Compiled by Chuck McManigal
This subject with its related issues of war, patriotism (including flag-salute and participation in patriotic ceremonies) is a difficult subject to approach because of the emotional and sentimental aspects associated with patriotism and/or nationalism. Many people find it difficult to rationally discuss these issues, but as Christians, we must put aside our emotions and be willing to discuss and reason on these issues. It is a fact of ancient and modern-day history (which will be shown in this paper) that in every nation (not just the United States) and under all circumstances true Christians have endeavored to maintain complete neutrality as to conflicts between factions of the world. They do not interfere with what others do about sharing in patriotic ceremonies, serving in the armed forces of any country, joining a political party, running for political office, or voting. But they themselves worship only Jehovah, the God of the Bible. They have dedicated their lives unreservedly to him and give their full support to his Kingdom.
It is also a well-known fact that Jehovah’s Witnesses do not participate in the wars of any nation—even at the cost of their own lives. It’s not a matter of cowardice, as some have charged. It takes courage to stand up for one’s Christian convictions, knowing that their courageous stand may end up in serving long prison terms such as in Germany, Russia, Greece, Spain and even in the United States in times past. In some cases, this courageous stand has resulted in death for many of Jehovah’s Witnesses, even when they were given a choice to participate and live, or to not participate and die.
Many who are now Jehovah’s Witnesses and who became such since the days following World War II are veterans. Jehovah’s Witnesses have seen a tremendous growth especially since the end of World War II until present. Obviously, these men could hardly be called “cowardly” since so many have served in the military in their various countries. Some men have expressed a desire to become Jehovah’s Witnesses while serving in the military force of various countries. The following information from the book The Rise of Christianity, by E.W. Barnes, p.333 applied to them as it did with early Christianity: “A careful review of all the information available goes to show that, until the time of Marcus Aurelius, no Christian became a soldier, and no soldier, after becoming a Christian, remained in military service.” As will be shown later in this paper, the time came when apostasy set into the early Christian church and their convictions regarding their “neutrality” became relaxed, resulting in compromise and a forsaking of true Christianity.
Jehovah’s Witnesses are a people dedicated to the true God, Jehovah. As such they bear God’s name in fulfillment of Acts 15:14, 17: “Symeon has related thoroughly how God for the first time turned his attention to the nations [gentile peoples instead of Jews] to take out of them a people for his name. …in order that those who remain of the men may earnestly seek Jehovah, together with people of all the nations, people who are called by my name, says Jehovah, who is doing these things.” Because of this, Jehovah’s Witnesses bear a heavier responsibility as true Christians today to obey God’s laws, principles, and statutes as found in his Word, the Bible, and as demonstrated by the original Christians who were taught by Jesus himself. With all of the above in mind, let us consider carefully the information presented in this paper, putting aside nationalistic sentimentality and emotional feelings of patriotism for now, and instead displaying a keen desire to discover God’s view. Once God’s view is established, then it is up to each individual as to what he will or will not choose to do to comply with God’s will in this matter.
This subject of Christian Neutrality will be approached from the following:
(1). Followers of Jesus Christ being “no part of the world”. (John 15:18, 19).
(2). The early Christian attitude toward war.
(3). The early Christian attitude toward national emblems
NO PART OF THE WORLD
God’s kingdom is incorporated as part of the Bible’s main theme, first introduced in Genesis. Information and details of God’s kingdom are supplied throughout the Bible. This theme becomes increasingly developed with the coming of, and the preaching campaign of Jesus Christ. It becomes fully developed with John’s writings, especially the book of Revelation.
The Bible shows God’s kingdom to be a real government as any earthly kingdom is. Jesus taught his followers to pray for God’s kingdom to come (Matt. 6:9, 10). Through that kingdom to come, God’s will would be done on earth as it is in heaven. He also taught his followers to “seek first the kingdom” (Matt. 6:33). His followers were to preach the “good news of the kingdom” in all the inhabited earth before the end of this wicked system of things would come. (Matt. 24:14).
God’s kingdom, as a real government, has a real king, Jesus Christ, and real associate kings who rule with him, as well as real subjects. The rule itself is from heaven, while the earth is the domain of that rule (Isaiah 66:1). The subjects of that kingdom, which is everlasting, are righteous humankind. When the kingdom is in full operation, the “Lord’s Prayer” will be fulfilled: “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, in earth as it is in heaven.” Fulfilled Bible prophecy indicates that that time is near.
Jesus said to Pilot: “My kingdom is no part of this world. If my kingdom were part of this world, my attendants would have fought that I should not be delivered up to the Jews. But, as it is, my kingdom is not from this source.” (John 18:36).
At John 17:14 Jesus said in prayer to his Father: “I have given your word to them (his disciples), but the world has hated them because they are no part of the world, just as I am no part of the world.” This same thought is repeated in verse 16. And at John 15:18, and 19, Jesus said: “If the world hates you, you know that it hated me before it hated you. If you were part of the world the world would be fond of its own. Now because you are no part of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, on this account the world hates you.”
James added: “Friendship with the world is enmity with God. Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.” (James 4:4). You can see how critical it is to understand what it means to be a “friend of the world” since being a friend of the world would make us enemies of God!
The reason why Jesus took this stand of being no part of this world and commanded his followers to do the same is that this is Satan’s world in that it is Satan who has control over this world. Since Satan’s rebellion in Eden and his causing the first pair to sin and thus rebel against God, God has allowed Satan to rule to prove important points and settle some issues raised at the time of his rebellion. This is another lengthy matter which will not be addressed here, however, the concept of Satan ruling this world is very real and obvious, as we shall see in this paper.
2 Cor. 4:4 calls Satan the “god of this world.” Jesus referred to Satan as the “ruler of this world at John 12:31; 14:30; and 16:11. At 1 John 5:19 we read that “the whole world is lying in the power of the wicked one.” Rev. 12:9 says Satan is “misleading the entire inhabited earth.” And the fact that Satan tried to tempt Jesus into falling down and doing an act of worship toward him, in exchange for “all the kingdoms of the world” (Matt. 4:8-10) shows that Satan is in control and holds rulership over the governments of this world. Otherwise he could not have offered this to Jesus. Because Satan is the ruler of this world, the early Christians, following the lead of Jesus, refrained from political or military involvement. They were neutral toward all governments. Paul said at 2 Cor. 5:20: “We are therefore ambassadors substituting for Christ”, and at Phil. 3:20 he said: “As for us, our citizenship exists in the heavens.”
Jehovah’s Witnesses also realize that, in spite of Satan being the “ruler of this world,” that God has allowed Satan to rule this world for a time in order to resolve the issues (mentioned earlier) and to prove once and for all time that Satan is not worthy nor capable of ruling mankind at all. But until such time as God takes action against Satan, the “ruler of the world,” all true Christians must “be in subjection to the superior authorities”. (Rom. 13:1, 2). Because of this, Jehovah’s Witnesses, just like the early Christians, are among the best citizens possible in that they respect and obey the laws of the land in which they live. They pay their taxes in an honest way, they “honor the king” as Paul said they should, and they do not get involved in coups or insurrections. They are a threat to no government, but instead desire to live in peace with all mankind. They obey all the laws of the land, except those laws that conflict with God’s laws. In that case they follow the lead of the apostles and early Christians as reported at Acts 5:29: “In answer Peter and the other Apostles said: ‘We must obey God as ruler rather than men.’”
History and the Bible itself show that the early Christians understood their position in the world in which they found themselves. Those early Christians understood perfectly the words of their Master and refused participation in political and military involvement. The following historical references make this early Christian position undeniably clear:
THE EARLY CHRISTIAN ATTITUDE TOWARD WAR, POLITICS AND NATIONALISM
From On the Road to Civilization, A World History by Heckel and Sigman, p.237,238: “Early Christianity was little understood and was regarded with little favor by those who ruled the pagan world. …Christians refused to share certain duties of Roman citizens. …They would not hold political office.
From World History, the Story of Man’s Achievements by Habberton, Roth and Spears, p.117: “Zealous Christians did not serve in the armed forces or accept political offices.”
From The Great Events by Famous Historians by Rossiter Johnson, Vol. III, p.246: “While among Romans it was considered the highest honor to possess the privileges of Roman citizenship, the Christians announced that they were citizens of heaven. They shrank from public office and military service.”
From Christianity and the Roman Government by E.G. Hardy, Principal of Jesus College, Oxford, p.39: “The Christians were strangers and pilgrims in the world around them; their citizenship was in heaven; the kingdom to which they looked was not of this world. The consequent want [lack] of interest in public affairs came thus from the outset to be a noticeable feature in Christianity.”
From The History of the Christian Religion and Church, During the First Three Centuries by Dr. Augustus Neander, p.168: “The Christians stood aloof and distinct from the state, as a priestly and spiritual race, and Christianity seemed able to influence civil life only in that manner which, it must be confessed, is the purest, by practically endeavoring to instill more and more of holy feeling into the citizens of the state.”
From The March of Civilization, Ancient and Medieval World by Jesse E. Wrench, Professor of History, University of Missouri, p.205: “The Christians refused to show their loyalty by burning incense to the emperor. Being men of peace, they would not serve in the Roman armies.”
From From the Old World to the New by E.A. Golligan, Associate Superintendent of Schools, City of New York, and Maxwell F. Littwin, Principal of New York City Public Schools, pp. 88,89: “They preferred the Kingdom of God to any kingdom that they might serve on earth. …The early Christians were ready to die for their faith. …Since they believed in peace they would not serve in Rome’s imperial armies.”
The Church the Gospel and War, by Rufus M. Jones, on page 78, reports on what Celsus, the pagan critic of Christianity said regarding Christians during the decade of about 170-80: “ ‘If all men were to do the same as you, there would be nothing to prevent the king from being left in utter solitude and desertion and the force of the empire would fall into the hands of the wildest and most lawless barbarians.’ Such words are so explicit as to warrant the assumption that Celsus knew of no Christians who would accept military service.”
