Thursday, December 17, 2015

Ephesians 6:10-20

“Religion is the cause of most wars.” – Bill Maher
“Religion causes war by generating certainty.” – Richard Dawkins 

For decades, atheists have used the accusation that “religion has caused most wars.” And to the majority of their audiences, this statement seems like a well-thought-out historical summary. In their minds, glimpses of high school history text books flicker with popes on one page, and wars on the next, add to that the presence of radical militant Islam and soon the imagination fills in the details that history actually left out. 

First, from a historical standpoint, religion has not caused the most wars. 

The only way that this statement would be true is if we were to include atheism into the mix of other religions. (which the atheists who make these accusations would never want you to do) Then we could include the likes of Adolph Hitler, Joseph Stalin, Mao Zedong, and point towards the nearly 100 million deaths caused by these three individuals alone. The Crusades (caused in part by religion) were truly ugly with a highest estimated casualty count of 3 million souls, but they were not even half of the devastation caused by the Holocaust with its nearly 8 million lives lost. All of the religious medieval kingdoms couldn’t accomplish in three centuries what atheist Adolph Hitler accomplished in less than five years. A simple glance at history shows the fallacy of the “religion has caused the most wars” view. 

Second, those who imagine that biblical Christianity has caused war have failed to actually read what the Bible says.

Jesus himself answers these maligning claims of historically inaccurate revisionism in John 18:36, “My kingdom is not of this world, then would my servants fight.” 

Jesus made it explicit that Christianity is not about taking up arms and conquering enemies in the name of the cross (I’m looking at you, Emperor Constantine). 

Christianity is about the good news that man can be reconciled to God through the substitutionary death of Jesus. Christians who follow the teaching of Jesus Christ do not cause war, they seek to end it. In Matthew 5:9, Jesus told His followers, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God.” Christians are not war-hawks. They are gospel proclaimers.
But when Jesus told Pilate that His disciples would not take up swords and fight for His deliverance, He was not indicating that every aspect of the Christian life is pacifist. Rather, Jesus said, “my kingdom is not from hence.” There is a different kind of kingdom and a different kind of battle than the physical ones that requires the taking of human life. When we arrive at Ephesians 6:10-20, this is the type of warfare that Paul references. In verse 12, Paul says, “we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but …against spiritual wickedness in high places.” The Christian life is a constant spiritual battle.
There is a battle that rages every day, and every Christian should be fighting in that battle. According to verse 11, the attacks of Satan come in every shape and form and in verse 10, we see that the only hope we have in the midst of this type of battle is to rest in the power of God. God can and will be victorious over all of the attacks of Satan, we must merely trust Him and seek to protect ourselves with the armor that God has given us.
Religion does not cause most wars. It does cause some, but not anywhere near a majority. However, this does not exclude Christians from war. There is a constant warfare that is raging in the life of every believer. It is not a war fought with jets, tanks, ships, and M4s; it is a spiritual battle that is waged against the ruler of darkness himself, Satan. The weapons of this warfare are a firm trust in God, a mind full of the truth of God, and a life filled with prayer to God in all things. This is how Christians fight.

Reflect: Does religion cause most wars? Why would someone (like an atheist) say that religion causes most wars?