It’s Just War
By Special Contributing Kuyperian Author, R.C. Sproul Jr.
It is rather fashionable, in certain Reformed circles, to bemoan the church’s historical ignorance. We don’t know our Bibles, nor our creeds, nor our fathers. In slightly smaller Reformed circles we likewise bemoan our anemic understanding of the church. We live in the age of the para-church, the house church, the self-authenticating, social network framed country club church. The weaknesses we complain about are likely worse than we think, though likely not for the reasons that we think. I fear we complain about these weaknesses not because they are dangerous and dishonoring to our Lord, but because they make us look bad. If all evangelicals were as well educated, thoughtful, historically grounded and ecclesiastically connected as we are, we seem to think, the world would stop thinking of us as ignorant, backwoods fundamentalists.
All error, in the end, is an offence against the true and living God, and against His image bearers. The danger of our folly is when it keeps us from loving God with all our heart, mind, soul and strength, and loving our neighbor as ourselves. When we do not think God’s thoughts after Him, when we are not informed by our fathers in the faith we do not end up believing nothing, but instead believe the wisdom of the world. We end up tossed to and fro by every wind of doctrine.
Consider, for instance, just war. Though precious few in the church are aware of this, over the centuries the church wrestled with a rather important moral question, under what circumstances, if any, may a state wage war. Saint Augustine wrote clearly on this, positing a list of criteria, each of which needs to be met to justify war from a biblical perspective. Proportionality, win-ability were two requirements, but none stood taller than the first- we may only wage war after we have been attacked. Not threatened, not aggravated, but attacked. All just war is defensive war.
Sadly, because this is forgotten within the evangelical church we have, by and large, supported numerous unjust wars over the past fifty years. Because we are more concerned with being “conservative” than we are with being Christian we have waved our flags, repeated our jingo-isms, even celebrated victories over nations that did us no harm. We have treated the deliberate exposing of our own soldiers to danger, and the deliberate killing of “enemy” soldiers as mere matters of policy. The horror, however, isn’t that we have been wrong. The horror is that soldiers, and civilians have died. Mothers have lost sons, children fathers. And they have died fighting when and where they should not have fought. They died not heroes but tragedies. We stand guilty; there is blood on our hands.
It is never a safe thing to try to read providence. God’s ways are not our ways. But is it at least possible that the church finds itself horrified (at least I hope horrified) at the prospect of our daughters waging war, that we face this great evil in our day because we have embraced the waging of unjust wars by others? Could it be they will come for our daughters for their imperial wars because we gave them our sons for imperial wars? Could it be that our callousness over the death of our soldiers will bring forth the death of our daughters? That we are becoming the victims of injustice because we have cheered injustice on around the globe?
CS Lewis said “Wars are ugly when women fight.” The truth is, all wars are ugly. And on this issue, in this day, so is the bride of Christ.
Originally published here.