Thursday, May 5, 2011 10:14 AM

Christian Soldiers

Thursday, May 5, 2011 10:14 AM
Thursday, May 5, 2011 10:14 AM

 

Here is a blog by Gunnar Hanson that will give Christians insight into conducting operations in times of war.

Ten years ago today I was an active duty Navy SEAL deployed to the Middle East, today I am the Senior Pastor of Valley Baptist Church contemplating the death of Osama Bin Laden.

I will attempt to answer a couple of questions: 1) the need for warriors, 2) the authority of the warrior, and 3) the Christians response to violence.

The need for warriors: There is a story in the Old Testament that inspired the writing of my thesis and it is found in 1 Samuel 23:1-5. David and his mighty men are on the run from Saul when David gets word that the Philistines are plundering the people of Keilah. My first point against the pacifist argument is evil is happening all around us. You can be a totally passive person (which I feel like I am) and find yourself witnessing one person or group that is violently attacking another. I love what Dietrich Bonhoeffer says about this reality, "Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act." David and his men were exposed to an evil situation; their initial reaction was not to respond because they weren't in the best position to help. David asked God a second time if this is what he was to do. God's desire was for David to proceed onward using violence to stop this evil that was already in progress. Today is no different. Evil is everywhere. Men and women everywhere are doing evil to all sorts of people. Are Christians simply not to intervene? I don't think so.

The authority of the warrior--military, cop, or individual: The clearest teaching anywhere in the Bible on this subject is found in Romans 12:9-13:4. This passage is pretty intriguing to me this week as it is very similar the Sermon on the Mount which I am preaching on through the month of May. Romans 12:9-17 has all of the verses that pacifists love to quote like: "Bless those who persecute you", "Never pay back evil for evil", etc, etc. Yes, I believe this all applies to the Christian and I take these verses literally, but a literal interpretation forces one to look at the whole context--one cannot study Scripture in isolation of the whole.

Romans 12:18-19 begins to shed some light on how we as Christians are able to do this. First, the Bible says we are to be at peace with other people if it is possible and as much as it depends on our own actions. Then it says, "Leave room for the wrath of God." Okay so this is very interesting. We are not to take our own vengeance because God's wrath is more effective than our own wrath (okay, the text doesn't say why, that is my opinion). In my Bible I have drawn from "wrath of God" in Romans 12:19 down to Romans 13:4 where the thought carries through. Here the Bible essentially says that "it" (i.e. the authorities or government) "does not bear the sword for nothing" and that it is a "minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath on the one who practices evil."

Every soldier and cop must understand the concept of being under authority. The point is that when life is taken it must be under the proper authority of God and the government and right circumstances--whether you are a soldier, cop, or individual defending yourself or others.

The Christian's response to violence: Am I happy that Osama Bin Laden is dead? Yes and no. Yes because a man who promotes evil and destruction against so many people is gone. "Relief" is probably a better word than "happy." Many of us in the West are not fully aware of the evil this man inflicted in the world. He killed many innocent people brutally.

One peer of mine calculated that some 40 SEALs have died fighting the war against terrorism. I know a few widows and children who are left behind...Osama Bin Laden's death doesn't undo this or the attacks that have been committed during his lifetime. But there is pleasure in knowing that the government is following through with God's command to bring "wrath on the one who practices evil" (Rom. 13:4).

Regardless of your theological bent regarding pacifism, I think we all agree on Paul's instructions to Timothy, "First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity" (1 Timothy 2:1-2).

We should be on our knees this day praying as Paul tells us to above. I am thankful for the sacrifice of soldiers, cops, and good Samaritans who put their lives at risk in the calling of restraining evil.  By Gunnar Hanson

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