Tag Archives: war

Christianity is a Fight – J.C. Ryle Quotes on the Good Fight

When I was putting The Eternal Revolution book together, I googled the opening line I had at the time, “Christianity is a fight,” to see if that phrasing had been used before. Only one author stood out in the results: J.C. Ryle, Anglican Bishop of Liverpool, who lived at the end of the 19th century.

Upon finding his homily, “The Fight” which gets going with the line, “The first thing I have to say is this: True Christianity is a fight.”

I filed the link away, then knowing that I was not the first to use such phrasing. I did not want to read Ryle’s writings until I had finished my book, so that I would not be overly inspired by his particular style or structure.

Having finished my book (just some formatting, cover design, and so forth as I write this) I took some time to revel in the homiletic stylings of the late J.C. Ryle. Considering we had the same inspiration to write a challenge to Christians to fight, separated by over 100 years, it was a pleasure to read and find a kinship in the Spirit. You can find the homily here.

If you are looking for just the highlights from Ryle’s fighting words, here are a few select quotes from “The Fight” and other homilies.

“I fear much for many professing Christians. I see no sign of fighting in them, much less of victory. They never strike one stroke on the side of Christ. They are at peace with His enemies. They have no quarrel with sin.–I warn you, this is not Christianity. This is not the way to heaven.”

” The first thing I have to say is this: True Christianity is a fight.

“‘True Christianity’—mind that word ‘true.’ Let there be no mistake about my meaning. There is a vast quantity of religion current in the world which is not true, genuine Christianity. It passes muster; it satisfies sleepy consciences; but it is not good money. It is not the real thing which was called Christianity eighteen hundred years ago. There are thousands of men and women who go to churches and chapels every Sunday, and call themselves Christians. Their names are in the baptismal register. They are reckoned Christians while they live. They are married with a Christian marriage-service. They are buried as Christians when they die. But you never see any “fight” about their religion! Of spiritual strife, and exertion, and conflict, and self-denial, and watching, and warring they know literally nothing at all. Such Christianity may satisfy man, and those who say anything against it may be thought very hard and uncharitable; but it certainly is not the Christianity of the Bible. It is not the religion which the Lord Jesus founded, and His Apostles preached. True Christianity is ‘a fight.’

“The true Christian is called to be a soldier, and must behave as such from the day of his conversion to the day of his death, he is not meant to live a life of religious ease, indolence, and security, He must never imagine for a moment that he can sleep and dose along the way to heaven, like one travelling in an easy carriage. If he takes his standard of Christianity from the children of this world he may be content with such notions, but he will find no countenance for them in the Word of God. If the Bible is the rule of his faith and practice, he will find his lines laid down very plainly in this matter. He must ‘fight.'”

“Warfare with the powers of hell is the experience of every individual member of the true Church. Each has to fight. What are the lives of all the saints, but records of battles?”

“Every professing Christian is the soldier of Christ. He is bound by his baptism to fight Christ’s battle against sin, the world, and the devil. The man that does not do this breaks his vow. He is a spiritual defaulter. He does not fulfil the engagements made for him. The man that does not do this is practically renouncing his Christianity. The very fact that he belongs to a Church, attends a Christian place of worship, and calls himself a Christian is a public declaration that he desires to be reckoned a soldier of Jesus Christ.”

“A true Christian is one who has not only peace of conscience, but war within.”

” This warfare, I am aware, is a thing of which many know nothing. Talk to them about it, and they are ready to set you down as a madman, an enthusiast, or a fool. And yet it is as real and true as any war the world has ever seen. It has its hand-to-hand conflicts and its wounds. It has its watchings and fatigues. It has its sieges and assaults. It has its victories and its defeats. Above all, it has consequences which are awful, tremendous, and most peculiar. In earthly warfare the consequences to nations are often temporary and remediable. In the spiritual warfare it is very different. Of that warfare, the consequences, when the fight is over, are unchangeable and eternal.”

“And yet there is one warfare which is emphatically ‘good,’ and one fight in which there is no evil. That warfare is the Christian warfare. That fight is the fight of the soul.”

It is such a blessed and encouraging thing to find such a kindred soul, separated even by time and space. Here’s hoping that you also find these quotes stirring the Spirit within you!

Paul Nowak is a husband and father of 7, who also happens to be a writer and author. He has written The Way of the Christian Samurai among other books.

The Purpose of War is Peace

“The true object of war is peace.”

This expression is often attributed to Sun Tzu, author of the ancient “Art of War.” In fact, it seems to have originated in the forward to the 1983 edition of that book, written by James Clavell – someone who is just as qualified to remark on the subject of war and peace.

Even if Sun Tzu did not say that war’s purpose was peace in so many words, he did express similar expressions. Many good military leaders did, and do, understand that war is not an undertaking that should be entered into without a goal of peace.

Certainly there are unjust wars. However violence itself is not the opposite of peace. Several times throughout human history war was fought in order to restore a peace that was lost. Oppression, denial of human rights, or outright aggression against a people or nation is not peaceful, even if it is nonviolent. And when all else has failed, violence has sometimes been necessary to restore peace.

Blessed are the peacemakers; but maintaining the status quo when there is not peace is not “keeping the peace,” it is staying silent in the face of evil.

Thankfully, most of us will not be in a position to decide whether or not to wage war against another country, and for that we should be grateful that we are spared that terrible responsibility.

Yet each of us fights a war every day in a different way. The world as we know it is not the Kingdom of Heaven for which we hope. Conflict surrounds us, and we cannot avoid it. We must, at times, speak out, take action, and be forceful at times to correct the wrongs around us. The eternal revolution is an ongoing fight we as Christians can never escape.

This does not mean we should go out swinging fists at every person with whom we disagree. Our words may sting or have bite. Our anger may justly rise up, our thoughts may turn to non-violent vengeance. Or we may be thrust into a conflict in which moral right must be defended.

In these cases the principle that “the true object of war is peace” still applies. Righteous or just anger must still seek peace. If it feeds itself into a festering rage, or inspires shaming or harm to a person, their reputation, or their livelihood beyond the measure necessary to right the wrong at hand, then it has overstepped the boundaries of justice.

We must maintain hope at all times. When it comes to personal conflict with other people, in our homes, in our workplace, and in the world around us, we must always keep our eyes on the goal of peace. Every word of correction, every thought in anger, every expression of justice must take form in a way that will preserve the dignity of all human persons. Especially the person with whom you are arguing.

In a way, overstepping the bounds of a righteous anger is to lose hope that other people want what is good. Unjust anger casts them as an enemy, when we are called to accept all people as neighbors and fellow children of God.

You may not wage war on a global scale, but make sure every little act of war you make in your daily life is a hopeful gesture towards peace.

Paul Nowak is a husband and father of 7, who also happens to be a writer and author. He has written The Way of the Christian Samurai among other books.