Baptists and the American Civil War: May 14, 1863

Civil War States MapShould Southern Baptists (and Confederate Christians at large) hate their brethren in the North? An editorial in this week’s North Carolina Baptist Biblical Recorder seeks to answer this question.

The Marquis of Hartington, who visited the South some months ago, said, in a speech delivered since his return to England, that the feeling by which our people are animated, might be called, at pleasure, “patriotism, or blood-thirsty ferocity.” Alas, for the depth, if not for the genuineness, of Christian principle among us, unless the latter epithet involves a gross and wanton slander of our spirit.

Do we need the diabolical inspiration of hatred to render us earnest, unanimous, inflexible, in the maintenance of our rights? Are we so nearly slaves in the tone of our minds, that nothing but revenge and malignity can preserve us from accepting the yoke of Northern despotism? No, no. The conviction that our cause is just–that the establishment of a separate nationality is the demand which the providence of God makes of the present generation–that safety, and honor, and truth, and duty, conspire to counsel perseverance, at whatever cost, until we reach the goal of freedom from the control of enemies who falsely style themselves brethren;–this surely, is enough to nerve every heart and every hand for warfare to the last.

“Blood-thirsty ferocity,” then, is unnecessary to the achievement of Southern independence. And may it not be a hindrance or postponement of that achievement? If Christians yield to it,–Christians who are required to ‘love their enemies, to bless those that curse them, to do good to those that hate them, to pray for those who despitefully use them and persecute them’–if Christians are not careful while striking for their country, to maintain the spirit of their Master, how shall they hope for that Master’s help? Wherever He sees the mind that was in Himself, He will fly to its succor. There He will soonest make bare His arm; there put forth His almighty “intervention” most decisively.

We entreat our brethren to guard against the tendency of the times toward “blood-thirsty ferocity,”–toward hatred and revenge. Let them lay to heart the sentiment avowed on one occasion by the emperor Theodosius: “How could it be a great thing for me, who am but a man, to remit my anger towards men, when the Lord of the world himself, who for our sakes took the form of a servant, and was crucified by those to whom he was doing good, interceded with His Father in their behalf, saying, ‘Forgive them, since they know not what they do?'” Depend upon it, to do battle in this spirit is the true secret of an inflexibility which nothing can overcome, and the best path to an early peace. Nothing else is in harmony with the chosen motto of our young republic, “Deo vindice.”

Translated, the Confederate motto is: “Under God [Our] Vindicator”

Source: “Hatred of Our Enemies,” Biblical Recorder, May 13, 1863 (reprint from the Religious Herald) (link)