From the Confession of Schleitheim the Seven Articles of Schleitheim were written with Michael Sattler of Stauffen, Germany, as the chief author. The sixth article deals with use of force.
Sixth. concerning the sword:
The sword is ordained of God outside the perfection of Christ. It punishes and puts to death the wicked, and guards and protects the good. In the Law the sword was ordained for the punishment of the wicked and for their death, and the same [sword] is [now] ordained to be used by the worldly magistrates. In the perfection of Christ, however, only the ban is used for a warning and for the excommunication of the one who has sinned, without putting the flesh to death, — simply the warning and the command to sin no more.
Now it will be asked by many who do not recognize [this as] the will of Christ for us, whether a Christian may or should employ the sword against the wicked for the defence and protection of the good, or for the sake of love.
Our reply is unanimously as follows: Christ teaches and commands us to learn of Him, for He is meek and lowly in heart and so shall we find rest to our souls. Also Christ says to the heathenish woman who was taken in adultery, not that one should stone her according to the law of His Father (and yet He says, As the Father has commanded me, thus I do), hut in mercy and forgiveness and warning, to sin no more. Such [an attitude] we also ought to take completely according to the rule of the ban.
Secondly, it will be asked, whether a Christian shall pass sentence in worldly disputes and strife such as unbelievers have with one another. This is our united answer: Christ did not wish to decide or pass judgment between brother and brother in the case of the inheritance, but refused to do so. Therefore we should do likewise.
Thirdly, it will be asked concerning the sword, Shall one be a magistrate if one should be chosen as such? The answer is as follows: They wished to make Christ king, but He fled and did not view it as the arrangement of His Father. Thus shall we do as He did, and follow Him, and so shall we not walk in darkness. For He Himself says, He who wishes to come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. Also, He Himself forbids the [employment of] the force of the sword saying, The worldly princes lord it over them, etc., but not so shall it be with you. Further, Paul says, Whom God did foreknow He also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of His Son, etc. Also Peter says, Christ has suffered (not ruled) and left us an example, that ye should follow His steps.
Finally it will be observed that it is not appropriate for a Christian to serve as a magistrate because of these points: The government magistracy is according to the flesh, but the Christians’ is according to the Spirit; their houses and dwelling remain in this world, but the Christians’ are in heaven; their citizenship is in this world, but the Christians’ citizenship is in heaven; the weapons of their conflict and war are carnal and against the flesh only, but the Christians’ weapons are spiritual, against the fortification of the devil. The worldlings are armed with steel and iron, but the Christians are armed with the armor of God, with truth, righteousness, peace, faith, salvation and the Word of God. …
Examines the historical development of Christian just war thinking, differences between just war thinking and the alternatives of pacifism and holy war, distinctions among Christian thinkers on issues such as the role of the state and “lesser evil” politics, and shared Christian theological commitments with public policy ramifications (for example, the priority of peace). The chapters that follow outline―from Catholic, Orthodox, Lutheran, Reformed, Anglican, Methodist, Baptist, and Anabaptist denominational perspectives―the positions of major church traditions on the ethics of warfare. The contributors include philosophers, military strategists, political scientists, and historians who seek to engage various and distinctive denominational approaches to the issues of church and state, war, peace, diplomacy, statecraft, and security over two thousand years of Christian history.
Jeffrey K. Mann is a Professor of Religious Studies and Department Head of Religious Studies at Susquehanna University. He has a PHD from Vanderbilt University, a MA from Vanderbilt Divinity School, another MA from Concordia Theological Seminary, and a BA from Kenyon College.
Today, we live in a world where we are less exposed to violence than at any other time in history. However, we also know that violence can come knocking on our door at any moment. Preparing for this possibility means more than physical safety; it means being clear with ourselves about the ethics of violence. Can violence be justified? When should we fight? How should we fight? And in situations when things have gone badly, may we kill?
These questions are not only for politicians, soldiers, and police officers, but are also important considerations for civilians whose lives do not normally intersect with violence. Whether advocating for government policies, marching in the streets, or defending ourselves and loved ones, a coherent moral framework is essential to good decision-making.
