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Passions in Poetry

God and War

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Essorant
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0 posted 11-12-2006 12:04 PM       View Profile for Essorant   Email Essorant   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Essorant's Home Page   View IP for Essorant


Does God agree with people going to war?
serenity blaze
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1 posted 11-12-2006 07:14 PM       View Profile for serenity blaze   Email serenity blaze   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for serenity blaze

Maybe on Mars.
Stephanos
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2 posted 11-12-2006 11:23 PM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

Does God agree with people going to war?


I think any satisfying answer would be more complex than the answer your question allows, as a simple "yes" or "no".  But that's okay.  Some questions have to be expressed in such simple terms, just to open the dialogue.


If you're asking if there is an ethical / moral problem involved with the whole concept and methodology of war, and whether that problem is expressed Biblically (from God's perspective) ... I would answer "yes" on both counts.  And we'll take it from there.  This is actually a subject that I've given much thought to.  


Karen,

It took me a few minutes to catch your humor there (the reference to a Roman deity).  Slow, me.  But I have to give it to you ... that's genuinely funny.      


Stephen.  
JesusChristPose
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No.

Jesus taught us to love our enemies and pray for those who abuse us.

Yahweh stated that thou shall not kill.

It amazes me that christians believe it is okay to go to war. Why not just call on God to provide protection? Where is the faith?

"Melvin, the best thing you got going for you is your willingness to humiliate yourself."

Stephanos
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4 posted 11-14-2006 03:01 AM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

JCP:
quote:
No ...

Yahweh stated that thou shall not kill.



Then why do angry skeptics always point out that God ordered the Israelites to war (at certain times) in the Old Testament?  


"Thou shalt not kill" seemed to be a command against citizens taking vengeance upon another ... not the prohibition of war, or of capital punishment.  The evidence?  Both war and capital punishment were a part of the Israelite government endorsed and given by God.  


I'm not saying that I disagree with your view of the New Testament (concerning what Jesus taught) ... But I think it's a little more complicated than saying "no", if you're going to account for all of the biblical data we have, and not just bits and pieces.  


I disagree with their conclusion, but there IS a reason that some skeptics can even say that the Biblical God is a warmonger, and therefore morally flawed.


There is a possible synthesis of Old Testament bellicosity and the dove-like-ness of the New Testament ... or at least a good explanation of how both approaches could be approved of by God, at different times, and for different reasons.  


Stephen.        
JesusChristPose
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"Then why do angry skeptics always point out that God ordered the Israelites to war (at certain times) in the Old Testament?"

~ You answered it yourself. God ordered it. Now, I don't know about you, but I am sure Bush has not heard God's voice, literally, ordering him to invade Iraq.
  
""Thou shalt not kill" seemed to be a command against citizens taking vengeance upon another ..."

~ And that is the danger of interpretation of passages when using what we think it means.

"not the prohibition of war, or of capital punishment.  The evidence?  Both war and capital punishment were a part of the Israelite government endorsed and given by God."

~ The NT changed all that, didn't it?  
Stephanos
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6 posted 11-15-2006 12:26 AM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

JCP:
quote:
You answered it yourself. God ordered it. Now, I don't know about you, but I am sure Bush has not heard God's voice, literally, ordering him to invade Iraq.



No, I never said that.  As far as I know this is not a discussion about whether or not Bush heard from God, or whether or not the war in Iraq is a just war.  I was only trying to expand your simple answer "no" when you were asked whether or not God was for war.  


You also mentioned the Old Testament 6th commandment, rather than just the New Testament.  So, if you concede that God commanded war at times, I'm wondering how you reconcile that with your view that the OT prohibits war.


At least by acknowledging that God commanded war in certain instances, might you agree with me that it's not such a simple answer?  


quote:
Stephen:'Thou shalt not kill' seemed to be a command against citizens taking vengeance upon another ..."

JCP: And that is the danger of interpretation of passages when using what we think it means.



First of all, I've never heard anyone interpret a bible passage (or any other passage) without using what they "think it means".             


Secondly, if context is important, then other passages of scripture can throw light upon meanings.  Are you sure the Hebrew word for "kill" (as used in the 6th commandment) applied to war, as acts of government?  And if you are so sure, how do you explain the inconsistency of God commanding war.  Would God command the breaking of his own commandment?  


I think a larger danger is interpreting scripture in absolute isolation, rather than considering the field in which it has been sown.  

quote:
Stephen: 'not the prohibition of war, or of capital punishment.  The evidence?  Both war and capital punishment were a part of the Israelite government endorsed and given by God.'

