War of Indepence: A Just War?

Discussion in 'The Law of God' started by Moireach, Jun 30, 2012.

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. Loopie

    Loopie Puritan Board Freshman

    I first of all really want to applaud what Dr. Strange has said here concerning us making any moral judgments on those who came before us. Of course, it is true that some events (such as the American War of Independence and the Civil War) are much more divisive than those events that appear to be more 'clear'. An example of this is World War II. Very few people would advocate that the Nazi movement was a morally good and justified movement. Interestingly though, this 20/20 vision that we have today was not the case for many German officers and soldiers of the time. From the different bibliographies I have read, many German officers considered Hitler just a lesser of two evils (the greater evil was the destruction and humiliation of Germany). They felt that Germany had not been dealt with fairly after World War I, and so there was indeed a desire for revenge and 'justice' from the Treaty of Versailles. Furthermore, there was a fear and hatred of Communism during that period that we do not experience today. From the perspective of many, Hitler was the champion against Bolshevism, and Germany was the Defender of the West against the Soviet Union. For instance, it was very interesting to read the autobiography of Hans-Ulrich Rudel, the highest decorated Luftwaffe Pilot in WWII. He could not fathom why the Western powers would seek to destroy Germany instead of stopping the spread of Bolshevism.

    The reason I say all of this is to point out that we cannot fully appreciate the point of view that others in history have had. We look back and quickly make the judgment that Nazi Germany was evil, and that there is no possible way that anyone could view it as good. Yet there were German citizens and soldiers (who were not Nazis) that did not view their own nation in that way. We must seek to understand their perspective, and why they had that perspective (perhaps many of them were ignorant). For instance, Hans-Ulrich Rudel (when interrogated by the British) claimed that he had never seen any concentration camps when he was flying over Eastern Europe and Poland. He felt that the Western Powers were lying when they talked about the piles of dead bodies in the camps. Interestingly, he pointed out that if excesses had been committed, that this was true in all wars. He mentioned the Boer Wars to the British (apparently concentration camps were used there). He also pointed out the firebombings of Dresden (which would have been considered immoral by today's standards).

    The fact that we do not have all of the information just proves how difficult it is to pass judgments upon history. Yet there is one thing we should keep in mind: It is VERY important for us as Christians to try to understand the morality of historical decisions, in order to be prepared for the future. There is no doubt that many Germans in 1914 would never have fathomed that in 20 years they would be led by a man like Hitler. That is why, as Christians, it is important that we think about and seek to clarify our relationship between us and the governing authorities, so that we are ready to make those tough decisions in the future. It is always my prayer that I never have to live under the authority of a Nero, Hitler, Stalin, etc. But these things might happen, and we need to have an idea of how we are going to act as Christians when the time comes. What if next month a State secedes from the Union again? What if the Federal Government passes a law that forces all states to recognize same-sex marriage? What if there is a state that refuses to adhere to such a law? If your state seceded, would you defend your state against the Federal Government? Would you join the Federal Government in forcing your state to bow the knee and submit? Would you try and stay neutral? These are important questions that we need to think about, so as to have an idea of what to do when those dark times come upon us.

    Some might say that we just have to totally submit to whoever lead us. Well, in studying World War II, I came across several interesting facts concerning the Soviet Union's treatment of Christians. Apparently at some point it was illegal to try to share the Christian faith with anyone who was 16 years old or younger. The Soviets also changed the work week in an effort to force Christians to work on the Sabbath. Even though I am not a fan of wikipedia, this article summarizes the anti-religious legislation in the Soviet Union: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soviet_anti-religious_legislation.

    In conclusion it is clear that submission to the governing authorities cannot be total and absolute. We are indeed to render unto Caesar what is Caesar's. But we must also recognize that NOT ALL THINGS ARE CAESAR'S. When Caesar demands things that are rightfully only God's, Caesar must be disobeyed.
    Last edited: Jul 2, 2012
  2. Shawn Mathis

    Shawn Mathis Puritan Board Sophomore

    Dear Murray,

    You wrote: "You need to state the specific fact and then the Biblical passage which shows that this is just reason to rebel."

    Such a high and specific standard--taken in the hardest sense--is beyond our ability as Prof. Strange pointed out. Taking your statement in an easier sense it would require hard leg-work of reading the original sources, like an historian would do. If you wish to pursue such thinking, then ask an historian for some detailed works.

    If one wishes a more moderate approach, to learn and be challenged by our forefathers--take the original sources as a means to challenge your own thinking on this matter (as it has on mine) or good summary books, as the following (part of my own personal studies):

    1. Political Sermons of the American Founding Era (1730-1805), ed. Sandoz--contains a number of defenses of the War and a few denials (such as Wesley's).
    2. Revolution and Religion: American Revolutionary War and the Reformed Clergy, Griffin
    3. Numerous current works on the influence of Calvinism on Western jurisprudence, politics, and social theory touch upon the just war, such as the works of John Witte, see esp. The Reformation of Rights.
    4. Interestingly, the Presbyterian Board published, Presbyterians and the Revolution, Breed (1876).

