A Few Example Posts:

  • "The End of Faith: A Short Response to Sam Harris"
  • See also:
  • "A Long Response to Sam Harris' The End of Faith, by Neil Shenvi"

  • "Is John Piper the Best Answer to Emergence and Postmodernism?"

  • "Captured"

  • "The Storm is Over"

  • "If Golfing Were the Pursuit of Moral Perfection"

  • 8.15.2005

    Christian War





    I remember the time when some of the mainline denominations were taking “Onward Christian Soldiers” out of their hymnals. They found the imagery too offensive for contemporary sensibilities. Christians are to be peace loving, are they not? How can we be Christian soldiers?

    Clearly they did not understand the nature of the battle. 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 describes the battle we fight behind enemy lines:



    2 Corinthians 10:3-5 “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war afterthe
    flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mightythrough God to
    the pulling down of strong holds;) Casting down imaginations, andevery high
    thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringinginto
    captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ...”



    This whole passage trumpets that Christians are supposed to be different.

    The Warfare is Different

    It is too easy to get confused about the war! If the heat of battle is in the valley, don’t take your regiments to the mountain! Paul seems to acknowledge that we can easily forget where the battle lies. He says, “Yes, we walk in the flesh. We walk in a world of countries, governments, politics, and lands. But our war is not after these fleshly, external things. Our campaign, our expedition is in the realm of the spirit.”

    Our Lord never forgot the nature of the warfare. In the last hours of his humiliation, Christ made a good confession before Pontius Pilate. Pilate asked him, “Are you the king of the Jews?” This Roman thought that Jesus was accused of trying to stir up a political movement, of trying to establish another earthly kingdom.But our Lord answered, “My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews, but now my kingdom is not from hence.” The Lord Jesus Christ knew that battling an earthly fight was not the need of the hour. The need of the hour was to have spiritual truth break into this fortress of deceit called the World: “To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice.”

    The battle campaign is for spiritual truth for those willing to hear God’s voice. This means that swords, guns, bullets, and other means of earthly force are futile in this fight. Notice, if the warfare were earthly, we would be called to fight. But this is not our battlefield.

    The Weapons are Different

    How are we to fight this battle? 2 Corinthians 10:4 says we fight with spiritual weapons. And notice how these weapons are contrasted: Not Fleshly vs. Spiritual, but Fleshly vs. Powerful. Unless we use spiritual weapons, we are using WEAK weapons. Any method of external force will not advance the kingdom of God in the world.I am not a pacifist and know there are times in this world to fight for family and country. Such fighting is for protection. However, even this does little to promote the our cause of spiritual battle. The use of violence in our lives is few and far between. We are not to live by the sword. We are not to do Gods work by the sword--or other fleshly means. Why? Because these weapons are not strong enough!Neither is any sort of railing. Romans 1 lists some of the works of the flesh with which well-meaning people can be tempted (including me.) We must avoid weak, selfish weapons identified by Scripture as Maliciousness, Debate, Despiteful, Proud, Boasters, Without Understanding, Without Natural Affection, Unmerciful.

    Marvin Olasky very recently wrote:

    “The Christian way is to practice what New Jersey pastor Matt Ristuccia calls'earnest grace, the re-association of sensibilities that we moderns have judged to be beyond association: specifically passionate conviction and profound compassion....[The apostle Paul was] so wonderstruck by the way God brought justice and judgment for human sin together with forgiveness and hopein the death of this Jesus, that Paul’s earnestness could not help but be
    seasonedwith grace.'”1

    William MacDonald continues with a thought on our weaponry:

    “Faith in the living God, prayer, and obedience to the word of God are
    the effective weapons of every true soldier of Christ. It is by these that
    strongholds are razed.” 2



    I would also add that since Paul describes the Word of God as the Sword of the Spirit, our greatest weapon is Scripture applied to thought and action. We must be able to give a Scriptural apology to counter the worldly philosophies, conclusions, and speculations. This leads us to the Mission.

    The Mission is Different

    The battlefield can be described as philosophy, worldview, theology, the arena of ideas, or the marketplace of ideas. Hence, the battlefield is the MIND. Our text says the mission is to cast down “imaginations.” Imaginations is the word logismos. It means "reasonings," "conclusions," or "speculations:" In other words, IDEAS.

    This fact helps us determine our mission. We are to assault the false ideas and philosophies of man, tear them down with Scriptural revelation and reason, and then call souls of men to come to God. The hearts of men hang in the balance. The soul of man is our mission. We are to remove the despair-causing lies that encircle their minds, hoping that men can be set free from their prisons. This is a rescue mission. Because we too have been rescued, we feel a passion that others be rescued as well. We are not to hate those we rescue! We are to love and pursue them for the glory of God.

    Such a mission is distinct from any other mission in the world.

    How do we apply our weapon to the mission? We do it by living the Word of God ourselves, by speaking it to others in personal conversation, by preaching, by writing books and brochures, by bringing a Christian worldview to all fields of life and culture. In other words: by COMMUNICATION. Christians should be the best communicators. We should articulate to the educated and uneducated, to the rich and poor, to those of all races and ages in all places.

    Ours is a mission of engagement.We are soldiers in communication. We are communicator-soldiers. And we need more of these Christian soldiers in the field, because--contrary to today's sophisticated ideas of despair--it does matter what one believes.

    So let us sing:

    Onward Christian soldiers
    Marching as to war,
    With the Cross of Jesus,
    Going on before…



    -----------

    1. Marvin Olasky, "South Park vs. Ann Coulter," World Magazine, August 13, 2005, page 48.
    2. William MacDonald, Believer’s Bible Commentary (Nashville, Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1995), 1856.

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