I've read a good deal on the Christian perspective on war, thanks in part to Christian Carnival - see here, here, and perhaps most succinctly, here (a brief review on Just War Theory - originally Augustine's concept). Like Jon (the last link), I support the war that America is currently engaged in, yet my faith forces me to support it repentantly.

Repentance is an interesting word. In the original Hebrew, it was essentially synonymous with grief. In Genesis 6, when God looked on the earth and saw "how great man's wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time, it says that "The Lord was grieved that he had made man on the earth." Essentially, the Lord was repenting that he had made mankind.

The Christian mind, when faced with the term "repentance," is usually quick to think of a person making a change for the better as part of their contrition for past sins. While we know that God is not in the sinner's position of repentance, we do know that He experienced a classical definition of repentance: one of feeling regret for past actions to such a point as to change his mind regarding said actions.

It is important to point out here that while God did have a change of mind / heart regarding mankind, He did not seek to have a change of action - to totally undo His creation. Rather, with a broken heart, he set out to eradicate the sin, and build on the goodness of what He had already done.

In much the same way, I support a war in which a civilization seeks justice: I support it with repentance. Such a support is not contradictory: it does not see the war as a bad thing of its own nature, but rather as a necessary bad thing that serves to pin point and eliminate the real evil. It is regretful that we should have to take such action, but the only thing worse would be to have no response whatsoever.

Its an interesting thing to offer repentant support. As we memorialize those who have made such great sacrifices for our freedom, I would offer that it is not a joyful occasion. In such times we are thankful for men who would stand in the heat of battle, yet we are grieved that they ever had to. We remember, honor, and support them, repentantly.


David M. said...

I think there is one important distinction between how you support the war "repentantly" and the usual Christian usage of the word for repentance. Repentance is usually a turning away from sin -- if I repent of committing adultery, for example, I'm saying I'm sorry for the sin I've done, and I'm sorry enough to quit doing it.

However, if I read your post correctly, it sounds like you're saying you grievingly support the war -- but that you would do so again.

I just wanted to point out that the Biblical idea of repentance, as it applies to people repenting of their sins, goes beyond mere grieving because something happened, or something is a certain way. It involves a real turning away from sin.

Obviously, your post isn't dealing with this -- but one wants to avoid falling into the idea that Christian repentance is simply grief because one has sinned. It does involve such grief -- but it goes much further than that.

David said...

Excellent point, David. I was trying to distinguish between the different understandings of the word, but I appreciate you fleshing it out a little further - I've been going a bit on the minimal side with my blog posts lately.

As you mentioned, the Christian usage of the word repentance does in fact entail a real turning away from sin. I would even submit that it goes beyond that to include actually walking in the opposite direction of the sin in question.

You do read my post correctly on my support of the war...I was just elaborating on a different aspect of repentance, is all.

David said...

P.s. Thanks for hosting the carnival.