(Matthew 5:9) Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.

(Luke 6:27-28) But I say unto you which hear, Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you, {28} Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you.

(Luke 1:77-79) To give knowledge of salvation unto his people by the remission of their sins, {78} Through the tender mercy of our God; whereby the dayspring from on high hath visited us, {79} To give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.

(Luke 2:14) Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

(Hebrews 12:14) Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord:

(1 Peter 3:9) Do not repay evil for evil or abuse for abuse; but, on the contrary, repay with a blessing. It is for this that you were called--that you might inherit a blessing.

(1 Peter 2:21-23) For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow His steps: {22} Who did no sin, neither was guile found in His mouth: {23} Who, when He was reviled, reviled not again; when He suffered, He threatened not; but committed Himself to Him that judgeth righteously:

(Romans 12:17-20) Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. {18} If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. {19} Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. {20} Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink:

(Psalm 34:14) Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace, and pursue it.

(Psalm 35:20) For they do not speak peace, but they conceive deceitful words against those who are quiet in the land.

(Psalm 37:11) But the meek shall inherit the earth; and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace.

(Psalm 37:37) Mark the perfect man, and behold the upright: for the end of that man is peace.

(Psalm 72:7) In his days shall the righteous flourish; and abundance of peace so long as the moon endureth.

(Psalm 85:10) Mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other.

(Psalm 119:165) Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them.

(Psalm 120:2-7) Deliver my soul, O LORD, from lying lips, and from a deceitful tongue.{5} Woe is me, {6} My soul hath long dwelt with him that hateth peace. {7} I am for peace: but when I speak, they are for war.

(Psalm 122:6-8) Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: they shall prosper that love thee. {7} peace be within thy walls, and prosperity within thy palaces. {8} For my brethren and companions' sakes, I will now say, peace be within thee.

(Proverbs 3:17) The ways of Wisdom are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace.

(Proverbs 12:20) Deceit is in the heart of them that imagine evil: but to the counsellors of peace is joy.

(Proverbs 16:7) When a man's ways please the LORD, he maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him.

(Isaiah 9:6-7) For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of peace. {7} Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.

(Isaiah 26:12) O LORD, you will ordain peace for us, for indeed, all that we have done, you have done for us.

(Isaiah 32:17-18) And the work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance for ever. {18} And my people shall dwell in a peaceable habitation, and in sure dwellings, and in quiet resting places;

(Isaiah 48:18) O that thou hadst hearkened to my commandments! then had thy peace been as a river, and thy righteousness as the waves of the sea:

(Isaiah 48:22) There is no peace, saith the LORD, unto the wicked.

(Isaiah 52:7) How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace; that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation; that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth!

(Isaiah 54:13) And all thy children shall be taught of the LORD; and great shall be the peace of thy children.

(Isaiah 55:12) For ye shall go out with joy, and be led forth with peace: the mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.

(Isaiah 57:19) I create the fruit of the lips; peace, peace to him that is far off, and to him that is near, saith the LORD; and I will heal him.

(Ephesians 2:14-17) For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; {15} Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace; {16} And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby: {17} And came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh.

(Isaiah 59:8) The way of peace they know not; and there is no judgment in their goings: they have made them crooked paths: whosoever goeth therein shall not know peace.

(Isaiah 60:17) For brass I will bring gold, and for iron I will bring silver, and for wood brass, and for stones iron: I will also make thy officers peace, and thine exactors righteousness.

(Isaiah 66:12) For thus saith the LORD, Behold, I will extend peace to her like a river, and the glory of the Gentiles like a flowing stream: then shall ye suck, ye shall be borne upon her sides, and be dandled upon her knees.

(Ezekiel 34:25) And I will make with them a covenant of peace

(Ezekiel 37:26) Moreover I will make a covenant of peace with them; it shall be an everlasting covenant with them: and I will place them, and multiply them, and will set my sanctuary in the midst of them for evermore.

(Daniel 4:1) Nebuchadnezzar the king, unto all people, nations, and languages, that dwell in all the earth; peace be multiplied unto you.

(Daniel 6:25) Then king Darius wrote unto all people, nations, and languages, that dwell in all the earth; peace be multiplied unto you.

(Nahum 1:15) Behold upon the mountains the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace! O Judah, keep thy solemn feasts, perform thy vows: for the wicked shall no more pass through thee; he is utterly cut off.

(Haggai 2:9) The glory of this latter house shall be greater than of the former, saith the LORD of hosts: and in this place will I give peace, saith the LORD of hosts.

(Zechariah 6:13) Even he shall build the temple of the LORD; and he shall bear the glory, and shall sit and rule upon his throne; and he shall be a priest upon his throne: and the counsel of peace shall be between them both.

