Should a Christian Fight?
Does War Bring Peace?
“Mankind must put an end to war — or war will put an end to mankind.”
This shocking statement was made recently in an address to the United Nations assembly by President Kennedy.
This entire world is fast plunging to destruction at the hand of man in world suicide or cosmocide. This present age is so perilous that President Kennedy continued, “Today, every inhabitant of this planet must contemplate the day when this planet may no longer be habitable.”
How can man end the terrible increase in war and mass destruction? The international peace parleys have not brought peace. And wars certainly have not brought peace.
We are living in times of “maximum danger.” We will continue under that maximum world danger for years to come. The world is no longer a safe place in which to live. Into such a world we have been born. We cannot evade the facts. We cannot and must not deny or minimize the danger. We can only face the situation squarely and overcome it.
The mounting tensions of continuing wars and rumors of wars are going to cause more and more of our young men to be drafted into military service.
Under these serious conditions, what should a young man do? Will entering into military service help bring peace? Will it help bring the Kingdom of God to this earth? Should the Christian take part in men’s efforts to try to bring this world peace What did Jesus Christ instruct His followers to do?
These are vital questions which every Christian should face squarely and answer honestly in these perilous times.
Utter Destruction Ahead!
To find the answer to these intriguing and most important questions, let us first take a quick look into today’s confused and chaotic world.
General MacArthur spoke these words before the assembled Congress of the United States: “Men since the beginning of time have sought Peace . . . . Military alliances, balances of power, Leagues of Nations; all in turn have FAILED, leaving the only path to be by the way of the crucible of war. The utter destructiveness of war now blocks this alternative. WE HAVE HAD OUR LAST CHANCE. If we will not devise some greater and more equitable system, our Armageddon will be at the door . . . .”
General MacArthur had seen firsthand the utter destructiveness of war. Few people in these United States have seen firsthand the terribleness of this scourge of the human race.
Since these words of General MacArthur were spoken, we are further from world peace, closer to world war, and threatened with human annihilation. The United Nations does not have the answer that will bring us peace. They will never learn the way to peace
Why is there no Peace?
General MacArthur had part of the answer to world peace when he stated that the basic problem is the “improvement of human character.”
But, has human character improved even perceptibly since he gave that very famous speech? NO!
On the contrary! Anyone who reads a local newspaper, or listens to newscasts on radio or television, knows that in the past decade mankind in general has grown immeasurably worse. Crimes in the United States have almost doubled. Divorce and broken homes have increased by leaps and bounds.
Almost everyone wants peace, but who knows the way to peace? The diplomats do not know! The rulers of the world powers do not know!
Peace, Peace, and there is no Peace!
And yet, men almost everywhere are seeking peace. War affects almost everything we say, plan, and do. President Eisenhower said in his State of the Union Message, January 7, 1960:
“With both sides of this divided world in possession of unbelievably destructive weapons, mankind approaches a state where mutual annihilation becomes a possibility. No other fact of today’s world equals this in importance — it colors everything we say, plan and do . . . . We face what could be a turning point in history, and we must act decisively” (Los Angeles Times, January 8, 1960).
The seriousness of this time is also reflected by a statement from an address by former Secretary of State, Dean Acheson, in an address delivered at Goucher College, Baltimore, Maryland:
“I assure you that I know nothing which is classified, but I know enough of what is going on to assure you that, in 15 years from today, this world is going to be too dangerous to live in . . . . We must adjust our minds to the firm belief that, whatever our predilections, whatever our hopes and dreams are, that we really get it into our heads that the first duty of a society is to survive. That is its first duty. It isn’t to make the world safe for democracy, or bring about the Kingdom of Heaven on earth. It’s to survive. That’s the number one necessity.”
These men have evaluated the seriousness of our time. They see that these days of trouble are not comforting.
With many kinds of weapons that can destroy all of life from off this planet staring us in the face, we can only agree that we face maximum danger. Survival of the human race is in serious jeopardy. But what is the way out?
War Has Not Brought Peace!
Is it more war?
Men have been hoping for millenniums that the next war would be the war that would end all wars. None has brought peace. If they had, there would be no more wars.
If the reason for war is to bring peace, 6000 years of history prove that war will not bring peace.
World War I was proclaimed by many to be the war to end all wars. It was only a prelude to more than 25 more wars, plus other minor hot and cold wars.
NEW YORK, November 22, 1958 (AP) —“ ‘This,’ they said as they fought the Kaiser, ‘is the war to end all wars.’ It turned out to be the worst forecast of the 20th Century. Since that great conflict, the ‘war to end all wars’ (was) only a prelude to 25 since 1918” (The San Diego Union, November 23, 1958).
That statement does not include all the wars and armed conflicts since the Suez crisis of 1956.
What is the Price of War?
What has war cost mankind? The price is staggering to the imagination. Here is a little idea of some of the terrific costs of war.
