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"God Trumps The State Everytime..."

An Interview with Dr. Laurence Vance, author of "Christianity and War and Other Essays Against the Warfare State"

By Angela Wittman, editor of

CLP Editor: First of all, please let me express my gratitude for your willingness to be interviewed for My hope is to introduce our readers, who for the most part are Christian pro-life activists, to your work and to help them sort through the issue of what is the Biblical response to war.

Dr. Vance: Thank you for contacting me and giving me the opportunity.

Ed.: Please tell us when you first began researching the military and war from a Christian worldview and what prompted you to do this?

Dr. Vance: I really began researching war and the military from a Christian worldview in the mid 1990s after I came across some articles on war in an old Baptist theological journal published before the so-called Civil War. Previous to this, there were two things that had caused me to question war and the military. First, I had read in several places that the U.S. military had troops stationed in over 100 countries. This struck me as both odd and unnecessary, especially since the Cold War had ended. Second, I remember having doubts about the necessity of Bush Sr. invading Iraq the first time back in 1991. I began to write extensively on the subjects of war and the military after Bush Jr. invaded Iraq the second time and I saw Christians blindly supporting the war effort.

Ed.: Please give us a brief introduction of your latest book Christianity and War and Other Essays Against the Warfare State .

Dr. Vance: My book contains seventy-nine essays, organized under the headings of Christianity and War, War and Peace, The Military, Christianity and the Military, The Iraq War, Other Wars, and The U.S. Global Empire. The essays span the four-year period from late 2003 to late 2007. Although many of them reference contemporary events, the principles discussed in all of them are timeless: war, militarism, empire, interventionism, the warfare state, and the Christian attitude toward these things. The first chapter is the largest, and contains twenty essays under the general rubric of “Christianity and War.” Besides discussing that subject, here I introduce some real Christian ministers who spoke out against war, point out the biblical errors of two other ministers who favored war, give a test to Christians to see if they are warmongers, identify the Christian axis of evil, expose the hypocrisy of Christian warmongers, reveal the unholy desire of Christians to legitimize killing in war, declare what the Church should be saying about U.S. foreign policy, discuss the fallacy of those who say that the commandment “Thou shalt not kill” never applies to killing in war, describe the use of religion in wartime by the state, explain how killing for the state can be murder, explore the attitude of the early Christians toward war, and answer the questions “What about Hitler?” and “What happened to the Southern Baptists?” In chapter 2, “War and Peace,” the evils of war and warmongers and the benefits of peace are examined. In chapter 3, “The Military,” the evils of standing armies and militarism are discussed, including a critical look at the U.S. military. In chapter 4, “Christianity and the Military,” the idea that Christians should have anything to do with the military is shown to be illogical, immoral, and unscriptural. In chapter 5, “The War in Iraq,” the folly of U.S. policy in Iraq is laid bare. In chapter 6, “Other Wars,” the evils of war and the warfare state are chronicled in specific wars: the Crimean War (1854–1856), the Russo-Japanese War (1904–1905), World War I (1914–1918), and World War II (1939–1945). In chapter 7, “The U.S. Global Empire,” the beginnings, growth, extent, nature, and consequences of the U.S. Empire of bases and troops are revealed and critiqued. These essays have one underlying theme: opposition to the warfare state that robs us of our liberty, our money, and in some cases our life. There is nothing “Christian” about the state’s aggressive militarism, its senseless wars, its interventions into the affairs of other countries, and its expanding empire. Although war is a subject that needlessly divides and sidetracks Christians. It is my contention that Christian enthusiasm for the state, its wars, and its politicians is an affront to the Saviour, contrary to Scripture, and a demonstration of the profound ignorance many Christians have of history.

Ed.: Do you agree that when discussing the issue of war with others we should frame the debate in terms of God’s ideas rather than man’s?

Dr. Vance: When discussing the issue of war with religious people the answer is unequivocally yes. What man thinks about war is completely irrelevant. However, some Christians are so blinded by the Republican Party, the conservative movement, government propaganda, and the military that they reject the clear teaching of Scripture. The case against war and militarism must often be presented to these Christians like it would to the irreligious that reject the authority of Scripture.

Ed.: While researching for this interview I found these interesting quotes from some of your articles that I want to share with our readers:

In “Lesser of Two Goods” you said:

Our standard is liberty, not the Constitution – a document which made allowance for slavery until the passage of the Thirteenth Amendment.

Do you believe that as Christians our standard is God’s Word, that society should base its laws on Biblical law and that true freedom and liberty is only found in Christ Jesus?

Dr. Vance: The Scripture is our final authority in all matters. We should judge everything—including politics, economics, and U.S. foreign policy—by the Bible. All true laws are ultimately based on biblical law. However, I do not subscribe to theonomy or believe that Christians should lobby the civil magistrate to enforce the Mosaic law. Yes, true freedom and liberty is only found in Christ Jesus. Many Americans believe in liberty but at the same time are in bondage to sin or a false religion.

Ed.: Are you in favor of national acknowledgement of Jesus Christ as Sovereign Lord as in a Constitutional amendment?

Dr. Vance: Absolutely not. There is nothing in the New Testament that would imply that Christians should persuade their government to make declarations like that. However, I do believe that every individual American should make this acknowledgement. And besides, if such a national acknowledgment was made it would be a sham just like our national motto of “In God We Trust” and the phrase “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance. The United States is the drug and pornography capital of the world. It would therefore be blasphemous for any national acknowledgement that mentioned the Lord Jesus Christ and America in the same sentence.

