Monday, December 22, 2008

Should Christians Fight? Some Thoughts

As a veteran (who’s opposed to our aggressive foreign policy and the often illegal use of our military) and also an ardent reader of the peaceableness writings of Wendell Berry , I‘ve often asked the question: should Christians fight? In searching for the answer I discovered that the responsibilities deduced from the sixth commandment require us to preserve, when we are able, our life and the lives of others. I find helpful the following: Question 107 of the Heidelberg Catechism asks: “But is it enough that we do not kill any man in the manner above mentioned?” Answer: “No; for when God forbids envy, hatred and anger, he commands us to love our neighbour as ourselves; to show patience, peace, meekness, mercy, and all kindness towards him, and prevent his hurt as much as in us lies; and that we do good even unto our enemies.” In the answer to question 105 read: “Wherefore the magistrate is armed with the sword, to prevent murder.” The following books have also been very helpful to me on this subject: The Commentary of the Heidelberg Catechism, by Zacharias Ursinus, commentary on questions 103-107, on the 5th and 6th commandments; The Institutes of the Christian Religion , by John Calvin, Book 4, Chapter 20:10-12, On Civil Government; Politica , by Johannes Althusius, who writes often on defensive and just war (especially in chapter XVI:1-17) and expounds the political and social duties contained in the second table of the Decalogue (especially in chapter XXI:22-29); The Marrow of Theology, by William Ames, Book II, Chapter XVIII, Humanity Toward Our Neighbor; Systematic Theology, by Robert L. Dabney, Lecture XXXIII, 5th and 6th Commandment; Systematic Theology, by Charles Hodge, Part III, Chapter XIX: 10, The Sixth Commandment.

(A discussion post on the group: Calvinism: The Group That Chooses You.)

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