Calmeyer Lawyer 1s

Hans Calmeyer Righteous Gentile 1903-1972

“Dutch Schindler”

 Lawyer for Life

God's Wars



Calmeyer was known to be anti-war in a classic aversion sense, in part due to the death of both of his brothers in WWI, but the true depth of this opposition is not known: for instance, it did not stop him from enlisting in the non-Nazi Wehrmacht, nor stop him from actively opposing tyranny and resisting and even subverting immoral imposition of existing laws.

There is a peculiar and perhaps tortured but rather interesting view that the God of the Old Testament, far from being a violent and vengeful “war-proponent,” in seemingly inexplicable contrast to the peaceful Jesus of the New Testament, reluctantly accepted and used war for His own good ends, protecting His chosen people and the long-term Plan for salvation and a possibility for humans to exist with Him in eternity. This view seeks to reconcile the puzzle of wanton loss of life on both sides of the incessant conflicts that to us seem to have little purpose but to defend ourselves against unending evil.

Random  Reflections - Greg Boyd

Eller argues convincingly, I believe  that the wars that Joshua and others fought were not at all like the wars nations usually fight, for  these wars are always motivated by the need to make oneself secure (he calls these sorts of wars Nimrodian wars,€ť for they’re patterned  after the great€ť warrior in Genesis, Nimrod). The Israelite wars were holy wars, for the Israelite warriors were motivated only by a desire to partner with God in fighting God’s foes. Indeed, the Holy War  tradition is premised on the conviction that it is Yahweh who is  fighting the war; about as much as is expected of the human participants is that they come along and watch him do it(47).   ...

In various passages that report Yahweh commanding slaughter, we are  finding an accurate report of what human beings heard him [Yahweh]  say. But we are not here finding the unmediated voice of God  himself.(78). When the words run entirely contrary to all that  knowledge would lead us to expect, we should perhaps question the  hearing of the reporters rather than the consistency of God’s speaking (78).

The Israelites were right in thinking they were called to  advance God’s plan in the world (59) and right to believe this involved  fighting. But they failed to grasp that MAN IS NOT THE ENEMY (59).  In keeping with the Nimrodian€ť mindset of their age, they wrongly  assumed that any people who threatened the fulfillment of God’s plan  were enemies who had to be removed. [W]hen the squeeze came, Eller claims, Israelite faith wasn’t quite adequate, and the people fell back on the conclusion that man must be the enemy." In their limited  perspectives, "there is no way for God’s plan to go forward without  fighting against men, so this," they believed, "must be what God wants" (60).

This lapse constitutes “a failure of faith in the  capabilities of God. As far as man can see, the only alternatives are either to let the plan of God be  frustrated or to take out the obstructionists” (59). But this is, in  fact, a “Nimrodian decision based on the premise that God’s alternatives are limited to what man can understand” (60). It’s the same thinking  that Christians use today to justify violence (viz. "if we don't fight,  evil will win!"). To really have faith in God, and to truly fight the  battles God wants us to fight, we need to have faith that God can  achieve his loving ends without using violent means (60).

Only in the New Testament do God’s people fully understand that our struggle is never against flesh and blood, but against principalities and powers  (Eph. 6:12). Only with the coming of Christ does it become  unambiguously clear that Yahweh’s battle is never against people, but  always for people and against  spiritual powers that oppress and destroy us. (Eller has a marvelous  chapter on the spiritual warfare understanding of the atonement [ch.5,  113-144]).

 Eller argues that, while God didn’t approve of the slaughtering his  warriors engaged in, he nevertheless used it to advance his purposes in the world. Throughout the Bible  God uses what he does not approve of, as when he allows other nations to defeat Israel to teach them lessons. So too, once Israel had  determined that she was going to fight, God determined that, whether he approved of such fighting or not, he was going to use it to  preserve Israel, give her a homeland, and lead her in the way toward the peaceable kingdom (78). It's a matter of God bringing good out of  evil.

