Religion and War. Men never commit evil so fully and joyfully as when they do it for religious convictions . - Blaise Pascal. The Argument in Pictures. The Argument in Pictures. The Argument in Pictures. The Argument in Pictures. The Argument in Pictures. Summary.
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Religion and War Men never commit evil so fully and joyfully as when they do it for religious convictions. - Blaise Pascal
Summary "[M]ore wars have been waged, more people killed, and more evil perpetrated in the name of religion than by any other institutional force in human history. The sad truth continues in our present day." Charles Kimball
Counter-Argument in Pictures People for whom religion not only inspired them to be peaceful, but was the rational force behind their insistence on peace.
Counter-Argument in Pictures This is Fr. Maximilian Kolbe. He resisted the Nazi regime and was imprisoned in Auschwitz When people in his group were being selected for punishment he took the place of one of the people picked out for punishment and died a few weeks later.
How Do You Respond? What is true about the connection between religion and war? What is it about religion that inspires violence? What is untrue about this connection or what is left out of the equation here?
Religion Goes Wrong When… It suggests to people that they know the absolute truth. “For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.” (1 Corinthians 13:12) There is a difference between the truth and knowing the truth. We can be sure of God and the truth revealed in Jesus Christ, but to claim that our knowledge of that truth is absolute is not only wrong…it is unbiblical.
Religion Goes Wrong When… It causes people to believe absurd things. “But not everyone possesses this knowledge. Some people are still so accustomed to idols that when they eat sacrificial food they think of it as having been sacrificed to a god, and since their conscience is weak, it is defiled.” (1 Corinthians 8:7) The Bible does not admonish people to stop thinking and just act. It suggests that at some point we do have to act on incomplete knowledge—a harsh reality—and it acknowledges that there are things in this world beyond the scope of our understanding both in terms of quality and quantity.
The Bible on Violence and War: OT Deuteronomy 20:16-17 16 However, in the cities of the nations the LORD your God is giving you as an inheritance, do not leave alive anything that breathes. 17 Completely destroy them…as the LORD your God has commanded you. Leviticus 24:19-20 19 Anyone who injures a neighbor is to be injured in the same manner: 20 fracture for fracture, eye for eye, tooth for tooth. The one who has inflicted the injury must suffer the same injury. Leviticus 19:18 Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the LORD.
The Bible on Violence and War: NT Matthew 5:38-39 8 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ 39 But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. Matthew 10:34 Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. Matthew 26:52 Put your sword back in its place,” Jesus said to him, “for all who draw the sword will die by the sword. Luke 22:36-38 He said to them, “But now if you have a purse, take it, and also a bag; and if you don’t have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one. 37 It is written: ‘And he was numbered with the transgressors’; and I tell you that this must be fulfilled in me. Yes, what is written about me is reaching its fulfillment.” 38 The disciples said, “See, Lord, here are two swords.” “That is enough,” he replied.
Everyone Believes Something Everyone believes something. In fact, everyone has a system of belief, however patchy or subconscious it is. We all function in this world by maintaining something called a “worldview.” “Religious” worldviews tend to involve the notion that God exists. Non-religious worldviews tend to involve the notion that God doesn’t exist. What happens when either group, in all their variations, takes their worldview—beliefs and opinions based on their conscious understanding of facts and sub-conscious cultural training—to be absolute fact? Violence towards those that disagree, that’s what. If religions disappeared in their organized form, wars would still exist—that fact by itself suffices to prove that it is not “religion” that is the source of wars, but rather ideology.
Large Scale Violence = Political The large-scale political violence that has occurred in the name of an organized religion had more to do with the political maneuverings of the reigning kings and princes than with the serious conviction of religious beliefs.
“I live among a people of unclean lips.” (Isaiah 6) Christianity has been used as an ideology to hurt and abuse others, and we must continually apologize for that. Not out of a sense of fear of punishment, but out of a sense of sincere love for others, to participate in God’s redeeming work.