Sound Teaching

This is the teaching site of the West Side church of Christ in Fort Worth, TX. Unless otherwise indicated, all materials were written and prepared by Stan Cox

Index by Subject

Militance & Aggressiveness

Definition: Militant (Wikipedia) “The word militant has come to refer to any individual or party engaged in aggressive physical or verbal combat, normally for a cause…”

“…The word militant comes from the 15th Century Latin “militare” meaning “to serve as a soldier”. The related modern concept of the militia as a defensive organization against invaders grew out of the Anglo-Saxon “fyrd”. In times of crisis, the militiaman left his civilian duties and became a soldier until the emergency was over, when he returned to his civilian status.”

The term militant initially had a positive connotation. As seen by the etymology cited above, the idea of a militant centered in the defense of a cause, and referenced a man pressed into military service in defense of country.

However, in recent years the word militant has often been used as a pejorative.

The wikipedia reference notes that, “The mass media often uses the term militant in the context of terrorism.” One such use would be a reference to militant Islam. Adherents to such a world view are in favor of the use of force to support their cause. We all are aware of the world conflicts that have come into being because of such views.

So, once again the world has co-opted what is in fact a positive concept, and remade it into a negative. In our day of political correctness and tolerance, an aggressive and bold defense of a cause is considered inappropriate, and is often severely criticized. This is true even if the cause is the Christian faith. And, often the most critical of a militant faith are Christians themselves.

It is instructive to compare such modern attitudes with the tenor of scripture. Note the following admonitions (not given to those who are militant, but rather to those lacking in the virtue). These are given to two congregations in Asia by the Lord himself:

“But I have a few things against you, because you have there those who hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols, and to commit sexual immorality. 15 “Thus you also have those who hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate” (Revelation 2:14-15). Note that the Lord was disappointed with the church in Pergamos for allowing false teachers to remain among them. Christ hated the doctrine, and expected the brethren to expunge the error from among them.

“Nevertheless I have a few things against you, because you allow that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, to teach and seduce My servants to commit sexual immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols” (Revelation 2:20). Note not only the pejorative usage of the term “Jezebel”, but the intolerance expressed by our Lord for immorality and idolatry.

The Bible is replete with examples of God’s people acting in militant and aggressive ways:

  • John the Baptist, when presented with the immorality of Herod said to him in Mark 6, “It is not lawful for you to have your mother’s wife” (vs. 18).
  • Peter on the day of Pentecost boldly proclaimed to the Jews, “Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ” (Acts 2:36).
  • Stephen was just as bold in his preaching, and it cost him his life: “You stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears! You always resist the Holy Spirit; as your fathers did, so do you” (Acts 7:51).
  • The early Christians defied the civil authorities in their fervent insistence upon preaching the word: “And daily in the temple, and in every house, they did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ” (Acts 5:42).

Militance and aggressiveness do not excuse arrogance, mean-spiritedness or divisiveness. Just as a man can defend his country with honor and integrity, the man of God can defend his faith in righteousness.

Never forget that as Christians we are in the midst of a spiritual battle. We wrestle against “principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12). As such we are to put on the whole armor of God, that having done all, we will be able to stand “in the evil day” (vs. 13).

Let us “fight the good fight of faith, lay hold of eternal life” (1 Timothy 6:12).