James Leroy Wilson's blog

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Is War Worth It?

Jon Rowe has some good insights on "Libertarian Christianity" in his blog post James Antle's Reason book review of Andy Olree's book The Choice Principle: the Biblical Case for Legal Toleration. Write Rowe:
I think a larger point we could glean is that the Bible is consistent with classical liberalism. And modern conservatism, liberalism, and libertarianism all in some way originate from and conform to the tenets of liberal democracy. As Francis Fukuyama once put it, we are all liberal democrats now. With clever hermeneutics, the Bible can, in some way, read to comport with liberalism, conservatism, and libertarianism.

Paul was telling believers to obey, not some "Godly" ruler, but the pagan psychopath Nero, whose government "permitted abortion and prostitution while funding forms of idolatry." Romans 13 hardly supports the Christian Nation fraud or Dominionism, as some inaptly suggest. Indeed, given the threshold that Paul sets for obeying governments, arguably almost all revolts against civil magistrates would be forbidden. And this is exactly what the Tory ministers argued during the Revolutionary war.

I stand by my contention that the Tories' anti-revolt position was every bit as "biblical," if not more so than our Whig Founders' who, at times, clearly "played games" with biblical texts to justify revolt.

I'm inclined to agree. For both the Roman-Jewish Wars (of which Christians could certainly have been tempted to resist the Emperor and restore Jerusalem's independence), the Revolutionary War and Lincoln's War, there are three questions that could be asked:
1) Under what terms (particularly, legal conditions of a compact, covenant, or Constitution) does a party have a right to secede from the whole (remembering in these cases that the war was not to overthrow the ruler and take charge of all his dominions, but to allow one people of one part of the empire to secede from it)?
2) Even if secession is legally justified, is it morally and pragmatically justified?
3) Even if the rebels are "wrong," is the expense in treasure and bloodshed worth the effort, i.e., is it morally and pragmatically justified to suppress them?

The question for both sides comes down to: is war worth it?

For those who believe that the New Testament is primarily a book of moral and theological lessons for us today (personally, I think it's primarily a book of prophesy about the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70), I would suggest it is unseemly for a Christian to take up arms against his rulers (unless, perhaps, his home is attacked by them), but it is also unseemly for a Christian to take up arms on behalf of his ruler for any purpose other than defense.

After all, it wasn't wars of secession or wars of national unification that finally destroyed what was once called Christendom, it was World War I.

Nobody comes out ahead in a war, and most people lose quite a bit. It was wise of Paul to tell Christians to "stay out of it" and it is still good advice.

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