“It is estimated that in the 800 years from the beginning of the Twelfth to the end of the Nineteenth Century, 14 million casualties were produced by war. In the first half of the present century better equipment made it possible to push the figure to 75 million. In other words, in the past 50 years, war killed four and a half times as many people as were killed in the previous 800 years. War is a mighty stable industry, too. History records that man has devoted a major part of his time to mass murder. From 1400 B.C. to 1958 A.D. — a period of 3,358 years — there were only 250 years in which war was totally absent. A chart recently released by the Secretary of the Army shows that there have been 18 limited wars since the end of World War II in 1945.
“In the past 300 years, there have been 145 major treaties — none of which managed to stop wars for more than a couple years. Applying the statistical yardstick to these facts, the figures show that the productivity of war increased 800% in the past 50 years” (The Carpenter, June, 1959).
The number of people killed in these wars would make up a country half again as populous as Great Britain. If we were able to tell the actual cost of these wars and the physical destruction they brought, the amounts would be staggering beyond imagination. The human woe and suffering, the families torn apart or killed would be impossible to tell. But this report is minimized by another source of casualties from war.
GENEVA, October 24, 1959 — “A Swiss who tries to follow these things has calculated that in the past 5,559 years there have been 14,513 wars in which 3,640,000,000 people have died” (Pittsburgh Sun Telegram, October, 1959).
Another source gives further details on the number of years in which there have been wars.
“For the last 5,000 years in recorded history, there were only 300 years without wars, and for two reasons: (l) Peoples were too tired from the last war, (2) Peoples needed time to prepare for the next war” (Iszabad Magyarsag, an Hungarian-American newspaper, May 8, 1960).
We Are Paying the Price!
These articles should give us a better perspective of the price of war. But the complete price has not been paid yet. The expense of war goes on and on. Today we are still paying taxes on past wars. The present arms race is casting many billions of dollars and is only a down payment on future wars. These arms will not prevent war. War comes closer day by day in spite of these vain efforts.
“Americans, it turns out, are footing the lion’s share of the bill for defense of the Western world, both in dollars and in percentage of income . . . .
“Allies of the United States in Europe, freed from the need to spend so great a portion of their incomes on defense, now spend much more on ‘welfare’.
“Americans spend more of their private and public outlays on defense than do any of their European Allies — at least twice as much as most of them” (U.S. News and World Report, June 22, 1959).
This same article goes on to show that the United States is spending 45.5 billion dollars a year on defense spending.
Another article, this time from the Los Angeles Times, December 27, 1959, states that the United States “has spent more than one-half trillion dollars for peace on earth and it still eludes us.” Another article states that if the present arms race continues, the nations of the world will spend at least two trillion dollars for defense in the next ten years.
All the tremendous cost in past wars — all this cost going on right now — and the people of the world do not yet know the way to peace.
This present mad scramble to survive is not the way to survival or peace. It will only lead to all-out nuclear war. All the nations’ leaders and most of the people of the world really realize that such a war is coming.
Any thinking person knew that World War II was coming. It was inevitable. World War III is just as inevitable. The reason is that there is no basic change for the better in man. Man is getting worse instead of better and better.
The thought of such war has frightened some people greatly. Others refuse to think about it because of the terribleness of war. People are hoping and praying that it won’t come. But it will come!
Total Annihilation Coming?
When such a war comes there will be extremely heavy casualties. Some have estimated that one-third of the people of the United States would die if we were attacked. Others have estimated even more deaths would result.
WASHINGTON, June 18, 1961 (UPI) — “Civil Defense Director, Frank B. Ellis said Sunday that ‘some hundred million people’ in the United States would be killed or injured by nuclear fallout if the country is attacked by intercontinental ballistic missiles. Ellis said this figure is in addition to the millions who would be killed by fire and blasts caused by the nuclear explosion itself.”
Norman Cousins, editor of the Saturday Review, was quoted in the East Liverpool Ohio Review:
“A war that would incinerate a billion human beings and deform the rest is now a possibility. I do not know of a single scientist who does not believe that already we have in the United States, Russia, and England the nuclear weapons with which to make the whole earth uninhabitable. In one nuclear bomb already tested, Cousins continued, there is the power of a thousand airplanes with block-busters sent on bombing raids each night for 14 years. Against such a war there is no defense, except peace” (January 29, 1959).
The threat of world suicide (cosmocide) is so real that scientists are now proposing a new science to keep society from committing suicide. We might ask here, Who has made these terrifying weapons — society, or the scientists?
DENVER (UPI) — “A committee of scientists proposed yesterday that a new science be created to keep society from committing suicide with nuclear weapons. The committee, of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, made the recommendation in a report to the Association’s 128th meeting. The report said science had achieved such control over human environment that civilization could kill itself off — even in non-nuclear fields — anytime it wanted to” (Pasadena Independent, December 27, 1961).
With such frightening possibilities staring us in the face, just what should a Christian do? Should he be involved in such a conflict or not? The answer to this question may well determine his chance of surviving, and of finally establishing world peace afterward.
Other authorities have also envisioned grave consequences of coming conflicts.
“Unless humanity gets on the ball and does something about the ticking nuclear time bomb, we’ll either become cave dwellers or subjects of nostalgic memoranda set down by a few surviving historians” (The Evening News, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, October 21, 1960).
