Sunday, July 22, 2012

Is pacifism Biblical?


I realise that the bulk of Christendom does not support pacifism, but if you knew my background, you would understand why I am including pacifism among the false doctrines.

Pacifism is an ideal, which we trust will attend us in our future life.  It is impossible to imagine what the sociological world would look like today if all good people were pacifists.

The Nazis would have overrun the world and all the Jews would have been exterminated.  The terrorists in the world today would have free sway to destroy all the world’s democracies and economies.  Women’s and children’s rights all around the world would be extinct and all decent religious groups would be condemned and executed.

Pacifism stems from an unreal dream world.  Neither the Old Testament nor the New Testament teach that doctrine.  Most significantly Christ did not teach it either!  It is true that Isaiah spoke of a world, in which peace abounds, but even to him, that was an idealistic dream, which will be coming in the future.

One needs only read the Old Testament to notice that the Lord blessed His chosen people, when, or should we say, because, they killed their enemies. Many times the Lord told His people to kill them.  Many of the songs of the Jews thank the Lord for victory over mortal enemies.  In fact, in the Sanhedrin 72 are found these, straight to the point, words. If someone comes to kill you, anticipate him and kill him first. 

In the New Testament, Paul frequently uses word pictures that portray war.  Not only that, but nowhere do the New Testament writers teach that Christians do not have a right to protect their possessions and country by using force.  What they do teach is that we are not to be the aggressor, the one who starts a fight or a war. 

Bless them that persecute you: bless, and curse not. Rom. 12:14  
See that none render evil for evil to any man: but ever follow that which is good towards each other and towards all men. 1 Thes. 5:15
Not rendering evil for evil, nor railing for railing, but contrariwise, blessing: for unto this are you called, that you may inherit a blessing. 1 Peter 3:9  

Also in other verses of this nature, the thought is concerning seeking personal revenge against someone who has wronged us; these verses do not have any reference to pacifism.

Christ, also had very little to say in that regard.  On the night in which Christ was betrayed He said to Peter, Put your sword in its place, for all who take the sword will perish by the sword. Mat. 26:52.  This statement has absolutely nothing to do with non-resistance.  Christ was merely stating a fact: Peter, do you think that, with one sword, you can withstand the Roman army? Peter, if you try it, you will die.

To insist that Christ was a pacifist is to overlook that Christ said, Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword. Mat. 10:34.  Christ also told His disciples to purchase some swords; and he who has no sword, let him sell his garment and buy one. Luke 22:36

In the Sermon on the Mount Christ said, Thou shalt not kill. Mat. 5:21.  This statement is used to teach that Christ taught pacifism.  Christ, however, was quoting Exodus 20:13 (the sixth commandment), which means that He was using the Hebrew language.  In Hebrew, one word for "kill" is ratzach and it means to dash in pieces, that is, kill (a human being), especially to murder: - put to death. Strong H7523.  This is what the sixth commandment is condemning and what Christ was warning against. 

If Christ would have been preaching pacifism He would have needed to use the Hebrew word harug which means justifiable homicide, ... to taking the life of an enemy soldier in war. See Strong H2026.  The sixth commandment very precisely prohibits murder, but it does not speak against the taking of a life in defence of oneself or others.

I was brought up as a pacifist and have heard many sermons and all the arguments for pacifism.  So it was actually a huge relief for me to learn that the soldiers who had fought in wars had actually not gone against the teachings of the Bible concerning this issue.  

Pacifism, in the world in which we are living, is just not tenable or even desirable.