Military, What Does The New Testament Say About War: It’s Foundations of Freedom Thursday, a special day of the week where we get to answer questions from you, the listeners! Always answering your questions from constitutional principles! Tune in today as we answer your questions such as what does the Bible say about military engagement in the New Testament, is it our free market right to hike up prices when a crisis hits, and so much more, right here on WallBuilders Live!
Air Date:Â 09/21/2017
Guests: David Barton, Rick Green, and Tim Barton
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Faith And The Culture
Thomas Jefferson said, “The Constitution of most of our states and of the United States asserts that all power is inherent in the people that they may exercise it by themselves that it is their right and duty to be at all times armed. That they are entitled to freedom of person, freedom of religion, freedom of property, and freedom of press.”
Welcome to the intersection of faith and the culture, this is WallBuilders Live! Where we”re talking about today”s hottest topics on policy, faith, and the culture, all of it from a Biblical, historical, and constitutional perspective.
That conversation today with David Barton, America’s premier historian and the founder of WallBuilders. Also, Tim Barton, national speaker, pastor, and president of WallBuilders. And my name is Rick Green, I’m a former Texas state legislator, national speaker, and author.
Find out more about all of us and the ministry at WallBuilders.com and then also visit WallBuildersLive.com. That’s our radio site and that’s where you get archives of the program and find stations across the country that carry the program. Visit both those sites today for a wealth of information, tools, and things that will be good not only for you as an individual being a good citizen, and learning about these freedoms, and how to protect and preserve them. But also to share with your Sunday school class, or your family, or your school, or whatever it might be. Get that information and help us spread the word so we can restore our Constitutional Republic.
Today is Foundations of Freedom Thursday. Every Thursday we try to get to as many of your questions as we can. Please send those in to Radio@WallBuilders.com. David, Tim, you guys ready for some questions?
You bet, fire away.
Is It Our Free Market Right To Hike Up Prices When A Crisis Hits
Our first one is coming from Zach. He says, “A few days before Hurricane Harvey made landfall off the coast of Texas there were stores raising prices on valuable products such as water and other important accessories that are needed during a hurricane. Some reports say that those stores raised prices by making a case of water 60 bucks and as a result involve themselves in what is known as “price gouging.'”
He continues, “Attorney General Ken Paxton of Texas stated that he was hunting down the stores and intends to prosecute. Some say that any store that is prosecuted for raising prices on their products is in violation of free-market principles.”
“In other words, prosecuting them would be in violation of free-market principles. I wanted to ask you and see where you stood on this issue and if the Attorney General, in your opinion, is in the wrong or not.”
David, Tim, interesting question here on free market principles. Certainly, a foundational principle. Now government dictating how much you can raise your prices in a crisis situation.
I will say, even before you answer though, I did see some interviews with General Paxton who’s a great guy and has been a fantastic attorney general where he was asked this exact question. And he said, “You know, it doesn”t matter what my position is. This is the law that the legislators put in place and it”s my job to enforce the law.”
So, I just want to throw that out there before we get into the issue of whether or not the state should prevent what’s called “price gouging,” if people are raising their prices in response to a disaster like this. Go ahead, guys. Â
Go ahead, guys. Â
If you go to a historical standpoint, a lot of universities will tell you that Adam Smith is the father of modern economics. He’s the guy who does so much of free market. Now, we argue, and rightfully so, and the Founders as well, the free market was out there a long time before Adam Smith did his work on called, “The Wealth of Nations.”
The Bible is big time in the free market. We have Foundations of Freedom that covers all of these free market principles in the Bible. The Founders Bible has so many passages drawn out of the Bible to show you free market principles. So there’s a lot there.
Having said that, let’s just go to Adam Smith for a bit and let’s just play like he is the guy who is the most knowledgeable guy on free market principles. We”ll look at the 1776 book that he did, “The Wealth of Nations,” three-volume set, we have an original copy here at the WallBuilders library.
Before he did that he did a previous book called, “The Theory of Moral Sentiments.” And he laid down the foundation of morality before he built the foundation of free-market economics. And the Founders held the same position.
That’s why Ben Franklin said, “A free market is the means under God of preserving the freedom of the nation intact.” So they always brought God into the economic side because there is a moral aspect to free-market economics.
If you just have economics and you have no morality to go with it then you become an oppressor. That would be if you’re in need and you need a case of water at $3.99 and you’re going to charge $60 just because you can, that gets into the oppression side and government is there to fight oppressors.
The Government Is Here To Protect Against Oppression
That’s one of the things too, when you look at monopolies, the reason that there are limitations on monopolies in America is so that you cannot be the only place people can go to to get that specific product, or service, of whatever it is. Because if you”re the only one that people can go to to get that, you have the ability to charge whatever price you want because you can’t go anywhere else.
