Today is Remembrance Day; the banks and post offices are all closed and people are encouraged to attend their local cenotaph to remember all those who have served, and died, for the civic freedoms we enjoy, past and present. We owe it to them to remember, we owe it to ourselves to remember, lest we fail to learn from the horrors of conflicts past and present.
The cost of many conflicts and the terrors many individuals and families endured, have led a great many to believe that to die for “king and country” is to gain immorality. This was certainly the case as communities grappled with the Great War (1914–1918). This is captured on a local cenotaph which reads:
They died as few men get the chance to die, fighting to save a world’s morality, they died the noblest death a man may die, fighting for God, and right and liberty, and such a death is immortality.
Now aside from the cult of Imperialism inherent in this quote and some less than qualified statements (some of which are true in part), the last line is very unsettling to me as a Christian.
“And such a death is immortality.”
When we wrestle with trials greater than our comprehension, we ought not to create our own truths and false assurances but to turn to the truth and clarity of Scripture and the promises it offers concerning immortality, through which alone we can find a blessed assurance. Sadly, theological liberalism and nominal Christianity compounded during the Great War to lead many to foolishly embrace such sentiments as expressed on this war memorial.
Truly, to selflessly lay down one’s life for the good of one’s country and “right and liberty” is a noble form of death, but “noble” and salvific are two very different things. The Bible is very clear that salvation and immortality come only through faith and not works, even of the noblest kind:
And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. (John 17:3)
So may we remember the fallen today, but may we remember the greatest death of all, that of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the peace He won that day, in the great spiritual conflict of our age, so all those who believe might be saved and so find peace with God, eternally.
The Lord’s Sweetest Blessings,
Author: Chris Crocker
Pastor, historian and beekeeper.