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.
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.
Circa early 21st century, Christians are increasingly pressured to conform to government action that goes against our scripture belief. There is a fair amount of static and confusion when it comes to obedience. Where is the line? Do you cross it? When do you cross it? Robert W. Yarbrough presents his take on the Crossway blog.
When authorities overstep, believers may need to “obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29). They may need to say to a king whose command is blasphemous, “We will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up” (Dan. 3:18). Jesus defied the extrabiblical Sabbath ordinances of his time. Paul’s counsel in Romans 13 assumes a government acting within its God-appointed parameters. When it does not, other measures may be in order.
Some of the most courageous heroes on the battlefield are members of the “peace religions” – Quakers, Mennonites, Seventh Day Adventists, etc. who serve in harms way, unarmed, in order to support the armed combatants. Typically, they are medics or chaplains who minister to the physical and spiritual needs of those engaged in armed combat. The theology driving this belief is rooted in scripture, and like many aspects of the Word, can be interpreted in different ways. Emma Hulbert at the Friends Committee on National Legislation offers:
“True pacifism is not inaction; it is non-violent resistance to injustice. However, Quakers are not united on this issue, and there are no easy answers to be found. Each Friend must discern for themselves their relationship to the ethics of pacifism.”
Nehemiah’s Wall serves as both metaphor and inspiration at Kingdom Defense.
The Book of Nehemiah tells the story of how Nehemiah rebuilt the walls of Jerusalem so that followers might once again worship God in safety. Nehemiah accomplishes this daunting task in a remarkably brief period of time using common folks who built with one hand while defending their actions from enemy attack with a weapon in their other hand.
The biblical account of “Nehemiah’s wall” is well known. Nehemiah was a Jew in Persian captivity. He was the cupbearer to the Persian King Artaxerxes. In 444 b.c, Nehemiah was granted permission to return to Judah and rebuild the dilapidated walls and gates of Jerusalem, which had been destroyed during the Babylonian invasions in the early sixth century.
When Nehemiah arrived in Jerusalem, he toured the city walls to assess the damage. He faced opposition as he made plans and directed the people in rebuilding the city walls. He was threatened as he persisted. Nehemiah had opposition from enemies and opposition from the people he was leading(1).
The Bible says that the threat was so great from outside the city Nehemiah posted armed guards along the walls to protect the city until the building was done. Men were armed and ready to fight while they worked daily to build the wall. The book of Nehemiah shows that Judah at the time was surrounded by enemies and under constant threat of attack. Nehemiah and his crew worked with great urgency and astonishing speed in order to rebuild the wall.
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.