Is Christianity the Cause of Wars?

It gets very old hearing that Christianity is the cause of wars.  If we define Christianity as any group of people who claim to follow Christ, the accusation may be true.  But if we are talking about the actual followers of Christ the claim can never be true.

To follow Christ, the Prince of Peace, is to walk in His footsteps.  It is to apply His teachings and the teachings of His apostles to every aspect of our lives.  There is no excuse for the crusades and other political wars fought in the guise of Christianity by the ignorant and misguided.  The Kingdom of God is enlarged by persuasion, not coercion.  Christ-followers pray for their enemies and win them over by love, respect and service.

I am tempted to belabor this point with a bunch of scripture quotations (the source or our worldview as Christ-followers) but nearly everyone has access to the New Testament and can do their own searching.

You’ll find a lot of fighting in the Old Testament.  These incidents, however, fall into the category of God-sanctioned punishment, defense and survival.  Often, Israel was punished for disobedience (idolatry, debauchery, injustice, etc.) by infidel armies from surrounding nations.  They were preceded by prophetic warnings.  As they conquered Canaan, they were the instrument of punishment (Leviticus 18:24-28).

Don’t make the mistake of buying-in to the rant of those who parrot the nonsense they hear elsewhere.  The teachings of Christ and His apostles comprise the only hope for peace in this fallen, war-torn world.

Advertisements

13 Comments

Filed under Atheism/Theism, Christlikeness, conversion, Culture Wars, discipleship, Good & Evil, Ignorance, Infidelity, Jesus Christ, Kingdom Growth, morality, Peace, Politics, Prophecy, Religion, Respect, Theism

13 responses to “Is Christianity the Cause of Wars?

  1. Thank you for this short post. I also get tired of Christians being blamed for anything and everything that one–or a few–so-called “Christians” do. War is certainly one of those things.

    Again, well-said and thank you.

  2. Hi Dwight, you wrote,

    But if we are talking about the actual followers of Christ the claim can never be true.

    This is an example of the “no true Scotsman” fallacy.

    The fact of the matter is, within Christian doctrines, you can find support for a wide variety of beliefs. Unfortunately, their God has not provided them a method for sifting the true from the erroneous.

  3. dwhitsett

    Hi Robert,
    I knew a comment similar to yours was coming. I tried to think of a way of saying “no true Christian” without actually saying it but, alas, couldn’t think of anything better than what I wrote.
    There is room for the wide variety you talk about because so much is left up to the individual and the recommended attitude regarding those who differ with us is found in Romans 14. But when it comes to the core beliefs, the New Testament is quite clear. This is especially true in regard to our conduct toward fellow-followers and those outside of those followers.
    There’s not much (if any) wiggle room. I’m not aware of any passage that gives Christians permission to use coercion as an evangelistic method or as a way of dealing with those who disagree.
    Most of the so-called “Christian Wars” (an oxymoron) were political ones motivated by decidedly non-Christian motives.
    Thanks for the opportunity to expand on the subject.

  4. Dwight, you wrote,

    But when it comes to the core beliefs, the New Testament is quite clear. This is especially true in regard to our conduct toward fellow-followers and those outside of those followers.

    But can you blame other Christians for considering the whole of the Bible, not just the New Testament or a particular verse within it, when building their core beliefs? Is not the mantra we hear from Christians that “scripture must interpret scripture”?

    Some of Christianity’s most celebrated theologians have also issued some of humanity’s most blood-curdling and vile tracts. Nazi anti-Semitism? Look no further than the father of Protestantism, Martin Luther, and his On the Jews and their lies. I doubt such theologians made the novice mistake of taking a few verses “out of context”.

    I realize (if I’ve understood correctly) that your particular faith tradition places far more emphasis on the New Testament than the Old. (Echoes of Marcion, perhaps?…hehe). But again, we come to the “no true Scotsman” fallacy. You’ve defined an “actual” follower of Christ in an ad hoc manner.

    I understand your position, however. You’re between a rock and a hard place. You cannot acknowledge Christianity’s culpability without also questioning its very fundamentals. How religious believers relieve the cognitive dissonance such instances give rise to has always fascinated me.

  5. dwhitsett

    Robert,

    The “No true Scotsman” comparison will not work here because, aside from place of birth, there is no definition (of which I’m aware) of a “true Scotsman.” But Christians must be defined by their Master. John 8:31 So Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, “If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine…” A true Christian is, by definition, one who continues in Christ’s word. A true Christian is one who loves his brothers and sisters in word and deed: John 13:34, 35 “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”

    The bulk of the New Testament consists of teachings concerning how we treat each other and our fellow man. There’s no violence there…no reason for wars. Quite the opposite. I’m sure you’ve read the Sermon on the Mount. No doubt you know that Paul counseled: “If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men” (Romans 12:18). In fact, you can run the references on words such as peace, love, kindness, etc and you will see how “a true Christian” should act.

    In Roman Catholicism and Protestantism (I am neither Catholic or Protestant) there have been both good and bad teachers and teaching. Their words must be sifted and tested by Scripture. I put credence in the statements and actions of Luther, Zwingli, Calvin, the Wesleys and other so-called “theologians” only as they are based in Scripture. They are, in the final analysis, mere men.

    The only way a Christian could start a “religious war” is to lay aside his or her faith and become something other than a disciple of Christ, the Prince of Peace.

    You may not believe in God and that’s fair enough. I know you came to that conclusion in a reasonable fashion. But it is unreasonable, incorrect and misguided to blame Christ and His followers for something that is basically and fundamentally contrary to His teaching.