(Zechariah 8:16) These are the things that ye shall do; Speak ye every man the truth to his neighbour; execute the judgment of truth and peace in your gates:

(Zechariah 8:19) Thus saith the LORD of hosts; The fast of the fourth month, and the fast of the fifth, and the fast of the seventh, and the fast of the tenth, shall be to the house of Judah joy and gladness, and cheerful feasts; therefore love the truth and peace.

(Zechariah 9:10) And I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim, and the horse from Jerusalem, and the battle bow shall be cut off: and he shall speak peace unto the heathen: and his dominion shall be from sea even to sea, and from the river even to the ends of the earth.

(Malachi 2:5-6) My covenant was with him of life and peace; and I gave them to him for the fear wherewith he feared me, and was afraid before my name. {6} The law of truth was in his mouth, and iniquity was not found in his lips: he walked with me in peace and equity, and did turn many away from iniquity.

(Malachi 2:6) The law of truth was in his mouth, and iniquity was not found in his lips: he walked with me in peace and equity, and did turn many away from iniquity.

(Romans 1:7) To all that be in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.

(Romans 2:10) But glory, honour, and peace, to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile:

(Romans 3:10-18) As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: {11} There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. {12} They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one. {13} Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips: {14} Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness: {15} Their feet are swift to shed blood: {16} Destruction and misery are in their ways: {17} And the way of peace have they not known: {18} There is no fear of God before their eyes.

(Romans 8:6) For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.

(Romans 10:15) And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!

(Romans 14:17-19) For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost. {18} For he that in these things serveth Christ is acceptable to God, and approved of men. {19} Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another.

(Romans 15:33) Now the God of peace be with you all. Amen.

(Romans 16:20) And the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen.

(1 Corinthians 1:3) Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.

(1 Corinthians 14:33) For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.

(2 Corinthians 1:2) Grace be to you and peace from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.

(2 Corinthians 10:3-5) For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: {4} (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) {5} Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;

(2 Corinthians 13:11) Finally, brethren, farewell. Be perfect, be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace shall be with you.

(Galatians 1:3) Grace be to you and peace from God the Father, and from our Lord Jesus Christ,

(Galatians 5:22) But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,

(Galatians 6:16) And as many as walk according to this rule, peace be on them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God.

(Ephesians 1:2) Grace be to you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.

(Ephesians 4:3) Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

(Ephesians 6:15) And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace;

(Ephesians 6:23) peace be to the brethren, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

(Philippians 1:2) Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.

(Philippians 4:9) Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.

(Colossians 1:2) To the saints and faithful brethren in Christ which are at Colosse: Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

(Colossians 1:20) And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven.

(Colossians 3:15) And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful.

(1 Thessalonians 1:1) Paul, and Silvanus, and Timotheus, unto the church of the Thessalonians which is in God the Father and in the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.

(1 Thessalonians 5:23) And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

(2 Thessalonians 1:2) Grace unto you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

(2 Thessalonians 3:16) Now the Lord of peace himself give you peace always by all means. The Lord be with you all.

(1 Timothy 1:2) Unto Timothy, my own son in the faith: Grace, mercy, and peace, from God our Father and Jesus Christ our Lord.

(1 Timothy 2:2) For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.

(2 Timothy 1:2) To Timothy, my dearly beloved son: Grace, mercy, and peace, from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.

(2 Timothy 2:22) Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart.

(Titus 1:4) To Titus, mine own son after the common faith: Grace, mercy, and peace, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ our Saviour.

(Philemon 1:3) Grace to you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

(James 3:17-18) But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. {18} And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace.

(Hebrews 13:20) Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant,

(1 Peter 1:2) Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied.

(1 Peter 3:11) Let him eschew evil, and do good; let him seek peace, and ensue it.

(1 Peter 5:14) Greet ye one another with a kiss of charity. Peace be with you all that are in Christ Jesus. Amen.

(2 Peter 1:2) Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord,

(2 Peter 3:14) Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless.

(2 John 1:3) Grace be with you, mercy, and peace, from God the Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father, in truth and love.

(3 John 1:14) But I trust I shall shortly see thee, and we shall speak face to face. Peace be to thee. Our friends salute thee. Greet the friends by name.

(Jude 1:2) Mercy unto you, and peace and love, be multiplied.

(Revelation 1:4) John to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace be unto you, and peace, from him which is, and which was, and which is to come; and from the seven Spirits which are before his throne;

Was The Iraqi War Biblically Justified?

A Response to Samuele Bacchiocchi, Ph.D.

Thousands of Christians have apparently been influenced by an article by Samuele Bacchiocchi, Ph.D., Retired Professor of Theology, Andrews University, entitled "Was The Iraqi War Biblically Justified?" It is available here and here.

This article is an overview of "the Big Picture" which Bacchiocchi's article misses. A point-by-point interaction with the article is found here.

Bacchiocchi's article is calculated to sound "moderate," realistic," and, of course, Biblical. He certainly isn't a vicious, totalitarian war-monger, so pacifists won't be able to write him off easily. This response, however, is written from the perspective of the American folk hymn "Gonna lay down my sword and shield down by the riverside, ain't gonna study war no more," which Bacchiocchi labels as "extreme."