May I Kill? examines the efficacy of different approaches to non-violence and Just War Theory. By scrutinizing these ethical theories, the reader is encouraged to critically examine occasions for the use of force from a moral perspective, whether nations at war or violent encounters in our own neighborhoods. We may then determine how best to develop ourselves—body, mind, and spirit—to respond effectively and make the world a safer place.
The Fundamental Orders of Connecticut, 14 January 1639
For as much as it hath pleased Almighty God by the wise disposition of his divine providence so to order and dispose of things that we the Inhabitants and Residents of Windsor, Hartford and Wethersfield are now cohabiting and dwelling in and upon the River of Connectecotte and the lands thereunto adjoining; and well knowing where a people are gathered together the word of God requires that to maintain the peace and union of such a people there should be an orderly and decent Government established according to God, to order and dispose of the affairs of the people at all seasons as occasion shall require; do therefore associate and conjoin ourselves to be as one Public State or Commonwealth; and do for ourselves and our successors and such as shall be adjoined to us at any time hereafter, enter into Combination and Confederation together, to maintain and preserve the liberty and purity of the Gospel of our Lord Jesus which we now profess, as also, the discipline of the Churches, which according to the truth of the said Gospel is now practiced amongst us; as also in our civil affairs to be guided and governed accordinbg to such Laws, Rules, Orders and Decrees as shall be made, ordered, and decreed as followeth:
It is Ordered, sentenced, and decreed, that there shall be yearly two General Assemblies or Courts, the one the second Thursday in April, the other the second Thursday in September following; the first shall be called the Court of Election, wherein shall be yearly chosen from time to time, so many Magistrates and other public Officers as shall be found requisite: Whereof one to be chosen Governor for the year ensuing and until another be chosen, and no other Magistrate to be chosen for more than one year: provided always there be six chosen besides the Governor, which being chosen and sworn according to an Oath recorded for that purpose, shall have the power to administer justice according to the Laws here established, and for want thereof, according to the Rule of the Word of God; which choice shall be made by all that are admitted freemen and have taken the Oath of Fidelity, and do cohabit within this Jurisdiction having been admitted Inhabitants by the major part of the Town wherein they live or the major part of such as shall be then present.
It is Ordered, sentenced, and decreed, that the election of the aforesaid Magistrates shall be in this manner: every person present and qualified for choice shall bring in (to the person deputed to receive them) one single paper with the name of him written in it whom he desires to have Governor, and that he that hath the greatest number of papers shall be Governor for that year. And the rest of the Magistrates or public officers to be chosen in this manner: the Secretary for the time being shall first read the names of all that are to be put to choice and then shall severally nominate them distinctly, and every one that would have the person nominated to be chosen shall bring in one single paper written upon, and
he that would not have him chosen shall bring in a blank; and every one that hath more written papers than blanks shall be a Magistrate for that year; which papers shall be received and told by one or more that shall be then chosen by the court and sworn to be faithful therein; but in case there should not be six chosen as aforesaid, besides the Governor, out of those which are nominated, than he or they which have the most writen papers shall be a Magistrate or Magistrates for the ensuing year, to make up the aforesaid number.
It is Ordered, sentenced, and decreed, that the Secretary shall not nominate any person, nor shall any person be chosen newly into the Magistracy which was not propounded in some General Court before, to be nominated the next election; and to that end it shall be lawful for each of the Towns aforesaid by their deputies to nominate any two whom they conceive fit to be put to election; and the Court may add so many more as they judge requisite.
It is Ordered, sentenced, and decreed, that no person be chosen Governor above once in two years, and that the Governor be always a member of some approved Congregation, and formerly of the Magistracy within this Jurisdiction; and that all the Magistrates, Freemen of this Commonwealth; and that no Magistrate or other public officer shall execute any part of his or their office before they are severally sworn, which shall be done in the face of the court if they be present, and in case of absence by some deputed for that purpose.
It is Ordered, sentenced, and decreed, that to the aforesaid Court of Election the several Towns shall send their deputies, and when the Elections are ended they may proceed in any public service as at other Courts. Also the other General Court in September shall be for making of laws, and any other public occasion, which concerns the good of the Commonwealth.
