Christians believe that the bible is God’s word and that sin is a transgression of God’s law. God’s law is the 10 Commandments (Exodus 20). The 6th Commandment tells us that as Christians we will not kill, and thus the challenge for Christians during war time is born. Historically SDAs have been known as “conscientious objectors”, opposed to killing, war and violence. Some members take this stance further to include not “bearing arms” (not carrying a gun or other weapon of war), to avoid the possible temptation of killing. Others go further still to say that being in the war effort at all (even without a weapon, keeping all of the Commandments) is supporting wrong and is a sin. Debate has arisen over the past 150 years and still continues today, as to whether or not a Christian can choose to join the army, navy or air force, either of his / her own free will or if forced with conscription. Is it biblical to choose prison or death over compliance if conscripted? These moral dilemmas have been faced by many faithful Christians, and it is my prayer that this article may lead you to more prayerful study about this heavily debated topic. The following is an historical account of the German SDA church’s response to World War 1 and the split that followed.
I will start by saying, if you are not an Adventist, the church politics on this matter are basically irrelevant to you, which is why I will only very briefly cover this (feel free to skip down to the Testimony 1 and 2 links). I believe the links I give after will help both Adventists and non-Adventists alike to understand the dilemmas brought about in war time, also to show some amazing testimonies of faithful individuals who were helped by God during World War 2.
For Adventists who wish to have a clear understanding of this issue, I recommend continuing through the resources posted after.
To begin, it is important to understand my reasons for posting this article. I personally believe that the SDA church badly needs help, and I believe that help can come from members of the SDARM / IMSSDARM rejoining the fight for truth in the church. I don’t necessarily agree with all the doctrines of either the SDARM or IMSSDARM, however I believe they and the SDA church are in unity on vital doctrines. In my opinion the SDA church needs more conscientious individuals to help spread the message of truth across the world. I believe many have been discouraged and driven into the Reform or Independent movements. My hope is that this division will end, so we can all get back to work spreading the 3 angels’ messages to the world. It seems an impossible dream to fulfil, however Christ prayed a similar prayer. I believe His power to bring unity and reform will prevail.
I am not in favour of ecumenism, however I believe there are insignificant differences between the SDA, SDARM, IMSSDARM and Independent SDA groups to justify separation. One of these differences (sometimes the only difference some people see) is the matter of whether Christians should go to war.