Should Christians speak out against war?

It’s rather awkward for Christians to speak out against war when many Christians have gone to war themselves. Millions of German and British Commonwealth Christians eagerly answered the call to arms in two World Wars, resulting in many, many Christians actually killing each other.

The Crusades also saw thousands of Christians committing horrendous atrocities, so it’s no surprise that Christians on the whole are rather hesitant when it comes to speaking out against war, even when war requires the killing of innocent citizens and children, and fellow Christians.

But think what Christians could have done instead. There were 20 million Catholics and 40 million Protestants in Germany before the outbreak of World War 2, a powerful force indeed if they had all united in opposition to Hitler’s murder of the Jews and his predatory designs on other nations. What if they had all said in one huge cry, “No, we’re not having any part in war and murder,” and none of them had taken up arms? And what if Christians in all nations had refused to fight? World War 2 wouldn’t have happened.

So why didn’t Christians refuse to fight, when they had every right to refuse from the words of Jesus himself? Jesus clearly said in John 18:36, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jews.” His servants WOULD fight, Jesus said – oh yes – but only IF Jesus was setting up his kingdom and dealing with evil by this world’s methods. But he wasn’t. Instead, John 14:27 – “MY peace I give you. I do NOT give to you as the world gives.”

Christ wasn’t offering his disciples the world’s way of creating peace, that required holy wars and crusades to protect Christian civilization, or military might to enforce God’s kingdom on the earth. He offered them HIS peace, which he demonstrated for us and won for us by his suffering and death. It has been possible ever since, therefore, for peace, real peace, the kind of peace that reconciles all people to God and to each other, to infiltrate human hearts and minds.

So that’s what Christians speak out about, the good news of the peace that Jesus made possible for all humanity by his suffering and death. Our priority is not to speak out against war, because the world easily justifies war. Our priority is to speak out for peace, because peace is now possible too, the proof of which can be seen in our own peace-filled words and actions – and in our response in a time of war to Jesus’ call to peace, rather than the world’s call to arms.


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