The Prince of Peace at the U.S. Army War College

Did you know that the United States Army War College has an ambassador? Ambassador Carol van Voorst lives on post and represents our nation to the numerous high level international students who come to the War College, from the United Kingdom to Kenya. That was just one thing I learned about this amazing installation.

For eternally more significant reasons, and perhaps surprising to some, there are ambassadors at the War College for the Lord Jesus Christ. Indeed, Jesus Christ is an undeniable resident at the US Army War College. I observed His presence as I recently went on behalf of Reformed Theological Seminary to the War College and led a men’s retreat preached at Memorial Chapel on the Lord’s Day. I found Christ to be quite at work in this wonderful place.

Christ is not forgotten on the installation. He is known by His anointing of the Holy Spirit on the services in Memorial chapel. He is witnessed to in the community by the students, faculty, and staff of the War College; and Christ Jesus is experienced, fully in Word and Spirit, in the lives of the saints at Carlisle Barracks, Carlisle, Pennsylvania. Does this surprise you that the Prince of Peace would be here at the War College? Christ, who is, indeed, the “Prince of Peace,”[1] taught that we should render unto Caesar, what is Caesar’s and unto God what is God’s. St. Paul taught, in Romans 13, that human government, representatives of the people in a nation, are in fact “ministers” of God,[2] ordained by God to use the sword to protect and to punish, for the good[3] of all, and for the ongoing work of the Gospel. Indeed, the US Army War College studies how best to do this as a nation. Their stated goal is:

“The U.S. Army War College prepares selected military, civilian, and international leaders for the responsibilities of strategic leadership in a joint, interagency, intergovernmental and multinational environment.”[4]

Christ at the Installation

The life of the college is centered on strategic studies, to prepare selected, senior level officers, certain other government officials, including the State Department and other critical agencies of national security, and civilians which are nominated to take part in a course on integrating national defense strategy into every area of life, including religion. With a Southern Baptist minister, an Army chaplain, teaching ethics, Christ is present in the classroom. He is not forgotten or left out of discussions. Whether dealing with responses to the recent repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,  or the “Just War” theory, His teachings are not neglected in the make up of the faculty. [Note: Some groups have taken my statement to mean that there is "proselytizing" in the College. That is assuredly not what I have said and would never want that implied. It was not the case. I heard nothing of anyone using an official position to advocate their religious positions in a classroom, including any chaplains I talked to. I simply mean that a Christian worldview is certainly present here and it is blessing to know, as a Christian, that there are faithful people living out their vocations in this tremendous national treasure without forgetting their faith. I am a Christian minster and I came, by invitation of the chapel, to encourage believers there in their faith. And I was the one encouraged. ]

Christ at Memorial Chapel

I shall never forget the humbling privilege to freely preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ at Memorial Chapel and to give an invitation for people to repent and turn in faith to Him. Wherever such freedom in the Word exists, and it exists without the slightest hinderance, wherever such glorious worship is conducted (as it was conducted so very well by Chaplain [Colonel] James Carter, the Protestant chaplain at the US Army War College, and given expression by an unforgettable choir, and robust singing of a great and diverse congregation), there the Lord is. In fact, I kept thinking of that old stanza, “There’s a sweet, sweet spirit in this place, and I know that it’s the spirit of the Lord.”

Christ in the Community

It was my honor to sing and play selections from my albums, as well as preach on Daniel and standing strong for Christ in tough times. While there, with the Men’s Ministry Retreat, I got to hear stories of God’s grace in the lives of pastors in the community, retirees, and others who look to the War College in many ways for support and encouragement. Carlisle, Pennsylvania is blessed by great churches and strong believers who are unafraid to witness to the Lord in their lives.

Christ in the People

Of all the places I experienced Jesus Christ, I experienced Him most in the lives of the students and families, in the stories of faith, the stories of trial and yet of heavenly succor and personal ministry by Jesus of Nazareth. I saw Christ in the eyes of an officer’s wife, who walks with Christ as her husband walks among enemies. I knew the presence of Jesus in a man who told me of his love of Christ in studies, and how has boldly witnessed to Jesus amidst those who did not believe, and,  in the mercy of Christ, prevailed in his defense of the Gospel. I saw my Savior in the life of the Installation chaplain who was preparing for Lenten services. I saw my Savior in the life of James Carter, my friend, who told of how God has been at work healing, saving, transforming, and empowering.

“A National Treasure”

As I stood in the historic pulpit of the US Army War College’s famous Memorial Chapel, and allowed my eyes to scan the beautiful stained glass windows of heroes of the faith, of the famous “Four Chaplains,”[5] and then turned to look at the love-produced beauty on the faces of children, young people, men and women, looking up and desiring to be fed on the Word of God, I knew Christ was there.

In a time of fellowship afterwards, I heard faculty and staff refer to the War College as a “national treasure” more than once. Having witnessed it, spent time with those who live and study here, and seen the Lord present at the US Army War College, I believe it.

[1] For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9.6

[2] For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil. Romans 13.4 King James Version.

[3] 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. Romans 13.4

[4] “About the US Army War College,” US Army War College website (http://www.carlisle.army.mil/usawc/about/aboutUs.cfm, accessed on March 17, 2011).

[5] Dan Kurzman, No Greater Glory : The Four Immortal Chaplains and the Sinking of the Dorchester in World War Ii, 1st ed. (New York: Random House, 2004).

Bibliography

Kurzman, Dan. No Greater Glory : The Four Immortal Chaplains and the Sinking of the Dorchester in World War II. 1st ed. New York: Random House, 2004.