After a Christian beheads a jihadist working on behalf of the terrorist group ISIS, there was an outpouring of sentiment that even more Christians should fight back against DAESH in the same manner. Others were horrified by this reaction since Jesus’ teachings speak of turning the other cheek. The Bible also describes how those who live by the sword, die by the sword. If that is the case, then how is a Christian soldier justified?
In a related report by the Inquisitr, reports say the Assyrian Christian beheaded the jihadist while fighting besides Kurdish forces.
“He took him prisoner and when he found out he was a (jihadist), the Assyrian fighter beheaded him in revenge for abuses committed by the group in the region.”
The Islamic state has been responsible for the beheading, enslavement, and rape of many Christians throughout the Middle East, and some have called it a second holocaust. In response to these travesties, American Matthew VanDyke runs a group called Sons of Liberty International and has been training and arming Christians for war.
“Currently, the Christians [are] the only group that has no ability to defend themselves,” explains VanDyke. “And they will be wiped out in this fight if they’re not quickly trained, equipped and given the abilities to defend their lands. It’s not a religious mission. We’re working with Iraqi Christians because they’re highly motivated. They have good morale. They have good aptitude for doing this. They’ve suffered a lot. They’re been persecuted for a long time.”
The role of the Christian soldier has been debate for centuries. Even if a Christian beheads a jihadist, can such an act be considered justifiable? Jesus’ teachings are similarly controversial. Those who favor self defense note that in Jesus’ day, the act of slapping someone was considered as a personal insult, so to turn the other cheek would mean to take an insult (not a physical attack) without reprisal. There is also balance to the statement about living by the sword since in Luke 22 Jesus told his disciples to buy a sword in the first place.
How these Bible verses should be applied to modern war is still a question mark in some theological circles. Christian reformer Martin Luther tackled the issue of Christianity and war in his 1526 treatise Whether Soldiers, Too, Can Be Saved. In it, Luther claims that being in the military is a “legitimate and godly calling and occupation.”
The basis for this assertion is based upon Romans 13 and 1 Peter, in which it is stated that God has instituted government for the punishment of wrong and to defend the people against those who would harm the commonweal. Starting with this basis, governments and their military soldiers are allowed to wage war against those who would rape, kill, and destroy. While the soldier’s duty seems contrary to Christian love, Luther reminds us to “think of how it protects the good and keeps and preserves wife and child, house and farm, property and honor and peace. Then I see how precious and godly this work is. For, if the sword were not on guard to preserve peace, everything in the world would be ruined because of lack of peace.”
Martin Luther also makes the case for self-defense, saying a person who kills another in self-defense “is innocent in the sight of all men.” The Christian reformer also extended this principle to include nations, saying that war was only justified in self-defense. He did not believe an aggressive war should be allowed under any circumstances since he believed aggressors were “of the devil.” He even called defensive wars “human disasters” that are a “great plague” upon the Earth.
But what would Luther say if a Christian beheads a jihadist out of “revenge”? Luther requires an individual soldier to determine “with all possible diligence” whether a war is justified or not. War must “be fought in the fear of God,” and Luther points out how that the office of a soldier can be abused, turning a just action into evil if the person engaged in the action is evil and unjust.
In the end, only the Assyrian Christian knows his true motives for the execution. Without knowing the full circumstances, it is difficult to say whether the beheading was an act of justice or an act of spite against an enemy who shows little mercy.
What do you think?
[Image via Las Vegas International Christian Church]