The Bible and Soldiers, Soldiering, and Salvation

Discussion in 'Other Christian Denominations' started by Nazaroo, Jul 8, 2011.

  1. Nazaroo

    Nazaroo
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    This is such an important and serious subject,
    that it seemed a bad idea to just let it wander aimlessly in another thread.

    So I'm really going to make an effort to provide clear Biblical teaching on the issues of soldiering for the benefit of real soldiers and ex-soldiers here.

    If you're willing to learn, I'm willing to teach,
    and take full responsibility for my teaching;
    and believe me, there will be some serious responsibility
    on a life and death issue like this.

    I only ask that while you may freely ask questions,
    I'd like the chance to expound clearly and carefully
    my full opinion and fill in the whole picture,
    before everyone just starts dismantling it.
    That way my true position will at least get heard
    before judgments are made, which I invite wholeheartedly.

    I'm going to start with my motto/sig on another board,
    which is only to set the right tone and start:
    "Any fool can kill a man:
    how many have you saved?"


    This is a rhetorical question only,
    and not one I wish anyone to answer here.

    Only just take the time to think about the dilemma that this poses. I'll be posting my statements on the topic shortly, but the going will be slow and deliberate.

    I am in no hurry, but want to give my personal best to this thread.
    Soldiers and ex-soldiers here deserve the best answer to the issues we can give.


     
  2. Nazaroo

    Nazaroo
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    I would like first to lay down some reasonable principles, which I'd like us to hold in view while discussing this subject.

    (1) The Old Testament should be interpreted using the light of the New Testament.

    As a soldier, you would never restrict your own intelligence sources or fail to reconoiter unknown territory. Moses and Joshua did the same, sending in scouts before advancing. Ignoring what the New Testament has to say on a question would be like poking out one eye in order to do reconisance.

    (2) We will not be relying upon single verses.

    Mindlessly quoting 'proof-texts' might be great if we've already thought through something, but for this we will want to slow right down and weigh ALL intelligence information. Sometimes a decision must await a key piece of info. We'll need to check content and context to properly evaluate information. Its what good leaders do.

    (3) We'll use non-Biblical sources for illustration only.

    We don't want to ignore historical facts, or other secondary sources of information, but we have to set priorities in terms of reliability of intelligence.
    I'll be using secular info the same way Paul did, by referring only to facts already known by his hearers, or to remind us of self-evident truths we can see with our own eyes and test ourselves.

    This will be a starting ground, to properly reconoiter this difficult mine-field.
     
  3. Nazaroo

    Nazaroo
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    The first encounter between soldiers and the Gospel can be traced back to the ministry of John the Baptist.
    It is recorded in Luke's Gospel (3:14) that soldiers seem to have approached John as a self-identifying group, possibly sending representatives to him on their behalf.
    This is one of the most remarkable incidents in the Gospel.

    The soldiers out in the occupied colonies like Palestine were not usually Jews, nor were they necessarily Romans by birth or citizenship, even when holding high rank (Acts 22:27-28). By the time of Jesus, the Roman army was split into two basic factions; the professional soldiers, engineers, experts at Roman fighting and siege-engine building, and shock-troops, the frontline men who did most of the real fighting. Promotion was often obtained by risky or heroic battle exploits, such as daring raids, in line with Roman military ethos and ideals of bravery.

    During relatively peaceful times and locations within the empire, the Roman occupying army acted as a police-force, ensuring the collection of taxes and the enforcement of Roman authority and law, imposing a 'Pax Romana', "Roman peace".

    Roman soldiers in Israel would mostly be conscripts and draftees pulled into the Roman legions from conquered neighbour-states and satellite provinces within the empire. Only Romans would occupy the higher ranks and professional posts. Each soldier was expected from a practical standpoint to give his loyalty to his own military unit.

    The soldiers occupying Israel had to contend with problems of language, the 'universal' language of trade being Greek, while the Roman administration would be in Latin, and the indigenous population would do business in Latin, Greek, Aramaic, Syriac and Hebrew.

