Must a Christian Take an Active Part in War When Called Upon?

Louis Berkhof


1. Affirmative:
Through the influence of sin war is, under certain circumstances, a necessity. The sword was entrusted to the government and must be wielded by it in defense of justice. War is not always forbidden, but in several instances commanded in the Bible.

The Christian is a citizen of the State, enjoying the privileges of citizenship and therefore also obliged to shoulder its duties. When the call to arms comes, he is in duty bound to obey the government. If he did not, he would be a traitor to his country.

If a Christian refuses to take part in a war that is waged in the interest of justice, he not only helps the enemies of his country, but, in fact, upholds injustice while he should minister to righteousness.


2. Negative:
The Bible commands love and forbids hatred, and especially murder. Now war is simply wholesale murder, in which Christians are compelled to slay their own brethren.

The Church of Jesus Christ is the great agency of God to promote peace on earth. She must reflect in her own life and in all her activities the peace that she enjoys in virtue of the saving work of the Prince of Peace.

A Christian is in duty bound to obey the government only as long as its demands do not go contrary to the Word of God. If these do conflict with the clear precepts of the Bible, he must refuse obedience, must obey God rather than man.