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How should Christians Think about Modern Warfare?
This week on the Straight Truth Podcast, Dr. Josh Philpot brings up the events taking place in the Middle East related to Israel and Hamas. There are a lot of questions being asked as it relates to how Christians should think about and respond to this ongoing situation. Some of those questions are prompted because of the horrific things we learn about that take place, but others are prompted due to real conscience concerns. He asks Dr. Richard Caldwell if he could talk about some of the moral complexities surrounding modern warfare for Christians. Can he help us understand how the Bible might guide us regarding the issues of war, peace, and military involvement in general? The overarching emphasis of the New Testament seems to be advocating for peace and reconciliation. If this is the case, can a Christian even get involved in military engagement and conflict with a clear conscience? Should a Christian be involved in any kind of military or law enforcement service-related vocation that involves violence? What about forced requirements where both men and women are required to serve for a specific amount of time? Shouldn’t we be able to conscientious object if we disagree with what we are asked to participate in? What role does Romans 13 have regarding this conversation? Wasn’t Paul writing that during the days of Nero? Would a Christian have been able to serve under Nero in the first century when a lot of the military engagement would have been unjust? Join Dr. Caldwell and Dr. Philpot as they discuss these questions and more today surrounding some of the complex moral issues related to war and how and whether Christians can be involved.
Things discussed on the podcast today cover:
- The boundaries of nations have been established by God. Nations have a right to exist. Nations arise and go out of existence based upon the sovereign will of God.
- God has entrusted to humans, through the establishment of government, the power of the sword. Which is the power to form laws and enforce those laws, including the power of life and death over its citizens when those laws are violated. Looking at the Scriptures as a whole, Dr. Caldwell believes this includes self-defense, which also includes the right of nations to defend their citizens, their borders, and their interests. God makes use of human government for the purpose of order.
- Believers are responsible for examining war, any involvement and participation in it, and all that happens as a result of it by the light of the Word of God. This includes examining the justness of war according to biblical standards and how to think about civilian casualties, death, and destruction that occur because of war.
- Believers can serve in the military and law enforcement. There are, of course, certain conditions and things that a Christian can’t do with a clear conscience, and lines will be drawn. When it comes to a governing body requiring both males and females to commit two or more years of their lives before they can go to college or enter the workforce, Dr. Caldwell believes this has to all be weighed carefully. He would not encourage any women in his life to participate in any of the roles discussed. In fact, Dr. Caldwell would actively discourage their involvement. He believes if that were ever a requirement in our country (the USA), that would be a place for conscientious objection. There are all kinds of reasons to refuse service, and each one is going to be an individual decision, a matter of conscience and judgment by believers as they weigh the roles and requirements involved where they are being asked to serve.
- Christians are responsible for being peaceful and to seek and work for reconciliation. However, we need to be careful not to confuse our categories. There’s a difference between some sort of vengeance on a personal level and the execution of the laws of a nation.
- Christians probably could have served under Nero, depending on what sort of engagement they were being called to participate in. This is what Paul is getting at in Romans 13 when he teaches believers to be submissive to the decree that we can. Dr. Caldwell says the same is true in all the areas of service they’ve been talking about whether it’s the military, the police force, or some other entity/capacity that might be in service of our country. So, to the degree that we can remain submissive to God and the authorities, we are called to live this way. We must each weigh those decisions, one by one, in light of our commitment to Christ.
- What much of this discussion boils down to is the need for believers to have a Bible-induced, sanctified common sense where we are faithful to God first and foremost. We don’t need to overthink some of these things. We need a mind full of the Word of God and a conscience informed by the Word of God, not willing to violate our conscience that’s informed by the Scriptures for anyone. But that also means we must be willing to embrace the repercussions of that which nearly always involves some sort of suffering.
About The Straight Truth Podcast
The Straight Truth Podcast: Christian Opinions in an Increasingly Secular World. Join Dr. Richard Caldwell, Dr. Josh Philpot, and their guests as they discuss news events, current affairs, and cultural issues from a Biblical point of view. Find the truth at www.straighttruth.net
The Straight Truth Podcast is a weekly opinion show hosted by Dr. Richard Caldwell and Dr. Josh Philpot. Straight Truth is available as an audio podcast on iTunes or as a video podcast through YouTube or Vimeo. The duration of the podcast is approximately 10 minutes. We release new episodes every Thursday.
The topics discussed in the Straight Truth Podcast are current events, matters that challenge traditional Christian values, and questions submitted by audience members. Dr. Caldwell, Dr. Philpot, and their guests seek to answer these questions with Biblical truths and from a Christian conservative point of view. The Holy Bible is the inspired, infallible, and inerrant Word of God; it alone is and will be the basis and authority of
answering any and all questions.
The Straight Truth Podcast is the perfect podcast for those seeking to strengthen their faith, to be informed on how to broach difficult topics with a Christian point of view, to share their faith with unbelieving friends, to challenge the status quo of their own beliefs by viewing them under the lens of the Scriptures, to interpret current news events from a Biblical point of view, and more.
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