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Will Bombing Bring Peace?

A Response to President Obama’s Address to the Nation

Johann Christoph Arnold

Available languages: Deutsch, 한국어, العربية, Français

  • John Sinclair

    Dear Christoph, You are naive to believe a politician could end all wars, simply because he promised it in his election manifesto! It will clearly come as a surprise to you - politicians, business leaders, Church leaders... all need to tell untruths in order to make the sale! Christoph, you advocate pacifism, which is a noble ideal. It is easy to make such statements, specially, when you are the hereditary leader of a multi million dollar business empire and community, free from want and need. However one can only wonder as the state of freedom and democracy - including your freedom, if nations did not take a stance against oppression? The answer I suspect is that we would be governed by the likes the Nazis - fascists and communists or under the control of a myriad of fundamentalist religions, christian included! Control, abuse, power is a natural condition. It manifests itself to lesser and greater extent in many of us. This natural condition - shall we call it evil - is to be found not only in individuals, but in the home, the workplace, our church, wider community and government...! We see this natural order at work daily in our lives. In fact I found this article while trying to find understand and reason the abuse recently inflicted by a Brudderhof member! No society or community is free from abuse, no matter how pious they purport to be! I digress, back to pacifism. The fact is, if it were not for the allied troops and those working in resistance during the second world war, your community would "possibly" have been toast - another "has been" interpretation of the Christian word! I wonder - if Jesus were the leader of the Brudderhof at that time, would he have run away to south America, or would he have lead his community in solidarity, to fall one by one or en mass, laughing and dancing in the face of evil and death, just as the early Christians, when slaughtered by the Romans? I wonder too, if Jesus, as leader of his community, would have formed an army, like that of the Vatican? I wonder, would like you, would he have armed himself with magnum hand guns and security dogs to protect himself - I rather suspect not! Clearly your life, your ego has become more important than your faith! The early Christians did not have a need for arms. Arguably, their faith and commitment ultimately converted the Romans. Having said this, there is of course the old argument (based on historical evidence), that the Romans - seeing how submissive Christians became in their faith in Christ - used Christianity as a tool, to control the people. It worked so well, they rolled the format out across the Empire! Marketing experts consider the Catholic Church format as as rolled out by the Romans, to be the most successful branding and marketing campaign of all time! I digress again. Those early converts to Christianity, had the courage of their convictions, and stood firm. Nothing, not even death, we are told could diminish there faith, happily they walked into the lions den! Arguably, for whatever reason, the Brudderhof did not stand firm like the early Christians - they ran. They ran all the way to South America leaving the allied forces and the resistance to fight for freedom. It would seem their faith gave way to selfishness. Survival took precedence - a natural condition! Christoph, you wrote an article recently about fatherhood. The inference being that men outside of your community - what one might call "men in the real world" - were not real men. You argued, "How could they be real men, when they were watching TV and going to football matches...!" Yet it is these same men and their parents and grandparents - people you call "non men" - who fought and lost their lives fighting Nazism - winning, and making Europe free, so as the "real men" of the Brudderhof (your words) could sneak back, to pick up where they left off! Personally I find you comments insulting. I can't imagine how those who were there, and those who lost loved ones feel about your comments. We are taught that war is an un christian and sinful act. Fortunately for the Brudderhof they could run away and find a new life elsewhere. You can do that when you number only hundreds. However when you are a entire nation or continent, you can't run away! It's disappointing the Brudderhof did not lead by example, and stand up to oppression. Such courage may have converted the Nazis, as the early Christians converted the Romans! There are some wars which have to be fought physically, and wars which must be fought psychologically. Those wars where force is futile, are wars against those who hold deeply held fundamentalist beliefs, some might say "brainwashed." To those people "death for the cause" is the ultimate honour. Fundamentalist's come in many forms and guises. There are Christian, Islamic, Buddhist.. and many more. What constitutes "fundamentalist" is a subjective subject. That which appears oppressive to one person may be the height of freedom and tolerance to another. In fact, many consider the Brudderhof ideology as exclusive and fundamentalist! Recently a Muslim expert cited the Brudderhof as the Christian equivalent of Islamic Al-Qaeda! Wow, clearly fundamentalism is very subjective! However, I can see the logic of the statement. To raise just one example. You state "the war in the middle east with IS will generate millions of refugees." These people are being displayed because - though they share the same faith - their ideologies differ. This can never be acceptable to a fundamentalist! Those with differing views will have to be exterminated, or at a minimum expelled and excommunicated! On a smaller scale, this of course is what the Brudderhof does. Those who have been born and raised within your ideology must take vows to uphold the ideology. Those who don't are exiled. All or nothing, in or out! Personally, I have never found this to be a christian act! Perhaps you could point me to the text in the bible where it says, "those who want to voice there own opinion must be exiled!" The difference between IS and the Brudderhof is simply a matter of scale! If Brudderhof ideology were the religion of a nation, there would be tens of thousands of refugees flooding into neighbouring countries as asylum seekers! However, as you number only hundreds the exiled go unnoticed under the radar! War, pacifism, fundamentalism it's all a matter of perspective, Ego and control! Yes, it's a minefield out there. God gave all men free will. Assert your God given rights! In conclusion, you said find the courage to pray for our enemies! I suggest this is a good survival instinct, you never know when you will need to ingratiate yourself!

