Soldiering

Can Christians serve in the armed forces?

When Martin Luther asked “Whether Soldiers, Too, Can Be Saved,” he was struggling to find a theologically defensible balance between two competing demands. As he penned the 1526 essay, he was feeling the force of the New Testament’s condemnation of violence and Christ’s exhortation to nonresistance of evil. But Luther also faced the demands of political reality. The survival of the Reformation, he realized, was dependent on the fighting power of the German princes. Finally, Luther was unwilling to sacrifice political prudence and practicality on the altar of biblical literalism, or to identify Christianity with sectarian withdrawal from the political sphere.

 

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