Appendix A: Christianity and Bushido

by Adam J. McKee

Many Christians who are not familiar with what bushido is fear that it is another religion that competes with Christ.  We are taught that our God is a jealous God and that we should avoid false gods.  A major goal of this appendix is to show, through scripture, that the way of the warriors of ancient Japan is a philosophy and not a religion.  It does, however, have much in common with the Way of warriors of the Cross.  Scriptural texts are placed in italics and commentary is unmodified.

Perhaps the most conflicting aspect of being a Christian Guardian is the use of deadly force.  Many of us are taught to interpret scripture as saying that killing is always wrong.  We know from a very early age that “thou shalt not kill.”  This poor translation has led to psychological and spiritual trauma in many Guardians.  Much of this painful confusion can be abated if we turn to scripture for guidance.  While the message of the Bible is salvation, it does speak of the role of Guardians in defending their country and their community.  The bottom line is that scripture offers support for the idea that lawfully killing another person, although terrible, is not a sin in war, self-defense, and the defense of others.  If a shooting is judged righteous by the laws of man, it will likely also be righteous in the sight of God.

Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.  For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.  Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.  Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace.

-Ephesians 6:11-17 ESV


…Blessed be the Lord, my rock, who trains my hands for war, and my fingers for battle….

– Psalm 144:1 ESV


Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus.

-2 Timothy 2:3 ESV


No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him.

-2 Timothy 2:4 ESV


Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.

– John 15:13 ESV


For he is God’s servant for your good.  But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain.  For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer.

Here the centurion is the forerunner to the modern law enforcement officer.  That is made clear in the same verse coming from the Phillips New Testament:

“The honest citizen has no need to fear the keepers of law and order, but the dishonest man will always be nervous of them.  If you want to avoid this anxiety just lead a law-abiding life, and all that can come your way is a word of approval.  The officer is God’s servant for your protection.  But if you are leading a wicked life you have reason to be alarmed.  The “power of the law” which is vested in every legitimate officer, is no empty phrase.  He is, in fact, divinely appointed to inflict God’s punishment upon evil-doers.”

– Romans 13:4 ESV


Soldiers also asked him, “And we, what shall we do?”  And he said to them, “Do not extort money from anyone by threats or by false accusation, and be content with your wages.”

– Luke 3:14 ESV


 Then Jesus said to him, “Put your sword back into its place.  For all who take the sword will perish by the sword.  Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels?  But how then should the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must be so?”

– Matthew 26:52-54 ESV


Let me hear in the morning of your steadfast love, for in you I trust.  Make me know the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul.  Deliver me from my enemies, O Lord!  I have fled to you for refuge!  Teach me to do your will, for you are my God!  Let your good Spirit lead me on level ground!

– Psalm 143:8-10 ESV


 The shield of his mighty men is red; his soldiers are clothed in scarlet.  The chariots come with flashing metal on the day he musters them; the cypress spears are brandished.

– Nahum 2:3 ESV


Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.”

– Romans 12:19 ESV


Like a muddied spring or a polluted fountain is a righteous man who gives way before the wicked.

– Proverbs 25:26 ESV


But the centurion, wishing to save Paul, kept them from carrying out their plan.  He ordered those who could swim to jump overboard first and make for the land…

– Acts 27:43 ESV


When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles.  The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.  Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all.  He keeps all his bones; not one of them is broken.

– Psalm 34:17-20 ESV


For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

-Hebrews 4:12 ESV


Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God?  You are not your own, for you were bought with a price.  So glorify God in your body.

-1 Corinthians 6:19-20 ESV


Jehoshaphat his son reigned in his place and strengthened himself against Israel.  He placed forces in all the fortified cities of Judah and set garrisons in the land of Judah, and in the cities of Ephraim that Asa his father had captured.  The Lord was with Jehoshaphat, because he walked in the earlier ways of his father David.  He did not seek the Baals, but sought the God of his father and walked in his commandments, and not according to the practices of Israel. Therefore the Lord established the kingdom in his hand.  And all Judah brought tribute to Jehoshaphat, and he had great riches and honor.

