The Early Christian Position on War

“The early Christians took Jesus at his word, and understood his inculcations of gentleness and non-resistance in their literal sense. They closely identified their religion with peace; they strongly condemned war for the bloodshed which it involved; they appropriated to themselves the Old Testament prophecy which foretold the transformation of the weapons of war into the implements of agriculture; they declared that it was their policy to return good for evil and to conquer evil with good,” says Cecil John Cadoux, M.A., D.D., The Early Christian Attitude to War: A Contribution to the History of Christian Ethics (London: Headley Bros., 1919), Summary.

First Century "Christians were forbidden to be in the Army, to participate in capital punishment, even to testify against one accused of a capital offense," says Archbishop Robert M. Bowman, "Return to the Catacombs: Reintroducing the Nonviolent Jesus" (23 Sep 2002). Roman Emperors imposed capital punishment in large numbers, e.g., Tiberius, 9,500 executions; Caligula, 9,000; Nero, 5,750; and Claudius, 2,935 executions, say Joshua Piven, et al., The Worst-Case Scenario Handbook: History (San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 2006, Chapter 2, "Empire Building," p 57. And, in addition to refusing to testify in such cases, "for the first few centuries of the church, Christians refused to bear arms," says Mary Lou Redding, "The Death of Civility," Guideposts (Sep - Oct 2010), pp 40-42 at 40.

In the third century Church it was believed that “When Christ disarmed Peter, He disarmed all Christians,” says Fr. Emmanuel Charles McCarthy (14 May 2013).
"All Christians before the mass apostasy of A.D. 249-251 who considered Christian participation in war opposed it on ethical grounds. . . . even pagans of the period recognized noninvolvement in wars as official Christian policy. Sometime before A.D. 236, Bishop Hippolytus in central Italy ranked war as a sin with murder, revenge, idolatry, selling a free brother into slavery and separating oneself from God. Dating from A.D. 217, his Apostolic Tradition sets out the livelihoods disqualifying applicants for church membership. It excludes idol-makers, prostitutes, pimps, gladiators and pagan priests along with military commanders. Soldiers desiring to become Christians must be taught not to kill and even to disobey if ordered to kill. Christians already in the church who try to join the army were to be expelled, as despisers of God. Even enlisting and taking the military oath were forbidden, in addition to killing in war. Dating from Syria in the first third of the third century, another church manual likewise condemned government officials who were “defiled with wars” in the same passage as idol-makers, murderers, oppressors of the poor, false accusers, idolaters and extortionists," says David W. T. Brattston, "Early Christians for Peace: The Early Church Was Clearly Opposed to Participation in War" (The Mennonite, 1 July 2010). See also John Howard Yoder, Early Christian Attitudes to War, Peace, and Revolution (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Institute of Mennonite Studies, 2009).
"During a considerable period after the death of Christ, it is certain that his followers believed he had forbidden war; and that, in consequence of this belief, many of them refused to engage in it, whatever were the consequences whether reproach, or imprisonment, or death. These facts are indisputable; "It is as easy," says a learned writer of the seventeenth century, "to obscure the sun at mid-day, as to deny that the primitive Christians renounced all revenge and war." Christ and his apostles delivered general precepts for the regulation of our conduct. And to what did their immediate successors apply the pacific precepts which had been delivered? They applied them to war: they were assured that the precepts absolutely forbade it," says Jonathan Dymond, An Inquiry into the Accordancy of War with the Principles of Christianity, § "Example and Testimony of The Early Christians on the Subject of War" (1821). And, "The opinions of the earliest professors of Christianity upon the lawfulness of war are of importance; because they who lived nearest to the time of its Founder were the most likely to be informed of his intentions and his will, and to practise them without those adulterations which we know have been introduced by the lapse of ages," says Dymond, § II.79.31. (More. Note also a similiar ananlysis, albeit in a different context, "if the apostles and those around them did not know the meaning of Christ's teaching, that meaning has been lost to the world for ever," says Rev. Dennis Hird, Jesus the Socialist (London: The Clarion Press, 1908), p 16.)

“War is the pornography of violence. . . . filled with the monstrous and the grotesque. The Bible calls it 'the lust of the eye' and warns believers against it. War allows us to engage in lusts and passions we keep hidden in the deepest, most private interiors of our fantasy lives. It allows us to destroy not only things and ideas but human beings. In that moment of wholesale destruction, we wield the power of the divine, the power to revoke another person’s charter to live on this Earth. The frenzy of this destruction — and when unit discipline breaks down, or when there was no unit discipline to begin with, “frenzy” is the right word — sees armed bands crazed by the poisonous elixir that our power to bring about the obliteration of others delivers. All things, including human beings, become objects — objects either to gratify or destroy, or both. Almost no one is immune. The contagion of the crowd sees to that . . . They [troops] can instantly give or deprive human life, and with this power they become sick and demented. The moral universe is turned upside down. All human beings are used as objects. And no one walks away uninfected. War thrusts us into a vortex of pain and fleeting ecstasy. It thrusts us into a world where law is of little consequence, human life is cheap, and the gratification of the moment becomes the overriding desire that must be satiated, even at the cost of another’s dignity or life,” says Chris Hedges, M.Th., “Collateral Damage: What It Really Means When America Goes to War” (4 June 2008).

Thus “refusal to serve in the military was the normal policy of the early Christians,” says Laurence M. Vance, Ph.D., “The Early Christian Attitude to War” (7 November 2005). “And while 'a general distrust of ambition and a horror of contamination by idolatry entered largely into the Christian aversion to military service,' it was 'the sense of the utter contradiction between the work of imprisoning, torturing, wounding, and killing, on the one hand, and the Master’s teaching on the other' that 'constituted an equally fatal and conclusive objection.'” See also his "Military Doublespeak" (19 Nov 2009), "How to Demilitarize Your Church" (11 Nov 2009), and "Christianity and War," Part 1,   Part 2, and Part 3 (13 March 2008). (Statement 20 August 2013).

"The Roman government was largely tolerant of foreign religions. Most of the people incorporated into the Empire were polytheistic, worshiping many gods just as the Romans did. It was easy to accept the foreign gods, because to the Romans many of these appeared to be their very same gods worshiped under a different name. There were foreign deities which did not conveniently correspond with a Roman ones. This did not pose a problem as long as the followers of these gods welcomed Roman gods in their worship. However, there were two religions for which the Romans had very little tolerance: Judaism and Christianity. There was the belief that for Rome to prosper, its gods must be properly venerated. The nature of these monotheistic religions made this impossible. As a result, Jews and Christians across the empire suffered insult, harassment and persecution," says the article "Christianity in the Roman Army " (, Friday, 26 June 2009).

