Rev. Mark H. Creech: Is War Really Good for Nothing?

On my commute home after a long day, the 1970s hit song “War” by Edwin Starr came over my Sirius radio station. I can remember passionately singing its lyrics, “War, what is good for? Absolutely nothing,” at age 11 when it was at the top of the Billboard charts.  And there I was alone in my car fifty years later, once again, singing those same words, when suddenly I paused mid-lyrics, realizing I didn’t believe that anymore.

Not all war is wrong. Granted, war always tends to produce greater evils than those which precipitated its cause. But to argue all war is wrong – to say that there is absolutely nothing good about it – just isn’t true.

The pacifist’s position on war nor the militarist’s view is actually right. The truth lies between the two extremes.

America’s first great military general, George Washington, expressed the desire of every sober-minded person concerning war. Washington said:

“My first wish is to see the whole world in peace, and the inhabitants of it as one band of brothers, striving who should contribute most to the happiness of mankind. For the sake of humanity, it is devoutly to be wished that the manly employments of agriculture and the humanizing benefits of commerce should suspend the wastes of war and the rage of conquest and that the sword may be turned into the plow-share.”

Nevertheless, as the late Presbyterian scholar, Lorraine Boettner argued in his classic publication, “The Christian Attitude Toward War,” war is sometimes just, necessary, and sometimes good. Boettner writes:

“If the people of Europe had not resisted the Mohammedan invasions, Europe would have been conquered and, humanly speaking, Christianity would have been stamped out. If at the time of the Reformation the Protestants had not resisted the Roman Catholic persecutions, crimes such as were practiced so freely in the Spanish and Italian Inquisitions would have become common all over Europe, and Protestantism would have been destroyed. If the American colonists had not fought for their rights, this country would not have gained its independence…We desire peace, but we realize there are some things worse than war. We desire peace, but not the kind found in the slave camp or the cemetery.”

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SOURCE: Christian Post, Rev. Mark H. Creech

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