Thursday, 31 March 2022

Divided and torn apart

April 2022

Dear Friends

The Archbishop of Canterbury has recently said that “war and violence is never an answer”.  But I am not sure what justification this leader of our national church has for rejecting the understanding that has been shared by Christians for centuries.

Of course war is always truly terrible and the immense suffering of people on both sides of the current conflict is heart-rending.  But if an invader begins to wreck your country and inflict horrible suffering on your people, and if he won’t leave when asked politely or pressured in other ways, I wonder what the Archbishop thinks you should do?

From at least the 4th Century onwards Christians have overwhelmingly agreed that defending the nation is a responsibility that God has laid on each ruler or government, and that going to war will sometimes be right.  The wide-ranging tests of a ‘Just War’ have included:

1.       Will our action be defensive, rather than aggressive?

2.       Is war the last resort in this situation?

3.       Will the means we use be in proportion to the threat we face?

4.       Will we avoid targeting civilians?

I’ll leave you to discuss whether those questions have been asked in recent conflicts, including those that our nation has been involved in.

Jesus is the Prince of Peace and every war involves at least one side (and often both) refusing to submit to his loving rule.  Jesus is the Prince of Peace but he has warned us that his kingdom will grow slowly as people, families and nations - one by one - stop fighting against Him and accept his authority in their lives.

For a world that gives up its resistance to Jesus, the end is clear: “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” (Revelation 21:4)

But, while evil continues in the world, being prepared to fight remains a tragic necessity.

“Almighty Father, whose will is to restore all things in your beloved Son, the King of all: govern the hearts and minds of those in authority, and bring the families of the nations, divided and torn apart by the ravages of sin, to be subject to his just and gentle rule”  (Prayer for Remembrance Sunday)


Graham Burrows

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