Pastor Jan Paulsen is president of the 16-million member Seventh-day Adventist world church. In a recent article on noncombatancy, the world church leader writes, "the church must constantly reflect God's infinite, healing love." [ANN file photo]
[March 11, 2008] Silver Spring, Maryland, ANN Staff
Pastor Jan Paulsen, president of the global Seventh-day Adventist Church, has reiterated the church's long-held position on noncombatancy in an article published in the March issue of Adventist World, the church's international journal.
In the article, "Clear Thinking About Military Service," the world church leader explains that deciding to carry arms puts "the spiritual and moral foundations of your life in serious jeopardy."
Referencing a resolution made at the church's Fifth General Conference in 1867, Paulsen says "This has, in broad terms, been our guiding principle: When you carry arms you imply that you are prepared to use them to take another's life, and taking the life of one of God's children, even that of our 'enemy,' is inconsistent with what we hold to be sacred and right."
The three-page article opens with Pastor Paulsen's own experience as a child during the Second World War, then goes on to say that because God values each human life Christians should never be involved in the taking of life. "Every human being, no matter what their choices or conduct is of infinite value to God ... the God we serve is a healer and a Savior. Healing and saving are the first business of the church," he writes.
Paulsen also makes it clear that although there are more and more church members taking combat positions -- there are 7,500 Adventists engaged in combat positions in North America alone -- the church's position has not changed.
He writes, "I have sensed, at times, a certain ambivalence toward our historic position, a sense, perhaps, that 'that was then, and this is now.' And yet I know of no reason why this should be so."
But what about those who live in countries where military service is compulsory? Pastor Paulsen counsels them saying, "Accepting the penalty of dissent -- perhaps even imprisonment -- may be the decision you make simply to be faithful to your fundamental convictions and your Lord."
Paulsen concludes by asking members of the world church not to put aside those who have made the decision to serve in combat positions, but to embrace them. He admits that this is not a simple topic and encourages church members to consider this issue in "our homes, our churches, and our schools and let us do so with open hearts and a spirit of humility."