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Mapping the Terrain—War and Peace

In the course of Church history, some Christians have been pacifists, disparaging all war. Others were Crusaders, using war in an attempt to advance or defend the Christian faith itself.1 However, the vast majority of believers have adopted the just-war approach, which permits war, but restricts its means and ends. For them, combat is designed to protect or relieve nations from cruel tyranny. It is not designed to correct theological confusion or spiritual misdirection. The cure for these maladies is anointed biblical instruction, not armed conflict.

Just-war theorists focus not upon the abolition of war, but upon its proper timing, execution, and extent. A just war is essentially defensive, preventing or ending harm to innocents. Accordingly, in its conduct, every effort is made to minimize harm to non-combatants. This is a matter of careful timing, targeting, and choice of weapons.

The Bible not only permits, but also honors military service. David was a warrior king. The prophets condemned oppression and urged the faithful to intervene. Far from shunning battle, the Lord often took sides, strengthening the hand of His people. Paul endorsed state use of deadly force2 and employed martial language to describe the disciple’s equipment and calling.

Though the Bible makes room for war, it teaches that peace is the favored condition. The burden of proof is upon the one who urges armed conflict. Of course, the fall of man insures that war is often warranted. Only hopeless romantics would argue that unregenerate men are graciously disposed toward godly reason. For some, force is the only language they understand, and governments must not shrink from “speaking” in these terms when aggressors will listen to nothing else.


For example, see Kairos Journal article, "None of Them Were Left Alive—Conquest of Jerusalem (1099)."


See Kairos Journal article, "Healthy Fear."