some thoughts on Derek Webb & war

30 10 2006


Last night I, along with my wife and some friends, went to see Derek Webb in concert here in Omaha. I have enjoyed Derek’s music for awhile now and was particularly impressed with his sound live. The guy is a great musician and an impressive songwriter.

The majority of the cuts he played were from his new CD Mockingbird, which is available for download / sharing for free at

I know that he has taken some heat from folks within evangelicalism over the things he says, however I enjoy the record, his points and particularly his pithy commentary on the evangelical church.

One of my favorite songs is New Law, which sets forth sarcastic pleas from non-thinking and as it turns out lazy and legalistic Christians. In the song they end up asking for more rules for this naive sanctification.

Don’t teach me about politics and government
just tell me who to vote for

i don’t wanna know if the answers aren’t easy
so just bring it down from the mountain to me

(and probably my favorite…)

don’t teach me about moderation and liberty
i prefer a shot of grape juice

My issue with Derek is his anti-war ethic that he is promoting as a Christian anti-war ethic. He made the statement last night (not a direct quote) that answering violence with violence does not work. And that America is becoming a monster to defeat a monster. Further, he said that the world is looking for answers to violence and we the church should be able to give it to them. The answer is to love our enemies not to fight them.

I agree 100% that we as Christians should have an answer and that we need to be loving our enemies. I am certainly not permitted anywhere in Scritpture to, as a citizen, exact revenge upon anyone. Nor I am not given the authority to mead out justice. However, the Bible does teach that within God’s design he has ordained that government serve to protect its constituents and promote peace.

for it (government) is a minister of God to you for good. But if you do what is evil, be afraid; for it does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath on the one who practices evil. 5 Therefore it is necessary to be in subjection, not only because of wrath, but also for conscience’ sake. Romans 13:4-5

As an individual I have no right to go and execute justice, however the government has been deputized by God, if you will, to administer and even “serve” God with authority that has been given by God (Rom. 13.1).

So it is in this that I think Derek Webb is not handling the Scritpure correctly. He is promoting a passivism for governments that the Bible does not promote. In fact, we see in the Old Testament, the nation of Israel constantly being engaged in battle and even see King David singing about the God who “trains my hands for war and my fingers for battle” (Ps. 144.1). Further in looking at the return of Jesus we see him coming not as a religious passivist but rather an angry King with a sword and dressed for battle for those who are his enemies:

And I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse, and He who sat on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and wages war. 12 His eyes are a flame of fire, and on His head are many diadems; and He has a name written on Him which no one knows except Himself. 13 He is clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. 14 And the armies which are in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, were following Him on white horses. 15 From His mouth comes a sharp sword, so that with it He may strike down the nations, and He will rule them with a rod of iron; and He treads the wine press of the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty. 16 And on His robe and on His thigh He has a name written, “KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.” Revelation 19:11-16

So as a Christian do you have to agree with everything the government says and does? No. But do they have the God-given authority to protect their people and promote peace even through war? Yes. Do I like think Derek Webb is wrong? Yes. Do I still like his music? Yes. Am I enjoying interviewing myself? Yes. J

Personally, I hate war because I know that it comes, ultimately, from sin (Jam. 4.1ff.). However, I know that until Jesus comes back and fights the war to end all wars that wars will continue and increase. So as a Christian I am to pray for my leaders (1 Tim. 2.1-8) and pray for the King and his Kingdom to come (Matt. 6.10) that he might get his glory.





4 responses

31 10 2006

Does the Sermon on the Mount apply to governments or just individuals?

31 10 2006

It applies to citizens of the kingdom of God. J

These things that we find outlined in the Sermon are to be characteristic of the citizens of this Kingdom. …

3 11 2006

Love, love, love Derek Webb and Caedmons. Love his song, “wedding dress.”
Love his theological musings.

However, I do agree with you here. There is a time for War, and Solomon wasn’t afraid to outline that in Ecclesiastes.

I’m sad that Christians have come to believe that in order to be a people of peace and a people of love, we have to rid ourselves completely of strength, assertion, and in some cases, the call to righteously rage against sin and evil.

War sucks, undoubtedly. But peace doesn’t exist without people willing to fight for it.

3 11 2006
Travis Carden

I’m sad that Christians have come to believe that in order to be a people of peace and a people of love, we have to rid ourselves completely of strength, assertion, and in some cases, the call to righteously rage against sin and evil.

Well said, Lacy!

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