Archive for the ‘war’ Category

ll wars are undertaken for the acquisition of wealth; and the reason why we have to acquire wealth is the body, because we are slaves in its service

November 17, 2009

Wars and revolutions and battles are due simply and solely to the body and its desires. All wars are undertaken for the acquisition of wealth; and the reason why we have to acquire wealth is the body, because we are slaves in its service.

Socrates, Plato, Phaedo, 66c

NB the ‘body’ (i.e.physical nature) as cause. This is the problem for ancient Greek philosophy but of course there is little to be done for it. Contrast the Biblical account of the sinful nature as cause which can be transformed and overcome by the Spirit of God in the new birth.

Socrates seems to assume that wealth cannot be gained in peaceful manners too…


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We used to wonder where war lived, what it was that made it so vile. And now we realize that we know where it lives… inside ourselves

November 17, 2009

We used to wonder where war lived, what it was that made it so vile. And now we realize that we know where it lives… inside ourselves.

Albert Camus

God gave us Ten Commandments and we broke them. Wilson gave us his Fourteen Points and we shall see

November 17, 2009

At the end of World War I, US President Woodrow Wilson proposed a 14 point plan calling for free elections, free trade, freedom of the seas and world disarmament. He spoke of a League of Nations to guarantee the peace.

Georges Clemenceau, French Premier, said: “God gave us Ten Commandments and we broke them. Wilson gave us his Fourteen Points and we shall see.”

War is a disciplinary action by God to educate mankind

November 17, 2009

War is a disciplinary action by God to educate mankind.

Kaiser Wilhelm II In February 1918

I note that he did not seek that ‘education’ for himself or his sons.

The whole world is wet with mutual blood. And murder–which is admitted to be a crime in the case of an individual–is called a virtue when it is committed wholesale

November 15, 2009

The whole world is wet with mutual blood. And murder–which is admitted to be a crime in the case of an individual–is called a virtue when it is committed wholesale. Impunity is claimed for the wicked deeds, not because they are guiltless, but because the cruelty is perpetrated on a grand scale!

Cyprian of Carthage, To Donatus, sec.6

Can it be lawful to make an occupation of the sword, when the Lord proclaims that ‘he who uses the sword shall perish by the sword’?

November 15, 2009

Can it be lawful to make an occupation of the sword, when the Lord proclaims that ‘he who uses the sword shall perish by the sword’? And shall the son of peace take part in battle, when it does not become him even to sue at law? Shall he apply the chain, the prison, the torture, and the punishment, when he is not [even] the avenger of his own wrongs?”

Tertullian, The Crown , chap. 11

It pains me to criticise the great Tertullian, but surely a Christian occupies two kingdoms? The sword is not an instrument of the Church but it is of the earthly State. To advance the Kingdom of God, the sword must never be used. But as a citizen of a given State, a Christian may lawfully bear and use arms in his civil duty.

Note well the context of the two Scripture passages Tertullian quotes and alludes to. They are used a) in the potential use of the sword in the defence of the person of Christ Mt.26.52, and by extension, the Church and b) in inter-Church disputes. Neither case respects earthly duties, as Christians all have, to obey the powers that be (Rom.13.1f and 1 Peter 2.13).

So whilst it is apposite to quote Justin Martyr who said,

We, who formerly murdered one another, not only refuse to make war against our enemies, but in order not to lie nor deceive our judges, meet death willingly, confessing Christ. (Apology I, 39)

We note that this pertains in the kingdom of God and not of man. The lawful, earthly sovereign may command his subjects, including Christians, to take up arms to defend his kingdom.

Thus, any ‘Holy War’, which has man brandishing a sword, is de facto Satanic. But if I defend my house by force against an intruder who would harm my family, I do so as a citizen of that country. After I have subdued him I may preach the gospel to him – if he will listen!

For a time, a sort of mystic illumination possessed me

September 24, 2009

[Bertrand Russell was present when the wife of his collaborator Alfred North Whitehead was undergoing an unusually severe bout of pain due to heart trouble. He was 29 at the time, and in the following excerpt from his autobiography he described the effect this experience had on him.]