This is how God handles all violence, according to Eller.  All war is the result of human estrangement from God, and so in this  sense all war is a punishment for rebellion against God. God doesn’t  approve of war,€ť he says, “but this isn’t to say war is completely  outside his plan.€ť Rather, war is the punishment brought upon  themselves by those who foster and create the kind of situations that  lead to war. " Moreover, Eller argues, "it is not that the losing nation is the punished one and the winner merely the punisher. War is always  punishment both ways (79). So, as a regrettable concession, God worked  with Israel’s Nimrodian mindset, as he worked with the Nimrodian mindset of others, to accomplish his purposes, as much as possible, in the  world. And part of this purpose was to punish the sinful  violent-mindedness of both the Israelites and their pagan enemies.

And all the while Yahweh was laying the groundwork for a future revelation  of who he really is, what his character is really like and what kind of warfare he has really called us to.

And here is Greg Boyd’s self-critique of these very reflections:

I have to grant that this is a strong response -- to the point that I’m  not sure how to refute it. Yet, I can’t help but feel like there’s  something amiss here. The Psalmist doesn’t claim God told him to smash the heads of  Babylonian babies, but Joshua (and others) explicitly claim God told them to slaughter the  Canaanites. Indeed, in passages like Deuteronomy 7, God (reportedly)  goes to great lengths to make sure they spare no one -- and then gets  very irate when they disobediently let some live.

Second, as we've seen, Eller believes that Joshua and other Old  Testament warriors got it right when they heard Yahweh tell them they  were to only fight the battles he wanted them to fight and that they  were to place their complete trust in him when they fought. They were  not to fight with the Nimrodian mindset of other nations (viz. fighting out of insecurity, self-interest, etc.). Unfortunately,  according to Eller, these warriors mistakenly thought this entailed that they had to slaughter anyone who stood in the way of Yahweh’s will  being done. It seems to me there’s something rather peculiar  about this view. How is it that Yahweh succeeded into getting Joshua and others to refrain from placing any trust in their sword and to not fight out of  insecurity and self-interest and yet failed to clearly communicate that they weren’t supposed to kill  anyone?

For the above question, please see a potential answer in the distinction between killing and murder.

Less strong is a third argument that several readers of this blog  expressed to me. They argued that once one grants that any biblical  passage might be mistaken, we have no means of deciding what is and is  not the "true voice of God" in Scripture. We have embarked on a  slippery slope toward total relativism, they fear. More specifically,  if Joshua was wrong in thinking Yahweh told him to slaughter the  Canaanites, then Paul might have been wrong in thinking God told him  we’re saved by grace or in thinking God told him fornication was a sin.  If humans have to decide what is and is not the true voice of God in  the Bible, they argue, then it seems it's every man for himself.We  can choose what we like and discard what we don’t like. Eller’s thesis,  in other words, throws us into an epistemological, theological and moral abyss. (I find this worry lies behind the passion of many evangelicals to uphold "biblical inerrancy").

I empathize with this concern, but I'm not convinced it's a sound  objection. Two things are worth mentioning. First, everyone already has to decide what is and is not the true voice of God in the Bible" -- at least to the extent that we all have to try to discern the timeless teaching of the Bible from its cultural packaging. ...   Second, while there is obvious disagreement about what is and is not  culturally relative in the Bible, the issue is not as subjective as  people simply “accepting what they like and discarding what they don’t  like. (and he goes on ...)

Why should we care about all this? Because we are talking about the value of life and lives from the standpoint of different cultures, cultures we describe as Cultures of Life (fundamentally) and Cultures of Death (again, fundamentally, not exclusively), for the self-interest in the preservation of life and the interest in protecting family and friends gives everyone inspirations as to the value of life, albeit relative and not absolute values of life.

Would Calmeyer have cared? Did he concern himself about questions of the value of life? Surely he did, certainly at the level of fighting for the preservation of lives he did not even know except from the standpoint of files researched by his team. The Calmeyer Foundation is doing deeper research of his archives to discover more statements he might have made to family, friends, and intellectuals in his correspondence, which has not been deeply researched before.

The Teleological Exegetical Principle and Old Testament Violence

more from Greg Boyd:

 These days we're (mostly) discussing why the God of the Hebrew Bible  sometimes commands people to slaughter enemies, including women and  children, while Jesus reveals that God dies for enemies and longs for  their forgiveness. Based on our recent exploration of Peter Craigie’s The Problem of War in the Old Testament, I’m in the process of formulating what I might call The Teleological Exegetical Principle. (Remember folks, I'm thinking out loud here. I'm exploring  possibilities, not giving absolute conclusions). Basically, this  principle stipulates that, all  other things being equal, we should  always interpret the beginning of any divine program from its end (telos).

