He shall judge between the nations,
and shall arbitrate for many peoples;
they shall beat their swords into plowshares,
and their spears into pruning hooks;
nation shall not lift up sword against nation,
neither shall they learn war any more.
(Isaiah 2:4, NRSV)
In the United States, Christian symbolism is often mixed in with militaristic language and “national security” appeals. With “God and Country” so often put in the same breath, and with military recruiters strategically appealing to potential recruits’ idealism and sense of identity, it may seem inevitable that religion and militarism be blended. However, the history of Christianity’s engagement with war is mixed.
From the Crusades to more recent invasions of the Middle East, there are certainly many wars that were ideologically driven by Christian institutions and leaders, or that appropriated Christian language to justify colonialism and domination. (This will, in part, be the subject of our next issue). But there have also been Christians who resisted unjust war—perhaps most memorably in the case of Vietnam—or indeed, who renounce war altogether.
This issue is a space to lift up voices of Christian dissent against the status quo of an economy driven by militarism, of foreign policy driven by nationalism, and of a sense of national security that rests on the false hope of military might.
Progressives often associate international organizations with globalization and neoliberal economic policies, and there is truth to this critique. Right-wing intellectuals associate them with liberal policy initiatives like family planning and environmental regulation, and there is truth to those connections, as well. What neither the left nor the right seems toMore
There can be no doubt that Presbyterians in the United States have often supported the nation’s resort to arms in time of war. Indeed, Albert Curry Winn, one-time moderator of the “Southern” Presbyterian Church in the United States (PCUS), once referred to that denomination as the “most hawkish” in theMore
For most of the last 75 years, the world has had the threat of nuclear war looming over it as world powers have leveraged this threat as a means to theoretically prevent further war. This threat, and the weapons behind it, have been deified in policy and culture. This modernMore
Are you aware that you are still required by law to register for the draft? I can hear your incredulity detector going off from here. “We have an all-volunteer military,” you say, “so the draft is an anachronism from WWII and the Vietnam War.” And you would be right, exceptMore
Being a conscientious objector may be rare, but my moral convictions are pretty common. I believe–and I have always believed–that taking a life is wrong, no matter whose life you are taking or which country you are killing for. Life is too sacred. And this conviction is fairly widespread amongMore
Nationalism is a False Flag. Editor’s Note: This sermon was preached on May 15, 2019, at the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)’s national office in Louisville, KY. It refers to Isaiah 58 as it appears in the NRSV. Although not originally a sermon for Memorial Day, it may be worthwhile to reconsider,More
On February 1, 2019, the United States withdrew from the Intermediate Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF). Signed in 1987 during the Reagan administration, the INF treaty was one of several treaties that dramatically reduced the Soviet and American nuclear arsenals (for a graph showing these remarkable reductions, click here), instituted trust-buildingMore
This is an inaugural column that I hope will become a regular feature in Justice Unbound. I have decided, with good input from Chris Iosso, to call this column Redeeming Realism. The purpose of this column is to engage in theological reflection in support of faithful participation in God’s world.More