The Great Christian Revolution (VIII), Part 2

God Establishes Legitimate Hierarchies:

The second aspect of a Biblical covenant is that God establishes a hierarchy to enforce His authority on earth.

Sinful man in his presumptions about God, himself and the world he lives in, has generally considered civil government as the most important institution. In doing so, he dismisses or under-estimates the individual, the family and the church, and their potential role and responsibility in the nation. This is a serious mistake, with implications for the field of defence. Governments have foolishly tended to ignore the Bible, and viewed national defence as a task for professionals, rather than consider the all-important role of militia; of non-professionals.

What is clear, is that

When men [Biblically] were summoned for war, they brought along their weapons. Provisions for the army were raised from the people themselves  (Jud. 20:10). The [poll] tax was not needed for the prosecution of war… (p.231). The military was not necessarily a state function over against a Church function in the Old Covenant. Indeed, holy war was a specifically priestly function. The torching of cities is to be understood as taking God’s fire off from His altar and applying His holy fiery wrath to His enemies. Thus, the torched cities were called “whole burnt sacrifices” in the Hebrew Old Testament (Dt. 13:16; Jud. 1:17; 20:40, in Hebrew)… The sword of the state executes according to the judgments rendered by the priests… Thus, the military duty is priestly, and a duty of every believer-priest. Both Church and state are involved in it, since the Church must say whether the war is just and holy, and the state must organize the believer-priests for battle… In Christianity, however, the focal point of civilization is not the state, as it is in paganism, but worship in the presence of God, organized by the Church.1

The idea of Christian society and an armed, skilled populace actually have deep historical roots. Alfred the Great codified the laws of England in the 9th Century, often resorting to Biblical law in order to do so. Alfred applied the Deuteronomic laws of kings that forbad a standing army (Deut. 17), and as a result developed a national defence based on militia:

By the Saxon laws, every freeman of an age capable of bearing arms, and not incapacitated by any bodily infirmity, was in case of a foreign invasion, internal insurrection, or other emergency, obliged to join the army…2

What is clear from history, is that well-armed and determined locals can make it extremely difficult for an invading force to hold territory. The raw fire-power of an invader is only one aspect of warfare, as the British found in their conflict with the Americans (1776-1783),3 and as the Americans found to their loss, in Viet Nam, from 1964-1975.

"You know, you never defeated us in the battlefield," said the American colonel. The North Vietnamese colonel pondered this remark a moment. “That may be so,” he replied, “but it is also irrelevant.” 4

Did the U. S. learn anything? It was the most powerful nation in the world, with overwhelming air and naval superiority. But the stiff opposition of the Viet Cong and the North Vietnamese, the protracted, guerilla-style nature of the war, and public opposition at home, meant that the U.S. ultimately had to make an ignominious withdrawal with a massive bill, having lost 68,000 soldiers.

Before Agincourt [against the English in 1415], there were things the French might profitably have learned about long bows, but didn’t bother because chivalry didn’t concern itself with peasants. It was the glory of the thing, not whether they were committing suicide. English generals killed 20,000 young Brits in one day at the Somme [in 1916]; they hadn’t compared the ideas in their heads with then-current military reality (such as that infantry charges over long distances against massed machine guns, artillery, and barbed wire are not especially productive, unless you manufacture embalming fluid).…

A consequence is a tendency for militaries of the First World to gravely overestimate themselves, and thus underestimate their enemies. This is why they usually expect wars to be far shorter and cheaper than they turn out to be. 5

A local population, angry and indignant at an invading force, will be resourceful and perseverant in their resistance. It was an American Revolutionary, Samuel Adams who said “it does not require a majority to prevail, but rather an irate, tireless minority keen to set brushfires of freedom in the minds of men.”

This is what the Americans are continuing to find in Iraq, and now in Afghanistan. A determined local opposition makes the financial and human cost of mounting and maintaining an invasion quite prohibitive. (Reportedly, it costs U.S.$330,000 annually to keep one U.S. soldier in the field in Iraq.) The resident population does not have to launch a frontal assault on their enemy in order to be perpetually making life difficult; the invader never can be sure if he is going to face a sniper from a roof-top, or around a corner, or have a road-side bomb explode next to his vehicle, and every year the bills keep coming in.

The guerilla has limited resources. He has to wage a war of attrition against invaders. His tools are the tools of low intensity warfare: sniper rifles, land mines, spies, propaganda materials, confidence in his cause, and an extremely long-range time perspective. 6

This national defence strategy of a well-armed and prepared militia, has been the Swiss means of defence for hundreds of years, and they have never been successfully invaded. Even though Switzerland had a common border with Germany, when Hitler invaded and dominated most of Europe in 1939-41, he left Switzerland alone. Switzerland has been free from war since 1815.

[1]Jordan, J., “The Law of the Covenant,” 1984, p.231 ff.

[2] Francis Grose, Military Antiquities Respecting a History of the British Army, from the Conquest to the Present Time, 2 vol. (London: Egerton and Kearsley, 1801), 1:1. (The two above para. quoted in McDurmon, J., “Bring Your Guns to Church,” American Vision website, 24/4/2010.)

[3] “It was in the South during Lord Cornwallis’s long meandering march up and down that the American militia began to come into its own. The Americans won only one battle of any consequence, Cowpens, but they so bled the British by their constant harassment that the exploits of Sumter, Pickens, Morgan, and Marion are prime examples of guerrilla warfare.” Marina, W. F., “Militia, Standing Armies, and the Second Amendment: Some Perspectives from the American Revolution.” July 1, 1975.

[4] A conversation in Hanoi in April, 1975, quoted in “On Strategy,” by Colonel H. Summers.

[5] Fred Reed, “Surprised by Disaster,” Lew Rockwell website, 27/10/09.

[6] North, G., “Millenianism and Social Theory,” 1990, p.290.

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