From this same book, (p.83), which quotes from Acts of Archelaus and Mani 1, ANF VI, 179, we read: “A case of the rejection of military service by Christians in the region of Mesopotamia is recorded for the closing years of the 4th century where a large number of soldiers having been converted while on garrison duty, ‘threw off the belt of military service’.”
While the first century Christians, who were taught directly by Jesus Christ, were well-known for their neutrality—their whole-hearted denunciation of war and any political involvement in state affairs—it is of interest that even in the 2nd and 3rd centuries, well after pagan teachings and practices had been ushered into the Christian religion, this attitude against war continued for a time (as also seen by the previous quote). Please note the following:
The Ante-Nicene Fathers, edited by A. Roberts and J. Donaldson, Vol. III, pp.99,100, (quoting the words of Tertullian, an early Christian historian who wrote these words about 204 A.D.): “To begin with the real ground of the military crown, I think we must first inquire whether warfare is proper at all for Christians. Shall it be held lawful to make an occupation of the sword, when the Lord proclaims that he who uses the sword shall perish by the sword? And shall the son of peace take part in the battle when it does not become him even to sue at law? Of course if faith comes later, and finds any preoccupied with military service, their case is different, as in the instance of those whom John used to receive for baptism, and of those most faithful centurions, I mean the centurion whom Christ approves, and the centurion whom Peter instructs; yet, at the same time, when a man has become a believer, and faith has been sealed, there must be either an immediate abandonment of it, which has been the course with many; or all sorts of quibbling will have to be resorted to in order to avoid offending God, and that is not allowed even outside of military service. Nowhere does the Christian change his character.” By the time Tertullian wrote these words, apostasy and compromise had already begun to set in.
The book, The Early Fathers on War and Military Service, by Louis J. Swift, has much to say about the attitude of the ante-Nicene “Fathers” and their collective attitude toward Christians being involved in war. For example, on page 50 Swift reports that Clement of Alexandria, (c. 150-215), said: “In peace, not in war are we trained.” Regarding Tertullian’s attitude toward war, this book relates on page 42: “For him (Tertullian) Christ’s action in the garden of Gathsemane settled the mater beyond doubt. In disarming Peter he disarmed all soldiers, and as he says elsewhere (in Tertullian’s On Patience) it was on this occasion that Jesus ‘Cursed the works of the sword for ever after’.” The Scriptural reference to the above is Matt. 26:52, where Peter drew his sword and cut off the ear of one of the soldiers there to arrest Jesus. Jesus said to Peter: “…Return your sword to its place, for all those who take the sword will perish by the sword.”
The same is reported by Rufus M. Jones in his book, The Church the Gospel and War, on page 85, where Jones states: “In the West, Tertullian is the most unambiguous [of the ante-Nicean Church Fathers] when he says that Christ in disarming Peter ungirt every soldier.”
From this same book we read on page 84: “The pronouncements of the [ante-Nicean] fathers up to A.D. 180 are general. Athenagoras says that Christians ‘do not strike back, do not go to the law when robbed; they give to them that ask of them and love their neighbors as themselves’.” (Jones quotes from Legatio pro Christianis XI).
Jones quoting from I Apol. XXXIX further states the words of Justin Martyr: “We who formerly murdered one another now not only do not make war upon our enemies but that we may not lie or deceive our judges, we gladly die confessing Christ.”
From Early Church History to the Death of Constantine by Backhouse and Tylor, p.128, we read: “There were two grounds on which service in the imperial armies was irreconcilable with the Christian profession; the one that it required the military oath, and the countenancing, if not the actual performance of idolatrous acts; the other that it contravened the express commands of Christ and the whole spirit of the Gospel.”
From History of Christianity by E. Gibbon, pp.162,163: “They refused to take any active part in the civil administration or the military defence of the empire. It was impossible that the Christians, without renouncing a more sacred duty, could assume the character of soldiers, of magistrates, or of princes.”
From A Short History of Rome by Ferrero and Barbagallo, p.382: “The army suffered even more than the civil services. Even in the second century, Christianity had affirmed that ‘it is not right to be a man of the sword’ and that ‘a son of peace, whom it becometh not even to engage in a litigation, should still less take part in a battle,’ had affirmed the incompatibility of military service with Christianity.”
From The New World’s Foundations in the Old, by R. West and W.M. West, Professor of History, University of Minnesota, p.131: “The first Christians thought it was wrong to fight, and would not serve in the army even when the Empire needed soldiers.”
The following quotes are from early Christian historians themselves on this subject: Says Justin Martyr (110-165 A.D.), in his Dialogue with Trypho: “We who were filled with war, and mutual slaughter, and every wickedness, have each through the whole earth changed our warlike weapons—our swords into ploughshares, and our spears into implements of tillage.” Justin Martyr is paraphrasing Isaiah 2:4 where it says in prophecy, that “…they will have to beat their spears into plowshares and their spears into pruning shears. Nation will not lift up sword against nation, neither will they learn war anymore.” (See also Micah 4:3 where the identical prophecy is given).
From Tertullian’s Treatise De Corona, chapter XI, discussing “whether warfare is proper at all for Christians,” he argued from Scripture: “the unlawfulness even of a military life itself,” concluding, “I banish from us the military life.”
Will Durant’s Caesar and Christ states on p. 647,650,667: “The detachment of the Christian from earthly affairs seemed to the pagan a flight from civic duty…Tertullian [who died about 230 A.D.] advised Christians to refuse military service. …In 249 a wave of religious emotion swept the Empire; men and women flocked to the temples and besieged the gods with prayers. Amid this fever of patriotism and fear the Christians stood apart, still resenting and discouraging military service. …it [Christianity] had discouraged its adherents from holding office, or rendering military service; …they turned from Caesar preaching war to Christ preaching peace.”
H. Ingli James, quoted in Treasury of the Christian World, (New York; 1953), edited by A. Gordon Nasby, p. 369, says: “Its members [early Christians] refused to enter the army or to take any part in war. Origen (185-254 A.D.) remarks that ‘the Christian Church cannot engage in war against any nation. They have learned from their Leader that they are children of peace.’ In that period many Christians were martyred for refusing military service. On March 12, 295, Maximilian, the son of a famous Roman veteran, was called upon to serve in the Roman army and he refused, saying simply: ‘I am a Christian’.” The following is the account between Maximilian and Dion, the Roman Proconsul, who sentenced Maximilian to death, as related by Louis J. Swift in his book The Early Fathers on War and Military Service. (M. Glazier, Inc. 1983, Wilmington, Delaware, pp. 72-74).
“In Numidia in the year 295 he [Maximilian] was brought by his Christian father to the proconsul Dion in oder to be enrolled officially in the service and to be measured for a uniform. During the proceedings the following exchange is recorded to have taken place: (from Acts of the Christian Martyrs, ed. Musurillo, OECT, 244).
“Dion, the Proconsul said: ‘What is your name?’ Maximilian answered, ‘What do you want to know my name for? It is not right for me to serve in the army since I am a Christian.’ Dion Said, ‘Get him ready.’ While this was being done, Maximilian responded, ‘I cannot serve in the army. I cannot engage in wrongdoing; I am a Christian.’ Dion remarked, ‘Measure him.’ When this had been done the staff member called out, ‘He is five feet, ten.’ Dion said to the staff member, ‘Give him the seal.’ But Maximilian continued to resist saying, ‘I’m not going to do it: I cannot serve in the army.’ Dion said, ‘Join up if you don’t want to die.’ ‘I will not,’ Maximilian replied. ‘Cut off my head. I will serve in the army of my God, not in any that belongs to this world.’ Dion the Proconsul said, ‘Who has led you to this position?’ ‘Only my own soul,’ replied Maximilian, ‘And he who called me.’
“Dion said to the young man’s father, Victor, ‘Talk to your son.’ Victor replied, ‘He knows what’s at stake and can counsel himself about the best course of action.’ To Maximilian, Dion the Proconsul said, ‘Join up and accept the military seal.’ ‘I will not take it,’ he answered, ‘I already have a seal, the seal of Christ, my God.’ Dion said, ‘I’ll soon send you to your Christ.’ ‘If you only would!’ he answered, ‘That would be glory for me.’
“Dion said to the staff member, ‘Give him the seal.’ Maximilian would have none of it, and he remarked, ‘I am not going to receive a seal that belongs to this world. If you put it on me, I will smash it because it has no power. I am a Christian; I may not carry a piece of lead around my neck now that I have accepted the saving seal of my Lord Jesus Christ, son of the living God. You know nothing about him, but he suffered for our salvation, and he was delivered up by God for our sins. It is he whom all Christians serve; it is he whom we follow as life’s sovereign and as the author of salvation.’
“Dion said, ‘Join up and receive the seal or you will die a miserable death.’ ‘I won’t die,’ Maximilian replied. ‘My name is already in the presence of my Lord. I cannot serve in the army.’ Dion said, ‘Consider your age and join up. It is fitting for a young man to do so.’ Maximilian answered, ‘I am committed to serve my Lord. I cannot serve in an army of this world. As I have already said, I am a Christian.’
“Dion the Proconsul said, ‘the sacred bodyguard of our sovereigns Diocletian and Maximian, Constantius and Maximus, includes Christian soldiers who serve.’ ‘They know what is in their own best interest,’ Maximilian answered, ‘but I am a Christian, and I cannot do what is wrong.’ Dion said, ‘What are they doing that is wrong?’ ‘You know what they do,’ Maximilian answered. Dion the Proconsul said, ‘Join up. Do not bring a miserable death upon yourself by disdaining the service.’ Maximilian answered, ‘I am not going to die. And if I leave this world, my soul goes on living with Christ my Lord’.”
