The Kuyperian Commentary

Politics, Economics, Culture, and Theology with a Biblical Viewpoint

Jesus the Anti-War Hippie?

My post last week addressed an image on the internet claiming that Jesus is an anti-war, socialist hippie. The image is obviously directed at Christian conservatives, attempting to show an inconsistency in their acceptance of Jesus Christ but their rejection of President Obama’s policies. We looked at how even though Jesus wants his followers to be charitable to the poor and needy, this doesn’t mean that Jesus approves of the government forcing people to be charitable. In a similar way, Jesus is anti-war but this doesn’t mean he is against all government force. He is neither a pacifist nor an anarchist.

The Bible teaches that war is a result of man’s rebellion (Romans 3:10-18); that war is not something to be desired (1 Peter 3:8-12); and that Christians are looking forward to a day when all war will be eradicated (Isaiah 2:4). In this sense, Jesus is anti-war and his followers should be as well. But not all physical violence is immoral. The Bible teaches that physical violence can be a noble and righteous engagement.

Throughout Scripture God gives individuals the authority to use self-defense against criminal attack (Exodus 22:2; Luke 22:36). This authority is also granted to societies of individuals. In Deuteronomy 20, God reveals his guidelines for ordinary war in Old Covenant Israel. What we find is a defensive-only war policy:

When you go near a city to fight against it, then proclaim an offer of peace to it. And it shall be that if they accept your offer of peace, and open to you, then all the people who are found in it shall be placed under tribute to you, and serve you. Now if the city will not make peace with you, but makes war against you, then you shall besiege it. And when the Lord your God delivers it into your hands, you shall strike every male in it with the edge of the sword. But the women, the little ones, the livestock, and all that is in the city, all its spoil, you shall plunder for yourself; and you shall eat the enemies’ plunder which the Lord your God gives you. Thus you shall do to all the cities which are very far from you, which are not of the cities of these nations.” – Deuteronomy 20:10-15

How do we know this is a defensive-only policy? First of all, offering peace to a city doesn’t make any sense unless you’ve already been at war with them. Having to offer peace assumes that you are not currently at peace. Secondly, the text tells us that the city would be made Israel’s slaves if they accepted the peace offer. Slavery in the Bible is for the purpose of restitution when crime has been committed. If a criminal was unable to pay restitution for his crime, he could be ordered to work for the victim until any loss or damages had been compensated for (Exodus 22:3). Since a crime has to be committed in order for restitution to be demanded, we can safely conclude that the city in question was the aggressor. Israel was to fight in self-defense, not as the initiators of war. Jesus – being the same God who revealed these guidelines – obviously agrees with himself. Nowhere in the New Testament does Jesus repudiate the principle of self-defense or defensive war. His admonitions of peace are consistent with the policies of Deuteronomy 20.

The most ironic part of this image is the implication that Obama is anti-war! To the contrary, Obama has proven himself to be trigger-happy ever since his first term. Among other things, he has continued the aggressive wars in Iraq and Afghanistan; dropped bombs in Libya, Yemen, Somalia and Pakistan; and now his administration says he can assassinate American citizens on U.S. soil without due process. It seems there is no limit to Obama’s power over your life. He has disregarded the Constitution that he is supposed to uphold and he has ignored Christ’s guidelines for peace and war.

Let us pray that Obama repents of his ways and begins to seek wisdom from the words of Jesus Christ. Let’s also hope that liberals stop supporting this hypocritical presidency and instead follow the true King of Peace, the true Anti-War hero.

by Adam McIntosh

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7 thoughts on “Jesus the Anti-War Hippie?

  1. It really depends on how you define anarchist. I would say he wasn’t in the sense of no rulers, or no rules, but arguably was in the sense of not an archist (a good name for anyone with an idea of how coercive temporal government should be structured and what roles it should have and what its end is and what means are at its disposal to achieve them). I would say he wasn’t in the sense of being actively opposed to the state (that is not why He came, after all), but more in the sense of being beyond any “archy”. Those of this world, anyways. He had a way of telling us that what is important to us in this world, even where it is rightly important to us as caretakers of this physical realm is dust on the grand scale of things.

    Did Jesus vote? Did he support political candidates or apologize for regimes? Did “give unto Caesar” mean do your duty to society or did it have more to do with avoiding worldly disputes because it is better to heap coals upon your enemy’s head? Did “turn the other cheek” mean allow yourself to be beaten for no apparent reason by anyone willing to beat you or did it have more to do with avoiding worldly disputes because it is better to heap coals upon your enemy’s head? I like to think that Jesus probably believed in self-defense, and yet it is still better, qua Christian, to heap coals upon your enemy’s head through the humility of, among other actions, giving unto Caesar and turning the other cheek.

    Sure, there is Romans 13 and we can assume Jesus and Paul were on the same page, but, even within the context of living quiet and peaceable lives, submitting to authority does not necessarily mean do everything the government tells you. Or even ANYTHING the government tells you if everything it tells you is outside of the scope of its authority. I guess you can’t quite call this anarchism, but it has a distinctly apolitical flavor to it. Not opposition to a monopoly on force so much as an almost indifference (I hesitate to use the word as I don’t want to convey the meaning “apathy”) to it, because salvation is in no way dependent on who is in authority or what that authority entails, or even if there is a temporal authority at all. It is kind of like the indifference to slavery in the Gospels.

    I don’t see this “indifference” as irresponsible or negligent. I just see it more in a “the grass withers and the flower fades” sort of light. It recognizes plights and hardships but at the same time, because the eternal is more important, and because God is sovereign so all such plights are simply hard providences, it knows that trust in horses and chariots is just vanity. Being free from the bondage of sin is immeasurably more important than being free from the bondage of men. Now, taking back the culture (or whatever you want to call it), even through the medium of politics on occasion, is part of the dominion mandate, part of our responsibility to what we have been appointed stewards over, including future generations of our own families, is not vanity, and so horses and chariots do have their uses.

    Okay, if I go any further I will start rambling.

    • henrymoore, thanks for the interaction! I agree with much of what you say. Rejecting anarchy does not entail blind patriotism nor does it mean one accepts the welfare/warfare leviathan state. I actually prefer the term “minarchy” to describe what I adhere to and the principles for government that I think God reveals to us in the Bible. My next several posts will more than likely deal with anarchy and pacifism in detail, so I look forward to discussing these issues with you further!

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