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Sunday School: Christian Ethics (Pt.10.2: War)

January 5, 2020 Speaker: Series: Sunday School: Christian Ethics

“Christian Forgiveness, Just War, and Terrorism”

(D.A. Carson “Love in Hard Places” lecture)


Christians must remember that . . . .

  1. God is angry with us, and yet, he forgives.

 It is only the offended party that can forgive.


Luke 23:34 Jesus said, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing."

  • When Jesus says they do not know what they are doing, he does not mean their ignorance is so absolute that they are innocent, for if they were innocent there would be nothing to forgive.
  • Jesus does not say or pray this with respect to everyone who was involved in the betrayal and execution.

We must remind ourselves that Christians must forgive.

There are different emphases on forgiveness, depending on the passage.

  1. The state is given the power of the sword; the civil magistrate “is God’s servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer” (Rom. 13:4).
  2. Numerous passages anticipate that God will bring down final and irrevocable judgment at the end.
  3. In Revelation 6:9–10 we find Christian martyrs, those who are “under the altar” in John’s vision and “who had been slain because of the word of God and the testimony they had maintained,” calling out in a loud voice, “How long, Sovereign Lord, holy and true, until you judge the inhabitants of the earth and avenge our blood?”
  4. This tension between the demand for forgiveness and the passion for justice is found not only in the martyrs under the altar who await the end of history, but in an apostle or a pastor charged with protecting the flock of God.


Summary: “To quote passages on justice in order to justify the nurtured bitterness of personal injury is for the Christian inexcusable. But, to plead for endless “forgiveness” when the interest of the state demands justice, or when love for God and his people is hopelessly absent is, far from being a Christian virtue, merely a cloaked indifference to moral integrity and biblical fidelity.”


  1. Two texts that are crucial in our understanding of the setting of Christianity.
  • Romans 12 and 13.
  • Mark 12
  1. Passivism                                                                                                       It may be helpful to reflect on passivism and just war theory in the light of the biblical commands to love and forgive.
  • Sentimental passivism
  • Rigorous passivism.