Tuesday, April 17, 2012

What famous Tennessee preacher said "No" to the Civil War?

David Lipscomb, a preacher in the churches of Christ and the man for whom David Lipscomb University is named did not believe that followers of Jesus should participate in war. In a work entitled, "On Civil Government, he said, "All the wars and strifes between tribes, races, nations, from the beginning until now, have been the result of man's effort to govern himself and the world, rather than to submit to the government of God.

In a letter, reprinted as "To His Excellency The President of The Confederate States of America," Lipscomb appealed to Jefferson Davis so that "members of the churches of Jesus Christ" would be exempt from serving as soldiers in the Confederacy.

Unlike some pacifists, Lipscomb seemed to take his beliefs directly from his mentor, Tolbert Fanning and from the scriptures, rather than from philosophy or from other well known pacifists of the era, such as Tolstoy.

This article is too short to explain his views fully.   If you'd like to learn more about his thinking, there are books and articles written about his view of the scriptural duties of a follower of Jesus.

He was not the only theologian of the time to wrestle with the issue of Americans participating in a war, particularly in a Civil War.  In particular, he had a counterpart in the northern branch of the restoration movement, who felt the same.  He believed that the northern cause was right, but that Christians should not take up arms to support it.   

Whether for political or religious reasons, the decision to secede from the Union was a hard one for Tennessee in general.  Tennessee was the last of the states to secede from the Union and to join the Confederate States of America.  It was the first of the Confederate States  to be readmitted to the Union.  Even after readmission, however, there continued to be local squabbles over the same issues of the Civil War for decades after.

Enjoy! 
All the wars and strifes between tribes, races, nations, from the beginning until now, have been the result of man's effort to govern himself and the world, rather than to submit to the government of God.
David Lipscomb, On Civil Government p.14

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