Westminster Speaks

November 25, 2008

War and the Christian

"When a nation goes to war, the most pressing question in the minds of thoughtful Christians is likely to be: is this a just war?

"I suspect that in asking this question we are really wanting to know whose side God is on since, once we answer that question, all of the moral complexities that surround the issue of war seem somehow to disappear.

'I want to suggest that the situation is always more complicated and, even in the case of a war that is eminently justifiable – for example, the Second World War and the struggle of the Allies against Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan – there are moral challenges even for the most humble believer.

'Christians get killed on both sides.  Helmut Thielicke, a German pastor, tells of how he would preach each week during the Allied bombing, knowing that good members of his church would be dead before the night was out.

'Was God not on their side?   Did their geopolitical location and nationality disqualify them from God’s love and providential care?  Of course not.

'But as soon as we think of war in terms of such individuals, we become aware that attempts at trite black-and-white thinking are misplaced; and that God’s grace and love transcends national and political boundaries, and even death itself."

Dr. Carl R. Trueman, Vice President for Academic Affairs and Professor of Historical Theology and Church History