The Downside Of A “Band of Brothers” Mentality

The imagery of the band of brothers has been used for wartime propaganda. In popular culture it’s most recognizable by Stephen Ambrose’s record of Easy Company of the 2nd Battalion, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment assigned to the 101st Airborne Division in World War II. Those who have battled in blood together share a close kinship and loyalty that transcends many relationships in life.

From one angle it’s also reflective of the relationships cultivated in the service of the gospel. The Apostle Paul speaks of the ministry as warfare and the destroying of strongholds (2 Corinthians 10:4). He reminded Timothy to be a “good soldier of Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 2:3). He commended Epaphroditus (Philippians 2:5) and Archippus (Philemon 2) as “fellow soldiers.” Aristarchus was Paul’s “fellow prisoner,” which more literally means a fellow-prisoner-of-war (Colossians 4:10). He also identified Prisca and Aquila as those who risked their necks for him (Romans 16:3) — and often made mention of many fellow workers, brothers, and kinsmen.

Pastors and elders can likely identify quickly with Paul’s love for his co-laborers. Writing to William Farell and Peter Viret, John Calvin said: “I think there has never been, in ordinary life, a circle of friends so sincerely bound to each other as we have been in our ministry.” Sharing the experiences and burdens of the pastorate, contending for the faith, and taking the kingdom of heaven by storm has a way of forging battle-like relationships, knitting Christians together in the bonds of love, courage, and loyalty. These friendships are needed in the ministry, and many pastors have been strengthened by such affectionate bonds. After all “a brother is born for adversity” (Proverbs 17:17).

But the band of brothers can have an insidious effect too. On March 16, 1968 it’s reported that 504 people — including elderly, women, children, and infants — were brutally murdered by United States troops in South Vietnam. This became known as the My Lai Massacre and remains the largest publicized massacre of civilians by US forces in the 20th century. Not every soldier in the company participated in the killings, but they also didn’t protest or file complaints with their superiors. Three US service members tried to stop the massacre and help the Vietnamese. These men were shunned, ignored, and denounced as traitors. In particular Hugh Thompson faced death threats and was vilified for his efforts. Read More»

Kyle Borg | “A Band of Brothers” | February 16, 2023


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