Updated: Jul 16, 2022
Holy war is a subject that many Christians think is an exclusively Islamic subject, but when one studies the practices and beliefs of Islam, Roman Catholicism, and the whole of Protestantism, it is easy to see that all three groups believe the same about this topic. Though the term "holy war" is not used among most professing Christians, the group of beliefs that would fit the definition for believing in holy war are included in their practices.
Augustine's Beliefs in Holy War and Writings on Just War Theory
Augustine (354 - 430 A.D.) was one of the most influential church Fathers in Roman Catholic history, laying the foundation for many of the church's doctrines, even to the point of justifying the Roman Catholic inquisition over 1100 years after his death. His interpretations of scripture and his beliefs on war have permeated through the ages and have even been influential in the re-translation of some passages in the modern Bible versions. It is undeniable that he has poisoned the minds of billions of people, leading to almost as many untimely deaths.
(Augustine) Contra Faustum Book 22 Ch.75: "A great deal depends on the causes for which men undertake wars, and on the authority they have for doing so; for the natural order which seeks the peace of mankind, ordains that the monarch should have the power of undertaking war if he thinks it advisable, and that the soldiers should perform their military duties in behalf of the peace and safety of the community. When war is undertaken in obedience to God, who would rebuke, or humble, or crush the pride of man, it must be allowed to be a righteous war; for even the wars which arise from human passion cannot harm the eternal well-being of God, nor even hurt His saints; for in the trial of their patience, and the chastening of their spirit, and in bearing fatherly correction, they are rather benefited than injured. No one can have any power against them but what is given him from above. 'For there is no power but of God,' (Romans 13:1) who either orders or permits. Since, therefore, a righteous man, serving it may be under an ungodly king, may do the duty belonging to his position in the State in fighting by the order of his sovereign — for in some cases it is plainly the will of God that he should fight, and in others, where this is not so plain, it may be an unrighteous command on the part of the king, while the soldier is innocent, because his position makes obedience a duty, — how much more must the man be blameless who carries on war on the authority of God, of whom every one who serves Him knows that He can never require what is wrong?"
Augustine has made 3 statements in this chapter
All people in government authority, specifically kings, have been placed there by God.
You are innocent of sin even if you obey their unrighteous commands, like in war.
You are even more innocent if you obey a declaration of war ordered by God.
Similarities with Calvinism and Islam
Both Calvinism and Islam choose only one of Augustine's two reasons for citizens going to war, both of them opposite to one another. John Calvin's writings on war state that the citizens of a country are ordered by God to obey all of the commands of a king, even if they are evil, whereas Islam's view of holy war (jihad) is described as being specifically ordered by God, who is speaking through Muhammad.
(Calvinism) The Institutes By John Calvin Book 4 Ch.20 Sec.26 Obedience to Bad Kings Required in Scripture: "In Daniel it is said, 'He changeth the times and the seasons: he removeth kings, and setteth up kings' (Dan. 2:21, 37). Again, 'That the living may know that the Most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will' (Dan. 4:17, 25). Similar sentiments occur throughout Scripture, but they abound particularly in the prophetical books. What kind of king Nebuchadnezzar, he who stormed Jerusalem, was, is well known. He was an active invader and devastator of other countries. Yet the Lord declares in Ezekiel that he had given him the land of Egypt as his hire for the devastation which he had committed. Daniel also said to him, 'Thou, O king, art a king of kings: for the God of heaven hath given thee a kingdom, power, and strength, and glory. And wheresoever the children of men dwell, the beasts of the field and the fowls of the heaven hath he given into thine hand, and hath made thee ruler over them all' (Dan. 2:37, 38)."
(Calvinism) The Institutes By John Calvin Book 4 Ch.20 Sec.26 Obedience to Bad Kings Required in Scripture: "When we hear that the king was appointed by God, let us, at the same time, call to mind those heavenly edicts as to honouring and fearing the king, and we shall have no doubt that we are to view the most iniquitous tyrant as occupying the place with which the Lord has honoured him. When Samuel declared to the people of Israel what they would suffer from their kings, he said, 'This will be the manner of the king that shall reign over you: He will take your sons, and appoint them for himself, for his chariots, and to be his horsemen; and some shall run before his chariots. And he will appoint him captains over thousands, and captains over fifties; and will set them to ear his ground, and to reap his harvest, and to make his instruments of war, and instruments of his chariots. And he will take your daughters to be confectioneries, and to be cooks, and to be bakers. And he will take your fields, and your vineyards, and your oliveyards, even the best of them, and give them to his servants. And he will take the tenth of your seed, and of your vineyards, and give to his officers, and to his servants. And he will take your men-servants, and your maid-servants, and your goodliest young men, and your asses, and put them to his work. He will take the tenth of your sheep: and ye shall be his servants' (1 Sam. 8:11-17). Certainly these things could not be done legally by kings, whom the law trained most admirably to all kinds of restraint; but it was called justice in regard to the people, because they were bound to obey, and could not lawfully resist: as if Samuel had said, To such a degree will kings indulge in tyranny, which it will not be for you to restrain. The only thing remaining for you will be to receive their commands, and be obedient to their words."
