Terrorism, War & Peace
War continues to mar the history of humankind with its frightful costs in human life, money, morals, and spiritual values. We persist in avoiding "what makes for peace and for mutual edification" (Romans 14:19). Christians have developed a theology of "just war," but all war is terrible. We promote peace despite all of the warring around us.
Terrorism and war rip at the fabric of humanity by bringing death, pain, and suffering to our people. Christians inhabit this world of struggle, and the words of Scripture call us to something better. The Apostle Paul wrote:
The one who thus serves Christ is acceptable to God and has human approval. Let us then pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding (Romans 14:18-19, NRSV).
Scripture has much to say about violent conflict and peace. Click here to see this document with Scripture included.
We live in a broken world.
The Bible says all people are sinners. We miss the mark of God’s desire, and violence and conflict reveal our brokenness (Romans 3:10-12, 15-18, 23).
We are self-centered and greedy (Romans 1:28-32).
Human lust and self-interest lead to conflict (James 4:1-2a).
The world often rejects peace and chooses war (Psalm 120:6-7).
Terrorism and war are continuing consequences of sin (Matthew 24:6-7).
The biblical ideal is a world at peace.
Some Bible passages are cited to approve armed conflict.
- God commanded Israel to wage offensive warfare (Joshua 8:1-2). This was an expression of God’s judgment against godless nations (Leviticus 18:24-25). God was dispossessing people who would be a curse to mankind in order to give their lands to a people who would be a blessing to mankind. Later God used warfare as a means of judgment against Israel (2 Kings 18:11-25; 24:1-4).
- Jesus used a display of physical force in the temple to drive out those who desecrated his holy place (Matthew 21:12-13).
- Jesus once commanded his disciples to buy a sword (Luke 22:36).
The context indicates Jesus may have been speaking figuratively in order to point up the danger which his disciples were soon to face, for within only a few hours he rebuked Peter for using a sword (Matthew 26:52).
God is fundamentally committed to peace, not armed conflict, as is reflected in his rejection of David as the builder of the temple because David was a warrior who had shed blood (1 Chronicles 28:2-3).
The Old Testament prophets foresaw an age of peace (Isaiah 2:4; 9:6; 11:6-9; Micah 4:3).
The New Testament writers proclaimed the ideal of peace (Luke 2:14; Matthew 26:52; Romans 14:19, NRSV).
Pursue peace with everyone, and the holiness without which no one will see the Lord (Hebrews 12:14, NRSV).
Christians have a responsibility to work for peace in all relationships (Matthew 5:9, 39-40, 44; Romans 12:18; Hebrews 12:14; James 3:18).
God’s peace reigning in our hearts is the beginning of all peace (Romans 5:1; Philippians 4:7; Colossians 3:15).
Pray faithfully for just and lasting peace (James 4:2).
In addition to praying, we pursue peace (Romans 14:19).
Therefore: Faith Anchors: Reflections on Terrorism and the Ways of God
Like other national tragedies, the terrorist attacks on the United States mark a permanent date in American history. From now on, the eleventh day of September is etched in our collective memory. The first anniversary of September 11 has come and gone, and the raw emotions evoked by the attacks have given way to other emotions and concerns. We are concerned about subsequent terrorist attacks, about imminent and future military campaigns, about the economy, and about all of the people impacted by all of the above. As we try to cope with these and other concerns, Christians need to hold fast to important anchors of our faith which can sustain us through the present crisis: justice, religious liberty, and the faithfulness of God. Click here to read more.
2002 BGCT Resolution on Praying for Peace
WHEREAS the Psalmist counsels us to "seek peace and pursue it" (Psa. 34:14), and Jesus calls us to be peacemakers (Matt. 5:9, 43-48). Click here to read more.
These links do not necessarily represent the views of the CLC, but they may contain helpful information and resources.
- Baylor University Center for Christian Ethics
- Christian Ethics Today
- Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission
- T.B. Maston Foundation
- Wheaton College Center for Applied Christian Ethics
- "Man's inhumanity to man makes countless thousands mourn." –Robert Burns
- "Cannons and firearms are cruel and damnable machines; I believe them to have been the direct suggestions of the devil." –Martin Luther
- "He who achieves power by violence does not truly become lord or master." –Thomas Aquinas
- "It's not them and us; it's just us. And all of us are careening toward nuclear war." –William Sloane Coffin
- "We here hot and tired and terribly, so terribly frustrated with this place and these people that we would respond to even the slightest provocation with enthusiastic and brutal violence." –2nd Lt. Brian Smith, explaining why his soldiers fired upon children who were flashing mirrors at them, days before he was killed by a sniper on July 2 (Christian Ethics Today, Fall 2004, page 3)
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God." Matthew 5:9
“Too long have I had my dwelling among those who hate peace. I am for peace; but when I speak, they are for war." Psalm 120:6-7
“He shall judge between the nations, and shall arbitrate for many peoples; they shall beat their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into pruning-hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more." Isaiah 2:4
Click here for more Scripture.