I have a question to ask you. I would then like you to ask it of others, particularly of Christians:
How many innocent people would you be willing to kill — purely to defend yourself?
For example, let's say you are well armed and an armed robber is shooting at you — but the robber is holding a hostage directly in front of him.
Or, suppose someone is shooting at you from within a crowd. Maybe some in the crowd don't like you. Let's push it even further and say that most of them hate you, and sympathize with the attacker. To shoot back, you would be aiming at the attacker, but you know you would also hit others.
How many of them would you be willing to kill, even absolutely and purely in self-defense?
I asked this question of someone fairly high up in military intelligence recently. I had to press the point as he beat around the bush for a while. His (eventual) response? "I'm not sure I know the answer to that question." Well, at least he was thinking about it.
If your own answer is unclear — or anything greater than zero — you have a moral problem. Your hope is in murder to save your own life. The choice is either to face it or to deceive and justify yourself.
I want it to be absolutely clear what I am saying: If you are knowingly willing to kill even a single innocent person, for any reason whatsoever, there is murder in your heart — not faith in God.
I asked him one more question:
If it would be wrong to kill even a single innocent person in self-defense, why would it be OK to support a government that did so?
Christian Leaders and War
The title of this article refers to one by the now deceased Jerry Falwell, who wrote "God is pro-war." The "war on terror" was justified in that article and by its main proponents as a war of self-defense. But in justifying self-defense there is always silence or dismissal on the subject of innocent bystanders. The concept is most often morally sterilized by using preferred terms like "collateral damage."
WorldNetDaily ran the article by Falwell. Its founder, Joseph Farah, pushed the envelope even further in two later articles literally advocating the mass nuclear bombing of Muslim cities, writing in January 2005, "…we don’t need to be specific about which major cities and installations will be vaporized." That same month Farah wrote an article advocating torture, making up for the complete absence of any Biblical support by recommending a couple of Hollywood films. Later in 2008, he presided over the faith-based "Values Voters" election debate, where US House representative Ron Paul was jeered for mentioning Jesus as the "Prince of Peace."
In 2005, Farah also wrote that if “we” did not torture sufficiently or “do everything necessary to win”, “we might as well sue for peace." So after all the innocent blood, if his recent reversal on Iraq and Afghanistan, while welcome, is for anything more than strategic reasons in the face of military failure and national bankruptcy until the next pre-emptive war I look forward to hearing it publicly. No mention yet of anything but American soldiers’ blood, but a major step in the right direction.
In contrast, it was Hitler who said:
"Terrorism is the best political weapon for nothing drives people harder than a fear of sudden death."
Exactly the same principle of fear, not faith, was used to drive the people of the US, the UK and other countries into moral compromise — spearheaded by US Christian leaders. Once the "fear of sudden death" had galvanized the people into demanding political action, this required that the inevitable death of innocents be swept under the moral carpet.
At this stage, at least one Christian leader, Pat Robertson, was against invading Iraq and apparently asked George W. Bush about those innocent victims — and was told there wouldn't be any. Robertson was "overruled" and evidently chose afterward to be quiet and get aboard the "war on terror" bandwagon.
Thank God at least the Pope and the Catholic Church did stand by their clear statement:
"…criminal culpability is always personal and cannot be extended to the nation, ethnic group or religion to which the terrorists may belong."
Of course, it is easier to speak when a government and its critic are in different countries and many Catholic leaders disagreed, particularly in the US.
So, if we will all have to stand on our own on Judgment Day, then let us beware following leaders like lemmings. Even the great apostle Peter, having had a marvelous ministry of miracles recorded in the Book of Acts, years later had to be publicly rebuked, as recorded in the book of Galatians.
Leaders are our fellow human beings, even if genuinely called or gifted. It may sound obvious to say so, but many Christians do not act as if this were true.
Christians and Allegiance
The pro-war position was and still is the prevailing position amongst many Christian leaders who, while claiming to be Bible believers, in reality are also in allegiance to a kingdom/government other than the Kingdom of God — a subject covered in my earlier article "The Exclusive Kingdom of God."
