Australia Ethics Worship

Should Churches Celebrate Anzac Day?

Today in St Thomas’s we had our Anzac day service.  Anzac day is not until next Sunday but in order to allow the ex-service personnel to attend parades next week, we had the service today).   I find it moving that Australia commemorates this day seriously.  Find out more here –    I was asked to write the congregational letter.  Part of which was introducing the congregation to Gaelic Psalm singing….my work is done here!

The Dawn Service – 2019

Dear brothers and sisters,

Next week is ANZAC day and this Sunday we remember those who fought, died and suffered to preserve our freedom. There are some people who struggle with the idea that churches should celebrate such events – does it not glorify war and militarism? As Christians we should take such comments seriously – after all does not Jesus tell us that ‘blessed are the peacemakers’? Psalm 11.v 5 makes the position clear – “The Lord examines the righteous, but the wicked, those who love violence, he hates with a passion”. 

So does this mean we should all be pacifists – or that churches should not commemorate days such as ANZAC day? I don’t think so. When Jesus called soldiers, he didn’t tell them to leave their jobs. We live in a fallen world and because of that there may be times when force has to be used. If someone was to walk into your home and start shooting all your family, and you had the means to prevent them, even if it involved violence, it would surely be wrong of you not to do so. That applies on a larger scale as well. The Augustinian view of a just war is biblical.

However, we also have to acknowledge that there are unjust wars, and that all wars are ugly and horrific. Those who glamourise wars tend to be people whose knowledge is limited to films and books, not actual experience. I have spoken to several soldiers who were involved in fighting – none of them thought it was a pleasant or good experience. Death and destruction are so often the result.

The First World War was devastating to so many in the British Empire. Throughout the Empire (India, Africa, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the UK) young men signed up enthusiastically in a bout of patriotic fervour and the hope that it would all be over by Christmas.  Four years later there was not a village or town in the UK or Australia who had not been impacted by death and destruction. The experience of the Second World War was generally much less gung ho.

For example, the island of Lewis, off the West Coast of Scotland, lost over 1,200 men (out of 6,000 who went to war, from a population of 25,000).  When the Second World War started many men signed up.  There is a very moving old piece of film showing hundreds of men leaving by boat from the harbour. As it pulled away from the pier, some of those left behind (mothers, wives, children and the elderly) started singing Psalm 46 in Gaelic. (Gaelic Psalm singing is a unique form of praise – incredibly emotional. If you want to hear an example have a listen to this)…

“God is our refuge and our strength, an ever-present help in trouble.  Therefore, we will not fear, though the earth give way, and the mountains fall into the sea”. It is incredibly moving – especially when you consider that more than 450 of them would not return. (At a personal level my wife Annabel is from Lewis and her father served in the war as a merchant seaman).

It is right to remember those who died and were wounded. Over 1 million Australians fought in WW2 and over 39,000 died. In WW1 it was 416,000 who enlisted and over 62,000 who died. Another 1,000 have died in action since then. How could we forget?

Of course, it is good that we commemorate and give thanks for those who served and suffered to preserve our freedoms. We also need to realise that these freedoms are under greater threat today; more than at any time since the Second World War. We need to be thankful, vigilant and pray for peace.

“Come and see what the Lord has done, the desolations he has brought on the earth. He makes wars cease to the ends of the earth. He breaks the bow and shatters the spear; he burns the shields with fire. He says, ‘Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth” (Ps 46:8-10).

Yours in Christ
David Robertson

PS. Don’t forget the men’s breakfast this coming Saturday (the 24th). Come along and bring a friend!  But let us know…!) To get in contact click here.

Ozzie Observations – Week 5 – Liberal Indoctrination; The Drum; Israel Folau; The Bible in Australia; ANZAC; Moore College; The Bookery; Aussie Humour


  1. Jesus does say blessed are the peacemakers. He also says Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn ‘a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law— a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household’ (Matt 10:34-36).

    As someone ex-military I was consumed with guilt about my involvement in Gulf War 1 with I regard to have been an unjust war. So thank you David for acknowledging that war can either be just or unjust. It’s left me with a healthy suspicion of politicians, and relief form this guilt has come form logic in that anyone who has paid taxes has contributed to such evil. And ultimately all evil has been dealt with on the cross with Jesus’ sacrifice. No-one is without sin and if anyone says they are then they are a liar.

    So I appreciate your encouragement David with “it is good that we commemorate and give thanks for those who served and suffered to preserve our freedoms.” And you are right to point out that these freedoms are under threat (in many way I would say) and sometimes that being with the threat of a physical war.

    There was a saying in the military when I was serving that in order to have peace we must train for war. It may seem as though Jesus contradicts himself as the “prince of peace” wiht saying that he hasn’t come to bring peace but a sword. However for those with military service, it’s not difficult to accept this paradox as being necessary for peace, and for many others as well.

    1. I was in Israel on Australian business leading up to Gulf War 1 (when Iraq invaded Kuwait). I had to be issued with a gas mask because of Sadam’s threat to fire Scud’s in my direction and that of the civilian populace there. He then fired those Scuds at Israel after he refused to withdraw from Kuwait and was attacked, but not by Israel. When Hitler launched the Blitz and then V-weapons on Britain surely it was right to retaliate, as it then was against the Iraqi regime which had bombarded Iranian cities and also launched gas attacks against Kurds in his own country – Sadam had form. The havoc wreaked on Kuwait by Iraqi forces was truly horrendous, and when the UN then refused to enforce the post-war strict inspection standards on Iraq – to the dismay of the Australian leader of he UN inspection team, that leader resigned in disgust at how weak the UN was. UN weakness then led the Gulf War 2, because Sadam had got away with so much after Gulf War1.

      1. Steve I hear your points about Sadam’s threats with Scuds, firing them at Israel, bombarding Iranian cities and gassing Kurds and that you feel the UN was weak which then led to Gulf War 2.

        I don’t see there being the same equivalence you claim with WWII and Hitler launching the blitz because in the case of the Gulf Wars there was not an attack on NATO members. I joined the Air Force on the understanding that the NATO agreement was a deterrent to an attack on any member country. Was Kuwait a member country? Also would there have been an interest in the region if it didn’t have the natural resources there with oil? Part of just war theory is that a just war is not one that is fought over natural resources.

        Gulf War 1 and 2 left a vacuum for ISIS to rise to inflict their terror and out of the what 3 million or so Christians there in Sadam’s reign there are perhaps 100 thousand or so I am led to believe. It led to political instability in the region and some have suggested led to a refugee crisis. So Sadam was no angel, but I would suggest the western intervention in the Gulf may have left it worse off that the comparative stability that might have been there under Sadam.

        And let’s not forget the premise of going into Gulf War 2 being of Iraq having WMDs that were never found. So, it’s not beyond reason to suggest that we were mislead about that.

        My own views are that the use of military force should only ever be made in self – defence. I think we have no business getting involved in local complex wars where warring factions pose no threat to us. But will our politicians learn from history or repeat the same mistakes?

    2. Having been brought up in Quakerism before my conversion I have struggled to get the right balance here. It sounds to me as if you have done just that.
      I cannot help being reminded of a member of my family from an older generation who was a conscious objector in WW1 but thought Hitler so evil (and he didn’t have the benefit of hindsight that we have) that, being too old for military service, he joined the Home Guard in WW2!
      It is also good when people can come to different conclusions re Military service without falling out. My father and uncle did.

      1. Yes – my grandfather was also a pacifist – Christian brethern – he refused to fight in WW2 – but instead ran a prisoner of war camp on his farm!

  2. The Nicene Creed celebrates the fusion of divine-human identity into one person. War can be a reminder of the power of evil, and the problem of suffering, embedded in human experience. It hence draws even the sceptic, or the most militant atheist, to deeper questions. There is a door opened here, for the church to speak wisdom and reality through. WWII fitted with light vs. darkness and the biblical worldview pitched against fascist evil. WWI has a much darker side, spiritually, with imperial greed and lust for power pitching nations against each other, to the detriment of all their peoples. When doing some academic theology study it was incredible to see a peculiar mismatch in the public imagination challenged: WWI dented European Christianity far more than the Evolution (or geological time) vs Biblical creationism dispute. National churches sometimes supported enlistment and the call to battle as a Christian duty. Was there a huge merit in the pacifist stance, common among some Non-Conformists of the WW1 era? I think remembrance of the war dead and injured is entirely appropriate. A prayerful and quiet reminder yearly is good. It helps in the UK how Remembrance Day rests so close to All Souls Day. A time for silence and quiet is good (without too much prevarication from preachers?!), because what is being remembered largely tells its own story, as a simple historical narrative retained and already reflected upon. There may be a hidden issue around ‘Muscular Christianity’ and Victorian Britain. Remembrance should not be through rose tinted glasses of some noble imperial age in the past.

  3. Yes, these horrors need to be remembered. Lest we forget …

    We also need to realise that these freedoms are under greater threat today; more than at any time since the Second World War.

    What freedoms are you referring to?

  4. That was a good read. Thank you. Many folk in Scotland would appreciate a post which they can share on “social” media as to why they shouldn’t vote SNP 1st or 2nd on their ballot.
    Hope you are well, Chief.
    Kind Regards,

  5. Hello Pastor,

    As you know, I have the polar opposite view from you on this issue. I respect your opinion however.

    One key verse you did not quote is Matthew 26:52. What do you make of this? Also, what do you make of the pacifism of the Early Church leaders? They clearly thought Christians could not serve in the army, both because of the idolatry involved and because they believed that killing was unlawful for Christians.

    In more recent times, we’ve had tge living faith of such notable Calvinists as Andre Trocme and Jean Lasserre, to name but two, who have also derived a Christian pacifist theology from the Scriptures.

    For me, there is mucch more than the issue of killing and the use of force involved. For instance, in war, the military’s propagandists will bear false witness against the enemy. Both soldiers and the civilian population are indoctrinated in yhis manner and one of the aims of propaganda is ckearly to motivate the army my provoking feelings of hatred against the enemy.

    We are also aware of many otger immoral activitues in war time from the distribution of suicide pills to soldiers at risk of being capyured on some missions to the army’s use of soldiers as guinea pigs when testing chemical weapons.

    Thanks for letting me air a contrary view on your site. God bless. Respectfully, Jean

    1. Matthew 26:52 refers to Peter and the Cross – it is not a universal command. It is a myth that the early Christians thought that Christians could not serve in the army. They did.

      Thanks for your view – but fundamentally it is impractical, and in a sinful fallen world, could be harmful. I’m not prepared to argue that evil men should be allowed to have free rein.

      1. “Matthew 26:52 refers to Peter and the Cross – it is not a universal command. ”

        Thanks for your grace in replying, Pastor. I think our different views of this verse is one of the key reasons for our diffeent views.

        “Put your sword in its place, for all who take the sword will perish by the sword.”

        The use of the word “all” indicates to me that it is a universal command, not something that was specific to Peter in that one given situation. I take it Jesus is cursing the sword for all time. I have to admit you have me at a disadvantage though, since I don’t know any Aramaic or Biblical Greek. If the English translation is an accurate rendering of the sense of the original though, I don’t see how it can be anything but a universal command.

        “Thanks for your view – but fundamentally it is impractical, and in a sinful fallen world, could be harmful.”

        I admit I am mote worried about moral ideals than practicalities. Nonetheless, Gandhi’s nonviolence did tutn out to be practical.

        “I’m not prepared to argue that evil men should be allowed to have free rein.”

        Yet Paul and Jesus seem to argue just that. The Jews of Jesus’ earthly life and then the Early Christians of Paul’s day and immediately after were completely without any kind of temporal power – they were rural peasants and slaves largely – yet they were told to resist not evil and obey their earthly leaders, even when these men were monstrous figures like Nero.

        I know these aren’t simple thkngs to undrrstand and it is hard to tackle the complexity of these issues in a blog discussion yet the early Christians were obviously in a situation most of us in the West tiday have fortunately not experienced and they believed non-violence and martyrdom were preferable to opposing the free reign of these evil men. So far as we know from what survives, no theology of justified tyrannicide a la Bonhoeffer arose among them.

      2. If the all refers to every individual then you are saying that Jesus was wrong – because not all who used the sword perished by it.

        Moral ideals without practicalities are the luxury of middle class philosophy students – not much use for n ormal people!

        It’s questionable how non-violent Ghandi was – especially to women!

        Paul and Jesus do not argue that evil men should have free rein.

        YOur view of the early Christians is somewhat mythical – the real situation was much more complex.

      3. “If the all refers to every individual then you are saying that Jesus was wrong – because not all who used the sword perished by it.”

        Weak argument! We know Jesus exaggerated or used figures of speech at times – the mustard seed is not the smalkest seed of all and not every stone of the Jerusalem Temple was overturned because the Weeping Wall still stands. This doesn’t make Jesus a liar!!!!

        “Moral ideals without practicalities are the luxury of middle class philosophy students – not much use for n ormal people!”

        Not bad for an old working class person like me then…. Seriously though, I don’t aflgree with this. Sometimes we must do something just because it is the right thing to do even if it is impractical or foolish in the eyes of the world. I don’t think that is a middle-class luxury but a sacrifice if we have to suffer fir such an outcome.

      4. You can’t pick and choose which bits you accept literally…!

        I’m afraid that I would not be prepared to let other people die for the sake of my conscience and philosophy…

    2. A couple more questions:

      1. What about God’s demand that we do NOT put our faith in armies? (See Psalm 33:16 and Judges 7 – Gideon’s “shrinking” army.)

      (BTW, We also know from Judges 7 and Deuteronomy 20 that God allows conscientious objection for various reasons – fear being one and other commitments like being newly married or having just built a new home.)

      2. It occurs to me that Anzac Day does seem redundant. I can understand why a day might be put aside to commemmorate a specific battle, like the Battle of Britain in the UK or Gallipoli in this case, but from there, Anzac Day has morphed into a day when ALL wars are commemorated. The trouble is, we already have Remembrance Day, November 11th, for this purpose.

      Honest question: why are we commemorating the exactly the same thing twice within a calendar year? What actual differences – if any – are there between Anzac Day and Remembrance Day? I’ve lived in Australia my whole life and I honestly don’t know what distinguishes what we are meant to be commemorated on the two days.

      1. God also commands that we don’t put our faith in money, family, etc…does this mean that we should not have money or family?!

  6. No, I’m not comfortable with churches being used for “State” celebrations. Anzac Day has gone from being virtually ignored 30 years ago, to becomung a quasi-religious event now, thanks to the Howard Government’s promotion of the event. It is borderline idolatory. The soldiers who went over to Gallipoli were going there to kill in the name of the British Empire (and I say this as someone who lost a personal relative there at the Battle of Lone Pine).

    The theological issue you don’t tackle, Pastor, is the notion that humans are made in God’s image. Where does that fit into this? Could we really imagine Jesus going to war and killing other people? He steadfastly resisted the militaristic interpretation of the Messiah’s role and tode into Jerusalem on a donkey.

    How are we “doing unto others” if we kill them? I don’t want to be killed in a war, therefore I must not kill others in war.

    On a completely unrelated note, I was impressed by the Welshman Huw Edwards’ hosting of the Duke’s funeral. Mr Edwards is not a household name down under, so I had not seen him in action before. I looked him up and saw he is a devout Christian and it really shone through in the event, I felt, both in his manner and in his explanation of the Scriptural passages afterwards. I knew he was a man of faith even before I looked him up. Sometimes you can sense it and the Spirit shines through in people.

    Anyway, I just wanted to say that we must, of course, pray for Her Majesty and the Royal Family at this time of loss but I think we should also oray for Mr Edwards, since it must be hard for him at time to work in a culture that is openly hostile to Christianity like that of the BBC’s. I’ve been in that situation myself and it isn’t easy, so huge kufos to him and may he continue to bear witness to the Gospel there. (I am certain he is doing much better than I did in my militantly-liberal former workplace. I did not speak up anywhere near enough and all too often hid my light under a bushel. I repent of that now. 🙁 )

    1. Are you suggesting that Jesus has a different standard from God the Father? I don’t accept that. Humans are made in God’s image – where does Hell fit into that? It could be argued that it is sometimes necessary to fight to protect that image – or are you suggesting that we should just let the violent and wicked rule and oppress the poor?

      The do unto others argument is a very good one. Imagine you are sitting in your home and a man comes in with a gun and starts to kill your family and you. A policeman comes in but says I’m sorry ‘do unto others, I wouldn’t want to be shot so I’m just to leave this man to get on with his killing’! Would that be right and just?

      Agree with you about Huw Edwards.

      1. ” A policeman comes in but says I’m sorry ‘do unto others, I wouldn’t want to be shot so I’m just to leave this man to get on with his killing’! Would that be right and just?”

        Yes!!! That is EXACTLY what I am getting at and it seems to be what Octavius and other early Christians are saying, too. It is IMPOSSIBLE to be a Christian and bear the sword – we can pray for the State, our rulers and armed forces but we do NOT join them. Otherwise, we are violating the Golden Rule.

        Paul seems to be satlying this, too. In Romans 13, he notes that the rulers (who were the persecutors of the Christians) can wield the sword but we know from Matthew Jesus curses those who use the sword, effectively forbidding his followers from doing so. (Despite what you said above, it sure sounds like a universal commandment to me.)

        This only becomes murky because the church and state are now aligned in western countries and Christians have held tempiral power in our culture up until now, meaning the Bible has been twisted to make sense.

        In a country where Christians are persecuted, it makes perfect sense:

        1. We are not to bear the sword.
        2. Our (persecutors) can bear the sword in order to keep the peace.
        3. We are to be good citizens by obeying their laws and praying for our leaders.
        4. Hence we are to pray for them in times of war, too, as loyal citizens but Christ forbids us from fighting ourselves.

      2. So you would be prepared to let children be slaughtered by a maniac with a gun – when you have the power to prevent that? Not where I would go and I don’t see how your position is any more Christian than mine!

      3. “Are you suggesting that Jesus has a different standard from God the Father? I don’t accept that. Humans are made in God’s image – where does Hell fit into that?”

        God commanded a few Holy Wars in thevOT. That doesn’t mean we are to have wars now of our own volition. Likewise, we are not to judge – God knows the heart and who deserves Hell and who doesn’t and we don’t.

        Therefore, we likewise cannot decide to kill and who not to kill.

        Jesus, in his First Coming, has rrfrained from judging us and assigning us to our eternal destinations. Therefore, in this time of grace, we should not be judging either. He came as Prinxe of Peace the first time so we, his disciples should be peaceful too. If He comes in a vengeful or militarist form at the Second Coming, as some interpretations of prophecy indicate, that is His business. It is not our concern in the here and now.

      4. The New Testament tells us that the State has the power of the Sword and this is ordained by God. Jesus did a lot of judging and also stated that he was coming back as judge.

      5. “So you would be prepared to let children be slaughtered by a maniac with a gun – when you have the power to prevent that? Not where I would go and I don’t see how your position is any more Christian than mine!”

        I remember you saying once on another post that you didn’t like to answer hypotheticals so that will be my defence, too. 😉

        Seriously, this is obviously a highly emotional subject and I don’t think any of us would really know what we would do in such a situation.

        From a Biblical perspective, we know that Scripture does not shie away from discussing massacres of children, like the Jews in Moses’ time and again when Jesus is born. There is no violent resistance there but, in the first case, the Jewish midwives, Moses’ mother and Pharoah’s daughter non-violently resist the sinful edict.

        Mary and Joseph flea too before the persecution comes but what of the babies left behind? It seems inanswerable from our limited human perspective.

        All we know from the Psalms is that God is on the side of the weak and oppressed.

      6. I can see you are right in your element enjoying debating everyone tonight. 😀

        “The New Testament tells us that the State has the power of the Sword and this is ordained by God.”

        Yes, the State does. That is what I said, too, so we totally agree on that at least. The question is whether Christians can participate in these activities of the State or not.

        The State can wield the sword but Jesus cyrses the sword and we are told to do unto others which seems to proclude Christians from participating in these activities of the State.

        When Paul was writing, the State was starting to persecute Christians. The idea that Christianity would one day be the dominant religion endorsed by the State would have been umthinkable to these early Christians.

        In Romans 13, Paul seems to be saying that God has given the State (your persecutors) the power of the sword to yield for peace and order so obey them and be good, peaceful citizens (ie, don’t make waves, don’t try to overthrow the Empire, don’t resist arrest or persecution. God has ordained these people as your rulers and sanctioned THEIR use of violence so obey them. He doesn’t say us Christians are allowed to join them and use State-sanctioned violence ourselves.

        “Jesus did a lot of judging and also stated that he was coming back as judge.”

        Yes but He didn’t say we can do the same. He hasn’t come back yet so we are still in the time of His ordained role as Prince of Peace. His role as Judge will come later, at a time of God’s choosing so we shouldn’t preempt that. We are under instructions to live peaceably now and bear witness to His Gospel throughout the world.

      7. I just found this:

        “The classical pacifist position stated that it was sinful for a Christian to hold political office. The Anabaptists, following Romans 13, did not deny that the state had the right to use capital punishment. It was the function of the state to execute judgment with the
        sword; and since a Christian was not allowed to take a life, he was not allowed to hold public office.

        As opposed to the Anabaptists’ theological reasoning, today’s pacifists,
        however, have adopted a humanistic and modernistic sentimentality. They categorically reject even the state from having the right to the sword including a military. ”

        I guess my theological position is the same as the Anabaptist one then. Interesting that I have come to the same conclusion they did, independently of them, 500 years later

      8. “So you would be prepared to let children be slaughtered by a maniac with a gun – when you have the power to prevent that? Not where I would go and I don’t see how your position is any more Christian than mine!”

        Judging by the Categorical Imperative, Kant would…

      9. “The New Testament tells us that the State has the power of the Sword and this is ordained by God.”

        Romans 13 is clearly talking about civil order, something equivalent to the role executed by our modern day police forces, not making war against other nations. Here is what the relevant passage says:

        “Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. 2 Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. 3 For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended. 4 For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. 5 Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience.

        This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing. 7 Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.”

        It is talking about obeying your ruler and paying your taxes to him and that fact that he has been appointed by God to punish you if you do wrong.

        It is a huge stretch to go from there to say he also has the authority to punish other rulers and their subjects – over whom he has no implicit authority – by making war on them. The passage is talking about your ruler. If it is the king or president of another country, he is not your ruler ans you don’t pay taxes to him. Hence, it is a passage about a country’s internal affairs.

        I don’t see how anyone can go from what is said in Romans 13 to using it to legitimise militaries and the right of rulers to make war, even “Just War”, against other parties over whom they have not been given authority. Surely such an interpretation is grossly exceeding the limits of the mandate God has given the state?

        Nowhere does the passage say either that Christians should wield the sword on behalf of the State. In fact, the passage sems to have more of an “us-and-them” tone. To paraphrase what is being said, here is how I see it:

        Let *everyone* (ie, Christians who are the audience Paul is addressing) be subject to the governing authorities. God has established these authorities [over you Christians], [so you Christians] must obey them and they have been given the power the sword [over you Christians].

        Therefore, our rule is one of humble submission and obedience. The passage doesn’t say we are to join with the governing authorities in wieldingbthe sword, we are just to submit ourselves to it.

        Otherwise, isn’t there the problem of us trying to serve two masters as well?

  7. I normally like your writings, Pastor, but I feel you are incorrect this time. Theology has moved on in recent years from older ideals merging church and state. Have criteria for a Just War ever been honestly applied by any “Christian” politician or general anyway? I can’t think of any war in the 20th or 21st century that we should have become involved in, not even WW2, when we think of Dresden, Hamburg and Konigsberg (which Australian bombers participated in) and the atomic bombings.

    Anzac Day reeks of the Church propping up the propaganda of the State. As people say, Anzac is the political right’s central piece of ideological myth-making, just as the Eureka Stockade is the political left’s.

    Yes, it is sad that many people died at Gallipoli but to present people who died fighting for the British Empire (or American Empire in later wars) as martyrs in pseudo-religious terms is over-the-top. I even once heard a Protestant pastor in an Anzac Day sermon compare the deaths of the Anzacs to the sacrificial death of Christ on the cross, which I thought was blasphemous. I nearly walked out of the sermon.

    Rather than propping up State propaganda and myth-making, maybe the churches need to confront this idolatry and present the truth about the Anzacs – and modern Australian soldiers. We know about the horrific war crimes allegations in Afghanistan thanks to recent revelations but let’s remember the many wrong things Australians have done in World Wars 1 and 2 and confront our sins honestly:

    Thanks. Christ be with you.

    1. Yes – I think WW2 was a just war – and I don’t see the justice or love in letting Hitler slaughter another six million Jews. Of course we don’t need myth making but it’s a bit rich for those of us who enjoy the freedoms that those who fought for gave us – and then refuse to commemorate their sacrifice.

      1. ” I don’t see the justice or love in letting Hitler slaughter another six million Jews”
        The anti-war movement opposed Versailles. No resentment over Versailles, no Hitler.

        Besides the genocide of the Jews occurred under the cloak of war. If anything, we made things worse for them. 🙁 🙁 🙁

      2. If you believe that all we had to do was be pacifists and there would have been no Hitler and that if we had not gone to war the holocaust would not have happened – I have nothing further to say. As a historian of WW2 I know that position is fantastical and historical nonsense.

      3. But without the resentment of the Treaty of Versailles to say nothing of the economic crisis exacerbated by the reparation payments Hitler wouldn’t have gained power would he?

      4. Out of curiosity, can you think of any other war from the 20th C that you think fits the Just War criteria?

        I am just trying to work through WW2 (from the British/Aus perspective) now according to the criteria for a Just War. I promise I am trying to do so in a dispassionate, unbiased way.

        Just authority: Yes, Aus and Britain had legally elected democratic governments with the constitutional right to wage war.

        Just cause: Borderline… Nazi Germany had committed a completely unwarranted and evil act of aggression against Poland but, if we look at it dispassionately, to what extent is this Britain or Australia’s business? How is it our cause anymore than the conflict between China and Manchuria or Fascist Italy and Abyssinia that were going on at this time?

        Right intention: What was the intention? Was it to liberate Poland, punish Nazi Germany, curtail Hitler’s expansion, depose Hitker, all of the above? I honestly don’t know…

        Last resort: Obviously appeasement had been tried and failed but it feels like everything was left too late in the day – Germany had had problems for years before the Nazis rose to power. Easing the Versailles treaty clauses would have prevented a war long before that time.

        Proportionality: Obviously a war against a modern industrial state with a militarist ideology like Nazi Germany is going to be a brutal, all-out affair.

        Discrimination: Utter fail. Millions of civilians dead, terror bombings of cities, deliberate targeting of non-military targets, etc.

        Responsibility: “the good of the war must outweigh the damage done by it” – this is really the crinchnone for me. With France and Britain and its Empire wading in, a localised Eastern European War became a World War. Millions were killed, the British Empire collapsed (could be good or bad), the United States became a world power and, if the original intention was to save Poland, it was thrown to the dogs instead and became a Soviet-occupied country fir decades. 🙁

        If we want to look at things coldly, the Cold War was prolonged because Barbarossa might have destroyed the evul of the Soviet Union if Hitler wasn’t also fighting on the Western Front and in North Africa. Maybe the USSR and Nazi Germany would have destroyed each other entirely if we hadn’t been involved.

        We can’t factor in the Jews really because saving them doesn’t seem to have been a war aim and although persecution was already terrible, the Holocaust itself didn’t start until during the war. When did the Allies learn about Auschwitz, etc, and what plans did they make to destroy it when they did learn? I don’t know enough about this aspect to comment but it clearly wasn’t an original war aim.

