Today I attended a Veteran’s Day celebration at my granddaughter’s grade school. There were veterans from many different wars in attendance. (My husband was honored because he served in Vietnam.) The children were reciting quotes from various presidents and they sang the national anthem and said the “Pledge of Allegiance.” The speaker spoke about the heroism of those who served our country. We had a moment of silence for those who died. It was a moving ceremony.
While sitting in the audience I began to think about what caused so much heartache, sacrifice, and destruction in the world. I began to think about the causes of war.
We can look at things like slavery, Nazism, communism, and Islam as the cause of these wars, but these causes weren’t spontaneously generated out of nothing. They didn’t appear suddenly on the world scene. They were birthed out of the thoughts of men. I would argue that they were birthed out of the willingness of people to corrupt the Word of God.
Corruption is the opposite of purity. When a thing has been corrupted something has been added to it, making it dirty and defiled. When something is pure, nothing dirty has been added to it. Some examples of things that have corrupting powers that are found in the Bible are rust, mold, mildew, leprosy, and moths. The Old Testament law is filled with instructions concerning what to do about these corrupting influences.
In contrast, the scriptures say God is holy. The word holy comes from the root word “whole.” This means that God is undivided. There is nothing in Him that is corrupted. He is pure. Purity is also used as a description for the Word of God. The scriptures say “Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him.” (Proverbs 30:5)
I believe the cause of evil . . . the cause of war . . . is the corruption of the Word of God. What does it mean to corrupt the Word of God? It means to ADD a foreign element to the scriptures. Instead of keeping the scriptures pure, something such as philosophy or science is added to it. This makes the scriptures more palatable to some, but the desire to inject the latest trends of science, philosophy, psychology, or business (to name just a few) into our theology has caused massive human suffering throughout the ages.
Liberals would argue that fundamentalism has caused most of the wars, but that isn’t true. If Nazism was evil and it promoted a blend of pseudo-science, philosophy, occultism, environmentalism, and “Chrisitianity,” and fundamentalist Christians (those who stood on the pure Word of God) opposed it, which side was the evil side? Bonhoeffer, Barth, and Niemoller, members of the Pastor’s Emergency League and leaders of Germany’s “Confessing Church,” opposed Hitler and the Nazi party early on, based on scripture, while members of the German Church accepted Nazism with its blend of racial theory, eugenics, social Darwinism, and Hegelian philosophy. These churches became arms of the state and allowed the swastika on their altars. They were traitors to God and his Word.
Likewise, the southern slaveholder violated the Word of God over and over. First of all they accepted the idea of “polygenism.” This was the concept that the different races came from different parents. Instead of believing that we all had Adam and Eve as our parents (of “one blood” as Acts 17:26 explains) polygenists claimed that each race came from different parents. This led to the dehumanization of the darker races.
This sounds preposterous to us today, but the greatest minds of this era rebelled against the teaching of the scriptures and added their “scientific” views to the biblical view. Some of the most “enlightened” thinkers were polygenists–Kant, Jefferson, Voltaire, Hume–were all scientific racists. They were also deists who maintained a form of Christianity but corrupted it, adding and taking away from the Word at their own discretion. They were not fundamentalists . . . but they were racists.
Countering scientific racism were the abolitionists who stood on the scriptures as the truth. Men such as Frederick Douglass, Theodore Dwight Weld, William Wilberforce, and members of the Clapham Sect made the scriptures the source of their authority in the fight against slavery.
If slavery was evil and those who practiced it justified it by claiming scientific knowledge, while fundamentalists who stood on the purity of the Gospel opposed them, who was the evil one? Were the fundamentalists evil, or were those who corrupted the Gospel evil? What was the cause of the Civil War? Was it those who stood on the truth or those who corrupted the truth and became traitors to God?
The same thing could be said about communism. Over the last century communism has spread its tentacles around the world, but communism didn’t spontaneously generate out of nothing. It came about because Strauss, a professor at the Tubingen University in Germany, spread the lie that Jesus was merely a mythical character that humanity created out of our mind and our own desires. The historical critics at Tubingen corrupted Karl Marx’s mind with doubt. This doubt led to the creation of an atheist communist society that murdered and imprisoned dissenters.
Those who opposed communism were members of western societies that embraced Christianity. We fought wars in Korea and Vietnam in response to the “domino effect” of eastern societies who were falling to the red menace. The Revolution in China was responsible for millions of deaths. The “killing fields” were a result of this aggressive Utopian worldview that rejected Jesus. If only the German church had maintained the purity of the Gospel and remained faithful to it.
The wars we’ve been involved in since the terrorist attack on September 11th in Muslim countries around the world are a result of the corrupt religion of Islam. Islam claims to be a carrier of the Abrahamic tradition. They also claim Jesus was a prophet, yet they deny the deity of Jesus. They add the revelation of Muhammad to the scriptures, corrupting them with the extra-biblical Quran. The wars we have been fighting in the middle east have been fought as a result of the corruption of the Gospel by the addition of Islam.
I would venture to say that most of the wars since the time of Christ have been fought because so many religious leaders corrupted the Gospel with other “truths.” These other truths, while perhaps encapsulating the “Geist” or the Spirit of their age, were actually false. They conflicted with the teachings of Christ and with his Gospel, and when the word of God was corrupted, massive human suffering followed. WAR FOLLOWED.
Whenever I watch war movies I cry because I realize that, invariably, that war was caused by some little man sitting in a little room listening to the lies and doubts being whispered in his ears by the Father of Lies. If only he would have remained faithful to God’s Word, perhaps the wars and persecutions, and death camps, and tortures never would have happened. Instead, beautiful young men and women have been thrust into horrifying situations, being killed and wounded, all because of men and women who listened to lies and tried to be cool by compromising truth in order to make themselves and Christianity more acceptable to their generation.
The sad thing about this is that the name of God gets dragged through the mud. Maybe this is why Jesus wants us to be either hot or cold. The lukewarm blend causes His name to be blasphemed. No wonder he spits us out of his mouth.
The lukewarm blend is exactly why Jesus rejected the religious leaders of his day. It wasn’t because they were legalists who enforced every law of God. If you read the scriptures carefully, Jesus’ complaint against them was that they were corrupters. They added man-made traditions to the scriptures. They needed an extra-biblical sign from Jesus to prove he was the messiah. The Words that pointed to him weren’t enough. This caused Jesus to call them adulterers . . . people who betrayed God.
In fact, it’s the Pharisees, inquisitors, Nazis, and muslims–those who corrupted the Word–who crucified Jesus, burned Bible believers such as John Huss at the stake, killed and imprisoned Bible believers such as the Ten Booms, and even today are beheading Christians.
Doctrinal purity isn’t the pursuit of legalistic, hooty-tooty, Christians who walk around like the elder brother in the story of the prodigal, looking down their noses at those who don’t measure up to their version of truth. No . . . doctrinal purity is the pursuit of those who love humanity and hate war. It’s the pursuit of those who love God with ALL their heart. Keeping the truth of the scriptures pure, as though they were a precious treasure, is the most heroic and loving work a person can do.