Ask yourself where your own allegiance lies. "God and Country" is at best an ambiguous phrase — the best thing anyone can do for their fellow countrymen is to have no other allegiance than to God. Those who choose otherwise will soon see no wrong in murdering for their country.
As a result of this "supplementary" allegiance, in any conflict between the laws of God and of government, Christians are vulnerable to the deception, spin and false doctrines the State specializes in — for both Left and Right. Very often, the consolidation of "Christian" support requires little more than an appeal to patriotism and running some minor socially conservative legislative distraction up the political flagpole (for later retraction). "Minor" certainly, relative to the mass murder of innocents.
The New Testament and War
I remember hearing a story about a judge who had his own guilty daughter brought in front of him. Though he loved her, he could not justly judge her innocent but he did, upon her plea of guilty, divest his judge's wig and pay the fine in full.
There is some similarity there with the New Testament, which unveils the Prince of Peace. The strict justice of the Old Testament, while remaining true and just, has been tempered and satisfied with mercy — our deserved punishment being overwhelmingly paid in full by another, the Lord Jesus Christ.
With this prevailing theme, it is quite hard to make a case for pre-emptive war in the New Testament. The most that could be argued is that when Jesus commanded Roman soldiers not to brutalize the innocent or steal; he did not require them to face death by immediately deserting.
However, when the disciples asked Jesus if they should call down fire from heaven on their enemies, His answer was, "you do not know what Spirit you are of."
Some might argue the suggestion was just — they were plotting to kill Jesus — and something similar did occur once in the Old Testament when Elijah faced some pagan priests. But at that time, God as Judge had little choice but to execute justice, as redemption was not fully available. Then, Jesus came to show us the real nature of God the Father and said, "If you have seen Me, you have seen the Father."
Today, many Christians are baying for blood and calling for fire in the form of bombs and missiles on the heads of anyone who could possibly be an enemy. This is not even based upon proper standards of evidence but upon whispers, rumor and analysis from mysterious sources in failed secret police agencies.
Moreover, they do not care — I repeat, they have abandoned any care — about how many innocent people will die.
I say they do not know what Spirit they are of.
The Old Testament and War
The absence of a pro-war doctrine in the New Testament forced Jerry Falwell and others to dig into the Old Testament. There they found all the blood they were looking for. The Old Testament is still the Word of God and therefore preemptive war with innocent casualties was fully justified in the Bible, right?
I am going to show — using multiple unequivocal scriptures — that killing the innocent, even just one and even in self-defense or for an otherwise righteous cause would never and has never been advocated by God, Old or New Testament.
I am not promoting pacifism or opposing self-defense.
On the contrary, I believe in strong defense — even that according to Jesus, every Christian should be armed and that it is the most basic duty of every father to defend his family. For all who choose evil and knowingly spurn the free pardon purchased by the blood of Jesus, I also believe there is a literal hell (here are some documented NDE's). So I would hate to send even an armed robber into the wrong side of eternity. But I would not hesitate to do so if there were no other choice.
But I am targeting pre-emptive war — killing people in advance, because you think they might be a risk.
Or, killing innocent people because there are others around them that are guilty and it is too difficult to decide who is who.
I also include so called "freedom fighters" or actual terrorists bombing government buildings, where there may be ignorant and/or innocent individuals among some actual violent criminals of the State.
Old Testament Case 1 — Abraham
Both the Old and New Covenants begin with the "father of faith," Abraham.
Abraham had a well-armed household with several hundred servants under his command. He knew what a battle was, and when his goods were plundered, took up arms and recovered the lot plus the booty from his slain foes. They got what was coming to them, in rich Old Testament style.
Abraham was in a covenant with God (based on faith, not law — there was none). In Genesis 20, God chose to visit His friend Abraham when justice could no longer be put off regarding extreme homosexually related violence and murder in the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. More than just a few guilty individuals; the whole society had become morally corrupt and committed to perversion and violence. Any half-decent individuals would have long since departed, if they had not been raped and murdered.
Why did God even mention this to Abraham, let alone record it at length in the Bible? The subsequent dialogue makes clear that although God is the ultimate Judge, He is always looking for a "legal" way out. It also serves to demonstrate that His justice is a last resort and most of all, that He never condemns the innocent along with the guilty.