This "extreme" position is clearly the Biblical position, however, and this is why Bacchiocchi's article, attempting to justify the Iraqi war, is quite long.

The Biblical basis for the old American folk hymn is Micah 4:3

They shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up a sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.

"Ain't gonna study war no more" clearly has some Biblical basis as an ethical imperative (even if it lacks a grammatical pedigree). And of course there are many other verses that have created other anti-war folk hymns like that one. Along the right side of this article are a few verses in which God commands us to pursue peace, repeatedly identifies Himself as "the God of Peace," calls those who don't pursue peace "evil" and "wicked," and holds out peace as one of the highest conceivable goals of Christian morality. Peace is everywhere in the Bible.

If you're watching old TV shows and you heard a character say "Peace, brother," you would probably assume he was a "hippie" from the 60's. In terms of Biblical practice, such a person should be immediately assumed to be a Christian, not a hippie. Hardly a book in the New Testament does not mention peace or hold it out as a goal. Many New Testament letters open up with a prayer for peace.

The word "pacifist" is derived from the Latin word for "peace," and simply means one who pursues peace. How can any follower of the Prince of Peace not be a "pacifist?"

There are two excuses.

The second excuse is war. We cover this in our point-by-point analysis of Bacchiocchi's essay, which is here. But let's start from a more individual perspective.

The first reason people don't want to be "pacifists" is "self-defense." Pacifists continually meet objections like those of Bacchiocchi:

It would be morally irresponsible to turn over one's wife to a rapist just to "keep peace."

This is a "straw man." I've never met a pacifist (and I've met hundreds and lived with several) who would say to a rapist, "Here she is. Go for it. And peace to you." A pacifist believes in evil, and believes violence is evil. A pacifist would take prudent steps to stop evil, avoid evil, catch evil off guard, and evangelize evil, but would not, as many non-pacifists seem to advocate, start out immediately with lethal force. Many 2nd Amendment zealots would pull out their gun at the drop of the hat. At least that's the way they talk. Probably they are a bit more rational. Like Bacchiocchi.

Here's a simple question that will prove you are a pacifist.

Imagine you are "Star Trek" Captain Kirk of the U.S.S. Enterprise. You are walking down the street of a planet in the Deltoid Galaxy with one of your never-ending stream of beautiful women at your arm, when a large burly alien with the tattoo "I AM A RAPIST" across his forehead jumps out from a dark alley, grabs your female companion and says "I'm going to rape this woman!" You pull out your Phazer gun and . . . here's the question:

Do you set the Phazer to "stun" and quickly put the rapist to sleep and call the proper authorities, or do you set your Phazer to "maximum molecular disruption" and utterly obliterate the rapist, ending his life?

When given such a choice, only a sociopath would choose annihilation or lethal force. Everyone else is a "pacifist." It's that simple.

Of course, not all of our choices are as simple as they are on TV, but our standard is clear: we are to be pacifists. As much as possible, we are to be at peace (Romans 12:18). We are to love our enemy, while trying as best we can to minimize the evil our enemy seeks to cause. As a pacifist, I would happily put a rapist to sleep. Unfortunately, most people don't try to obey Jesus in a systematic way, and there is not as much economic demand for tranquilizing weapons as there is for lethal weapons. If demand would increase and production would meet demand, the price would fall. In that day "Phazers" that stun will be as common as today's "Saturday Night Specials" that kill.

It should also be noted that the vast majority of people who vote for war and ridicule pacifists and say Christians have the right to use lethal force do not own a gun and do not carry one.

America's Founding Fathers said that the way to preserve order and fight crime was not by strengthening "the State," but by teaching the Christian religion in public schools.

Christians should also be concerned about creating pacifist legal systems, shaping entire civilizations into civilizations of peace. At one time most Christians thought in terms of godly civilizations, not just "rugged individualism" or "personal peace and affluence." The Puritans did not believe in the separation of God and Government, and they came to the New World to build a "City upon a Hill," where the Gospel of Peace would go to all the world. Christianity has had an incredible civilizing effect on the human race in just the last 2,000 years, and it is the pacifist side of Christianity that has had this effect.

This essay is published by "Vine & Fig Tree," a non-profit tax-exempt organization that seeks to bring about the fulfillment of Micah's "Vine & Fig Tree" vision (Micah 4:1-5):

And it will come about in the last days
That the mountain of the House of the LORD
Will be established as the chief of the mountains
And it will be raised above the hills
And the peoples will stream to it.
And many nations will come and say,
"Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD
And to the House of the God of Jacob,
That He may teach us about His ways
And that we may walk in His paths."
For from Zion will go forth the Law
Even the Word of the LORD from Jerusalem.
And He will judge between many peoples
And render decisions for mighty, distant nations.
Then they will hammer their swords into plowshares
And their spears into pruning hooks;
Nation will not lift up sword against nation
And never again will they train for war.
And each of them will sit under his
Vine and under his fig tree,
With no one to make them afraid.
For the LORD of hosts has spoken.
Though all the peoples walk
Each in the name of his god,
As for us, we will walk
In the Name of the LORD our God
forever and ever.