  6. Dwight,

    I understand your point, though it seems to me you’re too selective in choosing which of Jesus’s words define a Christian. What’s more, it’s problematic from a theological standpoint. Jesus, you say, is the son of God and part of the trinity. How can one adopt the teachings of the former, and ignore the commands of the latter? Isn’t it also Jesus speaking in Exodus 22:18, which states, “You shall not let a sorceress live”?

    Yes, Jesus spoke of loving others (though in John 13:35-35, he is speaking of love among his disciples. But also, Jesus makes clear that those who reject him are children of the devil (John 8:42-44) and are destined for eternal punishment in a lake of fire. One can easily see the foundation for bloodshed against Jews, “heretics,” and non-believers in these incendiary words. Worse, since God knew the effect such words would have in later history, it is difficult to maintain that they were taken “out of context”. The mere addition of “but do no violence against them” would have saved countless lives and relieved untold suffering.

  7. dwhitsett

    Robert,
    I don’t believe I said to adopt one and ignore the other. We believe the God of the Old Testament is also the God of the New. The word “Trinity” is a word man came up with to define a concept beyond understanding in space and time. But even if we use the word Godhead it is a difficult concept to grasp on a physical level.
    A sorceress had three choices, quit conjuring and live, run away or keep conjuring and die. God warns and then acts. The doctrinal purity of Israel was physically enforced. We have no such command under the New Covenant. As you know that was not the only rule enforced by physical punishment. Would I have done it that way? Probably not…but then I am not God.
    Christians are not under that Old Covenant that required and eye for an eye and tooth for a tooth. As you know that was addressed in the Sermon on the Mount, particularly Matthew 5:38ff. That covenant has been fulfilled and now we are under a covenant superseding it (Jeremiah 31:31; Hebrews 8:6-13). The OC was perfect in form but imperfect in that man cannot keep a perfect law and needs God’s grace in order to be forgiven of sin (Romans 8:1-4).
    I’m not sure that you would be satisfied with “do no violence against them,” if similar statements are not enough. It’s a long way from “you are of your father, the devil” to “now, go out and kill everyone who disagrees.” We are to love our enemies, do kind things for them, live in peace with them, pray for them, etc. Someone who burns a perceived “infidel” at the stake (or blows them up or shoots them, for that matter) is simply turning his back on the teaching of the one he claims to follow.

  8. Dwight,

    Surely you agree that there has never been agreement among Christians about which commands are abrogated and which remain in force under this “new covenant”. When Aquinas advocated the death penalty for heretics, his reasoning was based on the same Scripture which leads you to a different conclusion. It is a corruption of Christ’s teachings, not authentic Christianity, you say, but again, this is the “no true Scotsman” fallacy. Perhaps your interpretation deviates from Christ’s teachings. Who is to say?

    It’s quite easy to see the absurd ends this fallacy leads. For hundreds of years, Christians owned slaves. But since slavery is now considered a bad thing, contemporary Christians claim “actual followers” of Christ would never own slaves.

    Do “actual followers” of Christ oppose gay marriage, or support it?

  9. dwhitsett

    Robert,
    The entire Law was abrogated (passages I previously gave you). It was “not like” the covenant made with Israel. Christians who still talk about “obeying the Ten Commandments,” do not understand this. The Law of Moses now has a different function than as a system of Law. If you are interested I will give you the passages that establish this. We are now not under law but grace. This is the message of Romans, Galatians, Hebrews, et al. Thus, to justify anything or condemn anything based solely on the Law of Moses is erroneous.

    The New Testament is the culmination, the successor of the Law of Moses. “The New is in the Old concealed, the Old is in the New revealed.” It is essential that Christians seek knowledge of both since the Old leads to the New.

    Slavery was a fact of life when the New Testament was being penned. It is hard to imagine that one human owning another would ever be right. However, it is a mistake, as you probably well know, to judge history from our modern perspective. How the followers of Christ handled slavery was to insist that slaves be treated humanely and with respect. That was absolutely radical at the time. It is hard to imagine the slave/master relationship surviving such an arrangement. Just run the references on slaves in the New Testament and see for yourself.

    Why do you keep insisting on the “no true Scotsman” analogy? Only if there is an authoritative manual on “Scotsmanship” do you have a point. Christians have a manual; it is the collection of Scripture we call today “The New Testament.”

  10. dwhitsett

    The New Testament has nothing to say about “gay marriage” because the practice of homosexuality is considered sinful.

  11. Dwight, you wrote,

    The entire Law was abrogated (passages I previously gave you).

    Maybe it was, maybe it wasn’t; this is a dispute among you Christians. My point is that, you would reject those who disagree with you as not “actual followers” of Christ. This is fallacious, in my view.

    Slavery was a fact of life when the New Testament was being penned. It is hard to imagine that one human owning another would ever be right.

    So, were Christians who owned slaves “actual followers” of Christ?

    Why do you keep insisting on the “no true Scotsman” analogy? Only if there is an authoritative manual on “Scotsmanship” do you have a point.

    Because Christians did not dispute that individuals such as Aquinas or Richard I were Christian until centuries later, upon applying ad hoc reasoning.

    The New Testament has nothing to say about “gay marriage” because the practice of homosexuality is considered sinful.

    I understand, but my question was, do “actual followers” of Christ oppose gay marriage or endorse it?

  12. Pingback: Making My Way » Blog Archive » You are a True Christian™ if…

  13. dwhitsett

    Robert,
    I neither oppose Gay marriage or endorse it. If two men or two women (or 200, for that matter) go through some kind of ceremony making a commitment to one another, what changes? They were doubtlessly “having sex” with one another before the ceremony. God joins people in marriage, not man (Matthew 19:5-7).

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s