JCP: 'The NT changed all that, didn't it?'
  


Yes it did.  But I think many might wonder why.  I'll try to share (with my next post) as to what I have seen, after pondering that very question.


BTW, I'm not really disagreeing with your views of war.  I am a pacifist, to tell you the truth.  I'm just trying to bring out a fuller picture than a pat "yay" or "nay".  Not saying that "nay" won't be the final answer, because I'm quite sure that it is.  I'm just wanting to explore the path to it, and the apologetic / theonomic aspects of the question that tend to be on people's minds when discussing God and war, especially seeing the scriptural tension surrounding the issue.


Stephen.
JesusChristPose
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~ One of the points I am trying to get across here is the fact at one time, the Israelites needed to only call on God to fight their battles and God would oblige. I believe it wasn't until Kings that the Israelites asked God to let them fight their own battles.

~ In this day and age, if Christianity is the true religion, why doesn't its leaders, who are in political power, just put their faith in God to fight any battles? If they are truly God's people, He must answer and save His people.

"Melvin, the best thing you got going for you is your willingness to humiliate yourself."

Stephanos
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8 posted 11-17-2006 10:57 PM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

No time on this now ... I'm working long shifts this weekend.  I would rather wait than to give short trite answers.  Will try to get back to it next week.


Stephen.

[This message has been edited by Stephanos (11-18-2006 01:11 AM).]

Essorant
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9 posted 11-18-2006 03:41 PM       View Profile for Essorant   Email Essorant   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Essorant's Home Page   View IP for Essorant

Thanks for sharing your thought;
Mine is still in a naught  
Grinch
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My personal opinion is that god does not exist and so can have no preference either way.

However if I were to suspend my disbelief and imagine that god did exist I'd have to say yes, god does agree with men going to war. If he\she\it didn't he\she\it would have intervened before now to stop men going to war. Of course that opinion relies on a god that gives a hoot or two about mortal men, an indifferent or hootless god might disagree completely with mans warring ways but simply can't be bothered enough to intercede.

So either god doesn't exist, in which case he\she\it doesn't have an opinion and going to war is a decision by mortals or god exists and agrees with war, which leaves the decision with mortals. Or he\she\it doesn't agree with men going to war but isn't interested enough to stop them which leaves the decision to mortals. There's at least one additional option I can think of, that god doesn't agree with war but is suspending punishment for any transgressors until a later date.

This last option would probably be the most popular choice for most religious people but would require a very callous god.

Essorant
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11 posted 11-20-2006 10:29 PM       View Profile for Essorant   Email Essorant   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Essorant's Home Page   View IP for Essorant

Couldn't that be said about any tragedy?
Ron
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quote:
This last option would probably be the most popular choice for most religious people but would require a very callous god.

I once rewarded my four-year-old son by telling him he could choose what we would have at our next family meal. I didn't enjoy eating Fruity Pebbles for dinner that night, and I certainly didn't approve, but neither did I complain overmuch. In the grand scheme of things, I felt that keeping my word to him was more important than a little malnutrition, which was, after all, a very temporal thing.

Free will isn't callous, Grinch. Not when you consider the alternative.


Stephanos
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13 posted 11-22-2006 01:33 AM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

I think the best way to describe it for me is thus:


God is just and merciful.  And since there is (or may be) an element of justice involved in war, there is also something about it which may be approved of God.  However, since war is not expressive of mercy, it is provisional and imperfect in its purposes.  That's why from God's perspective, the greatest glory is when the world's nations "... shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks ... Neither shall they learn war anymore." (Micah 4:3).  And such a marvel is promised to war-weary eyes at the restoration of all things.  


Some may wonder why the Old Testament approach seemed so much more bellicose than the New Testament.  The Jewish Patriot seems so at odds with the Christian Martyr.  And the God who commanded Israel to war against the Canaanites, so very different than the Jesus who scolded Peter for taking up his sword against the Romans.


I really like Ron's explanation of God's allowance of war, as a preservation of his gift of human freewill.  (a freewill which God-blamers also partake of and enjoy, and would never want rescinded for themselves).  But that really only explains God's passive allowance of war, rather than his active commands and endorsements of war that we sometimes see in the Old Testament.  