The Early Church Father Tertullian (160-225 A.D.) analyzed the issue of "whether warfare is proper at all for Christians." He strongly concluded that it was not. How, he asked, could Christians wield a sword when Jesus told Peter to put his sword back in its place? How could a Christian soldier perform guard duty on the Sabbath when he's not allowed to work? How could a Christian soldier guard pagan temples, or march under the flag of a government hostile to Christianity? It was wrong, he argued, for Christians to have any loyalties but to Christ. Christians should not join the army and those in the army should leave immediately, Tertullian says in his On the Military Crown, page 11. On the issue of on the propriety of Christians serving in the Roman military even if they were not required to make pagan sacrifices or execute people, he rejected the idea outright. He noted, "There is no agreement between the divine and the human sacrament, the standard of Christ and the standard of the devil, the camp of light and the camp of darkness. One soul cannot be due to two masters. God and Caesar. How could a Christian make war, nay, how could a Christian serve even in peacetime, without a sword, which the Lord has taken away?, Tertullian pointed out, in his On Idolatry, trans. by S. Thelwall (1885).
Christians were killed, beheaded, for refusing to serve in the Roman army, says Prof. Robert M. Grant, Augustus to Constantine: The Thrust of the Christian Movement into the Roman World (Westminster / John Knox Press, 1970, 2004). Chapter XIX, "Christian Ways of Life," § XI, "Attitudes Toward War," pp 273-274, says, "Jesus' pronouncements about nonresistance left an indelible impression on the minds of the early Christians. Early Christian theologians condemned murder and cited war as a prime instance. Manuals of church discipline refused to allow for the possibility of military service and insisted that upon conversion a soldier had to leave the army. . . . The prohibiton of killing was absolute. Because of this absolute, early Christian theologians did not deal with the question of just means of warfare. Josephus, for example, insisted that Jews   274at war did not practice incendiarism, the cutting of cultivated trees, the pillaging of corpses, or the abuse of prisoners. Christian writers were not concerned with the means because the end was forbidden." See also pp 90-91, 165, 172, 190, and 225-227.
The wholly anti-war Christian position is to be sharply distinguished from the competing heathen "just war" notion of the pagan Roman philosopher Marcus T. Cicero (106 B.C. - 43 B.C.). "The just war ethic [is] based on Roman thought," says The Dictionary of Bible and Religion, "War," by Prof. Charles S. McCoy, General Editor William H. Gentz (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1986), p 1099. James 4:1-2, saying war is due to covetousness, meaning lust, was written to refute that pagan "just war ethic."
For an example of a Christian refusing to follow the Roman doctrine and law, see the transcript of St. Maximilian's trial in the year 295 A.D. for refusing to enter the Roman Army. He was beheaded.
For additional background on historic Christian views, see Roland H. Bainton, Christian Attitudes toward War and Peace (New York: Abingdon Press, 1960). (Review, 19 Theology Today (#1) 133-137 (April 1962). Note deterioration from original purity to the modern apostate seemingly 'anything goes' attitude.) See also John J. Neumaier, Ph.D., "Obstacles to the abolition of war" (3 July 2006).
For an overview of Jesus Christ's teachings, see, e.g., Prof. Michael Grant, Jesus: An Historian's Review of the Gospels (Scribner's, 1977).
Note Early Christian Church "mortal sin" teaching pursuant to, e.g., Matthew 18:6, Mark 9:42, and Luke 17:2, as war is a "proximate occasion of serious sin," with politicians' votes and orders immorally placing lower-ranking individuals, e.g., troops, in the position of committing "mortal sin," e.g., atrocities, destruction, violence, killings, etc., typical in warfare.
Church anti-war teachings derive from the Judeo-Christian Bible's multiple anti-war teachings and principles. Christ Jesus as "Prince of Peace" is for peace. Isaiah 7:14 and 9:1-7. Thus, Christ overruled the war "traditions of men” (over 14,000 wars), Matthew 15:9, Mark 7:6-8.

  • The Bible of course says “thou shalt not kill,” Exodus 20:13. And, "do violence to no man" (Luke 3:14). That bans significant methodology in war-making. See, e.g., "Collateral Murder" (Video).

  • More fundamentally, it bans the underlying causation process in wars—coveting, “thou shalt not covet.” Exodus 20:17. War is due to covetousness, meaning lust, says James 4:1-2. Lusting for money/wealth is root-cause of evil, 1 Timothy 6:10.

  • Re “thou shalt not kill,” Christ expressly added to the command, banning even the earliest stages, the pre-action thought level, e.g., anger and name-calling, Matthew 5:21-22. See also 2 Corinthians 10:5 (on the duty to make every thought morally right).

  • The Bible bans another fundamental aspect of war, stealing (e.g., land and other property), says Exodus 20:15.

  • It bans lying, Exodus 20:16. Truth is notoriously the first casualty in war, says Phillip Knightley, The First Casualty (New York, London: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1975). Three-fold lying (about the enemy's nature and activities, about one's own purposes and activities, and to entice youths to enlist) is common. See, e.g.,
  • Gwynne Dyer, Ph.D., "Anybody's Son Will Do: Part #2 of the 6-part Film Documentary WAR
    (1985) (the military's teaching youths how to kill is very much an often subtle and/or
    direct form of brainwashing / propaganda)

  • Aimee Allison and David Solnit,   Army of None: Strategies to Counter Military Recruitment,
    End War and Build a Better World (Seven Stories Press, August 2007)

  • "Top Military Recruitment Lies" (20 September 2007).

  • David Goodman, "A Few Good Kids? [The Pentagon in the Classroom]: How the No Child Left
    Behind Act allowed military recruiters to collect info on millions of unsuspecting teens" (31
    August 2009) ("In the past few years, the military has mounted a virtual invasion into the
    lives of young Americans. Using data mining, stealth websites, career tests, and
    sophisticated marketing software, the Pentagon is harvesting and analyzing information on
    everything from high school students' GPAs and SAT scores to which video games they
    play. Before an Army recruiter even picks up the phone to call a prospect like Travers, the
    soldier [recruiter] may know more about the kid's habits than do his own parents.")

  • Laurence M. Vance, Ph.D., "Military Doublespeak" (19 November 2009).
  • The Bible bans extortion, 1 Corinthians 5:11 and 1 Corinthians 6:10, whereas extorting, coercing, the 'enemy' is of course the whole point of war, meaning, all aspects of war causation are forbidden!! Note various Bible anti-extortion references: Ezekiel 22:12 , Matthew 23:12, Luke 18:11, and Isaiah 16:4. (And note that extortion is often used [in combination with lying and deceit] to raise, pay for, draft, enlist, and establish military entities such as armies.

    The fundamental "conscientious objection" is pursuant to Bible principles against extortion, e.g., 1 Corinthians 5:10-11,   Psalm 109:11,   Isaiah 16:4,   Ezekiel 22:12,   Matthew 23:25,   Luke 18:11, and 1 Corinthians 5:10-11. The government is ordered in Deuteronomy 20:5-8, to try to talk people out of entering the military, not to force them into it!
    The mere demand to participate (in the military) = extortion. Said sin is an ultra-death penalty offense, meaning, death in this life, and death eternally. God is deadly serious, 'thou shalt not bully . . . in ANY manner.' Thus ANY type of "conscription" is a death penalty offense for merely issuing the order. See also 2 Kings 1:8-12, for death penalty imposed peremptorily on 102 govt officials for their merely issuing an order (mere words)! The mere issuance of an order is a death penalty offense, extortion. No trial required. Instant penalty. God and God alone is authorized to issue orders.
    The commandments are not to be added to nor subtracted from, Deuteronomy 4:2 and 12:32. This concept follows from the "original grant" (Genesis 1:28). Adding is invariably extortion, as nobody is authorized to add; subtraction can lead to extortion. Both are precluded.

