‘Because God is king, all earthly authority is derived not absolute’
Bishop Graham Tomlin
From one debate to another!
In last summer’s general election, Jeremy Corbyn was criticised for not supporting Trident and for his unwillingness to ‘Press the button’ on our nuclear weapons. During a debate he was harangued by an audience who seemed fixated on his reluctance to send the world into destruction.
You can watch the questioning unfold here; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cU-ITKrCr0I&feature=youtu.be
The usual defence for nuclear weapons does not follow here, as the audience were not focused on deterrence, but instead were insisting that their leader would be willing to use our nuclear warheads (first use) in the sure knowledge that they will destroy thousands if not millions of lives.
The only objection comes in right at the end;
‘I don’t know why everyone in this room seems so keen on killing people with a nuclear bomb.’
And that’s the truth. If we want our leaders to be willing to press the button then we are complicit in its destruction and its devastation.
This is not a game.
We are asking our leaders to ‘play’ god and we are doing it to satisfy our own need.
Throughout the Bible we see the devastating results of people putting their faith in man and not God.
In 1 Samuel we see a people rejecting God in favour of a King, even against the prophetic warning of Samuel;
‘So Samuel passed on the Lord’s warning to the people who were asking him for a king. “This is how a king will reign over you,” Samuel said. “The king will draft your sons and assign them to his chariots and his charioteers, making them run before his chariots. Some will be generals and captains in his army, some will be forced to plough in his fields and harvest his crops, and some will make his weapons and chariot equipment…. When that day comes, you will beg for relief from this king you are demanding, but then the Lord will not help you.” *
And throughout the Old Testament we see these words coming true.
Today’s equivalent of the Kings of the Old Testament are our elected leaders. Leaders who may seem much fairer than these Kings until we give them the power to obliterate whole countries in the name of a new kind of tribal loyalty.
Thankfully as we read through the bible we get a sense of the possibility of ‘Kingship redeem’* through the grace of God and eventually through the example of Christ. In psalm 72. 12-14 we get a picture of what this could look like* ;
‘He will rescue the poor when they cry to him;
he will help the oppressed, who have no one to defend them.
He feels pity for the weak and the needy,
and he will rescue them.
He will redeem them from oppression and violence,
for their lives are precious to him.’ (ps. 72. 12-14)
But this can only come about with our prayer and petitioning. Just as the prophets regularly critiqued and called out the Kings of the Old Testament, and the disciples challenged the leaders of their day, we have a responsibility to call out our leaders on that which goes against God.
Why do we still need to debate this?
When I was preparing for this a good friend wrote to me stating;
‘I am amazed that Christians still need to debate this.’
But we do and this is why;
Because what we decide on Nuclear Ethics goes to the very heart of our duty to God’s kingdom;
For there is no other weapon like it and no method of warfare even closely compares;
For there is no other threat that brings the same division and hostility between nations;
For there is no other bomb that would cause the same level of world destruction;
For there is no other deterrent that greater plays off the power and loyalty of fear;
And there is no other decision on earth that could so closely make a god of our leaders;
* Inspired by Bishop, G Tomlin, The Widening Circle: Priesthood as God’s way of blessing the world, SPCK Publishing, London, 2014 pp136-138
APF member Lucy Barbour is a mum of two beautiful children. Before having children she studied a master’s degree in Peace and Reconciliation at Coventry University and is passionate about finding ways for the Anglican Church to focus more on Jesus’ message of Peace and non-violence.
Disclaimer: This blog is intended to provide a space for people associated with APF to express their own personal views and opinions in order to promote discussion of issues relating to peacemaking and pacifism It is not necessarily a place where the official views of APF are expressed.