  • Michael Barszewski

    I agreed in the use of force in the first gulf war and in Bosnia. I said last year "I wish we would just drop a bomb on Assad's head. I ask "do not we have a responsibility to protect the poor from evildoers?" ISIS makes the question quite stark. Yet the conflict in faith keeps making me ask: how can violent actions further the creation of peace? In prayer I received the question how would we respond if we didn't possess bombs? As long as we have bombs and resort to using them, we live in the illusion, that their judicious use will help us build a peaceful world. Bombs are simple answers to complex realities. Odd, is it not, that many of the weapons in ISIS possession came from forces that we supplied. And we know that the term "discriminate bombing" is false. We know that U.S. bombs in the Iraq War killed and maimed hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians, as well as destroyed so much societal infrastructure. So I pose the questions if we did not have bombs, how we act? If the goal is truly peace then what is required?

  • Merv Patton

    This article saddens me a lot. We have brothers and sisters in Christ being butchered, 1 in every 12 minutes. Children are being beheaded, women are being raped and the answer by many is to keep out of the situation. This is madness. Anyone who believes that IS will stop after conquering their current foe is sadly out of touch. Their commanders have already said that when they are finished in the Middle East they will come to Australia and America and any where else that people do not support their beliefs. I too am a Pastor, and I am ashamed of the article written by Johann Christoph Arnold. We are supposed to pray for those in prison, as if we were in prison with them. These people have chosen to become the worst mass murderers this world has ever seen. If we do not fight them there, we will fight them here, or submit to their evil. I stand with Israel and every Christian who is being terrorized.

  • Ray Lovegrove

    As a Quaker I fully support the words of this post and would urge all who voice support military intervention to consider the alternatives. Cutting off the financial support for the Islamic State via Saudi Arabia, and others, would be a good starting point. May God bring peace to the lives of those caught up in this terrible situation soon, and may we all actively work to enable peace in any way we can.

  • S. Plimmer

    These terrorists are not merely antichrist , they are most evil and satanic. How very sweet of Mr Arnold to show such dedication to the words of the almighty, yet I believe he to be mistaken when such evil arises. God also speaks of wrath for such sins and unmitigated violence. This is about justice and a truth about how we interpret mankind's free will and a need to help those who are oppressed. Sorry Mr Arnold but there have been many occasions when talking to a mindless intransigence for evil purposes is fruitless and so we become Christian soldiers.

  • Pat

    The conditions of IS (previously called ISIS/ ISIL) reminds me of Hitler's invasion of Europe in WW2. If we did nothing and were passive, there would have been a larger number of holocausts, affecting more ethnic groups, nations and other targeted people eg. disabled people. I think you have taken Martin Luther King Jrs quote out of context in relation to the scenario. In this case IS has a mission to convert the Middle East region and the World to their oppressive ways by violence. They will not agree to any Political negotiations as they want to start their own country and break existing boarders and boundaries. It is sad to say that war will have to happen (unless God supernaturally stops this), but God can also use war (although this was not his original intention when He created the world) for justice. It's hard to get my head around this, but who knows the mind of God. Obama is just a man, and he can promise peace (to the best of his ability), but if the conditions change, he has to make a decision. The Iraqi goverment hasn't done a good job to represent all their people and Syrian civil war is out of control. I agree we need to pray for our goverment and leaders. We also need to pray for IS members that they see the lies of what they are doing and turn to one and only true God.