  • Extortion of persons into the military separates them from their families, thus invoking the 1 Timothy 5:8 Bible duty to act against such extortion.

  • Such extortion can lead to one's being being maimed, crippled, even killed, thus to sin by impairing, obstructing or even wholly precluding fulfilling the primeval Bible commandment of increasing the human population, Genesis 1:28.

  • Accordingly, youths are to be discouraged from entering the military, by reciting to them the litany of harms, injuries, maimings, casualties, deaths, that foreseeably befall troop as a natural and probable consequence of entering the military, Deuteronomy 20:5-8.

  • The Bible bans smiting fellow humans with guile, Exodus 21:14. War often involves "guile," deceits, strategems, demonstrations, feints, flanking movements, surprise attacks, etc.

  • The Bible bans following a multitude to do evil, Exodus 23:2. Armies are, of course, 'multitudes,' not a mere one person entity.

  • Love does no harm to others. Romans 13:8-10.

  • The greatest commandment is love, Matthew 22:37-39, meaning to love God and fellow humans. Love is the fulfillment of the law. Galatians 5:14; Romans 13:8-10, and is to be internalized, Jeremiah 31:33-34. Esteem others better. Philippians 2:3.

  • This includes to “love your enemies,” Matthew 5:44. Anti-Bible rebels instead fixate on the wrong-doing by the enemies, in order to self-justify and deceive themselvesnthat it is somehow OK for them and their disobeying Christ's express command.

  • God delivers you from your enemies, Ps. 18:3 and 48, Ezra 8:22 and 8:31. You need do nothing except yourself be obedient to God, such obedience is the sole factor in being protected from your enemies. When your ways please God, He (not your military nor even your own personal weaponry) protects you from your enemies, Proverbs 16:7. And when your ways do not please God, all your troops and military (or personal weapons) will not save you! Note the many Bible examples of powerless military, those of Sodom and Gommorah, the Pharaoh's Egypt, the Promised Land inhabitants, and then Ancient Israel itself when it too went the way of rebellion against God. The key is to continuingly please God, then no harm shall befall you even while thousands and tens of thousands are being killed all around you, Psalm 91:3-16. With such superb protection from harm, you need have absolutely no fear of any "enemies," Ps. 91:5-6. This is what faith in God means. (Caveat: If you don't have it [faith], as faith cannot be commanded but is a gift of God, Ephesians 2:8, given only to those whom God is calling (John 6:44,   Romans 8:29-30,   Ephesians 1:5 and 11), you of course become fearful, demand a strong military! (or personal weaponry), all worthless in the long run as the historic record of the rise and fall of unrepentant nation after nation shows such to be!)

  • Your duty of "loving your enemies" (who are powerless to harm you when you are obeying God), includes to not revile them, nor threaten nor retaliate, 1 Peter 2:23.

  • This includes to not cast the first stone, John 8:7, e.g., not fire the first shot, not drop the first bomb, even under provocation, Luke 9:54-55. No doubt, as "My [God's] kingdom is not of this world," John 18:36.

  • Instead, Bible-adherents are travelers, sojourners [Gen. 23:4, Ps. 39:12], pilgrims [Heb. 11:13, 1 Pet. 2:11], and wanderers [Hos. 9:17], essentially "in tents," 2 Corinthians 5:1-10. This precludes loyalty to the plot of ground, country, where one, in short, happens to temporarily sojourn. At any moment, a Christian would abandon that, and go on, leave, move, travel to live elsewhere.

  • Christians' real citizenship is in heaven, i.e., Christians are citizens of heaven itself. That is Christian's country, from which Christians are now [temporarily] absent, and from which Christians await a savior, a different government, the Lord [President, Prime Minister, King, Emperor] Jesus Christ, Philippians 3:20. Christians have the same attitude as Abraham toward their country. When God told him to leave his country, to found a different country, Genesis 12:1-2, he did so without question, having no loyalty to it, but instead, his allegiance, loyalty, was to God. Abraham is a "friend of God," James 2:23, the "father of the faithful," Galatians 3:16-29,   Romans 4:11. Abraham knew that "friendship with the world is enmity to God," James 4:4. Abraham is an example to all Bible-adherents. Christians thus do not and cannot "serve their country" with its temporary "borders" in politico-geographic terms. The heathen politician "serve your country" concept inherently leads to wars, is inherently sinful, is inherent violation of Genesis 1:28 (the "original grant").

  • Accordingly, there is no Bible precedent or example of any patriarch, disciple, apostle, or Bible adherent of ever "pledging allegiance," saluting the flag, saying "Heil Hitler," singing the 'national anthem,' or engaging in any other such action or gesture worshipping the national idol. Jesus Christ never pledged allegiance, never saluted the flag, never sang the 'national anthem,' never worshipped the national idol.   Jesus Christ never wore a war uniform, never even carried a weapon for personal self-defense. He knew, correctly, that God is sole protector. Jesus Christ rejects having divided loyalties, trusts -- in (1) weapons and (2) God as a last resort, when weapons fail to protect!!! He shows that God must be your priority, your No. 1 and only. No divided loyalties, trusts, are allowed, nor shown by Bible precedent; instead, see the Bible's opposite system, Ps. 18:3 and 48, Ezra 8:22 and 8:31, the latter the example of Ezra and God's people trusting solely in God, not troops, indeed, refused the latter, an example Christ well knew and had personally inspired in Ezra. He, Jesus Christ, is Christians' example, role model, one to follow, not ignore, for some "tradition of men," Matthew 15:9. All Christians follow Christ's example, model, thus follow His example of not committing actions such as "pledging allegiance." Paul shows the same principle, even avoiding food sacrificed to idols, lest others get the wrong idea, be encouraged to violate their conscience, 1 Corinthians 10:27-33.

  • Biblically, the duty is not for the people of the artifical entity known as a "country" or "nation" to coerce other people(s) but is instead to set a good example, to be a model, for others to imitate. Deuteronomy 4:5-6. For the nation to do that, its individuals are to "be ye perfect." Matthew 5:48.

  • People can serve “God or mammon,” Matthew 6:24, Luke 16:13, God or politicians, God or country, one citizenship or the other, one or the other, not both. The choice is clear, to choose God, as the nations with their borders are "as nothing," Isaiah 40:15 and 17.

  • War is a symptom, Proverbs 16:7, Judges 2:10-20, Judges 3:7-8, Judges 3:11-14, Judges 4:1-3, Judges 6:1-7, Judges 10:6-9, Judges 13:1, 1 Samuel 4:3, etc.

  • Christ loved sacrificially that He “might reconcile both groups [people in all nations] to God in one body through the cross, thus putting to death that hostility through it,” Ephesians 2:16.

  • War to move boundaries to seize a neighboring nation's land is unacceptable. Hosea 5:10.