        Really, as evil as Nazi Germany was – and I am in no way an apologist for that repugnant, anti-Christian regime – I am not sure the Allies’ involvement in WW2 would have passed all of Augustine’s criteria. It is hard though since for some of them you have to deal with hypotheticals – would the world have been a better place if the Allies didn’t get involved and just left it to Stalin and Hitler to eventually turn on each other and slug it out? That’s impossible to quantify.What about the creation of the State of Israel? Is that a good thing? Is it part of God’s plan? It would not have happened if Britain had not been involved and later turned over Palestine. Again, impossible for us to judge.

        At any rate, it seems like there would be a lot fewer dead with smaller theatres of war and fewer nations involved.

        Also, what of the Jews of France and Holland? They, at least, would still be with us if Hitler was preoccupied with fighting in the East and did not become embroiled in the West.

        These are just things to ponder. You’ve studied the era. What are your thoughts, Pastor?

    2. After working my way through the Just War Theory as it pertains to WW2 last night, I did some more homework where I had gaps in my knowledge about exactly what Britain’s war aim was. I’ve just been listening to the declaration of war by Neville Chamberlain in full and read King George VI’s speech.

      What strikes me is how vague they are in terms of telling the British people of thrir dpecigic aims. Chamberlain talks of how the British had demanded German troops shoild leave Poland and that this ultimatum had passed. He talks about how Germany’s force must now be met with force and how Britain must come to Poland’s aid. He ends with a lot of vague motherhood statements about justice and the like. So nowhere does he tell the British what Britain’s specific aim is other than aiding Poland with force. If the aim of the war is therefore to restire Polish sovereignty then it succeeded in so far as the Germans left but it failed in that Poland ended up controlled by the Soviet Union for decades.

      Georhe VI was more interesting in that he alluded to the idea of a Just War with all other options exhausted and invoked God (of course all sides in wars always claim God is on their side). He alluded more to the threat to the British Empire as well and the principles at stake because of the Nazi Party’s duplicity and might makes right attitude. Again, it is interesting because he doesn’t state a concrete objective – how will the Brits know when the war aims have been achieved? If the aim is to protect the Empire, well, yes, they ended up safe from Nazism but Britain lost the Empire as a result so one could argue the case it was a pyrhhic victory if ever there was one.

      Was the Empire really at threat? From all I have read, Hitler’s obsession was with Lebensraum in the East and the destruction of “Jewish” Bolshevism and that he admired the Brits as a fellow Aryan race and wanted the Brits to keep their Empire intact. Of course, he was do duplicitous he may well have been lying on this front too and it seems apparent the British believed the threat was real. Maybe then the “aid to Poland” is more about preemptively attacking Hitler before he threatens Britain’s own interests then.

      Another interesting thing from George VI is that he is honest enough to remind the British people that war is no longer confined to the battlefield. Hence, in this sense he is admitting it will NOT be meet just war criteria because he alreasy knows there will be a lot of civilian casualties on bogh sides and, of course, this prediction came all too true.

      The other interesting thing is that neither speech mentions the Jewish people at all. The abuses against Jewry a d intervention to protect the Jews are not in the picture at all at this stage.

      In summary, no clear, concrete war aim is disclosed to the British public in either declaration of war speeches, just vague statements about assisting Poland, protecting the Empire, meeting firce with force and standing up for principles. A specific objective by which we can measure the success or otherwise of the war and know when it has reached a successful conclusion is not revealed to the British people so they have no way of gauging if they have achieved victory or not. Does it mean just driving the Germans out of Poland but leaving the Nazi regome intact? Does it mean toppling Hitler? Does it mean crippling Nazi Germany’s capabilities to wage war? At that early stage, the British public wouldn’t have known. It is all left open ended.

      To change the subject, from working through the theory lastlt night, it became apparent to me that Just War throry has a lot of weaknesses. To make a decision to go to war based on the theory, you are dealing with imperfect knowledge and you can only hypothesise about the outcomes. Today, we still simply don’t know if Britain msde the right decision to intrvene and turn the Eastern War into a World War. We can only speculate. At the very least we know from King George’s soeech that there would be a very high civilian death toll. Would things have been better or worse if Britain had stayed out and let Hitler attack the Soviets in his Liebensraum delysions. We can’t say. We don’t know his full intentions and if he would have turned westwards as well anyway. We don’t know who would have won in the east and if a Cold War would have resulted etc. Thrre are too many gaps in knowledge to make Just War Throry workable, IMHO.

      Over to you. Thoughts, Pastir?

  8. A little while ago, a trainee minister was telling me how Just War Theology has fallen out of fashion and Christian Pacifism is back “in” so it is interesting to see you attempting to argue against the Pacifist interpretation of Christ’s teachings here, Pastor.

    I just don’t see your case as that solid. We know the early Church argued strongly against any particpation in war for Christians except for prayer so they clearly understood Christ’s teachings on this matter quite differently from you.

    I always thought this excerpt from the Octavius summarises it well as a clear example of early Christian thinking on the matter:

    “OCTAVIUS: Hold on! One at a time, please. We do not join the army, and we do not fight because we do not believe in killing. We love our enemies and do good to them. Even though we are often hunted down and killed because of accusers like you, we do not even take up arms to defend ourselves. So I fail to see how we are any danger to anyone. But yes, you are right. We do not pray to the emperor or join with our neighbors in the sacrifices to the gods. But while we do not pray to the emperor, we do pray for the emperor. We recognize those in authority as appointed by God to preserve order. We seek, we pray for the peace and tranquility of the empire. God knows, if any group seeks a quiet and undisturbed life, it is us. We never know when we will be blamed for anything that is going wrong, be hunted down and arrested.”


    Then of course, there is Tertullian, Celsus, Origen, Martin of Tours, Maximillian of Tebessa, rtc, etc who taught and lived put a Christian pacifist witness in the early church, even, as on the csse of Maximillian, at the cost of their own lives.

    It seems it was the “Constantinian Heresy” that led the church astray, a heresy with devastating consequences both in loss of life terms and its blow to the church’s reputation a blow the church is still trying to grapple with today.

    1500 years of this culminating in the “War Theology” of Germany from 1914-18 and two Christian Empires intent on slaughtering each other on the Western Front. As @JamesHardy above also notes, The Church has been in decline in membership terms ever since. To me, this was a near-fatal blow to its reputation and we can trace much of the church’s current low credibility to 1914 and then back further to the Constantinian Heresy.

    Thankfully, we have the strong pacifist strand in Calvinists theology to help us correct our sinful course:

    Those are my thoughts on the matter. Have a great day.

    1. No we don’t know that the early church did such a thing. The teaching was much more complex than your suggestion. I would attribute the First World War to a decline in Christian teaching about just wars – not the cause of it. Are you seriously suggesting that if a nation is attacked by another nation, it should just lay down its arms and let that nation take over. So if China attacks Taiwan or Australia…that should be the end? What if someone came into your church with the intention to slaughter people and the police had the physical means to prevent them (ie. guns) are you suggesting that Jesus would say it was a sin to do so?

      1. “So if China attacks Taiwan or Australia…that should be the end? ”

        It would reduce bloodshed. Besides, in purely pragmatic terms, how long could Taiwan or Australia hold out against China’s overwhelming numbers? It would be a futile bloodbath.

        Better to let them takeover now and use nonviolent resistance tactics in the longer term…

      2. “So if China attacks Taiwan or Australia…”

        God brought down Communist Eastern Europe non-violently, the Leipzig Church peace marches being instrumental. All the violence against the Soviets achieved nought but it fell at the time of God’s choosing in his own way.

      3. No – God did not bring down Communist Eastern Europe non violently – the threat of violence and the actual use of violence played a significant part. Don’t rewrite history and turn into fantasy!

      4. “Yes – because non violent resistance has worked so well in Hong Kong and for the Uighurs….!”

        What would you advise the Uighurs do then? Judging from Romans 13, God has established the Chinese Communist Party as the ruling authority over them. The CCP is despotic, unjust and responsible for countless human rights abuses but the same could be said of the ancient Roman Emperors and Paul is telling the Christians to submit to them, even as they faced their own impending waves of persecutions from their rulers.

        Paul does not tell Christians to fight the ruling authorities or to join/collaborate wiith them. He just says submit to them/obey, even when they are tyrannical despots. Yes, it is hard to understand but it seems that is what we (and the Uyghurs) are instructed to do…

      5. Just to follow up on my earlier comment re: Uighurs, I had another thought that may or may not be helpful…

        Did you ever read Pastor Richard Wurmbrand’s book on Karl Marx? He tries to make the case that Marx was actively involved in satanism. By Wurmbrand’s own admission, his evidence is very sketchy and relies on a lot of circumstantial evidence and supposition. There may be something to his suspicions and there may not be.

        At any rate, by your fruits ye shall know thrm and we can see from the misery it has caused around yhe qorkd, Marxism has proved yo be a devilish doctrine in whatever form it has taken.

        Nonetheless, God has allowed the proponents of this evil doctrine, with all of their cruelty and depravity, to rule over the Uighurs. Somehow, for reasons we cannot possibly understand, God has deemed it part of His plan to establish these sadistic, capricious atheists and proponents of an evil, satanic ideology as rulers over the Uighurs for a season and somehow He is going to work good out of the situation. All we can do here is pray for the Uighurs and their persecutors and possibly provide material support like Bibles where possible.

      6. “So if China attacks Taiwan or Australia…that should be the end? ”

        Acts 17:26: “From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands.”

        God is ultimately Sovereign and He has all things mapped out in His plan.

  9. “When Jesus called soldiers, he didn’t tell them to leave their jobs.”

    What about Matt 26 v. 52???!!!!

    “The Lord in disarming Peter henceforth disarms every soldier”, Tertullian.

    1. Matt 26:52 is addressed to Peter and is about the crucifixtion of Christ. It is not a general prohibition on ever bearing arms – something Jesus did not do…

      1. Okay, so do you think Tertullian is wrong here in his interpretation or is he being taken out of context/misquoted? Your replies are helpful – thanks!

      2. No – I think Tertullian was almost certainly someone who was opposed to Christians serving in the Roman army – not least because it persecuted Christians.

      3. There you go then. Tertullian is right in his interpretation of that verse. He eas closer in time and knew the context of what was meant and how the early Christian community approached that verse. His interpretation is in harmony with the rest of Christ’s teachings.

      4. This confuses me too. It is addressed to Peter but Jesus says “all” so its scope must be wider.

        Do you think Revelation 19:19-21 might provide they key to this? In that passage, the kings of the earth *and their armies* are slain by the sword, but it us a sword that comes from the mouth of Christ, so again it is figurative (for His Word).

        Might this mean that those who wield the physical sword will die by the sword of Gid’s Word?

        2 Cor 10:4 is significant, too:

        “The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.”

        Paul is presumably talking about weapons used to spread the Gospel but again, is this saying Christians should not use weapons at all, in any context? Are we to be turning our swords into ploughshares already, here and now?

        Is this ultimately about trust? If we put our trust in weapons and our own strength, wouldn’t it mean we aren’t putting enough faith in Christ? We already see that in the OT, with 2 Chron 20, Judges 7, and Joshua 6 that trust in God is more important in defeating physical enemies than military strength. God’s defeat of Pharoah via the closing of the parted Red Sea and the sinfulness of David in taking a census of his military forces seems to point at the same thing.

      5. The quote, “Live by the sword”, is also part of Esau’s “consolation prize” blessing (which seems more like a curse) in Genesis 27:40.

        Maybe those who take up the sword are taking on the spirit of Esau, whom God “hated” and apparently cursed (Malachi 1).

        How does all of this tie together? I don’t know but maybe those who rake up arms, especially the armies of the End Times, mentioned in the Revelation verse in my previous post, have the spirit of Esau.

        Also, how does this tie to Cain? People want to murder the murderer but God puts a mark on him to prevent this. In the case of the sword though, those who live by it will due by it do they don’t have the protective mark. Presumably all of these sins are forerunners of the attitude of antichrist and his forces though – the curse of the first murderer and the curse of Esau. I am sure it all fits together somehow but it would need someone gifted with more Biblical insight and Spirit-filled wisdom than me to work it out.

        Meanwhile, the question of whether Christians should use weapons for self defence or whether they are cursed and we should rely on trust in His alone remains a pressing one for Christians in many parts of the world. I think especially of our brethren in South Africa as their nation teeters on the brink of civil war tonight.

      6. More food for thought. I’ve just been reading about the French underground church in the 1600s and 1700s. In this time of persecution, they had armed guards to protect their clandestine meetings:

        “Some meetings were protected by armed security guards who did not hesitate to shoot at the king’s soldiers.”

        Soon, though, a prophetic/charismatic movement arose amongst them. This is what happened next:

        “Since they were convinced the Holy Spirit would protect them, people did no longer took heed of any danger. On February 19th, 1689, near Saint-Sauveur-de-Montagut (Ardèche), the audience refused to run away as they were convinced the angels would protect them from any shots : 400 people were killed.”

        What lesson can we draw from this? Were they led astray by a false prophetess? Should they have borne arms for protection?

        Were they putting God to the test by putting faith in the protection of angels? Should they have fought back with carnal arms or at least equipped themselves with them as a deterrent?

        Alternatively, were they right not to bear arms even though they were massacred? Maybe God was glorifying them by making martyrs of them.


      7. To reply to my own question with some more thoughts:

        1. The Protestants used weapons to fight off the king’s soldiers. Likewise, it is soldiers who massacre them when they try to rely on angels.

        2. In Revelation, it is the armies (soldiers) who are alain by the sword coming from Christ’s mouth. Soldiers “live by the sword” in that it is their occupation. Is this different from the Protestants trying to protect their Church meeting? Then again, Peter is not a soldier and he is just trying to protect Christ from soldier thugs. How is this situation different, if it indeed is at all?

        3. It turns out that much later on, in the 20th century, the French Calvinists have retained or revived heir pacifist stance through the work of pastors like Jacques Ellul, Andre Trocme, Jean Lasserre and Marc Boegner. (not !00% sure about the latter). Therefore, despite – or because of – the massacre, they have persisted with this viewpoint and do not endorse arming themselves.

      8. Here’s a teference:

        “The Protestants had protested early on and widely against the measures taken by the Vichy regime, and had been forerunners in humanitarian aid, (the role of Cimade), but they hesitated to join the armed resistance.

        Their traditional pacifist attitude opposing them to any form of violence, as well as a trend in favour of conscientious objection between the two wars, may account for the rather limited military resistance as such. There was no real « Protestant underground resistance » except for small areas in the Cévennes and Tarn regions, in which the camisards–maquisards had a true historical meaning.

        The resistance to the Vichy regime was mostly civil and spiritual.”

        That gives ne the answer I have been seeking. For the French Calvinists to abide by their pacifism after all the persecution they suffered is a great testament to their faith.

  10. Matthew chapter 25:

    ““The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

    41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’

    44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’

    45 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’”

    Serious question: If we are made in the image of God – and in light of the verses I quoted above – if we participate in warfare aren’t we killing Jesus each time we kill an enemy? Aren’t we to do good to those who want to hsrm us instead?

    Anyway, Australians are the last people who should be justifying war after the revelations of our alleged atrocities against civiloans in Afghanistan.

    1. These verses speak of Jesus casting people into hell. War does result in atrocities and no nation is innocent – but to blame all Australians for what a few did is not fair.

      1. “These verses speak of Jesus casting people into hell.”

        I think the poster is talking about how we treat people in this life reflects how we treat Jesus – clothing the naked, feeding the hungry, etc. Thereby, if we kill people, we are killing Jesus…

        ” War does result in atrocities and no nation is innocent”

        Another reason fir Christians to refuse to participate and to dk what we can to prevent such conflicts in the first place, surely?

        ” – but to blame all Australians for what a few did is not fair. ”

        In terms of the Brereton Report, assumong the allegations are true I think it is more than just “a few bad eggs”. It seems to be more systemic and at least one senior officer was recorded drinking from the prosthetic leg, the implication being that they knew what was going on and turned a blind eye. Even if you are not a pacifist, at a minimum you would have to accept there are serious cultiral issues in parts of the Australian military that allowed this kind of thing to occur.

  11. i think itepend on how yu read the Bible. If you ake aPrrogressive Revelation approach, it is evident that the Bible becomes increasingly pacifist as it goes along.

    We first see it in 1 Chronicles 22:8 and 28:3 and it becomes clearer and clearer as the Biblical narrative unfolds, culminating in the Sermon on the Mount, Palm Sunday (when Jesus shows Himself to be a peaceful Messiah, uninterested in overthrowing Rome) and His disarming of Peter.

    We learn from Paul Christians are to obey the wordly authorities, even when they are persecured by them and we can see from extra-canonical sources that the Early Church took these teachings to heart with their pacifist beliefs and many martyrdoms.

    It is only with Constantine and then Augustine’s promotion of the Just War doctrine, drawn partly from pagan sources, that we see the Church deviate from these early beliefs.

    1. With all due respect that is a very selective misreading of Scripture. Jesus uses some very strong ‘violent imagery. Revelation is full of warlike language. I don’t the early church really was that pacifist (some were but many were not – Christians often served as soldiers). And Augustine did not take the just war teaching from pagan sources.

      1. “Jesus uses some very strong ‘violent imagery. Revelation is full of warlike language. ”

        Isn’t that in relation to spiritual warfare though? Paul uses a lot of military imagery too but he makes it clear ot is all about spiritual warfare.

      2. Pacifism is overrated .

        The Society of Friends abhorred War but participated in it by volunteering for duties like stretcher – bearing etc.

        Was it Burke who quipped, ” If the Quakers had been consulted by God at the Creation , all the flowers would be grey?”

  12. ” If someone was to walk into your home and start shooting all your family, and you had the means to prevent them, even if it involved violence, it would surely be wrong of you not to do so.”

    Isn’t this the same argument many Americans use to justify gun ownership, though? I don’t think many Australians will be keen on this line of reasoning because of that…

    I also don’t understand why the church often favours Augustine’s theology when he was in a minority on the Just War issue. Nearly all of the Early Christians before him were pacifists, so why are we going with this lone voice against mainstream, Biblical theological thought from that period? See quotes:


    • “We ourselves were well conversant with war, murder and everything evil, but all of us throughout the whole wide earth have traded in our weapons of war. We have exchanged our swords for plowshares, our spears for farm tools…now we cultivate the fear of God, justice, kindness, faith, and the expectation of the future given us through the Crucified One….The more we are persecuted and martyred, the more do others in ever increasing numbers become believers.”
    ~ Justin the Martyr (100AD – 165AD)

    • “Murder, considered a crime when people commit it singly, is transformed into a virtue when they do it en masse.”
    ~ St. Cyprian (200AD – 258AD)

    • “We who formerly hated and murdered one another now live together and share the same table. We pray for our enemies and try to win those who hate us.”
    ~ Justin the Martyr (100AD – 165AD)

    • “To those who ask us whence we have come or whom we have for a leader, we say that we have come in accordance with the counsels of Jesus to cut down our warlike and arrogant swords of argument into ploughshares, and we convert into sickles the spears we formerly used in fighting. For we no longer take ‘sword against a nation,’ nor do we learn ‘any more to make war,’ having become sons of peace for the sake of Jesus, who is our leader, instead of following the ancestral customs in which we were strangers to the covenants.”
    ~ Origen (185AD – 254AD)

    • “It is absolutely forbidden to repay evil with evil.”
    ~ Tertullian (160AD – 220AD

    • “Hitherto I have served you as a soldier; allow me now to become a soldier to God. Let the man who is to serve you receive your donative. I am a soldier of Christ; it is not permissible for me to fight.”
    ~ Martin of Tours (315AD – 397AD)

    • “Christians, instead of arming themselves with swords, extend their hands in prayer.”
    ~ Athanasius of Alexandria (293AD – 373AD)

    • The Christian poor are “an army without weapons, without war, without bloodshed, without anger, without defilement.”
    ~ Clement of Alexandria (150AD – 214AD)

    • “I do not wish to be a ruler. I do not strive for wealth. I refuse offices connected with military command.”
    ~ Tatian of Assyria (died around 185AD)

    • “Above all Christians are not allowed to correct by violence sinful wrongdoings.”
    ~ Clement of Alexandria (150AD – 214AD)

    • “The Christian does not hurt even his enemy.”
    ~ Tertullian (160AD – 220AD)

    • “None of us offers resistance when he is seized, or avenges himself for your unjust violence, although our people are numerous and plentiful…it is not lawful for us to hate, and so we please God more when we render no requital for injury…we repay your hatred with kindness.”
    ~ St. Cyprian, Bishop of Carthage (died 258AD)

    • “We Christians are a peaceful race…for it is not in war, but in peace, that we are trained.”
    ~ Clement of Alexandria (150AD – 214AD)

    • “Only without the sword can the Christian wage war: the Lord has abolished the sword.”
    ~ Tertullian (160AD – 220AD)

    • “You cannot demand military service of Christians any more than you can of priests. We do not go forth as soldiers with the Emperor even if he demands this.”
    ~ Origen (185AD – 254AD)

    • “We who formerly treasured money and possessions more than anything else now hand over everything we have to a treasury for all and share it with everyone who needs it. We who formerly hated and murdered one another now live together and share the same table. We pray for our enemies and try to win those who hate us.”
    ~ Justin the Martyr (100AD – 165AD)

    • “For what war should we not be fit and eager, even though unequal in numbers, we who are so willing to be slaughtered—if, according to that discipline of ours, it was not more lawful to be slain than to slay?”
    ~ Tertullian (160AD – 220AD)

    • “The professions and trades of those who are going to be accepted into the community must be examined. The nature and type of each must be established… brothel, sculptors of idols, charioteer, athlete, gladiator…give it up or be rejected. A military constable must be forbidden to kill, neither may he swear; if he is not willing to follow these instructions, he must be rejected. A proconsul or magistrate who wears the purple and governs by the sword shall give it up or be rejected. Anyone taking or already baptized who wants to become a soldier shall be sent away, for he has despised God.”
    ~ Hippolytus (170AD – 236AD)

    • “Christ, in disarming Peter, disarmed every soldier.”
    ~ Tertullian (160AD – 220AD)

    • Christians “love all people, and are persecuted by all;…they are reviled, and they bless; they are insulted, and are respectful.”
    ~ Epistle of Mathetes to Diognetus (late 2nd Century)

    • “I serve Jesus Christ the eternal King. I will no longer serve your emperors…It is not right for a Christian to serve the armies of this world.”
    ~ Mercellus the Centurion, spoken as he left the army of Emperor Diocletian in 298AD.

    • “Say to those that hate and curse you, You are our brothers!”
    ~ Theophilus of Antioch (died around 185AD)

    • “But now inquiry is being made concerning these issues. First, can any believer enlist in the military? Second, can any soldier, even those of the rank and file or lesser grades who neither engage in pagan sacrifices nor capital punishment, be admitted into the church? No on both counts.”
    ~ Tertullian (160AD – 220AD)

    • “For the Gentiles, hearing from our mouth the words of God, are impressed by their beauty and greatness: then, learning that our works are not worthy of the things we say, they turn to railing, saying that it is some deceitful tale. For when they hear from us that God says: ‘No thanks will be due to you, if ye love only those who love you; but thanks will be due to you, if ye love your enemies and those that hate you’—when they hear this, they are impressed by the overplus of goodness: but when they see that we do not love, not only those who hate us, but even those who love us, they laugh at us, and the Name is blasphemed.”
    ~ The 2nd Epistle of Clement (140-160AD)

    • “Shall it be held lawful to make an occupation of the sword, when the Lord proclaims that he who uses the sword shall perish by the sword? And shall the son of peace take part in the battle when it does not become him even to sue at law?”
    ~ Tertullian (160AD – 220AD)

    • “It is the Christians, O Emperor, who have sought and found the truth, for they acknowledge God…. They show love to their neighbors. They do not do to another what they would not wish to have done to themselves. They speak gently to those who oppress them, and in this way they make them their friends. It has become their passion to do good to their enemies…. This, O Emperor, is the rule of life of the Christians, and this is their manner of life.”
    ~ Aristides (written around 137AD)

    • “We Christians cannot endure to see a man being put to death, even justly.”
    ~ Athenagoras (133AD – 190AD)

    • “Learn about the incorruptible King, and know his heroes who never inflict slaughter on the peoples.”
    ~ Tertullian (160AD – 220AD)

    • “Christians appeal to those who wrong them and make them friendly to themselves; they are eager to do good to their enemies; they are mild and conciliatory.”
    ~ Aristides of Athens (2nd Century)

    • “I recognize no empire of this present age.”
    ~ Speratus (martyred 180AD)

    • “For when God forbids us to kill, he not only prohibits us from open violence, which is not even allowed by the public laws, but he warns us against the commission of those beings which are esteemed lawful among men….Therefore, with regard to this precept of God, there ought to be no exception at all, but that it is always unlawful to put to death a man, whom God willed to be a sacred animal.”
    ~ Lactantius, instructor of Constantine’s son (240AD – 320AD)

    • “Shall we carry a flag? It is a rival to Christ.”
    ~ Tertullian (160AD – 220AD)

    • “I am a Christian. He who answers thus has declared everything at once—his country, profession, family; the believer belongs to no city on earth but to the heavenly Jerusalem.”
    ~ St. John Chrysostom (347AD – 407AD)

    • “If anyone be a soldier or in authority, let him be taught not to oppress or to kill or to rob, or to be angry or to rage and afflict anyone. But let those rations suffice him which are given to him. But if they wish to be baptized in the Lord, let them cease from military service or from the
    [post of] authority, and if not let them not be received. Let a catechumen or a believer of the people, if he desire to be a soldier, either cease from his intention, or if not let him be rejected. For he hath despised God by his thought, and leaving the things of the Spirit, he hath perfected himself in the flesh and hath treated the faith with contempt.”
    ~ The Testament of Our Lord (4th or 5th Century AD)

    • “We have become sons of peace for the sake of Jesus, who is our leader.”
    ~ Origen (185AD – 254AD)

    • “If you enroll as one of God’s people, then heaven is your country and God your lawgiver.”
    ~ Clement of Alexandria (150AD – 214AD)

    • “I serve Jesus Christ the eternal King. I will no longer serve your emperors. It is not right for a Christian to serve the armies of this world.”
    ~ Mercellus the Centurion, spoken as he left the army of Emperor Diocletian in 298AD.

    • “God called Abraham and commanded him to go out from the country where he was living. With this call God has roused us all, and now we have left the state. We have renounced all the things the world offers…. The gods of the nations are demons.”
    ~ Justin the Martyr (100AD – 165AD)

    • “But now inquiry is being made concerning these issues. First, can any believer enlist in the military? Second, can any soldier, even those of the rank and file or lesser grades who neither engage in pagan sacrifices nor capital punishment, be admitted into the church? No on both counts—for there is no agreement between the divine sacrament and the human sacrament, the standard of Christ and the standard of the devil, the camp of light and the camp of darkness. One soul cannot serve two masters—God and Caesar…But how will a Christian engage in war (indeed, how will a Christian even engage in military service during peacetime) without the sword, which the Lord has taken away?”
    ~ Tertullian (160AD – 220AD)

    • “This is the way of life: first, thou shalt love the God who made thee, secondly, thy neighbor as thyself: and all things whatsoever thou wouldest not should happen to thee, do not thou to another. The teaching of these words is this: Bless those who curse you, and pray for your enemies, and fast on behalf of those who persecute you: for what thanks will be due to you, if ye love only those who love you? Do not the Gentiles also do the same? But love ye those who hate you, and ye shall not have an enemy.”
    ~ The Didache, also known as The Teachings of the 12 Apostles, is an early Christian document written between 80AD – 90AD.


    Also didn’t Jesuscurse the use of the sword in Matthew? Didn’t Just War theory develop out of paga n thought? Thanks in advance for your help.