She seemed cut off from everyone and everything by walls of agony, and the sense of the solitude of each human soul suddenly overwhelmed me. Every since my marriage, my emotional life had been calm and superficial. I had forgotten all the deeper issues, and had been content with flippant cleverness. Suddenly the ground seemed to give way beneath me, and I found myself in quite another region…
At the end of those five minutes, I had become a completely different person. For a time, a sort of mystic illumination possessed me. I felt that I knew the inmost thoughts of everybody that I met in the street, and though this was, no doubt, a delusion, I did in actual fact find myself in far closer touch than previously with all my friends, and many of my acquaintances. Having been an Imperialist, I became during those five minutes a pro-Boer and a Pacifist. Having for years cared only for exactness and analysis, I found myself filled with semi-mystical feelings about beauty, with an intense interest in children, and with a desire almost as profound as that of the Buddha to find some philosophy which should make human life endurable. A strange excitement possessed me, containing intense pain but also some element of triumph through the fact that I could dominate pain, and make it, as I thought, a gateway to wisdom. The mystic insight which I then imagined myself to possess has largely faded, and the habit of analysis has reasserted itself. But something of what I thought I saw in that moment has remained always with me, causing my attitude during the first war, my interest in children, my indifference to minor misfortunes, and a certain emotional tone in all my human relations.

In other place he says:

Within five minutes I went through such reflections as the following: the loneliness of the human soul is unendurable; nothing can penetrate it except the highest intensity of love that religious teachers have preached; whatever does not spring from this motive is harmful, or at best useless; it follows that war is wrong, that a public school education is abominable, that the use of force is to be deprecated…

Bertrand Russell, in Ray Monk, vol.1, p.135

So for all his rationalism, basically his pacifism was based on this five minute religious experience. If he was ‘deluded’ about seeing into people’s souls, how did he know he wasn’t deluded about being pro-Boer and pacifist – sentiments that he fought for (not literally of course – that would be inconsistent!) the rest of his life.

He also said that he learned in this experience that, ‘strife is the root of all evil and gentleness the only balm. I became infinitely gentle for a time.’

So he learned that gentleness is good not through reason but through an experience. And it didn’t last.

Spurgeon’s rejection of pragmatism and carnal methods

June 28, 2009

I often hear Christian men blessing God for that which I cannot but reckon as a curse. They will say, if there is war with China, “The bars of iron will be cut in sunder, and the gates of brass shall be opened to the gospel.” Whenever England goes to war, many shout, “It will open a way for the gospel.” I cannot understand how the devil is to make a way for Christ; and what is war but an incarnate fiend, the impersonation of all that is hellish in fallen humanity’ How, then, shall we rouse the devilry of man’s nature– Cry Havoc, and let slip the dogs of war–

and then declare it is to make straight in the desert a highway for our God–a highway knee-deep in gore? Do you believe it? You cannot. God does overrule evil for good, but I have never seen yet–though I look with the cautious eye of one who has no party to serve-I have never seen the rare fruit which is said to grow upon this vine of Gomorrah. Let any other nation go to war, and it is all well and good for the English to send missionaries to the poor inhabitants of the ravaged countries. In such a case, our people did not make the war, they did not create the devastation, so they may go there to preach, but for English cannon to make a way in Canton for an English missionary, is a lie too glaring for me to believe for a moment. I cannot comprehend the Christianity which talks thus of murder and robbery. If other nations thus choose to fight, and if God lets them open the door for the gospel, I will bless Him, but I must still weep for the slain, and exclaim against the murderers. I blush for my country when I see it committing such terrible crimes in China, for what is the opium traffic but an enormous crime? War arises out of it, and then men say that the gospel is furthered by it: can you see how that result is produced? Then your eye must be singularly fashioned. For my part, I am in the habit of looking straight at a thing–I endeavour to judge it by the Word of God-and in this case it requires but little deliberation in order to arrive at a verdict. It seems to me that, if I were a Chinaman, and I saw an Englishman preaching in the street in China, I should say to him, “What have you got there?” “I am sent to preach the gospel to you.” “The gospel! What is that? Is it anything like opium? Does it intoxicate, and blast, and curse, and kill?” “Oh, no!” he would say–but I do not know how he would continue his discourse; he would be staggered and confounded, he could say nothing. There is a very good story told of the Chinese that is quite to the point. A missionary lately went to them with some tracts containing the ten commandments; a Mandarin read them, and then sent back a very polite message to the effect that those tracts were very good indeed, he had never read any laws so good as those, but there was not so much need of them in China as among the English and the French; would the missionary have the goodness to distribute them where they were most wanted?’

CH Spurgeon, The Full Harvest, Banner of Truth,1973, p124-5