The concept of "holy war" in the Old Testament is capital punishment on a national scale. God promised Abraham the land of Canaan, but waited until all the nations of the land were completely devoted to genocide, child sacrifice, or ritual homosexuality.
Genesis 15:16No Christian today should use Old Testament verses on warfare to support U.S. intervention in Iraq, Afghanistan, or the Horn of Africa. No shedding of animal or human blood brings atonement or has any efficacy after the Cross.
But in the fourth generation they shall come hither again: for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet full.
Defile not ye yourselves in any of these things: for in all these the nations are defiled which I cast out before you:
And the land is defiled: therefore I do visit the iniquity thereof upon it, and the land itself vomiteth out her inhabitants.
"Holy wars" in the medieval age (the "Crusades") were defensive (e.g., defending Jerusalem from Muslim invasion) and limited to professional armies bound by medieval Christian codes of warfare which barred involving innocent non-combatant civilians.
Rushdoony makes the important point that today we live in an age of holy wars.
Much is said about "holy wars" in past history, and most of it is nonsense. The true holy wars in the fullest sense of the word are after Darwin and Marx. World Wars I and II were holy crusades "to make the world safe for democracy," and to "end war and ensure peace," and so on. The terminology of communist warfare is the most intense example of holy warfare in all history.The Warfare State
Since accepting the necessity of struggle for survival, our humanism of today has in it the grounds for the holy war of our evolutionary faith.
The age of the state, already firmly geared to warfare as an instrument of politics, thus turned warfare, with Darwin and Marx, into the holy crusade of humanism on its march to utopia.
As James Billington, the Librarian of Congress, documented in his book, Fire in the Minds of Men: Origins of the Revolutionary Faith, the rise of Marxism and Communism in the 19th century were explicitly religious, a perverse mirror image of Christianity. In 20th-century Protestant nations, however, the Religion of Secular Humanism has postured as completely non-religious and "scientific." Nevertheless, since all men are created in the Image of God, all men are at root religious, and secularism is a passionate faith which now dominates once-Protestant nations.
The fact of warfare gained prestige when Darwin set forth his theory of evolution. The struggle for survival was widely assumed to mean warfare in one form or another, economic and class warfare, warfare for resources, warfare in every area. When Darwin published his Origin of Species on November 24, 1859, a waiting world was delighted with his thesis and the entire edition sold out on the day of publication. Two of the happiest of the earliest readers were Marx and Engels, who rightly saw in Darwin the confirmation of their beliefs: they correctly held that Darwin's success would ensure the triumph of socialism. The reason is an obvious one. If evolution rather than creation by God is true, then two things follow: first, life is a struggle for survival, and, second, if God is eliminated, nothing morally binding remains to ensure private property, Christian marriage, and religious authority in any realm. Life is then an amoral struggle for survival, and in that amoral struggle mass man has the best chances for victory, supposedly.Darwin promised the end of Biblical morality.
Secular holy wars have thus rejected the moral limits of Christian "just war" theory. Whereas hundreds, even thousands, of people were killed in medieval crusades, modern secular holy war has annihilated tens of millions of human beings.
War is the secular sacrament that brings salvation. Its architects passionately believe they are bringing in utopia by their political and military liturgies. "We the Sheeple" believe our leaders will bring us security. We believe it religously. We take their word by faith.
This is why I have spoken of "the Cult of National Security."