  • Robert Urlich

    The forces of evil speak a language of discord, irrationality, hatred, deceit and destruction. For the misguided and deluded these are reasons for celebration. The forces of love understand rationality, derived from truth, creativity as a function of on-going development and love of diversity as a reason for joy and celebration,

  • Bill Samuel

    Thank you for this. We have seen the U.S. time and time again go to war allegedly to combat terrorism or some other evil. In each case, we have seen the U.S. destroy more lives and wreak more destruction by far than those we claimed to oppose. And what we see are spirals where each side increases its violence. And the U.S. itself was once in support of and provided weapons used by Saddam Hussein, the Taliban, ISIS, etc. This is madness. The world believes you can do good by committing evil. Christ tells us otherwise. And the wisdom of Christ is shown day after day.

  • Rod

    The abyss is opposed to love, yet frames itself as being the very epitome of love. What the Eastern Christians knew, before the fall of Constantinople in 1453, we now know. What those Eastern Christians experienced, to a large degree, we now experience. An abysmal situation cannot be held back by passivity, apathy, a will-to-power, appeasement or a poorly informed soft diplomacy. Responsible action here requires faith, purpose, a unified team and the courage to dedicate a wide variety of resources to neutralize it. That is love speaking in truth - proclaiming just mercy and merciful justice in word, deed and attitude. I fear that the brilliant words of MLK.Jnr spoken today, will only feed an ideologically driven apathy-in-the-name-of-tolerance. We must recognise that does not reconcile with "wisdom, justice and love."

  • Ryan Albosta

    To first set something straight, the bible actually never says that Jesus whipped anybody when he cleared the temple. It is more likely that he used it to drive the animals being sold by the money changers, which is simply more congruent with everything else he teaches. "Then Jesus said to him, “Put your sword back into its place. For all who take the sword will perish by the sword. (‭Matthew‬ ‭26‬:‭52‬ ESV)". If we really believe that it's impossible to live out Jesus' calling in Every situation, then we really should stop calling ourselves Christians. The term itself implies that we are like Christ. I don't believe that pastor Arnold is advocating inaction in the face of violence, no one who tries to follow in the footsteps of men like Paul and MLK would even dare use that word. We are called to actively Make peace. To love our enemies in the flesh. In Shane claiborne's words, we are to sit with them and say, "you are my brothers and sisters. And if my country bombs your country, I will be right here beside you." We call war and the killing of families bravery. The Son of God was brave when he gave up his life for his friends. We are called to do the same. I'm not talking to the American government, I'm talking to everyone reading this who claims to follow the prince of peace. We are not Americans, nor are we any other earthly nationality. We are citizens of the kingdom of God, and our allegiance lies with it above all else. And that includes the people of ISIS. If terrorists are beyond hope, then we can rip out half the New Testament, cause it was written by a converted terrorist. If you really want to make things better, then stop shooting people and go there and tell them yourself. It's called Christian Peacemaking. Or at least make it known to the world from here that the Christian church does not agree either with ISIS' killings or any violence of any kind. The majority of the Muslim community will agree with you.

  • Steve

    All it takes for evil to prosper is for good men to do nothing. Mr. Arnold proposes no alternative to war, and suggests that we should do nothing while terrorism prospers. This is not God's way and Mr. Arnold does not follow Christ's example. War for war's sake is evil. But so is peace for peace's sake. Both should be used to serve God. The passage about turning the other cheek is the most misunderstood and misused in the NT. If a man strikes your cheek offer him the other. Don't lie down and offer your back. Don't offer him your nose up his rear. Offer your cheek: continue to defy him, in other words. Don't back down. You've turned the meaning on its head. Jesus was an example of strength, not weakness and passivity. A vote for passivity in the face of aggression is a vote for more violence, destruction and hatred, not less. Promoting absolutes like this does not promote morality; it degrades it. It cheapens it into a simplistic formula that lacks intelligence, understanding and judgement. True morality is difficult. It keeps you up at night. It wrestles with you. It is not self-righteous or simplistic. It does not disregard information; it takes account of it. Do not disregard the fact that ISIL is violent for violence's sake and that they are attacking us without provocation.