Note the pleading of Abraham:
"Will you consume the righteous with the wicked? What if there are fifty righteous within the city? Will you consume and not spare the place for the fifty righteous who are in it? Be it far from you to do things like that, to kill the righteous with the wicked, so that the righteous should be like the wicked. May that be far from you. Shouldn't the Judge of all the earth do right?"
Abraham continued pleading the case of Sodom and Gomorrah all the way down to just ten innocent people. Far from being angry, God agreed each time. Finally, all that remained in the city were those in the family of Abraham's nephew Lot and these innocents were removed before any judgement took place.
So, the question I asked at the beginning of this article is directly from the Bible and was asked of God by the "father of faith" Abraham himself. It is worth repeating yet again:
God's answer was a definite and repeated no. Therefore, any interpretation of the later wars of Israel to condone the mass murder of innocents would make God out to be either a liar or a schizophrenic.
He is neither.
I strongly suggest, even if you do not understand those later events, that caution is advisable before either condemning God, or else using those events to justify mass murder today.
Old Testament Case 2 — Israel
Before Israel ever entered into the Promised Land, they had to wait because the inhabitants, though in moral decline, had not become sufficiently wicked. When finally they did enter, the Bible says that the land literally had vomited the inhabitants out, their level of wickedness being so great.
Despite this wickedness, in Joshua 2, the case of Rahab the prostitute in Jericho serves to illustrate the lengths God will got to in order to preserve just one innocent person, along with all their family, even when amongst others who are guilty.
For years it had been known to the Canaanites that the Israelites were coming. They knew about Pharaoh's army being destroyed and, according to Rahab, they knew they were to leave and that the God of Israel was with the Israelites.
The times were nomadic or semi-nomadic and the less wicked had left long ago. Note also that the term "Israelites" included a large "mixed multitude" — individuals or families from pagan societies that freely chose to make the God of Israel their own God. The whole book of Ruth is about this. There were many others, including an Amalekite mentioned in 2 Samuel 1.
Those who remained in Jericho were a hard core that preferred to scorn and defy the God of Israel (along with any moral restraint) and trust in their own gods and their king/government.
You may think this reasonable — until you look at the available historical records of their culture (see here and here). Child molestation, mutilation, and sacrifice by fire were pervasive, with all kinds of vile perversions and occult initiation perpetrated upon them. Basically, the longer these people remained alive, the more of their innocent victims there would be.
Yet in Jericho, an individual — a prostitute — turned to God in faith. Her only recorded good "work" was to confirm her faith by helping the spies, in defiance of her governing king — but she was spared, along with her family. The Bible records God supernaturally preserving the portion of the wall of Jericho where she lived.
This was right at the beginning of entering the Promised Land — and a key feature of the narrative is the preservation of a single innocent life.
Old Testament Case 3
The normal practice in a conflict was for women and children to be absorbed through marriage or domestic service, into Israel — with special protection for these women in marriage law.
Yet, in some specific cases, God did order women and children to be killed. This subject is beloved both by Christian warmongers and conversely, by Biblical sceptics.
Both are hypocrites: Sceptics, because many advocate assisted suicide, euthanasia and/or healthcare rationing — they want their god, the State, or its "experts" to decide when mercy killings should take place. But equally so are warmongers of the Christian right, who support pre-emptive war and the mass murder of innocents, yet claim to oppose abortion and euthanasia on the basis of being "pro-life."
In the case of the Canaanites, God the ultimate Judge did rule — in a very public way, and confirmed visibly by many miraculous signs — that their wickedness was so great that the land had "vomited them out." They were served notice of eviction, a fact well known on the "grapevine" of the Canaanites, according to the testimony of Rahab in Jericho.
In the semi-nomadic times, Israel was instructed many times that the primary task was to "drive them out" and "see their backs." Those who remained were a hard core, committed to their local king, their local gods and their vile practices.
But what of the women?