It is Ordered, sentenced, and decreed, that the Governor shall, either by himself or by the Secretary, send out summons to the Constables of every Town for the calling of these two standing Courts one month at least before their several times: And also if the Governor and the greatest part of the Magistrates see cause upon any special occasion to call a General Court, they may give order to the Secretary so to do within fourteen days’ warning: And if urgent necessity so required, upon a shorter notice, giving sufficient grounds for it to the deputies when they meet, or else be questioned for the same; And if the Governor and major part of Magistrates shall either neglect or refuse to call the two General standing Courts or either of them, as also at other times when the occasions of the Commonwealth require, the Freemen thereof, or the major part of them, shall petition to them so to do; if then it be either denied or neglected, the said Freemen, or the major part of them, shall have the power to give order
to the Constables of the several Towns to do the same, and so may meet together, and choose to themselves a Moderator, and may proceed to do any act of power which any other General Courts may.
It is Ordered, sentenced, and decreed, that after there are warrants given out for any of the said General Courts, the Constable or Constables of each Town, shall forthwith give notice distinctly to the inhabitants of the same, in some public assembly or by going or sending from house to house, that at a place and time by him or them limited and set, they meet and assemble themselves together to elect and choose certain deputies to be at the General Court then following to agitate the affairs of the Commonwealth; which said deputies shall be chosen by all that are admitted Inhabitants in the several Towns and have taken the oath of fidelity; provided that none be chosen a Deputy for any General Court which is not a Freeman of this Commonwealth. The aforesaid deputies shall be chosen in manner following: every person that is present and qualified as before expressed, shall bring the names of such, written in several papers, as they desire to have chosen for that employment, and these three or four, more or less, being the number agreed on to be chosen for that time, that have the greatest number of papers written for them shall be deputies for that Court; whose names shall be endorsed on the back side of the warrant and returned into the Court, with the Constable or Constables’ hand unto the same.
It is Ordered, sentenced, and decreed, that Windsor, Hartford, and Wethersfield shall have power, each Town, to send four of their Freemen as their deputies to every General Court; and Whatsoever other Town shall be hereafter added to this Jurisdiction, they shall send so many deputies as the Court shall judge meet, a reasonable proportion to the number of Freemen that are in the said Towns being to be attended therein; which deputies shall have the power of the whole Town to give their votes and allowance to all such laws and orders as may be for the public good, and unto which the said Towns are to be bound.
It is Ordered, sentenced, and decreed, that the deputies thus chosen shall have power and liberty to appoint a time and a place of meeting together before any General Court, to advise and consult of all such things as may concern the good of the public, as also to examine their own Elections, whether according to the order, and if they or the greatest part of them find any election to be illegal they may seclude such for present from their meeting, and return the same and their reasons to the Court; and if it be proved true, the Court may fine the party or parties so intruding, and the Town, if they see cause, and give out a warrant to go to a new election in a legal way, either in part or in whole. Also the said deputies shall have power to fine any that shall be disorderly at their meetings, or for not coming in due time or place according to appointment; and they may return the said fines
into the Court if it be refused to be paid, and the Treasurer to take notice of it, and to escheat or levy the same as he does other fines.
It is Ordered, sentenced, and decreed, that every General Court, except such as through neglect of the Governor and the greatest part of the Magistrates the Freemen themselves do call, shall consist of the Governor, or some one chosen to moderate the Court, and four other Magistrates at least, with the major part of the deputies of the several Towns legally chosen; and in case the Freemen, or major part of them, through neglect or refusal of the Governor and major part of the Magistrates, shall call a Court, it shall consist of the major part of Freemen that are present or their deputiues, with a Moderator chosen by them: In which said General Courts shall consist the supreme power of the Commonwealth, and they only shall have power to make laws or repeal them, to grant levies, to admit of Freemen, dispose of lands undisposed of, to several Towns or persons, and also shall have power to call either Court or Magistrate or any other person whatsoever into question for any misdemeanor, and may for just causes displace or deal otherwise according to the nature of the offense; and also may deal in any other matter that concerns the good of this Commonwealth, except election of Magistrates, which shall be done by the whole body of Freemen. In which Court the Governor or Moderator shall have power to order the Court, to give liberty of speech, and silence unseasonable and disorderly speakings, to put all things to vote, and in case the vote be equal to have the casting voice. But none of these Courts shall be adjourned or dissolved without the consent of the major part of the Court.