    1. IN todays internet world it is very easy to quote mine – I actually read the church fathers – in fact I have read all of them (at least those that are translated into English). Most of the quotes you cite (have you read them in context or just got them from an internet article?) are not about war or being in the military. They are about how Christians should treat their enemies and spread the Gospel. We do not use force for either of those. But almost all the church fathers did not think it was wrong to be in the military. Your quote mining is somewhat selective and says little about the subject at hand – Anzac day.

      1. Yes – I know and like Ron Sider – of course as a life long pacifist this is what he is going to say – but to give him credit, he does point out that many other scholars share a different position. He also engages in a large amount of special pleading. The fact is that we have very little evidence from the 1st two centuries and the next two clearly have CHristians in the army. The NT itself does not teach that it is a sin to be a soldier or wrong for the State to wield the power of the sword. It is however clear that we do not defend or spread Christianity by force.

      2. ” They are about how Christians should treat their enemies and spread the Gospel. We do not use force for either of those.”

        Interesting. I haven’t heard your interpretation of the church fathers before. I have some Lithuanian ancestry so I am rather grateful that my pagan amcestors were probably converted at the point of a sword (by the Teutonic Knights in the Baltic Crusades!)

      3. “the next two clearly have CHristians in the army.”

        This article addresses that:

        This Lutheran pacifist book is worth looking at:

        Tell me, Pastor, what are your thoughts on Maximillian of Trebessa if serving in the military is not sinful? Are you saying that Maximillian’s martyrdom was misguided and he should not have given his life for Christ over this particular issue? Thanks.

  13. Hello Pastor

    Sorry, I just saw your reply to the other man after I posted.

    “some were but many were not – Christians often served as soldiers”
    Do you have some examples of this? Thank you!

    ” And Augustine did not take the just war teaching from pagan sources.”

    I read in a theology book he was heavily influenced by Cicero and Just War doctrine was a synthesis of pagan and Biblical thought as a result. I can’t remember the title but I’ll hunt it down for you if you are interested.

    1. No – not really … I have read the original source many times (Augustine) and I don’t think that some modern writing their pet theory is really going to help much. As for Christians serving as soldiers – start with the centurion and work your way through all the early chuch fathers and you will find frequent references – although some like Octavious encouraged them to leave).

      1. With regard to the centurion (I assume you are talking about Matthew 8:5-13), this is a truly baffling story. It is true Jesus does not rebuke him for being a soldier but as a member of the Roman Army, he engages in idolatry/Emperor worship and Jesus does not repudiate him for this either. This doesn’t mean we should be involved in pagan idolatry though!

        If we attempt to translate the story into more modern terms, it becomes even stranger for us: imagine a senior Nazi Wehrmacht officer, in occupied France circa 1941, who has presumably done his share of killing and who participates in the “worship” of Hitler, helps out a church to keep the locals onside.

        Later, his assistant becomes ill, so he calls on Jesus for help. He tells Jesus that He does not need to do a “house call” but His word alone is enough so Jesus heals the servant and our Nazi is commended for his great faith. Jesus dies not rebuke the Nazi for being a soldier, for killing, for being part of the idolatrous cult of Hitler nor for being part of the occupying force committing atrocities in the imvaded country and enslaving its people. He has only praise for him. What on earth are we to make of this strange tale?

      2. A big ‘if’. You could just as well argue that the incarnation, the Cross, the Creation etc are partly rooted in ancient pagan thought – some do. It doesn’t make it true.

  14. Great debate with strong arguments on both sides.

    Let me just throw in a few more points for people to mull over…

    Matt 24 6
    “You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come.”

    Jesus seems to be saying to go with the flow here. Does do not be alarmed extend to “Do not get involved even if your passions are aroused by the perceived righteousness of one side’s cause”?

    Matt 24
    “…then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. 17 Let no one on the housetop go down to take anything out of the house. 18 Let no one in the field go back to get their cloak. 19 How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! 20 Pray that your flight will not take place in winter or on the Sabbath.”

    Does this refer to the End Times or the destruction of the Temple in AD 70? Either way, Jesus is telling people in this situation to flee, not to fight back. Does this apply to all conflict situations or just this specific one He has prophesised?

    Matthew definitely seems to be the most “pacifist” Gospel with these passages, the curse on the use of the sword and the depiction of the Massacre of the Holy Innocents.

    Here is something interesting from John, though:

    John 10
    22 “Then came the Festival of Dedication at Jerusalem. It was winter, 23 and Jesus was in the temple courts walking in Solomon’s Colonnade.”

    Is Jesus actually celebrating Hanukkah here or is He just there to preach to the crowd? If He is actively celebrating Hanukkah, it could be interpreted that He endorses the Maccabees’ violent resistance to oppression.

    I don’t have any answers – I’m just putying these questions out there as food for thought.

    Let us never forget though that it was soldiers who scourged, stripped, mocked and physically crucified pur Lord and gambled for His clothes. We are all responsible for His death through our human sin, yet the fact it was these violent agents of the State who enacted it must colour all our thoughts about lawfulness of Christians to be soldiers.

    God bless.

  15. “Don’t compare Roman centurions who are commended for their faith with Nazi officers who worship Hitler!”

    I honestly don’t see why you object to this analogy. Can you please explain?

    They are both members of brutal occupying forces.

    To become a leader (officer or centurion), they would have most likely commanded forces to commit violent acts, if not atrocities.

    We know that members of the Roman Army were part of the imperial cult which included pagan acts of worship. He could not have been a monotheistic Jew.

    With that in mind:

    1. Jesus commends his faith but does not tell him to leave the army. However, he also does not tell the centurion to commit to monotheism nor does he rebuke him for being part of a brutal occupational force. In what way is this thinking flawed? Genuinely curious.

      1. I think what Jean is saying is that He seems to be doing both… He is a polyyheist because he is in the Roman Army but He also helps out the local Jews and has faith in Jesus too. That is why Jean is saying it is such an ambiguous and challenging story.

      2. I don’t see what the issue is either. The man was a centurion – a senior officer in the Roman Army – therefore he HAD to participate in the Imperial cult and worship the Emperor (so the Hitler analogy is accurate. As a Roman citizen, he was a pagan and maybe worshipped Mithras as that religion was popular among soldiers.

        He then finds himself as part of the occupation force in Israel. This is where things become interesting. According to Luke:

        “The centurion heard of Jesus and sent some elders of the Jews to him, asking him to come and heal his servant. When they came to Jesus, they pleaded earnestly with him, “This man deserves to have you do this, because he loves our nation and has built our synagogue.””

        Does this mean he has converted to Judaism? I don’t see how that could be because if he no longer participated in the imperial cult he’d be executed.

        Jesus recognises his faith is real though and deeper than He’d found amongst the Jews. Again, from Luke:

        “When Jesus heard this, he was amazed at him, and turning to the crowd following him, he said, “I tell you, I have not found such great faith even in Israel.””

        What does this mean? Jesus doesn’t tell him to leave the army but as Jean noted, Jesus doesn’t tell him a lot of things:

        1. He doesn’t tell him idolatry is wrong.
        2. He doesn’t tell him monotheism is correct and that there is only one God and to love and serve Him alone.
        3. He doesn’t tell him invading another country and exploiting it is wromg.
        4. He doesn’t tell him Roman atrocities against the Jews are wrong.

        Maybe Jesus is counting on the man’s strong faoth to guide him from now on and to lead him onto a better path in life. Maybe Jesus doesn’t need to be didactic because the centurion is hearing the Scriptures at the Synagogue he has helped to build and, after his encounter with Jesus, he is ready to repent. We don’t know if he will leave the army, “go native” and fully convert to Judaism/proto-Christianity or what will happen to him. It is all left open ended. Therefore, I don’t think we can draw any conclusions about Jesus’ attitude to the morality of soldiers and war from this passage.

      3. I’m quite surprised how many readers of my blog are experts in Roman soldiers history. I’m afraid I don’t know if you are correct and yes it was possible to be a Roman soldier and not worship Caesar.

  16. “Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s”…

    Isn’t Jesus saying here to obey the occupying authorities and not to resist them? Interestingly and more complexly, a portion of those taxes would be going to sustain the Roman Army – ie, the Jews have to bankroll their own oppressors but Jesus is saying not to resist them.

    Also doesn’t He prophesy violent revolt is doomed to fail and will lead to the destruction of the Temple, as occurred in 70 ad?

    Finally, ‘turn the other cheek’ and ‘resist not evil’ would have a very concrete and very real meaning for people under Roman control, with soldiers lurking around everywhere who could intimidate, threaten and persecute them on the slightest of pretexts. Jesus really seems to be endorsing nonviolence in a very real, very dangerous situation, where people have all kinds of different opinions from Sadduccee and tax collector collaboraters, to zealot revolutionaries to aloof Pharisees interested in maintaining religious and cultural purity.

    Jesus is not calling for violence or revolution on this Earth but for the oppressed to store up their treasures in the world to come where the meek, the mourners and the peacemakers will be in glory eith their Father, the true, ultimate Sovereign of all creation.

  17. One more thought and I’ll be quiet since I’ve said a lot in this debate.

    I think we should read accounts of Christians who have been in actual war situations and how they acted non-violently in order to see Christ’s hand at work.

    Early Christians like Martin of Tours and Maximillian of Trebessa have already been mentioned, as has our great modern Calvinist hero, André Trocmé, but there are plenty of others.

    Someone mentioned Corrie ten Boom on another thread the other day and she is someone who bore witness to Christ in the pit of hell on earth that was the Ravensbruck Concentration Camp.

    Another example is “East Prussian Diary: A journal of faith 1945-47”
    by Count Hans von Lehndorff who acted nonviolently after Germany was invaded by the Soviets even though there are times he is tempted to obtain a gun. Like Corrie ten Boom, God is a tangible presence in his life who guides him through his trials in the worst conditions imaginable.

    Sophie Scholl and Franz Jageestatter are examples of non-violent resisters who died for their faith.

    I think it is better to look at the real accounts of our Christian brotyers and sisters who have lived through these things leaning on their faith rather than speculating on what we may or may not do ourselves in such circumstances.

    Thanks for an enjoyable and passionaye debate, Pastor. It is good to see both sides raising their points in a charitable and friendly manner, even on an issue like this where so much is at stake. God bless.

    1. Mel Gibson’s film, Hacksaw Ridge, is about an heroic Seventh Day Adventist who refused to bear arms in World War Two because of his Christian beliefs.

  18. “Yes – because non violent resistance has worked so well in Hong Kong and for the Uighurs….!”

    I have heard American gun rights activists make the argument that if the Jews were armed, the Holocaust wouldn’t have happened. Are you proposing the Uighurs should violently resist?

    Do you think Christians in general should be armed as per your hypothetical situation in one of the posts above about a maniac breaking in and killing children?

    We know armed resistance for Christians has been disastrous at times, for instance for the Huguenots in the French Wars of Religion.

    By the way, this fiscussion reminds me of something that was really puzzling me a while ago. Here it is:

    “Calvin believed that pacifism is blasphemy, while the ancient church believed it was the only Christian thing to do.”

    Why did John Calvin believe that pacifism was blasphemy, Pastor David? Why did he reject the stance of the ancient church? Big thanks!

    1. No – I was suggesting that the idea that passive resistance will work in dealing with China is fanciful.

      Be careful of secondary sources. And Calvin did not reject the stance of the ancient church.

    2. I read something really interesting online a long time ago and I can’t find it anywhere now but it was a discussion of a margin note in Calvin that has been largely overlooked. It presented him in a much more pacifistic light.

      Another thing this article on Calvin talked about was similar to what Jean said above regarding bearing false witness against the enemy, suicide pills, etc. Again, I can’t recall the exact details but Calvin was lamentkng that the wars (the French Religious Wars in this case) were leading to all kinds of moral compromises and ethical failings amongst the Calvinist Christians. I took it to mean not so much the killing but all of the other effects of war, just as Jean is saying. I wish I could find the article now but that was the gist of it.

  19. “No – I was suggesting that the idea that passive resistance will work in dealing with China is fanciful. ”

    Some Early Christian pastor probably said the same thing about dealing with Rome.

    1. I doubt it. Early Christian pastors were talking about the church – not taking over the Roman empire, or the relationships between nations. Perhaps its best not to import into the past your own fantasies?

  20. Pastor have you had a chance to read or watch the famous Australian play ‘The One Day of the Year’ by Alan Seymour yet? It is about Anzac Day. I’d very strongly recommend that you do because it will give you an insight into various different Australian perspectives on this controversial day.

    There’s some introductory material about the play here:

    God bless.

  21. “theweeflea
    April 19, 2021 at 5:43 pm

    The New Testament tells us that the State has the power of the Sword and this is ordained by God. Jesus did a lot of judging and also stated that he was coming back as judge.”

    Pastor, I’ve always struggled with this. If an individual kills someone, it is called murder and they are punished. If the State kills thousands of people in war, it goes unpunished. Is this really what God means?

    On a related note, we know that *some* of the people who join the military are sadists and psychopaths. A management expert told me how so many of them are attracted to the armed forces and it has trouble weeding them out. This is *one* of the reasons why atrocities occur in war time. They have a “legitimate” outlet there for their depraved tendencies. Again, this clearly couldn’t be what God has in mind in Romans 13 yet He knows this “loophole” (for want of a better word) gives the most evil in our society a chance to run amuck. What are your thoughts?

  22. “I find it moving that Australia commemorates this day seriously.”

    On an official level, yes. As you have seen by the reaction on this thread, a lot of average Australians have different perspectives and feel concerned that the day has become an excuse for jingoism and glorification of the military. The people I know who hold these views are not left-wing radicals, just normal, largely a-political, Australian Christians.

    I know one Presbyterian minister who is very concerned about the near-idolatrous adulation accorded to the Anzacs these days.


    On a somewhat-related note, someone mentioned Dick Sheppard on this blog recently. Have you ever read him? What are your thoughts on his peace theology?

  23. Our minister (Anglican) refuses to take part in Anzac Day or Remembrance Day services. We are very proud of him.

  24. “So if China attacks Taiwan or Australia…that should be the end?”

    I have information from an impeccable source in the army that, in World War Two, if Japan had launched a land invasion of Australia, all troops were to be instructed to lay down their arms immediately. That would be the official order. So, yes, that would be the end.

    The whole idea of “the Brisbane line” to hold back an invasion force was just a propaganda myth to boost morale.

    This has been a really thoughtful, wonderful debate. Your discussion stemming from the terrible conduct of the RAAF servicewoman on the “Suicide” thread raises a lot of important questions about military ethics and Chrisyian pacifism, too.

    1. I thought I should clarify what I wrote with a little more information for anyone who is interested: if Japan had invaded, both the Australian Army and the Volunteer Defence Corps (the Australian WW2 equivalent of the Britosh Home Guard) would be ordered to lay down their arms and surrender. They were not to resist or attempt to undertake a partisan guerilla campaign.

      I obviously don’t know what would would happen today in the event of a hypothetical Chinese invasion – I am not privy to national secrets!

      Amyway, I hope you find this history interesting.

  25. Pastr, I recall you once said your daughter was the only person who could beat you in a debate. Judging by this thread, you are going to have to add the Christian pacifists to that list! You have finally met your match. 😀

    1. Your recollection about as good as your powers of perception! I stated that my daughter was the only one who always beats him – of course others have beaten me in debate! I’m not that arrogant! As for this thread – its been quite good – but nothing new in terms of the debate = the repeated myth that that the early church were all pacifists has not been proven and all people do is just reiterate their personal politics and views…

      1. Can’t we simplify the whole debate to WWJD – What would Jesus do?

        From what we know of His character as revealed in the Gospels I can’t imagine Him joining the military and killing people – even for the defence of His homeland or any other worldly goal, no matter how worthy it may seem from our limited temporal human viewpoint.

  26. Soldiers whipped, beat, stripped, mock and spat upon Our Lord before shoving a crown of thorns upon his head. They then forced Him to carry His own method of execution through the streets, nailed Him to a cross, mocked Him some more and gambled for His clothes as He hung there dying.

    Now some Christians want to defend this as a worthy occupation?! It beggars belief.

    1. It beggars belief that you don’t know that all of us are responsible for the death of Christ….it was for me he hung and suffered there! It also beggars belief that you criticise Our Lord for not condemning soldiers and telling them to leave their occupation….if only he had your wisdom!

      1. Sarcasm is unbecoming, especially in a man of the cloth. It tells me your argument is weak when you feel you have to resort to that.

        Anyway, onto the substance of your argument:

        “you criticise Our Lord for not condemning soldiers and telling them to leave their occupation”

        He does – He curses the use of the sword. It is there in Matthew for all to read or hear proclaimed from the pulpit.

        It is also there implicitly in the Scriptures, as Sean above points out: what Christian would want to be a soldier after the agony and shame they inflicted on Our Saviour is described in such detail in the text? Why would you want a job where you might be ordered to inflict on another man what the Son of God went through? You’d hear about Christ’s suffering on the cross on Sunday and lament about it then you’d be off to work on Monday to crucify some other poor person having learnt nothing! (Doesn’t matter that Monday’s victim is not God Incarnate, he’d still be going through the same suffering and humiliation.)

        Jesus rides into town on a donkey, so you, His follower, think you have the right to ride around on a war horse. Again, it doesn’t follow.

        No some things are spelled out but a lot is implied for the listener, I think.

      2. If you have a problem with sarcasm then you will have a problem with Elijah, Paul and Jesus. Besides which I’m not a man of the cloth!

        Don’t misquote Scripture out of context. Jesus also told his disciples to take swords (Luke 22:36-38)!

        You do realise that it was not just soldiers but all of us, whatever our occupation, who put Christ on the Cross?

  27. Hello Pastor

    After last might’s refeshing debate, I thought I’d share some churches’ doctrinal positions on these matters. Here is what the Anglican Church has actually repeatedly and consistently voted on these matters at successive Lambeth Conferences. As you can see, on paper at least, the Anglican Church is actually a peace chuch. The fact that it doesn’t put its own resolutions into practice is another matter.

    Lambeth 1930
    Resolution 25

    The Life and Witness of the Christian Community – Peace and War

    The Conference affirms that war as a method of settling international disputes is incompatible with the teaching and example of our Lord Jesus Christ.


    Lambeth 1948 (so, significantly, just after World War 2)

    Resolution 9

    The Church and the Modern World – The Church and War

    The Conference reaffirms Resolution 25 of 1930, “that war as a method of settling international disputes is incompatible with the teaching and example of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

    Lambeth 1968
    Resolution 8


    This Conference

    (a) reaffirms the words of the Conference of 1930 that “war as a method of settling international disputes is incompatible with the teaching and example of our Lord Jesus Christ”;

    (b) states emphatically that it condemns the use of nuclear and bacteriological weapons;

    (c) holds that it is the concern of the Church
    (i) to uphold and extend the right of conscientious objection;
    (ii) to oppose persistently the claim that total war or the use of weapons however ruthless or indiscriminate can be justified by results;

    (d) urges upon Christians the duty to support international action either through the United Nations or otherwise to settle disputes justly without recourse to war; to work towards the abolition of the competitive supply of armaments; and to develop adequate machinery for the keeping of a just and permanent peace.

    Lambeth 1978
    Resolution 5

    War and Violence

    1. Affirming again the statement of the Lambeth Conferences of 1930 (Resolution 25), 1948 and 1968 that “war as a method of settling international disputes is incompatible with the teaching and example of our Lord Jesus Christ,” the Conference expresses its deep grief at the great suffering being endured in many parts of the world because of violence and oppression. We further declare that the use of the modern technology of war is the most striking example of corporate sin and the prostitution of God’s gifts.

    2. We recognise that violence has many faces. There are some countries where the prevaling social order is so brutal, exploiting the poor for the sake of the privileged and trampling on people’s human rights, that it must be termed “violent.” There are others where a social order that appears relatively benevolent nevertheless exacts a high price in human misery from some sections of the population. There is the use of armed force by governments, employed or held in threat against other nations or even against their own citizens. There is the world-wide misdirection of scarce resources to armaments rather than human need. There is the military action of victims of oppression who despair in achieving social justice by any other means. There is the mindless violence that erupts in some countries with what seems to be increasing frequency, to say nothing of organised crime and terrorism, and the resorting to violence as a form of entertainment on films and television.

    3. Jesus, through his death and resurrection, has already won the victory over all evil. He made evident that self-giving love, obedience to the way of the cross, is the way to reconciliation in all relationships and conflicts. Therefore the use of violence is ultimately contradictory to the Gospel. Yet we acknowledge that Christians in the past have differed in their understanding of limits to the rightful use of force in human affairs, and that questions of national relationships and social justice are often complex ones. But in the face of the mounting incidence of violence today and its acceptance as a normal element in human affairs, we condemn the subjection, intimidation, and manipulation of people by the use of violence and the threat of violence and call Christian people everywhere:

    (a) to re-examine as a matter of urgency their own attitude towards, and the complicity with, violence in its many forms;
    (b) to take with the utmost seriousness the questions which the teaching of Jesus places against violence in human relationships and the use of armed force by those who would follow him, and the example of redemptive love which the cross holds before all people;
    (c) to engage themselves in non-violent action for justice and peace and to support others so engaged, recognising that such action will be controversial and may be personally very costly;
    (d) to commit themselves to informed, disciplined prayer not only for all victims of violence, especially for those who suffer for their obedience to the Man on the Cross, but also for those who inflict violence on others;
    (e) to protest in whatever way possible at the escalation of the sale of armaments of war by the producing nations to the developing and dependent nations, and to support with every effort all international proposals and conferences designed to place limitations on, or arrange reductions in, the armaments of war of the nations of the world.


    Those resolutions have never been revoked so that is where, in theory at least, the Worldwide Anglican Communion officially stands on issues of war and peace.
    Now here is the Lutheran Church of Australia’s statement, upholding the rights of individual conscientious objectors (PDF file):

    Here is what it says in part:

    “The church pleads with governments and the citizens of their countries to embark on
    nuclear disarmament. It cannot under any circumstances support either wars of mass
    destruction or armed conflicts which violate the mandate of peace and the principles of justice.
    8. The church denounces the use of financial resources required for help in the existing areas of global human need (e.g. hunger, homelessness, disease, and poverty) for the manufacture and deployment of weapons of mass destruction.
    9. The church is aware of the moral and political difficulties surrounding the concept of deterrence and its application. Deterrence may be seen as part of either a Strategic Offence Initiative (SOI) or of a Strategic Defence Initiative (SDI).
    The pursuance of deterrence in the world today has led to an escalating arms race in
    weapons of mass destruction. This situation is fraught with acute dangers of accident,
    miscalculation, or exploitation. The balance between offence and defence may be
    achieved if mutually verifiable arms-reduction agreements eventuate.
    10. The church upholds its view that military service in principle is not against the word of God. When a government is authorised by the nation to engage its citizens in a military conflict clearly in defence of their country, such demand should not be regarded as being against the word of God or our informed Christian conscience.
    11. The church however accepts the validity of a person’s refusal to engage in military
    service if he or she is convinced that participation in a military conflict amounts to the transgression of God’s commandment ‘You shall not kill’.
    12. The church refuses to support the government’s engagement in war if and when the government subverts its God-ordained functions (cf par 2) and acts in contempt and violation of the laws of God. Under these circumstances, the church will support with all available non-violent means the conscientious stand of its members against participation in such wars or conflicts.
    13. The church maintains that warfare which potentially and actually involves the mass destruction of human beings is never justified (cf par 7), and therefore involvement in such immoral activity is always against an informed Christian conscience.
    14. The church supports legislation which recognises the validity of conscientious
    objection of citizens who firmly believe that participation in war or military conflict in
    general is against their conscience. Conscientious objection against participation in a particular war or military conflict (= selective conscientious objection) demands of the objector a careful assessment of the nature, relevant available facts, and circumstances of the war or military conflict.
    15. The church gives witness to governments about its commitment to the word of God and to prayer for peace. It will inform the authorities of its views on relevant legislative and political decisions, socio-moral issues, ethical concerns, economic circumstances, and other matters which affect the well-being and security of the people. The church cannot afford to be silent in the face of mounting armaments and increasing national and international tensions; to do so would be to fail in its obligation to help prevent mass destruction and to minimise global conflict”

    I obviously disagree with Point 10 in the strongest possible terms but the rest of it is great.

    I hope you find this interesting and/or helpful.

    God bless,


  28. Have you read Meredith Lake’s book, ‘The Bible in Australia’, Pastor?

    I think you’d enjoy it very much in general but it is also of some relevance to this debate. I’ve read the actual book itself but I’ll point you to a short article about it here for convenience’s sake:

    ‘In the twentieth century the Bible continued to have an ambiguous place in a society that upheld God, King and country, exemplified by the curious story that pacifist dissenters in World War I were permitted the Bible in prison, but found the pages with the Sermon on the Mount torn out. Lake notes that the Bible is probably more prominent on Anzac Day than on any other, reflecting perhaps a long-term association of the Bible with conservative values, though, as with the jailers of the WWI pacifists, that sometimes requires selective reading. And recent church activism supporting refugees makes a contrary case.’


    Elsewhere in the book itself, there is a discussion of WWII conscientious objectors. The Sermon on the Mount and the “live by the sword, die by the sword” passages were those most cited by pacifists who were successful in being exempt from military service on religious grounds.

    The fact that the jailers were censoring the Bible shows how threatened they felt by Christ’s teachings even by the 20th C.

    Also, the cited passage shows that those who use the Bible to support Anzac Day arguably have to do some selective reading to support their case.

  29. People are getting a bit serious here so please take this comment with the levity with which it is intended…

    Anzac Day was the creation of Rev. David Garland a convert from Irish Protestantism to liberal Anglo-Catholicism and one of Jean’s Brisbane Anglican nemeses to boot. He was the rector of the infamoys Saint James’King Street in Sydney for a while too. With that kind of pedigree, it is a wonder Pastor David’s Sydney Anglican friends want anything to do with the day at all! 😉

    To switch to a much more serious note, this is an interesting article from the Guardian about the origins of Anzac Day. There is a lot in here I didn’t know and there are troubling aspects for all Christians (whether pacifist or not) about how it mixes the sacred with the secular:

    A few quotes. I’ve edited these fown heavoly so I don’t overquote:

    “By the 1988 Bicentenary… the flag-wearing mode of nationalism that now accompanies our public observances was inaugurated, reaching fever pitch during the Howard years, when “pilgrimages” to Gallipoli and the Kokoda Track increased in popularity.

    Keeping a certain distance from Anzac Day became du jour for those who didn’t want to become contaminated by nationalism… Bitter feuds raged over… whether the whole thing was really undergirded by a myth, rather than a legend. It had become a secular Australian religion in earnest – or in Don Watson’s estimation, a kitsch religion.

    Worse still, it had become a species of idolatry, used to enchant our military ventures during the war on terror.”

    “Increasingly though, the theology of Anzac Day has been set by the military, through the agency of the RSL and the Australian War Memorial. When we look deeper, we see more soldiering, and the minutiae of the commemorations today all have their own military-theological explanations… Perhaps without us even knowing it, Anzac Day is a celebration of a kind of ritualism….You’re left to wonder whether there is any other way, though. The loss of public religion has robbed us of the language and ritual we once used to give purpose to death… At its best though, Anzac really does perform the functions of a “default state religion…”

    There is a lot more in there about the pseudo-religious overtones of the day that I won’t repeat here but which I find very worrying.

    I am not quite sure what this means:

    “In the years following the first Anzac Day in 1916, returned and serving soldiers wanted to tie the day to recruitment.”

    Are they saying soldiers wanted to use it as a propaganda tool to recruit more soldiers initially?

    This part is interesting though:

    “Garland’s intention was never to glorify war, but to remember “the sin that gave rise to international conflict and the nations’ need to atone for that sin”, as his chief biographer, John Moses, put it.”

