Politics According to the Bible–National Defense

Posted: December 28, 2010 in Uncategorized

Wayne Grudem opens his chapter on national defense from his new book Politics According to the Bible (Zondervan: 2010) by asking the following question, “Should governments use military power to defend themselves against other nations?” Grudem links Romans 13:4 (“for he (the governing authority) is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer.” )with 1 Peter 2:13-14 (13 “Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, 14 or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good.”) to answer the question in the affirmative.

Grudem argues that if it is right for governments to use force to protect their own citizens from internal threats then it follows that they may also use force to counter external threats as well. 

How does this cohere with the Sermon on the Mount’s teaching to turn the other cheek? Again, Grudem argues that the Sermon on the Mount obviously teaches that individuals should not seek vengeance but cannot apply to governments or otherwise God would contradict Himself.  After all, the Old Testament is full of examples of God ordering nations into battles.

Grudem does, however, hold to the Just War Theory, which argues that the following factors must come into play to justify a nation declaring war on another country: (1) There must be a just cause; (2) the war must be declared by a competent authority; (3) the motives for waging the war must be just (i.e., not for profit); (4) military action must be a last resort; (5) there must be a good chance of success; (6) actions waged must be proportional; and (6) actions must be taken in the right spirit i.e., with great reluctance and sadness. Moreover, Grudem also argues that armies must discriminate between combatants and civilians. 

Grudem then asserts that due to the great threats to our nation and her allies (i.e., North Korea, radical Islam, etc.) that we must not cut military spending.  We must be prepared to act with decisive force in order to avoid a prolonged engagement resulting in quagmire.  For example, a troop surge before 2008 may have saved our nation years of fighting in Iraq.

Grudem discusses many other issues ranging from torture to Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, which I will leave to your perusal.  I generally agree with all of Grudem’s points but I wonder how valuable the book will be in 5-10 years when many of the situations he cites will undoubtedly change.  I will spill the beans and state that Politics According to the Bible will make my end of the year 10 Favorite Books list with the caveat that it may date itself quickly.

Tomorrow, we will look at foreign policy.

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