  • The duty is, “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good,” Romans 12:21. "As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men," Galatians 6:10. “Resist not evil,” Matthew 5:39. “See that none render evil for evil unto any man; but ever follow that which is good,” 1 Thessalonians 5:15.

  • The message is, “Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy . . . Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God,” Matthew 5:7, 9. "Live peaceably with all men," Romans 12:18. "Follow peace with all men," Hebrews 12:14.

  • The divine goal is “peace on earth to men of good will,” Luke 2:14.

  • Genesis 1:28 cites human authority as in charge only of nature, in the "original grant." Reference Psalm 8:6-8 and Hebrews 2:6-8.

  • The Bible warns of the danger posed by the existence of politicians, specifically citing politicians' war-making propensities. 1 Samuel 8:11-12. Prior to Israel setting up politician government, God's protection of the people "constituted a basic institution in Israel. It replaced the strong state, the military state. . . . The [duty] prescribed by the prophets was loyalty to Yahweh, and confidence in Yahweh. It was in Yahweh, then, that the people always found the means of which they had need in order to save themselves. A king [politician] was superfluous," says Prof. José Comblin (1923-2011), O Clamor dos Oprimidos, O Clamor de Jesus (Petropolis, Brazil: Editora Vozes Ltda, 1984), translated and repinted as Cry of the Oppressed, Cry of Jesus (Maryknoll, N.Y.: Orbis Books, 1988), Chapter 1, "The Cry of the Past," § 4, "Israel's Cry in History," p 15.

  • Politicians (whether hereditary or elective) are a “tradition of men.” Christ explicitly warns against and rejects “traditions of men.” Matthew 15:9. Cf. Colossians 2:8.

  • People are to "obey God rather than men." Acts 4:19, Acts 5:29, Exodus 1:17, 1 Samuel 22:17, Daniel 1:8, Daniel 3:12 and 18, and Daniel 6:7 and 10. There were 613 clauses in the Laws (or Constitution, in modern terminology) of Israel, 613 commandments. Said Laws made the nation a theocracy, i.e., church and state were united. “The law given from Sinai was a civil and municipal as well as a moral and religious code; it contained many statutes . . . of universal application-laws essential to the existence of men in society,” said U.S. President John Quincy Adams, in Letters of John Quincy Adams, to His Son, on the Bible and Its Teachings (Auburn: James M. Alden, 1850), p. 61. The 613 Commandments were not to be added to nor subtracted from. Deuteronomy 4:2 and 12:32 (Commandments 14-15). (This concept of not adding, not subtracting, is also mandated in the New Testament e.g, Revelation 22:18). The 613 Commandments/Laws do not include a law to “obey men rather than God,” a law commanding politician wars and partaking in same. Politician laws commanding such are clearly an addition, thus are forbidden. Deuteronomy 4:2 and 12:32.

  • “Patriotism is a religion, the egg from which wars are hatched.”—Guy de Maupassant. By its fruits (lusts causing wars, James 4:1-2), ye know it to be evil, Matthew 7:16 and 7:20 and 12:33, in short. As a religion, patriotism competes with Bible religion (the mammon vs. God issue, you can serve one or the other), and has its own idols, e.g., politicians and troops. The patriotism religion teaches idolotry of country, the direct opposite of the Bible command, "love thy neighbor." The patriotism religion forbids doing that, indeed, commands to "kill, murder, torture, main, destroy, thy neighbor."

  • Jesus Christ in the Beatitudes taught against patriotism, Matthew 5:3-10, 21-24, 38-40, 43-48. The patriotism religion teaches, 'love your neighbors and hate your enemies,' Matthew 5:43. But Christ rejects, indeed, commands the exact opposite of patriotism. See, e.g., Matthew 5:44-48. First Century Christians obeyed Christ, were the extreme opposite of patriotic, says Prof. Ernest Renan, The Apostles (New York, Carleton; Paris, Michel Levy Frères, 1866), Chapter XIX, pp 295-297: "If any one sentiment was wholly wanting [lacking] in the founders of the Church, it was patriotism. . . . there were never any people so regardless [heedless, uncaring] of [patriotism] as the primitive [First Century] Christians."     William H. Seward (1801–1872), Senator and Secretary of State, in "The 'Higher Law' Concept" (11 March 1850) (key sentence; full text), references the concept later recognized by the Supreme Court: "There is a higher loyalty than loyalty to this country, loyalty to God."—U.S. v. Seeger, 380 US 163, 172; 85 S Ct 850; 13 L Ed 2d 733 (1965).   Rep. Robert Rantoul, Jr., in "Pilgrim Precedent: 'Higher Law'" ( (3 April 1851), said likewise.

  • That false religion and its idolatry of politicians directing commandment violations is banned, Exodus 20:3-5, Colossians 3:5.   "The art of government is the organization of idolatry," says George Bernard Shaw. Such idolatry is particularly rampant in war, with the public and troops typically en masse obeying/serving politicians ordering commandment violations. In contrast, I Cor 6:18 and 10:14 give the principle, "flee" sin, vs join in! becoming partakers. Note Bible warnings against becoming partakers in sin, e.g., Ephesians 5:7,   1 Timothy 5:22,   John 17:15,   2 Corinthians 6:14-18, and Revelation 18:4. Instead, people are to become partakers in the divine nature, 2 Peter 1:4. “Let him that stole steal no more,” Ephesians 4:28. Don't be overcome by evil, Romans 12:21. Resist the devil, James 4:7 and 2 Peter 5:8-9. Be holy, 1 Peter 1:16. Abstain from lusts, 1 Peter 2:11. War is caused by lusts, James 4:1-2, lusts caused by the false religion doctrine of "patriotism."

  • Patriotism worships a thing, an artificial thing, a creation, a tradition of men [see Prof. Ernest Renan, The Apostles (1866), Chapter XIX, pp 295-297], instead of the Creator, contrary to Bible principle, Romans 1:25. Patriotism goes to the extreme of love for a thing that is less than nothing! Isaiah 40:17, and re which their politicians will be brought to nothing! Isaiah 40:23. Truly patriotism is idolatry, a particularly foolish and debauched form of idolatry!

  • The related additional idolatry, of politicians' troops, is likewise banned, e.g., Deuteronomy 6:10-12 and Deuteronomy 8:11-18 (bragging that national benefits or freedom are from one's own efforts, e.g., giving credit to the troops' power and strength, for example, especially on "Veterans Day" and "Memorial Day."   Sometimes this idolatry is pretended to be justified by the pagan doctrine that, supposedly, "freedom isn't free," with the false innuendo that freedom comes from troops, not as a free gift from God. Cf. Habakkuk 1:15-16 (citing heathen idolatry of the military) and Acts 12: 22-23 (idolatry of political leader vs. giving God the glory, and setting aside days to do so; penalty was death for the political leader); Daniel 5:23-31 (idolatry of false gods vs the God whose power they should have known; penalty was death for the political leaders and the nation being conquered by foreign invasion).

  • Note also the example of a census involving idolatry of national troop strength, 2 Samuel 24:1-9 and 1 Chronicles 21:1-8. And see background by Rev. Dr. Neil Chadwick, "David's Senseless Sinful Census."

