Mr. Vance:

 

I am writing to you today with regard to your Internet item, “Are you a Christian Warmonger?” It is certainly an interesting piece, and perhaps one which can provide a great insight into the relationship between Christianity and war. But this potential can only be reached with a drastic editing of your list, as the questions are rife with logical fallacies. With humility, I would like to address each of these point-by-point.

 

Before beginning, I will ensure that we are all on the same page by defining the term “Warmonger.” In general, the term means “one who is eager for war” (Encarta Dictionary). Though you do not overtly state a definition, it appears that you would agree, based on the following two statements:

 

“…Christian warmongers are just as militant. They consider this [Iraqi] war to be a Christian crusade against Islam and view the thousands of dead Iraqi civilians as collateral damage.”…

 

“Other Christians are passive warmongers. …[they] cherish the thought of dead Iraqis, or ‘joke’ about nuking Muslims, they excuse, dismiss, make apologies for, and defend the war…”

 

Now, you are dangerously close here to creating a logical flaw upon which the entire premise is based. You seem to be defining a Christian warmonger as any Christian who supports the war on Iraq. Yet your list asks questions about Iraq to determine if a person is a warmonger; such a statement is circulus in demonstrado (circular reasoning)—it is essentially saying, “Only warmongers support the war in Iraq, so if you support the war in Iraq, you must be a warmonger!”

 

I will assume that this is not what you meant to say, and that you simply meant to define a Christian warmonger as a Christian who cherishes the thought of any war and is calloused to the “collateral damage” thereof. Such a statement is not logically fallacious, and now we may move on to the list. My comments shall be in blue.

 

 

  1. The commandment "Thou shalt not kill" (Exodus 20:13) never applies to killing in war.

Fallacies (2): Complex Question, False Dichotomy

(1) Complex Question

The fallacy of complex questions is when an arguer poses a question which includes something in its construction which is presumed true by the question itself. One such example is the statement, “Have you stopped beating your wife?” This statement presupposes something in its construction (in this case, that you beat your wife) which has not been established. Of course, Complex Questions are rarely as obvious as “Have you stopped beating your wife?”; more often, they are similar to your first question here. The question above presupposes that the Scripture, “Thou shalt not kill,” refers to the taking of any life—a fact which has not yet been established. In fact, the literal Hebrew translation of the word for “kill” (ratsach) is “to murder,” and is otherwise used in the Bible only in phrases which refer to taking lives without just cause. For generations, Hebrews have interpreted that passage as non-contradictory to God’s required destruction of evil cultures in battle. For example, no Hebrew believes that David’s slaying of Goliath, blessed by God, was a violation of the commandment in Exodus 20:13.

 

Whether this verse should apply to the taking of any life, or only to justified taking of life has yet to be established. Your question is assuming that you have already established it to mean “the taking of any life.”

 

(2) False Dichotomy

Similarly, you make the logical flaw of setting up a false dichotomy with this question. By asking if the commandment “never” applies, you are stating that there are only two positions regarding this verse: if you answer “True” then you must claim that there are never unjustified killings in war; if answering “False” then you are claiming that there are never justified killings in war. Since you have failed to establish the meaning of the phrase “Thou shalt not kill,” it is fallacious to assume that these are the only two positions available. What if someone were to claim, “It is neither true nor false. To kill in self-defense or in combat of evil is not a violation of Exodus 20:13, and to kill for any other reason (e.g., the My Lai Massacre) is a violation of the commandment. Thus, the verse sometimes applies and sometimes doesn’t.” This is a perfectly valid  response; in this case, you are assuming a dichotomy exists, when in fact the answer “sometimes” is logically defensible.

 

  1. We should follow President Bush’s leadership because he is a Christian.

Fallacy: Non Sequitur

A non sequitur (“it does not follow”) fallacy is when an argument’s conclusion does not strictly follow from its premises. Here, if someone answers “True”, you give them 1 point—a move toward ‘Christian warmonger.’ But nowhere have you demonstrated a case for why belief in submission to authority is equivalent with warmongering. One could quite presumably be horrified by war and yet still believe that they have a responsibility to submit to authority (Christian, secular, or otherwise). So it does not follow from the question that a response of “True” is evidence of warmongering.

 

  1. Torturing Iraqi prisoners to obtain information is okay if it saves the life of one American.

Fallacy: Non Sequitur

This is the same fallacy made in question number two: namely, that your conclusion (“that is a warmonger response”) does not follow from the acceptance of the statement above. Again, both you and the dictionary define warmongering as an enthusiasm for war, whereas you have not demonstrated that it acceptance of question three necessarily shows eagerness or enthusiasm. Presumably, one could state that they believe it is for the “greater good” to torture if it saves lives, but it breaks their hearts to do so (a necessary evil, you might say). Whether they are morally correct or not is irrelevant—it is still a logically consistent answer. And thus, you are making a non-sequitur error when you automatically conclude that any “True” answer to the above question is necessarily an example of warmongering.

 

  1. The command to "submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake" (1 Peter 2:13) means that we should kill foreigners in their country if the government says to do so.

