There is, of course, no such thing as an Old Testament Christian, since the disciples of Jesus Christ were “called Christians first at Antioch” (Acts 11:26), well into the first century A.D. But how else are we to describe certain twenty-first century Christian apologists for the U.S. military and its wars of aggression and occupation?
Old Testament Christians—usually followed by Christian armchair warriors, evangelical warvangelicals, Catholic just war theorists, reich-wing Christian nationalists, theocon Values Voters, imperial Christians, pro-lifers for mass murder, Red-State Christian fascists, bloodthirsty Christian conservatives, nuclear Christians, Christian Coalition moralists, Religious Right warmongers, God and country Christian bumpkins, military chaplains, sniper theologians, and members of the Christian axis of evil—appeal almost exclusively to the Old Testament to justify the actions of the U.S. military and Christians participating in those actions.
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- Bombing other countries
- Occupying other countries
- Fighting foreign wars
- Maiming Muslims
- Killing Muslims
- Murdering Muslims
- Being an accomplice to the murder of Muslims
- Fighting unnecessary wars
- Policing the world
- Spreading democracy at the point of a gun
- Garrisoning the planet with bases
- Singing filthy cadences that glorify rape and killing
- Killing people you didn’t know who were no threat to you or your family
- Being a global force for evil
- Fighting immoral wars
- Committing random acts of depravity and violence
- Participating in state-sponsored terrorism
- Maintaining a global empire
- Killing civilians and excusing it as collateral damage
- Fighting undeclared wars
- Making widows, orphans, and refugees
- Displacing tens of thousands of people
- Establishing secret prisons
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- Engaging in offense instead of defense
- Fighting unjust wars
- Unleashing violence and civil unrest throughout the Middle East
- Seeing the world, meeting interesting people, and then killing them
- Serving as the president’s personal attack force to kill on his command
- Carrying out a reckless, belligerent, and meddling U.S. foreign policy
- Fighting senseless wars
- Killing remotely via drone strike like you are playing a video game
- Destroyed a country’s industry and infrastructure that was no threat to the United States
- Doing anything and everything other than actually defending the United States
Their reasoning goes something like this:
Since the LORD brought the Jews “out of the land of Egypt by their armies” (Exodus 12:2), it is perfectly fine for American Christians to join the U.S. military.
Since the nation of Israel blockaded the city of Jericho and “utterly destroyed all that was in the city, both man and woman, young and old, and ox, and sheep, and ass, with the edge of the sword” (Joshua 6:21), collateral damage by the U.S. military is defensible.
Since the nation of Israel went out to battle accompanied by priests (Deuteronomy 20:2), Christians should serve as chaplains in the U.S. military.
Since there is a “time of war” (Ecclesiastes 3:8), the U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are justified.
Since military service was required for certain members of the nation of Israel (Numbers 1:1-3), there is nothing wrong with the U.S. government drafting young men into the military.
Since King David—a man after God’s own heart (1 Samuel 13:14)—was “a man of war” (1 Samuel 16:18), it is okay for U.S. presidents to take the country to war (if they are Republicans).
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Since many of the enemies of the nation of Israel were slain in battle “because the war was of God” (1 Chronicles 5:18-23), the U.S. wars against Muslim “terrorists” are of God.
Since the LORD delivered up the Canaanites to the Israelites and they “utterly destroyed them and their cities” (Numbers 21:2-3), U.S. bombing campaigns against cities filled with civilians are excusable.
Since the LORD is “a man of war” (Exodus 15:3), Christians serving in the U.S. military are doing an honorable thing.
Since the LORD commanded King David to go and fight against the Philistines (1 Samuel 23:4-5) and Saul to “smite Amalek” (1 Samuel 15:3), Christians can wholeheartedly support their government’s wars.
Since the LORD fought for the nation of Israel (Exodus 14:14), it is okay for churches in America to ask God to bless U.S. troops.
This is why I have said on more than one occasion that the worst thing about Christian apologists for war, the military, and the warfare state is not their willful ignorance of U.S. foreign policy, their blind nationalism, their childish devotion to the military, their excusing of the evil deeds of the CIA, their support for warmongering conservatives, their delusion that the GOP is God’s Own Party, their acceptance of the national-security state, or their cheerleading for perpetual war in the name of fighting “terrorism.” The worst thing about them is their continual misapplication and misuse of Scripture.
Here are twelve fundamental principles to keep in mind to keep from swallowing whole the baloney from Old Testament Christians:
- Just because the Jews in the Old Testament did X, doesn’t mean that Christians under the New Testament should or are at liberty to do Y.
- It is wrong to invoke the Jewish wars of the Old Testament against the heathen as a justification for the actions of the U.S. military.
- The U.S. president, even if he is a Republican, is no substitute for Moses, Joshua, King David, or God Almighty.
- The U.S. military is not the Lord’s army.
- The United States of America is not the nation of Israel.
- The United States of America is not God’s chosen, exceptional nation.
- The Lord never appointed the United States to be the world’s policeman.
- The Lord doesn’t need the United States to protect or defend Israel—or give it foreign aid.
- The Christian’s sword is the word of God.
- The only warfare the New Testament encourages Christians to wage is spiritual warfare against the world, the flesh, and the devil.
- Just because God authorized many of the Jewish wars of the Old Testament doesn’t mean that God authorizes American wars.
- The Lord never sanctioned any Christian to go on a crusade, commanded him to war on his behalf, or encouraged him to kill, make apologies for the killing of, or excuse the killing of any adherent to a false religion.
The Apostle Paul said in the New Testament that whatsoever things were written aforetime in the Old Testament were written for our learning (Romans 15:4). Learning to be an apologist for the U.S. military and its wars comes, not from reading the Old Testament, but from too much of watching Fox News, paying attention to conservative talk show hosts, listening to Republican politicians, and taking seriously Old Testament Christians.