War and faith – where should we stand regarding this? I just watched a program which talked about this idea and was in favor of the idea of participating in war (even used the Luke scripture as back-up). I have to ask the obvious – where is the proof this is true? The word ‘sword’ (a weapon of war) is used 8 times in the gospels – so here they are.
Matt 10:34 – “Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.”
Matt 26:51-52 – “And behold, one of those who were with Jesus reached and drew out his sword, and struck the slave of the high priest and cut off his ear. Then Jesus said to him, Put your sword back into its place; for all those who take up the sword shall perish by the sword.”
Mark 14:47 – “But one of those who stood by drew his sword, and struck the slave of the high priest and cut off his ear.”
Luke 2:35 – “and a sword will pierce even your own soul–to the end that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.”
Luke 21:24 – “and they will fall by the edge of the sword, and will be led captive into all the nations; and Jerusalem will be trampled under foot by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.”
Luke 22:36 – “And He said to them, “But now, whoever has a money belt is to take it along, likewise also a bag, and whoever has no sword is to sell his coat and buy one.”
Luke 22:49 – “When those who were around Him saw what was going to happen, they said, “Lord, shall we strike with the sword?”
John 18:10-11: “Simon Peter then, having a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s slave, and cut off his right ear; and the slave’s name was Malchus. So Jesus said to Peter, “Put the sword into the sheath; the cup which the Father has given Me, shall I not drink it?”
(1) The 4 gospels all tell the same story about Peter cutting off a Roman guards ear with the sword. Not once in any of those gospel chapters (Matt 26, Mark 14, Luke 22, John 18) does Jesus admonish Peter for his action (ie: bravery or courage). Rather Matthew seems to sum up the idea very well ‘for all those who take up the sword shall perish by the sword“. This seems to be the point of those 4 stories concerning the involvement of the ‘sword’. Also, from a theological standpoint, Jesus does heal the person immediately who was attacked by the disciple – so I am not sure Jesus wants his disciples to participate in violence whatsoever nor does he condone its outcomes.
(2) Matthew 10:34 is not troubling and talks about ‘sword’ in regards to how family and community units will be ‘divided’ over the Jesus issue. Luke 2:35 is used in a very similar way concerning sword meaning ‘dividing’.
(3) Luke 21:24 seems to be a prophecy about a certain time in which war will break-out – likely concerning 70 AD? Again no admonition to fight in the battle – but more or less flee for your lives – vs.21 “Then those who are in Judea must flee to the mountains, and those who are in the midst of the city must leave, and those who are in the country must not enter the city“.
I am not sure we will find a place in the gospels where war is a sanctioned idea for a Christian person – since what land are we fighting for first off? America? Israel? Canada? Britain? Australia? Just where is this elusive Christian land base? Seems to me there is none.
Also Jesus appears very much on the side of this dialogue (regarding violence) as something not for the disciple nor does he/she need to train in it. I find it hard to define when war would be acceptable within Jesus’ teachings – since it actually shows up nowhere – even when his life is on the line.
The best justification a Christian can use is the Tanakh references to war and that is about it. But Israel is a nation (and it appears so in those books) and like every other nation/country will have to fight wars now and then. Christianity is not a nation/country – and never has been – it is a faith system (and appears that way in the gospels and letters). I have to say ‘no’ to war – it’s a barbaric idea based on power of one people’s over another.