Devil’s Advocate

Devil’s Advocate

I am reading a book, “Blood Guilt”, by Phillip P. Kapusta concerning Christian Responses to America’s War on Terror. In this book, Mr. Kapusta takes the position of Devil’s Advocate on pages 136 through 140 in describing how Christian pastors and teachers, especially perhaps those, in my view of the TV and radio types, outline their sermons, writings, and reasoning processes regarding supporting the predominate government’s desire to send men (and now women) to war and fight and kill…

I am reminded of the Apostle Paul, and how in some places in the New Testament he appears to argue his opponent’s views so well, one might think he is teaching it, even better than his opponent. Then he comes back and dissects his opponents view with his own position.

In this vein, I would like to help, using Mr. Kapusta’s writings, how Theologians and Preachers may prepare their speeches and sermons regarding what appears to be an upcoming war with Iran.[1] I will condense his writings for space requirements, but it appears the outline is the same one used Post Constantine by mainstream Christianity folks of all stripes.

1.) Expose the impracticality of following Jesus’ teachings of love and forgiveness to military enemies.
2.) Declare Jesus’ instructions regarding turning the other cheek, and loving one’s enemies apply only to one’s personal enemies, not to the enemies of the state in which one happens to live.
3.) Attack “”pacifism” as being naive and stupid. Do not define what pacifism is, except in purgative terms.
4.) Confuse the roles of Servants of Christ and servants of Caesar. Meld belief in Christianity with belief in one’s own nation. Make Christianity and Nationalism synonymous. We are a Christian Nation, even if those we fight against also claim to be Christians… ( I pause to lament the bloodshed of Islam sects against other of Islam’s sects also.)
5.) Teach that patriotism is a Christian virtue. Democracy and freedom are what Jesus would believe in and even Jesus would fight for Democracy and Freedom…

6.) Speak of those against war as threats to Democracy and Freedom, as unpatriotic and traitors.
7.) Picture the enemy as evil. Teach that the enemy is against God and Jesus.
8.) Call upon the long tradition of “great” theologians who believe in Christians going to war throughout history since Christ. Be sure to leave out the Christian History of the first three Centuries after Christ, for that would not support your view that Christians should go to war and kill others, and each other, for that matter.
9.) Compare the ultimate sacrifice soldiers make and the sacrifice of Jesus. (Note that I am not saying soldiers do not sacrifice for their country, and I appreciate their sacrifice, but that sacrifice is not the same as Jesus’ sacrifice)
10.) Appeal to emotion. Be emotional… Picture that if we do not take preemptive action now, hoards of the enemy will invade our shores, rape our women and kill our families. Advise stockpiling weapons and food in advance for such disasters.
11.) Be sure that the meaning of Christ’s sufferings and becoming like him in his death is that the enemy’s blood, not ours is shed, and that our blood is not shed in Martyrdom….
12.) Quote Jesus:
Luke 22:36-37

36 “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.” ”
Do not mention how hard it will be to bear the cross and the sword simultaneously.
13.) Refer to Old Testament wars where God instructed Israel to fight and to kill their enemies. Disregard how many times God delivered the children of Israel into the hands of the enemy himself, and warned Israel not to fight. Fail to mention we are no longer under the law.
14.) Mention the faith of the Roman soldiers in the Gospel and how Jesus never instructed them to give up soldiering. (keep this as an argument from silence) Never mind the Roman Oaths of Allegiance to Caesar and that Roman soldiers were the ones who persecuted Christians, feed them to lions in the Coliseum, and whipped, mocked, and killed Jesus.
15.) Quote from the Apostle Paul where he used military service as analogous for the Christian way of life. Say this proves Paul legitimized soldiering and participation in warfare. Don’t mention that Paul uses slavery as an analogy for the Christian way of life also.
16.) Be sure to tell the story of Jesus taking a whip and driving out the animals and money changers. Equate this as approval to use machine guns, grenades, drones, and bombs in killing people. (Do not mention that Jesus’ driving out the animals probably saved their lives from sacrifice, not killed them)
17.) Quote Jesus’ saying:
Matt 10:34-36

34 “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace , but a sword. 35 For I have come to turn

“‘a man against his father,
a daughter against her mother,
a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law—
36 a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.’

(Ignore the parallel passage in Luke 12:51 that replaces “sword” with “division”)

18.) Make Romans 13 your most important “proof text”….
Rom 13:1-3
13:1 Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. 2 Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. 3 For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong
Don’t read the whole chapter, just pick and choose these few verses. Above all do not read all of the book of Romans, which is about radical submission to civil laws, and civil authority, and that warfare and military service are never mentioned at all..

Well, there you have it…. I think you will recognize you may have heard this logic before. If one needs to prepare a sermon on calling Christians to war, (the upcoming Iran war?), this is how it has been done for years. I even have a distant cousin, who perhaps used the same details in drawing young men to war during the Revolutionary War. His name was Peter Muhlenburg. He was related through my 8th Great Grandfather, Rev. Anthony Jacob Henkel . I quote from the footnote:
“Rev. Jacob Anthony Henkel, who came to America in 1718, was a descendant of Count Henkel von Donnersmark; Rev. Jacob Anthony Henkel was instrumental in bringing to America the famous Rev. Peter Muhlenburg, who descended from the Henkel family. Rev. Peter Muhlenburg was a Major-General in the Revolutionary War, and as such gained much renown. Most every school boy knows the story of how Rev. Peter Muhlenburg, pastor of the Lutheran Church at Woodstock, Virginia, clad in his long black silk clerical gown, preached a patriotic sermon to his people, and then opening his robe, disclosed a Colonel’s uniform underneath. Laying the robe aside, he said: “The time to fight has come.” He enlisted over a hundred of his congregation in the service of his adopted country.

Out of love for the Henkel family, from which Peter Muhlenburg descended, he gave the robe to the student, Rev. Paul Henkel, asking that it remain in the ministerial line of the Henkel family. From Rev. Paul, the robe went to his oldest son; then to another son, Rev. Andrew Henkel; from Rev. Andrew Henkel to his nephew, Rev. Socrates Henkel, D.D., whose mother was Katherine Hoyl, dau. of “Politician Peter” Hoyl, of Lincoln County, N.C. ”

I have seen this robe in the Lutheran Seminary in Germantown, Philadelphia, Pa. It is the Muhlenberg Robe . I am a descendant of this line of ministers and early American pioneers, going even farther back to the Mayflower on the Cooper side. I must say misrepresenting Scriptures in the way of some of my forefathers is not something to be proud of.
Yet, this article is entitled, “Devil’s Advocate”’s_advocate Would that mean me? Who is on God’s side? Who is on the Devil’s side? Is the one on God’s side the one who takes off his preaching robe, as did Peter Muhlenburg, Revealing his Revolutionary War uniform below, and enlisting hundreds of men to fight on God’s side? Are we as Christians to take of the robes of Christ when it comes time to fight for the state and reveal our submission to the State, wearing robes of soldiers? Again, I am reminded of the robes we are to be in when Jesus returns, white, pure and clean, not good ones to fight in… And, it is Jesus, whose robes are soaked in blood, His own blood, that is…

John Cooper

About jcooperforpeace
Spiritual Director, Spirituality of Inner Peace

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