Spurgeon on Christian War Fever

Why do professing Christians continue to beat the war drum despite the glaring dichotomy between murder and God’s Word? It is all too common to witness the Christian war fever — that sickening blind worship of the state that elevates G.W. Bush or Barack Obama to Messiah and seeks to justify the immoral, unscriptural, unconstitutional wars in the Middle East by incessantly repeating the false mantras “obey the powers that be” and “God is a God of war.”

Charles Haddon Spurgeon (1834—1892) was an English Baptist minister who served as pastor of the Metropolitan Tabernacle in London from 1861 until his death. Spurgeon preached his first sermon as a teenager and, in 1854, was called to the pastorate of the historic New Park Street Church, Southwark, London. During his thirty-eight-year tenure, the church increased from 232 to over 5,000. Many times his public teachings gathered close to 10,000. He was truly one of the most influential preachers in history. Spurgeon was no ordinary minister. He was a pastor, preacher, teacher, author, editor, and the overseer of a pastor’s college, a Christian literature society, and an orphanage. When he died in 1892, 60,000 people filed past his casket in the Tabernacle. He is still widely revered today among Baptists (and many others) as one of the greatest ministers in church history.

Below are some of his thoughts on war:

If men receive Christ, there will be no more oppression: the true Christian does to others as he would that they should do to him, and there is no more contention of classes, nor grinding of the faces of the poor. Slavery must go down where Christianity rules, and mark you, if Romanism be once destroyed, and pure Christianity shall govern all nations, war itself must come to an end; for if there be anything which this book denounces and counts the hugest of all crimes, it is the crime of war. Put up thy sword into thy sheath, for hath not he said, “Thou shalt not kill,” and he meant not that it was a sin to kill one but a glory to kill a million, but he meant that bloodshed on the smallest or largest scale was sinful. Let Christ govern, and men shall break the bow and cut the spear in sunder, and burn the chariot in the fire. It is joy to all nations that Christ is born, the Prince of Peace, the King who rules in righteousness. (“Joy Born at Bethlehem,” December 24, 1871, Metropolitan Tabernacle).

Long have I held that war is an enormous crime; long have I regarded all battles as but murder on a large scale (“India’s Ills and England’s Sorrows,” September 6, 1857, Music Hall, Royal Surrey Gardens).

So combustible are the materials of which this great world is made, that I am ever apprehensive of war. I do not account it wonderful that one nation should strive against another, I account if far more wonderful that they are not all at arms. Whence come wars and fightings? Come they not from your lusts? Considering how much lust there is in the world, we might well conceive that there would be more war than we see. Sin is the mother of wars; and remembering how plentiful sin is, we need not marvel if it brings forth multitudes of them. We may look for them. If the coming of Christ be indeed drawing nigh, then we must expect wars and rumors of wars through all the nations of the earth (“The God of Peace,” November 4, 1855, New Park Street Chapel).

It is astonishing how distance blunts the keen edge of anything that is disagreeable. War is at all times a most fearful scourge. The thought of slain bodies and of murdered men must always harrow up the soul; but because we hear of these things in the distance, there are few Englishmen who can truly enter into their horrors. If we should hear the booming of cannon on the deep which girdles this island; if we should see at our doors the marks of carnage and bloodshed; then should we more thoroughly appreciate what war means. But distance takes away the horror, and we therefore speak of war with too much levity, and even read of it with an interest not sufficiently linked with pain (“A Present Religion,” May 30, 1858, Music Hall, Royal Surrey Gardens).

Better far for us to have famine than war. From all civil war and all the desperate wickedness which it involves, good Lord deliver us; and if thou smitest us as thou hast done, it is better to fall into the hand of God than into the hand of man (“Christian Sympathy,” November 9, 1862, Metropolitan Tabernacle).

Oh! that God would put an end in the world to all wars between nations, as well as all strifes between individuals (“The Fruits of Grace,” January 21, 1872, Metropolitan Tabernacle).

Perhaps Christian’s should take a good hard look at their Bible and realize that God has always forbid His people to murder. The continuous wars in the Middle East are bankrupting this country, killing hundreds of thousands or innocent people, and serving no purpose whatsoever. The government spends 1+ Trillion dollars per year more than it collects in revenue. So we charge the wars to our never-ending line of credit and leave it for future generations to bear, another practice frowned upon in Scripture. It’s time to replace the ever-perpetuating ignorance with sound reasoning based on Biblical principles.

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Why Theology Matters

The word theology comes from two Greek words, theos (God) and logos (word). I like a simple definition for such a profound topic: Theology – The study of God. The ultimate goal of Christian theology is to learn about God, His nature and His will, and how they apply to ourselves.  Therefore, Christian theology also includes the study of man because God deals with man, saves him (Eph 2:8), and loves him (John 3:16).

It is our ideas about God that shape the Christian’s worldview, that give rise to our insecurities or inspire confidence as we engage in daily living.  It is the calling of every Christian to examine our narratives, our own ideas about God, and, rather than craft those ideas to our tastes and preferences, to give those notions a continuous and thorough examination in light of Scripture, finding where those concepts ring true, and where they have gone dreadfully astray.  Our calling is to know God as God is, not as we would like Him to be. Theology enables God’s people to think correctly and live rightly. What we do always flows from what we believe, and a sound theology helps us think clearly, rightly, and, most importantly, biblically about God. Jesus instructed us in Matthew 22:37, that you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. Theology is one means whereby we love God with our minds.

We are commanded throughout Scripture to work through a Biblical, well reasoned theology. To neglect this command is to disobey God.

Paul encourages Christians at the church of Philippi to “continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling.” (Philippians 2:12) Notice the verse does not say one must work for salvation. Instead, the command is an admonishment concerning theology; precisely, the proper role of God, and man, in salvation.

Peter reminds us to set apart the Messiah as Lord in your hearts and always be ready to give a defense to anyone who asks you the reason for the hope that is in you (1 Peter 3:15).

Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. (2 Timothy 2:15).

By God’s grace, with the help of Holy Scripture and the body of Christ, may we know, love, and worship God in spirit and in truth (John 4:24)