In a chapter titled The Fight, J. C. Ryle says, “He that would understand the true nature of true holiness must know that the Christian is ‘a man of war.’ If we would be holy we must fight.”
J. C. Ryle is elaborating on Paul’s words to Timothy, ‘Fight the good fight of faith,’ and methinks Ryle provides the proper balance to cultivating a fighter-mentality when he says:
With whom is the Christian soldier meant to fight? Not with other Christians. Wretched indeed is that man’s idea of religion who fancies that it consists in perpetual controversy! He who is never satisfied unless he is engaged in some strife between church and church, chapel and chapel, sect and sect, faction and faction, party and party, knows nothing yet as he ought to know. No doubt it may be absolutely needful sometime to appeal to law courts, in order to ascertain the right interpretation of a Church’s Articles, and rubrics, and formularies. But, as a general rule, the cause of sin is never so much helped as when Christians waste their strength in quarreling with one another, and spend their time in petty squabbles (J. C. Ryle, Holiness, 52).
There is a danger in calling someone a soldier, i.e., like the young boy who is given his first hammer and sees a world-of-nails, so a Christian when called to be a soldier must remember they are a peacemaker-soldier.
Warfare is real; doctrinal battles need to be fought. We must remember, however, petty squabbles do not constituted legitimate war.