // Rom. 13:1-7 // 2 Thes. 2:7 // 1 Peter 2:13,14)
Let’s look at Jesus’ words in Luke 14:31,32 where, in teaching about wisdom and about total, complete commitment to Him, He says, “Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king.” He then goes on to point out that any wise king would first evaluate his military power, and if found lacking, would quickly send a delegation to ask for terms of peace. By including such a word picture in His teachings, Jesus is treating war as a familiar, albeit unfortunate, part of human existence. In addition, He teaches that, although wars must happen throughout history, we are not to be alarmed by them (Mt. 24:6), and that we should keep in mind that when He came to earth, He “did not come to bring peace, but a sword.” (10:34)
So did Jesus or the apostles ever condemn the profession of serving in the military, the police force, or any government position that uses weaponry to combat those who commit injustice and illegal acts? No. Instead we read the opposite in Scripture. Rom. 13:1-7 tells us to submit to governing authorities, and because all of them have been established by God (v. 1), to rebel against them would be to rebel against what God has instituted. (v. 2) It tells us that such authorities bear the sword as God’s servants (v. 4) and because they are God’s servants, we are to pay taxes and revenue so that they may be paid. (v. 6,7) Moreover, we are to honor them and pay them respect (v. 7), and contrary to what Israeliteindeed is propagating, allegiance to one’s governing authority that is trying to do good is not to be deemed “patriotic idolatry”. Rather it is called “submission”, and that “for the Lord’s sake” (1 Peter 2:13) –submission “to every authority instituted among men… [because they are there] to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right.” (v. 13,14)
Consequently, as we read the Word of God, we can understand that those who carry (and use) weapons for the good of society are God’s servants. Should we then believe Israeliteindeed’s statements, or do we believe Scripture’s statements? Should we tolerate it when someone continues to disobey the LORD’s command, “Do not speak evil about the ruler of your people”? (Acts 23:5) Government rules. Those who speak with arrogance and animosity against it speak foolishly, exposing their rebellion against God Himself. They disclose how truly spoiled they are and show their ignorance about what huge sacrifices have been made so that they can live as well off as they do. Yes, the believer’s “citizenship is in Heaven” (Phil. 3:20), but while in the body, one’s citizenship is also within one’s earthly country, and everyone who enjoys the privileges of that country has a responsibility, “for the Lord’s sake” (1 Peter 2:13), to that country. (Titus 3:1)
Everyone who receives protection and other benefits because of one’s government, is, under God, required to contribute back to that government. If someone’s conscience does not allow for them to serve in roles where there exists a possibility that would necessitate the taking of a life, then that is a privilege a fair government affords. Nevertheless, to implement an enforcement that restrains evil and punishes evil-doers is a God-ordained role governments are responsible to fulfill and those who are willing to help with that should be appreciated and respected.
God’s Word repeatedly teaches that the law of justice is to be upheld. Back in Exodus God speaks about courts of law. In 21:23-25, He commands, “But if there is serious injury, you are to take life for life, eye for eye… wound for wound…” This is not to be done by individuals taking revenge, but to be enforced by governing authorities as a way to hinder and punish wrong-doers. As Prov. 17:15 says, “Acquitting the guilty and condemning the innocent –the LORD detest them both.” God wants those who persecute the innocent, as well as all those who are guilty, to be punished, for “blows and wounds cleanse away evil.” (20:30) However, if righteous people give way to the wicked, they themselves can expect to become polluted. (25:26)
The Word of God is replete with positive words about those who are servants of justice and righteousness, making no distinction concerning those in military position. In Luke 7:9 we read of Jesus giving a high commendation regarding a centurion, saying, “I tell you, I have not found such great faith even in Israel.” Undoubtably, this centurion had at times passed on the order to reprimand lawbreakers with the sword (see v. 7,8), yet Jesus mentions nothing about any requirement of renouncing his military connection. We can also read about Cornelius, the centurion, who was “devout, God-fearing, generous to the poor, and who prayed to God regularly.” (See Acts 10:2) There was also “one of his soldiers who was a devout man” (v. 7) whom Cornelius (due to the command of an angel) sent with two others to ask Peter to come (v. 3-8) and tell them “everything the Lord has commanded you to tell us.” (v. 33) The Holy Spirit came on that large group whom Cornelius had assembled to hear Peter’s message (v. 24,27,44), yet Scripture mentions nothing about Cornelius being required to give up his military position “in what was known as the Italian Regiment.” (v. 1) If it was necessary that he or anyone else do so, would we not read of the command in Scripture? Instead, we often see Scripture commending soldiers.
The song of Deborah and Barak is one such place where Scripture honors warriors who defeated the foe. (Judges ch. 5) Jaal, who pierced Sisera’s temple and killed him (v.26,27) is blessed with highest blessing. (v. 24) But cursed –by “the angel of the LORD” (v. 23)– are the people of Meroz “because they did not come to help the LORD, to help the LORD against the mighty.” (Same verse) The Word makes it clear that being God’s servant to war against evil –physically (as well as spiritually)– is an honorable task. Oddly, Israeliteindeed has told us not to use the accounts of Old Testament wars to mold our theology on this issue, yet we know that all Scripture is inspired and profitable for doctrine. (2 Tim. 3:16 // 2 Peter 1:20,21) Heb. 11:32-34 certainly upholds this Truth, for we can read there of those commended “who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised.” We cannot allegorize this, for those being referred to are warriors specifically named. They are Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel and the prophets, and we know all these were God’s servants whom God used at different times to defeat His enemies. As verse 34 says of them, “and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies.” For these accomplishments these people are commended in God’s Word.
It is shameful to incorrectly handle the Word of Truth (2 Tim. 2:15) and it is eternally dangerous for such teachers and their listeners. (1 Tim. 4:16) Scripture, not one’s bias, must be used to interpret Scripture, and it must be done as led by the Spirit, not by men. There is a difference between verses such as Rom. 12:17 –“Do not repay anyone evil for evil” and that which says, a few verses later, “He [a governing authority figure] is God’s servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer.” (13:4) Rightly dividing between “Blessed are the meek” (Mt. 5:5) and “Rebuke with all authority” (Titus 2:15) is important. Understanding the balance between “Love your enemies” (Mt. 5:44) and, “Rejoice, saints..! God has judged her for the way she treated you” (Rev. 18:20) is crucial. Truly, mishandling the Truth is to turn to meaningless talk (1 Tim. 1:6) and it is the outcome of those who esteem their own knowledge above God’s Word on the subject. (6:20,21)
In light of all this (as well as numerous other passages we could include from Scripture), there is no Biblical reason to disparage those who bear arms in order to thwart evil. Just as the Scriptures commend such servants of God, so should we. –Even though Israeliteindeed, and others who either influence her or applaud her, state the opposite.