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"It's Just War" - Should Christians Fight? Debate

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On March 28, 2014 we held a debate on the question, "Should Christians Fight?" in historic Faneuil Hall in downtown Boston.

Speaking in favor of Christians engaging in just war:

  • Peter Kreeft (Ph.D. Fordham University) is professor of philosophy at Boston College. He is the author of over 67 books on philosophy, theology and Christian apologetics. A gifted thinker and speaker, he speaks at universities and churches all over the world. He draws inspiration from influential figures such as Socrates, Thomas Aquinas, and C. S. Lewis. His books include Making Sense Out of Suffering (Servant Books, 1986), Socrates Meets Jesus (InterVarsity Press, 1987), and a Handbook of Christian Apologetics (InterVarsity Press, 1994).
  • J. Daryl Charles (Ph.D., Westminster Theological Seminary) teaches in the Honors Program at Berry. He has written 14 books on ethics, Christian engagement in the public square, and just war. He is widely regarded as a leading authority on the Christian just war tradition. His books include Between Pacifism and Jihad (InterVarsity Press Academic, 2005), War, Peace, and Christianity (Crossway, 2010), The Just War Tradition (Intercollegiate Studies, 2012), and America's Wars (forthcoming).

Speaking against Christians in war:

  • David Bercot is an attorney (J.D., Baylor University), author, and speaker. He has numerous books on the subject of the early church, where he emphasizes the simplicity of biblical doctrine and early (pre-325 AD) Christian teaching over what he would call the complex and compromised body of theological understandings built up over the centuries that have come to be thought of as orthodoxy. His most well known books are Will the Real Heretics Please Stand Up? (Scroll Publishing, 1989), and A Dictionary of Early Christian Beliefs (Hendrickson, 1998).
  • Dean Taylor and his wife Tania were both in the U. S. Army when they realized that, as committed Christians, they had to come to grip with Jesus' teachings in the Sermon on the Mount on loving one's enemies. They ultimately left the Army in a new and sincere quest for truth, determined to follow Jesus Christ under the banner "no compromise." Mr. Taylor is a widely sought speaker who regularly addresses the question, "What if Jesus really meant every word He said?" His best known book is A Change of Allegiance (Radical Reformation, 2008).

Moderated by:

  • Finny Kuruvilla (M.D. Harvard Medical Schoool, Ph.D. Harvard University) has treated patients at Boston area hospitals such as Children's Hospital Boston, the Brigham & Women's Hospital, and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. He served for many years in InterVarsity Christian Fellowship and World Vision, a Christian humanitarian relief and development agency. He is the author of the book King Jesus Claims His Church (Anchor-Cross Publishing, 2013).
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The Two Kingdoms


The principle of separation of church and state is now generally considered a fundamental in Western civilizations. However, it was not always so. Whatever religion or church the ruler or rulers decreed “Official” was the only one accepted in that domain. Untold suffering was the result of the welding of the church to the state.

While many Christians hold to the idea of separation of church and state, many do not understand the basic reason why—which is the idea that the two entities are in two distinct spiritual kingdoms and operate on two totally different ethical and moral standards. To mix them is to mix force and free will, or to crossbreed a wolf with a sheep.

Read more: The Two Kingdoms

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Lambs among Wolves

The disciples were brought up in the Jewish Church, the law of which allowed killing in self-defense and in wars under divine direction. When Jesus called them to follow Him, He sent them out as “lambs among wolves” and charged them to “be wise as serpents and harmless as doves.”

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When Kingdoms Clash

Rap, rap, rap, rap.

Something about the urgency and the firmness of the knocks on your front door tell you that whoever is standing out there needs help. Even though your digital clock gleams 1:38 a.m., you are immediately out of bed and the adrenalin flow sweeps the drowsiness from your mind.

Rap, rap, rap, rap.

Whoever is standing outside means business! Not a trace of hesitancy in those knocks!

Read more: When Kingdoms Clash

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Beware of the Leaven of Herod!

Devotion to the flag

Mark 8:15

I was at work one day last month when I heard a news report over the radio, announcing a historic change. The announcer reported that Goshen College had just broken with 116 years of tradition by beginning this year’s series of basketball and baseball games with the playing of the national anthem. Standing to their feet, with bowed heads and reverent gestures, the “Anabaptist” college sang—for the first time in their 116-year history—their devotion to a flag. Apparently there was quite a stir, as news reporters and onlookers came out to witness this historic event. I had to wonder what the rival team, a Catholic university called “The Saints,” must have thought about it all.

Goshen College, 1898
Goshen College, 1898

As the radio announcer continued to report on the dispute that arose over this incident, I remember feeling somewhat embarrassed. Most of my coworkers know where I stand on these issues, so I felt as though someone was publicly exposing the sins of one of my family members.

It reminded me of another humiliation I had a few years earlier during one of the presidential elections. This time one of my supervisors, a Jewish man, was asking me who I was going to vote for in the upcoming election. I used the opportunity to explain to him the Christian concept of the two kingdoms. I explained to him that—simply put—Anabaptists don’t vote. He disagreed. An Amish man was right in front of us, so he challenged me, “Are you saying that this Amish man doesn’t vote?”

Being painfully new in Lancaster County, I smugly answered, “That’s right, just ask him yourself!” I stood there, confident of my Amish brother and his response to this Jewish man. Then he leaned over and asked the Amish man, “Are you going to vote in this election?” To which the Amish man enthusiastically replied, “You bet I am! I voted in the last election, I certainly am going to vote in this one!”

Read more: Beware of the Leaven of Herod!

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Voices from the Early Church

Writing against Celsus, a Greek Philosopher, concerning political involvement

Celsus urges us “to help the king with all our might, and to work with him in the preservation of justice, to fight for him; and if he requires it, to fight under him, or lead an army along with him.” We reply to this saying that we do give help to kings. We give, so to speak, a divine help by “putting on the whole armor of God.” Ep. 6:11 We do this in obedience to the command of the apostle Paul, “I exhort, therefore, that first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; for kings, and for all that are in authority.” 1 Ti. 2:1-2 The more someone excels in piety, the more effective help he provides to kings. Yes, it is even more help than that which is given by soldiers, who go forth to fight and kill as many of the enemy as they can.

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The Tragedy of Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Dietrich Bonhoeffer with  confirmants in 1932

It was April 5, 1943 in Berlin, Germany. Dr. Karl Bonhoeffer answered a knock at the door and was surprised when two men asked to speak to his son Dietrich alone in his room. As a result of the conversation, during which he was neither notified of his arrest nor shown a search warrant, Dietrich Bonhoeffer was forced to accompany the men, who were SS agents, to a military prison.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer was himself in the service of the Abwehr, the intelligence-gathering agency of the German army. However, his position as a government agent and as a member of a well-respected German family was not sufficient to ward off his arrest when large amounts of money contributed to the relief of Jewish refugees were traced to him.

Read more: The Tragedy of Dietrich Bonhoeffer

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Gott Mit Uns (God With Us)

Gertraud “Traudl” Junge

Whose side is God on?

Gertraud “Traudl” Junge was the secretary for Adolf Hitler during WWII. After the war, Traudl carried a lot of remorse about her involvement with the Nazi Party. Shortly before her death in 2002, she recorded her experiences and regrets on a video interview entitled Blindspot. Throughout the interview, Traudl recounts her time with the Nazi party, and especially her time with Adolf Hitler. As she recounts this sad time, most of her memories come across more like confession than anything else.

Read more: Gott Mit Uns (God With Us)

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