  • Neither multitudes of troops, Psalm 33:16, nor weapons, Psalm 44:6, can save a nation. Cf. Hosea 1:7.

  • Note also the idolatry of weapons, underlying the hostility to the anti-war advocates at a 1 May 2008 Raleigh, NC, war parade. Governments are forbidden to have a significant military, Deuteronomy 17:16 (Commandment 584), nor significant funds (defense budget), Deuteronomy 17:17 (Commandment 586), to acquire such. And see also Nehemiah 5:15-19, and anti-extortion rules, supra.

  • Contrast such attitude with principles evident in incidents cited at, e.g., Exodus 14:13-14, 2 Kings 6:14-23, 2 Kings 7:6-7, 2 Kings 19:35-36, and Ezra 8:21-23 (ashamed to use troops after having spoken of faith in God).

  • Idolatry of politicans includes pretending that what applies to the Lord Jesus Christ applies to all politicians, example, His short-term Exodus 15:3 war-making against slavery at the Red Sea, and 17:16 against one specific group, Amalek, thereby elevating all politicians to divine level, with regard to all issues for all time without exception!! Such idolatry treating politicians as on the divine level, gives politicians god-level authority. This extreme form of emperor worship by idolaters goes beyond, for example, the Roman emperor worship [cf. caesaropapism], which limited the divine level to the Emperor only. Such fraudulent yanking words out of context and meaning is an example of "tergiversation" (false claims). It fixates on a God-level action, and makes the Bible a mockery, by disregarding all the commandments and principles forbidding such behavior on the part of humans.

  • Idolatry of politicians includes them usurping the divine prerogative of forgiveness of sin. “As I write, highly civilized human beings are flying overhead trying [via universal malice] to kill me. They do not feel any enmity against me as an individual, nor I against them. They are only doing their duty, as the saying goes. Most of them, I have no doubt, are kind-hearted law-abiding men who would never dream of committing murder in private life. On the other hand, if one of them succeeds in blowing me to pieces with a well-placed bomb, he will never sleep any worse for it. He is serving his country, which has [usurped] the [divine] power to absolve him from evil [forgive sins].”—George Orwell (London, UK, 1941, during the World War II bombing of Britain).

  • Re such a nation, killing, wicked, unrepentant, do not even pray for them. Proverbs 1:26-28,   Isaiah 1:15,   Isaiah 59:2,   Jeremiah 2:28-29,   Jeremiah 7:16,   Jeremiah 11:14,   Jeremiah 14:11, and 1 John 5:16.

  • 2 Chronicles 20:21-23 cites an alternative to troops going to war: "stand still and see the salvation of the Lord" and merely send to the front lines, singers to "sing to the LORD, and . . . praise the beauty of holiness, [and] as they went out before the army [they] were saying: 'Praise the LORD, For His mercy endures forever'.” And see prior precedent, Exodus 14:13, Moses' saying likewise, "stand still and see the salvation of the Lord."

  • Going before or to unbelievers to decide disputed issues is warned against, 1 Corinthians 6:1-10. (Cf. 'trial by combat' analysis.)

  • Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. Romans 12:21.

  • The works or practices of the flesh are clear: immorality, impurity, indecency, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, anger, selfishness, divisions (dissensions), party spirit (factions, parties, heresies), envy, drunkenness, carousing, and the like. . . . those who do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. Galatians 5:19-21. Note that many of such activities are elements of war.

  • And the entire Book of Jonah is devoted to opposing war, preemptive war. Nineveh (Iraq) was foreseen as soon attacking. Preemptive war against Nineveh, destruction of Nineveh was sought, and immediately sought, to occur in 40 days! Jonah tried to arrange this. God personally intervened and prevented the destruction, for the reason that He is "gracious, merciful, slow to anger, and kind," Jonah 4:2 (certainly not politician traits! and their "tough" approach), and thus with these holy characteristics, God was concerned lest the result include property damage and 120,000 casualties, Jonah 4:11.

  • As "Judge of all the earth," God in contrast with war with its "collateral damage," killing the innocent, does not "put the righteous to death with the wicked, so that the righteous fare as the wicked," Genesis 18:23-25. See also Deuteronomy 27:25. ('Cursed are those who slay the innocent').

  • Note the divine warning that those who live by the sword shall die by it. Matthew 26:52, Revelation 13:10. This includes even small-scale military action, 2 Kings 1:9-14. National strength (including GNP including agriculture and the military) shall be spent in vain, Leviticus 26:20. If defense is needed, people are to rely on and thank God, Exodus 15:1-20, pursuant to Exodus 14:13 and Ex. 15:3.

  • People are to be in the habit of obedience to God, not to politicians. Troops ultra-blatantly habitially, automatically, "follow orders," politician orders, thus when Christ returns, will "follow orders" to open fire on Christ and His angels. The penalty for this long-engrained bad habit of habitually "following orders" will be mass execution, mass extermination, mass capital punishment. Zechariah 14:12-13 and Revelation 14:20, the final fulfillment of Matthew 26:52, the final penalty for the bad habit of following politician orders.

  • Instead of many nations with their conflicting borders, the divine goal is for the LORD to be the unitary ruler over the whole earth, Zechariah 14:9, "world government" under one ruler, the "Prince of Peace."

  • Vengeance belongs to God. Proverbs 20:22, Deuteronomy 32:35, and Romans 12:19.

  • The repeatedly emphasized divine goal is for no hurting, no destroying, hence that swords, war weapons, be re-manufactured into plow-shares, agricultural tools, peaceful devices. Isaiah 2:4, Isaiah 11:9, Isaiah 65:25, Joel 3:10, and Micah 4:3.

  • Isaiah 2:4 goes so far as to provide for total disarmament and peace: "neither shall they learn war any more," i.e., the abolishment of military academies, schools, lessons.

  • The Bible economic system was incompatible with war. Deuteronomy 17:16-18 forbids having a significant military. (Horses, large budgets, etc., were then a significant part of the military, and were therefore forbidden in quantity to the government)

  • Even in civilian life, the duty is to prevent injury, even a statistically rare injury such as someone being injured by falling off a roof (Deuteronomy 22:8 (Commandment 263). "Lust" wants to NOT prevent harm, and lust, when it has "conceived"   "brings forth sin." (James 1:15). The end thereof is "death" (Romans 6:21, 23).

  • When in distress from long-term combat, David cut off a piece of clothing of his enemy, 1 Samuel 24:4-11, he quickly regretted doing even that (cutting a piece of cloth, not even the person).

  • Pursuant to 2 Corinthians 2:11, people are not to be "ignorant of Satan's devices." Said "devices" are schemes, methods, means, techniques, products whereby lust is conceived and produces sin (James 1:15). For example, in alcoholism case, this is medically known as 90% related to tobacco. While people cannot grant others the Holy Spirit, people can eliminate many "devices," e.g., tobacco, and re war, weapons (Isaiah 2:4,   Joel 3:10,   Micah 4:3, beat swords into plowshares).
  • The Bible has clear unmistakable language expressing the bottom line reason for wars. It bluntly says that war arises from politician-based causation, politicians' lusts, says James 4:1-2:

    “From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members?     2Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not.” [KJV].