It is Ordered, sentenced, and decreed, that when any General Court upon the occasions of the Commonwealth have agreed upon any sum, or sums of money to be levied upon the several Towns within this Jurisdiction, that a committee be chosen to set out and appoint what shall be the proportion of every Town to pay of the said levy, provided the committee be made up of an equal number out of each Town.
14th January 1639 the 11 Orders above said are voted.
I am a Christian. I happen to also be a son of the American Revolution. My family first immigrated to America in the mid-1600s and fought in the Revolutionary War. I can affirmatively state that I believe America was founded as a Christian nation and despite the best efforts of Satan’s secularized army, remains so today.
My ancestors were strongly Protestant people. Historians have estimated that Protestants made up the vast majority of the American population during this period, and their Protestantism led to establishment of the United States of America which was intended to provide us with the freedom to worship the Christian God without the intercession of a Roman Pope, English King or secular activist.
As a Christian, in my case a Christian in the Reformed tradition of my German and Scottish ancestors, I believe that nothing trumps God. “Nothing” as in country, family, profession, etc. comes before God. We established a government that would serve us, and not the other way around. A government that acknowledged the higher authority of the Christian God (and yes, I am aware that Ben Franklin was a deist, Masonry symbols adorn our currency, and Thomas Jefferson owned a Koran).
Today, there is a cottage industry of theologians, analysts, academics, authors, journalists and woke activists dedicated to smearing Christians who believe in America as “Christian Nationalists”, a label they prejudice as racist, homophobic or fascist in order to intimidate and disqualify. They weaponize these terms against those who are pro-life, pro-competency, for traditional marriage, and against the sexual exploitation of children.
America has been under attack for more than a 100 years by those who do not believe in a God or his blessings of freedom and dominion. Christians have sat on the sidelines as Satan and his minions ransacked the moral core of America. I need not list the depravities undermining America today. Whether you refer to America as the “shining city upon a hill” or simply as “one nation under God”, we are very close to losing all that the Lord blessed us with.
It is not possible to be a practicing Christian and put country before God. It is possible to order our lives via a government that enables and defends our ability to worship. The original intent of the founding fathers was to provide an enclave for citizens to worship and live in peace. And for the better part of 200 years I believe that God blessed this arrangement.
So, does all this make me a Christian Nationalist? No. I am a Christian, a label that requires no further modification. If confronted with the term, I simply respond that I am a Christian who believes in America first. Having observed first hand the horrific impact that secular society has had on America, I will be the first to say that a Christian America would be much better off today had we not sat idly by and allowed the secular attack.
Is it too late to return to our Christian roots? I’m reading three books that shed light on the answer to that question.
The first book is Rod Dreher’s somewhat infamous/controversial The Benedict Option which is the oldest of the three having been published in 2016. Dreyer looks at what happens to Christianity in a post-Christian America and proposes a strategy for Christians to live in this environment.
My interest in this topic is not of supporting or fighting Christian nationalism, it is instead an interest in how we as Christians organize ourselves in order to to best carry out the mission of the great commission. I will be sharing more thoughts on each of these books as my reading progresses.
Separation of Church and state? Or separating the state from the Church? I see many so called “thought leaders” stumbling over themselves these days trying to hopelessly refute the fact that the United States of America was founded on Christian principles. Here’s more on that topic:
Since the original Declaration of Independence, which was written by Thomas Jefferson and made official in 1776, the United States has made an about-turn from the values inscribed in that document. Anyone examining the Declaration of Independence is immediately impacted by the new nation’s utter dependence upon God, His providence, and its Judeo-Christian worldview.
The fact that the Founding Fathers’ decision to disassociate the nation from Britain and its political position was based upon “the laws of nature and nature’s God,” — a reference to scriptures like Psalm 19 and Romans 1:19-23 — and underpinned by the phrase: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights.”
Hence, Thomas Jefferson and the Founding Fathers believed all civil authority is derivative. As God’s representatives, they can either lose or gain the right to lead the people based on conformity to His laws. In other words, civil leaders gain legitimacy to lead based on how adequately they represent God’s laws in their principles and policies.
Those who built on the wall, and those who carried burdens, loaded themselves so that with one hand they worked at construction, and with the other held a weapon. NEH 4:17
The Wall is part blog, part journal, part bulletin board, and part archive I set up in order to further the discussion about the use of force in defense of church and community. Learn MORE ABOUT THE WALL.