SHOULD A CHRISTIAN FIGHT?
by Dick Carmack 2853 words approx.
Should a Christian fight in armed resistance against a
tyrannical government or any other government, or should he submit
and turn the other cheek? What is our biblical duty?
Because of the times in which we live and because of the strong possibility that an attempt may one day soon be made to overthrow the Constitutionally authorized government of this country and to install a dictatorship, the question arises: Should or should not a Christian fight to help preserve his country and his way of 1ife?
What is our Christian duty? Should we resist not evil (Matt. 5:39)? or do we sell our garments and buy a sword (Luke 22:36)? Whatever our own predisposition, we should first determine and then do The Lord’s Will.
Sgt. Alvin York was a World War I Congressional Medal of Honor winner for his exploits in the Argonne Forest in France. York single-handedly outshot an entire German machine gun battalion, killing 25 men in the process, and later the same day, along with seven of his men brought in 132 German prisoners. His explanation was that God had been with him during the fiqht.
York was a rowdy youth, later experiencing conversion in a fundamental Kentucky church. He was a Christian who applied for conscientious objector status at the beginning of American involvement in World War I, believing deeply in the instructions given by Jesus in Matt. 5:39, “resist not evil.” He was denied objector status and drafted.
He went then to his commanding officer Major George Edward Buxton, a “devout New Englander” who so impressed York that he later named a son after him. “The Major began by quoting Christ’s admonition ‘He that hath no sword, let him sell his cloak and buy one’ (Luke 22:36), and asked York if the Christ who drove the moneychangers from the temple would ignore German ‘war crimes’ in Belgium. He pointed out that Jesus had told his followers, ‘For my kingdom is not of this world; but if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight” (John 18:36). Buxton argued that the United States was an earthly government due the ‘things that are Caesar’s’ and therefore the Christian servants of that government should fight for its preservation. He ended by reading a passage from Ezekiel (33:1-6) that clearly suggested that the Lord expected his people to defend themselves.”
If this is true, then if a military coup is executed against this country, the same would apply to us. i.e. an obligation to defend the Republic and its Constitution against the aggressors. Is not the presently constituted United States an earthly government and due the things of Caesar’s?
Regarding the reference to Ezekiel 33 by Major Buxton, it seems incumbent upon us to at least “blow the trumpet and warn the people” (Ezek 33:3). Beyond that the Scriptures clearly state that “whosoever heareth the sound of the trumpet, and taketh not warning; if the sword come, and take him away, his blood shall be upon his own head” (verse 4).
Why blow the trumpet if we are not expected to defend ourselves against evil? Is the trumpet only for a warning to hide? By the way, in verse 2 of the passage the Lord says that He is bringing the sword against the land. Today, in the United States of America it surely seems the Lord is again bringing the sword against a land, our land. The very least we must do is to sound the warning.
John R. Rice says a clear teaching of the Bible is Romans chapter 13 and elsewhere where Christians are admonished to be subject to the rulers of their country. The ruler is said to be the minister of God, even in bearing the sword. “The soldier in the army acting under orders from the ruler or the government may be the minister of God in helping to put down bandits, insurrection, or godless rulers who set out to murder millions as did Hitler. ‘The powers that be are ordained of God’ applies to this matter. So Christians should sometimes go to war as their government may require."
Again quoting Dr. Rice: "Question: Is it ever right for Christians to
have a part in a revolution against the government?
"Answer: I think that the case of Jeroboam in I Kings 12, who rebelled against Rehoboam, Solomon’s son, and the case of Jehu in 2 Kings 9, who rebelled against Jehoram, king of Israel, show that God sometimes is in favor of a revolution against a wicked king.
“As a citizen, a Christian is to obey the laws of the land and be subject to the rulers of the land. But as a person responsible to God to help in the government of which he is a part, a citizen may sometimes need to change the government. In America we do that by voting for this president or that, and this governor or that, but sometimes a change may necessarily need to be done by a revolution. Certainly only in a very clear case of wicked oppression should a Christian take part in a revolution.”
So Dr. Rice thinks there are certain times when revolution is justified.