To remain with the Canaanites, they would have to be participants — sacrificing their own or other's children alive in fire. The longer they lived, the more innocent children would die or be abused. As adults and in nomadic times, they were also free to depart in advance of Israel's arrival and had many years notice to do so. If they were unable or unwilling to do so, the story of Rahab at Jericho shows that even then, there was a way out for any individual.
The main question for many is regarding the children. I believe this was the last of a last resort for God in dealing with the free and sovereign will of their parents. Here are some points:
- Killing children was not an accepted or universal military practice. It applied only to specific tribes and required the unique and specific instruction of God, the giver of all life. God, not an army, was the decider in this matter.
- It was not a punishment or judgement. Due to the extreme wickedness of their parents, young children would be in a physically, sexually and emotionally abused condition — and offered, from birth, to occult spirits. Deliverance from this was not freely available until demonic forces were completely routed at the cross and resurrection of Christ. Successful adoption of such disturbed children would be an impossible task, and instead cause mayhem within Israel as they grew up.
- To leave them alive would mean they would starve or be eaten by wild beasts.
Whatever the reasons, one certain conclusion is that no one but God can judge such conditions and that absent a specific command of God; any killing of women and children was not permitted.
This is underlined in the case of Abigail the wise wife of the wicked and foolish Nabal, in 1 Samuel 25. This man set himself against the militia of David despite their protecting and saving his flocks. His wife entreated an enraged David, who had resolved to destroy Nabal's household. David listened and was thankful at being saved from "blood guiltiness."
In addition to all this, in the Old Testament there were of course no weapons of mass destruction, or means of indiscriminate killing. Note also that there is not a single example of torture by Israel's army, let alone its acceptance.
Christians would do well to consider the actions of Israel when their militia army was not victorious, or their soldiers were killed: They immediately got on their face before God to find out what they were doing wrong.
Soldiers are today dying by the thousands. Yet, in the name of "God and country," the bloody slaughter and horrendous maiming of innocent men, women and children by the hundreds of thousands, is still supported by a large portion of the Christian church and its leaders.
In order to get into this morally blind condition Christians had to be rooted not in faith, but in the "fear of sudden death" and in a lifelong confession of allegiance to their State rather than to God alone. They were therefore open to being told, "Our man in the Whitehouse" George W. Bush and in the UK Tony Blair, had heard from God on the Iraq war. "End-times" prophecy teachers perpetuated the delusion, by distracting away from the simple ABC's of loving our neighbor to the complicated XYZ's of Armageddon.
But according to the New Testament, a Christian should not even go to lunch with someone like George W. Bush — a man called a Christian, but who worshipped at a Shinto temple in Japan; promoted Muslim holy days; and holds membership in the occult "Skull and Bones" (Thule Society/Order of Death) and Bohemian Grove organizations. Tony Blair and his wife are also apparently enamored with the occult, even while claiming to be Christians.
So, if there were no miraculous signs — where was the clear evidence that God had really spoken on Iraq? In particular, that it was okay — contrary to scripture — for innocents to be indiscriminately slaughtered?
How can Christians have been so dumb?
Actually, large portions of the New Testament are written to Christians in error… What else is new? In their anger and fear; and in their love for and allegiance to the State as protector, they have believed what they chose to believe. One thing God will not violate is our free will.
You may be a Christian who has advocated killing innocents, or may even be a soldier. If so, there are only two ways forward: One is self-deception, the other is forgiveness. The second option requires the acknowledging of wrongdoing and then doing no more.
The past cannot be undone, but there is hope. Even after killing many people, the apostle Paul went on to write much of the New Testament. Abraham also had many shortcomings, but "believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness." The least we can do is believe God who loved us and gave Jesus for us, in order to receive the same gift.
Most of all, I hope all readers will see through the blinding evil of false allegiance, and renounce any dedication to a power other than God. For some, that may mean renouncing a verbal pledge, for others it may just mean renouncing blind support for the State's constant violations of God-given life, liberty and property.
For much more in depth analysis of the many issues surrounding this subject, I recommend the Laurence M. Vance archives at LewRockwell.com, with classic articles like "Should a Christian Join the Military" and also the book, Christianity and War.
July 29, 2010