Friday, February 13, 2015

Questions Every Man Must Answer for Himself: Alexander Campbell's Address on War (Conclusion)

Alexander Campbell: Address on War, 1848
Campbell concludes his address making his most powerful appeals to reason and emotion:


"So far as any indignity was offered to them or any punishment inflicted upon them as His followers, or for His name's sake, they were in no way to resent it. But in their civil rights He allows them the advantages of the protection of civil law, and for this cause enjoins upon them the payment of all their political dues, and to be subject to every ordinance of man of a purely civil nature, not interfering with their obligations to Him."

"If a heathen man, or persecutor, smite you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. If he compel you to go with him one mile, go two. If he sue thee at law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy mantle also," etc. These and whatever else of civil treatment they might receive, as Disciples of Christ, they must, for His sake, endure without resistance or resentment. But if in their citizen character or civil relations they are defrauded, maligned, or prosecuted, they might, and they did, appeal to Caesar."
"They paid tribute to civil magistrates that they might protect them; and therefore they might rightfully claim their protection. In this view of the matter, civil magistrates were God's ministers to the Christian "for good." And also, as God's ministers, they were revengers to execute wrath on those who did evil. Therefore, Christians are in duty bound to render to Caesar what is Caesar's, and to God what is God's - to reverence, honor, and support the civil magistrate, and, when necessary, to claim his protection."

"But as respects the life peculiar to a soldier, or the prosecution of a political war, they had no commandment. On the contrary, they were to live peaceably with all men to the full extent of their power. Their sovereign Lord, the King of Nations, is called "The Prince of Peace." How, then, could a Christian soldier, whose "shield" was faith, whose "helmet" was the hope of salvation, whose "breastplate" was righteousness, whose "girdle" was truth, whose "feet were shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace," and whose "sword" was that fabricated by the Holy Spirit, even "the Word of God." I say, how could such a one enlist to fight the battles of a Cesar, a Hannibal, a Tamerlane, a Napoleon, or even a Victoria?"

"Jesus said, "All that take the sword shall perish by the sword." An awful warning! All that take it to support religion, it is confessed, have fallen by it; but it may be feared that it is not simply confined to that; for may I not ask the pages of universal history, have not all the nations created by the sword finally fallen by it? Should anyone say, "Some few of them yet stand," we respond, "All that have fallen also stood for a time; and are not those that now stand tottering just at this moment to their overthrow?" We have no doubt, it will prove in the end that nations and states founded by the sword shall fall by the sword."

"When the Savior, in His figurative style, indicating the trials just coming upon His friends, said, "You had better sell your outside garments and buy a sword," one present, understanding him literally, as some of the friends of war still do, immediately responded, "Lord, here are two swords." What did he say? "It is enough." Two swords for twelve apostles! Truly, they are dull scholars who thence infer that He meant they should literally use two swords to fight with!"

What Then Says The Bible on the Subject of War? Alexander Campbell's Address on War (Part 2)

Campbell at 65

Campbell continues his insightful argument:

"It certainly commended and authorized war among the Jews. God had given to man, ever since the flood, the right of taking away the life of man for one specified cause. Hence murderers, ever since the flood, were put to death by express divine authority. "He that sheds man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed." 

"He gave authority only, however, to one family or nation, whose God and King he assumed to be. As soon as that family was developed into a nation, He placed it under His own special direction and authority. Its government has been properly called by Josephus, a distinguished Jew, a theocracy."

"It was not a republican, an aristocratical, or monarchical, but a theocratical government, and that, indeed, of the most absolute character, for certain high ends and purposes in the destinies of mankind - temporal, spiritual, and eternal. God was, therefore, in person the king, lawgiver, and judge of the Jewish nation."

