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TITLE: Church and Civil War
TEXT: 1 Corinthians 1:10-13
PROPOSITION: God wants a united church even when there are political and social differences among us.
KEY WORD: Attitudes

  1. INTRODUCTION: I was born and raised in Michigan. – Yankee.
  2. I have preached for most of the last 32 years in south.
  3. My education is in Bible and Church History and Restoration History.
  4. The value to history is to learn (good and bad) from the past.


  • April 12, 1861 – Civil War began in Charleston, SC
    Deaths: 350,000 north, 250,000 south
    Two important questions were raised among churches of Christ.
    1. Is slavery morally right?
    2. Should Christians participate in war?


    1. All believed blacks had souls, were human beings, treat with dignity and respect.
    2. There were many black churches. Many were integrated – north and south.
    3. Buying and selling of humans should stop.
    4. Prejudice is wrong. James 2:8-9
    5. The only slavery for Christians is slavery to Christ. Romans 6:13-18

    Participate in War

    1. Union leaders – J. H. Garrison, James A. Garfield, Dr. L. L. Pinkerton, Chaplain D. R. Lucas (baptized almost 100 men), Isaac Errett
    2. Confederate leaders – T. B. Larimore, a son of Alexander Campbell, a son of Barton W. Stone, F. D. Srygley, B. F. Hall


    Oppositon to War

    1. Tolbert Fanning wrote a letter to Jefferson Davis and A. Lincoln asking for non-combat roles for members of the churches of Christ.
    2. In Gospel Advocate –
      War is civil government activity not a Christian activity
      Christ was gentle – Put away sword (Matthew 26:52) Opposed to use of force.
      Early Christians died rather than take a sword against the enemy.
      Brethren would be killing their own brethren.
      Hard to wound men – then preach gospel of peace to them.
    3. Moses E. Lard, Benjamin Franklin, J. W. McGarvey – were all opposed to war.
      Lard’s Quarterly – Argued the following:
      Not question what governments may do.
      Question is what Christians should do.
      Can a Christian use force on anyone?
      The cause – lust – is wrong.
      War is not compatible with Christ’s kingdom.
      Love your enemies. Matthew 5:44; Romans 12:19-21
      Golden Rule Matthew 7:12
      Fruit of Spirit Galatians 5:22
    4. David Lipscomb – opposed all political or government activity. Pay taxes.
      Don’t vote, run for political office, serve in military, work for government.
    5. NOTE: Every major denomination split – Baptists, Methodists, Presbyterians, Lutherans, Catholics. Churches of Christ did not split. Exchange students – colleges, meetings.

    This view was dominate through WWI and build-up to WWII.

    Pearl Harbor was the last straw.

    Lessons to learn from history.

    1. We can disagree without being disagreeable.
    2. We must separate our political views from Biblical teachings.
    3. When the two (politics and religion) come into conflict – God is the higher law.
    4. Unity is commanded – It can be maintained – Even in time of war.
    5. We may disagree over many political issues – don’t let this interfere with our fellowship.

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