Q&A: Was Jesus a pacifist? / Should Christians join the military?

When we first started this project, I told the class that we don’t pretend to know everything. There will eventually (and sooner than later) come questions that we cannot answer either quickly or thoroughly. What we are willing to do is join you on the journey to finding the answers you are looking for.

The question about war and pacifism is definitely one of those topics. I do not feel qualified to answer it on my own, so I found an authoritative source that has put some thought into it.

Desiring God is the ministry of John Piper, a baptist minister in Minneapolis and someone whom I have gain much from in my studies. Here is an article from his site talking about our question:


 

The attacks of September 11 and the resulting war against terrorism have brought to the front once again the question of the Christian view of war. The question is particularly complex because it is hard to see how war can be consistent with the biblical emphasis upon forgiveness and forbearance and love. This emphasis is perhaps most pointed in the Sermon on the Mount, where Jesus says:

You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, do not resist an evil person; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. If anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, let him have your coat also. Whoever forces you to go one mile, go with him two. Give to him who asks of you, and do not turn away from him who wants to borrow from you. You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. (Matthew 5:39-44)

Does Jesus’ teaching that we should turn the other cheek and love our enemies mean that it is always wrong to go to war? Should the world have turned the other cheek to Hitler and tried to love him into surrender? When Osama Bin Laden ordered the attack on the World Trade Center, should the U.S. have responded by sending him the Sears Tower as well? Or does Jesus allow a place for both loving our enemies and yet, in certain situations, using force to restrain life-threatening wickedness?

(continue reading here…)

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