Daily Archives: 17 Nov 2012
At first blush the two topics in the post title may seem incongruous- but they are in fact theologically related. Bullinger writes
For if the magistrate doth by God’s law punish offenders, thieves, and harmful persons; and that it maketh no matter whether they be few or many in number, as I declared in my yesterday’s sermon; even by the same law may he persecute, repel, and kill rebellious people, seditious citizens, and barbarous soldiers, who, under the pretence of war, do attempt that openly which thieves and robbers are wont to do privily. The prophet, I confess, did among other things prophesy of us Christians, and say: “They shall turn their swords into spades, and their javelins into scythes:” for Christians have peace with all men, and do altogether abstain from armour; for every one doth that to another which he would wish to have done to himself. But, for because all are not so minded, but that many unruly persons, wicked thieves, and oppressors of the poor, do live and dwell among honest and good-meaning men, as wild beasts among harmless creatures; therefore God from heaven hath given the sword into the magistrate’s hand, to be a defence for harmless people against unruly cut-throats. But we read not in any place that we are forbidden to suppress and kill wolves, wild boars, bears, and such other beasts that do annoy and prey upon men or cattle. What let then should there be why we should not, by lawful war begun in a good quarrel, repel the unjust injury of violent robbers, since thieves, robbers, barbarous soldiers, and seditious citizens, do differ little or nothing from wild beasts?*
Force is justifiable when it is used in defense of the defenseless. For this reason Bullinger at least would see as proper Israel’s incursion into Gaza. Not because Bullinger was anything like a ‘Christian Zionist’ (he would have loathed such theological incorrectness), but because when the innocent are attacked it is the government’s job to protect them.
*The Decades of Henry Bullinger: The First and Second Decades (T. Harding, Ed.) (370–371). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
- Heinrich Bullinger: Unjust Wars (zwingliusredivivus.wordpress.com)
“Nun sitzen wir hier, studieren Theologie, streiten uns nachher um die besten Pfarrstellen, schreiben dicke gelehrte Bücher, um gar Professor der Theologie zu werden … und was draußen vorgeht, dort, wo um die Ehre und den Namen Jesu gekämpft wird, soll uns nichts angehen?” (Albert Schweitzer)
[True, he didn’t actually say it to SBL attendees- but he may well have done. With thanks to Sebastian Moll for mentioning it]