Douglas Kashorek, preacher for the Plattsburg [New York] Church of Christ has a a new novel, Kin of Cain. He is the only man in Churches of Christ that I know of, with a published novel. He updates the story of Beowulf in the Adirondack mountains in a fantasy novel that is filled with suspense. He covers the era between the end of the Civil War to the Great Depression in the Adirondack Mountains. He includes a lot of Scripture in the novel and preaching and Scripture have a key part in the plot.
My article today examines the Civil War and the lessons we can learn from that terrible conflict. We examine the effects of racism, prejudice, hatred and division.
The sesquicentennial of the Civil War began on April 12th. In the intervening years, have we learned the major lessons from the war? We can quickly say that we have, because we have not had another internal war on our own soil. Yet, our speedy answer may betray us.
The Civil War was not an isolated event occurring in a vacuum. It happened because of reasons and motivations. If we have the same attitudes today, even without engaging in combat, we have learned nothing.
As an avid student of the Civil War, I see many more lessons than I described in the article.
For example, on both sides of the conflict, completely unqualified men were given the responsibility to lead troops when they did not possess one iota of ability to do so. It was a hopeless situation for the troops and countless numbers of men died, as a result. Why were they installed as high officers? They were successful businessmen, so certainly they could lead troops. The folly of such a decision had fatal results.
The implications for the church are obvious. How many churches have installed men as elders simply because they were successful businessmen? These congregations overlooked the qualifications for a man to be an elder and made a political appointment, instead. The results, sadly, are the same. The army loses its way and people die.
Another lesson we learn from the Civil War is that without the proper tools, no Army can succeed. In the second half of the War, the Confederate troops were constantly in survival mode. They routinely ran out of supplies as the Union cut off their supply routes. In time, they were without shoes, clothes, food and weapons.
As God’s people, if we do not utilize the tools/weapons God has given to us, we will run out of supplies, as well. We will be defenseless if we fail to wear our spiritual armor (Ephesians 6:10-17). We need the fruits of the Spirit and the lessons of God’s Word with us all the time. When we leave them behind, we haven’t a chance. Moreover, if the pulpit is bereft of Godly teaching and it is missing from our homes, then we find ourselves without any means to defend ourselves.
Finally, the Confederates fought with extraordinary courage and did things that they had no right to do with their emaciated bodies, tattered clothes and poor supplies. They fought with everything that they had. If we can separate ourselves from why they were fighting, they are an astonishing example or what courage, strength and resolve can accomplish.
We need that resolve as Christians because we face an Army that APPEARS to be an overwhelming foe. Naturally, there is a difference because we have the Lord fighting for us (Hebrews 13:5).
On the other hand, the Union Army suffered defeats in the beginning because they were overconfident and under-prepared. We can find ourselves in the same position if we do not arm ourselves with God’s Word. We must be humble before God, understanding our weaknesses, and committed to righteousness and evangelism. God’s grace and mercy cannot help us, if we try to fight Satan on our own (Ephesians 2:8-9). Allow God to empower you and fight ahead of you every day (Romans 12:1-2).
What other lessons can we remember?
The Civil War tore our nation apart, exposing our shame to the world. We still carry the scars of this War in the fabric of our nation.
The words of the Gettysburg Address delivered by Abraham Lincoln on June 1, 1865 are as eloquent as anyone has ever been on the scourge of this war. The text of the speech is as follows:
Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.
Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.
But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate — we can not consecrate — we can not hallow — this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.
The enslavement of millions of humans in our land will be a permanent stain upon our national psyche for all time. We must learn the lessons of this war, so we will never again stand in those bloody shoes.
I was looking at a Civil War publication last evening. As I looked at the image, my mind took to what might have been for me a different experience. The image had a horse-drawn carriage traveling down a dirt road (main street), about 1862. The next image was a house (farm) completely destroyed on account of the war. I just looked at that for a while and tried to imagine the devastation the family experienced and how insurmountable it must have been to make anything of life, even to survive it. To them, was Jesus, Lord?
Yes, He was (is). But when devastation arrives, where does our thinking reside? It makes all the difference in the world.