    Yet it is quite apparent from Luke's report, that John the Baptist treated the soldiers in the same way as other groups approaching him for spiritual teaching, guidance, and acceptance.
    John set strong standards and expectations for their conduct, yet at the same time taking them at face-value, accepting them as repentant and sincere men, seeking God and truth.
    From the text it appears they were treated no better or worse than other God-seekers. They were not given special status, nor lower status, but treated in a way complimentary to other groups and occupations.

    This is an important observation however, especially since John the Baptist did not treat all persons and groups equally at all. Matthew observes (3:7) that when the Pharisees and Sadduces, representatives of the two largest religious groups in Israel came to him, he scolded them forcefully, condemning them as snakes. From details like this, we get a picture that John the Baptist made practical distinctions between people and groups in terms of their personal guilt and culpability regarding their knowledge and behavior.

    John's admonition regarding violence was a serious imposition however, and not to be taken lightly, as it would impose upon their behavior and conduct as soldiers, and affect how they performed their duties in a significant way. John was well aware that Roman soldiers were at risk of harsh penalties for any disobedience of orders, and (as was standard for most armies) under threat of death for any form of desertion. So it is all the more significant that John the Baptist imposed restrictions upon them which could put them at personal risk in regard to their normal duties as soldiers.

    John had in effect warned them that there might come a time when a soldier's duties, and obligations to God, could potentially come into conflict.
     
    #3 Nazaroo, Jul 9, 2011
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 9, 2011
  4. billwald

    billwald
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    Not being the Holy Spirit. I have not saved anyone.
     
  5. Nazaroo

    Nazaroo
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    A reasonable, humble observation.
     
  6. Tom Bryant

    Tom Bryant
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    Those of us who have been soldiers thank you so much for your willingness to teach us.

    Your kindness to teach us wayward fools who have fought for our country is so very much appreciated.

    (insert sarcastic emoticon of your choice!)
     
  7. Nazaroo

    Nazaroo
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    Sounds like you're too proud to learn much today.

    But do you really speak for all soldiers?
    If you aren't much of a Christian today,
    perhaps you weren't much of a soldier back then.

    Maybe some others who are better listeners and soldiers will still have an interest.
     
    #7 Nazaroo, Jul 10, 2011
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 10, 2011
  8. Nazaroo

    Nazaroo
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    You know, I shouldn't just let this go,
    in a case like this.

    I've heard proud talk from soldiers all my life,
    my family is full of them, and to a point this is expected.

    But you've let your weapon discharge for no good reason;
    you let it go off half-cocked,
    and thats not good soldiering.
    I only posted two posts, with a solid serious start,
    and nothing unreasonable.
    Just opening a good, in depth Bible study here.
    But you've derailed the thread on the 6th post.

    Pardon me for not being impressed, or convinced about your soldiering:

    Here's why I'm skeptical:
    My granddad fought in the 1st World War.
    He survived hell, came home and became a gardener,
    and took up pacifism. Thats not everyone's choice,
    but he was no coward, just a wiser and older man when he came back.
    Dad was a fighter-pilot in WW2.
    I met some of his friends, who were shot down,
    and toughed it out in a German POW camp;
    they were in the real "Great Escape",
    and most of the escapees were killed in the German countryside, hunted down like dogs.
    None of the WW2 vets I met were full of themselves.
    They didn't boast about fighting for their country.
    Dad and his friends never ever even talked about what they saw and did in the war. But you knew.
    I had a lot of friends who came back from Vietnam.
    Many of them protested vocally after serving their duty,
    and I'm [deleted] sure none of them were cowards.
    Many had multiple battle decorations.
    They weren't traitors to their country either.
    They cared about the Constitution, and would have died defending the USA and its democratic way of life.
    But part of the democratic way of life, told them they
    could and had to follow their conscience when the
    rubber hit the road.

    Again, most of the vets I know had every symptom of PTSD:

    They were paranoid by habit, cautious even when shopping for bread.
    They'd sit with their backs to a wall in the coffeeshop.
    They would go into a trance, reliving what they went through.