    This part about the sin of war has been largely lost from the services in my opinion. I guess, to me, Anzac Day would mean more if we repented of our sin and did not engage in any more conflicts – I would even commemmorate the day then – but it all rings very hollow when we continue to engage in overseas wars and keep repeating our sin over and over. It makes the day seem insincere if we have not truly repented and keep engaging ourselves in these wars.


    1. This quote from the article will worry Protestants too:

      “Importantly, the commemoration was inflected with the Catholic tendency to pray with the dead, to whom we remain accountable – not just for them. “At the going down of the sun, and in the morning, we will remember them. Lest we forget.” The ode burdens Anzac Day with the status of a sacred duty, something Bob Hawke accepted in his 1987…”

      Praying with the dead is part of the service Protestant pastors would simply have to refuse to undertake, lest they be committing a serious sin.

      The whole part about accountabilitu to the dead in general is what wrings hollow to me. It is all very well for a Bob Hawke, a Paul Keating, a John Howard, a Julia Gillard or a Malcolm Turnbull to turn up wringing their hands and saying, “Lest we forget”, but it is sheer hypocrisy if they then turn around and commit more Australian troops to more wars. How is that honouring the dead in any way, shape or form? It is just lip service with no meaningful action behind it.

      There is also nothing in the service to acknowledge innocent victims of war – the so-called “collateral damage” like the hundreds of thousands of lives destroyed from our meddling in Iraq.

      If it really was “The war to end all war” then it WOULD mean something and prove we are capable of learning from our mistakes and not committing the same sins over and over again but instead it means nothing as we are still caught in this cycle of becoming involved in conflict after conflict at the behest of the great powers. We really need to turn around, learn from our mistakes and become a much more pacific nation and repent of our sins if we really want to honour the victims of war on this day.


  30. From what I’ve seen, pacifism is more of a working-class phenomenon in Australia – and no wonder, as it is the poor in the past whose children have been sent to war. No wonder they’ve had enough.

    Pacifism also seems to be more popular in the southern states – Anglicans, for instance, in Victoria and Tassie are likely to be pacifists but in Queensland and the Northern Territory not so much. They are more pro-military states, so there are different cultural and religious attitudes to pacifism in different parts of Australia.

  31. I should add Anzac Day is the same. It is more popular in some states then in others and attitudes to it wax and wane from generation to generation.

    1. This sounds cotrect to me. In my experience, support of Anzac Day doesn’t fall along politucal lines: I’ve known leftists, identity politics promoters and libertarians who support it and staunch conservatives who despise the day.

      At the moment, its resurgence is due to its popularity among Generation ‘Woke’. This may seem counterintuitive but it seems to be because of their do-gooder mentality and tendency towards authoritarianism that probably makes it attractive to them.

      Perhaps also the fact that today’s youth have grown up in a climate of constant war from Sep 11 onwards and having John Howard as the PM in their formative years has something to do with it.

      I actually suspect Anzac Day is more divisive than Australia Day but it is just that the ‘quiet Australians’ I know who oppose it don’t make a fuss or stage protest matches like the Aboriginal Lobby does about Australia Day. Of clurse, the media is so woke now it wouldn’t dare cover any criticism of Anzac Day either while Australia Day is fair game for the wokerati.

      Although Anzac Day is at its peak of popularity now, I can actually see it going into steep decline in the medium-term future. The reason I say this is with RSL Clubs closing around Australia, once the popularity of the day inevitably wanes again at some point in the future, it will have neither the administration or popular momentum to sustain it. The big cities will still have their events, of course, but I can see it dying out it in smaller regional centres for these regions. At that point, it will really only be the political elite and a minority portion of the populace that will be actively sustaining it. Time will tell if my ‘prophecy’ is true!

      1. I agree with your comments regarding the quiet Australians.

        You do occasionally hear of brave outspoken voices who oppose Anzac Day via public protest like these girls famously did several years ago:

        Also, of course, there was the journalist Scott McIntyre:

        Even if you do not agree with McIntyre, the way he was treated by SBS and Malcolm Turnbull merely for exercising his right to freedom of speech in criticising Anzac Day was appalling. Furthermore, he said nothing that was factually-inaccurate:

        Mostly, though, it is the quiet Australians. I know a few families who don’t make any fuss at all or protest to the minister. They simply refuse to turn up to Church on that day as they hold Christian pacifist beliefs. They hold home services so they still worship and glorify God in private but they don’t want to give any support to Anzac Day, especially not in a church context.

      2. Here is one more from Australian Geographic magazine on the overall history of the day and shifting perceptions over time:

        In the beginning:

        “Australia and the British Empire were still at war, so while Anzac events in 1916 commemorated those who fought and died at Gallipoli, there was also emphasis on Australia’s pride in entering the war –with continued recruitment in mind.

        “It has always been political,” says Dr Martin Crotty, an historian at the University of Queensland. Anzac commemorations have “suited political purposes right from 1916 when the first Anzac Day march was held in London and Australia, which were very much around trying to get more people to sign up to the war in 1916-1918,” he says.”

        and in the modern day:

        “Howard was a huge proponent of Anzac Day commemorations, and visited Gallipoli on 25 April in both 2000 and 2005.

        “They sensed that acrimony towards Anzac Day since the Vietnam War was shifting, and they were right,” says Carolyn. Renewed political interest and investment in Anzac Day had the desired effect, and the day of commemoration became popular once again.

        This was supported by a controversial push for more Anzac material in the school curriculum, which was quickly labelled as propaganda by critics. The Anzac legend thrived once more throughout the late 1990s and early 21st century… Some historians believe Anzac Day events are now on the decline… “We reached Peak Anzac in 2015 sure, and there has been some backing off since then, but in terms of the dawn services and Anzac Day commemoration, it will remain huge for a good while yet,” says Carolyn.”

    2. Yes, it is strange that left wingers complain about Australia Day and call it “Invasion Day” and complain about the asdociated white British imperialism but apparently have no problem with “Invasion of Turkey Day” and the white British imperialism involved there! It is all just hypocritical virtue signalling from these kids. 🙁

    3. Not to flog a dead horse but I’ve been doing some more research on this topic to broaden my understanding, Pastor. One paper in particular has proved useful to me, because it grows through the stances of some of the major theologians, of which I’d like to discuss just a few here. The paper is entitled, “A JUST WAR RESPONSE TO THE 11 SEPTEMBER 2001 TERRORIST ATTACK”, by Harold O. J. Brown of the Reformed Theological Seminary in Idaho.

      Here are some key quotes about leading theologians and my responses.

      “Finally, he addresses Christ’s words to Peter, “Put your sword back into its place; forall those who take up the sword shall perish by the sword.” In doing so, Aquinas limits this command to “bishops and clerics” only, making it unlawful for them to fight”

      My comments: I realise from your comments above that you don’t think this command is universal, Pastor, but I don’t see any textual evidence for Aquinas’ claim that it applies only to church leaders. Besides, for us Protestants, the Reformation eliminated the hard division between clergy and laity as there was a renewed emphasis on the “priesthood of all believers”, therefore from our understanding, Aquinas’ interpretation could still prevent prohibit all Christians from fighting.

      “Wyclif acknowledges that conquest does not provide a title of possession. He sets
      forth three just war requirements: charity in the conqueror, authorization by the Creator, and unlicensed intrusion on the part of the previous possessor:

      ‘The first of these is demonstrated from the argument so far: without the title of charity
      nobody can be lord of anything. The second is demonstrated by the need for ratification,
      confirmation, and authorization by the Sovereign Lord for any creature to have anything, absolutely speaking. And the third is demonstrated by what was said in ch. 18 above about the transferal of a kingdom from a race on account of wrongs, injurious conduct, outrages, and various perfidy. For although an individual may sometimes be punished in the body as an example of patience, or to acquire merit, or to declare the glory of God, as in the case of Job and the man born blind; nevertheless, for the spoiling of a kingdom from a city to be justified, it must be presumed that the objects of the spoil had been mis’used. For if their right use had been maintained, the spoilers would have had no right to
      dispossess those whom they have despoiled.'”

      My comments: Is Wyclif saying here that a war must be explicitly authorised by the Creator to be legitimate, a la the Conquest of Canaan? Without direct revelation from God, that would obviously mean all modern wars are prohibited.

      Martin Luther:
      “Luther takes his theology of the two kingdoms, the boundary between the province of the Christian person and that of the secular person—one person with a foot in each camp—and applies it to the civil sphere:

      ‘When a Christian goes to war or when he sits on a judge’s bench, punishing his neighbor, or when he registers an official complaint, he is not doing this as a Christian, but as a soldier or judge or lawyer. At the same time he keeps a Christian heart. He does not intend
      to harm anyone, and it grieves him that his neighbor must suffer grief. So he lives simultaneously as a Christian toward everyone, personally suffering all sorts of things in the world, and as a secular person, maintaining, using, and performing all the functions required by the law of his territory or city, by civil law, and by domestic law.’

      Luther saw different jurisdictions of authority among Christians arising from their temporal offices (Ämter) or stations (Stände) in life—spouse, parent, merchant, ruler, pastor, etc.”

      My comments: Martin Luther, great nan though he is, is being very idealistic here, IMHO. Can we really separate and compartmentalise parts of our lives in the way he suggests?

      “Calvin looks at the soldier as an agent of God’s love. As he argues, “Paul meant to refer the precept of respecting power of magistrates to the law of love.”

      ‘The soldier is thus as much an agent of God’s love as he is of God’s wrath, for the two characteristics are harmonious in God. Calvin argues in this way because he holds that to soldier justly—to restrain evil out of love for neighbor—is a Godlike act. It is Godlike because God restrains evil out of love for His creatures. None of this is to say that we fully imitate God or Christ when we use force justly, for the just soldier’s acts can never be redemptive acts—acts that have a saving quality for those who are targets of the acts of force (except, of course, in the sense that the just soldier “saves” the unjust neighbor from more unjust acts). Yet the just soldier who cultivates the military virtues in such a
      way as to harness and direct them toward his final end—beatitude with God—may nevertheless be said to be one who, as the Reformers liked to say, follows Christ at a distance.’

      My thoughts: Boy, they say the pacifist are naive idealists but to hope solfiers act solely out of a motive of love of neighbour seems unrealistically idealistic, too.

      I’d like to discuss some other aspects of Calvin’s thoughts from the same article now:

      “Because soldiering is conceived as an office of love, Calvin rejects outright mercenary soldiering—a popular profession among the Swiss of Calvin’s time—since it encourages soldiers to fight merely out of love of money and not out of love for their neighbors. For Calvin, soldiering loses its Christian function and legitimacy when it becomes a commodity”

      My comment: What does this mean for our day and age when we have standing armies and all soldiers are paid professionals?

      “He [Moses] now teaches that, even in lawful wars, cruelty is to be repressed, and bloodshed to be abstained from as much as possible. He therefore commands that, when they shall have come to take a city, they should first of all exhort its inhabitants to obtain peace by capitulating; and if they should do so, to keep them alive, and to be content with imposing a tribute on them. This principle of equity was naturally implanted in all nations; hence heralds took their rise, nor did they commence a just war without a solemn proclamation. Besides, inasmuch as the word hostis (an enemy) formerly signified a foreigner (peregrinum) the Romans mitigated by its mildness the sadness of the reality. On this ground they deemed that faith was to be kept with an enemy; and that sentiment of Cicero is worthy of praise, ‘that wars must not be undertaken except that we may live in unmolested peace.’ But if God would have his people mindful of humanity in the very
      midst of the din of arms, we may hence infer how greatly displeasing to Him is human
      bloodshed. Even those whom He has armed with his authority, He would still have disposed to clemency, and He represses their ardor, lest they should stain with blood the swords given them by His permission. ”

      My thoughts: these are beautiful words by Calvin and indicate how he would be disgusted by the cruelty and war crimes exhibited in the conflicts of the 20th Century and right down to our own day.

      “Calvin points out that Christ’s gentle nature—his willingness to suffer violence at the hands of Jewish and Roman authorities—is grounded in his priestly office of reconciliation and intercession. Christ’s pacific nature is inextricably tied to his role as redeemer and cannot be intended as a model for Christian behavior.”

      My comments: Here is where I disagree with Calvin. After we are saved by justification through faith alone, isn’t it our duty to be sanctified by becoming progressively more Christ-like over time? Therefore part of this would nean taking on His “pacific nature”. Given Christ had previously given us specific instructions to “turn the other cheek” and not to repay evil for evil”, doesn’t this indicate His pacific nature was something He very much wants us to emulate?

      1. Great questions!

        “After we are saved by justification through faith alone, isn’t it our duty to be sanctified by becoming progressively more Christ-like over time? Therefore part of this would nean taking on His “pacific nature”.”

        Yes, I’d have thought so.

      2. I jist spotted this on the news. To me this a better way to commemorate Anzac Day. A short extract from a long article:

        “As a second-generation Italian-Australian, Edda Lampis has always felt alienated on Anzac Day. During WWII, the villages of her parents… were bombed by the allied forces.

        “When I wake up to Anzac Day, and the fighter jets are flying overhead, I just get a full feeling of dread in my body… I know that those fighter jets are being used in conflicts overseas to bomb people like me… I’m very aware that my ancestors were the enemy.”

        Until recent years, Ms Lampis felt she had no way to engage with Anzac Day…. However, thanks to an annual Remembering and Healing event – and a corresponding interfaith service – held in the Northern NSW city of Lismore, Ms Lampis has found a way to be included in this national day.

        “[They] give me a reason to leave the house, and a place to bring my grief at my ancestral experiences of war… and to envision the Australia that I want to live in – [one] that really embraces the multicultural community and perspectives, as we walk together.””

        Meanwhile, newspapers are full of declarations this is “our most sacred day” so if their reporting reflects majority opinion, it really has overtaken Good Friday in importance in the minds of most Australians. 🙁

      3. Another worthwhile excerpt, about a German’s perspective:

        “German-born Australian Sabina Baltruweit… like Ms Lampis, felt a sense of discomfort on Anzac Day…

        “I felt like an outsider, because the doors are open to glorification of war, even just a little bit, and that gives me the total creeps,” she said.

        Ms Baltruweit feels that in Germany, commemorations of war come with greater acknowledgement of suffering caused to all sides, and a commitment to lasting harmony… And it’s these values – inclusiveness, reconciliation and peace – that she has tried to instil with Lismore’s Remembering and Healing events.”

        I applaud these efforts.

      4. The Lismore alternative event is the kind of thing I could attend in good conscience.

        God bless.

      5. On the news headlines tonight:

        “One of Australia’s most powerful national security figures says free nations “again hear the beating drums” of war, as military tensions in the Indo-Pacific rise.

        In an Anzac Day message to staff, Home Affairs Department Secretary Mike Pezzullo said Australia must strive to reduce the likelihood of war “but not at the cost of our precious liberty”.

        Mr Pezzullo also invoked the memory of two United States war generals and warned this nation must be prepared “to send off, yet again, our warriors to fight”…

        “Today, as free nations again hear the beating drums and watch worryingly the militarisation of issues that we had, until recent years, thought unlikely to be catalysts for war, let us continue to search unceasingly for the chance for peace while bracing again, yet again, for the curse of war,” Mr Pezzullo said.”

      6. This is from that Commie website. As usual, take their propagandisyic slin with a grain of salt. We certainly do live in interesting times, unfortunately, as this summary of recent statements by leading government figures indicates, as they begin to condition the public for war.

        The comment aboyt the current crop of 18 and 19 year olds is especially chilling. 🙁

      7. Good old Jeff Sparrow has written a piece now:

        “Yet, once again, some on the left have fallen in behind the rhetoric of the right. Persuaded by the oppression in Xinjiang, the brutality in Hong Kong and the general authoritarianism of the Chinese rulers, some of those who might be counted on to oppose war have come to believe that there’s something progressive in backing a military buildup.”

      8. More on Australia’s relationship with China:

        “On the current trajectory, he [Professor Hugh White] believes China’s growing power and assertiveness could force opposing regions into “the biggest war the world has seen since 1945”, putting Australia in an unwinnable position.

        “It would be a war the US and its allies would have no clear chance of winning. Indeed, it is not even clear what winning a war with a country such as China means. And it would very likely become a nuclear war,” he wrote.”


        “Australia must conceive a new relationship with China, one that takes account of this reality and works to balance and protect the full range of our interests … this would require hard work, deep thought and subtle execution. It would mean a revolution in our foreign policy.”

    1. From the Danish Lutheran newspaper, Kristeligt Dagblad:

      “Whether Christianity is actually warlike depends on what texts you read and how you interpret them. Today, the prevailing view is that Christianity speaks against killing. But 1000 years ago, people read the same Bible texts that we do today, and came to some completely different conclusions about killing in God’s name,” says Carsten Selch Jensen.

      1. I should have added yesterday it is strange the Bible can be interpreted either way – from a human pint of view, war is the most pressing moral problem, so you’d expect Jesus to spend a lot of time talking about it, either in terms of making strongly worded, unambiguous pacifist statements or listing the criteria to meet in a Just War but his attitude is more thar we should be peacemakers and but to be alarmed about the inevitable wars to come but focus on God and fear Him and the coming judgement more than man and work towards His kingdom.

        To me, it seems like Jesus is progressing the law. He once allowed an eye for an eye in the OT era because we are so sinful but now, with His coming, He instructs us to turn the other cheek. He once allowed wars, now the focus must be on peacemaking until His return. We were told not to murder or commit adultery before bit now He tells us that it includes anger in the heart and the lust of the eye, so His requirements are becoming stricter and He is making us more fully aware of the extent of our sinfulness and need for forgiveness and salvation.

        By the way, this is interesting too – George Orwell versus Vera Brittain on German civilian deaths/”collateral damage” in WW2.

        Check put the discussion in the comments section as well.

      2. Just to develop my own thinking on this, let’s work through it some more:

        We know we are such rotten sinners that God is even prepared to give us some leeway because Jesus tells us that is why divorce is allowed under limited circumstances.

        I assume this is why God mandates the “eye for an eye” law in the OT – to limit our propensity for violence. He also allows holy wars under some limited circumstances.

        Jesus comes and raises us to an even higher standard – there is to be no more eye for an eye; instead we are now to turn the other cheek, act as peacemakers and the use of the sword is cursed. When there are wars and rumours of wars, we are not to worry (because these things are worldly???)

        Jesus rides into Jerusalem as Prince of Peace on a *donkey* thereby inaugurating the coming of God’s Kingdom (of peace?) We know God ultimately wants peace – prophetically, swords will be beaten into ploughshares, lions will lie down with lambs, and much of Micah, He tells King David he cannot build the Jerusalem Temple because He has spilt too much blood, etc, the pre-flood society was violent, etc, so God is ultimately a God of peace not a God of war. In OT times, He us prepared to use violent methods to curb sin though, like the flood and the holy war to conquer Canaan. By the time of Jesus, though, He no longer uses violent methods. Depending on how literally one reads Revelation, He may do so in the End Times or it may be spiritual warfare.

        Jesus can bring down hosts of angels in Gethsemane to defend Himself but He chooses NOT to use violence and likewise we are not to use violence to defend Him or further His kingdom.

      3. The last time I attended an Anzac Day Service was 13 years ago when I was privileged to be a student-teacher at a Christian school in Queensland.

        An old World War Two vet gave the keynote address to the students. It was all about Japanese atrocities, such as the gunning down of nurses and the sinking of a Red Cross ship (real, documented events) but of course he made no mention of our side’s war crimes like killing Japanese POWs.

        The vet’s mentality was very much an “eye for an eye” (“that was why we had to fight them”) so I was disturbed by that service and at odds with the ethos of a Christian school. 🙁

      4. This is what Calvin’s close colleague and fellow reformer, Jean Viret, had to say about Christians and war:

        “The Reformer expressed a profound concern to turn Christians back from all shedding of blood:

        I desire it to be well considered . . . that every war is so exceedingly dangerous and full of hazard that there is nothing of which Christians must have a greater horror than of taking up arms; I mean not solely against Christians, but against all men of the earth; there is nothing which Christians should be more wary to employ, nor which is less suited to their profession. I desire also above all that Christians always remember that the Church of Jesus Christ and His Kingdom is not a temporal or earthly Kingdom, but spiritual, and that Jesus Christ gave no physical weapons to His Church, neither to advance nor augment it . . . and that He always enjoys a greater triumph over His enemies under the cross and persecutions than in prosperity.”

      5. There is an interesting discussion on the ABC about how Chinese students, indoctrinated with nationalist propaganda by the Communist Party, see Anzac Day performing the same role in Australia:

        “… many international students told the ABC that China wasn’t alone in this, highlighting that Australia has a form of patriotic education when it comes to ANZAC memorials and Australia Day, for example.”

        They note further on in the article that learning critical thinking is the antidote to these kinds of propaganda campaigns.

      6. This is a really interesting discussion. Most Christians in my home country (Germany) are pacifist now becausr of how history of course.

        A few thoughts:

        – most books seem to argue that, yes, the early church was pacifist.

        – I read a blog post online by your colleague/friend McAlpine who draws on Saint Stephen’s sermon in Acts to argue that Moses was not a murderer when he killed the Egyptian to protect the Hebrew, thereby legitimizing defence of others as an allowable motive to kill. The trouble is, Peter is “doing a Moses” in Gethsemame: he is drawing his sword to protect Jesus and Jesus condemns tgis act.

        3. The other counter-argument I have read from some of the refirmers is Hebrews 11:33, which they used yo justify warfare.

        4. The church found in recent years in the garrison fort at Megiddo may *possibly* be the oldest in the Middle East and may indicate Christians served in the army from a very eay stage. It is hard to date though because the church may have been converted from a building used for other purposes.

        5. Irenaeus, who was a disciple of Polycarp who was a disciple of John, argues against war and says Christians have started fulfilling the prophecy of turning swords into ploughshares but he also seems to praise the military life and other “kingly pursuits”. Maybe military is okay but war isn’t, then?

        Then again, Irenaeus was also the first who argued for the authority of the Church of Rome and started the rot there, so what would he know…

        None of this still answers the question asked by Jesus about who the “all” refers to when Jesus says “all who live by the sword will die by the sword”.

        More confusing then ever…


        I went away and did some more research. These two links were particularly helpful.

        Some thoughts:

        Some of the early church leaders argued military service should be similar to Paul’s views on marriage:

        – if you become a Christian after joining the military, stay where you are, at least until you are baptized.

        – you should never join the ministry after conversion, though.

        This mirrors Paul’s views on marriage, so they were probably making use of tgat model:

        – if you become a Christian after marriage, don’t divorce your unfaithful partner – your influence may even help convert them.

        – if yiu are single when you become a Christian, don’t marry a non-believer or you eill be unevenly yoked.

        This raises questions about military because you might be unevenky yoked and ordered to act in a way contrary to Christ, since we can’t have two masters.

        Furthermore, they felt a soldier who had spilt blood should be banned from communion for three years (which was actually considered lenient).

        On the other hand, we have these thoughts from learned theologians from the era. Is all of this just ivy tower thought? Also, tgese pacifist thinkers, some have noted, all lived in the safety of the centre of the empire, not on its wild frontiers. Does this matter?

        The earliest Christians could not join the military anyway as they were normally either Jews or slaves. Later, some grassroots Christians evidently did. So who is more trustworthy, the learned elites or the salt of the earrh?

        Apoarently the reformers in texts like Vindiciae contra tyrannos, used the example of the “Thundering Legion” to argue it was valid for Christians to fight in the Wars of Religion but they seemed to conveniently ignore the counterarguments of Tertullian, Origen and co and did not engage with them. We seem from my third link above there is more to the Thundering Legion story anyway…

        We also have the powerful testimony of Maximilian of Tebessa who was prepared to lay down his life rather than become a soldier and Martin of Tours, who resigned the army on becoming a follower of Christ as it was no longer lawful for him to fight.

        As Jean rightly notes too, war is not just about killing. There are the ethics of propaganda (bearing false witness), indoctrination/”brainwashing” of new recruits, subterfuge, mandatory drug use (amphetamines) and even suicide pills in some cases to consider for today’s soldiers. They may possibly be allowed to bear the sword if Tertullian, Origen, the Octavius of Marcus Minucius Felix, Hippolytus, Justin Martyr, Clement of Alexandria, etc, are wrong but what about all of these aspects of modern war?

        Very difficult moral questions…

      8. Sorry, I am reposting with my many, many typos fixed. I wish you had an edit button to let people correct things. Anyway, my post should be much more intelligible now.


        I went away and did some more research. These links were particularly helpful.

        Some thoughts:

        Some of the early church leaders argued military service should be similar to Paul’s views on marriage:

        – if you become a Christian after joining the military, stay where you are, at least until you are baptized.

        – you should never join the ministry after conversion, though.

        This mirrors Paul’s views on marriage, so they were probably making use of tgat model:

        – if you become a Christian after marriage, don’t divorce your unfaithful partner – your influence may even help convert them.

        – if you are single when you become a Christian, don’t marry a non-believer or you eill be unevenly yoked.

        This raises questions about military because you might be unevenly yoked and ordered to act in a way contrary to Christ, since we can’t have two masters.

        Furthermore, they felt a soldier who had spilt blood should be banned from communion for three years (which was actually considered lenient).

        On the other hand, we have these thoughts from learned theologians from the era. Is all of this just ivory tower thought? Also, these pacifist thinkers, some have noted, all lived in the safety of the centre of the empire, not on its wild frontiers. Does this matter? Maybe the voice from the pews was more in tune with Jesus’ thoughts.

        As it is though, the earliest Christians could not join the military anyway as they were normally either Jews or slaves, both of whom were banned from the Roman Army. Later, some grassroots Christians evidently did. So who is more trustworthy, the learned elites or the salt of the earrh?

        Apoarently the reformers in texts like Vindiciae contra tyrannos, used the example of the “Thundering Legion” to argue it was valid for Christians to fight in the Wars of Religion but they seemed to conveniently ignore the counterarguments of Tertullian, Origen and co and did not engage with them. We see from my third link above there is more to the Thundering Legion story anyway…

        We also have the powerful testimony of Maximilian of Tebessa who was prepared to lay down his life rather than become a soldier and Martin of Tours, who resigned the army on becoming a follower of Christ as it was no longer lawful for him to fight.

        As Jean rightly notes too, war is not just about killing. There are the ethics of propaganda (bearing false witness), indoctrination/”brainwashing” of new recruits, subterfuge, mandatory drug use (amphetamines) and even suicide pills in some cases to consider for today’s soldiers. They may possibly be allowed to bear the sword if Tertullian, Origen, the Octavius of Marcus Minucius Felix, Hippolytus, Justin Martyr, Clement of Alexandria, etc, are wrong but what about all of these aspects of modern war?

        Very difficult moral questions…

      9. As you might have been able to tell, I was becoming really frustrated as I sought understanding on this question last night. I prayed to God about it and, this morning at my Australian Lutheran Church service, He answered my prayer by opening my eyes a bit more with this verse from Christ’s interrogation by Pilate in our Gospel reading (it was the service for the Sunday of Christ the King in our liturgy):

        “Jesus replied, “My kingdom is not from this world. If my kingdom were from this world, my servants would fight to prevent me being handed over to the Jewish authorities. But now my kingdom is not from here.”” John 18:36

        This gives me more clarity! Truly if we seek we will find and the door will be open unto us, praise God! This quote from Christ obviously ties back to His statement in the garden to Peter that God would send down legions of angels if he asked for them and to His role as Prince of Peace, riding on a donkey on Palm Sunday, etc.

        Christ is saying if His were a worldly Kingdom, it *would* be appropriate to defend it by force of arms. Perhaps this is why the ancient Hebrews conquered and then defended Canaan by force of arms: it was a worldly kingdom foreshadowing the spiritual Kingdom of God Christ ushers in, hence the reason we are to be people of peace now, winning converts with the word, not the sword.