Same thing with the time of crisis. If there is a time of crisis and you’re the only place they can go and you have the ability to charge whatever you want, this is where you make yourself rich off the expense and the hurt and the pain of other people. Which is where certainly that crosses a moral boundary of what we would say is morally right and wrong.
And if you look at this free market principle without, as Tim said, what’s morally right and wrong, if you take a purely libertarian view that the government is not supposed to have morals, it doesn’t establish right and wrong, it just stays out of the way. Then you allow oppression to thrive as well. There has to be a stand for what’s right and wrong and what constitutes oppression and not oppressing others.
So that’s why the law was done. It’s not to regulate the economy. My gosh, Texas has got a booming economy because we are largely unregulated in so many areas. But government does step in to create regulations to keep others from being harmed.
And it’s not just in the opinion of government that others are being harmed. If you’re a poor person and needs water, where are you going to get the 60 bucks for this? Where does that come from?
Yeah, maybe I could afford 60 bucks. But is it morally right? And this is why George Washington in his Farewell Address kept reminding America that the fundamental principles that make our politics prosper he said, “The indispensable supports are religion and morality.” You cannot cut that away from policymaking and expect to get good results.
Let me point out, this shouldn’t diminish the fact that in a time of crisis the price is going to go up. It’s just a matter of what’s determined to be morally justifiable. Because certainly in an economy, free market economy, as the demand increases the price is going to increase especially when you have a limited commodity.
And by the way, let’s say that you have ability to access and get more of whatever the goods are. Let”s say it”s bottled water, if you’re a retailer and you have the ability to get more bottled water brought in, but now your replacement costs might be higher. Now looking at the demand, “I’m going to have to order this sooner, I”m going to have to get a different truck, now there are expenses.” If there is an increase in demand there’s every reason and expectation that there’s going to be an increase in the price because that’s what happens.
Then as the demand decreases, the price will naturally also decrease. Now you’ve got all this bottled water, people aren”t buying it at the same rate, and you go, “What am I going to do with this bottled water?” Ok, I’ll make it cheaper for you. So this is what allows the price to fluctuate in this economic structure and system is totally this demand that is placed on the product.
What Is A Fair Markup In Times Of Crisis
But in a time of crisis when there’s a limited supply and there is a great demand, it is only natural that the price would go up. But again, the real question is what is a moral line to draw and say that you should not charge more than this. That’s a different discussion, although an interesting one you could have, “Where you say, no more than this. Is it just a certain percentage above replacement cost?”
Probably, but again this is where we should not look and go, “They shouldn’t be charging more in a time of crisis.” No, if you have a limited commodity and there’s a great demand for it and your replacement cost is now higher. You have to be able to cover your replacement costs and still make the same percentage profit you were going to make. And so prices will go up in these situations.
We saw part of that right after hurricane Harvey hit Texas. Because Secretary of Energy, Rick Perry, went out and said, “Hey guys, twenty-five percent of all the refinery output for gasoline in the United States is along the coast of Texas that just got hit by Hurricane Harvey. Those refineries are going to be shut down for a while which is going to increase the cost of gas. There’ll be less available and there’ll be a higher demand.”
And then suddenly all around Texas gas went up 15-20 cents a gallon because there’s going to be a shortage. Just Governor Perry saying that created a run on gasoline. All around us you could not find a gas station anywhere that still had gas left because people went and hoarded it and bought it.
But they weren’t charging 24 bucks a gallon either. They were charging 20-30 percent more because the cost is going to go up for them and it’s still up across the nation. The cost is going to be up to all those refineries go back online. The same with Louisiana when it got hit, same thing.
So there is a reasonable rate and nobody’s going to begrudge you making a profit. What they begrudge is when you oppress the needy and others and you get so greedy and you become a monopoly on that thing and you go well above what would be even unreasonable. This is unconscionable, if he raised it to eight bucks a case, that’s high but it’s probably not unconscionable, it”s unreasonable because it doesn’t cost him that. But when you go to 60 bucks a case, oh yeah. Now we’re at a whole different level.
And it kind of comes back to what you were saying before, David, in terms of what Adam Smith had said, you take the Ben Franklin quote about it being the free market under God, meaning ethical capitalism. If you come back to those moralities and principles, when you have those guiding you can balance this thing about, “I’ve got to stay in business, got to be able replace the product and make a profit and support the family.” All that good stuff, but not oppress as you were saying, Tim.
