HM#005 - SHOULD CHRISTIANS BAPTISE MILITARY PERSONNEL?
We receive many questions about Christian Pacifism. This one arrived this morning.
Should Christians baptise military personnel and officers of the law as the apostles did in the first century?
Perhaps the question is a bit too simplistic. There are a number of OTHER important questions which should be asked, ON A CASE BY CASE BASIS, before deciding whether it is appropriate to baptise a soldier (or anyone else for that matter).
One soldier might qualify ..... another might not! (It would be no different for a bank robber, or an adulterer!)
Baptism is for "Remission of Sins". (Acts 2:38) It is the response to belief in the Gospel. If it is what it should be, it is the visible outward sign of a repentant heart.
The Gospel preached by JESUS, calls ALL of us (soldiers included) to become peacemakers ..... and forgiveness does depend on BOTH Repentance AND Baptism. (Acts 2:38)
The NEW COMMANDMENT given by Jesus, calls us to love one another, as sacrificially as Jesus loves us. Jesus said that ALL MEN would be able to know whether we are disciples or not, by our response to that commandment. (John 13:34-35)
Could you be convinced that another Christian loved you, while he was busy shooting at you, or dropping bombs on you? Could you convince yourself that you were doing what Jesus meant, while you were busy doing those things to other people? And could Christians who were making war on each other, convince UNBELIEVERS that they were doing what Jesus would do?
It comes down to how we measure REPENTANCE on the part of a soldier who is responding to the Gospel. It is difficult to understand how a soldier could make a commitment to become a peacemaker (Matt 5:9) without at the same time REPENTING of war making. It would seem to be logical to at least ask the question about his plans for the future, before proceeding with a baptism!
If he was determined to remain a war maker, ready to either to give orders, or obey orders, to kill on command (including other "Christians" on the opposite side!) one would have to ask whether he yet understood the REAL cost of becoming a disciple of Jesus.
Disciples who have committed themselves to follow Jesus in radical obedience to the Sermon On The Mount, ought to be very uneasy about proceeding with the baptism of a soldier, who did not yet understand what Jesus meant when He called us to become "Peacemakers".
The early history of the Church records the cases of many Roman soldiers who became Christians and laid down their arms, at great personal cost.
Of course there is still the specific case of Cornelius to consider. (Acts 10) Suggest you read:
Bible Digest No 16 - CORNELIUS