The Attitude of the Christian Towards War.
By PAUL PRICHARD.
Here is a subject that has “arrived.” The air is full of it. Over ten thousand ministers of the gospel have definitely gone on record, stating that they will never take part in war again. The religious press wastes reams of paper discussing it. International figures utter solemn sentences regarding it. Student groups, colleges and universities keep the pot boiling, whilst patriotic organisations and religious denominations pass scores of resolution relative to it. Even the movies keep it before the general public. Perhaps, then, we can add but very little to the multitude of things already in print.
Some have suggested that this question has “arrived” in the same fashion as other questions have “arrived.” The question of slavery is an illustration in point. If you should go to Egypt, Palestine and Babylon^ you would find massive monuments which testify all too clearly of the presence of slavery in early days. Immense rocks were hoisted into place upon the backs of human beings. Great droves of toiling, sweating, dying men were cursed by this human institution which began almost at the dawn of history and has continued almost to our day. Into a world run by slave labour the Lord Jesus was born, and, strange to say, He seems never to have said a word on the subject of slavery. Nevertheless, in process of time, His gospel has produced a world that is now set against the ownership of human beings as chattels, and for this outcome we all rejoice. And many voices are proclaiming that in like manner and in the process of time, war is to disappear from the face of the world. Here again we have a subject about which Jesus seems to have said little or nothing Nevertheless, the matter shall receive consummate and effectual treatment, say our present-day leaders.
The Christian who knows the Bible, however, is not tricked into thinking that the institution called “War” is going to yield easily to the magic wand of the modernist who bids it be gone. We learned some time ago that a “peace pact” easily becomes a “scrap of paper.” We ought to learn, along with that, that sin is sin. It festers and cankers and breaks out in rebellion everywhere. It makes the individual rebellious against his God and out of harmony with his fellow man. It does the very same thing with groups of nations, and that spirit of strife spells “War.” So long, therefore, as, sin is here in this world war is a potentiality. We can expect it to be an actuality. The Christian who has his Bible open has learned the facts concerning the Antichrist, Armageddon, and many other matters pertaining to future conflict.
Let us take no' time describing war in its terrible aspects. Every one knows that war brings desolation and distress of every kind. It wrecks the ordinary course of society's life, brings us to the verge of bankruptcy, sunders fond homes, makes of our citizens wretched butchers. War stinks to high heaven as a product of human sin.
But the question to which we must address ourselves is, “What shall be the Christian's attitude toward war?” Is he to flee from it as a coward would do? Should he plunge into it with all the fervour of his life, setting aside, for the time being, personal scruples? Is he to prove a “slacker,” dodging the “draft” just as long as he can? Would such a course be honourable, or would it be more like a Christian to accept some position in which he could assist his fellow patriots but still be among the non^ combatants? Should he scorn the position of a chaplain or a Y.M.C.A. worker and consider that the most Christian thing for him to do would be to get into a regular uniform of the army or navy? What attitude should he take toward the “draft?” Does it Imrt his conscience to be trapped into service? Or, on the other hand, is he, as so many are suggesting at the present time to be a full-fledged conscientious “objector,” an absolute “pacifist?”
Surely there faces us here a formidable array of real questions. We give devout thanks to think that no major issue is so pressing upon us at the present moment that our boys need answer these questions in hurried fashion; yet, men all about us are answering these questions, and perhaps it would be well for us in these days of peace to think the matter through carefully. The real question is: “What saith the Scripture?” And to this we answer that the Scriptures give to us a long line of definite principles which we are to apply to our individual cases in answering these questions. That list of principles is altogether too lengthy for us to adduce it here in any detail. We can only suggest that faintest outline of some of the most salient articles. With these in hand, no man need go astray before a God who gives “to all men liberally, and upbraideth not.” when we ask of Him without wavering.
First, then, to the question: “What shall be the attitude of the Christian toward war?” We answer that with all his heart he will hate war as a product of human sin. He alone understands fully that war is a product of human sin. As a Christian, he will make every effort to prevent war from coming upon the nation and the world. He will not buy peace at the price of his conscience, but he will be loyal to all of those who labour honorably to be peacemakers when war is imminent. Failing to maintain peace. he will accept war as an evil and will continue to hate it with all his heart. In a word, he will believe
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THE ATTITUDE OF THE CHRISTIAN TOWADS WAR.
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in fighting the Adversary and all his works. Certainly war is one of the Adversary's works.
in the second place, the Christian will not allow the fact of war to disrupt his faith in Christ. He will steadily maintain his faith. In times gone by, war has proved a major instrument in the hands or Satan to weaken and destroy the religious faith of men, but a Christian will never permit his faith to be shattered. He knows that the Lord Jesus Christ has bought him with His own precious blood. He knows that his Lord has risen again and has created in him a new heart of faith. He knows that his Lord is the sovereign, triumphant Lord of the Scriptures. He knows that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called, according to His purpose. He will never permit anything, therefore, not even war with all its terrible aspects, to cheat him of his crown of glory.
In the third place, the Christian will never permit war to change his loyalty to God's standards of right and wrong. God's law will still be God's law to the Christian. The foul depths of immorality into which men and women sink through the exigencies of war will be utterly avoided by the Christian who will refuse to have a banner stained in any way with dishonour.
Finally, the Christian's attitude toward war will be governed entirely by his orders from on high. He will wait upon the Lord to ask Him what his place is to be in the conflict. He will refuse to take a place assigned to him merely by man. He will be unafraid to take any place assigned to him by God.