Fallacy: Non Sequitur

See # 2-3. Simply because a person agrees with the above statement does not indicate that they are a warmonger, or eager for wartime activities. The conclusion does not follow from the premise.

 

  1. U.S. intervention in the Middle East is necessary to protect Israel from the Arabs.

Fallacy: Red Herring

      This is called a “red herring” fallacy—the inclusion of an argument irrelevant to the basic point. Whether a person believes in the necessity of U.S. intervention for protection of Israel is completely irrelevant to determination of a Christian warmonger mindset. One need not be a Christian to believe that the U.S. should protect Israel, and one need not be a warmonger to believe that the U.S. should use its power to defend democratic states against dictatorships. So certainly, this question is irrelevant to determining if you are a “Christian warmonger”, as it could also be answered “True” by Jewish nationals, atheist Democrats, Republican doves, etc. It simply provides no information whatsoever about the responder’s Christianity or warmongering.

 

  1. Muslim civilians killed by the U.S. military in Iraq and Afghanistan are just collateral damage.

No Fallacy.

This is a fair question, although it is dangerously close to being an argumentum ad misericordiam (argument or appeal to pity).

 

  1. A preemptive war against Iraq is nothing to be concerned about because the Bible says there is "a time of war" (Ecclesiastes 3:8).

Fallacy: Straw Man.

This is a straw man fallacy, whereby you set up an unfairly simplistic opponent simply to provide easy attack. Few Christians who support the war in Iraq do so for the sole purpose that Ecclesiastes says there is a “time of war.” To do so would be a logical flaw on their fault—Ecclesiastes never mentions Iraq or 2005 or Hussein or the War on Terror, so one cannot assume that the verse indicates that the “time of war” is now and against Iraq. And, for that reason, I have never heard a Christian claim this as their argument. Some may use it as proof that God is not opposed to war at certain times if the need is great, but no one argues in defense of the war solely based on this verse. Thus, it is an unfairly simplistic opponent which you have set up here to attack.

 

  1. It is okay to kill Muslims in Iraq because the terrorists who kill Jews are Muslims.

No Fallacy.

This is, I think, the first completely fair question. One might rightly assume that if a person answers “True”—that it is okay to eliminate members of one religion purely because that religion has done evil against the Jews—is eager for war.

 

  1. Since the Bible says that "the powers that be are ordained of God" (Romans 13:1), we should always obey the government when it comes to war.

Fallacies (2): Straw Man, Non Sequitur.

This is simple another way of stating Questions 4 and 7, which have already been answered. It is a non sequitur to conclude that a person is eager for war simply because they believe in submission to the government, and it is a straw man to imply that if a Christian believes in submission to the government they will agree with any governmental decision regarding war.

 

  1. U.S. wars and interventions abroad are ultimately a good thing because they pave the way for the spread of the gospel.

No Fallacy.

This is a fair question. Congrats—3/10 completely free from fallacy!

 

  1. The command to "obey magistrates" (Titus 3:1) means that it is not immoral to drop bombs on foreign countries if the government says it should be done.

Fallacies (3): Straw Man, Non Sequitur, Appeal to Pity.

This is virtually the same question as Question 9, so I wonder why you felt the need to ask it again. It has the same two errors as # 9 had. In addition, you add an appeal to pity, by referring to “war” as the more emotionally-loaded “drop bombs on foreign countries.”

 

  1. The U.S. should take vengeance on Muslims because of the September 11th attacks.

No Fallacy.

This is a fair question, as long as you are  clear about it. It is not necessarily warmongering to believe that the U.S. should take vengeance on some specific Muslims—i.e., the hijackers—due to the September 11th attacks. It is warmongering to take vengeance on all or unrelated Muslims, which I believe is what you are referring to here. It should probably be reworded as, “The U.S. should take vengeance on all Muslims because of the September 11th attacks,” but I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt.

 

  1. A perpetual war against the Muslim world in order to fight terrorism is just because "The LORD is a man of war" (Exodus 15:3).

Fallacy: Straw Man.

This one isn’t even close to a fair question. Firstly, few Christians support war solely based on the reading of Exodus 15:3, so it is an overly simplistic argument when applied to any war. But you take a Straw Man argument to a new level by stating that Christians interpret this verse—and this verse alone, with no other biblical, sociopolitical, or theological views—as justification for “a perpetual war against the Muslim world.” In your introduction you state how common Christian warmongering is: find me a video clip of a moderately intelligent Christian saying, “Based on my reading of Exodus 15:3, I think we should go to war against all Muslims forever.” That is an transparent straw man argument.

 

  1. Christians can wholeheartedly participate in their government’s wars since God commanded the Jews in the Old Testament to go to war.

No Fallacy.

This one is fair—in fact, it is the perfect question for what you are asking. Some people would interpret it that way (so it isn’t a straw man), you do not appeal to pity, and you say “Christians can wholeheartedly participate…” (avoiding a non sequitur). The way you have worded the question makes it impossible for someone to answer that they hesitatingly participate—you are asking if they can participate without facing moral dilemmas. A very well-stated question.

 

  1. Christians can proudly serve in the military in any capacity.

Fallacies (2): Non Sequitur, Sweeping Generalization

You follow up your best question with maybe your worst question.

