God's Support for War


Click below for more information

Home Page - Index
Authorities Assessed
Old Testament
New Testament
Apostolic Traditions
Church Fathers
General Church Councils
Early Christian History
What Jesus Believed
Who Founded Christianity?
Creation of Doctrine
Origin of Ideas & Practices
The Concept of Orthodoxy
Origin of the Priesthood
Maintaining Deceptions
Suppress Facts
Selecting Sources
Fabricating Records
Retrospective Prophesy
Ambiguous Authorities
Ignore Injunctions
Invent, Amend and Discard
Manipulate Language
Case Studies
Re-branding a Sky-God
Making One God out of Many
How Mary keeps her Virginity
Fabricating the Nativity Story
Managing Inconvenient Texts
Christianity & Science
Traditional Battlegrounds
Modern Battlegrounds
Rational Explanations
Religion in General
Christianity in Particular
Divine Human Beings
Ease of Creating Religions
Arguments for and Against
Popular Arguments
Philosophical Arguments
Moral Arguments
Supernatural Arguments
  • Miracles
  • Revelation
  • Faith
  • Practical Arguments
    Record of Christianity
    Social Issues
  • Slavery
  • Racism
  • Capital Punishment
  • Penal Reform
  • Physical Abuse
  • Treatment of Women
  • Contraception
  • Abortion
  • Divorce
  • Family Values
  • Children
  • Romanies
  • The Physically Ill
  • The Mentally Ill
  • The Poor
  • Animals
  • Ecology
  • Persecution
  • Persecutions of Christians
  • Persecutions by Christians
  • Church & State
  • Symbiosis
  • Meddling in Governance
  • Interference in Politics
  • Abuse of Power
  • Church Law and Justice
  • Exemption from the Law
  • Unofficial Exemption
  • Financial Privileges
  • Control Over Education
  • Human Rights
  • Freedom of Belief
  • Religious Toleration
  • Freedom of Expression
  • Freedom of Enjoyment
  • Attitudes to Sex
  • Celibacy
  • Sex Within Marriage
  • Sex Outside Marriage
  • Incest
  • Rape
  • Homosexuality
  • Transvestism
  • Prostitution
  • Pederasty
  • Bestiality
  • Sadomasochism
  • Necrophilia
  • Consequences
  • Science & Medicine

  • Ancient Times
  • Dark and Middle Ages
  • Sixteenth Century
  • Seventeenth Century
  • Eighteenth Century
  • Nineteenth Century
  • 20th and 21st Centuries
  • Medical Records Compared
  • Violence & Warfare
  • Crusades
  • God's Wars
  • Churches' Wars
  • Christian Atrocities
  • Cultural Vandalism
  • The Classical World
  • Europe
  • The Wider Modern World
  • Possible Explanations
    Summing up
    Marketing Religion
    Marketing Christianity
    Continuing Damage
    Religious Discrimination
    Christian Discrimination
    Moral Dangers
    Abuse of Power
    A Final Summing Up
    Search site
    Bad News Blog
    Religious Quotations
    Christianity & Human Rights
    Christian Prooftexts
    Social Media


    We are always making God our accomplice, that we may legalise our own iniquities. Every successful massacre is consecrated by a Te Deum, and the clergy have never been wanting in benedictions for any victorious enormity
    Henri-Fréderic Amiel (1821-1881), Journal


    It is not only God himself who takes part in war. The word host, as in the phrase heavenly host, means army. God is Lord of hosts, Commander-in-Chief of heavenly armies. Sometimes members of these armies, saints and angels, join earthly battles on the divinely endorsed side. Such heavenly forces joined the Christian forces to kill the Emperor Julian. Later, they joined the Crusades, and they joined numerous European wars. They even turned up during World War I. The "Angel of Mons", for example, took an active part in offensives, and spent the rest of its time looking after the dead abandoned in no-man's -land.

    The Angel of Mons seems to have been Protestant. Roman Catholics had their own army of heavenly saints, including warrior patron saints. St Martin of Tours is the patron saint of soldiers, St Maurice of armies, and St Michael of battle.

    (A First World War postcard)
    Two angels of Mons, with swords, protecting British soldiers

    The Artillery has its own patron saint, St Barbara, and there are many others. Even arms dealers have their own patron saint, St Adrian of Nicomedia. The Virgin Mary also takes a keen interest in war, invariably supporting the Roman Catholic side. She was occasionally seen cheering on the crusaders. She still holds a number of military honours and titles, awarded for her help in war. A couple of years after the defeat of the Turks at the battle of Lapanto in 1571, she was awarded the title Our Lady of Victory by Pope Pius V. He said that the battle had been given to God's side because of the intercession of Mary, obtained by the use of rosaries. She also delivered victory in the Spanish Civil War, and it was for this help that Franco promoted her to field rank in the Spanish army.