J. Vernon McGee, another respected commentator says regarding Luke 22:36, “The Lord said, ‘He that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one.’ Why? For self-protection, of course. They were living in days that required a sword. We need to recognize that fact also. If we do not resist evil today, all kinds of evil will befall us. We could end up in a hospital or have some of our loved ones slain. You do not need to overdo this thing and make your home an armed garrison, but you do need to protect yourself.”
For the sake of argument let’s say that our politicians or some other conspiratorial group attempts to forcibly take this country into an international “New World Order.” Are they still ordained of God? Or, have they stepped outside of the definition of “ordained powers” and are now opposing them? Obviously, they are in opposition to the “powers that be.”
Dr. Robert L. Moyer says a Christian should not always obey human government. “There may come times when there will be a clash between state and church…When such a clash comes, in the words of the apostles, ‘we must obey God rather than men.’” Moyer continues, “Shall a Christian go to war? Our answer is yes. If your government calls, you are obligated to obey. In 1 Peter 2:13—14 Peter adds his voice to that of Paul. saying, ‘Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake:"
A secular authority, the American Declaration of Independence tells us, “But when a long train of abuses and usurpation, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.”
On the other side of the coin, Christian history seems replete with examples of Christians that went to their deaths without apparent resistance and it often seems that the Gospel is furthered more in those instances, than when war is employed.
Looking closely at the examples given in Foxe’s Book of Martyrs however, we realize that these people were killed (burned, hanged, beheaded etc.) not for turning the other cheek, but for precisely the opposite reason. They were killed for resisting the power of the state, that is, they refused to bow down to the King or Pope and were executed for that reason. If they had turned the other cheek and resisted not evil, they would have lived. But they chose to obey God and not men (Acts 5:29).
It is an important question and one that needs to be answered definitively and with full authority of the Scripture.
First, we should understand what a “ruler” is. In the case of a monarchy, or a dictatorship, the ruler is the king or the “Head of State.” In the case of an oligarchy (such as Saudi Arabia et al) the ruler is the small group of men who rule the country. In the case of a democracy, the “ruler” is the whim or vote of the people at that particular time. In the case of a Constitutional Republic such as the United States, the constitution and its written body of law is the ruler. The President and other elected and appointed officials are transient and are only empowered to carry out the law and to amend it by lawful procedure. Our President therefore, is not our ruler, he is merely the instrument by which law (the ruler) is enforced. To whom does the Supreme Court turn when there is a question as to the lawfulness or unlawfulness of a particular statute? Do they ask the President? Of course not, they go to the constitution.
Therefore, in the case of a military coup or armed insurrection against our constitution we are both free and duty bound to resist tyranny and to help restore legitimate, constitutional government.
The question as to whether we are free to resist, in case the New World Order is duly voted in and ratified according to the Constitution however has not been answered.
If it is the will of the people to become subject to a New World Order or any other kind of a government, and this is obtained by lawful procedure, then we are duty bound to respect that decision and to submit to the new government, or leave. But, if that New World Order is in the process of coming about by deceit, or by disregard of existing law (therefore God— given power), or by force, we are duty bound to resist that new government until such time that it is plain, one way or another, that God’s Will has been done.
Beyond the obvious deceit being practiced at every level of government, our present federal government is in clear violation of the 10th Amendment to the Constitution and is thereby an unlawful government which must either be corrected or resisted, because it is in the process of subverting and thereby overthrowing a God Ordained government.
The 10th Amendment reads: “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” Has our federal government assumed powers not delegated to them? The list is endless. Myriad laws have been passed by Congress giving the central government powers that were not specifically enumerated, and are therefore illegal.
If conspirators attempt overthrowal by subverting the law1 we should resist with the weapon of law. If they attempt overthrowal by force of arms we should resist with arms.
Surely we have to use judgment and seek the sense and the context of the verse when applying Romans 13:1-7, or any other passage. Paul is speaking of duly constituted powers, i.e. legitimate governments, not just any “power.” “Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.”
If an armed group of bandits break into your home and assault you and your family, they certainly are “powers that be” at that particular time, but they certainly are not what Paul is speaking of above and certainly must be resisted.
