Why Seventh-day Adventists Cannot Engage in War

By George W. Amadon
Advent Review and Sabbath Herald, March 7, 1865

  1. They could not keep the Lord's holy Sabbath. “The seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God; in it thou shalt not do any work.” Ex. xx,10. Fighting, as military men tell us, is the hardest kind of work; and the seventh day of all days would be the least regarded in the camp and field.

  2. The sixth command of God's moral law reads, “Thou shalt not kill.” To kill is to take life. The soldier by profession is a practical violater of this precept.  But if we would enter into life we must “keep the commandments.” Matt. xix,17.

  3. “God has called us to peace;” and “the weapons of our warfare are not carnal.” 1 Cor. vii,15; 2 Cor. x,4. The gospel permits us to use no weapons but “the sword of the Spirit.”

  4. Our kingdom is not of this world.  Said Christ to Pilate, “If my kingdom were of this world then would my servants fight.” John xviii,36. This is most indisputable evidence that Christians have nothing to do with carnal instruments of war.

  5. We are commanded to love even our enemies. “But I say unto you,” says the Saviour, “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them that despitefully use you and persecute you.”  Matt. v,44. Do we fulfill this command when we blow out their brains with revolvers, or sever their bodies with sabres? “If any man have not the spirit of Christ he is none of his.” Rom. viii,9.

  6. Our work is the same as our Master's, who once said, “The Son of man is not come to destroy men's lives, but to save them.” Luke ix,56. If God's Spirit sends us to save men, does not some other spirit send us to destroy them?  Let us know what manner of spirit we are of.

  7. The New Testament command is, “Resist not evil; but whosoever shall smite thee on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.” Matt. vii,59. That is, we had better turn the other cheek than to smite them back again.  Could this scripture be obeyed on the battle field?

  8. Christ said to Peter, as he struck the high priest's servant, “Put up again thy sword.” Matt. xxvi,2. If the Saviour commanded the apostle to “put up” the sword, certainly his followers have no right to take it. Then let those who are of the world fight, but as for us let us pray.

1865 - General Conference Resolution

General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists
Third Annual Meeting—May 17, 1865


RESOLVED, That in our judgment, the act of voting when exercised in behalf of justice, humanity and right, is in itself blameless, and may be at some times highly proper; but that the casting of any vote that shall strengthen the cause of such crimes as intemperance, insurrection, and slavery, we regard as highly criminal in the sight of Heaven.  But we would deprecate any participation in the spirit of party strife.


RESOLVED, That we acknowledge the pamphlet entitled 'Extracts From the Publications of Seventh-day Adventists Setting Forth Their Views of the Sinfulness of War,' as a truthful representation of the views held by us from the beginning of our existence as a people, relative to bearing arms.


RESOLVED, That we recognize civil government as ordained of God, that order, justice, and quiet may be maintained in the land; and that the people of God may lead quiet and peaceable lives in all godliness and honesty.  In accordance with this fact we acknowledge the justice of rendering tribute, custom, honor, and reverence to the civil power, as enjoined in the New Testament.  While we thus cheerfully render to Caesar the things which the Scriptures show to be his, we are compelled to decline all participation in acts of war and bloodshed as being inconsistent with the duties enjoined upon us by our divine Master toward our enemies and toward all mankind.

Source: General Conference session minutes, General Conference Archives web site.

1867 - General Conference Resolution

General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists
Fifth Annual Session—May 14, 1867 War

RESOLVED, That it is the judgment of this Conference, that the bearing of arms, or engaging in war, is a direct violation of the teachings of our Saviour and the spirit and letter of the law of God. Yet we deem it our duty to yield respect to civil rulers, and obedience to all such laws as do not conflict with the word of God.  In the carrying out of this principle we render tribute, customs, reverence, etc.

Source: General Conference session minutes, General Conference Archives web site.

1868 - General Conference Resolution

General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists
Sixth Annual Session—May 14, 1868

WHEREAS, In the struggle through which our country lately passed for its national existence, our sympathies were with our rulers and our government in their efforts to maintain law and order; and in view of the unsettled state of our national affairs, and of the troubles lying before us in the future, we shall continue to pray for those in authority, that they may have wisdom to govern with discretion and in the fear of God; and while we cheerfully pay tribute and honor to those to whom they are due, desiring to live peaceable and quiet lives, as law-abiding people,

RESOLVED, That we feel called upon to renew our request to our brethren to abstain from worldly strife of every nature, believing that war was never justifiable except under the immediate direction of God, who of right holds the lives of all creatures in his hand; and that no such circumstance now appearing, we cannot believe it to be right for the servants of Christ to take up arms to destroy the lives of their fellow-men.

Source: General Conference session minutes, General Conference Archives web site.