Please recall that this occurred in 295 C.E. By that time some beliefs had been mixed and intertwined with pagan beliefs, so some of what Maximilian is reported to have said above is not totally Scriptural, or may have been translated somewhat incorrectly from the earlier records of what Maximilian had actually said. In any case, we can see that in this year of 295 C.E. some Christians were still taking a firm stand on “Christian neutrality” by not taking an active role in military or political activities.
In 298 C.E. on a feast day honoring the emperors Diocletian and Maximilian, a centurion named Marcellus threw down his military belt in the presence of fellow officers. This same book, on pp. 74-75, gives the account from The Acts of Marcellus 1.1. When Marcellus threw down his military belt, “he proclaimed to them, ‘I serve in the army of the eternal king Jesus Christ, and from now on I cease to be a soldier of your emperors. And I disdain the worship of your gods made out of wood and stone because they are images that are deaf and dumb’.”
When he was brought before the prefect of the legion to explain this violation of military discipline, Marcellus reiterates his position: (from text: Acts. Ed. Musurillo, OECT.250): “When you were celebrating your emperors feast day on the 21 of July, I publicly announced in a loud voice and in the presence of this legion’s standards that I was a Christian and that I could not honor a military oath made to him, but only one made to Jesus Christ, the son of God, the Almighty Father.”
“Marcellus’ trial was subsequently transferred to another jurisdiction, and when he was questioned once more, he replied, ‘I threw down my arms because it was inappropriate for a Christian serving in the army of Christ the Lord to do the same in the armies of this world.’ For this violation of military discipline he was sentenced to death.”
Again we see that even by the end of the 3rd century (298 C.E.), some Christians were still adhering to Christian “Neutrality”, but that was soon to change. Earlier I quoted from The Rise of Christianity, by E.W. Barnes, p.333 which says: “A careful review of all the information available goes to show that, until the time of Marcus Aurelius, no Christian became a soldier, and no soldier, after becoming a Christian remained in military service.” But this early Christian conviction began to change as Christianity became more “acceptable” and especially after the time of Emperor Constantine.
Paul had foretold at Acts 20:29: “I know that after my going away [in death] oppressive wolves will enter in among you and will not treat the flock with tenderness, and from among you yourselves men will rise and speak twisted things, to draw away the disciples after themselves.” This is exactly what happened. So many changes and pagan additions gradually crept in that it was no longer recognizable as early Christianity! When apostasy set in, the convictions regarding Christian “Neutrality” became relaxed, resulting in compromise and a forsaking of true Christianity. Especially with the rise of emperor Constantine in the 4th century did this happen, when under his rule he transformed the once persecuted church into the state religion. And it wasn’t too long after that that the once persecuted Christian church became the persecutors of others!
Of course Christianity was still very much intact when Paul said at 2 Cor. 10:3,4: “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not wage warfare according to what we are in the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not fleshly [KJV says “carnal”], but powerful by God for overturning strongly entrenched things, for we are overturning reasonings and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God.” This would be through the “sword of the spirit, that is, God’s word.” (Eph. 6:17), rather than by carnal weapons.
Some religious groups, such as Seventh Day Adventists, Mennonites and Quakers will go into the military. They will “load the gun” but they won’t shoot it. They will do non-combatant duties only. But to Jehovah’s Witnesses this is a compromise, and these groups by doing so are still making themselves “friends of the world” which James said at James 4:4 “…friendship with the world is enmity with God. Whoever, therefore, wants to be a friend of the world is constituting himself an enemy of God.”
For Christians today to refuse to go to war, but go into the military as “non-coms” is aiding and abetting. In the eyes of God they would share in bloodguilt. Just as, for example, in the case of two bank robbers: One actually does the killing of someone in the process of holding up the bank, while the other just drives the get-away car. Both are guilty in the eyes of the law. Besides that, by joining the armed forces, even in the performance of non-combatant duties, a Christian would no longer be neutral, or “no part of the world” but would be supporting one government over another, contrary to the example set by Jesus and the early Christians who were neutral toward all governments. As has been Scripturally shown, all governments are under the control of Satan until Daniel 2:44 is fulfilled: “And in the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be brought to ruin. …It will crush and put an end to all these kingdoms, and it itself will stand to times indefinite [forever].”
Let us reason, too, on the following Scriptures which true Christians are under obligation to consider today, just as in the days of the first Christians.
The prophecy at Isaiah 2:2-4 was partially considered before. It reads: “And it must occur in the final part of the days that the mountain of the house of Jehovah will become firmly established above the top of the mountains, …and to it all the nations must stream. And many peoples will certainly go and say: ‘Come, you people, and let us go up to the mountain of Jehovah…and he will instruct us about his ways, and we will walk in his paths.’…And he will certainly render judgment among the nations and set matters straight respecting many peoples. And they will have to beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning shears. Nation will not lift up sword against nation, neither will they learn war anymore.”
This Scripture, which is actually a prophecy, would be fulfilled “in the final part of the days,” or in “the last days” which the evidence shows we are living in right now. These words have not been fulfilled in any religious organization during these last days aside from Jehovah’s Witnesses! If there is another religious organization that is fulfilling these words, and that has fulfilled these words since the “last days” began, please inform me of this.
Eph. 6:11-17: “Put on the complete suit of armor from God that you may be able to stand firm against the machinations of the Devil; because we have a wrestling, not against blood and flesh, but against the authorities, against the world rulers of this darkness, against the wicked spirit forces in the heavenly places…”
At John 18:36 Jesus states: “My kingdom is no part of this world. If my kingdom were part of this world, my attendants would have fought that I should not be delivered up to the Jews. But, as it is, my kingdom is not from this source.”
At Matt. 22:21 Jesus said: “Pay back, therefore, Caesar’s things to Caesar, but God’s things to God.” This is a powerful statement from Jesus Christ! What are Caesar’s things and what are God’s things? Caesar provides roads, schools, public programs, etc., but Caesar did not give us our lives. That is something we give to Jehovah. Caesar does not receive our devotion, or worship. Those are things that we give only to Jehovah! If we gave our lives to Caesar (in war), what then would we have left to give to God? True Christians must have their priorities straight regarding these things!
Jesus is referred to in prophecy (Isa. 9:6) as the “Prince of Peace” and Christians are referred to as “peacemakers” at Matt. 5:9. How can true Christians be “peacemakers” following closely in the footsteps of their Master, Jesus Christ, (1 Peter 2:21), if they engage in war? How could true Christians be identified as those who have beaten their “swords into plowshears…” and the ones who would not “learn war anymore” if they engage in war? Wouldn’t that be counter-productive to the above? At Ps. 46:9 we read these prophetic words: “He [Jehovah] is making wars to cease to the extremity of the earth. The bow he breaks apart and does cut the spear in pieces. The wagons he burns in the fire.” For Christians to engage in what Jehovah himself promises to put an end to—WAR –would be actually going against Jehovah’s purpose to put an end to war!
1 Peter 2:21 deserves fuller attention here. It reads: “In fact, to this course you were called, because even Christ suffered for you, leaving you a model for you to follow his steps closely.” Can any of us imagine Jesus putting on a uniform of ANY country and going off to battle, perhaps even against his very apostles, or if he were on earth today, battling against true Christians of any country? Jesus said he was no part of this world, and that his followers would be no part of this world as well. There is no verse in Scripture where an allowance is made for true Christians to do otherwise.
There are those who remind us that in the Bible the Israelites fought in wars. This is true, but those Israelites were not Christians! Actually, it was Jehovah God Himself who directed ancient Israel to use warfare to take possession of the land that He Himself designated as their inheritance and to execute people whose depraved practices and defiance of the True God caused Jehovah to view them as being no longer fit to live. (See: Deut. 7:1,2,5; 9:5; Lev. 18:24,25). In the Mosaic Law covenant, God laid down rules for warfare that He would approve, stipulating exemptions and the manner in which this warfare was to be carried out. Such were truly holy wars of Jehovah. These wars were also done for a particular righteous purpose, which is too lengthy to go into detail in this paper. That is not true of the carnal warfare of any nation today.
With the establishment of the Christian congregation, a new situation came into existence. Christians were not under the Mosaic Law. The purpose for which Jehovah allowed for his “holy wars” had come to its end. Christ’s followers were now to make disciples of people of all nations. So worshippers of the True God would in time be found in all those nations. All of Christ’s followers were spiritual brothers, now located all over the earth. Jesus said these worshippers of the True God would be known for the love they had for each other. How then, could Christian spiritual brothers, located in every nation of the world, love one another, yet kill one another?
What is the motive of those nations when they go to war? Is it to carry out the will of the Creator of all the earth? Or is it to further their own nationalistic interests? If true Christians in one nation were to go to war against another nation, they would be fighting against fellow believers, against people who prayed for help to the same True God that they did. Appropriately, knowing that his followers would one day be in every nation of the earth, (just as he commanded them at Mark 16:15, Matthew 24:14, and Matthew 28:19,20), Christ directed his followers to lay down the sword. (Mattt. 26:52). Jesus Himself, now glorified in the heavens, would in due time carry out the execution of those who show defiance of the True God and His will. (2 Thess. 1:6-8; Rev. 19:11-21; Jere. 25:31-33).