1 Tim. 5:8 “But if any provide not for his own and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.”
If we accept Matthew, “resist not evil,” and reject Luke, “sell your garment and buy a sword,” or vice versa, we are indulging in private interpretation. As we ponder these questions we must be sure to seek the whole counsel of God, not just those teachings that we are predisposed to adopt. “Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the Scripture is of any private interpretation” (2 Pet. 1:20).
In the case of the American rebellion against King George, in the beginning it appeared to be against Romans 13. Twenty-seven reasons are given in The Declaration of Independence arid not one of them is religious. Somewhere however, and assumedly for reasons given above, during the course of the war (perhaps at Valley Forge and because of the prayers of George Washington and multitudes of Christian patriots seeking freedom), God apparently stepped in on the American side and has been there ever since, up to and including World War II. I believe it is plain in retrospect that King George had overstepped his authority and had thereby rendered himself, “illegitimate.” When he did, God plainly came down on the side of the revolutionaries.
Now however, a new threat looms over our country. A specter of totalitarian government is seen, presently operating under the “authority” of the United Nations (1945) and many disciples of Christ are being persuaded into the “New World Order.” If in fact, either a person or a group of persons act illegally and perhaps with violence to force our participation in this modern Babel, under the authority of Romans 13, I maintain it is the Christian’s duty to resist with all possible means including a retaliatory force if that becomes necessary.
Having said all this, how can we ignore Matthew 5:39? The answer is Jesus was teaching us how we should live with, and react to other individuals. In verse 38 He said, “Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth; (39) But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. (40) and if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also.”
This is not an instruction to a nation, it is an instruction for our private, personal lives and interactions with others. Instructions concerning our relationships to governments are given in Romans 13. (1) “Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power But of God; the powers that be are ordained of God.” That does not include individuals who happen to be the strongest at the moment, it does not include renegade groups (be they large or small) who are acting outside of the law.
Verse 3 makes this plain: “For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil (emphasis mine) Verses 6 and 7 also clarify, “For this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are God’s ministers (7) Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due “ (taxes and allegiance). We don’t pay taxes or allegiance to terrorists or to illegal "governments."
It is important to understand the distinction between individuals and governments whether they are local or national. Perhaps this has something to do with the fact that as individuals we will live again and will be judged in a future time. Nations, governments, however have to be dealt with and judged on this earth.
The question today however is not our duty in time of declared war. That is clear, we are subject to every ordinance of government and therefore obligated to fight as a soldier. The present question is this: If a strong man or a group of conspirators are in the process of establishing themselves as the new government but are using illegal means, they are rebelling against “the powers that be,” and as subjects of that power we are obligated to oppose them. If they win however, apparently they are ordained, or at least tolerated by God and therefore to be obeyed.
A clarifying example: During World War II German soldiers fought against the Allied Powers. That was their duty as long as the outcome was in doubt. But, when the Allies won, those same soldiers submitted to the new government.
I believe it boils down to this: Once a new government is firmly in place and has no further resistance, whether it got there by election or by revolution, we are bound biblically to obey it.
“Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme; Or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well. For so is the will of God (emphasis mine), that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men.” (1 Peter 2: 13-15).
UNLESS the new “powers that be” order its citizenry to perform in opposition to biblical teachings.
“Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to
obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29).
But, if a group is in the process of illegally overthrowing an existing, legitimate government, and their success is not yet, then we are biblically bound to oppose that effort.
In the present situation, we do indeed have conspirators who are attempting to take over the United States by stealth and as loyal subjects we are obligated to resist, in allegiance to our present Constitutional Republic that has been ordained by God. As Christians, we are duty bound, biblically to oppose with all our might the present attempt to subvert our country because God has made it clear through His Scriptures (Ro.13). If however, we lose, then we are just as duty bound to submit to the “New” World Order. Because of that my advice to readers is this: Don’t lose.
In closing let me tell the story of a gentle Quaker who was schooled in, and subservient to the teachinqs of the Bible. One night, hearing a strange noise in his house, he got up and found a burglar busily at work where the silverware was kept. Reaching for his gun, he entered the room and said,“Friend, I would do thee no harm for all this world, but friend, thou standest where I am about to shoot.”