"It was not simply for desiring a king that God was at one time displeased with them. It was for asking a king like those of other nations, and thereby refusing God Himself and God alone as their king. Still, He never made their kings any more than viceroys. He, for many centuries, down to the end of the Old Testament history, held in His own hand the sovereignty of the nation. Hence the kings ruled for him, and the high priest, or some special prophet, was the Lord's mouth to them. Their kings were, therefore, unlike other kings. They truly, and only they, of all the kings on earth, were "the Lord's anointed."

The Elephant in the Room of American Christianity: Alexander Campbell's Address on War (Part 1)

Alexander Campbell, 1788-1866
Alexander Campbell writes,

"...With your indulgence, I will attempt, if not to decide the question, at least to assist those who, like myself, have often and with intense interest reflected on the desolations and horrors of war, as indicated in the sacrifice of human life, the agonies of surviving relatives, the immense expenditures of a people's wealth, and the inevitable deterioration of public morals invariably attendant on its existence and career...."

"If we should put down its slain victims to the minimum... imagination could picture all the miseries and agonies inflicted upon the slain and upon their surviving relatives and friends. And who could compute the wealth expended in the support of those immense armies whose butchered millions can never be exactly computed? If Great Britain alone, from the revolution in 1688 to the overthrow of Napoleon in 1815, during her 7 years' wars, occupying 65 years of 127, expended the sum much more easily expressed than comprehended by even the most accomplished financier, how can we compute the aggregate expenditures of all the battles fought and wars carried on during a period of some 5,000 years?"

"Yet these millions slain and these millions expended are the least items in its desolations... when we attempt to reflect upon one human being in the magnitude of his whole destiny in a world that has no limit according to the Christian revelation, how insignificant are the temporal and passing results of any course of action compared with those which know neither measure nor end?"

"More than half the controversies of every age are mere verbose wranglings about the terminology of the respective combatants; and more than half the remainder might be compressed into a very diminutive size. If, in the beginning, the parties would agree on the real issue, on the proper terms to express and define them... So many a false and dangerous position, couched in ambiguous terms, when pruned of its luxuriant verbiage and presented in an intelligible attitude, is unworthy of our reception and regard."

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Consequences of The Enlightenment in American Christianity: Overplaying Individualism & Dualism

According to one writer,

"During the Enlightenment, Rene Descartes presented the belief that the soul and the body were separate from one another, rather than a united whole as long as the two existed."

"This separation allowed those who so chose to separate morality and spirituality. One could be spiritual while still existing in the material world and seeking, even at the expense of others, material gains as one aspect of the individual while still maintaining that he or she was also spiritual."

"Unfortunately, most did not give this much thought and welcomed the opportunity to express their natural inclination towards greed and immorality while still claiming to be spiritual, religious and/or pious. Now, in the modern era society is witnessing such presentations as the 'gospel of success' which professes this sense of material gain as rewards for 'righteousness.'" 

"This has led modern 'Christianity' and its practitioners to abandon the poor and needy by saying that if they (i.e., the poor and needy) were righteous God would reward them, and they would not be destitute, nor in the economic situation in which they currently find themselves. This is akin to saying that it is the poor and needy person's own fault for being poor and needy. The more correct and traditionally emphasized teachings of Christianity of 'sell all that one owns, give the money gained form such to the poor, and then go and follow' the Christ is the exact opposite of what is now being practiced."

"As I am not intending to present this as being a problem of only one religion, let me point out that this can be seen in the Judaic tradition which once emphasized fair treatment of the impoverished, even to the returning of land to its original owners, leaving a certain amount of produce in the fields so that the same could be gleaned by the poor, etc. Islam also once had a very strong sense of community called the Ummah, in which it was the obligation of all of the same to help every member rise up economically and socially so that all had what they needed. Now, when one looks at the poverty in the oil rich nations one must wonder how this priority became so skewed."

"When the government, whether that of a monarchy or a democracy, could separate spiritually or religiously inspired moral acts into one compartment while holding and viewing the here and now separate from such spirituality--greed both personal and governmental became the norm. Rulers were no longer in charge so as to serve the needs of those whom they 'ruled,' rather those whom they ruled were where they were so as to provide for the rulers."