While John Calvin liked to use as many words as possible to dilute his point, Islam uses clear language and is as direct as possible multiple times when talking about jihad. Notice how later in this section there is a consistent theme about how one is not a true believer unless they fight in God's cause.
(Islam) Quran 2:190-193 Abdel Haleem Translation: "190 Fight in God’s cause against those who fight you, but do not overstep the limits: God does not love those who overstep the limits. 191 Kill them wherever you encounter them, and drive them out from where they drove you out, for persecution is more serious than killing. Do not fight them at the Sacred Mosque unless they fight you there. If they do fight you, kill them–– this is what such disbelievers deserve– – 192 but if they stop, then God is most forgiving and merciful. 193 Fight them until there is no more persecution, and worship is devoted to God. If they cease hostilities, there can be no [further] hostility, except towards aggressors."
(Islam) Quran 9:4-6 Abdel Haleem Translation: "4 As for those who have honoured the treaty you made with them and who have not supported anyone against you: fulfil your agreement with them to the end of their term. God loves those who are mindful of Him. 5 When the [four] forbidden months are over, wherever you encounter the idolaters, kill them, seize them, besiege them, wait for them at every lookout post; but if they turn [to God], maintain the prayer, and pay the prescribed alms, let them go on their way, for God is most forgiving and merciful. 6 If any one of the idolaters should seek your protection [Prophet], grant it to him so that he may hear the word of God, then take him to a place safe for him, for they are people with no knowledge [of it]." In this next quote, we will see that this hypothetical person who says that they are a Muslim out on the battlefield is obviously doing it because they don't want to be killed. Later, it says that the Muslim who was about to kill them 'converted' in the same way.
(Islam) Quran 4:93-94 Abdel Haleem Translation: "93 If anyone kills a believer deliberately, the punishment for him is Hell, and there he will remain: God is angry with him, and rejects him, and has prepared a tremendous torment for him. 94 So, you who believe, be careful when you go to fight in God’s way, and do not say to someone who offers you a greeting of peace, ‘You are not a believer,’ out of desire for the chance gains of this life–– God
has plenty of gains for you. You yourself were in the same position [once], but God was gracious to you, so be careful: God is fully aware of what you do." Next, we will see that Muslims are told to fight against people who do not believe like they do until they pay taxes and obey the Islamic laws.
(Islam) Quran 9:29-30 Abdel Haleem Translation: "29 Fight those of the People of the Book who do not [truly] believe in God and the Last Day, who do not forbid what God and His Messenger have forbidden, who do not obey the rule of justice, until they pay the tax and agree to submit. 30 The Jews said, ‘Ezra is the son of God,’ and the Christians said, ‘The Messiah is the son of God’: they said this with their own mouths, repeating what earlier disbelievers had said. May God confound them! How far astray they have been led!"
For those who die in battle, they will be taken to Heaven and given rewards.
(Islam) Quran 22:56-59 Abdel Haleem Translation: "56 On that Day control will belong to God: He will judge between them. Those who believe and do good deeds will be admitted to Gardens of Delight, 57 while those who disbelieve and reject Our revelations will receive a humiliating torment. 58 He will give a generous provision to those who migrated in God’s way and were killed or died. He is the Best Provider. 59 He will admit them to a place that will please them: God is all knowing and most forbearing."
True believers go to war for Islam and obey Muhammad.
(Islam) Quran 24:62a Abdel Haleem Translation: "The true believers are those who believe in God and His Messenger, who, when they are gathered with him on a communal matter, do not depart until they have asked his permission–– those who ask your permission [Prophet] are the ones who truly believe in God and His Messenger."
(Islam) Quran 8:1-2 Abdel Haleem Translation: "1 They ask you [Prophet] about [distributing] the battle gains. Say, ‘That is a matter for God and His Messenger, so be mindful of God and make things right between you. Obey God and His Messenger if you are true believers: 2 true believers are those whose hearts tremble with awe when God is mentioned, whose faith increases when His revelations are recited to them, who put their trust in their Lord,"
(Islam) Quran 3:165-167 Abdel Haleem Translation: "165 Why do you [believers] say, when a calamity befalls you, even after you have inflicted twice as much damage [on your enemy], ‘How did this happen?’? [Prophet], say, ‘You brought it upon yourselves.’ God has power over everything: 166 what befell you on the day the two armies met in battle happened with God’s permission and in order for Him to see who were the true believers and who were the hypocrites who, 167 when it was said to them, ‘Come, fight for God’s cause, or at least defend yourselves,’ answered, ‘We would follow you if we knew there was going to be fighting.’ On that day they were closer to disbelief than belief. They say with their tongues what is not in their hearts: God knows exactly what they conceal."