And actually make it a situation where you’re making the need even worse out there, making the disaster even worse as a result. I think we’ve seen a really good balance in Texas actually, in the response of people and the way that they’ve responded. So it’s actually been very encouraging.
David, as you talked about on the Good News Friday program about how we’ve seen people coming together and actually serving, and helping, and giving away things let alone charging exorbitant prices.
Good stuff, got to take a quick break. We’ll have more questions! Those can be sent in to Radio@WallBuilders.com, they can be about the Founders they can be about the Constitution, they can be about applying these principles, what does the Bible say about some of these principles, all these different issues of the day. Again, looking at them from a Biblical, historical, and constitutional perspective. Stay with us, we’ll be right back on WallBuilders Live.
President Thomas Jefferson said, “I know no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves. And if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion the remedy is not to take it from them but to inform their discretion by education. This is the true corrective of abuses of constitutional power.”
Moment From American History
This is Tim Barton from WallBuilders with another moment from American history. Alexis De Tocqueville, a political official from France, traveled to the United States in 1831 and penned his observations in the now famous book, “Democracy In America.”
Being from France, what he found in America was completely unexpected to him. He reported, “Upon my arrival in the United States, the religious aspect of the country was the first thing that struck my attention. And the longer I stayed there the more I perceived the great political consequences resulting from this. In France, I had almost always seen the spirit of religion and the spirit of freedom marching in opposite directions. But in America, I found that they were intimately united and that they reigned in common over the same country.”
Did Tocqueville recognize that it was Biblical Christianity and the morals it produced that made America great? For more information about Alexis Tocqueville and the positive influence of Christianity in early America go to WallBuilders.com.
What About The Absence Of Military Engagement In The New Testament
Calvin Coolidge said, “The more I study the Constitution, the more I realize that no other document devised by the hand of man has brought so much progress and happiness to humanity. To live under the American Constitution is the greatest political privilege that was ever accorded to the human race.”
Welcome back to WallBuilders Live on this Foundations of Freedom Thursday, taking your questions to drive the conversation today! The next one comes from Sebastian, “Does the absence of military engagement, in the New Testament, unlike the Old Testament, prohibit a Christian to serve in the military or bar them from being involved in this institution with the purpose of killing?”
David, Tim, interesting question. I never thought about that. So, does the absence of military engagement in the New Testament change the rules of what God says is a just war or the right time to be willing to fight and defend?
There’s actually a couple of questions that go into this. What is the difference between the New Testament and the Old Testament? What is the purpose of the military? What is it to do? And then also does the New Testament have anything about armies, killing and etc?
Just for grins, let me just start out with a pretty simple verse. That verse is going to be Revelation 11:19, “I saw heaven being opened, and behold, a white horse and he who sat on him was faithful and true and in righteousness he judges and makes war.” That’s New Testament.
There is Jesus Christ Himself coming back to make war. And according to Revelation, the blood will flow about the depth of a horse’s bridle, so we’re talking three to four feet deep over the valley of Jezreel and Armageddon area. That’s New Testament stuff.
Also pointing to the New Testament we have Hebrews 11, which is our faith Hall of Fame, all the heroes that are listed there. They’re held up to Christian saying, “These are examples, be like these guys.”
For example, Hebrews 11 verses 32-33 says, “And what shall I more say? for the time would fail me to tell of Gedeon, and of Barak, and of Samson, and of Jephthae; of David also, and Samuel, who through faith subdued kingdoms, became valiant in battle, and turned to flight the armies of the enemies.”
Now, there is, again, the New Testament saying, “Man, these are our heroes, these are the guys we want to be like, we look up to them, this is our great cloud of witnesses.” Really, the New Testament is not anti-war, not against war.
Jesus Never Condemned Anyone For Being A Soldier
Certainly, we could say the contrast would be that as Christians we certainly don’t have a conquest mentality, we don”t have, “In the name of Jesus let”s go and to the Crusades and let’s conquer some land for Jesus.
No, that’s certainly not the message of the gospel. Even the midst of this, Jesus dealt with Roman soldiers and he never told them, “Hey, being a soldier is bad. Don’t do it.” John the Baptist baptized soldiers, he never said, “Hey, you should stop being a soldier.” Paul dealt with soldiers. He never said, “You should stop being a soldier.” All these interactions you have with soldiers throughout the New Testament and at no point were any of them told that being a soldier is a bad place, a bad condition, and we’re going a different direction now that you’re saved, and to stop being a soldier, you need to be different.