THE EARLY CHRISTIAN ATTITUDE TOWARD NATIONAL EMBLEMS
The matter of not saluting the flag or reciting the pledge of allegiance is directly related to Christian neutrality. It must be stated here emphatically that Jehovah’s Witnesses respect the flag and all that the flag of the country in which they live represents. They endeavor to be the best citizens possible, honestly paying their taxes, as Jesus said they should, obeying all of the laws of the land in which they live, so long as they do not go against the laws of God. (Acts 5:29). They respect not only the flag, and all it represents, but they also teach their children to respect law enforcement agents, judges, teachers, and anyone else in authority. They endeavor to live peacefully among their neighbors in harmony with Romans 12:18 which says: “If possible, as far as it depends upon you, be peaceable with all men..” But, above all, Jehovah’s Witnesses are aware of, and in full agreement with the words of Isaiah 45:23,24, so aptly translated by the Living Bible: “…That every knee in all the world shall bow to me, and every tongue shall swear allegiance to my name. ‘In Jehovah is called my righteousness and strength’, the people shall declare.” In harmony with this is a footnote in the New International Version (Study Bible) concerning 1 Cor. 7:23 which footnote states: “bought at a price…not…slaves of men. Christians in all stations of life should realize that their ultimate allegiance is not to men but to Christ, who bought them with his blood.”
When it comes to “worship” they are also mindful of the words of God Himself at Exodus 20: 4,5: “You must not make for yourself a carved image or a form like anything that is in the heavens above or that is on the earth underneath or that is in the waters under the earth. You must not bow down to them nor be induced to serve them, because I, Jehovah your God am a God exacting exclusive devotion, …” We follow the lead of Jesus Christ himself when tempted by the Devil. Jesus responded (at Matt. 4:10): “Go away Satan! For it is written, ‘It is Jehovah your God you must worship, and it is to him alone you must render sacred service.’”
To Jehovah’s Witnesses, to make an image for worship or servitude, bow down to it, or to serve it, whether that image is of wood, stone or cloth, is idolatry. Many disagree with us, and that is every individual’s right to agree or to disagree, but interestingly, history is clear that the early Christians believed and responded the same way as Jehovah’s Witnesses do today. Before we get into quotes from historical sources, you may find the following research of interest:
The Encyclopaedia Britannica and other reference works describe the “evolution” of the flag (actually all flags). To summarize this “evolution”, I will paraphrase what I learned from these reference works. It seems that present day flags evolved in this way. Pagan peoples of old, who used to worship their emperors as “gods,” would at times hoist their emperors up on “throne chairs” carried by 4 or more soldiers. And off into battle they would go with the emperor being carried out in front, believing that their “gods” would assist their fellow “god” (the emperor) and bring about the victory of the battle. Well, they lost too many emperors that way, so they decided to make an image of their emperor and carry that in the front lines of battle on a throne chair instead of the actual emperor. When one or more of the throne-chair bearers would fall in battle, the chair would capsize and the image would topple over, sometimes taking a life with the fall. That became too impractical.
Next, a picture of the emperor was painted, or sewn on a rectangularly-shaped piece of wood, which evolved into a pennant-shaped banner and carried off into battle. This pennant-shaped banner eventually evolved into a flag shape, as we know it today, upon which either the emperor, or a symbol of the emperor, or the State was attached, and again, off into battle it would go.
Interestingly, this pagan custom has still prevailed in more modern times. The flag was first in the fighting between the Indians of the “Old West” and the United States Cavalry. Recall too how the flag was immediately hoisted at battle sites, such as depicted by the famous Iwo Gima sculpture. This is actually a carry-over from ancient times and god/image worship.
Please consider the following historical information carefully:
From The American Character by D.W. Brogan, pp.163,164: “Historian Carlton Hayes pointed out long ago that the ritual of flag-worship and oath-taking in an American school is a religious observance. Little boys and girls, in a school from which religion in the old sense is barred, solemnly rising each morning and reciting together the ‘American Creed’ are performing a religious exercise as truly as if they began the day with “I believe in God the Father Almighty” or asserted that ‘There is no God but God.’ And that these daily rituals are religious has been affirmed by the Supreme Court in a series of cases.”
From the Encyclopedia Americana, Vol. XI, p.313: “The flag, like the cross is sacred. The rules and regulations relative to human attitude toward national standards use strong, expressive words, as, ‘Service to the Flag,’ ‘Reverence for the Flag,’ ‘Devotion to the Flag’.”
From The Encyclopaedia Britannica, Vol. 9, p.343: “Early flags were almost purely of a religious character. The national banner of England for centuries—The red cross of St. George—was a religious one: in fact the aid of religion seems ever to have been sought to give sanctity to national flags and the origin of many can be traced to a sacred banner.”
From Our Flag, published by the Office of Armed Forces Information and Education Dept. of Defense, p.1: “The story of the origin of our National Flag parallels the story of the origin of our country. As our country received its birthright from the peoples of many lands who were gathered on these shores to found a new nation, so did the pattern of the Stars and Stripes rise from several origins back in the mists of antiquity to become emblazoned on the standards of our infant Republic.
“The star is a symbol of the heavens and the divine goal to which man has aspired from time immemorial; the stripe is symbolic of the rays of light emanating from the sun. Both themes had long been represented on the standards of nations, from the banners of the Astral worshippers of ancient Egypt and Babylon to the 12-starred flag of the Spanish Conquistadors under Cortez. Continuing in favor, they spread to the striped standards of Holland and the West India Company in the 17th century and to the present patterns of stars and stripes on the flags of several nations of Europe, Asia, and the Americas.”
From Diario de Justica, February 16, 1956, p.1906: “In a public ceremony presided over by the vice president of the Military Supreme Court, on the 19th of November, honors were shown to the Brazilian flag. After the flag was hoisted, Minister General of the Army, Tristao de Alencar Araripe, expressed himself concerning the commemoration in this manner: ‘…flags have become a divinity of patriotic religion which imposes worship. The flag is venerated and worshipped, every moment of one’s life, with profound, pure and almost inborn sentiments of love. The flag is venerated, just as the Fatherland is venerated, giving to it all of oneself and placing above one’s own self even the sacrifice of one’s life. Worship, veneration, sacrifice, mark well the divine essence of this symbol. It is fitting that on this day, consecrated to the unforgettable divinity—the national flag—emphasis be given to this worship’.”
From The Encyclopedia Americana, Vol. 19, p.732: “Patriotic songs or airs played or sung on ceremonial occasions, fetes, and other public gatherings as a mark of respect to the country are generally known as national anthems or hymns. There is no very marked difference between a national hymn and an anthem. It may be an air without words or a march played by bands or orchestras to symbolize patriotism and loyalty. Love of Fatherland and pride in one’s country are the keynotes of most national anthems, and in many, religious feeling is blended with patriotic sentiment.”
With all of the above in mind, what was the attitude of early Christians regarding patriotic ceremonies?
From A History of Civilization, by Brinton, Christopher, and Wolff, Vol. I, p.137: “To hold this motley collection of peoples in a common allegiance, to give them something like a national flag as a symbol of this unity, the emperor was deified. Simple rites of sacrifice to him were added to local religions and local rites. The Christians, however were as rigorous monotheists as the Jews; they could not sacrifice to the emperor any more than the Jews of old could sacrifice to Baal. …‘Render therefore unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's’; and unto God the things that are God's.’ But sacrifice was a thing of God. The true Christian, then, could not bring himself to make what to an outsider was merely a decent gesture, like raising one’s hat today when the flag goes by in a parade.”
From Those About to Die, by D.P.Manniz, pp.135,137: “Christians refused to sacrifice to the emperor’s genius—roughly equivalent today to refusing to salute the flag or repeat the oath of allegiance. …Very few of the Christians recanted, although an altar with a fire burning on it was generally kept in the arena for their convenience. All a prisoner had to do was scatter a pinch of incense on the flame and he was given a Certificate of Sacrifice and turned free. It was also carefully explained to him that he was not worshipping the emperor; merely acknowledging the divine character of the emperor as head of the Roman state. Still, almost no Christians availed themselves of the chance to escape.”
From The Book of Culture, by E.R. Peyser, p.549: “Rome had become gradually full of people espousing foreign cults, who on demand would swear allegiance to the divine spirit of the emperor. The Christians, however, strong in their faith, would take no such oath of loyalty. And because they did not swear allegiance to what we would today consider as analogous to the flag, they were considered politically dangerous.”
From Caesar and Christ, by Will Durant, p.646: “The emperors were piqued to find that of all the heretics under their rule, only the Christians and the Jews refused to join in honoring their genius. The burning of incense before a statue of the emperor had become a sign and affirmation of loyalty to the Empire, like the oath of allegiance required for citizenship today. On its side the Church resented the Roman idea that religion was subordinate to the state; it saw in emperor-worship an act of polytheism and idolatry, and instructed its followers to refuse it at any cost.”
Consider a parallel example at Daniel 3. The three faithful Hebrews were in Babylon and were told, like other Babylonian subjects, to bow down and pay homage or do an act of worship to the image of gold that King Nebuchadnezzar had erected on the plains of Dura in Babylonia. This image was the symbol of the state, much the same as flags are today. Upon the playing of certain recognizable music, all Babylonian subjects were to bow down toward that image. These three Hebrews refused to do so because they knew it was “Jehovah your God you should worship, and to Him alone you should do sacred service,” as Jesus reminded us at Matt. 4:10.
While the Babylonians had music for various occasions, festivals, weddings, etc., this music that sounded out as a signal for Babylonian citizens to bow down was clearly recognizable to the citizenry as a signal to perform this act of worship, much the same as today’s various national anthems are distinctive music recognizable by all as the signal to do what Jehovah’s Witnesses consider an act of worship to a national emblem, thus infringing on our exclusive worship of the true God, Jehovah.
Jehovah’s Witnesses do not try to prevent others from taking part in patriotic ceremonies, for that is up to each individual as to whom or what he will serve, worship, or pledge his allegiance, but Jehovah’s Witnesses wish to remain neutral toward all national flags, symbols, or emblems and their patriotic ceremonies. Thus, in remaining neutral, we have no political or national divisions or barriers between our brothers earthwide and can remain in unity with one another, in harmony with 1 Cor. 1:10, which states: “Now I exhort you, brothers, through the name of our Lord Jesus Christ that you should all speak in agreement, and that there should not be divisions among you, but that you may be fitly united in the same mind and in the same line of thought.”