Let's first  apply this principle to the law of the Old Testament. The Old Testament  law initially looked like it was given to make us righteous before God,  but it failed (as Paul frequently notes). Given that it ended in  failure, the Teleological Exegetical  Principle would lead us (along with Paul) to presume that this was the point (or at least one  of the points) of God giving the law all along. He was proving to us  that we can never be made righteous before God by striving to obey the  law alone. In the light of this failure, we (along with Paul) can view  the law as a "shadow” pointing us -- as a negative object lesson -- to  the reality of Christ. Its failure prepared us to humbly accept  God’s righteousness as a gift given through Christ.

If Craigie is right, this principle also applies to nationalism and violence (they  are inseparable) in the Old Testament. Divinely sanctioned nationalistic violence initially looked like it could establish the Kingdom of God,  but it failed. The nation of Israel tried to live by the sword but it  ended up dying by the sword (as Jesus said would always happen). Given that nationalistic violence ended in failure, the Teleological Exegetical Principle would lead us to presume that this was the  point (or at least one of the points) of God using nationalistic  violence all along. He was proving to us that his Kingdom can never be  brought about by nationalism and violence.

This negative object  lesson laid the groundwork for the coming of the anti-nationalistic,  anti-violent Kingdom, inaugurated through Jesus. And this leads to yet  another application of the the Teleological Exegetical Principle.

Jesus’ death -- which was brought  about because Jesus refused to be co-opted by nationalism or to resort  to any violence -- initially looked like a failure but ended up in  victory. Jesus' sacrificial death defeated the Powers, set captives  free, reconciled us to God and established the Kingdom of God on earth.  Given that Jesus’ death ended in victory, the Teleological Exegetical Principle would lead us to  presume that this was the point of Jesus refusing nationalism and violence. He was proving to us that  God's Kingdom can only be brought about by refusing nationalism and  violence as we rather choose to love and sacrifice for our enemies, even to the point of death.

So, if the God who sanctioned genocide in the Old Testament looks antithetical to the God who died for his  enemies on Calvary, this is because it's supposed to! If you're offended and angered when you read about Yahweh commanding the slaughter of women and children or David  celebrating infants being smashed against rocks, it's because being  offended and angered by this sort of barbarism is the point. Only if you see how grotesque and futile  this nationalistic violence is will you be able to fully devote yourself to a non-nationalistic and anti-violent Kingdom.

If Craigie is  right, God was reluctantly condescending to the violent mindset  of the world and playing the part of a tribal warrior god in order to  ultimately show us (among other things) that he's not at all like this. Or, if you will, God entered our violence filled Matrix (recall the movie) and played along with its violent rules, but he did this in order to wake us up to our bondage to this ugly, illusory Matrix. Once freed, we are empowered to see who  God really is and who we really are. Christ is the "reality"  to which all Matrix "shadows" point. In Christ we see that God is a God who would rather give his life for enemies than kill them. And in  Christ we see that all people, including enemies, are worth God giving  his life for.

Now, I'm not pretending this explanation for God's  treatment of enemies is without problems or is adequate in and of  itself. But I AM convinced that something like this was going on in Yahweh's sanctioning of violence in  the Old Testament and that this must be part of a comprehensive explanation of this violence.

More to come. In the meantime, imitate God as he is revealed in Jesus (Eph.  5:1-2), not the God revealed in the Old Testament's warfare tradition.

"They were left to test the Israelites to see whether they would obey the Lord's commands, which He had given their forefathers through Moses" (Judg. 3:4).

This was a commandment in the Old Testament. They didn't pass the test. "The Israelites did evil in the eyes of the LORD; they forgot the LORD their God and served the Baals and the Asherahs" ( Judg 3:7-8).

The New Testament tells us to turn the other cheek, but the New Testament is not a peaceful domain at all. Revelation is full of ongoing ultimate conflict, and Jesus is also quoted as follows in Matthew 24:6:  

  6And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.  7For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and  there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers  places.        8All these are the beginning of sorrows.