As a matter of fact, let me throw a transition there. Because in that same thing of what you’re saying Tim, Psalm 144 verse 1 talks about how that being a soldier is a gift of God. He trained your fingers for battle, your hands for war. It’s a gift of God. And then we’re told in Romans 11:29 that the gifts of God are without repentance, he doesn’t take them back. When he gives a gift that gift stays, that”s a gifting he gifts. So that is a gift to the people of God as people who are able, who are really good at being soldiers, and being those who can defend. That’s a gift from God. Â
The Bible Isn”t Talking About Conquest
This is where you definitely can put boundaries on this even in the New Testament Â because one of the things that as you read, throughout the gospels, when Jesus says in Matthew 5, “Someone slaps you on one cheek turn him the other cheek also.” And you go, “Wait, I”m supposed to turn the other cheek?” But we’re not talking about war.
“If you’re saying war is ok, how do you turn the other cheek? How does this work with war?”
Jesus was speaking to the individual. The individual can operate in forgiveness. Government was not given the opportunity to operate in forgiveness. They were given the requirement of justice. One of the things that Paul says is that the government does not bear the sword in vain.
Yeah, Romans 13.
The sword was not given to be handcuffs, it was not given to be life in prison, it wasn’t given to have sanctions on another nation, the sword was an object of death, destruction, and war.
This is something that even Paul recognizes that government has this and governments job, Biblically laid out, is to protect the innocent, to reward the righteous, to punish the wicked, and this is the role and operation of government.
Certai, ly when you look at it from a government perspective, even the New Testament is not against the government having a military as long as it follows those Biblical standards of it’s to protect the innocent, it’s to reward the righteous, to punish the wicked in these scenarios.
And a lot of it goes back to what you said about conquest. We’re not after a crusade or anything else. In the American founding, the American War for Independence, that was one of the things that preachers really hit on hard, “God will bless a defensive war he will not bless an offensive war.”
If you create a war to go out and conquer, and conquest, and create an empire, He will not bless that. But if you are a defensive war, if there are deaths that happen, the Bible gives certain allowances where the deaths can be justified even by the individual.
For example, you’re told in Exodus 22:2 that if you’re in your home and someone comes in your home to rob you or to take things from you, if you kill them you’re not going to be punished by civil government because that was destroying the wicked but it was preserving your own rights.
Now that”s basically the Castle Doctrine going all the way back to the Old Testament.
That”s where the Castle Doctrine comes from is Exodus 22:2. You also have the fact that if you kill someone, an accidental death, you go to what was called the City of Refuge and the avenger of blood is not allowed to come after you.
If you kill someone in a justified homicide, so the Bible says, “Look, shedding the blood is not necessarily bad at all times if it’s done with certain caveats, when you shed blood in self-defense.” That’s why in the founding era the preacher said, “Guys, if the British fire at you, you can fire back. But you can’t start this thing.”
So Jonas Clark with his 70 guys out there, taking on the 700 British at Lexington, he’s the pastor of the church, he tells them that you’re not allowed to fire, but if they fire at you, you can fire back and defend yourself. But you cannot start this. So don’t think of a military as a conquest, colonial, empire kind of thing because that’s not it.
A Just And Godly War
I know that some people have said, “Wait a second, you look at the early church and they were martyred for their faith. They didn’t raise up, they didn’t have rebellion, they didn’t have swords. So you’re saying that the New Testament gives pervasion but they didn’t do it in the early church. How do we kind of solve that issue and problem?
Certainly, if you look at the early church, they didn’t have their own government system, they didn’t have their own nation, they didn’t their own people. So they’re under an unjust government that is putting them to death in these scenarios and situations.
I mean, even if you look at- here is a movie called, “End of the Spear.” It looked at Nate Saint, and Jim Elliot, and these missionaries to South America. One of the very cool scenes from the movie, it is depicted in the book also, but one of the things from this movie End of the Spear is that Nate Saint chooses not to take his gun with him when he goes into this village to witness these people.
His wife is concerned saying, “Hey, they might kill you. And I want you to be able to defend yourself.” And there is a really cool line where he says, “I’m not going to take it because I’m ready to meet God and they’re not. I’m ready for to God. They’re not ready to meet God yet. I’d rather die and let them live.”
As a Christian, you certainly have the opportunity to lay down your life for others. However, you also can say, “You know what, I’m not going to let someone come assault my wife and children while I am the leader and protector of my home and I’m going to defend them to the best of my ability.”
This is where understanding a level of righteousness even the government can say, “Hey, we’re not going to let unrighteous and injustice happen. We’ve been given the sword and if we have thieves breaking in, if we have criminals, and we have gangs that are doing things we can have a military, we can have a police force that can be there to protect you your inalienable God given rights.”