Because of the neutral stand Jehovah’s Witnesses take worldwide, Isaiah 2:2-4 has been fulfilled in us, just as it was fulfilled in the early Christians. “And it must occur in the final part of the days that the mountain of the house of Jehovah will become firmly established above the top of the mountains, and it will certainly be lifted up above the hills; and to it all the nations must stream. And many peoples will certainly go and say: ‘Come you people and let us go up to the mountain of Jehovah, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will instruct us about his ways, and we will walk in his paths.’ …And he will certainly render judgment among the nations and set matters straight respecting many peoples. And they will have to beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning shears. Nation will not lift up sword against nation, neither will they learn war any more.”
Jehovah’s Witnesses can also be recognized as those fulfilling Jesus’ command at John 13:34,35: “I am giving you a new commandment, that you love one another; just as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love among yourselves.” (see also: Romans 13:8-10; Matt. 7:20; Gal. 5:22,23; 1 Cor. 13:13). Should Christians only obey this commandment of Jesus Christ during peacetime, and disregard it during times of war? During war times, as in WWII, Catholics killed Catholics, Lutherans killed Lutherans, Baptists killed Baptists, etc.. How could it be said that those who engage in killing their spiritual brothers are fulfilling this identifying mark of true Christians, namely, LOVE?
Let me put this in another way: It’s difficult to understand how those who profess to be true Christians, but yet engage in warfare, possibly killing other Christians, can at the same time fulfill Jesus’ command to “love one another”. 1 John 4:20,21 states: “If anyone makes the statement: ‘I love God,’ and yet is hating his brother, he is a liar. For he who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot be loving God, whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him, that the one who loves God should be loving his brother also.”
“TALK IS CHEAP”
SOME INTERESTING OBSERVATIONS
What has been the traditional viewpoint of those religious organizations professing to be Christians regarding war and the Christian’s involvement in war? There is a revealing article in U.S. Catholic, December, 2002, written by Catholic cleric Michael J. Baxter, C.S.C., who teaches theology at the University of Notre Dame, Indiana, and serves as the national secretary for the Catholic Peace Fellowship. I will quote extensively from his article entitled: “Catholics should be more conscientious about objecting to war”.
Concerning the then future possibility of a war with Iraq, we read: “Even though an attack seems inevitable, we Catholics should do whatever we can to prevent what may become an utterly senseless slaughter of innocent lives…We should raise a ‘mighty league of Catholic conscientious objectors.’ This slogan was used by Dorothy Day and others involved in the Association of Catholic Conscientious Objectors, an organization that supported Catholics who refused to be drafted into the military during World War II for reasons of conscience. As one might expect, their number was not legion: 135 in all.
“…the church has come to endorse conscientious objection because it stands against sin and evil. To a large degree this new development in the church’s theology of peace is rooted in the hard lessons the church learned as it examined the behavior of Catholics under the Nazi regime. It was not, to say the least, exemplary. Bishops wrote pastoral letters declaring their devotion to the Fatherland and Fuhrer, priests preached homilies calling upon their flocks to do their duty for the nation, and Catholic men, with very few exceptions, went off to fight while their families generally fully supported what was obviously an unjust war. …And yet Catholics flew carpet bombing missions over Germany and Japan in World War II, carried out destructive operations in Vietnam, contributed to the most intensive air attack ever in Iraq, and currently sit in nuclear missile silos ready to turn the launch key on command. …I find it troubling that conscientious objection to war is not so much as a passing concern to most Catholics.
“The problem, I believe, is that when it comes to war, too many Catholics pledge their allegiance to their country, right or wrong. They are obedient to the nation before all else: before natural law, before divine law, before the words and example of Jesus Christ, before conscience. The problem is, in a word, idolatry. The nation-state has taken the place of God. …
“From the very beginning of the church, the apostolic teaching reminded Christians of their duty to obey legitimately constituted public authorities (Rom. 13:7; 1 Pet. 2:13-14), but at the same time, it firmly warned that ‘we must obey God rather than men’ (Acts 5:29).
“As Christians, the pope reminds us, our readiness to come forth as conscientious objectors is essential; it’s a matter of faithfulness to God. But if this applies to the pernicious practices of abortion and euthanasia, it also applies to the pernicious practices of war. …
“…The vast majority of Catholics are neither pacifists nor just-war adherents, rather they follow the ‘blank check’ approach to war, which means they go to war whenever their national leaders tell them to. Like with most Americans, a spell descends upon Catholics once the president gets on TV to announce, interrupted only by the barking applause of a sycophantic Congress, that ‘we’ are going to war. The apostolic witness gets strangely inverted: We must obey men and women, rather than God.
“Conscientious objection to war is a way for the church to retain its apostolic witness. What would this mean concretely? Suppose the Bush administration presses ahead with a ‘regime change' in Iraq. And suppose the U.S. Catholic bishops declare a war against Iraq at this time to be unjust. This means that the 375,000 Catholics in the military would have to discern whether they can participate in this war, and if not, to change their duties accordingly. It also means that the 1,000 Catholic priests serving as military chaplains would have to exhort these Catholics to examine their consciences and assist some of them in coming forth as selective conscientious objectors.
“If half of the Catholics on active duty objected to participating in this war, that would be more than 185,000; even if it were 10 percent, that would still be 37,500. Whether or not this comprises a ‘mighty league’ of conscientious objectors, it would certainly make the papers.
“The obligation to discern one’s conscience on war also falls to young Catholics who have registered for a military draft. While Selective Service regulations have no provisions for draft registrants to be classified as conscientious objectors, Catholics should declare themselves COs anyway. …
“It is not clear that raising a mighty league of conscientious objectors would halt an impending ‘regime change’ in Iraq. But it would send a strong signal to the president, Congress, the Pentagon, and others that there are many U.S. Catholics—tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions—who will obey God rather then them; who pledge their primary allegiance to Christ and the church, rather than (as Dorothy Day put it) ‘Holy Mother State”; who refuse to allow their bodies to be used for unjust purposes. For such Catholics conscience is a witness to the voice of God, and in following their conscience, they themselves become a voice of God, echoing the ancient words of the prophet: ‘nor shall they train for war’ (Isa. 2:4).”
The questions we might ask of Catholic cleric Michael J. Baxter are: Where is the “mighty league of Catholic conscientious objectors”? Why hasn’t anything changed among Catholics that according to your words, you find it “troubling that conscientious objection to war is not so much as a passing concern to most Catholics.”? Why is it that “Too many Catholics pledge their allegiance to their country, right or wrong” rather than to God? Why are too many Catholics “obedient to the nation before all else: before natural law, before divine law, before the words and example of Jesus Christ, before conscience”? Why is it that, according to your words, “The problem is, in a word, idolatry. The nation-state has taken the place of God.”? If the pope reminds Catholics that “our readiness to come forth as conscientious objectors is essential; It’s a matter of faithfulness to God.”—why is it that Catholics en-mass do not generate this faithfulness to God? Why is it that “the vast majority of Catholics…follow the ‘blank check’ approach to war, which means they go to war whenever their national leaders tell them to.” And that “The apostolic witness gets strangely inverted: We must obey men and women, rather than God.”? Where is there evidence of this “strong signal” that you speak of sent “to the president, Congress, the Pentagon, and others that there are many U.S. Catholics—tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions—who will obey God rather than them; who pledge their primary allegiance to Christ and the church…” Why haven’t Catholics world-wide taken the action of “echoing the ancient words of the prophet: ‘nor shall they train for war’ (Isa. 2:4)?
Personally, I, the researcher/compiler of this information have not seen any such “strong signal” from even a small minority of Catholics anywhere in the world, much less here in the United States! Yet, what have we seen of the “strong signal” of Jehovah’s Witnesses world wide? Who are really being “faithful to God” and “pledge their primary allegiance to Christ” and to God? Who really have, figuratively speaking, beaten their “swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning shears”—not lifting up sword against one another, nor learning “war any more”? (Isa. 2:4).
“TALK IS [VERY, VERY] CHEAP”!
No less amazing is this observation concerning various Protestant churches and organizations. In 1934, well after World War I—“The War to End All Wars”—was over, a book by Walter W. Van Kirk, Secretary of the Department of International Justice and Goodwill, Federal Council of the Churches of Christ in America, entitled: Religion Renounces War was published by Willett, Clark & Company, Chicago and New York.
In his “Preface” Mr. Van Kirk states, in part: “Religion is renouncing war. Thousands of Christian preachers and laymen are grounding their arms. They are saying that resort to war is contrary to the teachings of Jesus; that the churches should no longer bless war; that Christians should refuse to render unto Caesar the things that belong to God.”
Van Kirk goes on to say: “I have endeavored fairly to interpret the peace policies of the larger and more influential religious bodies in the United States. The actions referred to are from the official pronouncements of the communions in question.” We will quote portions of these “policy statements” and commitments of these “more influential religious bodies in the United States” as found in his Chapter 1, entitled: “Christians Parting Company With Caesar.” The chapter is rather long, so only selected quotes will appear in this paper, along with the names of the references from which these quotes come.
“Ray H. Abrams, in his book, ‘Preachers Present Arms,’(3) lays bare the sin of the church’s collusion with militarism. It is a sickening story of men called to be prophets sinking to the low level of acquiescence in a military madness that sent 10,000,000 soldiers and 13,000,000 civilians to their graves, that orphaned 9,000,000 children, that drove 5,000,000 wives and mothers into widowhood, that sent 10,000,000 refugees into the darkness of a merciless night. Mr. Abrams’ recital of the military sins of the preachers has shocked the conscience of the church. And well it might!