-2 Chronicles 17:1-19 ESV


Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.  And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry.  And the tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.”  But he answered, “It is written, “‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”  Then the devil took him to the holy city and set him on the pinnacle of the temple….

– Matthew 4:1-25 ESV


If a man steals an ox or a sheep, and kills it or sells it, he shall repay five oxen for an ox, and four sheep for a sheep.  If a thief is found breaking in and is struck so that he dies, there shall be no bloodguilt for him, but if the sun has risen on him, there shall be bloodguilt for him.  He shall surely pay.  If he has nothing, then he shall be sold for his theft. If the stolen beast is found alive in his possession, whether it is an ox, a donkey, or a sheep, he shall pay double.

If a man causes a field or vineyard to be grazed over, or lets his beast loose and it feeds in another man’s field, he shall make restitution from the best in his own field and in his own vineyard.

– Exodus 22:1-31 ESV


And as they were seeking to kill him, word came to the tribune of the cohort that all Jerusalem was in confusion. He at once took soldiers and centurions and ran down to them. And when they saw the tribune and the soldiers, they stopped beating Paul. Then the tribune came up and arrested him and ordered him to be bound with two chains. He inquired who he was and what he had done.

– Acts 21:31-33 ESV


Who were building on the wall.  Those who carried burdens were loaded in such a way that each labored on the work with one hand and held his weapon with the other.  And each of the builders had his sword strapped at his side while he built.  The man who sounded the trumpet was beside me.

-Nehemiah 4:17-18 ESV


If a thief is found breaking in and is struck so that he dies, there shall be no bloodguilt for him, but if the sun has risen on him, there shall be bloodguilt for him.  He shall surely pay. If he has nothing, then he shall be sold for his theft.

-Exodus 22:2-3 ESV


And for your lifeblood I will require a reckoning: from every beast I will require it and from man.  From his fellow man I will require a reckoning for the life of man.  “Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed, for God made man in his own image.

-Genesis 9:5-6 ESV


 The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.

-2 Peter 3:9 ESV


The tribune ordered him to be brought into the barracks, saying that he should be examined by flogging, to find out why they were shouting against him like this.  But when they had stretched him out for the whips, Paul said to the centurion who was standing by, “Is it lawful for you to flog a man who is a Roman citizen and uncondemned?”  When the centurion heard this, he went to the tribune and said to him, “What are you about to do?  For this man is a Roman citizen.”  So the tribune came and said to him, “Tell me, are you a Roman citizen?”  And he said, “Yes.”  The tribune answered, “I bought this citizenship for a large sum.”  Paul said, “But I am a citizen by birth.”

– Acts 22:24-28 ESV


And when he came to the steps, he was actually carried by the soldiers because of the violence of the crowd….

– Acts 21:35 ESV


And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”  And they cast lots to divide his garments.

-Luke 23:34 ESV


He said to them, “But now let the one who has a moneybag take it, and likewise a knapsack.  And let the one who has no sword sell his cloak and buy one.”

– Luke 22:36 ESV


Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him.”

– Luke 10:30-37 ESV


Then Saul said to his armor-bearer, “Draw your sword, and thrust me through with it, lest these uncircumcised come and thrust me through, and mistreat me.”  But his armor-bearer would not, for he feared greatly.  Therefore Saul took his own sword and fell upon it.  And when his armor-bearer saw that Saul was dead, he fell upon his sword and died with him.

-1 Samuel 31:4-5 ESV


He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is folly and shame unto him.

– Proverbs 18:13 KJV


The inclusion of scripture is intended to aid those officers that adhere to the Christian faith reconcile ethical principles with that faith.  Any reader that wishes to compile a similar appendix is welcome to submit it to me, and I will consider including any compilation of thoughtful and carefully selected ethical principles from any faith in the next edition.



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