  • Andy

    Could we stand idly by and NOT protect the Christians and Yazidis at risk of genocide ? We saved the Moslems in Kossovo, after all. However, surely if we believe in loving our enemies, there must be a better way. On reflection, was not the evil spirit driving the violence and hatred of ISIS, not born of a previously unjust government in Iraq ? Even Winston Churchill said 'jaw-jaw is better than War-war. ' just as many Christians believe that the line between good and evil runs through the centre of each of us and that we need Jesus to help the non-violent good prevail, perhaps Non- violent Moslems can be helped to persuade those others of their fellow Moslems that Jihad was meant to be a Godly non- violent struggle. As Steven Hawking said in that famous mechanical voice of his, in the B.T. Advert , recorded over a back-ground film of bombing and tank battle - ' It doesn't have to be like this ; all we have to do is keep talking... talking... talking.... The implication being that when we keep talking to our enemies, eventually we can no longer demonise each other.

  • J.N

    The problem with terrorism is that it is a different kind of crime and war. No terrorist group has ever given or accepted reasonable, human terms for peace: the Boko Haram in Nigeria at one time said they wanted the President to become a Muslim or resign; today the want Nigeria to be an Islamic country or nothing else; the ISIS wants the entire world beginning with Iraq, Syria and environs to be one global Islamic State, etc. The other option is the death of the 'infidels' who would not covert. ...All these is not to stir hatred against terrorists--they are still human beings loved by God. SOLUTION: Terrorists receive weapons from Advanced countries like America, Russia, France, etc who are at the forefront of fighting terrorism. LET THE WEST REGULATE THE SALE AND MOVEMENT OF ARMS WITH THE AIM OF DISARMING TERRORISTS--AS HUMAN BEINGS TERRORISTS WILL HAVE A CHANGE OF MIND IF THEY HAVE NO ARMS TO FIGHT WITH.

  • Prayer

    Lord have mercy. If we commit to peace for your sake, we beg you to intercede for us and bring Your peace on Earth!!! Let Your Kingdom come. Christ have mercy.

  • John Raphael

    It was difficult to get this country into WWII - until the war was brought to us. When I watched the first tower fall I said out loud, "this means war", but prayed "wouldn't take the world by storm if we lived up to our founding Father's image and turned the other cheek?" What country has done that? It would have taken the legs out from under the Muslim "brotherhood". And saved so many lives and souls.

  • Miriam Godshall

    I agree with pastor Arnold. Hate begets hate; violence begets violence. We must love our enemies and pray for them as Jesus taught us to do. I am joining you in prayer for the political leaders and those in uniform and for our enemies.

  • Christopher Russell

    No, you can't love your enemies and bomb them; and you can't use a whip to drive them out of the temple either. The biblical Christ, in all other respects, is an ideal figure who is impossible to follow in the real world. You want to follow him truly? What, to the grave? That's OK if you believe in the resurrection. But if you don't, then you will have to bomb them to hell.

  • George Parakulam

    All of us listen to the words of Jesus when he says to love our enemies. But the question is what if the enemy hates our love and continue to kill us. Only answer is to pray for the holy spirit to intervene and disarm our enemy while we continue to love him. God is powerful and no evil can EVER defeat him so with prayer and love we shall overcome our enemies.

  • Joyce Brown

    We are so much more aware now than in Biblical times of what is going on in the world. It makes loving our enemies so much more of a challenge, and to know that innocents are being slaughtered by the thousands makes one feel really guilty if we do nothing but pray or protect. It's a huge, huge problem-but what do we Christians have but the word of God to guide/direct us in this world. Even if we are divided on certain biblical interpretation in the end we know that love wins. How to love and let-go or crush our enemies is our dilemma. I choose love. I Cor. 13.

  • Deb Steinkamp

    I am joining you in prayer, praying that we will trust God as our protector and that we will refrain from trying to cure violence by being violent ourselves.

