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.

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