WHENCE COME WARS (2)
[First published in Dawn Magazine, (August 15th, 1938.)]
The American military authorities have disclosed the fact that
48 nations now have, ready for war, 55,000,000 trained soldiers, or 35,000,000
more than in 1914. For 1937 the number
of aeroplanes planned by the nations was 28,500, four-fifths of which are for
war, at a cost of £370,000,000. We
realize what this means to us when we learn that
Never before, therefore, was the Apostles question more to the point. Whence come wars? - a word always used in the New Testament for international struggles - and whence come fightings among you? - religious wars, among the most bitter the world has known. One whole volume of the Cambridge Modern History is devoted to the Wars of Religion. Bloodshed and slaughter, what is their hidden seed and root? The modern world is full of answers. From a healthy ambition purging nations, says the Fascist; from undistributed wealth and capitalism, says the Communist; from an uneducated democracy ignorant of wars evils, says the social reformer; from an insufficiently federated world for collective security, says the advocate of the League of Nations:- that is, all give causes that lie outside man, and which can be removed by political, economic, or social readjustments.
Now before we deal with the Apostles countering challenge, one fact is like a sudden lightning. Of the world-epoch that rapidly approaches we read:- They shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more (Isa. 2: 4). In the age to come, it is not only that war ceases because of general amity, but it completely disappears as a science: world peace will be so secure through a changed humanity that the studied strategy of armies, the manufacture of tanks, the perfecting of bombing - all will have fallen into oblivion, and have become a lost art. And the reason is given:- They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord - which is eternal life - as the waters cover the sea (Isa. 11: 9). War in a divinely governed world is as inconceivable as it will be non-existent.
So now we are prepared for the Apostles counter-challenge. Come they not hence - is not this their root-cause - even of your lusts that war in your members? lusts that are already at war in you. Powder that is explosive and powder that explodes is exactly the same powder: war and war-lust are the same thing. Doth the Spirit which he made to dwell in us - the Holy Spirit - long unto envying? (ver. 5). If war is not from the Spirit, it must be from the flesh. It is extraordinary that a man of the world can see this truth. Plato says:- Wars, and factions, and fightings have no other source than the body and its lusts. Until the human spirit possesses the Divine Spirit, it is controlled by the lusts of the flesh; and every man of the world walks with all international wars in his breast. Dr. Jowetts word is for ever true:- There will have to be a terrific conversion if war is to cease; for you still have the human heart to deal with - that awful cauldron in which all mans evil passions are heated. Disarmament can bury a lot of Dreadnoughts, but not the old Adam.
So the Apostle carefully compares the two diplomacies which control international politics; and he handles first what passes for wisdom among the governments of the world. He says:- If ye have bitter jealousy and faction, this wisdom - the wisdom of the worlds diplomacy which produces fierce international conflict is not a wisdom that cometh down from above - it is not God-imparted wisdom - but is earthly, sensual, devilish (Jas. 3: 15). It is earthly, that is, absorbed with the ambitions of this world; it is sensual, that is, animal, under the sway of passions, exactly like the wolf or the tiger; and it is devilish, that is, demonic, prompted and stirred by evil spirits: so (to sum it up) the man, or government, devoted solely to worldly ends, becomes half-beast, half-devil.* And the consequence is exactly what we are watching. For where jealousy - literally, zeal, the fanaticism of nation or race creed - and faction are, there is confusion - is not only disorder but the dissolution of order (Lange)** - and every vile deed.
* The very language of the Apostle is being used. Dr. A. E. Garvic says (British Weekly, June 9, 1938):- Men are being poisoned by false ideas and wrong ideals, as well as nourished and refreshed by the truth and grace of Christ. But the term which is current in Continental writings, and is being adopted by some writers in this country is demonic. The injustice, cruelty and violence, which are spreading like a pestilence over the world, seem inexplicable by human nature, character and conduct, and appear to disclose some power or powers of evil that have gained control of men, and are inciting them to this extraordinary wickedness.
chooses the very word. The Critica Fascista says
(Times, June 6. 1938):- We Fascists and we alone are the disorder, the creative
The Apostle now contrasts the diplomacy and international action which would characterize converted nations, and which is even now to be the conduct of private Christians. But the wisdom that is from above - from above: it is no fruit of the university or of culture, but imparted by God in regeneration - is first pure - springing out of the fountain of the new birth; then peaceable, the fruit of the God of peace, wishing peace; gentle, tactful*; easy to be entreated, readily persuaded, gladly yielding; full of mercy and good fruits, compassionate, with the fruits of compassion; without variance, consistent, reliable; without hypocrisy, it lives its principles, and is as good as its word. Diplomacy thus conducted, and thus conducted by all, would make wars for ever impossible.
* A beautiful word which would perhaps be best paraphrased in our language by though having right, not insisting on that right (F. T. Bassett, M.A.).
The Apostle finally uncloaks the fundamental error. Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and
covet, and cannot obtain; ye fight and war: ye have not because ye ask not. A nation, like an individual, can seek from
God legitimate desires - righteous frontiers, colonies for food production, raw
materials for industry; for the nation is simply the
individual indefinitely multiplied, and so equally a petitioner at a Throne of
boundless wealth. And when,
and if, the sword has to be used - that is, by the State (
It is this omission of God which is all but universal to-day.
YE HAVE NOT BECAUSE
YE ASK NOT. The Wars of Israel are one prolonged lesson
which the nations of the world have never learned; and to-day
Very beautiful is an army tribute to the Army of Christ. A local group of the Veterans of the Foreign
Wars of the