Debunking Augustine, Calvin, and Islam's Views on Holy War Using the King James Bible
Augustine's Reference to Romans 13:1 The entirety of Romans 13 is telling believers to obey the laws and pay taxes because God has given the government the power to punish evildoers, where evildoers are defined by giving examples of God's laws. This is not saying that one should obey everything that a government worker tells you. We see in the first few verses, that Paul defines it as such. (True Christianity) Romans 13:1-9 King James Version: "1 Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. 2 Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. 3 For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: 4 For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil. 5 Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake. 6 For for this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are God's ministers, attending continually upon this very thing. 7 Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour. 8 Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law. 9 For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. 10 Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law." In Romans 13:3, we see how it says that "rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil," and how in verse 4 it says "a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil." We must then define what evil is in order to know what God has defined as the government's jurisdiction. In verse 9, Paul specifically brings up all 5 of the 10 commandments that have to deal with how grown people interact with each other, driving home the point that he is defining evil as breaking God's law. This has nothing to do with obeying civil authorities without question. That is a lie by Augustine. For us to truly be mindful of God's commandments today, we must understand the full ramifications of our actions in a global society. If you build weapons that our government will use in wars for profit to murder someone on the other side of the world, you are still guilty of murder, even if the corporation you work for has hired you for it. If the government then steals their resources and our soldiers rape their women, you have enabled that by building their weapons and selling them to them. Therefore, you are guilty of covet, theft, and accessory to rape. If you have to justify your actions by believing the lies told you by the media, without questioning what you are told, you are bearing false witness by lying to yourself to convince yourself that you have not committed all other forms of sin. God's laws are not just limited to being nice to your local neighbors. In the 21st century, we have just as much access to someone 10000 miles away as we do our next door neighbor. We should love all of them as ourselves.
John Calvin's References to Daniel 2:17,37,38; 4:17 Though all of these verses show that God has the ability to give power to people, it does not say that it is only God who does this. God is the ultimate authority, but that does not mean that He does not let the spiritual beings and people that He created make their own decisions. Daniel 2:17 demonstrates God's ability to remove kings and set them up. Daniel 2:37-38 just says that God gave Nebuchadnezzar his kingdom. Daniel 4:17 shows that God has the ability to give anyone He wants a kingdom. It doesn't say that every kingdom has been given to its authorities by God. One reason why God gave Nebuchadnezzar his kingdom was to use him to punish Israel for their breaking of the Sabbath year 70 times. (True Christianity) Jeremiah 25:9-12 King James Version: "9 Behold, I will send and take all the families of the north, saith the Lord, and Nebuchadrezzar the king of Babylon, my servant, and will bring them against this land, and against the inhabitants thereof, and against all these nations round about, and will utterly destroy them, and make them an astonishment, and an hissing, and perpetual desolations. 10 Moreover I will take from them the voice of mirth, and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom, and the voice of the bride, the sound of the millstones, and the light of the candle. 11 And this whole land shall be a desolation, and an astonishment; and these nations shall serve the king of Babylon seventy years. 12 And it shall come to pass, when seventy years are accomplished, that I will punish the king of Babylon, and that nation, saith the Lord, for their iniquity, and the land of the Chaldeans, and will make it perpetual desolations." John Calvin's argument is not airtight. There are other verses in the Bible that prove this point. We see this in Revelation 13, Matthew 4, Luke 4, and Hosea 8. (True Christianity) Revelation 13:1-7 King James Version: "1 And I stood upon the sand of the sea, and saw a beast rise up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns ten crowns, and upon his heads the name of blasphemy. 2 And the beast which I saw was like unto a leopard, and his feet were as the feet of a bear, and his mouth as the mouth of a lion: and the dragon gave him his power, and his seat, and great authority. 3 And I saw one of his heads as it were wounded to death; and his deadly wound was healed: and all the world wondered after the beast. 4 And they worshipped the dragon which gave power unto the beast: and they worshipped the beast, saying, Who is like unto the beast? who is able to make war with him? 5 And there was given unto him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies; and power was given unto him to continue forty and two months. 6 And he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme his name, and his tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven. 7 And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations." In Revelation 13:4, the dragon that gives power to the beast is symbolic for Satan, which is mentioned in Revelation 12:9. (True Christianity) Revelation 12:9 King James Version: "9 And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him." In both Matthew 4 and Luke 4, it shows the devil tempting Jesus, saying that he will give Jesus rule over all of the kingdoms of the world if Jesus bows down and worships him. (True Christianity) Matthew 4:8-10 King James Version: "8 Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; 9 And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me. 10 Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve." (True Christianity) Luke 4:5-8 King James Version: "5 And the devil, taking him up into an high mountain, shewed unto him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. 6 And the devil said unto him, All this power will I give thee, and the glory of them: for that is delivered unto me; and to whomsoever I will I give it. 7 If thou therefore wilt worship me, all shall be thine. 8 And Jesus answered and said unto him, Get thee behind me, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve." (True Christianity) Hosea 8:2-4 King James Version: "[God speaking] 2 Israel shall cry unto me, My God, we know thee. 3 Israel hath cast off the thing that is good: the enemy shall pursue him. 4 They have set up kings, but not by me: they have made princes, and I knew it not: of their silver and their gold have they made them idols, that they may be cut off." We see how the Bible has more evidence for Satan being the one giving people political power in the world, rather than God, but when God does it, it is to fit the purpose of punishing those who claim to worship Him.