This is a description of a pacifist world. This is the Word of God. Pacifism is therefore at least plausibly a Biblical position. The perspective of this essay is that we should be self-consciously, systematically pursuing this vision. At home, at school, in our businesses, in every area of life, we are obligated to be pacifists and create pacifist institutions and civilizations. Even governments should be pacifist.[1] Why does Bacchiocchi (and most other Christians) consider this idea "extreme?"

There are two answers.

Eschatology - Prophecy - "The Last Days"

The first answer is "Eschatology." Eschatology is the study of "last things," or more popularly, "prophecy." Bacchiocchi's article was published in his own newsletter called Endtime Issues (No. 98, 21 April 2003). His organization is called Biblical Perspectives. Like millions of Christians, Bacchiocchi believes "We live in the very last days of earth's history." Human history on earth will be a failure, even though God sent His only Son to save the world. Jesus offered to become King and set everything straight, but He was rejected by human beings with a veto-power over God's wishes.

Of course this is a somewhat pejorative statement of Bacchiocchi's position, but it gets to the heart of the matter: The Bible says God wants human beings not to go to war, not even to train for it, but God also apparently (at least according to Bacchiocchi's eschatology) is committed to not doing anything to bring this about.

In short, "It ain't gonna happen."

Many Christians, in fact, have said that even attempting to make the world better, more peaceful, less sinful, is itself sinful because it delays Christ's Second Coming, which only comes after things get worse and worse in "the last days." Bacchiocchi's position is not entirely clear, but many Christians would actively oppose any attempt to implement pacifism in a systematic way into public policy and foreign affairs. The word "systematic" should be emphasized. Presently, Christian pacifism is systematically excluded from consideration in foreign policy debate. As Bacchiocchi describes it, it is an "extreme" position; it is "unrealistic," "impractical," and "unworkable," and it is simply not brought to the table. But this is not a Biblical requirement. The Bible clearly commands us to move self-consciously and wisely toward peace. But that would put the "military-industrial complex" out of business, so the idea of systematic pacifism is ruled out.

This moves us toward the second reason Christian pacifism is considered "extreme." That reason is

Socialism - "Statism" - The Worship of "the State"

Pacifism is only one side of the coin. The other side of the coin is "anarchism." Most people think of "anarchy" as a state of violence, rioting, and lawlessness. Most Christians think of "anarchists" as bomb-throwing assassins who oppose the concept of private property. These beliefs are wrong. They are part of the biggest lie in the history of political science.

Jesus commanded His followers to be pacifists. He also commanded His followers to be "anarchists."

Mark 10
42   But Jesus called them to Him, and saith unto them, Ye know that they which are accounted to rule over the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and their great ones exercise authority upon them.
43   But so shall it not be among you: but whosoever will be great among you, shall be your minister:
44   And whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all.
45   For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.

The English word "rule" is a translation of the Greek word archein, the Greek word behind the English word "anarchist." Jesus says His disciples are not to be archists, which is to say, they are to be "an-archists." Not archists.

Pacifism and anarchism are flip sides of the same coin. To oppose violence with the pacifist is to join the anarchist in opposing the institutionalized violence of “the State.” The opposite of an anarchist – an “archist” – cannot be a pacifist. An “archist” is one who seeks to impose his will on others by force or threats of violence. A so-called anarchist who violently destroys the property of others is actually an archist, and the chaos, riots and disorder often associated with so-called anarchists is not a state of “anarchy,” but a state of poly-archy, or multi-archy, with violent (but relatively powerless) archists attempting to impose their will on others (usually more-powerful archists) by coercion rather than persuasion.

If you've never heard this idea before, you may need to read that paragraph again. Pacifists oppose violence. The State is institutionalized violence. Private citizens who would never publicly admit that they wish they could rob their neighbors, or in fact do rob their neighbors, form "the State" to take money from their neighbors under threats of imprisonment or death when they are unable to persuade their neighbors to make a voluntary financial contribution to the project at hand. People who claim to be Christians and believe vengeance should be left to God (Romans 12:17-21) nevertheless "vote" for "representatives" who promise to take vengeance for them. "The State" is the great fiction by which we violate God's Law by proxy.

Anarchists are not bomb-throwing assassins who deny private property. More bombs are dropped, more people are assassinated, and more private property is destroyed or confiscated by archists - "governments" - than all the private criminals (often [wrongly] called "anarchists") combined. Governments are vastly more destructive of peace and private property than mis-labeled "anarchists."