    The slightest surprise sound, or anomaly could send them into an emergency state, or a flashback.

    Every one of them would wake up around 4 a.m. every other day,
    dreaming a nightmare or something they survived.
    The guys coming back from Afganistan would jump out of their skins if a kid through a hotdog bun at them.

    The vets I've met couldn't even talk about what they experienced with their closest family, except another vet.
    The vets I've met talk about how a physical injury was an 'honorable' one, because you could see it, while a shell-shock injury wasn't recognised, because the injury was invisible. They'd talk about how Veteran's Affairs would give them the runaround for months, how shell-shock wasn't even accepted as a real injury until 1982.

    Real vets reading this post will know that everything that I have written here is true.

    Now maybe you are a vet, just letting off some steam.
    I can understand that, and I don't really mind.

    I just want you to know that I'm really here because I do care about this; my own family has been affected by soldier-issues of every kind. And I believe that there is real healing in studying the Bible.

    I'm just saying maybe if you cut me some slack,
    we can both help other vets deal with a lot of issues,
    that are important to them and you too.
     
    #8 Nazaroo, Jul 10, 2011
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 11, 2011
  9. Tom Bryant

    Tom Bryant
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    I've read what you've written in all your other posts. I expect that you'll be as un-biblical and as in-accurate in this one as you have been in your other posts.
     
  10. Nazaroo

    Nazaroo
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    Then read no further.
    Maybe your time is worth more than to spend it here.
     
  11. Tom Bryant

    Tom Bryant
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    Thank you, I won't. I should not have responded on this thread. The Lord is teaching me to stop arguing. I should have listened to Him.
     
  12. Sapper Woody

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    Let Him Finish At Least

    Wow, the OP came under fire quickly. I personally do not feel as if he came on as if he had the answer to every problem, but he certainly feels as if he has a message. Before we criticize him too harshly, let's let him finish and see where this is going, exactly.

    FWIW, I have served one tour in Iraq already, and am set to serve a tour in Afghanistan, beginning this fall. (Obviously I can't give exact dates over a public forum.) I am an engineer, and it is my job to do route clearance. Basically, we drive mineproof trucks designed to get blown up. Tongue in Cheek, we say that our job is get blown up, so that no one else does.
     
    #12 Sapper Woody, Jul 11, 2011
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 11, 2011
  13. Thinkingstuff

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    The only instructions regarding specifically the soldiers life in the NT is a Prohibition from extortion, providing false witness, and not to complain abou their pay. That's about it. I don't see what you have to teach on it futher than that.
     
    #13 Thinkingstuff, Jul 11, 2011
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 11, 2011
  14. DHK

    DHK
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    Just an observation, Naz.
    Given the nature of some of your posts here, could you give us some more background information that might help.

    Your profile states: North America
    You say you are Protestant.
    Then you say your church is the Anglican Church.

    Seeing that the Anglican Church is more prevalent in Canada then it is in America, just where in this great continent of ours are you posting from? This may give our posters a bit more insight into your posts.
     
  15. Rippon

    Rippon
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    He's from Toronto,Canada.
     
  16. DHK

    DHK
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    That would explain his attitude to war and not wanting to bearing arms, etc.
     
  17. Earth Wind and Fire

    Earth Wind and Fire
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    Why are they poofs on Toronto? Eh.:smilewinkgrin:
     
  18. DHK

    DHK
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    There are many Canadians not sympathetic to the wars that Americans are involved in, and are perhaps just fed up with the war-like mentality, if I can put it that way. We live in a different nation; we are apt to have a different attitude to war in general (and that is a sweeping generalization that doesn't include everyone).
     
  19. Nazaroo

    Nazaroo
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    Not correct.
    And I don't volunteer personal information on the internet.
    I also advise all others not to do so.
    This is the standard advice from all police departments in North America.
     
  20. Nazaroo

    Nazaroo
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    Thanks for your fairness, honesty, and openmindedness.
    I'm sure others would also agree with you.

    I appreciate your willingness to continue.
     

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