Oct 30, 2014

Jesus on the battlefield

Jesus Christ and the church on the battlefield in a WWI poster:


The poster was raising funds for the Red Cross by identifying the soldier on the field in France with Christ. This is not unusual. The image of Christ and the idea of sacrifices' sanctifying effects were commonly used by leading Christian ministers in America to advocate for the war. 

Three examples from Richard M. Gamble's excellent book, The War for Righteousness
  • A joint statement signed by mlore than 60 ministers during the presidential campaign of 1916, ranging from the social gospelers Lyman Abbott and Harry Emerson Fosdick to the evangelical Billy Sunday: "The just God, who withheld not his own Son from the cross, would not look with favor upon a people who put their fear of pain and death, their dread of surfing and loss, their concern for comfort and ease, above the holy claims of righteousness and justice and freedom and mercy and truth."
  • The Rev. Ernest Stires, of the Episcopal St. Thomas' Church on Fifth Ave. in New York: "If Christ so loves the world that He bids us to bear the sword of Justice to save it, tell Him to-day He will find us ready; that before this Altar we dedicate our country and ourselves to the Christ who died to save men . . . . America will be faithful to her high ideal, bearing her ross, cost what it will."
  • Harold Bell Wright, the first American author to sell more than 1 million copies of a novel and a Disciples of Christ minister: "Our army is the army of this nation, but is more: It is the army of the liberty-loving world. It's blood is the blood of humanity, the humanity of Jesus, the humanity for which Jesus lived and died . . . . A man may give his life for humanity in a bloody trench as truly as upon a bloody cross. The world may be saved somewhere in France as truly as in Palestine."
Congressman Claude Kitchin, a North Carolina representative who lead opposition to the war, noting that pro-war ministers had no trouble getting their views reported by the pro-war newspapers, griped that "big predatory interests . . . can always count upon plenty of support from both pulpit and press."