It may be easier to accept the idea of anarchism and pacifism if we re-label it:

Laissez-faire Capitalism

Most people would never think of linking "capitalism" with "pacifism" or "anarchism," but turns out they are all the same thing. The opposite of pacifism and anarchism is Socialism. Socialism is "archism." Socialism is condemned by Jesus. Socialism is institutionalized violence. It is the opposite of pacifism.

We live in a more socialist than capitalist nation. Our political institutions, especially schools, are slanted toward socialism, not capitalism, That's one reason why this kind of thinking is new to you.

I have a conservative background, and like most Americans my age, was taught that “capitalism” was better than “socialism,” and that America was “capitalist.” More recently, “capitalism” has fallen out of favor. The ostensibly conservative Richard Nixon[3] famously quipped, “We are all Keynesians now,” by which he meant, nobody is a “capitalist” anymore.[4] Few people today are willing to identify themselves as defenders of capitalism. Capitalism is not trendy in our day. A self-identified “socialist” is far more likely to get a teaching position at a major university than one who openly defends “laissez-faire capitalism,” ceteris paribus.

In the last few years I have been studying capitalism in more detail, by reading the works of those who defend it most passionately. This study has been an eye-opening experience. I believe “capitalism,” rightly understood, is more compatible with Christianity than socialism in any degree.

That little phrase “rightly understood” is the whole enchilada.

The story is told of the six blind men who offered descriptions of an elephant. Each was viewing only a part of the animal, one feeling the trunk, another the tail, another the huge legs, etc., and their varied descriptions of “an elephant” reflected their limited investigation.

Most descriptions of “capitalism” (particularly by those who attack it) are as far from reliable as those of the blind men. More ironically, the blind critics of capitalism are not only viewing only a part of the economic animal, but they are actually describing themselves, with one socialist critic of “capitalism” describing his own leg, another socialist critic of “capitalism” describing his own ear, etc. In other words, most criticisms of “capitalism” are criticisms of policies which are completely un-capitalistic, or they are pointing to problems created by socialism, not capitalism.

The name “capitalism” was coined by Karl Marx, a vehement opponent of capitalism. Capitalists have adopted Marx’s term as their own (without accepting Marx’s content, of course). One of the most comprehensive defenses of capitalism is George Reisman’s treatise on Capitalism.[5] It is a huge book, but easy reading, and full of insights. I would now put him among my top ten favorite writers.[6]

After a good deal of study, I offer this definition of capitalism:

Capitalism is a social system based on the rejection of the initiation of force or violence against others.

This definition will surprise many who attack capitalism. Ask a critic of capitalism to define “capitalism” and the critic’s definition will not even be close to this definition[7]. Nevertheless, I do not know a single self-described defender of capitalism who would disagree with this definition. In fact, most would agree it gets to the very heart and soul of the dispute between capitalism and socialism. For the benefit of those who doubt, I would be happy to supply the quotations and footnotes from the writings of self-conscious defenders of capitalism to buttress my claim. The quotes would be many and lengthy. I would quote Ayn Rand,[8] George Reisman, Milton Friedman,[9] Ludwig von Mises,[10] F.A. Hayek,[11] and many other defenders of capitalism. As an example, the Libertarian Party, unquestionably the political party most vigorously committed to capitalism, requires its members to sign this pledge in order to join the party:

I do not believe in or advocate the initiation of force as a means of achieving political or social goals.

That is the full extent of the Libertarian Party membership pledge. It is widely viewed as the sine qua non of libertarianism.[12] It is often referred to by defenders of capitalism as “the principle of non-aggression.”[13]

This is not just an abstract academic debate. If capitalism really is a self-consciously non-violent ideology, Christians should rise to the defense of capitalism, given the Christian ethic of non-violence. Socialism rationalizes violence. Socialism has meant slavery and death to hundreds of millions of human beings. Too many on the left who claim to be for peace defend The Welfare State (welfare socialism), which turns out to be window-dressing for The Warfare State. To oppose capitalism is to oppose the only economic system that repudiates the initiation of all violence. To wrongly define capitalism as a system that “exploits” the poor or in some other way initiates force against others is to pull the plug on an effective force for peace.

Rightly understood, then, an attack on capitalism is an attack on the heart and soul of Christian ethics. To say “I am not a capitalist” is to say “I support the use of violence to get what I want.”

Again, this is based on the definition of capitalism offered by the most scholarly defenders of capitalism, not those who attack it.

Libertarian capitalists who are most consistent with the principle of non-aggression are “anarcho-capitalists” and functional pacifists, having opposed all wars in the 20th century, including the recent wars in the Middle East. Ayn Rand, a famous atheistic defender of capitalism, author of Atlas Shrugged, a best-selling novel described as "the 'second most influential book for Americans today' after the Bible, according to a joint survey conducted by the Library of Congress and the Book of the Month Club," writes:

The overwhelming majority of mankind – the people who die on the battlefields or starve and perish among the ruins – do not want war. They never wanted it. Yet wars have kept erupting throughout the centuries, like a long trail of blood underscoring mankind’s history.