        What then of worldly kingdoms? Should Christians fight to defend our nation-states or not? I still don’t really have an answer to this but since we are to be in this world but not of it and because we are just pilgrims in this world and satan is its prince, I’d suggest not.

        What about countries where there is no clear separation between church and state? Things are even muddier. Clearly there needs to be a strong separation between the things of God and the things of this world.

        Aside from that, I thought of some other ethical issues last night. Besides soldiers taking amphetamines, bearing false witness with propaganda, etc, here are a few more moral issues they face beyond bearing the sword:

        1. Treatment of refugees. Since the military is used to “turn back the boats” at the moment, this creates a quandary for Christians seeking to welcoming the stranger and those in dire need. (Let us always remember Christ and His family were refugees in Egypt and many, many thousands of Christians have been refugees from persecution throughout the centurues).

        2. Idolatry. Emperor worship may no longer be a thing but the culture of the armed forces is an incubator for other false gods like militarism, extreme patriotism and nationalism. Even the whole idea of “mateship” really emphasised in the Australian military self-mythologising, could become an idol if protecting your mates/peer pressure leads you away from obeying the one true God.

        Therefore, I do think Christians would be wise NOT to serve in the military. To be sure, you face many of these same temptations in normal civilian life too but the rigidity of military life, the indoctrination with groupthink and de-individualisation, etc and focus on obeying orders means you are much more closely tied to others and unable to make autonomous moral decisions. If the culture of your unit and commander are unChristian and you have no choice but to obey then surely this is the very definition of being “unevenly yoked” which the Bible clearly warns us about. Therefore, Christians should have no part in this world’s wars and militaries and focus instead on spiritual battles and propagating the Kingdom of God instead, as per Christ’s example to us of the way in which He lived out His earthly life.

        That gives us more than enough to do in our lives without worrying about the constant turmoil and carnal wars of this fallen world.

      10. Yes, I think you can safely say at an absolute minimum that the culture of the Australian Degence Force and the RAAF is not wholesome for Christians – to put it very mildly – as yet another scandal is revealed in the news this morning:

        Leaving aside all of the debates about Christian pacifism versus Just War theory, the recent scandals – to say nothing of the war crimes allegations – show that the Australian military evidently has a culture of bullying and intimidation that is not conducive to good Christian living. I think any young Christian would find it extremely difficult to uphold the morals and tenets of the faith and live a Christ-like life in such a culture. “Mateship” indeed.

        God bless.

      11. Thanks, Allen. Yes that scandal is absolutely disgusting.

        I have been just reading two Calvinist ex-soldiers from the 1500s, Geffrey Gates and Barnabe Rich, who wrote two of the most significant tracts of their era that defended the existence of militaries from a Christian standpoint:

        To be honest, I was really disappointed by both of them. I am also very surprised their arguments were considered convincing at the time they were written. Both drawn on numerous OT examples to make their cases but then they move on to various historical examples and arguments from classical scholars.

        There is no engagement either the NT, either to provide examples to make their pro-military case, nor is there engagement with any of the seemingly pro-pacifist arguments in the NT, like the “live by the sword/die by the sword” curse. Nor do they engage with or attempt to rebut Pacifist Church fathers like Tertullian.

        To be fair to Geffrey Gates, on page 43 of his work he strongly condemns the dissolute soldiers of his day, so I think it is fair to say he would be absolutely disgusted by the behaviour of the Australian Defence Force in all of its seemingly-neverending run of scandals, including that incident reported in the press yesterday.

        Barnabe Riche’s work suffers the same weaknesses as Gates’. The most interesting thing about his is these opening words thouh which seem to indicate there were Christian opponents of his who did have strong pacifist convictions even in the 1500s, which we might not think of as the most pacifist age, coming at the time of the wars of religion and before the emergence of Quakerism and Anabaptism as strong religious currents in Britain:

        “Then first to speak of war, because I know there be many whose consciences be so scrupulous that they think no wars may be lawfully attempted, allowed of by God’s word, or agreeing with true Christianity, for the number of outrages which by it are committed.”

        Finally, both authors are of course speaking of militias, not standing armies as we understand them today. Hope this info helps someone.

        Christ be with you.

      12. Here are some key quotes from an article by Robert D. Linder on the Calvinist Pierre Viret’s thoughts on war and the military:

        “… neither Calvin nor most of
        his closest associates-including Viret-sanctioned war as a legiti-
        mate means of spreading the gospel. In fact, Calvin was reluctant
        even to approve of war as a means of defending the true Reformed
        faith, although his successor at Geneva, Theodore Beza, did. Even
        so, it is well worth noting that Geneva maintained official neutral-
        ity during the period of the Wars of Religion in France in the
        second half of the sixteenth cen tury.1°
        Both Calvin and Viret discussed the Christian’s role in or-
        ganized combat in terms of a just war. Viret, as much or perhaps
        even more than Calvin, demonstrates that first-generation Calvin-
        ism was much less aggressive than many in the past have supposed.”

        stressed the fact that both the medieval crusades and the Christian
        war against the Muslim Turks of his day degraded the Christian
        religion. Viret argued that the Christian faith should be spread by
        persuasion and that genuine conversion could not be forced. Thus,
        the proper way to deal with the Turks was to send them missionary
        preachers, not the sword!z6
        In a like manner, Viret criticized the use of coercion against
        Anabaptists. Under no circumstances would he support a crusade
        against them, and he argued that persecution was something in
        which Reformed Christians should not participate. He called per-
        secu tors “tyrants,” and clearly opposed wars against the Anabaptists
        and other alleged heretics. This does not mean that Viret felt
        that the Anabaptists and similar groups should go unopposed. To
        the contrary, he believed that they were wrong and should be
        confronted-bu t with words and argumentation, not with swords
        and inquisi tions.27
        Further, Viret agreed with Erasmus and most of the other
        Christians who wrote on this topic in this period that there should
        be no war between “true Christians.””

        “… there is in Viret room for disobedience based upon the
        citizen’s or soldier’s individual decision that the command received
        is unjust or illegitimate. And, unlike Augustine, there is in Viret
        no talk of being able to kill in love. Instead, Viret urges his readers
        to obey the magistrates and princes as a matter of course, for they
        “are ordained by God to preserve the peace.” 24 Still, that obedience
        is not absolute, but qualified, as the previously cited examples
        demonstrate. Either the magistrate and prince operate to establish
        justice and preserve the peace and to wage war for the same
        purposes, or they do not. And when it is necessary and just to wage
        war against those who do evil, there is no suggestion in Viret that
        this can be done out of love for the wrongdoer even as correction
        and chastisement are imposed upon a son by a loving father, as
        Augustine believed. To the contrary, Viret teaches that the indi-
        vidual Christian should never be the aggressor in the act of killing,and that if he must act in self-defense, he should ask God to forgive
        him for what he must do because of the hardness of the human
        heart and the sin of the human condition.25 One may, according to
        Viret, kill in self-defense or perhaps in a truly just war, but not
        seek to mask that killing in love.”

        “Christians today can learn a great deal from Viret’s thoughtful
        approach to the problems involved in embracing the doctrine of
        the just war. It is obvious that he was concerned that Christian
        believers observe two basic guidelines that are today referred to as
        “the principle of proportion” (which requires that the good
        achievable or the evil prevented be greater than the values destroyed
        or the destruction involved in any resort to arms) and “the prin-
        ciple of discrimination” (which stresses that some acts are not
        permissible even when fighting a so-called just war). Moreover,
        Viret linked Christians in the just-war tradition to their roots-
        roots which emphasize that all wars are evil and which restrain the
        participants in those wars which are deemed just and therefore
        necessary to be fought. There appears .to be no room in Viret’s
        thought for an aggressive first-strike mentality, or for warfare that
        is total and unrestrained.
        Finally, Viret’s ideas concerning a just war once again bring to
        the fore the issue of the responsibility of the individual versus the
        power of the secular state. Can the two ever be reconciled? In
        particular, should Christians participate in the martial activities of
        today’s secular state under any circumstances? If so, what consti-
        tutes a just war in this age, especially in pluralistic societies? And
        under what circumstances is it permissible for Christians of one nation to kill Christians of another nation-or for that matter, for
        Christians of any nation to kill anybody else-during time of war?
        Or did Jesus in principle disarm all Christians?
        What is the responsibility of the individual Christian today in
        relation to the modern secular state and its military ventures?
        Pierre Viret has not provided any definitive answers to this impor-
        tant question, only the hope that individual responsibility and the
        power of the state can be made compatible in the case of a truly
        just war. But it is clear that he preferred that Christians be known
        as peacemakers!”

        It is interesting to reflect that Calvinists on France and Switzerland have now moved to a much more strictly pacifist position due to the legacy of leaders like André Trocmé and the lived experience of the twentieth century wars.

      13. This is what Calvin says on Matt 26:52 –

        “Put thy sword again into its place.

        By these words, Christ confirms the precept of the Law, which forbids private individuals to use the sword. And above all, we ought to attend to the threatening of punishment which is immediately added; for men did not, at their own pleasure, appoint this punishment for avenging their own blood; but God himself, by severely prohibiting murder, has declared how dearly he loves mankind. First, then, he does not choose to be defended by force and violence, because God in the Law forbade men to strike. This is a general reason; and he immediately descends to a special reason.

        But here a question arises. Is it never lawful to use violence in repelling unjust violence? For though Peter had to deal with wicked and base robbers, still he is condemned for having drawn his sword. If, in such a case of moderate defense, an exception was not allowed, Christ appears to tie up the hands of all. Though we have treated this question more copiously 218 under Matthew 5:39, yet I shall now state my opinion again in a few words. First, we must make a distinction between a civil court and the court of conscience; 219 for if any man resist a robber, 220 he will not be liable to public punishment, because the laws arm him against one who is the common enemy of mankind. Thus, in every case when defense is made against unjust violence, the punishment which God enjoins earthly judges to carry into execution ceases. And yet it is not the mere goodness of the cause that acquits the conscience from guilt, unless there be also pure affection. So then, in order that a man may properly and lawfully defend himself, he must first lay aside excessive wrath, and hatred, and desire of revenge, and all irregular sallies of passion, that nothing tempestuous may mingle with the defense. As this is of rare occurrence, or rather, as it scarcely ever happens, Christ properly reminds his people of the general rule, that they should entirely abstain from using the sword.

        But there are fanatics who have foolishly misapplied this passage, so as to wrest the sword out of the hands of judges. They contend that it is unlawful to strike with the sword. This I acknowledge to be true, for no man is at liberty to take the sword at his own pleasure, so as to commit murder; but I deny that magistrates—who are God’s ministers, and by whom he executes his judgments—ought to be viewed as belonging to the ordinary rank. And not only so, but by these words of Christ, this very power is expressly ascribed to them: for when he declares that murderers must be put to death, it follows, that the sword is put into the hands of judges, that they may take vengeance for unjust murders. It will sometimes happen, indeed, that men addicted to the shedding of blood are punished by other means; but this is the ordinary way in which the Lord determined that the fierce cruelty of wicked men should be restrained from rioting with impunity. Certain doctors of what is called Canon Law have ventured to proceed to such a pitch of impudence as to teach, that the sword was not taken from Peter, but he was commanded to keep it sheathed until the time came for drawing it; and hence we perceive how grossly and shamefully those dogs have sported with the word of God.”

      14. “Yes, I think you can safely say at an absolute minimum that the culture of the Australian Degence Force and the RAAF is not wholesome for Christians – to put it very mildly – as yet another scandal is revealed in the news this morning:

        Leaving aside all of the debates about Christian pacifism versus Just War theory, the recent scandals – to say nothing of the war crimes allegations – show that the Australian military evidently has a culture of bullying and intimidation that is not conducive to good Christian living. I think any young Christian would find it extremely difficult to uphold the morals and tenets of the faith and live a Christ-like life in such a culture. “Mateship” indeed.”

        I have known several currently-serving/recently-resigned members of the Australian Army and RAAF in recent years, Allen, and, sadly, none of them were remotely Christian in their beliefs or ethos. These scandals, sickening though they are, do not surprise me from what I know of the mentality of our recent generations of servicemen and women.

  32. Sonce it is the start of Hannukah tomorrow, I have been reading a bit about the festival. First Maccabees seems to repufiate pacifism since the Jews who do not fight (because it is the Sabbath) are slaughtered ehile those who battle (with faith in God) are ultimately victorious against all the odds.

    I found this commentary on a Jewish website:

    “… The view echoed here [by Josephus] seems to be that non-violence, by virtue of its moral superiority, can succeed. But for the Jewish victims of the Holocaust — as well as in Israel today —such pacifism offers cold comfort.

    Some argue, that this position is not an authentic Jewish one — but essentially Christian. In the New Testament Jesus says: “All they that take the sword shall perish with the sword.” In the Sermon on the Mount it says: “Resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.””

    This really clarifies thst what we are dealing with here is something novel, introduced by Jesus if pacifism is indeed what He intends for us as Christians. He would have known He was going against the Maccabees stiry yoo in which religion WAS defended by the sword and those who turned the other cheek were slaughtrred so this just makes His thought more aatounding (at least in the eyes of the world). From a worldly point of view, He does not seem to have learnt the lesson of history and how God is “supposed” to operaye, defending those who fight to protect His religion. Disarming Peter is a revolutionary momemt indeed, then.

    1. Just read something interesting on this. Someone hypothesizes in a paper that Matthew 24:20 (where Jesus says “Pray that your flight will not take place in winter or on the Sabbath”), may contain an allusion to the Hanukkah story of the people not fighting on the Sabbath. They suggest Jesus is saying your choice is to flee Jerusalem or stay but fighting is not an option, hinting the Jewish martyrs who upheld the Sabbath were right, meaning this is another allusion to Christ’s proposed pacifism.

      On the other hand, someone also pointed out that “live by the sword/die by the sword” was addressed to Peter and the disciples but was it also addressed to the soldiers who came to Gethsemane to arrest Jesus or not? That is they key question.

  33. Another way of looking at things:

    “… none of the commentators rejected the demand
    that soldiers be personally godly (Johnson’s position 4). But it would be absurd to expect
    otherwise, since no early modern pastor would even have thought of suggesting that godliness
    did not matter. The third point is no less important. Many if not most commentators were not
    really interested in justifying war from the point of view of man. It was God’s use of war that
    concerned them most. The Sevenfold Exercise on the Catechism (1671) by Franciscus
    Ridderus (1620-1683) may serve to illustrate this (Ridderus 1671 II, 384-412). His
    explanation of Sunday 40 is almost wholly concerned with war. Ridderus worried that the
    Republic was on the brink of a new war—indeed, the guerre d’Hollande of Louis XIV
    actually did break out in 1672. He explains at length that God is the ultimate cause of war,
    which he proves from numerous Old Testament passages. But why does God inflict war on a
    people?, he asks. As a punishment for its sins, Ridderus responds, providing copious biblical
    illustrations of the harm caused by war. Ridderus takes great pains to emphasize that God’s
    own people may be ruined by war (Ezekiel. 7:3; Jeremiah 16:5), even to the extent that a land
    may lose its “Church and public Worship.” The emphasis in Ridderus’s account is not on justifiable or justified holy war, but on war as a just punishment for “God’s own people.” The
    chastisement of God’s latter-day Israel was a common theme in Reformed sermons or
    “jeremiads.” Yet the idea that war was an instrument for punishing sin was hardly confined to
    Calvinism (or to the early modern period, for that matter; see for example Hale 1971, 3-26). It
    is, in other words, important to realize that not all allusions to religious warfare necessarily
    concern what Bainton regarded as holy wars. Thus, references to the so-called Psalms of
    vengeance were often intended as a warning, not to the enemy, but to the domestic
    population. God punishes iniquity, and may do so by visiting a nation equally with hunger,
    pestilence, or war. As Psalm 7:12 has it: “If he [the wicked] turn not, he [God] will whet his
    sword” (cf. Teellinck 1621, which has Psalm 7:12 as its central theme)….

    t a full-blown concept of holy war was largely
    absent from seventeenth and eighteenth-century Dutch moral theology, and, by implication,
    that historical Calvinism (or Protestantism in general) was not inherently belligerent. In fact,
    seventeenth-century religious ethics concerning just war may have been more “secular” than
    has been assumed in much research—and, concomitantly, the role of thinkers like Hugo
    Grotius in the actual dissemination of the secular just war tradition less pronounced. This is
    not to say that seventeenth-century Calvinism was even remotely pacifist (contemporary
    theological reflection on Dutch colonial policies of piracy, plunder, and slavery would make
    an interesting research topic). However, historical analyses of such ethical issues as just and
    holy war would do well to concentrate on historical contexts rather than religious traditions.
    Different contexts give rise to different ethics…

    apocalyptic hatred justified war in the sixteenth century, nationalist enmity did so in the
    nineteenth. Justifications of violence religionis causa and ideological motives for war are
    contingent, not on religions, but on the historical contexts in which those religions operate.”

  34. Good discussion here:

    I’d also note that the Saint Bartholomew’s Day Massacre was one time when early Huguenots did NOT fight back against their persecutors, unlike earlier clashes they had had. Were they right or wrong? It is like the Jews in the Holocaust or the early Christians against Rome – there was very little resistance to what the oppressors did. Should they fight back or is nonresistant martyrdom Christ’s way?


      This is one more good source for peolle to look at. See pages 69-77.

      The authors declare Calvin only supporys defensuve wars to preserve the civil state and religion amd that war should only be the last resort and that diplomatic solutions are vastly preferred. He recognises the evils of war, where wives are left as widows, children rendered orphans and men left homeless, so it is heartening to see Calvin is far from a warmonger or advocare of religious violence.

      I feel the Just War and Christian pacifist positionsare closer than most people realise, especially if the Just War conditions were actually evaluated and applied honestly by the advocates of that position. How many twentieth c. wars would Christians have fought if they had applied the Just War criteria honestly?

    2. Another person bullied into suicide by the Australian military:

      “On the other hand, someone also pointed out that “live by the sword/die by the sword” was addressed to Peter and the disciples but was it also addressed to the soldiers who came to Gethsemane to arrest Jesus or not? That is the key question.”

      This is the solution, I think!

      Jesus is either directly addressing Peter and ignoring the soldiers in the arrest party, in which case “live by the sword” does not include “those who make their living by the sword”


      He is including the soldiers, since they are obviously milling around within earshot and Jesus has just reached out and healed one member of the arrest party. If so, Jesus has not only physically healed his ear but he has also been generous enough to warn the entire enemy party that their lifestyle/occupation can lead them to their dooms.

      The question is, which of these is the answer? All Matthew says is that Jesus was speaking to Peter but surely the soldiers overheard since they would have been close, not wanting their quarry to slip away in the confusion after the “ear chopping” moment.

      We know Jesus also calls on His Father to forgive the crowds (including the soldiers) present at the crucifixion later on “for they know not what they do” which imppies, at a minimum, that torturing, mocking and crucifying Him are sinful actions on the soldiers’ parts too. Does these statements mean the entire occupation of soldiering is invalid, or just specific duties? I am leaning towards the former.

      God bless.

    3. Allow me to revise my answer as I have just read on a little more in my search for understanding.

      Matthew 26:55-56 states that Jesus turns to address “the crowd” (the arrest party) after talking to Peter. Furthermore, in verse 56, He more or less repeats to the crowd something He has already just said to Peter about His arrest only being possible because it was His Father’s will.

      After that, the apostles *all* somehow manage to escape. You’d think the arrest party would be especially keen to apprehend Peter after the ear-chopping incident. (No wonder he was so scared when he was identified before the cock crowed thrice!)

      All of this implies there was some distance between Jesus’ group and the arrest party, so it seems like they would NOT have heard the “live by the sword” statement.

      To change the subject,


      This is one more good source for people to look at. See pages 69-77.”

      Calvin’s quote on page 77 is especially heartening, in that he recognises that it should be “a bridle to us” that so great enormities (of suffering) arise even from a Just War that it should only ever be a course of absolute last resort. According to the footnote at the bottom of the page, this comes from Sermons on Deuteronomy 118. Perhaps this shows a gulf between Calvin and some of his later followers, like Cromwell and the Puritans in Ireland, and even John Knox on Scotland with his desire for revolution and tyrannicide. It certainly humanises Calvin as a man of great compassion and emotion and empathy, something that is often lost in accounts of him and his unjustly stern reputation.

      1. Thanks – this discussion has really helped me.

        Scholars apparently argue that Cromwell went beyond Just War thinking and ended up with a “Holy War” or Crusade mentality, so that his actions in Ireland became a kind of war of extermination. 🙁–wQ&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjd2faYnL_0AhULTGwGHWjLBRQQ6AF6BAg0EAI#v=onepage&q=%22william%20iii%22%20%22theology%22%20of%20war&f=false

        William III is interesting. See pages 13 and 14 of the book in the link. His war in Ireland was arguably seen in Newtonian terms and there were millenarian expectations around the triumph of Protestantism and the emergence of a prosperous British Empire to spread the doctrine of the English Church. In tye Netherlands, he was also seen in somewhat apocalyptic terms as a “Protestant Charlemagne” come to depose the Papal Antichrist once and for all.

        I know less about Knox but apparently Calvin vehemently disagreed with his bellicosity and desire fir violent revolution.

        It is still hard to see where Jesus really stood. Surely “live by the sword” is more to soldiers than to anyone else!

        Yes, Calvin’s quote is wonderful. I agree – hardly any wars would be considered Just if Just War theory criteria were applied honestky by “Christians”. Pacifists and Just War advocates virtually in reality agree since wars involving Christian combatants would be so rare. The dispute between the two kinds of Christians would then “just” be about whether we shoukd have standing armies, especially with Christians serving, and weapons stockpiling and the arms trade, rather than about war itself. Christians could ficus more on working proactively for peace as Christ demands of us in the Beatitudes.

        Yes, that new bullying case is appalling. I have heard peole say that, whatever we think of soldiers and US imperislist wars, American soldiers are generally much, much better behaved than Australian Defence Force personnel. Yanks truly can be “officers and gentlemen” whereas Australians are decidedly not… Australians are allegedly more like egotistical, foul mouthed bullies generally as these scandals seem to indicate.Terrible. 🙁

        Does Jesus call on all Christians to be pacifists or not? That remains the open question. What does it mean if He was only addressing Peter and not the authorities when He said “*All* who live by the sword…” He repeated most of what He said to Peter to the crowd but not that key sentence. Why is it all so ambiguous? Maybe Christ wants us to focus more on His spiritual kingdom and not earthly concerns and viopence, which might be why He in His sovereign wisdom, left this unclear. After all, we are not to be concerned when we hear of “wars and rumours of war” so maybe He purpisely leaves it ambiguous as the politics and turmoil of this sinful world are perhaps not a thing we are to be grwaty concerned about and that we should concentrate on “storing up treasures in heaven” instead.

        Thoughts? God bless.

      2. Finaly, I’d like to give the last word for now to Dr Martin Luther:

        “A second question: ‘Suppose my lord were wrong in going to war.’ I reply: If you know for sure that he is wrong, then you should fear God rather than men, Acts 4 [5:29], and you should neither fight nor serve, for you cannot have a good conscience before God.” Martin Luther, Whether Soldiers, Too, Can Be Saved, in Luther’s Works, vol. 46, p. 130.

        Hence Luther puts the focus back on the conscience of the individual and does not let the soldier fall back on the excuse, “I was only following orders”. With that quote in mind, there should have been mass refusals to fight from Protestant soldiers in western armies in recent wars, especially Iraq. Clearly such non-violent “mutinies” did not happen…
        How much do Protestants know of their own founders’ doctrines these days? There seem to be more cultural protestants than committed Christians in western countries who think Republican Party mandates always refect the word of God. 🙁 🙁 🙁

        We can see from Luther and Calvin just how limited occurrences of Just War would be, meaning that Pacifist and Just War Christians shud be much more united than appears to be the case at present as any conflicts fitting the Just War criteria would be so rare as to be nearly miniscule and that Christians shoud not fight at all unless they are absolutely convinced in their own conscience that a war is just.

      3. That is a great quote by Luther.

        Here are some more powerful words he wrote:

        In light of this, I was wondering how on earth Germany went from Luther’s teachings to Prussian militarism so I did some research late last night. It turns out the answer is a pastor named Francke who assuaged Emperor Frederick William that was acceptable and soldiers could be good Christians. Here is a transcript of that very conversation:

        With regard to Calvinism, a lot of late (17th century) militarist thinking came from the theologian Pierre Jurieu who promoted ideas of apocalyptic holy war against the French king whom he saw as an antichrist figure because of his persecution of the Huguenots:

        Also, “… Jurieu held to the traditional Calvinist belief that persecution was warranted if undertaken in defense of the true faith against the false.”

        Finally, a lady named Olive Anderson wrote a piece on the rise of Christian militarism as a mindset in the British Empire in the wake of the Crimean War.

        Before that time, soldiers were regarded as lascivious rogues but now they were portrayed by the imperialists as heroes of the empire and, again, Christianity and the military life were seen as compatible.

        It looks like we are coming full circle now perhaps and people are starting to see soldiers in Australia as bullies, thugs and sexual harassers again.

        I’ll write some more thoughts later today, time permitting.

      4. Here is some more information I found out about Pierre Jurieu and his opponent, Pierre Bayle, a pacifist, both of whom were members of the Calvinist refugee community in the Netherlands.

        Jurieu emphasised that it was the need to meet together and worship God took precedence precedence over everything else and, for this reason, advocated the use of arms for the first time, while Bayle advocates obeying all civil laws instead, even when they restricted the right to congregate for worship.

        See pages 140-156: id=dJUDDAAAQBAJ&pg=PA155&lpg=PA155&dq=jurieu+david+war&source=bl&ots=AtuWWLM0D5&sig=ACfU3U0kuIVA_G1vMNOSSTDUPYZx1lSoBQ&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjp54To3sH0AhWuh1YBHUMHBlcQ6AF6BAgSEAI#v=onepage

        Bayle’s pacifism brought him into conflict with his former friend, Jurieu, because of the latter’s bellicosity and apocalypticism. His tolerance also made him obedient to and respectful of the king, even while he was persecuting him and his co-religionists.

        17th century pastors had tended to focus on the gentle spirit of the Gospel, until they faced persecution.

        Jurieu used the example of King David and Old Testament prophets to justify the notion of holy war, so Bayle attacked King David in his writing, in the hope of restoring the “religious pacifism and moral severity” which had once figured so heavily in the Calvinist Huguenots’ doctrines. id=izySBgAAQBAJ&pg=PT278&dq=jurieu+holy+war&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwivlLecxsH0AhV3UGwGHWi5ALwQ6AF6BAgGEAM#v=onepage

        An academic named Jo Cashmere writes:

        “… the subject of Bayle’s closest scrutiny was King David
        who had long been a central figure in Calvinist theology and who
        supplied Jurieu with numerous precedents for calling the Huguenots
        to arms against Louis XIV. [Another academic argued] that Bayle endeavoured to re-affirm the traditions of
        the past against the threat of change represented by Jurieu’s
        theological innovations and his call to arms against Louis,
        accords with the whole nature of Bayless defence of toleration.
        It was Bayle’s opinion that since Scripture gave no clear qualification
        of David’s behaviour, it must be interpreted in the light of natural

        … in the first edition of the
        Dictionnaire, when Bayle condemned King David for joining the Philistines
        to fight his own people, the Israelites, he really had in mind the
        contemporary problem of the Huguenots. Jurieu had claimed that
        France’s Protestants were no longer bound by their oath of loyalty to Louis XIV, and were free to enlist in the foreign armies which were
        at that time at war with France. Since many young Huguenots had
        readily accepted this advice, Bayle’s condemnation of David is quite
        rightly seen by Rex as an allegorical criticism of Jurieu and those
        who accepted his doctrines. The second point which Rex makes is
        that note G of the article DAVID can be seen as an allegorical
        treatment of the deposition of James II and the revolutionary content
        of Jurieu’s Lettres pastorales.