John Calvin's Reference to 1 Samuel 8:11-17 John Calvin using verses 11-17 in The Institutes to back up his claim that people should always obey the king is laughable, because if we read verses 4-10, we see that the reason the people wanted a king in the first place is because they rejected God. All that it takes to debunk this is a little context. (True Christianity) 1 Samuel 8:4-10 King James Version: "4 Then all the elders of Israel gathered themselves together, and came to Samuel unto Ramah, 5 And said unto him, Behold, thou art old, and thy sons walk not in thy ways: now make us a king to judge us like all the nations. 6 But the thing displeased Samuel, when they said, Give us a king to judge us. And Samuel prayed unto the Lord. 7 And the Lord said unto Samuel, Hearken unto the voice of the people in all that they say unto thee: for they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them. 8 According to all the works which they have done since the day that I brought them up out of Egypt even unto this day, wherewith they have forsaken me, and served other gods, so do they also unto thee. 9 Now therefore hearken unto their voice: howbeit yet protest solemnly unto them, and shew them the manner of the king that shall reign over them. 10 And Samuel told all the words of the Lord unto the people that asked of him a king." God allowed them to have one, but foretold how bad their lives would be because they had a king. God still picked Saul to be king and it went as badly as it could possibly go, to the point where God wished that he hadn't made Saul king. (True Christianity) 1 Samuel 15:11 King James Version: "11 It repenteth me that I have set up Saul to be king: for he is turned back from following me, and hath not performed my commandments. And it grieved Samuel; and he cried unto the LORD all night." This goes to show that it is always man who causes the problems in his life.
Verses in the Quran Justifying Jihad There were 2 themes that were consistent throughout the group of Quran verses quoted. 1) People are not a true believers unless they fight in God's cause and obey Muhammad 2) It is okay to fight and kill unbelievers who are hostile to you. Theme 1 is not true because it adds works to belief, therefore making it a false gospel. Also, threatening people with God sending them to Hell unless they help you out on your military campaign is a great way to start a cult. This is not any different than Pope Urban II when he lied and said that people who died in the Crusades would have their sins forgiven. For a full presentation of true, uncorrupted Christianity, see Easy Believism is the True Gospel. Theme 2 flies directly in the face of what real Christianity (what Islam claims to be building upon) teaches. In true Christianity, physical warfare to gain converts is forbidden outright. (True Christianity) Ephesians 6:12 King James Version: "12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places." We are told to preach and allow people to believe on Christ by their free will. (True Christianity) Revelation 22:17 King James Version: "17 And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely." (True Christianity) John 7:37-39 King James Version: "37 In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. 38 He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. 39 (But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.)" Next, we are told to reason with people, who initially reject the gospel. (True Christianity) Acts 17:1-4 King James Version: "17 Now when they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where was a synagogue of the Jews: 2 And Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them, and three sabbath days reasoned with them out of the scriptures, 3 Opening and alleging, that Christ must needs have suffered, and risen again from the dead; and that this Jesus, whom I preach unto you, is Christ. 4 And some of them believed, and consorted with Paul and Silas; and of the devout Greeks a great multitude, and of the chief women not a few." Finally, if we are to be put to death for our faith, we should be faithful unto death, without fighting unbelievers, because that public display would drive the point home that our beliefs are worth more than physical possessions or a few extra years on this earth. (True Christianity) Revelation 2:10 King James Version: "10 Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life." That is the way you win genuine converts, not by wars of aggression. This is exactly how Jesus Christ and the apostles did it, so we should do it too.
This post is part of the series The Hard Truth About Calvinism and Islam under The Catholic Origins of Calvinism and Islam