  • These words refute the opposing heathen "just war" notion of pagan Roman philosophy of, e.g., Cicero [106 B.C. - 43 B.C.]).   James teaches the opposing view, the anti-"just war" doctrine, i.e., the Biblical view that wars are in fact caused by violation of the "thou shalt not covet - steal - kill - idolize" commands. For a further refutation of the pagan "just war" notion, see, e.g., Rev. Emmanuel Charles McCarthy Christian Just War Theory: The Logic of Deceit (2003) and "Introduction to the History, Theology and Spirituality of Gospel Nonviolence" (8 June 2010).

  • Christians are not to even keep company with, associate with, the covetous, railers, idolaters, and extortioners, 1 Cor 5:11, much less, to join the military and partake in their war-making enterprises. Reference Ephesians 5:7 and Revelation 18:4. Bible teaching on "mortal sin" shows wrongfulness of politicians placing people in the position of committing sin. And 'cursed are those who slay the innocent,' says Deuteronomy 27:25 ("collateral damage"). See also Genesis 18:23-25 (God as "Judge of all the earth" opposes killing the innocent, opposes action that does "put the righteous to death with the wicked, so that the righteous fare as the wicked").

  • Christians "are not of this [politico-military] system [thus] do not fight in the wars of the kingdoms of this world," says John W. Ritenbaugh of The Bible Tools Website, citing Philippians 3:20, "our citizenship is in heaven," 2 Corinthians 5:20, Christians "are ambassadors for Christ" (Christians' allegiance is to Christ, the King of the Kingdom of God); and 1 Peter 2:11, Christians are "strangers and pilgrims" in a foreign land. The national duty is, by adherence to the Divine Laws, to set a good example to other nations, not to fight them. Deuteronomy 4:6-7.

  • Bible precedents are for our example (1 Corinthians 10:6). The Bible shows that a military is not needed. Instead, the duty is to obey the commandments, please the Lord (Proverbs16:7) and have faith in, trust, God for protection. Examples of military not needed:

  • at the Exodus, the people of Israel were protected without a military (4:23, 14:13-14, details)

  • the war at Gideon's time, no large army (Judges 7:2-7) nor weapons (7:16) were allowed

  • the invasion at Elijah's time, wherein the enemy army was blinded (by miracle from God), so no
    military action was needed, instead, to display an entirely opposite reaction, to conduct a
    good-bye party for them! (2 Kings 6:8-23).

  • the war at Jehosaphat's time, send the priests to the front lines to sing praises to God
    (2 Chronicles 20:17, 21-22), no weapons needed!

  • the analysis that those who trust in the military instead of in God are brought down
    (Proverbs 20:7-8 compared with Jeremiah 17:5 and 7)

  • Politicians' habitual long-engrained defiance of these Bible commands and principles will lead -- before Christ Jesus returns -- to killing almost all of mankind. See Jeremiah 25:33,   Micah 5:10-11,   Ezekiel 6:6,   Revelation 6:8 (25% killed leaving 75% left),   Revelation 9:15 (33% killed leaving 42% left),   Revelation 9:18 (33% killed leaving 9% left), and Matthew 24:22 (killing off the remaining 9%, "few people left" (Isaiah 24:3, 6) -- except divine intervention -- Christ's return -- heads off politicians' final planned genocidal killing spree holocaust before politicians can commit such yet additional holocaust against the tragic 9% remainder of humanity).
    Re that violent deadly foreseeable and therefore predicted outcome of having politicians, militaries and war, "by their fruits ye shall know them" (Matthew 7:16 and 7:20 and 12:33). And politicians' use of biological warfare could with one type alone, Bird Flu, quickly kill half of mankind, says Nick Miller, "Bird flu mutation sparks fears of deadly pandemic" (New York, Saturday, 4 February 2012).

  • For realistic depiction of such massive levels of slaughter, see background on nuclear war effects in, e.g., John R. Hersey, Hiroshima (1946) (Summary, Background, Context);   The War Game (BBC, 1965) (online excerpt), and Threads (BBC, 1984) (online excerpt).   For fictionalized movies with some aspects of the miscalculations or horrors, see also, e.g., Failsafe, On the Beach, Dr. Strangelove, and The Day After.

  • Ed Pilkington, "US nearly detonated atomic bomb over North Carolina – secret document" (The Guardian, Friday, 20 September 2013) ("the US Air Force came dramatically close to detonating an atom bomb over North Carolina that would have been 260 times more powerful than the device that devastated Hiroshima. . . . two Mark 39 hydrogen bombs were accidentally dropped over Goldsboro, North Carolina on 23 January 1961. . . . Each bomb carried a payload of 4 megatons – the equivalent of 4 million tons of TNT explosive. Had the device detonated, lethal fallout could have been deposited over Washington, Baltimore, Philadelphia and as far north as New York City – putting millions of lives at risk.")

  • "Eric Schlosser: 'The people who are most anti-nuclear are the ones who know most about it'" (The Guardian, Friday, 20 September 2013) ("an official record of all the incidents that had befallen the American nuclear arsenal in the 10 years to 1967 . . . extend[s] to 245 pages. . . . nothing but a miracle has prevented an accidental Hiroshima or Nagasaki taking place on US soil. . . . the United States . . . devised an IBM computer programme called QUICK COUNT that allowed war planners to identify "desired ground zeros" in Soviet cities so as to maximise the number of civilians killed in a nuclear strike. In 1961, the Pentagon instigated a war plan that would be unstoppable once the nuclear button was pushed . . . . security at Titan II missile bases was so lapse you could break into one with just a credit card' . . . . the pool of knowledge posessed by that elite group of weapons designers and scientists is fast drying up. "It's very disturbing that the number of people who have seen a nuclear weapon detonate is dwindling. Half the American population was not yet born or were young children when the Soviet Union disappeared. The most anti-nuclear people in the US today are 75, 80 years old." Without their expertise to keep us alert, Schlosser fears, the world will be allowed to slide into a form of collective madness founded on denial, a death wish that sees nuclear weapons as no longer a problem. Though both the US and Soviet Union have reduced their stockpiles dramatically, the US today still has 4,650 nuclear weapons, Russia about 3,500, China and France about 400 each and the UK 150. Should just one of those warheads go off, through an accident, or through systems infiltration by a hacker, the consequences would be unthinkable.")

  • Nick Turse, "What a Nuclear War Between Israel and Iran Would Look Like" (13 May 2013) (Example: "A multi-weapon strike on Kermanshah, a Kurdish city with a population of 752,000, would result in an almost unfathomable 99.9% casualty rate.")

