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Resolution Concerning War And Peace

Be it resolved by the Southern Baptist Convention in annual session assembled in the city of Baltimore, June 12-16, 1940:

1. That we hereby express our utter abhorrence of war as an instrument of International policy and our profound conviction and belief that all International differences could and of a right ought to be composed by peaceful diplomatic exchanges, and, when these fail, by arbitration.

2. That the continued sacrifice of human treasure and human blood in International war is a wanton and wicked waste for which nations, and particularly their rulers who declare and prosecute war, must give an account to the All Wise and All Just Judge of all the earth.

3. That the extremes of human slaughter to which the present mechanized war has gone staggers human belief and is a sad illustration of how all scientific knowledge and development, which should contribute only to human welfare, can be debased and devoted to human destruction.

4. That while there may be many contributing causes for war, we believe that the deepest and most basic cause for war is a materialistic education and a materialistic philosophy of life, which exalts man and debases and depersonalizes God as the creator and the preserver of all life and as the Saviour of man. We believe, therefore, it is of the utmost importance that our system of education, both private and public, shall be jealously guarded and kept true to the fundamental conceptions of the personality of God and of the authority of His revealed will, both in His word and in the person of His Son.

5. That in the present frightful conditions prevailing throughout the world we urge upon the President of the United States and upon the Secretary of State, and all others in authoritative position, to use all possible wisdom and every possible precaution to prevent our nation from becoming involved in the present world conflict, and to maintain consistently the position of the United States as the largest and most influential neutral nation so that when the time arrives our nation may make the largest possible contribution to a well considered and a just and lasting peace.

6. That while we acknowledge the right of national self-defense, our utter abhorrence of war and its attendant evils compels us to voice the conviction that even a defensive war should be waged only as a last resort after every effort has been made to reach a settlement of international problems in fairness to all the nations involved.

7. That we protest the continued shipment of scrap iron and other war materials from America to Japan to be used by Japan in her ruthless war of invasion and conquest against China; that this shipment seems all the more unjust and inexcusable since the termination of the international trade treaty which leaves our government free to act in this matter; that our government be and it is hereby respectfully and earnestly petitioned to use all its powers and prerogatives to prevent the continuation of this aid to an imperialistic power, making war upon a peaceful and friendly nation.

8. Baptists have always believed in liberty of conscience and have honored men who were willing to brave adverse public opinion for the sake of conscientious scruples. A considerable number of members of churches of our Convention, through their interpretation of the moral teachings of Christ, have reached the position of a conscientious objection to war that prohibits them from bearing arms.

The Convention ought to accord to them the right of their convictions as it accords to others the right to differ from them, and ought to protect them in that right to the extend of its ability. Therefore,

Be it RESOLVED, That the Convention go on record as recognizing such right of a conscientious objection, and that the Convention instruct the Executive Committee to provide facilities for their registration with the denomination, in order that the Executive Committee may be able to make accurate certification to the government concerning them at any time it should be called for.

9. Because war is contrary to the mind and spirit of Christ, we believe that no war should be identified with the will of Christ. Our churches should not be made agents of war propaganda or recruiting stations. War thrives on and is perpetuated by hysteria, falsehood, and hate and the church has a solemn responsibility to make sure there is no black out of love in time of war. When men and nations are going mad with hate it is the duty of Christ’s ministers and His churches to declare by spirit, word, and conduct the love of God in all men. In time of war it is our Christian responsibility to prepare for peace. We would, therefore, urge our churches to think and work toward a Christian social order in which a just and lasting peace can be realized.