We have now completed our journey through the Bible’s treatment of war and peace. We began with the Edenic ideal. When God created humans, he placed them into a peaceful, nonviolent world. Genesis describes that world as so peaceful that not even the animals shed blood. All were vegetarians.
References to: pacifism
Hebrews 11, these all had faith
Sometimes we hear the argument that those who defend with lethal weapons lack faith. If only they had more faith in God, he would deliver them without their need to fight. Or if they died, God would deliver them in the resurrection of the just.
No pacifists were among the Old Testament righteous. In the law, loving neighbor did not exclude all possibility of killing neighbor. Neighbors who committed certain crimes were put to death. Warfare itself was at times an expression of faith and love for God. The idea that love, faith and war are inherently in conflict and mutually exclude one another is not an Old Testament idea. The Mosaic blessings for obedience to God did not bring freedom from war, but victory in war. In the Old Testament, God is the great warrior who trains, leads and fights alongside his human servants.
The Sermon on the Plain
The Sermon on the Plain is quite similar to the Sermon on the Mount. Some conclude that the two sermons are differing accounts of the same event. Supposedly the Gospels portray them as two because of the diverging oral traditions that circulated in the early church. These diverging traditions were sources for the Gospels. Yet having preached two slightly different sermons on the same subject in two different congregations, I see no reason to reject the apparent testimony of Matthew and Luke that we are dealing with two sermons there as well.
The Sermon on the Mount
If Christian pacifism has a basis, it must be found in the New Testament. Yet to posit such a claim, Christian pacifists must show that New Testament ethics radically depart from Old Testament ethics.
During the American Civil War, Sabbatarian Adventists in the state of Iowa petitioned their state legislature for official recognition as a pacifist church. They wanted the legislature to recognize their pacifist convictions to help protect the church's young men from the draft. Their action provoked the Sabbatarian Adventist movement as a whole to quickly become pacifist, despite their obvious sentiments for a Union victory. In the wars that followed, members of the Seventh-day Adventist Church and Church of God (Seventh Day) continued their pacifist tradition.