I was on Facebook today and a friend, Steve Witt, posted something very thoughtful. If you do not know Steve, he is the leader of the Bethel Cleveland church based in Cleveland, Ohio. He has been there for quite a few years. I met him back in the day during the Toronto Blessing.
Here is what Steve had to say,
Pacifism is a belief that cannot hold under present conditions. Granted, society should lean toward war only when it can guarantee a preferred peaceful future existence. Christians can be confused by this, believing that countries should never go to war.
Coercion is necessary for nations. Until the day that Christ’s glorious kingdom fully penetrates earthly systems, necessary coercion must exist. It provides boundaries, limits and can only mimic at best, the kingdom of heaven. Until then, a necessary duty is upon us to protect our citizens while leaning heavily into peace.
What is Steve Witt trying to tell us?
I regard him as a prophetic voice to the renewal movement. He is not a prophet but a prophetic voice. As one, I take much of his thoughts to be something to consider. What I see is a tension between some who think, “Blessed is the peacemakers” is more important than “train my hands to war.” Both are in the bible and both have their realities.
The Old Testament is full of examples of God using coerion to get his divine purpose in that point of history. Jesus used mental coercion to force people to re-think traditional teachings that were based on the ideas of men and not scripture.
The truth of the matter: war is missiological
I know what I just said might be a “hard saying” but it is very true. God uses war to bring about His mission in hard to reach areas. After the war in Iraq, a window was opened briefly for the gospel to run swiftly. Many were born again as a result.
A generation ago, the gospel was able to run more swiftly than ever in Southeast Asia as a direct result of the Vietnam conflict. The churches in that country became stronger in the early 1970’s than they ever had been for decades.
Before that, much of the modern missions movement was being led by veterans of the second world war. They saw the crisis for missions because they had been there as soldiers. They returned as missionaries.
While war is not ideal, it does not a divine purpose in God’s overall missional plan.
Thank you, Steve Witt, for making us think.