Men[14] are afraid that war might come because they know, consciously or subconsciously, that they have never rejected the doctrine which causes wars, which has caused the wars of the past and can do it again – the doctrine that it is right or practical or necessary for men to achieve their goals by means of physical force (by initiating the use of force against other men) and that some sort of “good” can justify it. It is the doctrine that force is a proper or unavoidable part of human existence and human societies.

Observe one of the ugliest characteristics of today’s world: the mixture of frantic war preparations with hysterical peace propaganda, and the fact that both come from the same source—from the same political philosophy. The bankrupt, yet still dominant, political philosophy of our age is statism.

Observe the nature of today’s alleged peace movements. Professing love and concern for the survival of mankind, they keep screaming that the nuclear-weapons race should be stopped, that armed force should be abolished as a means of settling disputes among nations, and that war should be outlawed in the name of humanity. Yet these same peace movements do not oppose dictatorships; the political views of their members range through all shades of the statist spectrum, from welfare statism to socialism and fascism to communism. This means that they are opposed to the use of coercion by one nation against another, but not by the government of a nation against its own citizens; it means that they are opposed to the use of force against armed adversaries, but not against the disarmed.

Consider the plunder, the destruction, the starvation, the brutality, the slave-labor camps, the torture chambers, the wholesale slaughter perpetrated by dictatorships. Yet this is what today’s alleged peace-lovers are willing to advocate or tolerate . . . .[15]

Capitalists, especially “anarcho-capitalists,” are a force for life and peace; socialists are a force for slavery and violence. Those who oppose capitalism oppose anarchism, either self-consciously or inadvertently (by supporting the growth and power of “the State”) and obstruct peace, either self-consciously or inadvertently (by supporting the most anti-pacifist institution on the planet, “the State”).[16] During the 20th century, on average, non-capitalist governments killed more than 10,000 people per day. This does not include abortions.[17] War makes up only about a third of that total. The Welfare State is far more deadly than The Warfare State.

What about the poor? Concern for the poor is almost as pervasive a Biblical theme as peace. Aren’t the poor crushed by capitalism, as the rich get richer in their greedy pursuit of their own “self-interest?”

Poverty has almost been abolished in capitalist countries. The “poverty level” in capitalist countries is the average income level in 2nd world socialist countries, and greater than average income in 3rd world non-capitalist countries by orders of magnitude. But the myth persists that “capitalism exploits the poor.” Consider this example:

Smith the Capitalist earns $100,000 in profits per year, but pays his employee Jones only 10% as much. After one year, Smith’s profits double to $200,000/year, but Smith raises Jones’ salary by a mere $10,000 per year. “The rich get richer,” but if Jones freely and voluntarily chooses to work for Smith, has Jones been damaged or “exploited” by the fact that the gap between his salary and that of the increasingly-rich Smith has increased from $90k/yr to $180k/yr? How is justice denied? Is justice preserved and enhanced by putting a gun to Smith’s head and compelling him to pay more to Jones? If Smith’s personal talents are displayed by his being the most efficient producer of an item valued by consumers, is justice served by dismantling Smith’s business and equally distributing the parts to the poor?

It is true that some capitalists like Ayn Rand despise altruism.[18] But capitalists (that is, those who repudiate “archism” [which is the imposition of one’s will on another through threats of violence or the initiation of force]) tend to be Christians (whether they call themselves “capitalists” or not).[19] Thus, nations that are more socialistic (and therefore more archist) tend to be more atheistic, while nations that are more capitalist tend to be more Christian, and Christians benefit the poor more than socialists who tend to be atheists. Thus Milton Friedman notes:

It is noteworthy that the heyday of laissez-faire, the middle and late nineteenth century in Britain and the United States, saw an extraordinary proliferation of private eleemosynary organizations and institutions. One of the major costs of the extension of governmental welfare activities has been the corresponding decline in private charitable activities.[20]

Capitalism is freedom, and freedom cannot compel anyone to help the poor. All capitalism does is prohibit stealing from the poor (which socialism does not prohibit; socialism is institutionalized theft). But which system is more likely to benefit the poor: a system which repudiates violence, or a system which institutionalizes it?

Capitalism repudiates violence, leads to peace, and is therefore more consistent with God's Commandments. Because of this, it is a blessing to the poor:

(Deuteronomy 15:4) Save when there shall be no poor among you; for the LORD shall greatly bless thee

Every single person in the Bible -- author or historical figure -- living two thousand or more years ago, would say that poverty has been completely abolished in capitalist nations. Even those we call "poor" today are rich by the  standards of those who wrote the Bible.

