This June, CT drew attention to veterans' experience in the cover story "Formed by War." To continue the discourse sparked by that story, alongside the Centurions Guild, CT will host an online series on Christian soldiers. The following essay is from Centurions Guild founder Logan Isaac and introduces the series, called Ponder Christian Soldiers. The second installment can be read here.
What does it mean to be a Christian soldier?
Some consider Christian and soldier to be nearly synonymous. Insofar as both the church and the military are engaged in bringing good news, justice, and democracy to the farthest reaches of the globe, the distinction between the two is permeable.
To others, “Christian soldier” is an oxymoron. To be one is to violate the requirements of the other. To be a good Christian, I must cease being a soldier; to become a soldier is to betray my Christian faith.
I came across both of these views repeatedly over several months in 2005, when, as a soldier on active duty, I prepared for my baptism. Those who identify as patriots told me that, since Israel was commanded to commit violence against her enemies, God clearly condones the use of violence to carry out his will today. Meanwhile, pacifists claimed that Jesus warned that those who lived by the sword would die by the sword; therefore soldiers like the Centurion of Great Faith (Matthew 8, Luke 7) are scriptural anomalies and not models for Christian behavior.
It seemed that to choose pacifism would be to abandon military service. To choose military service would be the betray all that Jesus stood for. In my memoir, I describe being subjected to such polarizing tales about Christian faith and military service, and how, ...1