Only the concept of “Just War” as a possibility would explain God’s association with war.  (This doesn’t mean that all wars are just, only that they may be)  The Old Testament, we are told, is itself a partial revelation and incomplete.  The book of Hebrews calls the entire Old Covenant as something which is “... obsolete and aging and soon to disappear”.  And Paul in the book of Romans told us that in light of grace, the Jewish system of Law is “weak”.  Revelation of God’s character is progressive, and was partial in the Old Testament.  Holiness and justice were the attributes of God which were focused upon.  Mercy was more peripheral until it came to the forefront in Jesus Christ.  


One of the reasons I believe that Justice was such a focus in the Old Testament dispensation, is that it offered us not only a revelation of a very important aspect of God’s Character (Justice), but also a self-revelation of our own sinfulness and need.  A premature revelation of mercy would have only helped to bring about an unhumbled theology of humanism, rather than a true understanding of ourselves and God.


So, as long as mankind is under  the “law”, war is a part of God’s dispensation, and an instrument of judgement.  When man is under grace, we find a whole different prescription.  There is much more talk of loving one’s enemy and turning the other cheek.


What happens though, when all do not come under the “grace” of the gospel?  War is still active and is still a part of God’s judgement in this world.  The death and destruction seen in this world due to war (and other things) are a part of being under the law in a sinful communal existence.  That’s why Paul says in the book of Romans that the State is “given the sword” by God.  He is talking about worldly powers and governments.  However, he makes a clear distinction between the worldly government and the Church.  Christians are to pray for their enemies ... to love their enemies even.  Governments will do what they feel they have to do in this present age, using hellish weapons of destruction, but Christians are called to a priestly role of intercession and mercy?  Why?  Because they have seen a side of God, unseen under the law of the Old covenant ... overbounding mercy.  


But just as Mercy was peripheral in the Old Testament, Justice is not forsaken in the New.  Justice is fulfilled for those under grace through the cross of Jesus Christ, and for those who remain under the law, through a continuation of the Law's judgements.



To summarize:  

1) God is perfect justice and mercy

2) War involves an element of justice, but lacks mercy, and is therefore imperfect and provisional.

4) The only way to receive that which is perfect, is through the gospel of grace
.
5) The world apart from Christ, is still under the imperfect and provisional system of law

6) Therefore war is still an instrument of judgement in the world, under a dispensation of law.

7) God’s promise is that the imperfect will pass away, and thus war along with it.


  

If anyone would reply that God must be cruel to utilize war as judgement, they should remember that war is enacted by humanity out of their own passions.  Therefore even the judgement is passive on God’s part, only giving us what we ourselves have chosen.  

But the ulitmate truth, and will of God, is to banish war from Earth forever, along with the heart-condition which gave rise to such wars.  

Not a simple "yes or no" answer from the perspective of the Bible.  We all know that complexity can be a sure sign of sophistry, but it can also be true to life by avoiding the too-simple.  


Stephen.
Stephanos
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Grinch:
quote:
There's at least one additional option I can think of, that god doesn't agree with war but is suspending punishment for any transgressors until a later date.

This last option would probably be the most popular choice for most religious people but would require a very callous god.



Callous?  The devastation of war, is only a result of a chosen path, whereby we wanted the ability to arbitrate "good and evil" for ourselves.  I think therefore we (in general) are much more open to the charge of being callous than God is.  Secondly, "punishment" is not all suspended until a future Judgement Day.  The fruit of war is it's own punishment.


That the (presumably) innocent suffer seems to me a very sad thing.  But a God who manifested himself in Christ who suffered innocently at the hands of wicked men, hardly strikes me as unfeeling, or detached from our plight.  And he was truly innocent.  Our "innocence" is more circumstantial than having to do with any internal goodness of character.


And though we're permitted, (even encouraged) to directly inquire as to why this omni-benevolent God would even tolerate such things, and why his deliverence does not come expediently ... those kinds of questions (prayers?) are usually best made as appeals to God's good character, not as attacks against it.  


Stephen.    

  
Huan Yi
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The responses seem to revolve around the God
of the New Testament.  The Old Testament God
had no problem aiding wars of conquest, nor
does the God of the Koran have much trouble.
Stephanos
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16 posted 11-24-2006 05:38 PM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

quote:
The responses seem to revolve around the God of the New Testament.  The Old Testament God had no problem aiding wars of conquest, nor
does the God of the Koran have much trouble.

I think it's a mistake to say that the "God of the Old Testament" is not the same God of the New.  Differences of policy and dispensation can be explained if some aspects of revelation are so large, as to need the span of generations to find adequate expression.  Only men who understood justice as a reality, could ever tire of its rigor without rejecting its truth, and so give a proper welcome to mercy.  