        On this latter point, there is further evidence of Bayle’s
        keen awareness of the importance of the 1688 Revolution to the Huguenots in the article ELISABETH. Dr. P. J. S. Whitmore has noted in his thesis
        the use to which Bayle has put English history and learning in the
        Dictionnaire,and while I consider that he rather over-inflates the
        importance of Bayle’s specifically English knowledge, there can be no
        doubting the value which Bayle placed on 1688 as a piece of historical
        evidence. We learn in note I of ELISABETH, that the excuse the English
        used in 1688 to depose James II was that Elizabeth had once broken a
        promise to maintain the Catholic religion in England when she ascended
        the throne… An oath once broken by a monarch had made the English cautious a second time-, and-1n their eyes this
        seemed to justify the deposition of James. But in a. sense Louis XIV
        had also broken his oath to the French Huguenots by revoking the
        Edict of Nantes, and Bayle could forsee what capital Jurieu would, and
        did, make of this. Jurieu’s proclamation of a holy war against France,
        allied to the fact that the deposed English king was not only a close
        friend of Louis’, but also enjoyed his protection, seemed to Bayle
        evidence enough that the French monarchy was in dire peril…

        Closely analysing the article DAVID, Rex endeavoured to
        prove that its opinions were Calvinism of the most orthodox type,
        whereas Bayle’s erstwhile friend, Pierre Jurieu, often placed consi-
        derable strain on orthodox Calvinist teachings. The real contribution
        of Rex’s discussion of this single article from the Dictionnaire,
        is that he placed it in the context of Bayle’s struggle with the
        over-zealous Jurieu and the Huguenot theories of resistance which
        abounded after the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes…”

        Furthermore she muses, “Perhaps the best example of the moral use to which Bayle put
        history is to be found in the article AMYRAUT. Its tone, its length
        and the praise Bayle had for this Protestant minister, all suggest that
        the Article was included for a specific purpose. In fact the footnotes
        – contain a perfect moral lesson in the very ideas on toleration and
        politics which Bayle himself held… Everywhere we find lengthy
        remarks on Amyraut’s belief in passive obedience, liberty of conscience
        and absolutism. In note 0, for example, we learn that he believed
        the French Huguenots should have shown the same patience under the
        persecution of the sixteenth century as the early Christians did under
        the Roman persecutions.”


        Now for my own thoughts:

        1. Jurieu, like everyone else, relies on OT precedence to provide Biblical evidence for the validity of his Just War/Holy War stance.

        If you think OT ethics are normative today, war as a Godly course of action can be justified. We know there are plenty of examples of warriors in the OT who have God’s blessing.

        If, however, you believe in “Progressive Revelation” and that a shift has occured in God’s relationship from man from a focus on a temporal kingdom (Israel) to a spiritual kingdom of God and that Jesus is calling for a higher ethics (no longer an eye for an eye but, rather, turn the other cheek; even anger is murder and even lustful thoughts are adultery, etc) under the new covenant, then you are more likely to be a Christian pacifist. It is simply harder to justify fighting in the Church era if Christ is your role model.

        No wonder also looks forward in time to the apocalyptic era where a more militant Christ will apparently emerge again. I’ll let the individual reader decide who was right out of Bayle and Jurieu.

        Next, leaving Jurieu and Bayle behind, let’s turn our attention again to Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. We established yesterday that the arrest party probably did not hear Jesus say His “live by the sword, die by the sword” statement. This leaves only two possibilities in my mind:

        1. It is *possibly* not relevant to them, in which case being a soldier does not fall under this curse and it is therefore a valid profession for Christians.

        2. It is valid for them but Christ did not want them to hear the pronouncement. Maybe He is saying to Peter, “Put your sword away so you won’t die by it. Do not fight these soldiers because they are, in fact, sowing the seeds of their own destruction by living by the sword.”

        Maybe this is interpretation of mine makes Jesus a bit passive-aggressive in not warning His enemies, though. After all, He just healed the ear of one of them, so surely He’d also warn them that they were imperiling themselves by their sinful vocation! Thoughts?

        Also, we are still left with the question of who the “all” are when Jesus declares, “ALL those who live by the sword will die by the sword”, which makes it very much seem like soldiers ARE included in tye curse.

        Finally, I think we CAN safely say one thing with certainty: if all Protestants were either pacifists OR if they strictly adhered to the Just War doctrine and refused to fight, as Luther and Calvin both advocate, unless it is a matter of absolute last resort and they are completely satisfied that all of the criteria of Just War theory are completely and unambiguously met, the world would be a very, very different place. Protestants don’t realise the power they still could have to change the world if they could act, with the support of their churches, in unity to uphold this one principle.

        If the politicians had to prove beyond all doubt to their soldiers that a war was unambiguously just before a great chunk of their fighting force would even consider going into action, what a different world we would live in. The people would have the say over the politicians again and curtail a great deal of warmongering all across the globe.

      5. I should add, just because things are never as black and white as they seem:

        while today, Christians would agree with Bayle and consider Jurieu a dangerously-fanatical nutter, at the time,

        1. Jurieu was considered the leader of the orthodox Calvinists:

        2. Bayle was suspected by many, including Jurieu, of atheism (apparently with *some* evidence for their suspicions):

        3. He was also accused of obscenity on his writings:

        Obviously, all of these controversies would only serve to alienate potential supporters, so it was not a good approach for someone trying to win people over to his pacifist ideals. 🙁 It is easy to see why the more orthodox and trusted Jurieu gained mass support for his views and the radical Bayle did not. It would not necessarily have been about the holy war versus pacifism issue but just about which figure was considered to be the more Christian. With the suspicions about Bayle and his evident liberalism, it is little wonder that people at the time were suspicious of him and shied away from his views.

      6. That is great information, Allen.

        I just found this quote from Jurieu:

        “Another Objection is found out in the words of our Saviour: Whosoever shall smite thee on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also. . . . This Commandment is so far from favouring such extravagant Morality, that it gives no countenance to it; for in this passage our Saviour sets forth how far our Patience is oblig’d: ‘Tis that we suffer moderate Injuries, a box o’th’ ear, tolerable losses, as to be robbed of a Cloak, or such temporal Goods, whose preservation was not equivalent to the loss of our Peace: but he does not say, if any one would take away thy Life, don’t defend it” (13-14).

        The trouble with this argument is that Jesus did NOT defend Himself in Gethsemane and we also know the Early Church martyrs did NOT try to fight back in order to save their lives when they were apprehended either, so it feels like Jurieu is trying to be too pedantic here and not accepting the general spirit of Jesus’ “turn the other cheek” commandment. I’d like to read his whole treatise in context though and not just this isolated quote to really understand his arguments on favour of violence. So far, though, I remain completely unconvinced and find Bayle’s pacifist stance to be closer to my understanding of Christ’s expectation of us.

        God bless.

      7. Here is another Jurieu quote from the same source:

        “Nor do we pretend here to make a defence for all the Wars which have been undertaken upon the account of Religion, nor all those which were for the Defence of a good Religion. As the taking up Arms has always dreadful consequences, it is certain that of two Evils the greatest is to be avoided, and that it is better to suffer moderate Oppressions, than to run to extreme Remedies. . . . But when only the preservation or Death of some particular Persons is the concern, as it was in the Reigns of Francis the 1st, and Henry the 2d, then was it a time for Patience, but when the Life of a whole People is in hazard, and in extream hazard, then there must be a recourse to extream Remedies.”

        Thee is no doubt that genocide is an almost incomprehensible evil but the line Jurieu draws seems to be an arbitrary human one, not one that has been irdained by God. Yes, we can draw on the Old Testament moral lesson about a planned genocide (Esther) but when Jesus says to turn the other cheek, He doesn’t tell us to draw the line at genocide. This is a VERY difficult moral lesson but I can’t see how Jurieu derives his “line in the sand” from the teachings of Jesus or even from the wider NT.

        At any rate, the wider quote shows again that Jurieu was not a fanatical hate preacher and that he recognises war is an evil that brings new injustices in its own right. It is just where he draws the line on to what degree we should turn the other cheek that I question. What is the spirit of Jesus’ teaching on turning the other cheek? Surely Gethsemane and his subsequent trial, torture and execution is where He lives out this command most fully, illustrating to us how we should live it out too. If He turns the other cheek to deicide, surely we must turn the other cheek when threatened wity genocide, as hard as this is, in order to remain faithful to His teachings. Huge questions…


        Seek and ye shall find.^ 🙂 God has led me to the full English translation of Jurieu’s treatise after I spent a lot of hunting around for it online.

        Jurieu managed to anticipate the kind of questions I am asking on here 332 years onwards, so they must have been common questions during his time, too.

        He begins by distinguishing the difference between enlarging your religion by force of arms (which Catholics do and which is considered sinful) and “merely” defending it with the sword (which Protestants do).

        He then talks about the example of the Macabees and how they are praised, apparently unanimously in his time, for defending their religion by force of arms.

        He then goes onto address a the questions I have been asking, so I think it is only fair to give Pastor Jurieu his “right of reply” to all of my questions here. Since the document is over 300 years old, there should be no copyright concerns about copying this long extract here. I still don’t know whether Jurieu is right or wrong in all of his claims but at least he is attempting to answer all of these questions and objections boldly and directly, without any obfuscation. Such honesty alone deserves our applause IMHO, regardless of whether or not we agree with all of his arguments.

        Without further ado, here is what he says about these objections:

        “But there is now an Objection fram’d from the Conduct of the Primitive Christians, who during the ten Persecutions never ren­countred their Persecutors with any thing but Pa­tience. God forbid, that I should diminish their Worth, or abate any thing of those Acknowledge­ments which are due to them: but I want to be instructed, how they were in a condition to provide against the Violences of the Roman Emperours.

        I don’t know that the Christians were as one to five hundred, if you take the whole extent of the Roman Empire: There are Authors that believe Rome it self could not number above forty thousand Chri­stians in the second and third Ages; whereas in the last accounts, the Chri­stians were reckon’d to rise to many Millions. If then there were so few in the capital City, how could there be so great an ap­pearance in other places? How then could so small a number of People, scat­ter’d thorough the extent of so vast an Empire, maintain themselves, where there were numerous Ar­mies on foot to guard their spacious Frontiers? ‘Twas not then onely Religion but Prudence in the first Christians to suffer a less evil to avoid a greater: if they had opened them­selves into a state of De­fence, they had been ex­spos’d to inevitable Death, so that they had no other way but to conceal them­selves.
        Tertullian is cited upon this occasion, who reports that the Christians fill’d the Cities, the Castles, the Armies; but ’tis known that Tertullian was an O­rator, and amplified things more than ever any Wri­ter in the Church did. It would be a very hard thing to make good all he hath ventur’d upon.
        But, there is something else very considerable as to the conduct of the Pri­mitive Christians in the point of taking Arms: there were many then who believed it altogether un­lawful to use the Sword upon any occasion, either in War or Judgment for the punishment of Crimi­nals. This was an extra­vagant Opinion, a Maxim generally acknowledged to be false at this day; so that Patience was some­times an Errour, and a piece of Morality not well understood.

        At the bottom, it was not this fineness of Con­science, which hindred the first Christians to defend themselves against their Persecutors: for the De­votional Persons, whose Morality was so severe, were a small number in comparison to others. And by the complaints which the Fathers make of the Christians Manners in their Age; it is easie to collect, that so many Christians, being then ir­regular in the other con­duct of their lives, did not suffer themselves to be massacred for Con­science sake, but because they were impotent and indefensible.

        Yet suppose the Primi­tive Christians did meerly out of tenderness of Con­science neglect to defend themselves, it shall be con­fessed, they did not do ill: and yet it does not fol­low, that those who do not imitate them do ill. For ’tis always lawful to remit ones right; a man may do with his own what he will: yet another man does not sin, because he will maintain his right.
        ‘Tis a very high degree of Regeneration, to quit ones Goods to an unjust Invader, for avoiding of Resistance: but still those who have not advanced so far in their Regenerati­on, are not in a state of Sin.
        There is a difference be­tween better and well: He that giveth his Virgin in marriage doth well; but he that giveth her not in mar­riage doth better. Ac­cording to St. Paul. Sup­pose then these Christians did better in not taking up Arms to defend them­selves from Persecution, it does not follow, but o­thers may do well, though they do otherwise, and perhaps better in their dif­ferent circumstances.

        Another Objection is found out in the words of our Saviour: Whosoever shall smite thee on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also.

        First, It must be ob­served, that our Saviour Jesus Christ designed this for particular persons, not for Societies and Corpo­rations: ’tis an extrava­gance to maintain, that Societies, and States, and Kingdoms are obliged to submit themselves to e­very unjust Oppressor, that does Invade them. Private persons for the publick peace do well to observe this direction of Jesus Christ: but for the publick good, Governors of States are obliged to act otherwise. Now the Church is a Corporation, a Society, and by conse­quence ought to preserve her Assemblies, and her Subjects, and to do it in all those ways which are lawful by the right of Na­tions, and of Nature.

        Secondly, Our Saviour there speaks of worldly Interests, not of sacred things and Religion: Je­sus Christ never bid us quit our Religion, our Temples, our Altars, to him that would ravish them from us; but to part with our Coat and our Cloak. There is no man­ner of consequence from the one to the other.
        Certainly our Lord ne­ver had any design to con­vert the proceedings of Justice into Crimes; when a man endeavour’d to run under covert from the violent persuits of an In­vader that would take a­way his Goods from him: Christian Morality never push’d on Severity at such a rate. If then, notwith­standing this Precept of our Lord Jesus Christ, it is permitted by the Laws of the Gospel to resist an unjust Oppressour that would take away our Goods from us; by much stronger reason is this Commandment far from prejudicing our right of defending Religion by Arms.
        Lastly, This Command­ment is so far from fa­vouring such extravagant Morality, that it gives no countenance to it; for in this passage our Saviour sets forth how far our Pa­tience is oblig’d: ‘Tis that we suffer moderate Inju­ries, a box o’th’ ear, tole­rable losses, as to be rob­bed of a Cloak, or such temporal Goods, whose preservation was not equi­valent to the loss of our Peace: but he does not say, if any one would take away thy Life, don’t de­fend it. So that take our Saviour’s words in the ut­most rigour, he hath not left it unlawful for a man to defend his Life.

        Now if it be lawful for a man to defend his Life against Tyrants, that would take it away for temporal reasons; I can­not see why it may not be lawful to defend it when they would murder us upon the account of Religion. We ought then to suffer even to the last extremity, but this extre­mity is come when they would ravish from us that which is more dear than Life it self, our Religion and our Eternal Salvati­on.

        Another Argument, for maintaining this piece of severe Morality, that we ought not to take up Arms for the defence of our Re­ligion, is drawn from the words of Jesus Christ to his Disciples upon the Sa­maritans denying him re­ception: The Disciples said to our Lord, Wilt thou that we command fire to come down from heaven, and consume them even as Elias did. The Lord an­swered them. Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of; for the Son of man is not come to destroy mens lives.
        Now what does this sig­nifie? You shall have it in a word, that it is ne­ver lawful to open a way for Jesus Christ to enter by force, nor to establish the Gospel by Arms: but if the Samaritans had come to a House that belong’d to Jesus Christ, or any of his Disciples, would have driven them out of it and dispossed them, think you that our Lord Jesus Christ would have order’d his Disciples to be gone and seek a lodging some where else? I see nothing like it.
        For once again, there is a vast difference be­tween Attacking and De­fending: The Gospel has not taken away from a­ny man the right of de­fending himself against vi­olent Aggressors.

        And this without doubt our Saviour intended, when he was walking in the Garden, where he knew the Jews would come and seize him by violence; he then order’d his Disciples that he who had a Sword should take it: and when one said, Behold, here are two Swords, he answered, it is enough.
        This was not enough to repel the violence he was to meet withal, for two armed men were not able to oppose the armed Mul­titude, that accompanied Judas; but it was enough for his purpose, to let his Disciples know, that up­on such an occasion they had a right to defend themselves with Arms.

        For otherwise what sence can there be in this, Take your Swords: of what use could they be if they might not defend them­selves? It is true, that Je­sus Christ commanded St. Peter to put up his Sword into his Sheath; and he healed the Ear of Malchus: But by this he gives us to understand, that tho’ he has right to repel force with force, yet he would have his Disciples make use of it only as a proper time and occasion may require. And he there gives the reason of it: ’tis because that ought to be accomplish’d which was ordained by the Father. And that which he adds to St. Peter, when he bid him put up his Sword in­to the Sheath, viz All they that take the Sword shall perish by the Sword, cannot signifie that using the Sword is always un­lawful, or chiefly when it is employed upon the ac­count of Religion, it can­not I say, signifie any thing like it: For,

        First, ’tis false; since there are an hundred occa­sions, where the use of the Sword is notoriously known to be lawful.

        Secondly, Jesus Christ would have contradicted himself upon the very spot; for there he says, Let him that hath a Sword, take it: Behold two, it is enough.

        So that this must signi­fie that he who strikes un­justly with the Sword, shall perish by the Sword. Now one may strike unjustly with the Sword upon these two accounts, either when he does it that he has no right, or when this right is made use of upon some occasion that is not agree­able to the Pleasure of God. St. Peter had not used his Sword in a pro­per season; not but that he had a right, which it was not then a time to exercise, for then God would have Jesus Christ die, and St. Peter ought to have understood it.

        In a word, Jesus Christ commanded to take the Sword, for establishing the Right which the Church has to defend herself a­gainst unjust Oppressors; and he forbid Peter to strike, to teach the Church, that she ought to submit when God has made known his Will, that she must suffer.”

      9. That is a great find and there is a lot to digest there.

        My first thought is that Jurieu completely at variance with Calvin on the meaning of verse 38 (buying swords). Here is what Calvin wrote:

        “38. Lord, lo, here are two swords. It was truly shameful and stupid ignorance, that the disciples, after having been so often informed about bearing the cross, imagine that they must fight with swords of iron. When they say that they have two swords, it is uncertain whether they mean that they are well prepared against their enemies, or complain that they are ill provided with arms. It is evident, at least, that they were so stupid as not to think of a spiritual enemy.”

        As for the rest of it, Jurieu relies heavily on supposition, without providing any evidence, to argue for his pro-arms position. How does he know the Early Christians’ motives for not fighting? How does he jnow Jesus was not referring to the State or large corporate bodies when He said “live by the sword/die by the sword”? What proof does he have that Tertullian was prone to rhetorical exaggeration? Jurieu may well be right but he doesn’t provide any evidence for these claims. It makes him look like he is imaginatively inferring things without proof.

        Since he has to make all of these inferences about what people “really meant” to reach his pro-arms position, it mes me think his case is actually very weak. If we take people’s statements and actions at face value and a plain reading of the Bible texts in questions, as per Occam’s Razor, I think the pro-pacifist argument wins put. If Jurieu had provided some more proof to back up his claims, he may have won me over to his case, but since he doesn’t I can only assume for now he is reading motives into people’s words and actions that just aren’t there.

      10. I just found this, too:

        Page 89:

        “So it is not surprising that Jurieu was among the first to cease subscribing to such traditional Calvinist views as pacifism, royalism, passive resistance in the face of a hostile state, and the rights of an erring conscience. Hence, after the Revocation, Jurieu’s account differed: (1) He rejected pacifism on the ground that “the Gospel had not abrogated the law of nature.””

        Again I have questions about this: I thought Christ was calling us to rise above our nature. Hence, we should not give into looking at women lustfully, even though it is our instinct. After all, nature has been corrupted by tye fall and we are striving towards sanctification and holiness.

      11. There’s some more on Jurieu’s thoughts about Christian pacifism here: ?id=izySBgAAQBAJ&pg=PT255&dq=jurieu+pacifism&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjnt_CWjsf0AhVwSmwGHefMBrgQ6AF6BAgEEAM#v=onepage&q=jurieu%20pacifism&f=false

      12. Page 434 of this bookshine a lot more light on Jurieu’s views: ?id=dRb-P3HRuvkC&pg=PA434&dq=jurieu+resistance&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwiRu4vkmsf0AhUpUGwGHRYiDasQ6AF6BAgHEAM#v=onepage

        What are we to make of ths? Neither resistance nor non-resistance is sinful? Again, he relies on our natural instincts rather than anything derived from Christ’s commands.

      13. I’ve done some more researxg in my quest to understand. It turns out Jurieu was influenced by the Dutch theologian, Hugo Grotius, whose book one can read here: ?id=_xvgy9E92dkC&printsec=frontcover&dq=grotius+pacifism&hl=en&sa=X&redir_esc=y#v=snippet

        Pages 25-45 are particularly instructive if you want to learn about his arguments in favour of just wars.

        Chapter 23, starting on page 307, is also important, because he talks about cases in which he believes war is NOT a valid response.

        Unlike Jurieu, he provides evidence to support his case. Unfortunately, also unlike Jurieu, he does not engage with Christ’s teachings like “live by the sword/die by the sword”, etc, at all. This blog explains why:

        “Grotius further developed the idea of common law, stating outright that consideration of God (or his revelation) was unneccessary when determining if a war was just or not.

        “…even if we should concede that which cannot be conceded without the utmost wickedness, that there is no God, or that the affairs of men are of no concern to Him.”

        Grotius argued that our criteria for Just War must be independent of all religion. After all, battles were being fought across Europe between Arminians, Calvinists and Catholics. An independent criteria not founded on faith had a chance, he reasoned, to bring peace to those divided by faith.
        Just War doctrine had not been birthed from scriptural exegesis or reflection on the nature and will of God in the first place, but Grotius was the first to declare that it shouldn’t be.

        By ditching even the illusion that Just War theory had a faith foundation, Grotius was able to focus his Just War criteria on just cause and give very little attention to right authority and right intention – unlike previous Just War thinkers.”

        I am therefore not sure how useful he is for those of us who want to live by the Gospel and obey Christ closely.

        As per my posts yesterday, I did not really understand Jurieu’s arguments from nature. It turns out these were probably influenced by Grotius too. This next quote is just from Wikipedia , so please treat it with caution, but I found it helpful:

        “Grotius’ concept of natural law had a strong impact on the philosophical and theological debates and political developments of the 17th and 18th centuries. Among those he influenced were Samuel Pufendorf and John Locke, and by way of these philosophers his thinking became part of the cultural background of the Glorious Revolution in England and the American Revolution.[30] In Grotius’ understanding, nature was not an entity in itself, but God’s creation. Therefore, his concept of natural law had a theological foundation.[31] The Old Testament contained moral precepts (e.g. the Decalogue), which Christ confirmed and therefore were still valid. They were useful in interpreting the content of natural law. Both Biblical revelation and natural law originated in God and could therefore not contradict each other.”

        I have heard of natural law before but, as a non-theologian, I don’t really understand. I humbly admit we are approaching the limits of my knowledge at this point. This whole idea confuses me, to be honest. I thought creation was corrupted by the Fall and therefore might not always reflect God’s will. To take an extreme case, Hitler also used nature to support his ideology, with arguments about “survival of the fittest and the ruthless dog-eat-dog nature of nature. Obviously, at its most extreme, this can lead to social Darwinism. The fact that Grotius, Jurieu and Hitler all use nature to justify a militant stance is perhaps telling (though, to be clear, I am in no way comparing otherwise-Godly men like Jurieu and Grotius with Hitler). Likewise, this seems a bit like modrn-day homosexuals’ arguments that their desires are natural and therefore homosexual activity cannot possibly be a sin. Pastor David, please teach me if I am misunderstanding natural law and Grotius!

        At any rate, to conclude, I remain unconvinced at this stage. If Grotius’ arguments are the best that can be provided to justify war, it looks to me like the Christian pacifists just might have the stronger case.

        God bless.

      14. God has led me to another of Grotius’ writings, which has clarified things for me considerably.

        You can find the full text here:

        Here are what I consider to be they key passages, interspersed with some of my thoughts and questions.

        “For the law of nature—that is to say, the law instilled by God into the heart of created things, from the first moment of their creation, for [54] their own conservation—is law for all times and all places,a inasmuch as the Divine Will is immutable and eternal. This is the conclusion reached by Socrates, as quoted in Plato’s Minos…

        … the law of war is a phase of the law of nature, a point supported by the foregoing discussion and correctly explained by Josephuse in the following statement… “For the law of nature is the law in force among all beings, which imposes upon them the will to live; and precisely herein lies our reason for regarding as enemies those persons who manifestly desire to deprive us of life.” Moreover, we see other living creatures similarly engaged in strife, impelled by a certain natural instinct and acting not[15] only in defence of their lives but also for the sake of their conjugal companions (so to speak), their offspring, their homes, and their sustenance. Therefore, if this law is valid for all times, it is valid even for times after [55] the advent of Christ; if it is valid for all places, it is valid even among Christians…”

        MY COMMENT: Very well,, so by “natural law”, what Grotius is actually talking about is what we today would call “the survival instinct”, which does indeed seem to be something more or less universally implanted by the Lord in His providence in the hearts of men and animals. However, this passage still raises numerous questions for me:

        1. What about those who abjure their faith to save their lives? Surely Matthew 10:33 (“But whoever disowns me before others, I will disown before my Father in heaven”) and 2 Timothy 2:12 (If we deny Him, He also will deny us) apply here.

        Also what about Matthew 16:25 (For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it) and Matthew 10:39 (Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it)?

        2. Also what about those who deny Christ? Surely Peter was only acting on his survival instinct?

        3. What about the Nicodemites, whom Calvin strongly condemns, who practice their faith only secretly, in fear of their lives?

        4. We could also argue that the survival instinct is not necessarily universal as some people have a “death wish” or fanatical desire to be martyrs but since I think these are normally caused by severe trauma or cultural conditioning they can probably be ignored here.

        At any rate, now we can see why Grotius and Jurieu thought the early Christians were excessively zealous for martyrdom.

        Grotius continues:

        “Now let us consider the testimony of Holy Writ. Although this method of proof is… “not derived from the art [of logic],” it is indeed by far the most certain method. For just as the Will of God—constituting [57] the norm of justice, as we have already indicated—is revealed to us through nature, so also is it revealed through the Scriptures.

        But God has commanded that wars be waged, as undertakings congruous with His Will,a and has furthermore declared Himself to be their Author and Aid.b He has even accepted the appellation “a man of war” as appropriate to His own majesty.c This same point is borne out by the divinely inspired pronouncement of the high priest who assured Abraham that God had delivered Abraham’s enemies into his hands;d and also by the words of the wise woman Abigail,e addressed to King David: “. . . my lord fighteth the battles of the Lord.” Indeed, the very fact that God endowed the state established by Himself with this institution of war,f as a form of defence, alone affords sufficient proof that the said institution is just and should be adopted by other nations whenever a like reason exists. Moreover, I believe all sane men will agree that he who lays down laws to regulate a given act does not disapprove of the act itself, and that this is especially true as applied to God, who does nothing without purpose or erroneously. Yet God prescribed regulations for warfare, through Moses,g and again, through the forerunner of Christ, as recorded in the New Testament.h With reference to the latter passage, Augustinei says: “. . . if Christian doctrine condemned all wars, [the soldiers] who sought [ John’s advice], according to the Gospel [of Luke], would have received, instead [of the advice they did receive], the following counsel of salvation: that they should cast away their arms and withdraw completely from military service. The counsel given them, however, was this: ‘Do violence to no man . . .; and be content with your wages.’ Surely [ John] was not prohibiting military service for those [58] to whom he addressed the precept that their due wage [as soldiers] should suffice.””

