It is my joy to give a rebuttal to Keith Sharp article as he affirms that Christians can use lethal force in warfare. Five questions:
Are alien sinners subject to the law of Christ?
Recently I have been re-studying this concept, at this point I am not able to give a definite answer one way or the other.
Does God permit alien sinners to use lethal force in military service?
I believe that God has given the government a position that they do not carry the sword in vain. However, they are also held accountable for their actions. (Gen. 50: 20; Isa. 10: 5- 7, 12; Jer. 50: 14- 18)
May Christians serve in nonlethal capacities in the military?
No, I do not believe that Christians can fulfill other positions in the military since they are helping others to kill.
May Christians serve in any capacity in civil government? -
Yes, Christians can serve in other capacities as long as it does not come in conflict with the teachings of Christ. (Rom. 16: 23)
May Christians vote?
I do believe that Christians can vote, however this is I believe a matter that each Christian need to decide for themselves. (2 Tim. 2: 4)
As Keith explains his position he relies heavily on the Old Testament and how God fought just wars. I will deal with this in a general way with two scriptures. After that I will deal with each of Keith's points of his proposition.
1. Hebr. 1: 1- 3 and the law of Christ. We read: “God, having of old time spoken unto the fathers in the prophets by divers portions and in divers manners, hath at the end of these days spoken unto us in his Son”.
When we look at this passage we understand that God has spoken in these last days, new Testament times, through His Son. So when we consider the question, “can a Christian use lethal force in warfare” we need to consult the words of Jesus. 2. Coll. 3: 16, 17, and the absolute authority of Christ' words. We read: “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly........and whatsoever ye do, in word or in deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus”.
From this passage we learn that we need to let the words of Christ, new covenant, dwell in us richly. Also, whatever we do in word or in deed, we need to do all in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. God established a new covenant through Jesus Christ, in doing so, he blotted out the old covenant made with the Jewish nation.
Genesis 9: 6
Yes, God still has the right to punish evil-doers, however God is using the government to carry this out, not the individual Christian. This is pertinent to our discussion.
The nation of Israel.
Keith talks about Israel and writes: “But the Lord commanded the nation of Israel to fight just wars (cf. Judges 6:11-14,34). Whatever the Lord commands is righteous (Deut. 4:8; 6:25).
It was indeed right for Israel to fight wars. God legislated wars for His people and gave laws concerning them. (Lev. 20: 9- 16; Num. 35: 15- 21). In the new covenant we do not have these laws given. Keith is in the wrong covenant.
Where in the new covenant do we find the command of God that Christians can fight in war? It is not to be found.
About the sermon on the mount.
In the sermon on the mount we see that Jesus brought new teaching.
“Thou shalt not kill” is an exact quote from Ex. 20: 13. From this we understand that Jesus is not only extending the prohibition, but also, He is bringing in new revolutionary teaching of the new covenant. (Matt. 4: 23) Also, we see in Galatians 5: 21 that murder is a work of the flesh and Christians have crucified the flesh and it's passions (vers 24). Conclusion is that murder is wrong and the Christian cannot even practice it anymore. That passion has died!!!!!
Notice, the law of Moses gave a man reasons for breaking the marriage contract for reasons other then adultery only (Deut. 24: 1- 4) Jesus said that adultery would be the only reason, (Matt. 5: 31- 32) So, Jesus came and taught new teaching on reasons for divorce. In the new covenant there was only one reason. Conclusion: New teaching.
We see this in the concept that under the old covenant swearing was allowed, (Lev. 5: 4; 19: 12; Deut. 6: 13; 10: 20 etc.) Jesus taught that in His kingdom there would be no swearing, in His kingdom it would be a yes and a no. Conclusion: New teaching.
In all these examples in Matthew 5: 21- 48 we see that Christ brought new teaching.
Matthew 5 and Romans 12- 13
Keith writes: “Christ forbids personal vengeance (Matthew 5: 38- 42; Romans 12: 17-21)
Where does this text say that this is personal? Nowhere does this text say that this is personal.
It is a word that Keith has added to this text.
Keith writes “But He ordained civil government to carry out divine vengeance “on him who practices evil” (Romans 13:1-4). Civil authorities are appointed by God and act in His place to exact temporal, earthly vengeance on evil doers (Romans 13:1; cf. Psalm 82:1,6). They are authorized by Christ to use “the sword,” the instrument of death (Romans 13:4). And Keith is right, civil government is ordained to use vengeance on evil-doers. However, can Christians be a part of this? That is the question!!!
When we look at the context we see, Christians are to bless those who persecute them (Rom. 12: 14), recompense no men evil for evil, (Rom. 12: 17), provide things honest in the sight of all men (Rom. 12: 17) And so he continues: “ If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with “all men” and “be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good”. Christ never used the word “personal”. It is a word that Keith uses, Christ did not!!!! Then in chapter 13 it is written: “Owe “no men” any thing, but to love one another”. Yes, Christ gives civil government authority to carry a sword, but not the Christians. Christians are to do good to “all men”. A clear distinction is made in this text between civil government and the Christians.
And so we read the words: “Avenge NOT yourselves, beloved, but give place unto the wrath of God”, we are not to avenge ourselves, God is doing this through the government.
Romans 12 and 13 makes a clear distinction between what God does through civil government and through Christians. Civil government carry the sword, Christians are to do good “unto all men”. (Gal. 6: 10)
Moses, the tabernacle and government.
Yes, God gave instructions to Moses to build a tabernacle, and yes God was it's ultimate builder. Yes, God ordained civil government and gave it a sword. And that is exactly how far it goes, God gave civil government a sword, he did not give the Christian a sword.
Paul and his seeking defense from the Romans
Keith reasons that if we can seek the defense from civil law, we can also supply civil government. Yes, the government is there to supply good things for us. However, the new covenant does not teach that we can supply the government with lethal force. The verse is not there. What Keith teaches as he writes: “if it is right to seek armed protection, it is right to supply it” this is in total opposition as to what Romans 12 and 13 teach. Christians and dual citizenship. Keith writes that Christians have dual citizenship and that is true. However, Christ tells His followers to “give to Caesar what is Caesars and God what is Gods”.
We are “in the world but not of the world”. We are always to obey God rather then men. (Acts 5: 29)
Erastus, the treasurer of the city. Yes, Christians can be government officials, as long as the position doesn’t make him part of unlawful action. The new covenant does not authorize Christians to kill. They are to do good to all men.
Keith writes, and rightly so, that civil government is there to keep a society with peace and that without it the world would revert to antediluvian violence. That is true Keith, however this does not say anything that Christians can be a part of civil government in using lethal force.
Nimrod. Yes, there were mighty warriors. However, God has given civil government to carry the sword, not the Christians.
Conclusion: Keith has shown that Israel fought wars by the direct command of God in old covenant days, that civil government carry the sword, that Christians can be a treasurer of the civil government, however Keith has not proven that Christians can use lethal force in military.
We are still waiting for Keith to prove that Christians can use lethal force in military action. Where is the verse??