That is something that even New Testament is justifiable. And the early church was not in a position where they could always do that but not necessarily because they didn’t believe that they should or even could. I mean, you could have the option if you want to lay down your life for your faith, you can go over to an ISIS controlled nation right now, and you can lay down your life for Christ. You have the option to do that.
But if I live in here in America and an evil individual attacks my wife, attacks my family, I’m going to be the protector of my home and I can point to a lot of New Testament theology, not just Old Testament -New Testament, that gives me the position that I feel very comfortable standing before God and saying, “God, I did this to protect my life, my wife, my family, because I know you’ve called me to be the protector and the head of my home. Much as God as the protector and the head of our life.” But this is what God’s called us to be as individuals.
You used some keywords there, defend and protect. Because as individuals who do that- and that’s really the purpose of the military. The purpose of the military doesn”t exist to kill, it exists to defend and protect.
As a matter of fact, if you’ve got a very strong military you rarely have to use it. If it is strong, it keeps other people from attacking you, when you’re weak you get attacked, when you’re equivocal and can’t really show strength, then you get attacked.
So what happens is, the purpose of government is to, as even Paul said there in Romans 13, is to bear the sword. It carries the sword of justice. So if you come and to this nation and start killing our people we will track you down as a government and we will defend the rights of our people, you will not do that.
So if we have to track terrorists down to a different nation after they fly planes into our buildings and kill 3,000 people, we’ll do that. But if we start jumping into every war that’s out there and every conflict that is out there because we want to get in battle- no, you can”t do that.
But government does exist in Romans 13 for the purpose of executing justice. God gives them the sword of justice. Now they can use their sword wrong, as we see many dictators often use it wrong, Castro and others use it wrong. But when it’s done right, when it’s done Biblically, when it’s done in a New Testament role, it”s to defend the rights of the citizens, to literally protect them, and to execute justice on the wrongdoers.
Out of First Timothy 1:8-10 we see exactly why that exists. The government is there to punish the wrongdoers and it lists those type wrongdoers that are to be punished. So, military is part of that and if you use a military right you don’t have to use it very often.
It’s so interesting as you talked about earlier, even going all the way back to Lexington that we taught this type of thing. The pastors were basically teaching just war theory from the pulpit and saying, “This is what it’s right, this is when it’s wrong.”
For that to have been taught so well and for those principles to have been taught so well that when Jonas Clarke taught them that, for Captain Parker to actually say-he basically summed up everything you guys have just said during the segment.
He said, “Don’t fire unless fired upon.” So he’s got to be defensive, they got to fire first. “But if they mean to have war let it begin here.” So he’s saying, “We’re not going to start it. But if they do start it-“ Tim, just like you said, “We’re going to be the protectors of our homes, and our community, and our family, and we will fight back and not not allow that to happen on our watch.”
I just think it’s so cool that the Biblical foundation is seen in our history. Yet, on the other side of this coin, when we take that Biblical foundation away and we’ve had General Boykin and so many others on the program to talk about the dangers of not teaching that Biblical worldview in terms of when it’s right to fight and when it’s not. Not teaching that in our military is a very dangerous thing for how that military could be used not in a Biblical way.
Where you’re actually the aggressor and you’re actually going out there and doing the things that other nations have done when they had a powerful military and attacking and in trying to conquer. We’ve got a great track record in our country, not that we haven’t had mistakes and haven’t had sins, I know we’re going to get e-mail on that comment. We have such a great track record, for generally, using that power to free people and to liberate people. Not to conquer and invade other nations. It’s because of that foundation. Unless you teach that foundation the more likely you’re going to get abuse of that power.
Military, What Does The New Testament Say
By the way, even with this whole thing- the theory of just war is something that is part of the New Testament era. That Just War theory came out in the third century with Augustine.
That’s arguably still what the early church. People say, “The early church weren’t in favor of war.” They”re the ones who came up with the idea of the Just War theory, that there are times when the just thing to do is go to war to defend the people. That was the early church coming up with that.
That was such a great question. Sebastian, thank you for sending that in, it was such a good question that we ended up use it up the whole rest of the program and missed one of our breaks. Folks, you can get more questions like this, and answers from David and Tim Barton on our website.
Our Foundations of Freedom Thursday programs, if you go to the archives section you can scroll back over the previous weeks and pick those up. You can also get Good News Friday programs there in the archives section.
You don’t want to miss Good News Friday tomorrow! We sure appreciate you listening. And be sure to send your questions into Radio@WallBuilders.com. Thanks for listening today, to WallBuilders Live!
Samuel Adams said, “The liberties of our Country and the freedom of our civil Constitution are worth defending against hazards. And it is our duty to defend them against all attacks.”