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Killing vs. pacifism


I am still confused about God's nature in the Old Testament. My
children have looked at me puzzled when they read of the killing that
was performed in God's name. Babies were not even spared. Animals were
butchered. God almost seems to act like a warmonger. What can I tell
my children when they ask these questions. Didn't it say in the Ten
Commandments not to kill? Didn't Christ say that anyone who lives by
the sword will die by the sword?


There is a special relationship that God set up between the nation of
Israel and Himself. This relationship does not extend to the
Church. The covenant that God made with Israel was with a *nation*
whereas the covenant He has made with those who enter into the Church
is not with any particular nation but with individuals from every
nation on earth. Part of this covenant with Israel includes such
things as civil and judicial laws, which cannot be applied to the
Church (since they do not constitute a particular nation). Each
Christian congregation is not to set up laws like Israel had to govern
themselves but each is subject themselves to the established secular
authorities and laws.

Thus, Israel had the duties and responsibilities of a state that the
Church was not charged with. One of these duties was to deal with
criminals in their midst as well as go to war at times. There has
never been a call by Jesus for a "Christian army" or the establishment
of a Christian state. We can look in history and see Christian
attempts at such things: the Crusades of the late Middle Ages to
regain the Holy Land from the Muslims; and the Christian states as
embodied in the Byzantine Empire and the Puritans in New England. God
has not called the Church to as a body to these things. There may be
soldiers and rulers who are Christians who have certain
responsibilities which may involve causing the deaths of others; but
as a unit, the Church is not called upon for such duties. An incident
with John the Baptist is informative:
"Some soldiers were questioning him, saying, 'And what about us, what
shall we do?' And he [John the Baptist] said to them, 'Do not take
money from anyone by force, or accuse anyone falsely, and be content
with your wages'"(Luke 3:14).
Note that John did not tell the soldiers to put away their weapons and
forsake their duties as soldiers.