In short: Are Baptists generally for or against going to war?
It seems Baptists have a general freedom in their personal beliefs. Is there a general consensus on going to war or avoiding it?
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I am a Baptist and my husband is a Baptist preacher. I will answer your question, but first let me state that yes, with many questions, you will find that Baptist have no consensus. Why? Because we believe in "Individual Soul Liberty" which can be defined as "Every individual, whether a believer or an unbeliever, has the liberty to choose what he believes is right in the religious realm. No one should be forced to assent to any belief against his will. Baptists have always opposed religious persecution. However, this liberty does not exempt one from responsibility to the Word of God or from accountability to God Himself. Romans 14:5, 12; 2 Corinthians 4:2; Titus 1:9" as quoted from this site http://www.garbc.org/about-us/beliefs-constitution/baptist-distinctives/
We also believe that believers who study God's word, will grow; and at different stages of growth may interpret God's word differently. We will not have full understanding until we get to heaven.
So we do not dictate what others believe. We point members and non-members to the the Word of God. Those who know Christ as their Savior can be guided by the Holy Spirit, if they maintain their fellowship with God. Those who don't know Jesus as their Savior , can be guided by what God has made obvious in the universe, although in the end, all men will fall short, because we are all sinners. So what does this have to do with being a pacifist? We point to God's Word and we look at it in context, and how it relates to the whole picture of God presented in the bible. Yes, God says "You shall not commit murder". However, this is generally interpreted as premeditated, revengeful murder, committed out of selfishness.
There are many places where God commands His people to go to war and even to kill off all who are not His people. (in that area and time - not a as principle for every believer) In 1 Samuel 15:3 Samuel the prophet tells Saul the king that the Lord says," Now go and attack Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and do not spare them. But kill both man and woman, infant and nursing child, ox and sheep, camel and donkey.’” Then in verse 9 it says, "But Saul and the people spared Agag (the King of the Amalek) and the best of the sheep, the oxen, the fatlings, the lambs, and all that was good, and were unwilling to utterly destroy them. But everything despised and worthless, that they utterly destroyed." And in verse 19 Samuel says to Saul, " Why then did you not obey the voice of the Lord? Why did you swoop down on the spoil, and do evil in the sight of the Lord?” In verse 33, Samuel, the prophet kills Agag. From this passage and other similar passages, we can see God is not opposed to any and all murder at anytime,by anyone.
Baptist believe the bible teaches that all national leaders,whether good or evil are appointed by God, and the job of the national government is to protect the people. Therefore, under the right circumstances, going to war can be obedience to God, especially if it is what is generally considered self-defense. However, if a believer felt strongly that what the government was doing went against God's word, then we would say that individual should not violate his conscience. Always obey God first, then man's laws.
To explain why most Baptist believe in fighting just wars, I am including a sermon printed the Baptist Faith and Message, a publication of the Southern Baptist Fellowship. http://www.lifeway.com/Article/Foundations-faith-peace-and-war
You will find plenty of Bible verse to back up the position in the article. I do not consider myself a pacifist. One of my son's is a police officer, and may someday have to kill in the line of duty. As long as he follows both man's and God's principles, I do not believe he would be wrong in God's eyes.
God looks at the heart, (our motives-why we do things), and God cannot be fooled even though we deceive ourselves.