Religion and War

by Doy Moyer

“If religion is so great, why are religions responsible for so much war?”

First, this type of statement assumes that all religions are essentially the same. They aren’t. Some religions actively teach peace. Biblical Christianity (not the perverted forms) is one of them.

Second, this assumes that everyone claiming a religion is practicing it carefully and accurately. They aren’t. It is this same mentality that assumes that Christianity was responsible for the Crusades. It is true that those who claimed to be Christians were responsible for much bloodshed, but this does not mean they were really Christians or that they were really following Christ’s mandates. No one can read the New Testament, see the teachings of Jesus, and believe that true Christianity will ever be responsible for such wars.

Third, the statement is a case of special pleading (ignoring other evidence). Are we to ignore all the bloodshed caused by communistic, atheistic regimes? Shall we ignore that Hitler was a proponent of Darwinism? Are we to ignore the great number of atheists (and others) who also actively promote killing the innocent in the womb of a mother? It is not just religious people who start wars and shed innocent blood. People from all worldview spectrums have done it.

The fact is that people will fight over what they are passionate about, whether considered religious or not. They will fight over their worldviews, and everyone has a worldview. It’s not about religion in and of itself. It’s about passion. It’s about power. It will always be about some form of selfishness. It doesn’t matter what label, religious or not, that proponents put on their reasons.

And this brings us back to the teachings of Christ. Those who are truly passionate about the teachings of Jesus will do everything they can to live out those teachings. And those teachings are adamantly against hurting or killing people for the sake of Christ. We are to pray for our enemies. We are to teach our enemies. We are to be good neighbors. We are to, as much as it depends upon us, be at peace with all men. No one who promotes war for the sake of Jesus is representing Christ. Just read His teachings and see.

Wars do exist for other reasons. Sometimes they exist to promote freedom. Sometimes they exist to bring judgment upon wicked nations, as is the case in Old Testament battles commanded by God. This is a difficult issue, to be sure. But if we bear in mind that God, who is most definitely not man, has the power of life and death to begin with, and carries the authority to execute true and final justice in its most perfect sense, then we can at least have a framework for understanding the Old Testament issue better. However, there can be no doubt, biblically, that Christ ushered in a change in how nations are to be seen. Christians, who are the special nation of God, are not bound by the lines of national boundaries, for they exist in all nations. There is no New Testament mandate to destroy the nations physically. It’s just the opposite. The nations are crushed, not by Christians bearing physical swords, but by the spread of the gospel of God’s kingdom. Christians are to promote peace and tranquility, both physically and spiritually. They are to promote Christ and His salvation.

Are religions responsible for war? Some are, but true Christianity will never be responsible for it.