Blessed Are the Peacemakers

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Foreword to the New Edition of Laurence Vance’s Christianity
and War and Other Essay’s Against the Warfare State

States military officers undergo multiple levels of leadership and
military training throughout their careers. It was only twenty-five
years ago that I sat as a young Air Force Captain and received my
first exposure to the history of warfare, military leadership, the
rules of modern warfare, and the Geneva Conventions. I prided myself
on being one of the “good guys” in the world, and was
able to shove back beyond my conscience the obvious conflicts, such
as the use of indiscriminate weaponry, “collateral damage,”
and some of the more embarrassing moments in our history of conflict.
It seemed that, regardless of our moral wrongs, we were basically
a good nation and the greatest hope for the world.

It was only
a few years later that I began to feel the stirrings of an awareness
of myself as a sinner in the hands of a just God and, eventually,
came to faith in the finished work of Christ as my only hope for
salvation. I eagerly consumed the Bible and theology, finding myself
aligned with the “Christian Right” evangelical movement.
Conveniently, I found that my theology and nationalism seemed to
meld perfectly. I was proud to serve in a military that was ready
to defend interventionist foreign policies. Conveniently, I found
it easy to follow the advice of my father, himself a career military
combat officer: “It is not our job to concern ourselves with
politics and Washington, D.C. We are to be about the profession
of war.” Dad certainly had a healthy distaste for politicians,
as do many officers.

Truth has an
unhealthy habit of confronting lies. In my case, it came in the
writings of Laurence Vance. His writings used the wisest military
tactics, on the one hand, scrambling my communications with military
doctrine, and on the other, attacking my religious beliefs with
a brilliant flanking maneuver. My concurrent discovery of
worked together with Vance’s writings to challenge my rather weak
public education and strong military indoctrination. I found both
my Christian faith and my understanding of the state confused and
uncertain. My first reaction was anger and disbelief.

Vance is nothing
if not a persistent Christian. Indeed, he is “running the race
to win,” and has refused the world’s attempts to silence him.
Each essay unsettled my military view, my theology, and my understanding
of the history of the Christian Church. I found myself running to
history books, historical Christian writers, and the Bible to disprove

Most describe
it as a “loss of innocence” – that moment of enlightenment
when we discover a painful truth of life. My loss of innocence is
still ongoing. Vance has caused me to open my eyes. The result has
been a discovery of the wonderful truths and economics of libertarianism,
and a correction and deepening of my faith in and understanding
of Christianity, and most importantly, the orthodox, historical,
and biblical views of war.

Growth does
not come without price, nor does following the teachings of Christ.
Inspired by Vance, I have set about trying to reach my Christian
brethren who support war and the military due to their confusion
over key passages in the Bible. To some degree I have found myself
ostracized; yet, rather than discouraging me, it tells me that I
am on the right course, for Christ himself predicted such for those
who followed him in obedience.

In this most
commendable work, Vance greatly expands upon his previous edition.
It will be my goal to get a copy into the hands of every military
comrade and fellow Christian that I know well enough to reach with
my concerns. Let me not suggest that the reader must be military
or Christian. Indeed, this book is a perfect antidote for the poison
being slowly fed through the media, our public schools and universities,
conservative and fundamental Christian churches, and the military.
Within its pages, the reader will surely be challenged in his prior
understanding of history and the biblical view of warfare. Vance
pulls no punches; I cringed the first time I found myself being
called a “Christian warmonger.”

As I have said,
growth can be painful. I will be forever indebted to Vance for his
clear understanding of history, Christianity, and libertarian thought.
I challenge the reader to not simply accept what he writes, but
to test what he writes by holding it against the pale of orthodox
Christianity, the Bible, and history itself. This book is a clarion
call that challenges the modern American church, the military member,
and all citizens as to their beliefs concerning the historical and
moral aspects of warfare. For me, it was literally life changing.

Mike Reith [send him mail] is a retired USAF major in Fresno, CA.

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