Sermon on Militarism and the Church


Rev. Charles E. Jefferson


REV. CHARLES E. JEFFERSON [1860-1937] was pastor of the Broadway Congregational Tabernacle Church in New York City, and was among the most influential clergymen of his time. In 1906, he helped organize the New York Peace Society. "Militarism and the Church" is a sermon he preached at the Broadway Tabernacle Church on May 3, 1908.

        Throw yourself against militarism, I beg you, with all your might.  Do not be afraid of pushing too hard. You will not push it over. Do not be afraid of being too radical. There are enough conservatives to render your radicalism harmless. You need not fear that anything that you may say or do will sweep all the armies from the land or the navies from the sea. They will survive and flourish long after you are dead. The friends of Caesar are so numerous and so mighty that the friends of Jesus need not be afraid of banishing too precipitately the ideals of militarism from the earth.

          Militarism is a growth of many generations. It is entrenched in na­tional traditions, its roots run down deep into the selfish heart of vested interests and into the vanities and ambitions of ancient aristocracies--and into the lowest depths of hell. Do not be afraid of overturning the system too suddenly. Hosts of men are on hand ready to see that no sudden or sweeping change is made.

Why then should you do anything at all? Be­cause if one man throws himself against a thing against which the heart of God is beating in quenchless opposition, he will by his example in­spire some brother man to hurl himself also against the same evil thing, and this second man will inspire another and he another, and all these many others, until at last--it may be generations off--the number shall be sufficient to bring the accursed thing to the dust.

When I meet the God of love I do not want to say: "I saw the burden, I realized the weight of it, I heard the sighs of women, the sobs of children and the groans of men, I saw nations distracted, despondent, bleeding, I saw the pictures of the poor peasants in their comfortless huts, but I did nothing against the cause of all this trouble because the forces against me were too mighty. I knew that many of the men to whom I preached would not believe me. I knew my labor would be in vain."

        Rather do I pray that God will give me grace and strength to fight unceasingly and with every ounce of energy of brain and heart against everything which my own conscience tells me is contrary to the will of God and the happiness of men, no matter what forces are arrayed against me and how utterly hopeless the outcome of my labor seems. Paul failed to overturn the throne of Caesar, but he fought a good fight, he finished the course, he kept the faith and he won the crown.      

From: Joe Stem, Chairman
American Committee to Promote Pacifism in Iraq
421 S. Howes, No. 701
Fort Collins, CO 80521; 970-493-7030

See also History of War and Anti-War
Bible Anti-War References Overview