    Victories were easy to attribute to God, but defeats were more problematical. The Crusades had raised serious questions about God's reliability. These holy wars were inspired by God and had been promised his full support. When they had pressed forward to take the crusaders" oath during the First Crusade, volunteers had shouted Dieu le veult ("God wills it"). The Pope told them that God had put these words into their mouths. Deus le volt, a more international version of the phrase, became the crusaders" war cry.

    When the Crusades failed, Christians started to wonder why it was that God had inspired them to win back the Holy Land with visions and miraculous signs, and then frustrated them at every turn. On occasion God had even sent earthquakes to destroy Christian defences. In the early days clerics had deduced that Christian failures were divine punishments for crusaders" crimes and vices, but St Louis had been regarded as an ideal Christian yet got nowhere as a crusader. By contrast, the Emperor Frederick, one of the few successes, was an enemy of the Pope and was widely believed to be an atheist.

    Was it possible that God had changed his mind? Some crusaders had defected to the enemy and converted to Islam. How could that be explained? Was it possible that God had never been behind these Christian exploits in the first place? Again, why were so many crusaders allowed to die in such distressing circumstances, and for nothing? And why did the all-seeing deity allow the survivors to introduce the Black Death to Christian Europe on their return? Many aspects of the Crusades encouraged scepticism. The spread of humanism in Italy was largely a response to the enormities and disasters of the Crusades, and especially to the Fourth Crusade.

    Similar problems arose every time a Christian army lost a battle, which happened around 50 per cent of the time when Christians fought non-Christians, and 100 per cent of the time when Christians fought their fellow Christians. Victorious Christians always knew who to thank, but defeated ones needed someone to blame. Like other Christian nations the English knew that God was on their side. Shakespeare's "cry God for Harry, England and saint George" represented a common view that the trio of king, country and national saint were all God's personal friends. Why else should the English have won at the battle of Crécy except that God wanted them to win? Throughout the Hundred Years" War the victors attributed every victory to the hand of God. The losers sometimes wondered if the victors were right, but generally found alternative explanations. Since it could be taken for granted that God was on their side, it was an easy step to deduce that the Devil was on the side of their enemies. So it was that one side imagined Joan of Arc to be an agent of God, while the other imagined her to be an agent of Satan. When her side was losing, the Church had her burned as a heretic transvestite, and when her side fared better the same Church posthumously rehabilitated her and later made her a saint.

    Jesus blesses Saint George, dressed as a knight
    and holding his sword like a cross,
    with his shield by his side bearing the arms of England
    (Stained glass window, Howden Minster)

    Christians invariably saw themselves as God's agents, helping him to do what he (and they) wanted to do here on Earth. They informed God about the activities of their rivals, so that these rivals could be punished. The opening lines of the bull of excommunication against Martin Luther read: "Arise, O Lord, and judge thy cause. A wild boar hath invaded thy vineyard". Luther was equally secure in the knowledge that God had invited him into the vineyard to help cultivate it. For centuries to come Roman Catholics believed God to be on their side against the Protestants, while the Protestants believed him to be on their side against the Catholics.

    The Agincourt Carol in its original 15th-century English, gives thanks to God for the English victory that he wrought. It begins:

    Owre kynge went forth to Normandy
    With grace and myght of chyvalry
    There God for hym wrought mervelusly
    Wherefore Englonde may calle and cry
    Deo gratias!"

    The commanders of the Spanish Armada were no less certain of God's favour than their English counterparts. The winds that helped defeat the Spanish were attributed by the English to God: "The Lord blew, and they were scattered", and they thanked God for his help. This divine help proved that God approved not only of England but also of its new Protestant Church. The Spanish view was not, however, that they themselves must have been on the wrong side after all, and that they should convert to Protestantism. Like other forces inspired by God, they were initially disconcerted when they lost, but it did not take long to find an explanation. God was merely providing a temporary setback to punish them for lack of faith and zeal.

    Armada Medal, bearing the inscription Flavit Jehovah et Dissipati Sunt
    ("Jehovah" in Hebrew - the rest in Latin) - "God Blew and they were scattered"

    Armada Medal


    In 1688 the weather favoured William of Orange when he came to England heralding the Glorious Revolution. Why was King James's fleet first trapped by a storm and then becalmed, while William sailed by to a safe landing and rapturous welcome. For William's supporters, the answer was obvious. It was a "Protestant Wind".

