The Big Question 12: Has Christianity Been Responsible for Starting Religious Wars?
Sep 2, 2021 108
There are people who are so anti-God that they say that religion – and often they have Christianity in mind – is responsible for all the wars that people have fought. But did Christianity start religious wars?
The first thing that I want to say is that I don’t want to minimise the bad things that Christians have done throughout history, and of course, it’s been thousands of years.
Have religious people, including Christians, started wars? Of course, they have!
But anyone who’s reasonable and who looks at why wars start has to admit that while religion has sometimes been a pretext, there are usually complicated political and economic reasons why wars start. Sometimes it’s just historic racial hatreds, and sometimes some people are just totally crazy.
So, historically, religion has been a good excuse for starting wars, but ultimately it’s not the real reason.
Jesus, Christianity & Religious Wars
The name “Christian” refers to being a follower of Jesus Christ. The message and example of Jesus was one of peace, not of war.
From beginning to end, Jesus taught and demonstrated peace. At his birth, angels sang “peace on earth and goodwill toward men!” At his death, he forgave his executioners.
At the heart of his teaching is this:
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
Jesus said that he came to bring peace, not religious wars:
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you (John 14:27, NIV).
So peace gets top billing in Jesus’ agenda.
In fact, when the soldiers came to arrest Jesus, and Peter whipped out his sword to try to defend him, Jesus said,
“Put your sword back in its place, for all who draw the sword will die by the sword.”
The key principle that Jesus taught was love. And those people who have called themselves Christians, but who haven’t lived out that principle have betrayed the very message of Christianity.
So, yes, while Christians may have started wars, along with people of other faiths and political persuasions, it’s not Christianity itself that’s been responsible.
There have been other agendas at work as well. And it’s been people who have twisted the nature of Christianity out of shape when they’ve failed to understand and follow the teachings of Jesus Christ.
At its very core, the message of Jesus is about peace-making, in every area of life, whether it’s between individuals, nations, or people and God. Because Jesus has brought peace between us and God, he expects us to make peace with one another. And that’s a much better way to live than being at war or starting religious wars.