  • The divinely prophesied mass slaughter of 91% of mankind is the natural and probable consequence of having militaries, of politicians having a policy of "Instant Nuclear Strategic Annihilation of Nearly Everyone," cited by Prof. Michael Parenti, Ph.D., The Sword and the Dollar: Imperialism, Revolution, and the Arms Race (New York: St. Martin's Press, 1989), Chapter 13, "The Arms Chase," p 162. The acronym for politicians' policy of "Instant Nuclear Strategic Annihilation of Nearly Everyone" is I.N.S.A.N.E.   That acronym, I.N.S.A.N.E., is an apt descriptor, as psychopathology is a common politician characteristic. "By their fruits ye shall know them," Matthew 7:16, 20.
    The U.S. military in 1961 with the limited nuclear weaponry of the time was planning that the first strike alone would be committing a hundred holocausts minimum against civilians in the nations attacked: "The lower number was 275 million dead. The higher number was 325 million." Re the surrounding non-attacked neutral nations, "up to another hundred million depending on wind conditions." Re the U.S.' European allies, they'd be likewise affected, theirs "could be up to a hundred million deaths . . . 'depending on which way the wind blows,' as a general testifying before Congress had recently put it." That's just the first strike's results, "rougly 600 million dead." See Daniel Ellsberg, Ph.D., Secrets: A Memoir of Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers (New York: Viking Penguin, 2002), Chapter 3, "The Road to Escalation," pp 58-59.
    The Second Vatican Council, under Paul VI, issued a statement about nuclear weapons in Gaudium et spes in 1965: “Every act of war directed to the indiscriminate destruction of whole cities or vast areas with their inhabitants is a crime against God and man, which merits firm and unequivocal condemnation. A danger of modern weapons is that it provides the opportunity to those who possess modern weapons—especially atomic, biological or chemical weapons—to commit such crimes.” (Cited in Kevin J. Wetmore, Jr., "The Cross and the Bomb: Two Catholic Dramas in Response to Nagasaki," The Journal of Religion and Theatre, Vol. 1, No. 1 (Fall 2002). To see example of people's hysterical turning on each other when nuclear war comes, see, e.g., "The Twilight Zone: The Shelter, Part 1," Part 2, and Part 3 (29 September 1961).
    In context, see "Natorei Karta" definition: "(Aram. 'The Guardians of the City'): . . . The phrase originates from an incident in which R. Judah Ha-Nasi sent R. Hiyya and R. Ashi on a pastoral tour of inspection. In one town they asked to see the 'guardians of the city' and the city guard [police, troops] was paraded before them. 'These are not the guardians of the city but its destroyers' they declared.   'Who then are the guardians?' they were asked,   and they answered 'The scribes and the scholars,' referring them to Ps. 127:1   (Y. Hag. 76c),"   say Dr. R. J. Zwi Werblowsky and Dr. Geoffrey Wigoder (Hebrew University, Jerusalem), The Encyclopedia of the Jewish Religion (New York: Adama Books, 1986), p 282.   In short, the real "guardians of the city" and nation are those who instruct in the way of holiness, and thus in the details and depth of obedience to the Divine, who alone protects from what police and troops purport to protect, but will foreseeably, as specified, Ps. 127:1, not do so, can not do so, in the face of societal unrepentance.   Indeed, via the false and misplaced reliance on them, as idols in place of The Divine, they become the city's / nation's destroyers, indeed, as prophesied, of 91% of all mankind.
  • “The decisive contradiction of the kingdom of God against all concealed or blatant kingdoms of force is to be seen quite simply in the fact that it invalidates the whole friend-foe relationship between one human and another. . . . The disciples are told: ‘Love your enemies!’ (Matt. 5:44). This is the end of the whole friend-foe relationship, for when we love our enemy he ceases to be our enemy. It thus abolishes the whole exercise of force, which presupposes this relationship, and has no meaning apart from it. . . . In conformity with the New Testament, one can be pacifist not in principle but only in practice (praktisch Pazifist). But let everyone consider very carefully whether, being called to discipleship, it is possible to avoid – or permissible to neglect – becoming a practical pacifist!”—Karl Barth, Church Dogmatics IV/2, pp. 549-50 (KD IV/2, p. 622).

    The book by David Cortwright, Ph.D., Soldiers in Revolt: The American Military Today (Garden City, NY: Anchor Doubleday, 1975),   and the movie "Sir! No Sir! The Suppressed Story of the GI Movement to End the War" (April 2006) concern GI's vs the Vietnam War. GI opposition to the war brought it to an end as they came to mass refuse to fight the war. See also modern parallels, e.g.,
  • Ana Radelat, "Thousands of Troops Say They Won't Fight" (Gannett News Service, 5 August 2006)
  • Dahr Jamail, The Will to Resist: Soldiers Who Refuse to Fight in Iraq and Afghanistan
  • anti-war troops' site.
  • See also our related websites
  • "Wars: Causation Process Prevention Efforts: Lessons from History"

  • Sumner's Anti War Speeches (1845-1870)

  • Corwin's Anti-Mexican War Speech (1847)

  • Lincoln's Anti-Mexican War Speech (1848).
  • Below are background references to help you understand so-called "Christians" who reject the Bible commands, verses, and principles against war.

    “To include all that is designated as atheism, it is necessary to distinguish between theoretical atheism and practical atheism. Theoretical atheism, is the denial, in principle, that there is a god. . . .
    “Practical atheism, on the contrary, is not limited to the intelligentsia, but represents the working [life-style] philosophy of large numbers of men [people]. Practical atheism is the denial, in practice [life-style], that there is a god [with laws]. For such a philosophy, the question of the existence of God [His laws] is irrelevant to the meaning of life and the decisions of human existence,” says the article “Atheism,” Encyclopedia Britannica, Vol. 2 (1963), p 667.
    Said another way: "The greatest source of atheism in the world today is Christians, who acknowledge Jesus with their lips but deny Him by their lifestyles. That is what an unbelieving world simply finds unbelievable."
    “Practical atheism does not deny God, but life is lived as if there is no God. There is complete indifference to His claims, and often there is outspoken and defiant wickedness (Psalm 14:1). This form of atheism is widely prevalent,” says David Horton, Ed., The Portable Seminary (Bloomington MN: Bethany House, 2006), § Atheism, p 410. “Hebrew has no equivalent word for atheism. In the Old Testament the form of atheism that one encounters is practical atheism—human conduct carried out without consideration of God (Psalm 10:4; 14:1; 53:1; cf. Isaiah 31:1; Jeremiah 2:13, 17-18; 5:12; 18:13-15).” p 409.
    In short: “They profess to know God, but by their deeds they deny Him. . . .” Titus 1:15.
    The opposite position is that the person “will not need to be forced by law to [right living] but will himself come running in a hurry . . . constrained within himself . . . [such] people will then come of themselves [internalized, inner-motivated, to right living] without your using compulsion,” says Martin Luther, Th.D., in Luther's Preface to the Small Catechism (1529).