President Kennedy has recently pledged every effort “to prevent the world from being blown up.” He is in a position to know the seriousness of present conditions.
It is a well-known fact that it is now possible to annihilate all life on this earth by several means, including nuclear destruction, chemical warfare, and biological warfare. In nuclear war alone, there are enough weapons now on hand to destroy life many times over. It seems that one time is quite sufficient.
What is the Solution?
The way to banish war is partially found in a statement by David Lawrence in his editorial of May 2, 1958, in the U.S. News and World Report:
“The ANSWER does not lie merely in abolishing deadly weapons. It is to be found in abolishing the hates, the covetousness, and the insatiable greed of factions and groups within nations . . . .”
The basic reason for war is greed and covetousness, just as Mr. Lawrence says. What is the proof? The divinely inspired Word of God also states very plainly and candidly this very fact. God knows the wickedness and deceitfulness in the heart of man (Jeremiah 17:9-10). He knows the basic reason for all this nonsense of man fighting against man. Man destroying and pillaging, causing untold misery and suffering.
“From whence come wars and fightings among you? Come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members? Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not. Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts,” James 4:1-3.
That is the reason why man has only had 250 years of peace since history has been recorded.
General MacArthur stated that the solution to the problem lay in the “improvement of human character.” By what means and by whom can human character be improved? Can it be done by the religions of the world? Can it be done by modern Christianity?
History gives the answer!
The religions of this world have failed to change mankind to righteousness in the past five thousand years. These religions have rejected the true ways of God. They have not lived by God’s just and good laws which do change character (Romans 7:12; Psalm 19:7). Some have called themselves Christian while refusing to obey Christ.
Religion has Caused War — Not Prevented it!
Instead of preventing war, the religions and religious peoples of the world have frequently been the cause and instigators of war. There have been many “holy” wars fought over this earth’s surface. History has proved that the religions of this world cannot bring about a change in man, or a solution to our mounting increase of wars and rumors of wars.
The character of man must be changed before we can have peace, but who is going to bring it about? Will it be the Catholic Church? Will it be the Protestant Churches? Will it be any of the world’s religions?
“Although many religious systems accept the same basis for their creeds, their differences as to interpretation have caused the most vicious and antagonistic conflicts — conflicts that have led to murder and massacres, and to the bloodiest wars man has ever suffered upon this earth” (Joseph Lewis, noted atheist, in The Age of Reason Magazine, December 1959).
This same point is brought out from another reliable source. This is from the Encyclopedia Americana, Volume 23, pages 346-347, 1941 Edition.
“. . . In the past it (religion) has certainly been the direct or indirect cause of war — there has been no century without its authorized representatives or interpreters inciting the nations to conflict for its greater glory and power.
“Religions of old failed admittedly to appreciate their opponent’s point of view. When arguments failed, the invariable recourse was to arms . . . .
“On the whole . . . when religion dominated the state, the religions in the customary ecclesiastical meaning of the term were too absorbed by worldly ambitions under specious masks of humility and piety to realize the divine possibilities at the root of their creeds . . . . Not only the historic creeds, but smaller religionists who forgot to exercise toward others the toleration they demanded for themselves, made religion so empty and delusive a phrase that a Madame Roland might well have exclaimed: ‘Religion, what crimes are committed in thy name’.”
From history, it is evident that the religions and churches of the world have not known the way to peace. The reason is that the churches do not know what causes war and do not know, or do not care to know, how to avoid it. They have not understood fully or practiced the true teachings of the Bible which show the way to peace. If they had, they would not have become involved in these so-called “holy” wars.
Peace Will Come
Until man is forced by the Creator, God Almighty, to change his ways or perish, we will continue to have wars. Only when Jesus Christ comes back to this earth to rule it with a “rod of iron,” will we have peace.
We cannot have peace by movement or wars of men. Man cannot and will not bring peace. Only God can and will bring us peace. There is no other way.
“He (Christ) will decide disputes of many races, and arbitrate between strong foreign powers, till swords are beaten into ploughshares, spears into pruninghooks; no nation draws sword against another, no longer shall men learn to fight” (Micah 4:3, Moffatt Translation).
It will take world government by God to bring this about. World government is the only solution, and that government personally ruled over by Jesus Christ. He will return to this earth and rule it in peace and equity, after forcibly putting down the rebellion of most of mankind.
War and fighting among nations is not the solution to this world’s ills. War is utter folly and will not and cannot bring peace. A Christian is not helping to bring peace by entering into military service. He is only bringing more destruction and pain and sorrow on others who have as much right to life and peace as he has.
What can the Christian youth of today do when he is called to war. He cannot, in good conscience, believe that this is the way to peace since history has proved otherwise.
Just what are the Bible instructions for these men? To find the answers to these and many other important questions, we will read what the teachings of Christ are. We will also search through the past 2,000 years of history to see just what the teachings have been in the Christian world concerning a Christian’s participation in warfare.
Did the disciples of Jesus, through the centuries, follow His teaching? We will find that some of the churches have followed His teaching to the present time. Others started out with that same teaching and gradually changed it until today a Babylon of confusion exists.