Are Not Soldiers In Need of the Gospel?

A quote from the appendix to Guy Hershberger’s 1969 3rd edn of War, Peace and NonResistance, where he answers various practical objections.

13. Are Not Soliders in Need of the Gospel? Therefore Does Not Army Service, Especially Service as an Army Chaplain, Provide a Fine Opportunity to Testify for Christ?

It is true that the soldier needs the Gospel as much as any other man, and that the nonresistant Christian should not hesitate to bring it to him if he can do so without being part of the military organization. But to be a member of an organization whose task it is to kill would certainly disqualify one to preach the gospel of love and nonresistance. (p. 314)

I wish he had expanded on his answer at much greater length. But a nice start.

One thought on “Are Not Soldiers In Need of the Gospel?

  1. Hi Nathan,

    The gospel is the good news of the reign of God. If we take the view that this vision of Jesus is rooted in the OT prophets (especially Isaiah) we might adopt the view that this reign of God is the reign of shalom.

    Shalom is more than just the absence of war. It includes healing, harmony, wholeness, reconciliation, well being and social justice for all.

    It is the God of peace revealed supremely in the historical Jesus of Nazareth who takes the initiative in reconciliation through the redemptive work of the crucified and risen Messiah.

    Jesus’way of peace is not simply an implication of the gospel but, if we take this view of the kingdom, it is integral to the gospel itself.

    The God of unbounded compassion and mercy gives his free and overflowing favour willingly, joyfully and freely to all.

    When we respond to God’s grace (by his enabling and compassionate power) we will be inspired, uplifted and encouraged to be peace makers in our social, economic and political relationships and in the way we treat the rest of God’s creation.

    So I cannot see how being a military chaplin is an appropriate response for a follower of Jesus if we take this view of the kingdom.

    However, I appreciate that others have a different perspective on the meaning of the kingdom of God so I should not be seen as condemning those who take an alternative position.

    The predominant view of the early church in its first 280 years or so was that Christians should not join the Roman army. They refused to worship the emperor and followed Jesus way of peace although the phenomenon known as Constantinianism began around AD 170 when Christians started entering the Roman army and thia process accelerated under and after Constantine.

    John Arthur

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