Is there anywhere in the Bible where God or Jesus speaks or justifies the Christian needing to go to war? I know we are to obey those who are in control of the government, unless the demands go against biblical principles. I also have read the various passages concerning loving our enemies and blessing those who persecute us. But what of war? What about the issues of defending our homes for the cause of freedom, right to worship, or when others infringe on the rights of those living in other countries?
There are essentially three Christian views concerning war:
Activism — it is always right to participate in war.
Pacifism — it is never right to participate in war.
Selectivism — it is right to participate in some wars.
Most Christians generally hold to the third position. This led to the development of what has come to be known as the just war criteria.
A just war would include the following elements:
• Just cause (defensive war)
• Just intention (just peace)
• Last resort (negotiations)
• Formal declaration
• Limited objectives
• Proportionate means
• Noncombatant immunity
There are a number of books that have been written on this subject of war and the Christian. Here is a short list of books that you might find helpful.
• Clouse, Robert. War: Four Christian Views. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, revised 1991.
• Holmes, Arthur, ed. War: Christian Ethics. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, revised 1991.
• Payne, Keith and Payne, Karl. A Just Defense. Portland, OR: Multnomah Press, 1987.
• Schaeffer, Francis; Bukovsky, Vladimir; and Hitchcock, James. Who Is For Peace? Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 1983.
© 2002 Probe Ministries
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Kerby Anderson is president of Probe Ministries International. He holds masters degrees from Yale University (science) and from Georgetown University (government). He is the author of several books, including Christian Ethics in Plain Language, Genetic Engineering, Origin Science, Signs of Warning, Signs of Hope and Making the Most of Your Money in Tough Times. His new series with Harvest House Publishers includes: A Biblical Point of View on Islam, A Biblical Point of View on Homosexuality, A Biblical Point of View on Intelligent Design and A Biblical Point of View on Spiritual Warfare. He is the host of "Point of View" (USA Radio Network) heard on 360 radio outlets nationwide as well as on the Internet (www.pointofview.net) and shortwave. He is also a regular guest on "Prime Time America" (Moody Broadcasting Network) and "Fire Away" (American Family Radio). He produces a daily syndicated radio commentary and writes editorials that have appeared in papers such as the Dallas Morning News, the Miami Herald, the San Jose Mercury, and the Houston Post.
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