    Example 1 of "professing to know God"
    but treating Him as the opposite of Bible-teaching

    Example 2 of "professing to know God"
    but treating Him as the opposite of Bible-teaching

    "In all history there is no war which was not hatched by the governments, the governments alone, independent of the interests of the people, to whom war is always pernicious even when successful. The government assures the people that they are in danger from the invasion of another nation, or from foes in their midst, and that the only way to escape this danger is by the slavish obedience of the people to their government. This fact is seen most prominently during revolutions and dictatorships, but it exists always and everywhere that the power of the government exists. Every government explains its existence, and justifies its deeds of violence, by the argument that if it did not exist the condition of things would be very much worse. After assuring the people of its danger the government subordinates it to control, and when in this condition compels it to attack some other nation. And thus the assurance of the government is corroborated in the eyes of the people, as to the danger of attack from other nations." Source: Christianity and Patriotism (1895), by Count Lev. N. Tolstoy (1828-1910), as translated in The Novels and Other Works of Leo N. Tolstoï, Vol. 20, p. 44.

    Pro-war “Christians” and politicians are “practical atheists,” denying relevance of God's laws in human existence, everyday life-style (e.g., God's anti-war principles and commandments). See 2 Corinthians 11:13-15 for background on such "Christians." They are in reality "practical atheists." See also Rev. Craig Groeschel, The Christian Atheist: Believing in God but Living As If He Doesn't Exist (Zondervan, 2010).

    “To include all that is designated as atheism, it is necessary to distinguish between theoretical atheism and practical atheism. Theoretical atheism, is the denial, in principle, that there is a god. . . . Practical atheism, on the contrary, is not limited to the intelligentsia, but represents the working [life-style] philosophy of large numbers of men [people]. Practical atheism is the denial, in practice [life-style], that there is a god [with laws]. For such a philosophy, the question of the existence of God [His laws] is irrelevant to the meaning of life and the decisions of human existence,” says “Atheism," Encyclopedia Britannica, Vol. 2 (1963), p 667. Said another way: "The greatest source of atheism in the world today is Christians, who acknowledge Jesus with their lips but deny Him by their lifestyles. That is what an unbelieving world simply finds unbelievable.”

    “Practical atheism does not deny God, but life is lived as if there is no God. There is complete indifference to His claims, and often there is outspoken and defiant wickedness (Psalm 14:1). This form of atheism is widely prevalent,” says David Horton, Ed., The Portable Seminary (Bloomington MN: Bethany House, 2006), § Atheism, p 410. “Hebrew has no equivalent word for atheism. In the Old Testament the form of atheism that one encounters is practical atheism—human conduct carried out without consideration of God (Psalm 10:4, 14:1, 53:1; cf. Isaiah 31:1, Jeremiah 2:13, 17-18, 5:12, 9:6, 18:13-15),” p 409.

    In short: “They profess to know God, but by their deeds they deny Him. . . .” Titus 1:15; cf. Jeremiah 9:6. Such people die in vain, says Ray McGovern, "They Died in Vain; Deal With It" (8 August 2011), "Many of those preaching at American church services Sunday extolled as 'heroes' the 30 American and 8 Afghan troops killed Saturday west of Kabul, when a helicopter on a night mission crashed, apparently after taking fire from Taliban forces. This week, the Fawning Corporate Media (FCM) can be expected to beat a steady drumbeat of 'they shall not have died in vain.' But they did. I know it is a hard truth, but they did die in vain. As in the past, churches across the country will keep praising the fallen troops for protecting 'our way of life' . . . In sum, by and large, American preachers are afraid to tell the truth. They lack the virtue that Thomas Aquinas [1225-1274] taught is the foundation of all virtue -- courage. Aquinas wrote (to translate into the vernacular) that all other virtue is specious if you have no guts."

    The opposite, and courageous, position is that the person “will not need to be forced by law to [right living] but will himself come running in a hurry . . . constrained within himself . . . [such] people will then come of themselves [internalized, inner-motivated, to right living] without your using compulsion,” says Martin Luther, Th.D., in Luther's Preface to the Small Catechism (1529).

    Another term for pro-war "Christians" is idolaters. Such professing/pretended Christians have idols: (a) politicians, (b) troops, (c) military devices and weaponry, (d) their own reasoning, (e) their Church doctrine book as distinct from the Bible, etc. Their idolatry includes committing eisegesis (imposing one's predetermined alleged meaning upon words) as opposed to “exegesis” (determining word meaning from context) with respect to the Bible. Pro-war types do “eisegesis,” i.e., impose their pre-determined minds-made-up-in-advance pro-war views on the Bible. They do not not allow it to teach them to the contrary. They close their minds to the First Century Christian doctrine. They are wholly unconverted individuals. Their pro-war position constitutes a tergiversation. ("Tergiversation" refers to false claims, as distinct from lesser fraud, mere “eisegesis,” imposing one's predetermined alleged meaning upon words. Both are in contrast to “exegesis,” honestly determining word, including noting context.)

    Now "if the apostles and those around them did not know the meaning of Christ's teaching, that meaning has been lost to the world for ever," says Rev. Dennis Hird, Jesus the Socialist (London: The Clarion Press, 1908), p 16. Of course, the Bible still exists, copies massively abound, many people own multiple copies. We can all read it, study it, and the anti-war history, above-cited, of the First Century Church, "the apostles and those around them."

    One result of the foregoing atheism or idolatry is to deceive numbers of youths into entering military servitude, and to support them in doing so. Such a church is not a Christian church, regardless of what the name says on the door. Thus, one solution is to appeal to secular authorities to ban passing youth data on to the military. See, e.g., Kathleen Miller, "Maryland First State to Bar Schools Releasing Tests to Military" (Associated Press, Thursday, 13 May 2010). See also "Peace activist honored with Pacem in Terris award" (4 September 2010).

    Another approach is to sue for enforcement of pro-peace laws, as done by Attorney Luis Roberto Zamorra Bolaños, says the article "Costa Rican Lawyer Roberto Zamorra Crusades for the Right to Peace" (6 May 2014).

    The San Antonio Peace Center has on its site an 8 week course of readings on Nonviolence. The Center also has a 16 week University Course on Nonviolence which is more involved. Both are available as free downloads and both are complied/edited by Colman McCarthy a pacifist and longtime supporter of Catholic Worker Communities, and author of I'd Rather Teach Peace. Both courses have essays by Gandhi, Thomas Merton, and Dorothy Day as well as others - including secular voices. The 8 week course: is at The 16 week course is at See also Rev. Emmanuel Charles McCarthy's "The Christian Just War Theory: Logic of Deceipt" and "Introduction to the History, Theology and Spirituality of Gospel Nonviolence" (8 June 2010).


    "Hit and Stay" (pending history of aspects of the 1960's U.S. anti-war movement)
    "Military Doublespeak"
    Tolstoy on the Law of Love
    May 15, International Conscientious Objectors Day
    Christmas Truce 1914 1 and 2 (Videos)
    Petition in Support of Derry Anti-War Protestors (The Raytheon 9)
    Students Beyond War Video
    11th Hour for Peace
    "Catholic Bishops Say No Bombs on Syria" (8 September 2013) (Catholic Bishop Richard Pate, Chair, U.S. Catholic Bishops Committee on Justice and Peace, gives a straight up NO to War, message to the U.S. government, 'don't add fuel to the fire, with U.S. bombs in Syria!')
    "Trial of anti-nuclear activists ends with unusual sentence" (National Catholic Reporter, 30 December 2013) (no jail time, instead essay on anti-war issues)