    The colonists did not operate in an historical vacuum but inherited a long history of just war theory (or theories, but closely related). It is part of our Reformed heritage and if one wishes to better understand the rationales for or against the War, these theories need to be understood.


    (No, my puritanboard icon is not a picture of me, it is a picture of one of the great Reformed systematizers of political theory, Althusius, who wrote Politica and advocated resistance to tyrants).
  3. Somerset

    Somerset Puritan Board Junior

    My understanding is that both sides had many faults and most involved failed to have the purest motives. I can't be certain which side I would have taken - I don't think anyone can. But when I think of my views on the unelected tyrants of the EU and what they are doing to my land - I think I would have been throwing tea into Boston harbour with the best of them.

    I will certainly be raising a glass to you on July 4th. You beat us, then we beat you in 1812. Overall an honourable draw. Since then our nations have generally stood shoulder to shoulder and, again generally, on the side of right. As my grandfather landed on Gold beach I doubt if he was anti-American.
  4. Moireach

    Moireach Puritan Board Freshman

    What does that mean?
  5. Moireach

    Moireach Puritan Board Freshman

    I agree.
  6. Moireach

    Moireach Puritan Board Freshman

    Thanks for those links Shawn.

    What I really meant by that quote was that I wanted people to stop making vague statements that didn't help me understand their view, like "the British were tyrranous". For me to understand I need to hear facts and then why these facts are just reason to rebel. I do agree with what you are saying about the difficulty of making a judgment on it, but I think we can still look into it and make our minds up on what we believe.
  7. Moireach

    Moireach Puritan Board Freshman

    "My reaction" was to ask for specific details because your quote was too vague and did not allow me to understand why they held their position at all. You didn't answer that question so I cannot answer your questions regarding it.

    I am aware of the general history but not in detail, and I do not know their doctrine regarding it. From the knowledge I have I can't see it at play here. The majority of arguments in this direction on here have been too vague for me to understand them and agree with them.

    Ok, so you are saying that the British government acted unconstitutionally or perhaps illegally? I cannot personally say much on this because they are matters I do not know enough about. But from your point of view, if what you say is fact, is that just reason to rebel? I cannot see that it is. Both our governments arguably bend the laws now and again even today. Many on here believed the introduction of "Obamacare" is unconstitutional and illegal. Does that give just reason to reject the law and rebel against the government?

    No it is not. I started this thread with a very specific request. I said if you are in fact celebrating, can you offer your Biblical justification, and if you are not the same goes. So comments like, "It's the best thing to have ever happened to this world" do not even attempt to answer the question of the thread so are unhelpful and unwelcome because they clog up the conversation because they don't contribute to it.

    I disagree. I don't believe the Christian church is ever supposed to be divided, and not for something as massive as this. Your argument suggests that it could well have been the case that half the disciples could have ended up on one side of a war and the others on another side and that both were right in their own ways. I stand by my statement that only one position can be right in God's eyes. God does not divide his Church, and God willed that the Christian church had stood as one and taken one of the two positions.

    This is a blatant mis-representation of me and what I have said. I have never insisted that American Christians repudiate Independence Day. I have asked for the views of American Christians on the subject on both sides of the argument seeking to understand the views. And I stated from the beginning that I had limited knowledge, and that from what I knew I found it hard to understand the Christian justification for the war. So this is the view I was specifically seeking to understand. I haven't been satisfied that the answers I have heard yet, and I expressed my own opinion based on my limited knowledge of the events, but never stated that my view was fact and those who disagreed were wrong. You have distorted my position and what I have said.
  8. Philip

    Philip Puritan Board Graduate

    No. The Christian Church must not take sides. Individual Christians must judge for themselves and follow where God leads, but God may lead different people to different sides of a war. I can imagine, in 1914, God leading a Christian in Germany to fight for the Kaiser, and a Christian in Scotland to fight for the empire and neither would have been inherently sinning.

    The Church remains one regardless of national boundaries.
  9. Mushroom

    Mushroom Puritan Board Doctor

    As an interesting side-note, since we hold that it is acceptable for a Christian to serve a secular gov't by soldiering for it, do we doubt that there were Christians on both sides of the conflict? Is it appropriate for brothers to be killing brothers at the behest of worldly sovereigns? Should the Brit Christian soldiers have deserted, or the American?
  10. TylerRay

    TylerRay Puritan Board Senior

    But who gave them the authority to tax the colonies?
  11. Edward

    Edward Puritan Board Doctor

    I think you need to brush up a bit on that period of history. The British army sacked Washington, but was stopped before Baltimore. The invasion down from Canada resulted in the defeat at Plattsburgh. The attack up the Mississippi was a total disaster for the British. The early US attacks on Canada were a failure, but the Americans gained naval control of Lake Erie, and Harrison defeated Proctor.
  12. VictorBravo

    VictorBravo Administrator Staff Member

    I think it is time for this thread to take a rest for a while. Everyone can follow up on the links and references for further study.

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.

Share This Page