  • Allen Robert Carrozza

    Under the concept of being your brother's keeper, I personally feel that to end the genocidal movement of ISIS, it may necessitate the removal of the perpetrator. Lately I have become physically sick to my stomach and mentally deeply saddened to watch murder and mayhem being carried out by a sub human species; one without conscience. As a peace loving individual myself, I think I could easily support the removal of the serpents head, in order to rid ourselves of this scourge. To eliminate even one perpetrator, who could be responsible for the deaths of many innocents, would be a worthy cause, in my opinion. Peace, -allen carrozza

  • Mary Jane

    I Pray for Peace, but we are trying to bring Democracy to people who do not want it, they only want Jihad. it is their Religion. We are invested but perhaps all about money. Pray for the United States and all our citizens that no terrorist group will ever strike again as they did that day! Pray also for our leaders, as they work to protect us with so many other world issues continuing where Peace and strife existed for over 2000 years. It all started with Abraham and the story of Isaac and Ishmael in the Bible.......where will it end? In Eternity, when HE comes again. Thanks for your comments and allowing me to express mine here. Peace, Mjo

  • Jonathan Maniam

    It is easier said then done

  • Wayne Schindler

    It is not clear what is the best approach to confront evil. Many of the radicals are motivated by hate. Even Jesus became violent using whips to drive the merchants out of the temple. It seems like our President has tried to be conciliatory to other nations, only to have them take advantage of the situation. When one is confronting an enemy that will kill, how does one love them? How does one love them so they stop the killing and hatred? This is a very difficult question. It is an ideal approach to think that we can bring the love of the Holy Spirit into those without the Spirit, but gaining of the Spirit is through obedience. A new war will bring more suffering and hate, but the alternative is that without the use of force, it is likely that western nations will have violence thrust upon us, e.g. 9/11, and that will foster hate. The real solution is to change the hearts of all to Christ, but that doesn't appear to be possible in my lifetime. Therefore, is our goals to foster peace at all costs, including the lives of our families, or is our goal to protect ourselves first? That is a difficult question.

  • Ben Read

    Very well said!, Pastor Arnold. When will we ever learn that violence will only bequeath violence. I am joining you in prayer for our political leaders and the young men and women in uniform and for our enemies. May God save us all.

  • John McCullough

    I would be interested to hear from Rev. Arnold how he would propose that non violence would stop the horrendous killing and torturing of innocent men, women and children. I too abhor war, but I also abhor unchallenged brutality.

  • Susan Fountain aka FaithfulSue

    Jesus tell us in His word to 'Love Your Enemies' and the Father knows what best! Matthew 5:43-45 …43"You have heard that it was said, 'YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR and hate your enemy.' 44"But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.…

Plough author Johann Christoph Arnold, a senior pastor of the Bruderhof, released this statement to the media this morning.

I am saddened that our President, who rode to election promising to end wars, has once again essentially called on us to go to war. I am also saddened that there is so little protest. This is so different than during the Vietnam War, when the conscience of the American people, and especially our youth, rallied us to action that eventually led to peace.

All this will have tragic consequences. The violence of terrorism cannot be eradicated by more violence; the many wars of the last thirteen years should by now have shown us the futility of taking up arms.

What, then, can we do? Martin Luther King Jr. points to the only answer:

Hate begets hate; violence begets violence; toughness begets a greater toughness. We must meet the forces of hate with the power of love. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. Hate multiplies hate, violence multiplies violence, and toughness multiplies toughness in a descending spiral of destruction ... The chain reaction of evil - hate begetting hate, wars producing more wars - must be broken, or we shall be plunged into the dark abyss of annihilation.

May these prophetic words rally us to think globally! This new war will only bring need and suffering and produce millions more refugees. It will also sow seeds of hatred in the hearts of a new generation of children and young people, who will see no other option than to resort to violence in the future.

I know that many who read this letter may not share my faith, but we must pray for our political leaders and for all the young men and women who take up arms in defense of our freedom. May we also have the courage to pray for our enemies.

What do you think? Can we love our enemies and bomb them? Share your thoughts.

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Contributed By Johann Christoph Arnold Johann Christoph Arnold

A noted speaker and writer on marriage, parenting, education, and end-of-life issues, Arnold is a senior pastor of the Bruderhof, a movement of Christian communities.

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