To us God seems different at different periods, but only because we are "in Time".  And though the incarnation is eternal from God's perspective, as the "lamb slain before the foundation of the world" ... we must still experience the pre and the post, the before and the after.  Something like that is afoot when you see the New Testament take a significant turn on something like war.  


Though I can also show you hints and intimations of the change even in the Old Testament.  War wasn't sitting in the divine scheme quite as comfortably as you might suppose.  David was not permitted to build the Temple because he "had blood on his hands" and was "a man of war".  The wars in question were divinely sanctioned, and yet there was something in the task of high worship, from which David was separated because of warfare.


As to the Muslim religion ... It's not hard to understand that they would adopt a hyper-Old-Testament view of war, seeing that they reject Jesus as the supreme revelation of God.  Either you soften altogether, or get hardened in the Kiln.  


Stephen.  
JesusChristPose
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So, Stephanos, do you believe that Muslims are doomed to suffer forever in the Lake of Fire because they do not accept Jesus as God?

Stephanos
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18 posted 11-24-2006 05:42 PM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

What does that have to do with this thread?

We've talked about the doctrine of Hell a thousand times.  But I don't see any point in steering yet another thread into that contention.


Stephen.
JesusChristPose
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19 posted 11-24-2006 05:54 PM       View Profile for JesusChristPose   Email JesusChristPose   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for JesusChristPose

With a reply that includes getting "hardened in a kiln," I don't see any problem with asking the question I asked you. A simple yes or no would suffice. Unless, you would like to explain the "kiln" comment as it relates to the "rejection."

  

"Melvin, the best thing you got going for you is your willingness to humiliate yourself."
Stephanos
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20 posted 11-24-2006 07:33 PM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

quote:
Unless, you would like to explain the "kiln" comment as it relates to the "rejection."

It was metaphor.  What I meant was, that in rejecting Jesus Christ as the supreme revelation of God, while holding to Old-Testament-style monotheism, it is a natural tendency to become more war-like rather than less.  Hell has nothing to do with the metaphor, other than the fact that war is a hellish thing.


Stephen.
Arnold M
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Hi Stephen.  Why don't you point out to JCP that the correct wording is "Thou shalt not murder."  "Kill" is a different Hebrew word.

To me, that makes a lot of difference.

Cheers, Armold
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22 posted 12-22-2006 04:45 PM       View Profile for ChristianSpeaks   Email ChristianSpeaks   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for ChristianSpeaks

Arnold-

I was just coming to make that point. It was God who instructed the Isrialites to go into the promised land and take it from the Philistines - so I would say justifiable war he would agree with. Iraq? Who knows.

CS
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“In this day and age, if Christianity is the true religion, why doesn't its leaders, who are in political power, just put their faith in God to fight any battles? If they are truly God's people, He must answer and save His people.”


Like he does with cancer and AIDS.  Where was he with the Black Plaque,
(actually from then and for a couple centuries the human population
was in decline because of diseases)?  Were and are these not wars?
Perhaps you can not speak about wars without using adjectives.
If one man makes war on another whether it be with a rifle or
with hands around the throat is the truly faithful to do nothing
but wait for God to act?  What then is the brain for?  The body
fights for life even in a man’s unconsciousness; is that drive
indicative of a value?
ChristianSpeaks
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24 posted 12-22-2006 08:53 PM       View Profile for ChristianSpeaks   Email ChristianSpeaks   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for ChristianSpeaks

Well Jesus did say that "faith without works is dead." And, concurrently, works without faith yields the same end.

It would be the same if one had AIDS or cancer and just expected God to save them without taking the necessary precautions to battle the disease.

Okay here in a minute we are going to get to the "if God is all powerful and all knowing, and is everywhere, why do bad things happen to good people" bit.

No Christian is going to have an airtight response. The usual response is "because there is sin in the world." Something cannot be perfect if there is something imperfect intrensic in its makeup. However, the acceptance of that answer demands that one believes in an absolute. But, in this postmodern world, people have a problem with that. The question comes up "what if what you think is wrong is not wrong for me?" At this point you will get into a verbal shoving match where one person will say that there is an universal right and wrong and another will say that you can't tell me what to do, insults will fly, mothers will be disrespected, etc. That is why people who do not have the exact same belief system, and some times those that do, cannot agree on this fully. It is the same reason why churches split, denominations crack, and Catholics are so messed up.

I don't think that you will ever get a clear answer to this question.

CS
 
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