War Is Not of the Kingdom of Christ (Moses Lard on War; Part 5 of 11)

Originally published in Lard’s Quarterly; April 1866. For previous parts, read here:
Moses Lard: “Should Christians Go To War?” (Part 1 of 11)
The Absolute Character of War (Part 2 of 11)
War Defined and Examined (Part 3 of 11)

War Cannot Be Right When Its Cause Is Wrong (Part 4 of 11)

War Is Not of the Kingdom of Christ

My second argument will be based on the following:

My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now is my kingdom not from hence.

John 18:36

The expression, “My kingdom is not of this world,” is to the Christian one of peculiar value. It is one of those great general sayings of the Savior which regulate not a single act, but a life. By it the Christian is taken completely out of the world. His citizenship is changed; for he is transferred into a new kingdom; his relations are new; his modes of life are new; and all the principles which govern it are new. He is himself a new creature; old things have passed away; and he is no longer, as though still living in the world, to be regulated in his conduct by purely worldly ways and laws. His subjection to the will of Christ is now absolute. It is the supreme regulating law of his life. It controls, not one act, but all. Every thought, and word, and deed is to be referred to this and determined by it. All this is implied in the fact that the kingdom of Christ is not of this world, and that the Christian is in it. Now, that war is not permitted within this kingdom, among its inhabitants, is simply indisputable. Wars take place in the world and belong to it. They are not of the kingdom of Christ. Hence, if the Christian go to war, he must, to that extent, go out of the kingdom and back into the world. Now the question arises, can any thing, law, or necessity, which is not of this kingdom, so far take the Christian out of the kingdom, and place him back in the world, as to enable him innocently to engage in war? I feel profoundly satisfied it cannot. If war were permitted in the kingdom, then might the Christian engage in it out of the kingdom; or if it harmonized with any rule of action of the kingdom, or with its spirit, or with the renewed character of its citizens, in that case might the Christian go to war. But it is not permitted, neither does it so harmonize. On what ground, then, I ask, is the Christian to be justified in an act of going to war? Simply none.

But we must not omit to notice the Savior’s own mode of treating the case. His language is: “If my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews.” Now allow that the word “fight” is not to be here so taken as to include fighting for any purpose; still it must be admitted that it denotes fighting in any way. “Then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews.” The object is clearly specific; the mode of effecting it clearly is not; that is, it is not except within certain general limits. It is specific within the limits within which fighting can be done, but no further. The Savior clearly means, then would my servants fight, fight in any way, fighting with any thing, fight in battle, fight as soldiers – fight in whatever mode might be necessary to prevent the end named. This clearly includes fighting in the sense of an act of war. Now, that delivering up the Savior to the Jews, and their putting him to death, were wrong, are points which, in the light of the former point, in what he says of Judas; Peter decides the latter, in what he says of the Jews. Indeed, I set down the act of murdering Christ as the most outrageous and flagrant deed of earth. Of all the crimes that heaven ever frowned upon, this, in the point of turpitude; exceeds them all. To take a being, who was without spot or stain, the purest and truest friend of man, and with malice of the pit put him to death, rises in blackness and deep criminality infinitely over every other sin of human kind. Nor is the slightest mitigation of this sin that God intended his Son thus to die. This he did; but he never intended the wickedness which caused it. To intend that his Son should thus die, knowing that there would then be men who, of their own accord, would be wicked enough to do the deed, is one thing; and to intend that wickedness, a very different thing. That God did; not this. Hence the Jews were in God’s sight, and in the sight of every law forbidding wrong and every one commanding right, as guilty as though his Father had decreed that Christ should live forever and never die. Now if, because his kingdom is not of this world, he would not let his servants fight to prevent this crime, what crime may they yet fight to prevent, or what to avenge? The crime, it seems to be, cannot be named by human cunning which can justify fighting if this did not. But further: let it be noted that this would not have been a fight to acquire territory, power, or gain, or to gratify lust in any of its forms, but solely to prevent the shedding of innocent blood. Yet to fight even for this object, and in the absence of all the motives and feelings which usually lead to war, was not permitted. Can, then, the servants of Christ fight at all? To me it seems impossible.

But we shall be told, that, had Christ allowed his servants to fight, and to prevent his being delivered to the Jews, thereby the purposes of God would have been defeated as to the mode in which his Son should die. Granting this, as to this particular mode, still, had it been right to fight to prevent it, would not the heavenly Father have fixed on some other mode which fighting could not defeat? Surely he was not necessarily limited to a single mode. As an objection, then, this amounts to nothing.

But still further: we shall be told that it would have been wrong for Christ’s servants to fight to prevent an event which was necessary to the founding of his kingdom, and, without which, it could not be founded; but that this does not imply that they may not fight for other purposes. True, it may not imply this; but it expressly teaches that fighting is in some cases not allowable. Now, granting that in others it may be, then comes the difficult question, which are the allowable, and which the disallowed cases. In the absence of divine direction, are Christians competent to decide the question? I feel they are not. Are they not rather bound to decide that all wars are wrong, seeing they are so very horrible in themselves, and hence to decline to take part in them till some divine warrant therefor is produced? This seems to be their true and only safe rule of conduct. At least, they must not act till they know which wars are right, if any are, and which are wrong; for in a doubtful case the Christian must either not act at all, or he must act on the side which is least doubtful; and that this is the side of not going to war I shall not argue.

Continue reading to Moses Lard’s third argument against war here:
The Will of God is Wholly Against War (Moses Lard on War; Part 6 of 11)

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