God, the Bible, and War

So many wars and conflicts throughout history have been driven by religion. Why believe in a God who advocates war and violence? Why accept a Bible that seems to repeatedly condone horrible human atrocities?

How should a Christian respond to such charges? 

Here are three salient points:

1. The Bible does not always condone all of what is recorded in its pages. The trial and crucifixion of Jesus is an example.

2. In a fallen world, a case can sometimes be made for the lesser of two evils. Sometimes violence has prevented even worse violence. What might have happened if World War II had not stopped Hitler? In the Old Testament God commanded Israel to destroy nations that were sacrificing living children on altars — and other horrible practices. 

3. It’s not only religion that has sourced war and violence. In the twentieth century alone, atheistic anti-religious leaders and regimes accounted for more killing than in all previous nineteen centuries combined. Incredible but true.

In her excellent book, Is the Bible Intolerant? Sexist? Oppressive? Homophobic? Outdated? Irrelevant?, © 2005 InterVarsity Press, Amy Orr-Ewing dedicates one very helpful chapter to this subject: What About All the Wars?

In elaborating on the second point above, for instance, Orr-Ewing writes: “Would it be a demonstration of goodness to show no opposition to evil?” She later adds: “We need to take a big-picture view of war and struggle from the beginning of the Bible to the end and see the whole as a cosmic struggle between good and evil.” “. . .a Christian reading of the Old Testament would interpret the battles it depicts in this context of a larger struggle.”

If this brief commentary raises other associated questions in your mind, chances are good that Orr-Ewing has addressed them in this chapter. Purchasing and reading this book would be a worthy investment of your time and money.

Posted in Blog