    It has always been clear enough to Quakers that God does not approve of war and is not partisan in earthly disputes. Almost all other Christians over the centuries have taken a different view. Each faction has been convinced that it had God on its side. Like Roman Catholics and moderate Protestants, Cromwell and his army of Puritans, Presbyterians and other dissenters had no doubt at all that God was on their side. They carried bibles, sang hymns, and said prayers before battle. Their victories were attributed to God. After one battle Cromwell noted of their defeated Christian enemies that "God made them as stubble to our swords". But his successors were much less willing to explain the restoration of the monarchy in 1660 using the same sort of reasoning. Had God changed sides? Or had he just lost interest? The sad incomprehension of 1,000 losing generals is summed up by Louis XIV's plaintive question after his defeat at Blenheim: "How could God do this to me after all I have done for him?"*.


    This is not as one might think Saint George, but Prince Albert Victor Christian Edward (The Duke of Clarence and Avondale), as Saint George, by John Lisle, Buckingham Palace, London (1905)

    Churchmen still have no doubt that God plays an active role in war, until they find themselves on the losing side, in which case it is rare to hear them acclaiming God's part in their defeat. One way to avoid this problem is to adopt a new position, which became acceptable in the twentieth century, that God approves of peace rather than war. Yet this position can also prove embarrassing. In 1938 Neville Chamberlain returned from his meeting with Hitler in Munich to declare "peace in our time". The then Archbishop of Canterbury explained this as an answer to the great volume of prayer that had been rising to God. God, he said, had saved us from war. He did not mention the fact that the volume was not quite high enough to save the Czechs from war. Nor did he mention that it was not going to be sufficient to prevent a world war the following year. More curiously still, God revealed an entirely different picture to senior European Roman Catholic clerics. In Austria, for example, the arrival of Hitler's army was hailed as the work of divine providence.

    God still helps one side or another in wars backed or conducted by less sophisticated theologians. The departure of the British soldiers from Cyprus was hailed as God's will by Orthodox priests, although the subsequent arrival of Turkish soldiers for some reason was not hailed as God's will. God also takes sides in coups d"état. General Rabuka, a Methodist acting under instructions from God, led a coup in Fiji in the 1980s. His government disenfranchised those of Indian descent and introduced wholesome new Christian laws about the Sabbath. One of his stated aims was to convert Hindus. God not only takes sides in coups, he also plays an active part in them, on whichever side he considers the more Christian. He was responsible for helping to put down an attempted coup against the government of the Philippines, according to the leader of that country's Catholic community, Cardinal Sinn, speaking on 8 th December 1989.

    The old problems have still not gone away, and churchmen still have to explain to grieving widows and orphans why God incited a war in which he assured victory, but failed to keep his word, and instead arranged for men to be killed for nothing, leaving countless grieving mothers, widows and orphans. The problem is the same as that 1,000 years ago, and so is the solution. Speaking in St Patrick's Cathedral in New York in 1950 Monsignor William Green assured those whose sons had died in the Korean War that death in battle was part of God's plan for populating the kingdom of Heaven*, the same explanation as that given for the debacle of the Crusades.




    More Christian Violence and Warfare


    More "Angels of Mons" fighting on the side of the British

    Angels of Mons fighting on the side of the British

    More "Angels of Mons" fighting on the side of the British.
    Here they seem to be killing Germans, even though the German army was overwhelmingly Christian

    Angels of Mons fighting on the side of the British

    More "Angels of Mons" fighting on the side of the British

    Angels of Mons fighting on the side of the British





    Buy the Book from Amazon.com



    Buy the Book from Amazon.co.uk
    Beyond Belief: Two Thousand (2000) Years of Bad Faith in the Christian Church
    More Books







    §. Cited by Amin Maalouf (trans. Jon Rotschild), The Crusades Through Arab Eyes, Al Saqi (1984).

    §. New York Times, 21 Jan 2010, "Firm to Remove Bible References From Gun Sights", Erik Eckholm. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/22/us/22guns.html

    §. Louis XIV (1638-1715) is reported to have said "How could God do this to me after all I have done for him?" on hearing of the French army's defeat at Blenheim — according to Saint-Simon. He is also reported to have said "Has God then forgotten what I have done for him?" after the battle of Malplaquet.









    •     ©    •     Further Resources     •    Link to Us    •         •    Contact     •