        MY COMMENT: So he is drawing on Augustine’s introduction of Just War Theory into Christian thought…

        Grotius continues:

        “Second Informal Exposition of Article I

        The principle stated above1—namely, that he to whom a given end[16] is pleasing, cannot be displeased by what is necessary to that end—may be deduced from authoritative passages no less than by a logical process, since all of the laws thus far propounded are also inscribed in Holy Writ. For He who bids us love our neighbour as ourselves,a gives first place to the true love of self, regarded as the… prototype, whose… image, is love for others.b If we combine this maxim with the precept laid down by the Creator for mankind,c we shall arrive not only at the conclusions incorporated in the First and Third Laws, but also at those expressed in the Second and Fourth.2 Indeed, since we are admonished by God to deliver them that are drawn unto death,d we are under a particularly solemn obligation to deliver ourselves. Yet again, we are bidden to “give to him that needeth,”e and therefore we are bidden to avert need from ourselves. The Fifth and Sixth Laws, too, are implicit in these passages: “Divers weights, and divers measures, both of them are alike abomination to the Lord”;f “. . . with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again”;g “And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise”h (what ye would not have done unto you, do ye not unto others).i, 3 Christ does indeed show us that the law [59] of nations requires that good be done to the doers of good; yet He also says: “. . . all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword.”a This same doctrine was expressed in the Old Law,b which goes so far as to prohibit us strictly from showing compassion to evildoers. But it often happens that, owing to the power of our adversaries, we are unable to defend ourselves and our possessions, exact that which is due us, or enforce punishment, save by resorting to armed force. Therefore, it is permissible to wage war.”

        MY COMMENT: Now we have finally reached a substantial, evidence-based argument on the meaning of Christ’s words! Grotius is claiming that “live by the sword/die by the sword” is not a new teaching of pacifism introduced by Christ but ties back to OT teachings on punishment of wrongdoers, such as those who use fraudulent weights. In this section: “This same doctrine was expressed in the Old Law,b which goes so far as to prohibit us strictly from showing compassion to evildoers”, footnote b in the original document refers to Deuteronomy 12 and 13, which is a part of the Mosaic law demanding that idolaters be put to death.

        Grotius is therefore arguing that “live by the sword/die by the sword” refers to the punishment due evildoers, such as murderers and violent individuals, as opposed to Tertullian’s pacifist argument that it calls for the universal disarmament of Christians. Who is right? I honestly don’t know. I’ll let each reader decide.

        Grotius continues:

        “Other laws, too, are found to have a firm foundation in the Sacred Scriptures. For example, when the advantages of social organization are pointed out to us [in the Book of Ecclesiastes],c we acquire an understanding of the origin of the state; just as we come to understand the sanctity of magistrates, when Paul d asserts in no uncertain terms that magistrates “are ordained of God.” From this same source the force of civil laws is derived, as is the power of judgement, given from above by Jesus Himself,e the Author thereof. Thus Divine Wisdom—of which all human wisdom is but… “a fragment,” or offshoot, as it were—is represented as saying:f “Counsel is mine, and sound[17] wisdom: I am understanding; I have strength. By me kings reign, and princes decree justice. By me princes rule, and nobles, even all the judges of the earth.” Again, what could be clearer than the exhortation of Paul?g “Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore [60] resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil. Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake.” In all the works of the philosophers—howsoever numerous and wheresoever found—there is no finer passage regarding the justice of magistrates. Do you ask who is the [true] author of this exhortation? The Author is God. For what purpose is it formulated? For your own good. And since God wills that the authority of magistrates shall be sacrosanct, does He not also approve of arms, whereby at times that authority must be defended? But will God extend to magistrates an avenging sword for use against unarmed culprits while refusing to give them a weapon against culprits who are armed, thus affording grounds for that incitement to all wickedness, the belief that “Whatever sin is committed by the many, goes unpunished”?a By no means! For the individual who sins alone ought not to be in a worse position than those persons who add to their own direct transgressions another evil—namely, the exposure of many people to the contagion of crime, and attack by open violence upon the laws and the public peace—and who are not therefore more in the right than other sinners, but rather, less susceptible to fear and shame.
        From the foregoing observations it follows that some public wars are just. This same conclusion may be confirmed in yet another way.

        Third Informal Exposition of Article I

        For anyone who approves of the institutions established for the attainment of an end, can scarcely fail to approve of the end itself even much more emphatically; and no one is ignorant of the fact that tribute is an institution established primarily for purposes of war. Tacitusb spoke [61] truly when he said: “there can be no tranquillity among nations unless there are armies, there can be no armies without pay, and pay cannot be provided without the exaction of tribute.” But God Himself,[17] speaking both through Christ and through the Apostle Paul, ordains the payment of tribute.a Therefore, from this argument, too, it follows that some wars are approved by God as just.”

        MY COMMENT: Footnote “a” on “the payment of tribute” references both Romans 13:7 on paying taxes and Matthew 22:21, which is Jesus’ famous “Give unto Caesar” remark. This is actually a very good point from Grotius because I’ve read in the past commentators who have noted the tax would go towards propping up Rome’s imperial army. Jesus’ answer is, among other things, saying it is right to pay the tax that props up Rome’s military, even as that military has enslaved Judea.

        Grotius continues:

        “First Informal Exposition of Article II

        To the preceding assertion, I shall add the phrase, “even wars on the part of Christians.” For everything permitted prior to the establishment of the Law of Christ and not expressly prohibited by Him, is permissible for Christians;b we have already shown, and it is universally admitted, that there were just wars before the time of Christ; and He prohibited none of the things that were just according to the law of nature, among which (as we have observed) wars were included.

        Second Informal Exposition of Article II 

        Furthermore, Christ changed no part of the Old Lawc that pertained in any way to justice and moral usage in human activities, under which head we place warfare. The contention that warfare was clearly approved,Third Informal Exposition of Article II is quite convincingly supported, moreover, by the above-cited d opinions of both John the Baptist and Paul…”

        MY COMMENT: I think this is THE key question: if Jesus did not change the Old Law in this regard, then war is indeed lawful under some circumstances and we have numerous OT examples on which to draw to prove that is the case. Grotius and Jurieu would be very much right then.

        However, if “live by the sword/die by the sword” is a call for disarmament, and statements like “turn the other cheek”, “blessed are the peacemakers and “My kingdom is not of this world” are calls for Christ’s followers to be pacifists and to fulfil the prophecy of turning swords into ploughshares in the here and now, then a new teaching, fulfilling and superseding the old has been introduced and Tertullian is right and Grotius and Jurieu are wrong. I believe this is the crucial issue. What does Jesus mean for us by these statements?

      15. This is what Grotius argues regarding vengeance and turning the other cheek:

        “… it is quite obvious that the precepts in question were addressed to private individuals, or to servants of the Church whom Christ chose to regard in this connexion as private individuals; and it is equally obvious that those acts [of individual vengeance] are rightly prohibited, which would disturb the whole order of the state, shattering the public peace, if they were permitted. This point has been brought out in our discussion of the Ninth Law. Thus a rule of ancient law d declares that action which may be taken publicly through a magistrate is prohibited for private persons, lest occasion be given for graver disturbances. [63] In another context, we shall see how far the application of this rule should be extended. Meanwhile, suffice it to say that the precepts which we are discussing, clearly do not refer to the public use of arms. If we took the contrary view, we should be subscribing to the accusation brought by Celsus and Julian, enemies of our faith, who falsely declared that the Christians, in abolishing revenge, were abolishing all laws, together with magistracies and the punishment of malefactors. This is so far from being the truth that, on the contrary, our theologians a place Punishment in the category of the virtues, regarding her as the handmaiden of Justice.”

      16. Thank you, Allen. All of those quotes are extraordinarily helpful, as are your comments, especially regarding the survival instinct and how the Apostle Peter denied Christ. At any rate, I have a real sense of understanding now about how some people argued for the Just War theory in the Reformation era.

        It is appropriate for today, too, because the Second Sunday of Advent is a day focused on peace in the Lutheran Church of Australia liturgy. One of the readings we had at church today was the Song of Zechariah, the final line of which promises we shall be guided into “the way of peace” (by Christ) so this is certainly a key part of His ministry and I don’t believe we can simply spiritualise it to mean a peace of the soul. Rather, I think it must mean a lived peace, too.

        My main fear about Grotius and Jurieu – and even Augustine – is that they were “innovating” – that is, reinterpretating the Bible texts in ways that *may* have been unimaginable to the Christians of the first three centuries, *if* most early Christians shared Tertullian’s pacifist interpretations of the text. If so, Augustine, Grotius and co even leave themselves open to the charge of having “watered down” Christianity to make it more accommodating to the world, with the States’ practice of warmongering.

        Anyway, what we must ultimately remember is that Grotius and Jurieu lived more than 300 years ago and that today, most continental Calvinists are pacifists once more, having learnt from the terrible mistakes made during thetwo world wars. In France, figures like Jean Lasserre, Jacques Ellul, Wilfrid Monod, Jacques Martin, André Trocmé, Roger of Taizé and even Marc Boegner to some degree, have brought the church full circle, away from the “Just War” arguments of Augustine and Grotius and back to pacifism, thereby redeeming Tertullian.

        Even a lay woman like Corrie Ten Boom has helped the Dutch church in this regard. Likewise, the EKD (the Lutheran Church in Germany) is deeply pacifist now, having learnt from the mistakes of the twentieth century. It is the Anglo-sphere is lagging behind in this regard, by still clinging to Just War thought.

      17. It has been a while since I’ve been on this site. The Holy Spirit’s prompted me to tackle this problem from another direction though since we are at an impasse in this discussion. Instead, let’s put the pieces of the jigsaw on the table and see what we can logically deduce from them. I’m going to leave out “live by the sword, die by the sword” though since that is the one piece of the jigsaw we are all having trouble making fit at this point.

        All this to discuss, as we hear of yet more horrendous bullying in the Australian Defence Force in the news:

        Okay, let’s go:

        First of all, is war a sin of itself?

        We know God does ordain wars in the O. T.

        We know from the Bible God is good and God is love.

        Most theologians argue that God cannot sin (rebel against His own laws).

        Therefore, if God cannot sin, war cannot always be sinful.

        Likewise, I have heard some other theologians argue that the idolatry and sins of the idolaters and the child sacrifice practices of the Molech-worshippers in the O. T. were so bad that war was the lesser of two evils, so God had to resort to it to rud the land of them and make it fit fir the Israelites. However, the lesser of two evils is still evil and this would make God the author of evil, which cannot be. It also implies there was no other way for God to deal with this problem. No, God would nit choose sin. Moreover, He has chosen the Israelites to be involved in this Holy War for a reason (presumably to teach them to trust in Him, know what practices are abominable and most significantly, as a foreshadowing of Christ and spiritual warfare in the N. T., since we know all Scripture points to Christ, with Joshua and King David being types if Christ.

        If the O. T. wars are not sinful, this leads us to a number of possible alternative conclusions:

        Option 1. War is not a sin and is permissible here and now although Scripture clearly primises a *better* future age in which the lion will lie down with the lamb and swords will be beaten into ploughshares, etc.

        A variant of this is the Just War theory where not all wars are permissible but only those that meet certain guidelines. In fact, if this theory was applied with honesty, virtually no wars would meet the criteria.

        We know God does have limits, even in the O. T: David is not to have the honour of building the Jerusalem Temple because he has spilt so much blood according to 1 Chronicles 22:8. Elsewhere, violent men are condemned, so at a minimum, sadists, lovers of war and those with a bloodlust are sinners. If war is necessary, we are not to enjoy it or revel in it. This just shows how sinful the Australian Defence Force is, being apparently dominated by bullies and sadists in recent decades.

        We also know that God is more merciful than humans as David acknowledges when he asks God to order the Angel of Death to send plague on the land, rather than face an invading human army.

        Speaking of David, there is another odd limit on war, the morality of which has often puzzled me. When King David sent Bathsheba’s husband on the doomed military mission, this was consudered murder (and David was clearly trying to cover up his adultery) but what if some random solduer had gone in his place and been killed? That would be apparently be okay because David would have no hidden agenda in that case, even though in each case, a man dies on the king’s orders in a war situation.

        Maybe therefore, war itself is not a sin but CAN BE sinful, which puts it in its own category and explains why we have so much trouble understanding it and tackling it. We know the end gial is peace thouhh, which is what God promises us, so war is still the result of a fallen world and not the way things are meant to be. God may use it as a tool to punish but it is not what He wants in His love for us and we can make it evil by our attitude just as we can with sex, use of money, jealousy/coveting, anger or any other activity. Bloodlust and vengeance can maybe slot into those same categories.

        Option 2. War is allowed only when God ordains it, therefore the main human sin is one of presumption in fighting wars when we are no longer being ordered to do so by God.

        In the same way that God kills us all in the end through illness, accident, natural disasters or death but He is not a murderer and to think so would be blasphemy! Likewuse, He may preordain an expectant mother to have a miscarriage but this is in no way comparable to the sins of an abortionist. In the same way, maybe He has the right to command us to engage in warfare without it being sinful but for us to undertake such actions on our own initiative is sinful.

        For instance, Peter was presumptuous in drawing for sword for Jesus had armies of angels to call upon if He so wished but He chose not to do so as it was part of the divine plan. Peter was interfering with the plan, just as He had previously argued that Jesus must not die. (As previously indicated, we will deliberately not discuss “All who live by the sword…” here).

        Elsewhere, we are told by God that “Vengeance is mine”, and we are not to take it into our own hands. Again, this indicates that the main sin involved in warfare maybe the presumption that it is ours to initiate without divine warrant and that we should be leaving things in God’s hands and trusting in Him much more instead.

        God is also using the Israelites as His instrument of divine wrath on the pagans so that all Gentiles will know the Israelites’ God is the true God but we are not to presume ourselves to be agents of vengeance on God’s behalf today, just as Jesus discouraged the disciples from calling down divine fire on the town and God had better plans fir the Ninevehites than Jonah could imagine. We should not do things in God’s name that He does not want us to do or we will lead to people cursing His name because we will have inadvertently slandered Him and tarnished His divine reputation! Who would want to be responsible for that?!

        Another lesson God is clearly teaching in the O. T. is that we should not trust in the size of the armies or in weapons. Rather our faith should be in God and He demonstrates this by deliberately sending out small forces against the odds or by defeating an enemy without even fighting as when He made the walls of Jericho fall.

        Option 3. God allows it but only as a “safety valve” for *our* benefit since we are so sinful. Given the enormous suffering that arises from war this may seem counterintuitive but consider divorce. Jesus tells us Moses allowed it simply because we are so sinful that sometimes two people cannot coexist in a relationship and infidelity arises. However, divorce seriously hurts people, especially any children involved, the couple themselves and their extended families and even friends.

        Maybe God extended this safety valve from couples to whole Governments and tribal or ethnic groups who cannot live together. It is to our shame that we are so sinful we cannot cooperate and peacefully coexist with our neighbours but God, in his mercy, allowed us this release, even though it leads us to bring more suffering upon ourselves and innocent third parties are hurt, these days on a massive scale of suffering, all because we cannot learn to love our neighbours satisfactorily, either individually or corporately.

        God thereby knows the Israelites cannot live among the other tribes and will even be corrupted by them, so they have to be removed as the Israelites’ monotheistic cultural practices and strict morals are do incompatible with their neighbours idolatry and obscene practices that they could never coexist.

        Option 4. God permitted warfare in O. T. times but it is tightening the rules now to make us more perfect as His divine plan unfolds. This is the “pacifist” understanding.

        Just as before we could not murder or commit adultery, Christ has led us to a deeper understanding that sin comes from the heart, so we should not even becoming angry with our neighbour or look lustfully at a girl, and that we should turn the other cheek instead of calling fir an eye for an eye anymore, perhaps we are now being called to a higher standard and are no longer permitted to engage in warfare either.

        If so, the time to beat our swords into ploughshares is *now* as the Messianic Age has been inaugurated.

        Jesus tells Pilate His kingdom is not of this world and He rejects satan’s temptation to rule over this world, so the focus has moved from the Kingdom of Judea to the spiritual, otherworldly Kingdom of God, which it foreshadowed. This would imply the old rules of carnal warfare no longer apply and our fight is to be spiritual in nature only.

        Jesus does not seem to be particularly interested in the kingdoms of this world and their problems. He tells the people to give their taxes unto Caesar, despite the ethical problems we might think would arise in effectively paying for their own pagan jailers in the military occupation of Judea. As noted, He rejects satan’s offer, he rides on a donkey (a symbol of peace) rather than war, and His preaching focuses on the Kingdom of God and spiritual liberation, not the expected physical liberation of the kingdom of Judea by a messianic warlord. He does not accept Peter’s offer of physical protection, nor does He call down angels. He notes that the rulers of this world are only in their positions of power because His father has ordained them to be in those positions but He does not indicate His father will remove any of them in lieu of more just, Godly rulers who respect and fear His name.

        Anti-pacifists argue that from Hebrews 11:33 which praises the O. T. heroes who have conquered lands in warfare through their faith. However, if it is a new age of a spiritual kingdom and these old rules do not apply, then that is a non-sequitir as what was the norm then is not necessarily allowed now.


        Those seem to be the possibilities. I draw no conclusions about which one is right but what is more important is what are we to do with our own lives in this age? How are we to live? Should we ever fight? Should we ever be in the army?

        Jesus firstly, of course, famously tells us that blessed are the peacemakers so we should work actively for peace.

        Jesus also warns us there “will be wars and rumours of wars” going forwards and this has obviously been borne out over the last 2000 years and especially in the last century. Jesus tells us our attitude is not to be one of alarm on hearing of these events.

        This implies that He knows these things instinctively worry us a great deal, so He, in his benevolence, seeks to reassure us and tell us what our mindset should be. They are birthpangs, necessary for some reason we cannot fathom, to be replaced by joy in the end and forgotten, just as the mother forgets about her labour pains in her joy when her baby is born.

        Does this mean Christ endorses these wars though or are they sinful? They are obviously predestined by God in His sovereignty but are they just the consequence of our sinfulness throughout history or are they endorsed by God?

        They are “necessary” for some reason but is He simply lettingg Satan have His way with the world, a la Job, or is He divinely mandating these unfokding events (if they are not sins)? They are part of His plans but is He their author?

        Clearly not, if they are sins but yes if they are not. Maybe a la John the Baptist’s teaching, wars are allowed but not the side effects, the targeting of civilians, the pillaging, the raping, the extortion, etc.

        We know in the O. T., when armies were assembled, those who did not want to be a part of them (the newly married, the fearful, etc), were divinely instructed they were free NOT to take part, the opposite of enforced conscription today and the opposite of civilians being targeted for deliberate attack or killed as a side effect, as per the callous term “collateral damage”.

        Matthew seems to be the most pacifist Gospel as he records the “live by the sword” quote and the event of the Massacre if the Innocents, which is clearly a sin. This is interesting, if the traditionally-ascribed authorship of the Gospel is correct, as Matthew had been a Roman Government collaborator (a tax collector). If Matthew were not part of the N. T. canon, would we even be asking these kinds of questions about pacifism and war?

        Jesus’ warning to head for the hills in His prophecy about the events AD 70 so He certainly wants to protect His followers from war. If this was a Godly judgement for the crucifixion and a tool to end the sacrificial system in the cathedral, He protected those who already followed Him and were no longer a party to these things. It also shows how soldiers are just a tool in God’s hands. The Romans might have thought they were doing the Emperor’s will but, in reality, they are really doing God’s will. Are they sinning though? Is the Roman Army evil even though its purposes have been directed to fulfil God’s plan fir Jerusalem?

        People have noted that neither John the Baptist nor Jesus told soldiers to leave the Roman Army. Likewise, in Acts, Cornelius was not told to leave. Some have argued, though, that this was because they were soldiers before their conversion.

        Also we are clearly told our weapons are not to be carnal in 2 Corinthians. Dies this apply only to the matter of making disciples and spiritual warfare or dues it means Christians are never to use weapons, including soldiers? What about Jurieu and Grotius and the Macabbees’ idea of defending the religion by carnal weapons instead of expanding it? Are they contradicting 2 Corinthians?

        A final difficult question comes from Revelation: the rider on the red horse and the four angels bound by the Euphrates in Rev. 9 bring war on the world. Are they agents of God? Are these agents literal beings or part of Revelation’s complex imagery? They are bound, so dies this imply they are demons or fallen angels or are they working on God’s direct, explicit orders? The Euphrates was near the site of Eden. Is one of them the angel with the flaming sword who barred the way to Eden? Does God order the events of the apocalypse as a result of the sinfulness of man or is He just letting satan and his fallen angels have free reign for a time and using their evil – inckuding warfare – against them by working into His divine plan against their will, making them unwitting dupes?


        That is as far as I can go with this, I think. I lean towards the pacifist interpretation, that Jesus – ushering in of the Messianic Age and the Kingdom of God changes things and that we are not to use carnal weapons and that Jesus is ambivalent about the kingdoms of this world and their woes as He wants us to be unworldly and focus our attention on His kingdom instead. It is hard to imagine the “Prince of Peace” being happy for His disciples to fight in this world’s wars and contribute further to human misery.

        I am open minded if anyone can present a convincing case to the contrary though.

        I hope this discussion helps. God bless.

      18. Thanks. That is really helpful.

        Here’s a potentially-helpful quote:

        “A striking example of how hard it is to draw a line between lawful and unlawful war is to be found in Calvin’s tergiversations on whether French Protestants might defend themselves by arms against their enemies, the Dukes of Guise. The day after the massacre of Vassy, he frankly encouraged and helped the Huguenots to organise their army, finding many fine pretexts, resting on great principles, to authorise such action. But quite soon afterwards, in April 1563, he wrote: “I shall always recommend that arms be abandoned and that we should all perish rather than return to the confusions that have been experienced.””

      19. I just read tge Huguenots used Revelation 13 to justify revolution. I can’t find anything to verify this quote yet though. I’ll keep hunting.

        This is a good quote from someone’s comment on another site about modern-day French Reformed Christians:

        “Michael Westmoreland-White, Ph.D.Wednesday, October 11, 2006 5:50:00 am

        I’ll echo the endorsement of Andre Trocme. Actually, pacifists are higher among the French Reformed than among the rest of the Reformed family: Jean Lassere, Jean-Michel Hornus, Andre & Magda Trocme, Jacques Ellul, Paul Ricoeur, etc. I have often wondered whether the experience of the Huguenots being slaughtered at the St. Bartholemew’s Day Massacre led to a rethinking of the Reformed view on war and peace. Because, while some Reformed and Presbyterians from elsewhere are pacifists, the French Reformed seem to relate their pacifism to their Reformed identity more than most. I wish they’d find a way to export this throughout the World Alliance of Reformed Churches.”


        I found this very good paper by a Dutch scholar on Calvin’s commentary on Joshua. Sorry the format has messed up badly in these few paragraphs I have cuted:

        [In the preface], “Beza portrays Calvin as a warrior whose com-bat was strictly limited to the spiritual realm. Nonetheless, thereremains a tension between the image of Calvin the conquering hero,the warrior against Papal corruption and heretical innovation, andCalvin the advocate of peaceful reform limited primarily to the realmof the church. This tension re
        flects conflicting impulses among FrenchProtestants themselves, who would, after Calvin’s death, increasinglydevelop a theory of political resistance, appealing (with considerable justification) to Calvin’s own writings.Between the lines of the Joshuacommentary, one may be able to hear Calvin advising the Huguenotsto maintain their character as the party of law, order, and peace.Meanwhile, the militaristic metaphors of Beza’s preface could just aswell incite readers in a more radical direction.”

        As for the content of Joshua,
        “…Calvin seems to be concerned that some might takethe conquest of Canaan as exemplary for modern nations. ThusCalvin is very careful to point out that the methods employed in the conquest of Canaan would be considered cruel, barbaric, andunlawful, were the conquest not an exceptional case…

        Following John Chrysostom, Calvin contends thatstratagems and subterfuge are precisely what make a successful mil-itary leader; they are essential elements of combat, and therefore if war can be justified, so can the ruses that go along with it.Whatis not acceptable in war, Calvin emphasizes, is the violation of atruce or any other agreements between warring parties. In the con-text of the religious conflict in France, the massacre at Vassy, viewedby the Huguenots as a blatant violation of the Edict of January(1562), would qualify both as a reprehensible and barbaric slaugh-ter of innocents, as well as an immoral violation of the trust of acovenant or truce. If Calvin wants the readers of his Joshua com-mentary to come away with lessons about how the Reformed shouldconduct themselves in France, the implication would be that the ene-mies of the Huguenots are acting unjustly and in bad faith. By nomeans should Reformed leaders respond in kind…On some occasions, Calvin interprets apparently cruel acts as warn-ings to the people of Israel… the concept of equity is one of the criteria that Calvin regularlyuses to evaluate the actions of Old Testament characters.It is partof what David F. Wright calls Calvin’s “pentateuchal criticism.”Wright observes how Calvin employs a concept of accommodationto interpret some of the more barbaric events of the Old Testament.According to Calvin, God accommodates his laws and commandsto the (sometimes limited) capacity of his primitive people, and some-times even adapts his laws to their barbarity and rudeness. Thusdivine commands and laws recorded in the inspired biblical recordmight not always be the perfect or optimal expression of the divinewill.”

        Finally, “Skillful interpretation of the biblical text isnecessary because one cannot simply follow the example of even thepious characters in the Bible. Many biblical events are exceptionalcases, such as the war of conquest, and the Old Testament saintsdid not always act in an exemplary way.The subject of Calvin’s final commentary presented the dying reformer with a daunting challenge. He has to apply every bit of his intellectual acumen to interpreting Joshua in a way that preservesthe veracity and goodness of God, respects the authority of the bib-lical text, and yet provides no justification for brutality in war, fortreason against one’s native land, for violating the sanctity of citywalls, or for the use of lies, deception, or dissimulation — even fornoble ends. Thus Calvin’s commentary seeks to draw out the correctmoral lessons from the text, and to distinguish the events that areexemplary from those that are defiitely not to be imitated. At thesame time, Calvin’s struggle with moral problems in the commen-tary reflects the conflicting values and goals of his spiritual heirs, theHuguenots of France. Calvin’s Joshua commentary urges obedienceto law and authority, while the triumphalist preface by TheodoreBeza could, with some elaborative inference (and probably contraryto the author’s intention), be construed as a call to arms. Thus, whileCalvin bequeathed to the church an outstanding work of biblicalexegesis, in his
        final commentary the church in France did not inheritunambiguous answers to the questions of how they would proceedin the ongoing work of ecclesiastical and political reform…”


        To follow up on my other comment from earlier, yes, you can see how Jurieu is thinking in apocalyptic terms and drawing on Revelation 13 in this link.

        It is remarkable that the Huguenots have gone from an horrendously persecuted group upon whom terrible massacres were inflicted, to apocalyptic militants, to finding their place as deeply pacifist Calvinists today. That they can still have faith in nonviolence after all they have endured is a great testamemt to their faith in Christ.

  35. I am torn on this. The revelations from the Royal Commission in recent days, and the war crimes allegations before that, show just how toxic the culture of tge Australian Defence Force has become over the last two or three decades. In some ways, as terrible as it sounds though, I’m glad though that these bullies, thugs, male-on-male male-ond -female rapists and sadists are in the military because it means that they aren’t in mainstream society with the rest of us.

    Because of the extent and seriousness of the revelations, I don’t think we, the Australian public, should support Anzac Day or Remembrance Day for the forseeable future. In particular, the churches should not commemorate it, lest they be seen to be endorsing these people and their actions, which are totally at variance with the ways of Christ. Will any church really be brave enough to start a boycott campaign though? I can’t see it happening in our PC culture and that is where people lose respect for the (mainline) churches these days. They takes a stand for nothing even when activitues of the Establishment are totally at odds with Christ’s teachings and lifestyle.

  36. With all due respect to Pastor David, I think the onus is really on him to rebut Jean Lasserre’s arguments. Monsieur Lasserre has made the case for Calvinist pacifism based enturely on the Scriptures and, to the best of my knowledge, his arguments have never been refuted.

