Does the Bible Justify War?
While our Constitution clarifies that only Congress has the power to declare war, it's a very different thing to suggest that the Bible justifies war in the twenty-first century. It's not as clear as some well-meaning Christians may think, and the consequences of confusion over this could be horrendously irreversible if there were to be a nuclear conflict.
While some might point to Israel's battles in the Old Testament as precedent for God using one nation to judge another, there is no direct parallel today. God's directives to Israel to obliterate enemies were given in the context of his plan for Israel, revealed in Genesis 12 with the Abrahamic Covenant. What God did with Israel was not done as an example for other nations to follow; His directives had a very focused purpose for a very specific time. The United States is not Israel. We cannot apply the directives God gave to Israel to the United States. Doing so is not only poor biblical exegesis, but it could also get tens of thousands of people – or more – killed.
I'm also afraid we are being selective in our application of scripture. The same Bible that contains Romans 13 includes these timely words in light of the North Korean crisis: "A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger" (Proverbs 15:1). Cornering a rabid dog increases the odds of being bitten. If we continue with comments such as the president made on Tuesday, that North Korea will be met with fire, fury and power the likes of which this world has never seen before, we may be creating a self-fulfilling prophecy without biblical justification.
Yes, our leaders have an obligation to deal with evil, but they also must demonstrate restraint and wisdom along the way. No one doubts the strength of a bull when marching through a china shop – but one could rightly question the fanfare. The Bible teaches, repeatedly and consistently, that leaders have a God-given responsibility to protect innocent people and to do all they can to minimize collateral damage and the loss of life – not only in America, but also abroad. We Christians should be unapologetic about putting down bricks in favor of the Bible at every opportunity.
I understand the concern our leaders should have in handling the North Korean nuclear threat. But I think it's time we need to take a long, hard look at the truth of Proverbs 15:1 and heed its warning – now.
I am not saying that a military strike against North Korea should never be undertaken from the standpoint of U.S. law and an act of congress. We may reach that point of no return. But I would hate to see the whole world forever changed all because we didn't heed the wisdom of Proverbs 15:1 at a time when all of the Bible, not just select portions, is essential.
There is wisdom in wisdom, and we certainly need wisdom right now. But we also need humble courage more than ever, because arrogance could dig us into a hole wider and deeper than we can possibly imagine. Pride and runaway egos have resulted in the downfall of kings and kingdoms since the beginning of time.
I do not envy the president's position, and I am praying diligently for him, for congress, for America and even our enemies. I urge everyone who embraces the Bible, and the God whose teachings it reflects, to do the same so that we don't rub salt into an already festering wound.