“It is not news, however, to be told that preachers have presented arms in support of war. It would, however, have been news during the first three centuries of the Christian era. Many of the Christians of that era refused to bear arms in Caesar’s armies; they refused to murder humans at the behest of the state and the early church fathers upheld the followers of Jesus in this regard. Marcion, who died in the latter part of the second century, insisted that war was contrary to the teachings of Jesus, while Origen, in the third century, declared that ‘we (Christians) no longer take up sword against nation, nor do we learn war any more …for the sake of Jesus who is our leader.’(4) Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Tertullian and Cyprian (5) were of the opinion that Christians must not, under any circumstances, resort to war. Since the alleged conversion of Constantine to Christianity, however, preachers have borne arms. The history of the church’s relation to war is the history of ecclesiastical apostasy.
“The rush of the clerics for the military band wagon got underway in dead earnest when in 324 A.D. Christianity became the state religion of pagan Rome. …Occasional protests were registered by the more farseeing clergy against the abject surrender of the church to the military. Origen, condemning the spectacle of Christ in military uniform, declared that ‘the Deity must be worshiped with clean hands.’ (6) Basil the Great, in 374 A.D. declared that ‘though the soldier should not despair of his salvation, it were better that those who had been obliged to kill should abstain from communion for three years, for they were unclean of hand.’ (7) [see: Isa. 1:15]. These, however, were only occasional voices. The church had gone into the war business, and the Council of Arles (314 A.D.) placed the stamp of ecclesiastical approval upon this priestly betrayal of the God of righteousness by declaring that ‘they who throw away their weapons in time of peace shall be excommunicate.’ (8)
“During the intervening centuries it has been the same old story. Time and again clerics have unsheathed the sword. Time and again the church has degraded herself by becoming a recruiting office for the enlistment of soldiers. Time and again the prayers of Christendom have sought to invoke the aid of God upon the pagan slaughter of humans. Time and again the pulpit has paid obeisance to the God of war. Time and again church bells have been molded into cannons, bibles and prayer books have been thumbed as though they were guide books to military strategy, crosses and icons have been carried into battle, clerical robes have been used to hide the hideousness of war, and clerical lips have pressed the kiss of death upon the cold steel of flashing bayonets. Roman popes, Orthodox priests and Protestant preachers, each in turn, have compromised Christ’s gospel of peace and good will. Leo I (d. 461.A.D.) was of the opinion that ‘military service may be blameless,’ while St. Augustine at the time of the invasion of Rome by the Vandals condoned participation by Christians in war. Martin Luther, in his eulogy of war, went so far as to say: ‘For a soldier shall bear with him such conviction of conscience that he is obliged to do, and must do, this work, that he may be sure he serves God, and can say: “It is not I that smites, thrusts and kills, but God and my prince, whose servants are my hand and life.” …So let every man be undaunted, admitting no thought other than that his fist is God's’ fist, his spear God's spear, and let him cry aloud with heart and voice, “For God and Kaiser!” ’ ” (9)
“Pope Leo’s declaration that Christians might support ‘just wars’ and Luther’s contention that the fist and spear of the militarist are to be regarded as implements blessed of God are examples of the rationalization process by means of which the Christians of these many centuries have justified their participation in war. Aided by the cooperation of the clerics, we must admit that we have been living for hundreds of years under an invisible but none the less powerful military despotism that for lust of blood is beyond description. In four short years we put ten million men under the sod. Human life, with us, is cheap, very cheap. Where our so-called forbears slew their thousands, we slay our tens of thousands and our millions. Compared with ourselves, the half-clad natives of our primeval forests were novices in the art of killing. We talk a great deal about our culture. With pride we point to the spires of our churches, but our actions have too often belied our words. With our lips we have paid tribute to the inviolable sovereignty of human personality. But our hands have been sticky with the blood of our fellows.
“Not since the absorption of Christianity by the Roman State have the churches generally defined in any authoritative way their attitude on war. Here and there a voice has been raised in protest against the partnership of the church in the war business. …With few exceptions the churches have too often accommodated themselves to the waging of war. As long as they were unmolested by war the Christians preached a gospel of peace, but no sooner were the swords of the nations drawn than ecclesiastics became opportunists and goosestepped their way into battle.
“So much for yesterday. Let the dead past bury its dead. What of the future? [from then—1934] Will the church go on blessing war until her testimony is wholly secularized and her ministry wholly paganized? Or will the church provide the moral leadership required to put an end to the war business?
“It begins to appear as though the unholy alliance between Christianity and militarism was being broken up. It is clearly seen that such vulgarities as lying, blood-letting, hypocrisy, blasphemy, animal lust, dishonor, exploitation, carnage, anarchy, lawlessness and mass murder are at all times associated with war and war making. Can Christians properly support a war system that so depraves mankind? Can preachers who are mandated to proclaim a gospel of love and reconciliation pronounce their blessing upon the military extermination of humans? The answers to these questions as reflected in the official pronouncements of various church bodies would seem to be a decided negative. …
“This peace crusade of the churches emerges from the conviction that war is absolutely contrary to the preaching and practice of Jesus; that the killing of men upon the field of battle is mass murder; that the dropping of bombs upon defenseless women and children is a piece of ghastly paganism; that the spreading of poison gas and disease germs in the prosecution of war is crucifying Christ afresh.
“What evidences are there that the churches are washing their hands of war? The answer to this question will be found by contrasting Luther’s eulogy of war with the following affirmations of a large number of church bodies, each one of which is taken from the record of official church pronouncements.
“ ‘We believe that war is wrong, being contrary to the principles of the Prince of Peace.’ (11)
“ ‘War is not now an inevitable integral part of civilization, but rather the supreme enemy of mankind, and the greatest means for the destruction of civilized society the world has ever known. Its futility to settle any international disputes is beyond question, and its continuance will guarantee the ultimate suicide of all civilizations, and therefore the whole barbarous war system should be permanently outlawed.’ (12)
“ ‘We record our conviction that war is contrary to the mind of the Christ; that the continuance of civilization demands its entire elimination and that it is the duty of all Christians and all churches to find a Christian way to meet international situations which threaten war.’ (13)
“ ‘War as a method of settling international disputes is incompatible with the teaching and example of our Lord Jesus Christ.’ (14)
“ ‘International warfare and the gospel of love and brotherhood which we profess are incompatible. The methods used and the passions aroused by war both outrage Christ’s conception of a kingdom of God in which men shall trust, love and forgive one another.’ (15)
“ ‘War has become the supreme enemy of mankind.’ (16)
“ ‘We too, “renounce war as an instrument of national policy.” ’ (17)
“As stated by the last Lambeth Conference: ‘War, as a method of settling international disputes, is incompatible with the teaching and example of our Lord Jesus Christ. We believe that as the Christian conscience has condemned infanticide and slavery and torture, it is now called to condemn war as an outrage on the fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of all mankind.’ ” (18)
“ ‘War is contrary to the spirit and teachings of Jesus Christ.’ (19)
“ ‘We repudiate the theory, and all its implications, that God favors resort to war, and we affirm that the Christian’s God is forever against the war spirit and the war system. God does not permit war. …’ (20)
“ ‘War is unchristian. We have glorified war and made warriors our heroes. Up to the present time we have worshiped military force. The time is here when we must decide which of these traditions shall prevail—whether the cross or the sword shall be our symbol; whether we will worship Christ or Mars, for both cannot prevail together.’ (21)
“ ‘The war system of the nations is the outstanding evil of present-day civilization. It is the most ominous anti-Christian phase of modern life.’ (22)
“ ‘War is a denial of the basic principles of the fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man …a violation of the Christian religion.’ (23)
“ ‘War is essentially and inherently a supreme violation of the teachings and spirit of Jesus …as a method for securing national ends, however just and right, is anti-christian.’ (25)
“ ‘War denies the fatherhood of God, scorns the brotherhood of man, mocks the sacredness of human life, is merciless to helpless women and children, uses falsehood, ignores justice, releases the passions, and cultivates hate. War means everything that Jesus did not mean, and means nothing that he did mean.’ (26)
“ ‘We believe that war is contrary to the spirit of Christ and the gospel of love and brotherhood which we profess. It violates the Christian ideal of mercy, justice, truthfulness, self-control, virtue and righteousness. Christ taught men to love, trust, forgive and help one another. The church should never allow herself to be used to prepare for war or make war; but rather to promote peace, foster love and eliminate suspicion and fear. While we recognize the rightful authority of civil government and the important place it occupies in the present order of society, yet it is the conviction of many Christians that it is inconsistent for them as followers of Christ to participate in or sanction war as a means of settling international disputes or controversies.’ (34)
“’We believe that war is unnecessary and that, under modern conditions, it is futile and suicidal. Our fundamental conviction is that war is sin. This is the logical conclusion which follows the pronouncements of the General Conference, but its full import does not yet possess the mind of the church at large. We believe that war is sin because it involves (a) the slaughter of human beings, (b) violation of personality, (c) lying propaganda, (d) deliberate breeding of the spirit of hate, (e) vast destruction of property, (f) it puts in the place of moral law the doctrine of military necessity, (g) it distorts the religion of Jesus into the religion of a war god.’ (35) …
“The Ohio preachers have this to say: ‘We hold war to be unchristian. The church should completely disassociate itself from the war system.’ (36)
“The State Pastors’ Conference of Oregon has stated its creed of peace in the following language: ‘War being in its very nature, not alone alien, but entirely irreconcilable to the spirit and ministry of Jesus Christ, …we declare without reservation against this antiquated and unchristian process which destroys life's choicest values and denies our faith in God and man. We would add our unwavering voice to the protest of the followers of the Prince of Peace everywhere against this enemy of the noblest and most Christlike elements of our civilization, and pledge our unqualified support to every agency of church and state established for the achieving of an enduring peace.’ (37)
“The Pennsylvania Council of Churches pronounced war ‘a deadly sin.’ ‘Whatever may have been the necessity or justification for war in other times or under other conditions, we believe that in these times and under these conditions war is an unforgivable sin against civilization, against humanity, and against God. …Because of the utter moral collapse in the conduct of war; because of the astounding development in all the machinery and weapons of war; and because modern war involves whole peoples in its death grip—we believe another world war would threaten the very existence of civilization itself. Therefore, in the light of the larger knowledge we have of the deadly menace of modern war and the deeper understanding we have of the application of the principles of Jesus Christ to the whole social order, we must pronounce war a deadly sin’. ” (38)
In this same chapter, Van Kirk also lists a number of Christian youth groups that have all made statements of the renouncing of war, such as the Epworth League, the International Society of Christian Endeavor, the Baptist Young People’s Union, The Christian Youth Council of North America, the Department of Young People’s Work of the Board of Christian Education of the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. and the National Conference of Theological Students, to name a few.