    Paator Robertson admits earlier in this discussion that he has not read Lasserre’s “War and the Gospel”, which makes the strongest case I have seen for pacifism from a Calvinist religious perspective.

    I would strongly encourage Pastor Robertson to read the book and engage with it, either to refute Lasserre or acknowledge the validity of some or all of his arguments. I’d be very interested in Pastor Robertson’s thoughts either way!

    A preview portion of the book can be read here:

    Until a scriptural-based, evidence-laden argument is made that convincingly refutes Lasserre, his work remains the “gold standard” for Calvinists on this topic, and therefore I think we really have to be pacifists by default. It seems yo be what Christ wants us to be.

    1. Agreed. I read a lot of it last night. It is a superb book, with Biblically-sound arguments for pacifism, some of which anticipate the thoughts people have had on this thread.

      I would love your thoughts on it, if you have the time to read it, Pastor David.

      It does seem like pacifism is the correct position for Bible-believing Christians based on the arguments in the book unless you can find some fatal flaw in his reasoning, Pastor David, in which case we’ll all have to go and dig out Jurieu’s tomes, I suppose!

      God bless and merry Christmas.


        I was reading this article earlier. It is one of those that seeks, fairly or unfairly, to blame Trump and US-style white nationalism on Biblical Protestantism. I do not know enough about American culture or politics to comment.

        The reason I am bringing it to your attention though is that the author is arguing that the Puritan settlers of the USA drew on the OT and apocalypticism to legitimise violence, the same sources that Jurieu drew on to legitimise his Holy War thinking, so there is a arguably a link between early French and Anglo-American Calvinist thinking there.


        This is another academic work discussing how the apocalypticism of the early Calvinists led to their violent approach:

        “Historians of early-modern Ireland have studied in some detail the association between religion and violence, but have failed to appreciate one important theological force—the application of apocalyptic passages of the bible to contemporary events. This ‘presentist’ interpretation of prophecy, common throughout Reformation Europe, began to be used in Ireland by Protestant soldiers, officials, and writers from the time of the Desmond Rising in 1579 onwards. By identifying the Pope as Antichrist, and Catholics as his followers, it served to sharpen the antipathy between Protestants and Catholics, and justify violent actions such as the massacre of the Spanish troops at Smerwick in 1580. The advent of peace in 1603 and the rise of Arminianism in England limited official enthusiasm for apocalyptic, but its central position in the Irish Protestant imagination was reinforced by the 1641 rising, which seemed to confirm biblical prophecies about the severity of the Antichristian Catholic threat.”

    2. Yes!!! Please critique the book for us, Pastor David. Any guidance and thoughts would be greatly appreciated.

      I was reading something else on another. Someone argued that, based on Romans 13, ANY resistance to authority is sinful (unless the authorities are ordering us to break God’s law). So it isn’t just a question of violence versus non-violence – even Gandhi-style non-violent resistance would be sinful in God’s eyes. Thoughts?

      1. Re: Gandhi, I suppose it is. I need to think it through more but this certainly makes me want to rethink the nature of nonviolent civil disobedience and its legitimacy.

        Yes, Pastor David, please read Jean Lasserre and tell us your opinions on his arguments.

      2. Good discussion. Pastor André Trocmé was a somewhat liberal figure and took part in anti-nuclear energy and environmental protests after WW2. In other ways, he was extremely socially conservative and worried about the corrupting effect of the new medium of cinema, for instance, in the pre-War period.

        Pastor Jean Lasserre was a conservative pacifist. He rejected the liberalism of Union Seminary in New York where he trained. In his book, War and the Gospel, he writes, “Christian theology should start from the Scriptures, not from preconceived ideas.”

        He dies not start from idealism or ftom utopian daydreams. He starts by listening to what God has to say to us in His word. That is why his pacifism is so convincing and powerful.

        Pastor Lasserre argues that Calvin’s mistake was to place to much emphasis on the Old Testament and not to recognise Christ was presenting a new paradigm to us.

        Joyeux noel.

      3. By the way, it is worth pointing out that another great Huguenot preacher, Claude Brousson, has traditionally been considered a pacifist, although revisionist historians are currently reassessing that view:

        Either way, there has definitely been a pacifist undercurrent in Calvinist thought from very early on and that pacifism has come to the fore like never before in the wake of the Second World War because of the influence of Trocmé and Jean Lasserre.

        I’ve asked a few experts on French Protestantism for their thoughts. If they respond, I’ll let you know what I find out.

      4. I don’t know what kind of weight we should put on claims like this:

        “The detail of some of the anecdotes and accounts of the Australians in the
        Palestine campaign demonstrates that they were no exception in regard to being apt to
        see seeing the liberation of the Holy Land as something ordained by God. Letters sent
        home by soldiers often revealed their excitement about seeing places mentioned in the
        Bible. References to the Crusades and Biblical events were common in the letters.
        Additionally, there were numerous reports of soldiers having visions and dreams, in
        particular of seeing angels, around the time of the liberation of Jerusalem.”


        “Not only for Lieutentant General Harry Chauvel and his 34,000 horsemen and
        cameleers — the largest body of mounted troops since the time of Alexander the Great
        — but also for the British and ANZACs back home, there was an acute awareness of
        the spiritual significance of what was being accomplished.


        What is also important to recognise is the degree to which the faith of a person
        such as Harry Chauvel is augmented by his sense of Christian heritage. Being
        descendants of the Huguenots (Protestants) of France, the Chauvel family have a
        strong sense of the need to defend the freedom that has been earned at much expense
        to practise the Christian faith.”

        If the soldiers REALLY were seeing visions of angels then perhaps the campaign to liberate Palestine in 1917 really was ordained by God as a modern Holy War.

      5. The formatting is hard to read but there is some more about the claims here by the controversial right-wing nationalist, Col Stringer:

        “Before the battle for Jerusalem a feeling spread among the troopers and padres that biblical prophecy was about to be fulfilled. One of the most extraordinary aspects of the liberation of Jerusalem (largely as a result of the Anzacs involvement) was the claim by many of the men that they had seen visions of angels:
        Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â
        “From General Sir Harry Chauvel down to the officers and troopers, visions of ancient buildings, strange animals, lighted villages and angelic beings were witnessed en masse.
        Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â
        The stories of hundreds of men were corroborated through cross-checking examinations. As there was no logical explanation, officially the incident was recorded as ‘lack of sleep’……..Reports of angelic beings appearing during the fighting occurred right up to the cessation of hostilities in 1918. They are too numerous to detail…Statements were also taken from captured enemy officers who had witnessed the same manifestations. General Allenby called for detailed reports and interviewed witnesses himself.” (The AIF in Sinai and Palestine- page 155).”


        Wow!!! You learn something new every day.

        “The Third Type is “perhaps the most fascinating”, according to the doctors. It describes tourists with no history of mental illness, who then have a psychotic episode while visiting Jerusalem, and then recover soon after leaving.”

        I wonder how many Australians experienced the visions? Was it above the average? Before battle in a strange, foreign land with so many religious connotations they’d be susceptible to all kinds of extreme psychological phenomena I’d imagine, but I don’t want to be totally dismissive either since there is a chance they really were experiencing visions from God. I’ll keep open minded about this.

      7. I can cnfirm from another source I’ve been reading that Jurieu and the Huguenots who participated in the Glorious Revolution definitely thought of it in terms of a Crusade or Holy War.


        See page 1500.

        From reading this part of Calvin’s Institutes I finally understand Pastor David’s reasoning in his comment above where he thinks wars can be lawful but violence is not to be used to soread the Gospel. Calvin here argues the New Testament is all about Christ’s spiritual kingdom so to learn about earthly kingdoms, we need to refer to the Old Testament. Calvin presumes that God’s instructions to the ancient Hebrews about how they are to run their kingdom applies to all nation-states throughout history.

        Somewhere else I read that Calvin expressly forbid pastors from using weapons, further emphasising his belief that the evangelists of tge spiritual kingdom are not to bear arms but office holders in the temporal kingdom can. Pastor David’s reasoning therefore makes sense to me now.

        It theredore still comes down to a question of which French Protestant is right: Jean Calvin or Jean Lasserre. It is easy to see now the crucial questions that divide their interpretations.

        Also, the other key questions remains: to whom exactly is Jesus’ “live by the sword/due by the sword” curse addressed? Whom did he mean by “all“?


        This is a new theology book from 2021. Pages 8 and 9 talk about ethical differences between the two Testamenrs and the different interpretations of Calvin and Lasserre.

        Page 312 of this book is interesting too. It talks about Lasserre’s typically Calvinist high refard for government, except in the matter of killing, and how Lasserre reads the Sixth Commandment and the Sermon on the Mount.

        It is really interesting that it is French Calvinism that has produced arguably the leading exponents of each school of thought:

        * Jean Calvin – Just War
        * Pierre Jurieu – Holy War
        * Jean Lasserre – Christian Pacifism

        Surely “all” we have to do is study the arguments of each of these men and determine with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, which of them has drawn the correct conclusions. Easier said than done, I guess…

      10. One of the French theologians I wrote to has replied. I hope this helps:

        “Your question is interesting. Thank you for your items.
        Certainly the tradition of French Protestant intellectuals of the 20th and 21st centuries is clearly pacifist.
        But it seems to me that in reality the question of a just war is well thought out and lively in French Protestantism for one reason: secularism.
        The fact that in France, the political power, the State is separated from any religious implication colors very strongly the way of thinking of theologians.
        The French Protestant theological tradition is absolutely not tempted by the alliance between political power and spiritual power which often explains the theological attempt at just war (this separation is not at all desirable in Calvin’s thought).
        It is therefore difficult for me to answer your question other than by coming to the conclusion that this theme has not fascinated the theological crowds in recent decades for the reason that I mention.”

      11. I have been reading the Calvinist theologian Jean-Michel Hornus’ book, “It is Not Lawful for Me to Fight”. I have not finished it yet but here are some notes:

        * I think it is important to note Jran-Michel Hornus was a teenager during the German Occupation and that his father and uncle both died in the ward as soldiers, as he notes in the dedication, so he has more “lived” experience of warthan most of us in the West have these days.

        * His book is a study of the source materials from the Early Church.

        * Like Pastor David notes above, some quotes from the Early Church are often taken out of context. (He also examines all of the objections to the military that come from opposition to Emperor worship.) Overall though, he does not find any positive discussions of war. All theologians of the E. C. who actually engage with the morality of soldiering and warfare are opposed to it. This fact has ultimately made Hornus himself a pacifist.

        * He notes there are Early Church theologians who embraced what we now call ‘Progressive Revelation’ so Jesus’ Word supercedes earlier teachings.

        * While the Old Testament referred to historical battles, it now has to be read symbolically. As Christians, for us it has to refer to spiritual battles.

        This concept is reinforced by the destruction of the Temple and the dispersal of the Jews in AD 70. See the writings of Adamantius and the Epistle to Barnabas.

        These historical events of the destruction of Jerusalem and the Jewish diaspora serve to emphasise Jesus’ teaching that His Kingdom is not of this world and therefore God is no longer interested in earthy kingdoms and their battles and woes but in a spiritual kingdom and it is not to be fought for using carnal weapons but spiritual ones alone. Therefore, the O. T. Battles have to be rethought in light of these teachings and this historical event.

        I am half way through the book, so those are my key learnings.

      12. I haven’t finished Huron’s book yet but I found something else. I came across a discussion forum for a group of very conservative Dutch Calvinists and they had a thread on the subject of war.

        They weren’t anti-war or non-violent but I found they were anti-military because of their fear the army’s anti-Christian culture would corrupt Christian youth in other ways. Here is a sample comment. I have edited it for conciseness:

        “When I was young and boys went into military service, our church always prayed that our boys might stand in the wicked army, where temptations were so great…
        From my own military service I still remember drinking, visiting whores, porn on the walls, swearing… How many commandments are those?”


        In general, they agreed with the conclusions on this page: if there is total continue between Jesus’ teachings and the OT, war must be acceptable in some circumstances. If jesus “lifted the bar” and turned our focus from the temporal to the spiritual, then pacifism is correct.

        I have also ordered a book I found online about French Protestant culture. In the preview on the website selling the book, it mentions how Calvinism, despite the Massacre of Saint Bartholomew, came to do much influential good in the world through pacifism and CIMADE. I’ll see what the book actually says when it arrives.

        I also found another French Protestant website discussing how Calvinism became pacifist. Here are two abridged paragraphs:

        “… the military trial [for some Calvinist conscientious objectors] becomes a forum for conscientious objection which seeks to assert itself in the face of the country. The three men having put forward a single argument, religious, Philip summons a series of prestigious witnesses, the Decalogue and the Sermon on the Mount, but also Origen, Justin Martyr, Lactantius, Tertullian… He then separates, at the cost of an anachronism in reverse, of Catholicism, by condemning the donation of Constantine: “Soon was to begin, with the conversion of the Emperor Constantine, what we Protestants regard as the great treason, the transformation of the Catholic Church, it that is to say universal, in a Roman church supporting the Gospel on the nature of the State. Since then, the compromises will multiply and soon the defense of the Christian State will become a religious duty. Thomas Aquinas was then to introduce a double distinction, between just and unjust wars and between clerics and laity faced with military obligations. But this double distinction, which legitimizes the obligation for the secular to wage just wars, no longer works, says Philip. Firstly because the Protestants have abandoned the distinction between clerics and laity: in their Churches, all men are priests, all seek perfection, although in different vocations, and immunity from military service, if it is admitted for Catholic priests, should be extended to all the Protestant faithful. Philip does not fail to point out that certain Protestant churches, and sometimes even prior to the Reformation, made the choice of absolute pacifism: Waldensians, Moravian Brothers (heirs of Hus), Mennonites exempted from service by Napoleon himself, Quakers noted for their attitude during the First World War.”


        “As for the just war, to which the great reformers rallied, the problem in Philip’s eyes is that it has become impossible to immediately identify the culprit of the aggression and the real leaders of a conflict; only specialists can say, years later and once all the diplomatic documents have been published and studied 23. It should be noted that this is a hollow criticism of the Treaty of Versailles, on which the victors had claimed to build the balance of the world. There is also a prophetic apprehension of what was to be a new conflict: a “total war”, striking women, children and the elderly. The massacres of tomorrow “will be so appalling, they would suppose among the participants such a degree of hatred and violence that one can seriously wonder if modern warfare can still be considered a lesser evil, suffered in suffering and repentance. , or if it has not become the worst of all evils, evil incarnate, to which a Christian conscience would have the duty to say no”

        You also have things happening from the earlier period ftom the 1890s to the 1920s like the publication of André Chanson’s great Pritestant pacifist novel, Roux the Bandit, and pacifist figures emerging in the French Calvinist Church like Wilfrid Monod and Henri Roser.

      13. Another one of the French theologians I wrote to has finally replied. I asked him:

        “All who take the sword will perish by the sword. Matt 26:52. Who is “all”?”

        He replied as follows:

        “This statement must be placed in its context. Jesus is addressing a disciple who wants to oppose the arrest of his master by force by hitting one of the guards with his sword. According to the Gospel according to John, it is Peter (always impulsive!). The ‘all’ would designate those for whom violence is the only remedy for violence, and force the only possible response to force, or to any form of attack on human beings or on justice. We can therefore understand: violence ends up turning against the person who resorts to it. We can see in this word an echo of God’s warning in Genesis ch.9 v.6: “He who sheds the blood of man, through man will see his blood shed”. The Sermon on the Mount indicates other active ways for the resolution of conflicts and the fight against evil: see Matthew ch.5, v.38 to 41.

        Jesus insists, in Matthew’s account, on the fact that his non-resistance is voluntary, freely assumed. It is the will of the Father that he undergo his passion until death on the cross. He therefore refuses all help, whether from his entourage or even from the Father and his “legions of angels” (Matthew ch.26, v.53). This is how the love of God will be victorious.

        Not easy to put into practice, whether on an individual level or on the level of relations between peoples.”

      14. Sorry I have taken so long to follow up. It was due to a family health crisis (please pray).

        Now, with the grim news out of the Ukraine, I felt I should respond once more.

        First of all, I was thinking about the Dutch Calvinists and their anti-military stance. I think they are right. I don’t think it would be an abuse of Scripture to assume if John the Baptist were here today, he would also warn soldiers against pornography, sexual sin, bullying of new recruits and war crimes. Also, when John tells the soldiers not to be involved in sinful activities, the logical implication is that if they are under peer pressure to sin that they feel they cannot withstand, then they should resign from the service.

        Secondly, that French Protestant Encyclopedia I ordered online arrived. The entry on pacifism was short but it basically said it was very much a minority opinion in the French Reformed Church until WW2. Two of the things that changed attitudes were their close relationship with the German Lutheran Church which became very pacifist after 1945 for obvious reasons and also the invention of nuclear weapons, with many Christians joining the anti-nuclear movement. Apparently their belief in the immorality of nuclear weapons led many French Christians to reconsider war in general.

        Anyway, that is where French Protestantism stands today and why.

        After that, I’ve looked into historical attitudes some more. During the French Wars of Religion, the Huguenots were obviously bellicose and even had military officers like Admiral Coligny as their leaders.

        After that initial period, things become much more interesting though. All f the following quotes and information come from a wide number of sources I’ve been skimming in between hospital visits. You should be able to find the sources easily by Googling the quotes.

        First of all, in the first half of the 1600s, Du Moulin had the attitude of “if you want peace, prepare for war”, and believed a conscientious prince should build up a strong military force.

        During tyranny, some Huguenots also advocated tyrannicide under the authority of lesser magistrates against higher ones and developed a sophisticated (if dubious) moral theory around resistance to autocratic rulers.

        During the first stage of the refugee crisis following the Revocation in the 1680s, “moderate French Calvinists of the Refuge in Holland had a pacifist tradition and loyalty to Louis XIV”.

        “Pacifism, endurance and persuasion of a pedagogical kind were the only weapons Calvinist writers advocated. Defending the peaceful nature of Gospels and non-violent nature of true Christianity was more and more common among Calvinist writers leading up to the Revocation.”

        Indeed, “Calvinists had increasing attachment to the pacifist spirit of the Gospel against the OT… OT ethics were abolished by the New Testament… This was considered a crucial point of Calvinist theology, even if only to prevent persecution” of the Huguenots.

        This was the point at which our old friend Jurieu came to the fore. It was “not surprising that Jurieu was among the first to cease subscribing to such traditional Calvinist views as pacifism, royalism, passive resistance in the face of a hostile state, and the rights of an erring conscience.”

        “He attacked the traditional pacifist interpretation of the ethics of the Gospel…
        only offensive wars were ruled out… you
        could defend yourself with violence, even if persecuted for religious reasons.”

        Jurieu argued “Christ’s rebuke of the disciples for wishing to call down fire did not rule out defensive wars… Gospel ethics did not abolish natural laws… God uses man’s passions, even bellicose ones…”

        With regard to “the Early Christians, whose long – suffering, peaceful behavior had always been cited as a powerful argument in favor of religious pacifism , Heaven forbid , said Jurieu , that he should detract from their merits in any way.” He argued the Early Christians were a “meritorious but weak minority who could not fight back” and that their pacifism was for this pragmatic reason, not because of their Christian ethics.

        Jurieu used OT ethics to support his bellicose stance, citing David and his comrades in arms and Absolom’s revolt though he “explained that he did not approve morally of Absalom’s revolt (on the contrary, he termed it criminal)”.

        By contrast, Jurieu’s opponent in Holland, Pierre Bayle, was deeply critical of King David and thought he was a morally repugnant example. He “recounted the crimes of King David to condemn war”.

        Bayle noted that a truly Christian society could not defend itself because it would be pacifist. He noted its members would not be motivated to fight anyway, since its members are just travellers on way to heaven. Furthermore, they would live
        luxury-shunning lives so they would not be rich enough to fund their country’s wars and they would also refuse to perform the subterfuges necrssary to win a conflict.

        Unfortunately, Bayle also seemed to reject the possibility miracles and also questioned why atheists could act in ethical ways, leading to accusations he was an atheist himself. His liberalism lost him much support.

        Jurieu bitterly opposed Bayle’s irenism and toleration. He countered Bayle by declaring that appeals to reason/natural law are absolutely contrary to the True Faith of the Reformed and that pacifism came from natural law and should therefore be rejected.

        Jurieu was utterly anti-absolutist, and believed in sovereignty of the people, whom Bayle distrusted.

        Juriru wanted to create unified front against the antichrist (Pope) and was strongly pro-Orangism while Bayle remained loyal to his persecutor, King Louis XIV.

        Ultimately, Jurieu won out leading to Huguenot involvement in the Glorious Revolution, Battle of the Boyne and so on as a Holy War, in the hope this would usher in the apocalypse.

        When Jurieu’s predicted resurrection of the two witnesses of Revelation 11 and apocalypse did not occur in any of the years he suggested, the French church became pacifist again. There was a “taboo against generalized violence which in the forms of royalism and pacifism had prevailed among the Huguenots of the Cevennes”.

        Meanwhile, preachers were still sneaking into France to pastor the persecuted church there, now driven far underground. The most famous of these was Claude Brousson.

        “While Vivent pushed the movement toward revolt , Brousson advocated non – militaritism, 
        never travelled with a weapon and often told Vivent he must be content with fighting with the sword of the Spirit. Brousson’s pious example edified everyone with the piety of his conduct.” His attitude was to “”Fear God; respect the king”.

        “A century and a half after Brousson’s death , Napoleon Peyrat ( 1842 ) called him a model for all early Calvinist leaders espousing pacifism .”

        The executions of Brousson and the other lay preachers by the French Government ironically removed this restraining force though, leading to the Camisards War as the Huguenots in the Cevennes became militant once more. “The pacifism that had characterized the Huguenots for almost three – quarters of a century had been turned inside out .”

        Therefore, you can see that the French Calvinist attitudes swing back and forth between bellicosity and nonviolence, from Calvin’s own mildness and general aversion to conflict, to the bloodshed of the French Wars of Religion, to the pacifism of the early 1600s, to Jurieu’s ideas of a Holy War to usher in the Apocalypse, back to Brousson’s pacifism, to the Camisard War and now back to pacifism in the wake of the Second World War and birth of the nuclear age.

      15. God, in His great Providence, led me to stumble across this thoughtful Sydney Anglican website article:

        The author takes the view discussed above that there is a shift from thinking about temporal kingdoms to a spiritual kingdom in the NT era. He seems to imply that we should be pacifists as followers of Christ.

      16. A French theologian replied to another one of my questions. I made a more targeted enquiry here about Holy War and the Camisard War since that conflict is a major event in French Reformed history:

        Question. What do you think of the Cévennes prophets of the desert? Were their prophecies and calls for Holy War biblical?

        Theologian’s Answer. The notion of “holy war” is indisputably present in the Old Testament, God himself fights for his people Israel, whom he chose and delivered from Egypt to reveal his covenant and his Salvation to all humanity. Think of the conquest of Canaan, songs of victory like Exodus 15. Numbers 21,14s even quotes a (lost) book “of the Wars of the Lord”.

        The Cévennes Protestants, harshly persecuted in the 17th and 18th centuries, identified themselves with the people of God subjected to the tyranny of Pharaoh and promised to exodus, hence the name of this period: “the desert”. This identification and the harshness of the abuse inflicted on them easily explains why some of them felt inspired by God himself to call for armed resistance. It was what is called the war of the camisards.

        How could we judge this fight for freedom of conscience, when we know what suffering they endured? How would we have reacted if our own children had been taken from us to be educated in beliefs contrary to ours, which at the time was one of the causes of the uprising?

        However, we cannot condone the massacres and various cruelties committed by certain bands of Camisards against Catholic populations, sometimes ordered by the “inspired”, because in Jesus Christ, the enemy is no longer flesh and blood! Jesus inaugurates a new covenant, proclaims the Kingdom of God whose charter includes the love of the enemy (Matthew, ch.5, v.44).

        We can therefore no longer justify violence for spiritual or religious reasons, even if, alas, in this world, the use of armed force is sometimes necessary, even indispensable – in the hands of States – to contain tyranny, terrorism, and other attacks that threaten their populations. But that’s another question. In these cases the recourse to war, without being a good in itself, can be considered as the “lesser evil”.

      17. I think the current Ukraine War is the perfect text book example of the issues being discussed on this page: are the Ukrainians morally right to stand up to the bully Russia, even though it has exacerbated the war and risks it spilling over into neighbouring states? Should they have turned the other cheek and let Russia invade without resistance? They would have lost their liberty but many, many lives, cities and cultural artifacts would have been saved. Would this have emboldened Russia to take over more states, a la appeasemnet/Hitler in the 1930s? Huge moral questions. All I can ask is that old tried and true question, “What would Jesus do?”

        To respond to F. Le Rossignol, I an understand where you are coming from. I have been looking at this directory of famous Huguenots. It is striking to see how many French Calvinists are pacfists, even today, after all they have suffered throughout their troubled history:

        It is interesting the only “anti-pacifist” listed is the liberal pastor who also endorses same-sex marriage! There is clearly a very strong pacifist element in French Calvinism, that endures today.

      18. 1. That is very true, Bob.

        2. I was reading a book about the Huguenots the other day by an English man. He noted that the Huguenots did not resist the slaughter in the Saint Bartholomew’s Day Massacre and argues that, if some had fought back, they would have allowed their compatriots time to escape. This sounds fine from a human perspective but again, it fails the “Peter” test, as cutting the ear would have allowed Jesus time to escape.

        3. Likewise, one of our reading on this Good Friday just pass was from the Gospel of John where Jesus rebukes Peter for cutting the ear. In this version, Jesus tells Peter that he would deny Him the cup God had driven Him to drink. Does this apply just to Jesus or to all who suffer persecution and martyrdom? If we are predestined by God to suffer, if it is His will, what right do we have to fight back? Some big questions there…

        4. I finally received a reply to the last question I sent out. The man who replied is a conservative Calvinist pastor in France and very faithful to the Bible’s teaching. Here is my question and his response, translated into English:


        My question: What should we choose: just war theory (Calvin and Bèze) or Christian pacifism (Trocmé-Lasserre-Brousson)? Is the NT ambiguous?

        Pastor’ answer: I believe that it is above all our life, marked by sin, which is ambiguous. God, in Jesus Christ, has come to put the clarity of his mind in our ambiguities. That being said, I believe that in light of the New Testament we can say that there is no just war. There is no “good reason” to kill someone, even in war.

        Having said that, we must also remember that God has come to us in Jesus Christ because of the hardness of our hearts (Matthew 19:8). It does not justify any of the things that this hardness leads us to commit, but it does with it to turn it for good, if we open our hearts to its action. But it does not seem to me possible to reason too much in the abstract in the face of such difficult questions.


        The Pastor also gave me a link to a video clip by a French general discussing the current situation in the Ukraine. In it, the General declares there is no such thing as a just war.

        Based on the responses to my questions from these various different sources, you can see that the Biblically-faithful, theologically-conservative wing of French Calvinism is very much pacifist in its beliefs and outlook today.

        May God bless all readers of Pastor David’s blog and may you all have a happy and holy Easter 2022.

      19. Here is some more discussion on French Calvinism’s tradition of pacifism:

        “The Protestants had protested early on and widely against the measures taken by the Vichy regime, and had been forerunners in humanitarian aid, (the role of Cimade), but they hesitated to join the armed resistance.

        Their traditional pacifist attitude opposing them to any form of violence, as well as a trend in favour of conscientious objection between the two wars, may account for the rather limited military resistance as such. There was no real « Protestant underground resistance » except for small areas in the Cévennes and Tarn regions, in which the camisards–maquisards had a true historical meaning.

        The resistance to the Vichy regime was mostly civil and spiritual.”

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