For full reports and exact statements of the denomination's position on a particular issue, the reader should look to the references provided.
All wars are the result of sin, and although God may use war in his judgment on nations, it is his purpose to make all wars to cease. Christians are called to do all in their power to promote peace and understanding between nations and the resolution of differences without recourse to war, but they must also at times perform the solemn duty of defending their nations against aggressors. A just war is one in which the object is not to destroy or annihilate but to deter the lawless and overpower the enemy state in order to assign it to its rightful place in the family of nations. Its goal is to establish a lasting peace on the foundation of justice and a stable and righteous political order, in which human society can flourish.
The church must warn against glorification of war for its own sake, but pacifism that causes people to refuse to bear arms under any conditions is also unacceptable. Conscientious objection is discouraged except among those who believe that a given war is unjust and therefore cannot morally justify their participation in that war, being convinced of their duty to obey God rather than humans. The church must extend Christian love and concern to those who take up arms and to those who choose selective conscientious objection. Such choices must be made in the context of the Christian community and must be subject to the due process of law and even to the penalty of the law which has been conscientiously broken.
Synod 2006 adopted a comprehensive report by the synodical Committee to Study War and Peace (see Agenda for Synod 2006, pp. 381-452; Acts of Synod 2006, pp. 670-77; www.crcna.org/SynodResources) urging the “agencies and members of the CRC to promote and actively engage in international initiatives for building peace with justice” (p. 672). Synod also urges the CRC to call for government procedures “wherein those who object to selective conflicts on the basis of just-war criteria are honorably discharged” (p. 674).
The CRC formed its position on war in the 1930s, when the threat of the Second World War loomed and pacifism was a controversial issue. The basic statement adopted by Synod 1939 has not changed, but it has been affirmed, supplemented, and nuanced to fit more recent situations such as the Vietnam conflict and the Cold War. The issues of conscientious objection, amnesty, and nuclear disarmament became important in the 1970s and 1980s and were dealt with by the synods of 1977 and 1982. For a comprehensive Study of War and Peace adopted by the CRC, see Acts of Synod 2006, pp. 381-452, 670-77; www.crcna.org/SynodResources.
References to Agendas and Acts of Synod
Acts of Synod 1936, pp. 29-30, 96, 152
Acts of Synod 1937, pp. 11-12
Acts of Synod 1938, pp. 49-50
Acts of Synod 1939, pp. 27, 240-49
Acts of Synod 1959, pp. 80, 122, 248-50
Acts of Synod 1960, pp. 41-42, 128, 183-84
Acts of Synod 1963, pp. 72, 122, 181-84
Acts of Synod 1964, pp. 85-87, 312-17, 478
Acts of Synod 1969, pp. 96-99, 487-93, 528-29
Acts of Synod 1970, p. 514
Acts of Synod 1972, p. 104
Acts of Synod 1973, pp. 70, 79-81, 724, 736-41
Acts of Synod 1977, pp. 44-48, 550-74
Acts of Synod 1982, pp. 103-6, 615-18, 621
Agenda for Synod 2003, pp. 453, 475-86
Acts of Synod 2003, pp. 638-39, 693-94, 705
Agenda for Synod 2005, pp. 620-21, 628
Acts of Synod 2005, pp. 784-85, 821
Agenda for Synod 2006, pp. 381-52
Acts of Synod 2006, pp. 670-77