The Christian Youth Council, at its Lake Geneva Conference in 1934, subscribed to the following pledge: “Since we believe that war is diametrically opposed to the teachings of Jesus, we affirm that in the event of war positive action must be taken to prevent the continuance of war. Since human life is of the greatest value in the teachings of our religion, and since war is terrifically destructive of human life, any effective means of opposition to war, short of the actual taking of life, or the endangering of life, is justified. Our stand may be branded as illegal. But we believe that our highest loyalty is to Christ, and that any acts of government which run counter to his fundamental teachings are themselves wrong. Therefore we pledge ourselves not only to refuse to participate in war, but to actively oppose it by means of the general strike, destruction of war materials, and spreading of counter propaganda.”
The Presbyterian group named above promoted and distributed this pledge: “I believe that the way of Christ cannot be reconciled with the way of war. Therefore, as a Christian, I propose to follow loyally the way of Christ for the cause of peace. I believe that the solution of all international disputes should be sought only by pacific means. Therefore, as a citizen, I propose to support my country in its renunciation of war and to oppose the participation of the United States of America in any future war.”
“The National Conference of Theological Students…went on record ‘expressing its conviction that war is unchristian and a denial of Jesus’ way of life. It believes that war is an ineffective and futile way of solving difficulties between nations or peoples. It believes that a higher patriotism to the United States and to humanity demands not only the refutation and abolition of war but also as a conference refuses to sanction or lend its support in any future war’.” (47)
Van Kirk goes on to say: “It would be impossible to enumerate here the many instances in which youth has sought to mobilize the conscience of Christian thinking people in support of anti-war movements. …It is not too much to say, therefore, that Christian youth is evidencing an unprecedented purpose to get the churches out of the war business. …We will accordingly content ourselves with reference to an editorial declaration of the Christian Century which reflects the prevailing mood among many of the more forward looking of religious editors: ‘The church shall acknowledge the fundamental and eternal contradiction between war and Christianity; that the very fact of war shouts the failure of Christianity; and that the church therefore cannot bless war without surrendering its character as Christian. The church’s clear duty, therefore, is to excommunicate war, deliberately and solemnly to say, and so to inform the state, that the state may never again expect to receive the resources of the church …as aids of any war in which it may ask its citizens to engage.’ (48)
“Eminent Christians are proclaiming the utter irreconcilibility between war and the gospel of Jesus. Many of these preachers are publicly stating that they are through with the whole war system, and that they will not participate in any future war. Listen to Dr. Harry Emerson Fosdick: ‘I hate war. I hate war because I have seen it. I hate war for what it does to our own men. I have seen them come in freshly gassed from the front line trenches. I have watched the long, long trains loaded with their mutilated bodies. I have heard the raving of those who wanted to die and could not. …I hate war for its consequences, for the lies it lives on and propagates, for the undying hatreds it arouses, for the dictatorships it puts in the place of democracies, and for the starvation that stalks after it. I hate war, and never again will I sanction or support another.’ (49)
“Dr. Ernest F. Tittle (51) accepts for himself the pledge taken by the members of the English War Resisters League: ‘War is a crime against humanity. I am therefore determined not to support or take part in any war, international or civil’; while Dr. Henry H. Crane (52) says: ‘So help me God, I will never bless, sanction, nor participate in another war! How do I know? I don’t. I simply assert the deepest conviction of my being—while I am still sane, emotionally stable and utterly sincere. Should another war come, I might go. I’m all too fallible, weak and capable of cowardice. That’s why I want to go on record now. So that, should I go, no one shall salute me, eulogize me, nor attempt to glorify me. Rather, they must hiss, revile and condemn me for what I should be revealing myself to be: a moral coward, a propagandized puppet, a mob-minded murderer, a world traitor, a Christ crucifier.’ …
“In the spring of 1934, when war talk was prevalent in many parts of the world and armaments were being increased in the United States and elsewhere, the Federal Council of Churches, the American Section of the Universal Christian Council, and the American Section of the World Alliance for International Friendship through the Churches adopted a Message to Christians of All Lands from which the following is taken: ‘We send our fraternal greetings to the Christians of all nations. Speaking for ourselves, we are determined to live at peace with our Christian brethren of other lands as we know they are determined to live at peace with us. We would assure our fellow-Christians that we have not yielded and will not yield to the mood of martial hysteria which threatens to engulf the whole world. We are for world justice and peace and good will. We do not and will not subscribe to the discredited assumption that military force provides security against war. We are not in favor of the program of naval expansion now being sponsored by our government. We desire that the Christian thinking people of every nation shall know that this is so. However much the good faith of other nations may be questioned by certain of our people, we desire to make clear to our fellow-Christians everywhere that we have faith in them as we desire them to have faith in us.
‘We believe that the churches of Christ around the world should with all possible dispatch say to their respective governments that they cannot and will not give their moral support to war as a method of settling international difficulties, nor will they become a party to the mad race in armaments now in progress in so many parts of the world. It seems to us that in this hour it is the clear duty of Christians everywhere to declare their undivided allegiance to Him whose we are and whom we serve. …Let them say so and say so in such a way that their witness will be heard in the chancelleries of the nations.’
“This message was transmitted to the heads of church bodies in the United States and other countries and was favorably commented upon by the religious press in many lands.
“The churches are on record. Almost without exception official ecclesiastical bodies have categorically declared war is unchristian and that resort to war is contrary to the preaching and practice of Jesus. …the corporate mind of the churches in America has been fairly expressed in the affirmations of the preachers and laymen who have not hesitated to say that war is unchristian and that the church should not be used as an agency in the support of war.
“When the Federal Council of Churches, in 1932, declared that the church as an institution should neither sanction nor bless war, there were only one or two dissenting voices among the four hundred delegates representative of the twenty-five communions adhering to the council.
“It would seem therefore that the government, in the event of another war, will have to get along without the moral support of many of our larger and more influential church bodies. The government, as far as these particular church bodies are concerned, will have to get its propaganda before the public in ways other than through the pulpit. The government will have to do its own recruiting, its own glorifying of war, its own regimenting of the public conscience. The churches, in the main, have clearly stated that they are no longer to be regarded as allies in the business of killing and maiming humans. The preachers are grounding their arms, they are washing their hands of the blood of their fellows, they are parting company with Caesar.”
All of the above, of course, are noble words. Interestingly, all referenced religious groups in the statements they made, recognize one or more, or all of the following:
1. “Christians should refuse to render unto Caesar the things that belong to God.”
2. “The history of the church’s relation to war is the history of ecclesiastical apostasy.
3. “The rush of the clerics for the military band wagon got under way in dead earnest when in 324 A.D. Christianity became the state religion of pagan Rome.
4. “Pope Leo’s declaration that Christians might support ‘just wars’ and Luther’s contention that the fist and spear of the militarist are to be regarded as implements blessed of God are examples of the rationalization process by means of which the Christians of these many centuries have justified their participation in war.”
5. Recognition that the church must “provide the moral leadership required to put an end to the war business.”
6. “The peace crusade of the churches emerges from the conviction that war is absolutely contrary to the preaching and practice of Jesus; that the killing of men upon the field of battle is mass murder; that the dropping of bombs upon defenseless women and children is a piece of ghastly paganism; that the spreading of poison gas and disease germs in the prosecution of war is crucifying Christ afresh.”
7. “Seldom a church conference is convened that does not brand war for what it is—a colossal sin against God and man.”
8. “We believe that war is wrong, being contrary to the principles of the Prince of Peace.”
9. “We record our conviction that war is contrary to the mind of the Christ. …”
10. “War as a method of settling international disputes is incompatible with the teaching and example of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
11. “International warfare and the gospel of love and brotherhood which we profess are incompatible.”
12. “We repudiate the theory, and all its implications, that God favors resort to war, and we affirm that the Christian’s God is forever against the war spirit and the war system. God does not permit war.”
13. “War is unchristian. We have glorified war and made warriors our heroes. Up to the present time we have worshiped military force.”
14. “War is a denial of the basic principles of the fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man …a violation of the Christian religion.”
15. “War is essentially and inherently a supreme violation of the teachings and spirit of Jesus.”
16. “War means everything that Jesus did not mean, and means nothing that he did mean.”
17. “With startling clearness we now see that war, in its spirit and modern practice, is the negation of everything to which the gospel of Jesus bears witness.”
18. “The method of settling the disputes of nations by war is contrary to the teachings of Christ.”
19. “Such warfare …is a crime on the part of a nation, and so to be held by followers of Christ, who has commanded us to make disciples, not enemies, of the peoples of the world.”
20. “We believe that war is contrary to the spirit of Christ and the gospel of love and brotherhood which we profess.”
21. “It is the conviction of many Christians that it is inconsistent for them as followers of Christ to participate in or sanction war …”
22. “Our fundamental conviction is that war is sin. …It distorts the religion of Jesus into the religion of a war god.”
23. “We hold war to be unchristian. The church should completely disassociate itself from the war system.”