At least materially. (Amos 8:11)

Poverty abolished? Some would laugh at the claim. They insist we need more taxpayer-funded government programs to conquer poverty. Welfare agencies have the names of millions of people in the ranks of "poverty." Let's look at two examples. We come first to the Smith family, living in a cramped apartment. We tell them that through a scientific miracle, the Prophet Isaiah will be visiting them in an hour. Mom immediately tells the kids to "get this house straightened up." Although there isn't much, Mom starts making some chili. When Isaiah arrives he finds a building which can withstand a strong storm or a earthquake measuring 5.5 on the richter scale (something only the wealthiest in Isaiah's day enjoyed). Although officially listed in the ranks of "poverty" by the government, the Smith family has an old car, a color television, a CD-player, and forced-air heating on most days. The Smith family also enjoys relatively pure drinking water, hot and cold, from a faucet, a refrigerator/freezer, electric lights, and 50,000 items at a nearby Wal-Mart. Isaiah is bewildered. He has never seen such wealth. The 5 Smith kids are in school, grandma baby-sits the kids while mom and dad both work, both of whom believe work is good, and doing something good that serves others is good. The apartment is old, the appliances are old, the car is old, the paychecks brought home don't bring the Smith family above the "poverty line" (given the number of dependents), but the Prophet Isaiah would say they are very wealthy. The members of the Smith family are grateful to God for what they have, and they seek to be helpful, rather than exploit others.

A couple of blocks from the Smith home, we pick an apartment at random and knock on the door. According to government records, the residents are in "poverty." When the door opens a tiny bit, we see some piles of cash on a table, some plastic bags with a white powdery substance, and a couple of guns. We announce that the Prophet Isaiah will be visiting this home in about an hour. "F*ck you" we're told, as the door slams shut.

Poverty is not solved by checks from the government.

In his book Prosperity Through Freedom, Lawrence Fertig ties together capitalism’s spiritual and material benefits to the poor:

What are the virtues of a free-enterprise economy? Why is private capitalism of such great value to the American citizen that he should defend it to the death against Communism? It is the only system which can achieve the following objectives:

Human Freedom

Any economic system which does not accomplish this is bad, no matter what advantages are claimed for it. For over five thousand years people have struggled to get their rulers off their backs, and it would be tragic if we retraced our steps. John Chamberlain in his Roots of Capitalism[21] has stated the case well in the following paragraph: “There are so many spiritual implications in liberty that it deserves to be considered an end in itself. Even if state planning offered more material goods, people who have known and cherished liberty would rather live as free human beings on a more modest standard of living then sell their birthright for a mess of totalitarian pottage.[22] But no such alternative exists. The fruits of totalitarianism are for the state, at most for a limited class.”

The basic principle of traditional liberalism has always been, Beware of the encroachments of the state! The mammoth growth of centralized power has always robbed people of their liberty in the long run. Until recent times no one could lay claim to being a liberal unless he strongly believed in this guiding principle.

The Most Efficient Economic System

The second objective is to establish the most efficient economic system. What we want is the highest possible real income (clothing, food, conveniences, and necessities) for everyone. Competitive private enterprise and the free market are the basis of the most efficient system because they most expertly resolve the countless economic conflicts which take place all the time.[23] No individual or group is smart enough to decide the right relationship between millions of factors which are changing every week and even every day.[24]

Only the free market can accomplish this by permitting the laws of supply and demand to operate through free [voluntary] pricing. How many electric dynamos shall we make, how many pairs of shoes, how many radios, how much cleaning service, how many hotels? These and countless other questions are decided every day in the give and take of the market. It is the only democratic way of deciding these things, for the only other method is for some autocrat to try to do this job arbitrarily, with the backing of the police power of the state. The remarkable record of economic progress in this country where the real income of all working people is doubled just about every thirty years is proof of our efficiency. The shortages, the famines, the snafus, the pathetic quality of construction and the persistently depressed standard of living prevailing in Communist countries is proof of their inefficiency.

In the following chapters these statements will be amply documented. At this point I would like to make it clear that the ability of an iron-fisted Communist autocracy to direct workers in manufacturing specific items is unquestioned. They can force the production of machines, tanks, sputniks, and many other things in ample quantities. But nowhere on earth has such a hierarchy ever shown the ability to create a high standard of living for all the people although they are notably successful in creating luxury for themselves.[25]

The poor are materially better off in capitalist nations, and are spiritually better off in a nation that repudiates violence as a tool of change.

The spiritual health of everyone would be vastly increased if pacifism were systematically taught in schools and in movies, TV, newspapers and magazines.

Based on its track record for pacifism, anarchism and the betterment of the poor, capitalism deserves the support of all Christians:

·        Capitalism respects Christ’s prohibition of archism (Mark 10:42-45). Capitalism’s opposite, socialism, does not.

·        Socialism, particularly International Socialism (Communism) is a political philosophy of empire and conquest. Capitalism, particularly anarcho-capitalism, is anti-imperialist to the core.

·        Communism subjugates the workers and further impoverishes the poor in the name of their “liberation.” Another word for capitalism is freedom, and freedom brings responsibilities, the personal fulfillment of which makes one more truly human.

