Is It LAWFUL for A CHRISTIAN to BEAR ARMS or Kill?
By: Unknown Author
A prominent Methodist once said, “Christianity has never been a pacifist religion”! That true?
There is no record of Christ ever sanctioning war. There is no record in the bible of any disciple or apostle doing so either. When a disciple tried to defend our Savior from arrest, he forbad it, saying, » Put up again thy sword into its place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword.” [Matthew 26:52] Also chapters 5 and 6 of that gospel are full of Christ’s words which have us in no doubt, such as, “but I say unto you, that ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, to him turn the other also.’[5:39]
One of the first martyrs, Maximillan, was brought before the tribunal, to be enrolled as a Roman soldier. On the proconsul’s asking him his name, Maximillan replied, “I am a Christian, and cannot fight. » It was however ordered that he should be enrolled; but he refused to serve, still alleging that he was a Christian. He was immediately told that there was no alternative to bearing arms except to be put to death. But his fidelity was not to be shaken: ‘I cannot fight, » he said, » if I die, » He continued steadfast in his principles, and was consigned to the executioner.
The early Christians not only refused to be enlisted in the army, but when they embraced Christianity, whilst already enlisted, they abandoned there military profession at whatever cost. Marcellus’ was a centurion in the legion called Trajana. Whilst holding this position he became a Christian; and believing, in common with his fellow Christians, that war was no longer permitted, he threw down his belt at the head of the legion, declaring that he had become a Christian, and that he would serve no longer. » It is not lawful,” he said,” for a Christian to bear arms for any earthly consideration’;
And he was in consequence put to death.
Later faithful witnesses had to suffer similar persecution, but remained faithful; » We believe that it is the will of God for His children to follow Christian love in all human relationships. Such a life of love excludes retaliation and revenge. God pours His love into the hearts of Christians so that they desire the welfare of all men. The supreme example of nonresistance is the Lord Jesus Himself The teaching of Jesus not to resist him who is evil requires the renunciation by His disciples of all violence in human relations. Only love must be shown to all men. We believe that this applies to all area of life…..to international tensions and wars. As nonresistant Christians we cannot serve in any office that employs the use of force. Nor can we participate in military service, or in military training, or in the voluntary financial support of war. But we most aggressively, at the risk of life itself, do whatever we can for the alleviation of human distress and suffering.” [Mennonite Confession of faith]
“We utterly deny all outward wars and strife and fighting with all outward weapons, for any end and under the pretence of whatsoever. And this is our testimony to the whole world. The Spirit of Christ by which we are guided, is not changeable, so as once to command us from a thing as evil and again to move unto it: and we do certainly know, and so testify unto the world, that the Spirit of Christ, which leads us into all Truth, will never lead us to fight and war against any man with outward weapons, neither for the kingdom of Christ, nor for the kingdoms of the world.’
[A Declaration from the harmless people of God called Quakers presented to Charles 11 in 1660]
“It is vain for persecutors to say, “We are the lambs, let us persecute the wolves’; because until this time of the world, the lambs have suffered, as the apostle saith” all that live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution’. 2 Tim 3 12” [Ellis Pugh]
“Christ said, ‘Love your enemies’; the hireling priests urged men to enlist to kill men. Was that love?”
It is quite clear, that whoso ever argues that it is lawful for a Christian to fight, argues from the world’s point of view, and does not speak for Christ. The faithful witness of the ages now calls upon them to stop their mouths; no true follower of Christ can destroy that which our Savior is prepared to redeem!