The protagonists in pacifist discussion are apt to fall
into a complete confusion of Church and State. Mr.
George Lansbury, passionately pleading that no one should ever touch the sword, asked the
Church Congress:‑ “Do you honestly believe that
Jesus Christ, for any reason you can conceive, would in retaliation or for any
other reason murder little children or engage in mass murder of this or any
other kind?” But nowhere in the
Bible is war regarded as murder; and, on the contrary, the Sword ‑ and
therefore its use ‑ is so entrusted to the State by God that the Spirit
says that “he that resisteth the [State] power, withstandeth the ordinance of God”
On the other hand, the contrary extreme ‑ that all should, under given conditions of necessity, bear arms‑falls into exactly the same confusion. The Roman Hierarchy in France issued this decree (Universe, Feb. 10, 1933) :‑ “Every citizen must be ready, if necessary, to sacrifice his life to defend the essential lights of his country.” No believer saturated in the teaching of Christ can possibly be easy, even in the most righteous war, in supplanting, in his own conduct, the law of love by the law of justice. “I remember,” savs Sir Herbert Samuel, “meeting a member of the Salvation Army not long after the Boer War and asking him how warfare was compatible with his religious views. He answered that he had been a reservist before he had become a Salvationist, that he had to go, and that he had to do his duty, but that every time he went into action he prayed that he might not hit anyone.” There can be no question at all, in anybody's mind, that a resolution passed by the Glamorgan Baptist Association is at least apparently in accord with the example and teaching of the Saviour of mankind. “War in all forms is entirely contrary to the teaching of Christ and it is an unmistakable duty to abstain totally from using destructive arms as our fathers did in the first centuries of the Christian Church and at the beginning of the Protestant Reformation. We therefore desire to make it known that it is our intention to refrain from bearing arms in any circumstances.”
All falls into perfect harmony when the right distinction is made between the Church and the State. Holy Scripture recognizes the Magistrate’s sword as nothing less than an ordinance of God: simultaneously it lays commands on the believer totally negativing the use of physical force. The sole solution conceivable is simple and obvious:‑ State and Church are complete circles that never intersect; for the one is the sphere of inexorable law, and the other the sphere of limitless mercy. The one enforces righteous government, the other pleads forgiving love; and their union ‑ which is their confusion ‑ can only spell the collapse, or even suicide, of one or the other. The one is a Divine Ordinance to rule the world, the other a Divine Ordinance to save the world; and while, in the nature of the case, the final appeal of the one is to force, equally the final appeal of the other is to love.
Forgiving a murderer, not executing him, is the glory of
triumphant grace. “When my colleague was killed by bandits,” says John Van Ess, of