Ed.: Also in the article “Lesser of Two Goods,” in reference to Chuck Baldwin’s platform and his plank on abortion you wrote:

Like Ron Paul, and unlike John McCain, Chuck Baldwin is unabashedly pro-life. But in his article, "If I Were President," Baldwin makes some statements about abortion being eliminated that cannot be substantiated:

"If I were President, I would use the bully pulpit of the White House to encourage Congress to pass Congressman Ron Paul’s Sanctity of Life Act. In short, this bill would do two things: First, it would declare that unborn babies are persons under the law. Second, under the authority of Article. III. Section. 2. of the U.S. Constitution, it would remove abortion from the jurisdiction of the Court. In essence, this bill would immediately overturn Roe v. Wade and end legalized abortion.

"Republicans tout themselves as being "pro-life." Yet, the GOP controlled both houses of Congress and the White House for six years and did absolutely nothing to overturn Roe or end abortion-on-demand. Under my administration,we could end legal abortion in a matter of days, not decades. And if Congress refused to pass Dr. Paul’s bill, I would use the constitutional power of the Presidency to deny funds to protect abortion clinics. Either way, legalized abortion ends when I take office."

The Sanctity of Life Act (H.R. 1094) would not end legalized abortion, in essence or otherwise. It would return control over abortion to the states.

As Dr. Paul has explained numerous times, we have a federal system of government; the central government has no constitutional authority to involve itself in the abortion issue. Because the U.S. president is not a dictator or an absolute monarch, there is nothing any president could do to end legal abortion in a matter of days or decades other than to sign into law unconstitutional legislation passed by Congress outlawing abortion.

Ed.: Do you agree that preborn children should have the same protection as born? If so, what do you believe would be the best way to accomplish this? Do you agree with the strategy of passage of “Personhood” legislation that would protect human beings from the moment of fertilization?

Dr. Vance: I believe that preborn children should definitely have the same protection as born children. However, I don’t believe that looking to the federal government is the answer. I know and greatly admire Congressman Ron Paul. I agree with him that Roe v. Wade was wrongly decided because abortion is simply not a constitutional issue. The federalization of abortion law is not based on constitutional principles, but on a social and political construct created out of thin air by the Supreme Court. Since the federal government has no authority to involve itself in the abortion issue, a federal law banning abortion in the states would be just as wrong as Roe v. Wade. Ultimately, the hearts and minds of the American people must be changed when it comes to the abortion issue. Christians who support war have a warped view of what it means to be pro-life. I believe that adults and foreigners have the same right to life as unborn American babies. There is no ethical difference between being pro-abortion and being pro-war. Killing babies outside of the womb in Iraq is just as much an evil as killing babies inside the womb in America. Yet, many American Christians consider an American soldier who kills Iraqis a hero.

Ed.: In the article “J. Gresham Machen on Imperialism, Militarism, and Conscription” you wrote:

Conservative Christians have no business supporting, defending, or excusing the current military adventures of the United States. J. Gresham Machen is a shining example that even the most conservative of Christians can look to.

Do you believe J. Gresham Machen’s views on the military were shaped by his Biblical beliefs?

Dr. Vance: Certainly. Machen would not have approved of John McCain’s “Country First” slogan. He put the Bible above his country. And because of this, he did not blindly support the Allied cause in World War I like so many preachers at that time did.

Ed.: In conclusion, I want to share this memorable quote from your article “Elijah vs. the State” [emphasis mine]:

Christians seeking to justify their support for, or the participation of their friends and relatives in, the U.S. government’s latest military adventure often recite the mantra, "Obey the powers that be," a loose paraphrase of Romans 13:1, as if that somehow means that Christians should blindly follow whatever the government says. But because the state is, as Murray Rothbard described it, a "bandit gang writ large," Christians should always remember the reply of the apostles when they were told to stop speaking in the name of Jesus: "We ought to obey God rather then men" (Acts 5:29). The Bible alone is the word of God, not congressional legislation or resolutions, Supreme Court decisions, the Code of Federal Regulations, or presidential executive orders. God trumps the state every time.

Ed.: Thank you so much for this interview and may the good LORD bless you and your work. Amen.

Dr. Vance: Thanks again for contacting me and giving me this opportunity to present a biblical response to war.

To learn more about Dr. Vance, please visit his website Vance Publications, .

Laurence M. Vance, Ph.D., is a teacher, an author, a publisher, a freelance writer, the editor of the Classic Reprints series, and the director of the Francis Wayland Institute. He holds degrees in history, theology, accounting, and economics. The author of fifteen books, he regularly contributes articles and book reviews to both secular and religious periodicals. Dr. Vance's writing interests include free market economics, taxation, government spending and corruption, the socialism and statism of conservative pundits and Republican politicians, Baptist theology, English Bible history, Greek grammar, and the folly of war. He is a regular columnist for, and blogs for,, and Dr. Vance is a member of the Society of Biblical Literature, the Grace Evangelical Society, and the International Society of Bible Collectors, and is an adjunct scholar of the Ludwig von Mises Institute.


Editor's Note: Please click here for John Lofton's "The American View" radio interview with Dr. Vance.


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