Part Two


[1] The Mafia should also be pacifist. Will the State and the Mafia be recognizable as such when they are evangelized and converted to pacifists? Not likely.

[3] On the myth of Nixon as a conservative, see http://members.aol.com/XianAnarch/cause/bush/Nixon.html

[4] John Maynard Keynes (pronounced, “Canes”)(1883-1946) was possibly the single most influential person in transforming America from a “capitalist” “free enterprise” nation into a “mixed” socialist economy. Most Americans are completely unaware of this transformation, still vaguely believing that America is a “capitalist” nation.

[5] George Reisman, Capitalism: A Treatise on Economics, Ottawa, IL: Jameson Books, xlviii + 1046 pp, 1998. Reisman studied with Ayn Rand and Ludwig von Mises, and translated some of Mises’ works into English.

[6] I helped him with his website ( www.capitalism.net ) and in exchange he gave me a nearly complete collection of his recorded lectures, so I might also place him among my top ten favorite speakers (although his speaking style is not impressive – he reads). Ironically, Reisman is a staunch atheist, with next to nothing complimentary to say about Christianity.

[7] Most definitions in mainstream economics texts or encyclopedias are not only inconsistent with this definition, they are nearly incomprehensible. In her essay “What is Capitalism?” Ayn Rand dissects these definitions, notably the entry from the Encyclopedia Britannica, and shows how they are not only self-contradictory, but subtly designed to advance a socialist agenda. They are not “neutral” or “objective.” See below, note 8.

[8] Ayn Rand, Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal, with additional articles by Nathaniel Branden, Alan Greenspan, and Robert Hessen, New York: Signet Books, 1967

[9] Milton Friedman, Capitalism and Freedom, University of Chicago Press, 1962. Friedman was awarded the Nobel Prize in Economics in 1976.

[10] Ludwig von Mises, Human Action, Yale University Press, 1949. See also the Mises Institute, www.Mises.org

[11] Friedrich A. Hayek, The Constitution of Liberty, University of Chicago Press, 1960. Hayek was a student of Mises, and was awarded the Nobel Prize in economics in 1974.

[12] I have twice been the Libertarian Party nominee for U.S. Congress. I run for political office not because I have the slightest chance of winning, but because it opens doors to discussions of economic and political issues, which I love.      http://KevinCraig.US

Even if I were to win an election, I do not believe I would be permitted to assume office, since the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has already ruled that as an anarchist I cannot take the required oath to “support the Constitution” and become an “officer of the Court.”    http://i.am/not-a-lawyer

[13] A google.com search for “capitalism” and “non-aggression” will bring up hundreds of relevant pages. http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=capitalism+non-aggression

[14] Miss Rand eschewed the use of “gender-neutral language.”

[15] Rand, “The Roots of War,” in Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal, pp. 35-36

[16] Communists like Joseph Stalin are psychopathic mass-murderers and warmongers. They self-consciously oppose peace. Many who work for socialist causes may be deceived into believing that state violence is justified if the goal is “helping the poor.” National Socialism (Nazism) also claimed to be on the side of “the workers,” and many non-psychopathic people supported Nazism.

[17] Now numbering 4,000 per day in America alone; 8-9 times that number in the “former” Soviet Union; figures unavailable for China, with a compulsory abortion policy.

[18] Ayn Rand, The Virtue of Selfishness, NY: Signet Books, 1964.

[19] Christ prohibited His disciples from being “archists,” Mark 10:42-45, where the Greek is archein, from which we derive our word “anarchist.” Christ says we are not to love to rule over others, initiating force and threatening them with violence, in an attempt to compel them to abide by our notions of good or morality, even though by so doing we may be called “benefactors” by society (Luke 22:24-27).

[20] Friedman, Capitalism and Freedom, chap xii, “The Alleviation of Poverty,” pp. 190-191. See also Marvin Olasky, The Tragedy of American Compassion, describing the State’s usurpation of a widespread network of voluntary associations, and the shift from spiritual remedies for poverty to the commoditization of the poor. Olasky coined the phrase “compassionate conservatism.”

[21] Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 1968. [kc]

Part Two

[22] Genesis 25:34; Hebrews 12:16 [kc]

[23] It is not just the most “efficient,” but it is the only peaceful system for resolving economic conflicts. While Marxism teaches inherent class warfare, capitalism teaches the inherent “harmony of interests” under freedom and a division of labor (Reisman, index entries under “harmony of interests”). [kc]

[24] And even every minute, in our age of electronic information. See Thomas Sowell, Knowledge and Decisions, NY: Basic Books, 1980. [kc]

[25] Lawrence Fertig, Prosperity Through Freedom, NY: Foundation for Economic Education, 1961, excerpted in The Capitalist Reader, edited with an introduction by Lawrence S. Stepelevich, published in 1977 by the pro-capitalist Arlington House, New Rochelle, NY.