With ISIS in the headlines and reports of thousands of Iraqis fleeing for their lives, it’s an appropriate time to have a conversation with your older children about how Christians should think about war. St. Augustine and later Thomas Aquainis formulated what has been called, the Just War Theory, arguing that some wars are morally justified. In doing so they laid down the principles that ought to guide Christians before going to war.
Their task was a challenge. Critics seem to have on their side the very teachings of Jesus himself, “Love your enemies. Turn the other cheek,” and “thou shall not kill,” teachings that seem incompatible with any form of defiance or violence.
But Augustine argued that God judges the heart. The highest motivation for every act or thought must be love. Therefore, what is done from love, to bring about justice, must be good. That opened the door for Christians to perform outward acts that might appear to be forbidden by scripture.
So, what follows is a brief summary of this Just War Theory.
Let’s be honest, it’s flattering to be asked to serve on the Board of Directors of a Christian ministry, especially a large one.
I know how easy it is to be seduced into serving when men or women you respect, call on you to serve. I’ve fallen for it. To my shame, I’ve served on a few boards simply because I didn’t want to disappoint a friend who asked. Sound familiar?
And almost all board members are chosen for one or more of these reasons: Their affluence, their influence, their spiritual maturity or experience.
So, next time, before you say “yes” ask yourself and them these important questions.
Last year, I was introduced to a great ministry for men, The New Canaan Society http://www.newcanaansociety.org (At the end of this blog is some information about our own New Canaan chapter in Grand Rapids, Michigan). While attending their retreat/conference in San Francisco, I met a young, aggressive 30 something guy, also attending the meeting, but not yet a Christian. After one meeting, he and some of his friends and I had a glass of wine overlooking the city.
“I’m curious,” I asked, “Why would you pay $1,500 to come to a three day conference filled with Christians, if you’re not yet one yourself?” His response both inspired and challenged me.
“Ever since I was in college, I’ve been looking for a safe dad.”
He went on to tell me that his own father was a jerk. His parents had divorced, but he always longed for an older man he could trust to help him navigate life. Someone had invited him to a New Canaan weekly meeting and he was shocked! There, he met dozens of mature Christian men who were successful, but also clearly loved God and their families more than they loved themselves. He’d never met men like that before! “Whatever they have, I think I want, but I’m not there yet,” he confessed. So, there he was the proverbial rich young ruler, watching and listening – kicking the tires spiritually looking for a safe dad.
Are you too, looking for a safe, spiritually mature man or women to help you navigate life?
When I say Statements of Faith, I mean those lists of what various churches or ministries believe the Bible teaches about God, humans, Jesus and his gift to us of salvation and the promise of eternal life. You know – those lists of truths you’re asked to affirm in order to join a church, or work for a ministry. It’s not the truthfulness of that information that makes me nervous – it’s actually calling that list of what essentially are doctrinal truths, a “statement of faith.”
It may even be dangerous to say that our church has a “statement of faith.” Because, doctrine we believe only on an intellectual level, even if we have faith in them, is still not faith as God sees it. It leads many to falsely assume that if they agree with those statements of truth, that they then have faith – which they very well may not have.
Faith is like Fire
Faith – true faith is a lot like fire. Let’s assume I was able to write the definitive book on fire, The Complete Book of Fire. And, let’s also assume it was a thoroughly, accurate description of the chemistry of combustion, with lists of all the elements you need to have a fire, how to start a fire, keep it going, cook on it, put it out – a complete book of fire. You would still not actually have fire. Why?