Daniel Heimbach addresses Defense Intelligence Agency in Washington, D.C.

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On Aug. 30 Dr. Daniel Heimbach, senior professor of Christian ethics at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (SEBTS), addressed the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) as a guest lecturer in Washington, D.C. with a lecture entitled, “The Greatest Military Leadership Challenge of Our Day: Cultivating the Warrior Sustaining Military Power.”

Heimbach argued that an effective warrior ethic depends on cultivating faith in a source of transcendent authority that sustains living for values greater than personal health and physical survival. He defined the warrior ethic as “a body of ethical beliefs needed to be a successful warrior.”Heimbach

“In practical terms, human passions never submit to human reason and without faith in something transcending ourselves, human reason always succumbs to human passions,” Heimbach said.

Dr. Bruce Ashford, SEBTS provost, also attended the lecture with Heimbach.

“Dr. Heimbach spoke to an audience of intelligence officers and military leaders, arguing that the most consequential and difficult challenge military leaders face today is cultivating the warrior ethic that our soldiers need and on which America’s national security mission most depends,” said Ashford. “He urged the military to give its chaplains every opportunity possible to ground their ethic in something greater than life, which for Christians means faith in Christ and will cause others to examine what they are living for.”

Heimbach is following seven other lectures that have been given to the DIA in a series focused on military ethics beginning in 2015.

Previous speakers included Carl Wilkins, former head of the Adventist Development and Relief Agency in Rwanda; Dr. Robert Wicks, clinical psychologist and professor who emphasizes spiritual practice as part of psychological healing; Jessica Buchanan, who was taken captive by Somalia land pirates and rescued by Navy SEAL Team Six; Dr. James Giordano, professor at Georgetown University in the departments of neurology and biochemistry; Mark Coppenger, professor of philosophy and ethics at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary; and Clinton Longenecker, director of the Center for Leadership and Organizational Excellence at the University of Toledo in the College of Business and Innovation.

Heimbach has nearly five decades of military and ethics experience.

“Dan Heimbach is one of America’s premiere “just war” theorists, having served as a combat officer in the Navy, an adviser to President George H. W. Bush, and an invited speaker at national symposia on the ethics of war and peace,” said Ashford.

Heimbach spoke of his ethics training at the USNA, noting that while it developed programs and results, there was something missing in the motivation of its actions.

“I saw a program strong on results but weak on what justifies and motivates them,” he said.

In his lecture, Heimbach cited historical figures such as George Washington, first president of the U.S., who noted the importance of religion to guide national morality during his “Farewell Speech” in 1796. Heimbach also cited Fyodor Dostoevsky, Russian author, who wrote in his book “Brothers Karamazov,” that all actions are acceptable apart from God’s existence. 

“I have observed that an effective warrior ethic requires faith in a source of ethical ultimacy that, not only affects how service members live, but affects what they will risk dying for,” said Heimbach.

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