 

(1) Non Sequitur

The conclusion here does not follow from its statement. Because someone believes that a Christian could proudly serve in the military in any capacity, you conclude they are a warmonger? What about the pacifist Christian who nonetheless becomes a Chaplain, risking his life in order to try and preach to those he disagrees with? What about the pacifist Christian doctor who, when America is being invaded by some outside force, is willing to risk his life to save dying patients? What about the Christian who hates even the sight of blood, but is proud to be a part of what America stands for—and joins the military as an accountant? Maybe you could make this argument when referring to those who take their enemies’ lives, but certainly even you must admit that there is a logical flaw in this statement: it does not follow that anyone who serves proudly in any capacity in the military is necessarily a warmonger.

 

(2) Sweeping Generalization

In addition, by classifying all who serve proudly in any capacity as warmongers is a dicto simpliciter—a sweeping generalization error. It is akin to claiming, “Women are not as strong as men, and thus cannot win in a fight against a man.” It is true that on the average women are less strong than men, but the conclusion only holds if all women are weaker than all men. Certainly, some women are stronger than some men. Likewise, you may be correct that there are many Christian warmongers who proudly serve in the military in some capacity. You may even be right (though I disagree, and it is an opinion) that the majority of Christians in the military are warmongers. But it is a logical fallacy to claim your conclusion: that proud service “in any capacity” is equivalent to warmongering.

 

  1. Christians can proudly serve in the CIA in any capacity.

Fallacies (3): Non Sequitur, Sweeping Generalization, Red Herring

As this is almost identical to question 15, I refer you there to see the first two fallacies you make. The third is an addition of a Red Herring—the CIA. The Christian’s service in the CIA in any capacity is irrelevant to the discussion, as you have not demonstrated in any way that service in the CIA is at all connected to a desire to war.

 

  1. The command to "obey God rather than men" (Acts 5:29) does not apply to refusing to kill for the state in a war.

Fallacies (2): Straw Man, Non Sequitur.

A restatement of Questions 4, 7, 9, 11, and 13. Clearly you feel it is important, but it is full of the same logical flaws as its predecessors. Why make this a 20-question quiz, if you are just going to add in the same argument 5 times? Why not just make it a 15-question quiz?

 

(Interestingly, you yourself are showing that this is a Straw Man argument. These five questions use 5 different scriptures to try and support war and/or the government, showing that there are at least 5 scriptures which a Christian could use for such an argument. Yet in each question, you include only 1 scripture—clearly showing that even you realize that there is more scriptural evidence available than you are allowing in any question. You aren’t only setting up straw men—you know that you’re setting up straw men.)

 

  1. God approves of the war in Iraq because Islam is a false religion.

Fallacies (2): Red Herring, Non Sequitur

 

(1) Red Herring

This is a completely irrelevant point. Let’s say that God does approve—or at least, that the reader believes He approves, and writes “True”. Does that have anything whatsoever to do with whether the reader is a warmonger? He may think God approves and hate that fact. So it is a red herring—the question is irrelevant to the debate. A True or False answer gives only information regarding God or God’s view toward war—not the person doing the answering.

 

(2) Non Sequitur

Along the same lines, just because someone believes that God approves of the war does not mean that the person is eager for the war. It does not follow from the question above that the person is a warmonger.

 

  1. Muslims in the Middle East hate Americans because of their Christianity, their freedoms, and their democratic values.

Fallacies (2): Red Herring, Non Sequitur

The flaws here are identical to Question 18. This is a fact—either true or false. Whether Muslims hate Americans—or whether the reader thinks they do—is irrelevant to the determination of whether the reader is a warmonger (Red Herring). For the same reason, it does not follow that an answer of true implies a warmongering spirit (non sequitur).

 

  1. Christians in Iraq are better off now than they were under Saddam Hussein.

Fallacies (2): Red Herring, Non Sequitur

The flaws here are identical to Questions 18-19. Whether Christians in Iraq are better off—or whether the reader thinks they are—is irrelevant to the determination of whether the reader is a warmonger (Red Herring). For the same reason, it does not follow that an answer of true implies a warmongering spirit (non sequitur).

 

 

 

Summary Statistics

Questions: 20

Non-Fallacious Questions: 5 (25%)

Logical Fallacies: at least 26

            Non Sequiturs: 11

            Red Herrings: 5

            Straw Man Arguments: 5

            Sweeping Generalizations: 2

            Appeals to Pity: 1

            Complex Questions: 1

            False Dichotomies: 1

 

 

In conclusion, though the debate on the role of Christians in warfare is an intriguing one which should certainly be addressed by all Christians, your quiz has added nothing substantive to the debate. In fact, quite the opposite: it is a logically fallacious quiz which appears to be deliberately designed to mislead those taking it into agreeing with your position—not out of genuine moral concern and logical reasoning, but rather out of trickery.

 

I respectfully request that, if you wish your quiz to be a part of a genuine scholarly debate on the subject, you repair the flaws in your argument as posted on the website http://www.lewrockwell.com/vance/vance40.html.

 

 

Thank you for your time,

 

 

Michael D. Belote