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"The condition upon which God hath given liberty to man is eternal vigilance; which condition if he break, servitude is at once the consequence of his crime and the punishment of his guilt." - John Philpot Curran


Christian Statism: Killing for the Gospel?

(This was originally posted at The Contemporary Calvinist.)

"The War Prayer" is a short story that was written during the aftermath of the Philippine-American War by Mark Twain and published after his death. In 2007, Markos Kounalakis, the president of The Washington Monthly, adapted the text for this animated short film.
This could easily have been written in response to the current "war on terror." We really haven't changed all that much.

Consider how many churches display the American flag prominently in their pulpits. Is it any wonder why we seem to have such a hard time drawing a distinction between loyalty to Christ and loyalty to country?

A couple of months ago, I heard a comment that saddened me deeply. In the context of discussing how the brutality of bin Laden and other Muslim thugs may be turning people away from Islam, someone mentioned that it's good for Christianity to have the U.S. military involved in the Middle East, and that having Christian GIs in Iraq will help spread the gospel.

Oh. Is that why we invaded Iraq and killed hundreds of thousands of people? It was all part of furthering God's kingdom?

What we did was commit a naked act of aggression against a sovereign nation that neither attacked nor threatened us. Our "liberation" of Iraq has since given rise to terrorist groups that weren't there before and has resulted in a great amount of bloodshed. It has also displaced thousands of Christians who now face violent persecution from militant Muslims. Do American Christians now feel we must justify the actions of our government on the basis that it will help spread the gospel?

My friend Dave Black asks, "How is that we have allowed the Christian Right to be defined by delusional idealism and religious zeal? How is it that American evangelicals not only approved but actually glamorized the war as a form of Christian 'mission'?"

As a Christian and a Calvinist, I understand that God controls all things and does ordain evil for good (Genesis 50:20). But we as Christians should never equate the spreading of the gospel with the use of military force. We are fighting a spiritual war (Ephesians 6:12-13) and our weapon of choice is the "sword of the spirit" (Ephesians 6:17). We should be prepared to give our own lives for the sake of the gospel (Matthew 16:25, John 12:24-25), not to take the lives of others.

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