Friday, August 21, 2009

Guest Article: Jon Zens

Has The Church Ever Met A War It Didn’t Like?
by Jon Zens

I’ve been thinking for some time, but more pointedly in the past few months, about how the visible church has an image in the public eye of always approbating each new war that comes along. As you look back over the history since Constantine, the church has pretty much put its imprimatur on conflict after conflict.
The obvious disparity between the peaceful Christ who did no violence, and the war-approving track record of those who confess allegiance to the Messiah seems to be questioned by few.

Recently, Sam Duncan wrote to Baptists Today and observed, “Lotz also says that [Billy] Graham is a model of moral integrity since he has not fallen because of money or sex. But Graham has preached about peace, yet he seems to have never met a war he didn’t like. He has supported every U.S. President in every war, providing a cover of moral justification for policies that are far from those of the Prince of Peace. Integrity demands consistency, not a pick-and-choose morality” (Feb., 2003, p.8).

All one has to do is read Ray Abram’s chapters, “The Church As Servant Of The State” and “The Church Contributes To War-Time Hysteria,” to see how quickly and unthinkingly the church caves in to nationalistic agendas (Preachers Present Arms: The Role of the American Churches & Clergy in World Wars I & II, Herald Press, 1968). It is scary, and the church for the most part remains a rubberstamp for the civil authorities.

We live in a fallen order and wars are inevitable. But it is far past time for the church to be more discerning and to stop being shaped like a passive piece of clay into un-Christlike images by the powers that be. Shouldn’t eyebrows be raised when the voices shouting loudest for war continue to come from Christian leaders? We are so used to keeping ranks with the war-program that is very difficult for us to say “No!” to the cultural frenzy for conflict. Why do we forget the words of the Master, “those who take up the sword will perish with the sword”? Didn’t the Psalmist pronounce a blessing on those who didn’t trust in chariots and horses?

When is the church going to find a war it doesn’t like?

Jon Zens

For Further Thought:
Ray Abrams, Preachers Present Arms, Herald Press, 1968.
John Driver, How Christians Made Peace With War, Herald Press, 1988.
Leonard Verduin, The Reformers & Their Stepchildren, Eerdmans, 1964.

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