HOLY WAR

by Kevin V. Rutherford

 

There is much talk today about Islamic Jihad.  There are Muslims who view jihad as a personal spiritual battle against evil.  On the other hand, there are Muslims who view Islamic Jihad as a holy war in which they must strike down as many infidels as possible.  There has been much blood shed by Muslims who take the latter view of jihad.  In the name of Islam and Allah three thousand people were slaughtered on September eleventh.

The Roman Catholic Church has declared war and justified bloodshed throughout history for various reasons.  Most of those killed by the Catholic Church were killed because they disagreed with Catholic doctrine.  In the name of Christianity and God thousands upon thousands have been tortured and/or killed by Catholics.

However, there is a significant difference between Islam and Catholicism today.  To my knowledge there are no mainstream influential Catholic leaders who are calling for any kind of holy war.  The Catholic Church may still be corrupt in many areas, but they are not calling for the slaughter of any who do not accept the Catholic faith.  In contrast, there are many Muslims who are filled with deep hatred toward anyone who is not a Muslim.  Muslim Clerics and leaders are ordering up violence and bloodshed every day.

How does God view all of this?  The only way for us to know the answer to that question is to look into His Word.  While the specifics of today’s conflicts are not directly dealt with in the Scriptures, we can discover certain principles that will let us know how God views “holy wars.”

Let us go to the Old Testament first.  The Law of Moses was given specifically for the Jews (Deuteronomy 5:1-3).  It was a law which flatly condemned murder (Exodus 20:13).  However, the condemnation against murder only referred to the taking of innocent life.  Capitol punishment was ordered and practiced for various crimes (Deuteronomy 13:5).  In addition, God called for specific wars against specific people.  Whenever God called for the Jews to destroy another nation it was because that other nation was extreme in its wickedness and violence.  God never called the Jews to war against any moral and peaceful nation.  A good example is seen in God’s comments to Abraham concerning the Amorites (Genesis 15:13-16).  God would not give the land of the Amorites to Abraham, but rather to his descendents.  The reason for this was the iniquity of the Amorites had not reached a point where God would justify their destruction in Abraham’s day.  When the Law of Moses was in effect and Moses was leading Israel things were different.  The Amorites were indeed very wicked and the Jews were given authority to utterly destroy them (Joshua 2:10).

While the Old Testament was both a civil and religious law, the New Testament is a religious law only.  This is not to say that national governments would not benefit from the strong moral principles of the New Testament.  We are only saying that God now allows all governments to make and enforce their own laws (Romans 13:1-7).  Under this new law God allows governments to choose when to bear the sword in the enforcement of its laws and in the protection of its people (Romans 13:4).

But while God gives governments the right to bear the sword, the New Testament never commands Christians to wage any kind of physical holy war. Christians are told very clearly that the war we are to wage is a spiritual one (Ephesians 6:12).  Therefore, anyone who wages a holy war in the name of Christianity does so without the authority of God.

Islam is not the true religion of God.  Catholicism is not the true religion of God.  Both directly conflict with the Holy Scriptures given to us by God.  Both Islam and Catholicism have lead to the slaughter of many innocents.  True Christianity never will.