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.
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.
I need to tell you about my journey to Christ, as it is the reason for starting this blog.
For most of my life I was a Christmas (c)hristian. Growing up, I went to Church every Sunday. I was baptized, confirmed, and married in the Church, but I wasn’t a Christian.
About 15 years ago my daughter began attending church on her own. She was in her early 20’s and over the next few years she established her relationship with Christ. We began talking about her experiences and I realized that I really had no idea about what it meant to be a Christian.
Through her guidance, and at times insistence, I started reading the bible and attending various study groups. Through God’s word, I was able to better comprehend the nature of the triune God I serve, and through His great mercy, I began my own relationship with Christ.
My own walk with Christ began only after I was able to set aside my ego and unconditionally accept God. Initially I was subjected to a sense of vertigo where many things that I had taken as gospel, were not.
Along the way, I examined many aspects of my life, especially my career which had some interesting twists and turns. The most unsettling realization I had in this personal examination involved my occupation.
My company delivers training, specifically firearms training to businesses, churches, schools, and communities. Our core competency is training individuals and teams to actively defend against violent threats, which in some cases requires the application of lethal force.
My reading and research generated many questions. Most were about the use of violence, whether it be a “just” war or basic self defense.
I had one particularly enlightening conversation with a pastor who had previously been in the Special Forces. Our conversation centered around the hypothetical situation of a man with a gun headed to your church nursery.
Do we standby and let the murder happen? Or do we employ any means necessary to defend the innocent?
Going further, what about pro-life supporters who are violently assaulted? Pregnancy support centers that are firebombed? Christian Churches in small town America vandalized? Or Christian parents imprisoned for defending their children from sexual grooming by activist educators?
As Christians we are taught to pray. The Lord gave us the model of prayer in the Lord’s prayer. Deliver us from evil, we ask. And through prayer we call on Jesus Christ to defend us from evil.
But what happens when prayer does not repel the violent attack? Is it God’s purpose for the slaughter to happen? What if we could have stopped it? Do we allow the slaughter to proceed?
Does God answer some of our prayers with the means and the ability to defend the innocent? And repel these attacks?
What happens when spiritual warfare results in physical attack? When the fiery darts are real?
Those were some of the questions that contributed to my vertigo.
It took me several months of prayer and conversation to find my equilibrium. I found my answers in the integration of several verses – Nehemiah 4:17 and Ephesians 6:10-12.
Together these verses provided a grounding that lead me to the conclusion that God wants us to engage, he wants us to defend the innocent, to push back the darkness, and most importantly, to learn how to defend his Kingdom.
The purpose of The Wall is to open up a conversation on the topic of Kingdom defense. You will find articles, posts, research, scripture and other items of interest that contribute to the conversation of Kingdom defense.
I have posted many sources I used in my research, both passive and active voices. I will regularly add other resources along with commentary on current events impacting Kingdom defense.
And I will continue to go deep on my cornerstone verses, Nehemiah 4:17 and Ephesians 6:10-12.
Please feel free to contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. And comments are open, your input and participation is encouraged.
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.