24. “Therefore, in the light of the …deeper understanding we have of the application of the principles of Jesus Christ to the whole social order, we must pronounce war a deadly sin.”
25. “In view of the absolute renunciation of war as an instrument of national policy by the signatories of the Pact of Paris, we urge the youth of these nations to refuse to participate in any phase of military activity…”
26. “I believe that the way of Christ cannot be reconciled with he way of war. Therefore, as a Christian, I propose to follow loyally the way of Christ for the cause of peace …and to oppose the participation of the United States of America in any future war.”
27. “I believe…that I have no right to take my brother’s life but am to love all men and to desire their good above all else. …I believe that I personally cannot engage in war without violating my Christian obligations and thereby surrendering my right to citizenship in the kingdom of God.”
28. “It [The National Conference of Theological Students] believes that a higher patriotism to the United States and to humanity demands not only the refutation and abolition of war but also as a conference refuses to sanction or lend its support in any future war.”
29. “The church shall acknowledge the fundamental and eternal contradiction between war and Christianity; that the very fact of war shouts the failure of Christianity; and that the church therefore cannot bless war without surrendering its character as Christian.”
30. “We send our fraternal greetings to the Christians of all nations. Speaking for ourselves, we are determined to live at peace with our Christian brethren of other lands as we know they are determined to live at peace with us.”
31. “…it is the clear duty of Christians everywhere to declare their undivided allegiance to Him whose we are and whom we serve.”
32. “The preachers are grounding their arms, they are washing their hands of the blood of their fellows, they are parting company with Caesar.”
This researcher/compiler devoted several pages in this paper to the noble words, pledges, proclamations, resolves, convictions, renunciations and sentiments of these various Protestant groups that Van Kirk had compiled and printed (echoing, too, his own beliefs) in his book in 1934, about the time Hitler was gaining power in Germany. Soon thereafter World War II emerged in Europe. The United States eventually got involved in this war which killed and injured at least 50,000,000 people. There’s an old saying that “Talk is cheap”. What happened to all of this “talk”—all of these “Christian” peace efforts wherein all of the above Protestant religious organizations proclaimed that war was against the teachings of Jesus Christ—and completely unchristian? Where is information recorded where they all, or part, or even one of these religious organizations accomplished what they were determined, and in many cases proclaimed they would do—not participate? When did they, or even one of these groups “part company with Caesar” in the matter of war?
The same is true concerning all the wars following World War II up to the present day. Oh yes, there have always been some dissenters who have fled to Canada to escape the draft, but that was usually a personal conscientious matter with individuals, many of whom really were not particularly “religious” and did not represent any particular religious body.
I was born in 1934, and was old enough to read the newspapers and know what was going on during World War II. I can’t remember seeing anything in the papers or in the media regarding such wholesale conscientious objection either then or since that time and until the present. I know of no religious organization that has taken its stand against war completely, except Jehovah’s Witnesses! Earlier I mentioned a few groups whose members will compromise by “loading the gun” (so-to-speak) but not shooting it. In that way they still are participating in the war effort and make themselves part of the world. It seems that regarding all of the above groups that have spoken out against war in the past, none of them apparently understand the point Jesus clearly made, which was absolutely understood by the early Christians that Christians are to be “no part of the world” just as Jesus himself was no part of the world. (John 15:18-20; John 17:14; James 4:4). The research earlier in this paper shows clearly that the first Christians—those taught by Jesus Christ himself—understood what being “no part of the world” meant—so that they did not join any military organization, nor run for political office, nor take part in nationalistic/state ceremonies. These points are clearly a matter of history, the result of being taught by their Master, Jesus Christ.
1 John 3:10-12 are the words of John that all who profess to be Christians should take very seriously, for this Scripture shows that standard of love being a prerequisite for being the children of God: “The children of God and the children of the Devil are evident by this fact: Everyone who does not carry on righteousness does not originate with God, neither does he who does not love his brother. For this is the message which you have heard from the beginning, that we should have love for one another; not like Cain, who originated with the wicked one and slaughtered his brother. And for the sake of what did he slaughter him?”
When we analyze the course of most professed Christians, their involvement in war, and the “slaughtering of their brothers” as Cain did Abel, it is difficult to place these professed Christians and the religions they represent in the category of “Children of God.” Even though these religions send in their chaplains to soothe their consciences and pray for the victory, the words of Isaiah 1:15 could also apply to them: “And when you spread out your palms, I hide my eyes from you. Even though you make many prayers, I am not listening; with bloodshed your very hands have become filled.”
This subject of Christian neutrality and its related issues should not be taken lightly, just as the record is clear that early Christians didn’t take these issues lightly. When World War I broke out in 1914, the issue of “Christian Neutrality” was not fully understood by the International Bible Students, who later (in 1931) became known as Jehovah’s Witnesses. At that time there was not a clear, unified position taken by all Christian “Bible Students” throughout the world. But by the time of World War II, and of all the countless other wars since then, Jehovah’s Witnesses throughout the earth were then and have ever since then been faithful to Jehovah in taking their neutral Christian position regarding the wars of the nations, in imitation of Jesus Christ, his apostles, and other early Christians by being “no part of the world”. (John 15:18-20; John 17:14,16). And this is how it should be with the words of 1 Peter 2:21, quoted earlier, in mind: “In fact, to this course you were called, because even Christ suffered for you, leaving you a model for you to follow his steps closely.”
So, the questions for all professed Christians to ask themselves are:
Who today are “clean from the blood of all men”? (Acts 20:26).
Who today show that they are true disciples of Jesus Christ by the love they show toward one another? (John 13:34,35).
Who prove to be “children of God” rather than “children of the Devil”? (1 Jn. 3:10-12).
Who today prove to “have love for the whole association of brothers” in the world (1 Peter 2:17; 5:9), even if the nations in which these brothers reside are at war?
Who today have fulfilled the prophecy at Isa. 2:4 “…And they will have to beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning shears. Nation will not lift up sword against nation, neither will they learn war any more.”? (see also Micah 4:3).
Who today recognize that “…It is Jehovah your God you must worship, and it is to him alone you must render sacred service.”? (Matt. 4:10). Therefore, as true Christians they refuse to bow down or serve idols, or emblems of the State, wherever they live in the world.
Who today are “no part of the world” (John 15:18-20; 17:14,16) recognizing Satan to be the ruler of this world? (2 Cor. 4:4; 1 Jn.5:19; Rev. 12:9).
Who today proclaim “God’s kingdom” as the only hope for mankind instead of man-made organizations, such as the United Nations to bring peace to the world?
Who today support the “Prince of Peace” Jesus Christ (Isa. 9:6) rather than any government on earth to establish permanent peace on earth?
Who today totally agree with the Apostle Paul when he said at 2 Cor. 10:3,4: “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God …)" (KJV)—and with the words of Jesus who said at Matt. 26:52: “Return your sword to its place, for all those who take the sword will perish by the sword.” ?
Who today are completely “neutral” to the political and military affairs of the nations, not even “learning war” any more (Isa. 2:4)?
The above questions are far from complete. There are many more that could be asked, but it is obvious what the answer to every question above is: The world-wide brotherhood of Jehovah’s Witnesses!
With all of the information above, each one must make his/her own decision as to what to believe and what or whom to follow. If one really wants to have God’s favor, he must follow what Jesus, Paul and John and others have said, as well as the example given to us by the early Christians, many of whom were taught by Jesus himself. Each one must decide for themselves who they will ultimately serve, whether the god of war, who is really none other than Satan the Devil, or the God of love and peace, Jehovah. As for Jehovah’s Witnesses, we agree with the words of Joshua, who said at Joshua 24:14 “…But as for me and my household, we shall serve Jehovah.”
Notes on Chapter I (“Parting Company with Caesar”) from Religion Renounces War:
3. Abrams, Ray H., Preachers Present Arms, Round Table Press, New York.
4. Gulick, Sidney L., The Christian and the Patriot (pamphlet), Federal Council of the Churches of Christ in America, New York.
5. McCutcheon, et al., The Christian and War, p. 76, McClelland & Stewart, Toronto.
6. Heering, G.J., The Fall of Christianity, p.56, George Allen & Unwin, Ltd., London.
7. Ibid, p.56.
8. Ibid., p.57.
9. Ibid., pp.77-78.
11. Northern Baptist Convention, 1933.
12. Churches of God in North America, General Eldership, 1925.
13. Congregational Churches in the United States, National Council, 1925.
14. Disciples of Christ, International Convention, 1931.
15. Evangelical Synod of North America, 1929.
16. Methodist Episcopal Church, General Convention, 1931.
17. Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A., General Assembly, 1929.
18. Protestant Episcopal Church, General Convention, 1931.
19. Reformed Church in America, General Synod, 1930.
20. Reformed Church in the United States, General Synod, 1932.
21. Seventh Day Baptist General Conference, 1931.
22. A message to the Churches of Christ in America from the Federal Council’s Commission on International Justice and Goodwill, 1924.
23. Universalist General Convention, 1923.
24. Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A., General Assembly, 1924.
25. Reformed Presbyterian Church, Synod, 1924.
26. National Study Conference on the Churches and World Peace, 1929.
34. Church of the United Brethren in Christ, General Conference, 1933.
35. World Peace Commission, Methodist Episcopal Church, May, 1934.
36. Ohio State Pastors’ Convention, 1932.
37. State Pastors’ Conference, Oregon, 1933.
38. Pennsylvania Council of Churches, Reports, 1929.
47. National Conference of Theological Students, 1926.
48. Quoted in The Christian and War, p. 50, by McCutcheon, et al., McClelland & Stewart, Toronto.
49. The World Tomorrow, June, 1931
51. Pastor, First Methodist Episcopal Church, Evanston, Ill.
52. Pastor, Elm Park Methodist Episcopal Church, Scranton, Pa.