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.
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.
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.”
The attack goes like this. If you are Christian and consider yourself a patriotic American, then you are considered to be a threat to America by certain activist groups operating within the United States of America.
The label “Christian nationalist” is appearing more frequently and is being used to silence people of faith, according to experts.
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.