Christians and violence – whither the line?

Dirk Willems rescues his pursuer

Dirk Willems rescues his pursuer

 

Okay, it’s Question time:

In the picture above, Dirk Willems was an Anabaptist who, while being pursued across a frozen stream and manged to make it safely to the other side, turned back to rescue the man chasing him, who had fallen in. This resulted in his capture and subsequent execution. This, I believe was a very self-sacrificing and proper Christian response. Dirk could not, in good conscience, allow this man to drown who was simply following orders. Additionally this represents the idea of loving your enemy and speaks strongly against going to war.

    And yet Jesus tells us to “Give unto Caesar what is Caesar’s”. Paul and Peter also say “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. ….. Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience. For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed. Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. ” (Romans 13:1-2 and 5-8 ESV)

Where do Christians draw the line(s)?

For quite some time now I have been a staunch anti-Calvinist and pro-Anabaptist person, believing in non-violence and pacifism in the affairs of the world. Yet, I cannot come up with an answer to all the possible challenges that I face and consider daily.

On the train, when someone is acting rudely and threateningly toward other people, especially women and older people I don’t see pacifism as a valid reaction. Aren’t I, a person who is supposed to love others as Christ did, also responsible to stand up for the weak? I know Jesus said we are to turn the other cheek, but isn’t that more applicable to personal affronts hat we must endure without seeking personal revenge?

My biggest problems with Calvinism and the early Reformers in general, is their predilection for merging church with state, the magisterial with the clergy. The Ana-Baptists were against military service, paying taxes to a corrupt government, any kind of state or monarchical control over religious affairs and resisted licensing of marriages, births and baptisms. So, naturally I find myself more attracted to these kinds of believers than to those, especially here in America, who seem to think the country is, was, and shall be (if they’ve anything to do with it) a “Christian” country. I recently heard a General of the US Marine Corp give a patriotic and anti-terrorist speech during a church service. This is the kind of Constantin-ism that I thoroughly detest. Can anyone really imagine Peter or Paul inviting a Roman Legionnaire to speak in the churches?

Yet John the Baptist (who was not one:) told soldiers “Do not extort money from anyone by threats or by false accusation, and be content with your wages.” (Luke 3:14 ESV)  He didn’t tell them to be conscientious objectors or draft dodgers.

So, back to my earlier questions: Surely God would expect me, a person who should not fear “what man can do to the body” and is secure in his future resurrection, to defend the weak and the poor? And how do I do that? With a meek and mild word? Or with all my might and wisdom? A “soft word turns away wrath”, but does it always deter criminal intent? Hardly!!

These, I am sure, are some of the so-called contradictions we find in God’s Word that seem hard to resolve. But, what is the answer to these? We are told that situational ethics are not scriptural and I tend to agree. But, what about ones family? If a rapist were to break into my house while my family are all asleep am I to wait and see if he means harm before I can act? Surely not! Do I call 911 and cower quietly until the authorities arrive? Of course not!

I believe that in these cases the spirit of the scripture “But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” (1 Timothy 5:8 ESV) must apply. And yet, we are to “… be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.” (Matthew 10:16 ESV) When the Jewish believers were persecuted after the murder of Stephen, they were in fear for their lives, so one could opine that they were not really ready to die for the faith. Moreover, scripture makes it clear that the persecution served God’s purposes (Acts 8:1-4). When Christ said “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:26 ESV) He evidently did not mean it literally. The asceticists of the Dark and Middle Ages were very much into denying the flesh and even abusing their own flesh, but this did not glorify God or make them better servants of Christ. Many today are falling for the delusional “visions” and practices of these “desert fathers” in the name of Spiritual Disciplines and Spiritual Formation.

Apparently these same asceticists neglected to take to heart the scripture “In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, ” (Ephesians 5:28-29 ESV)

We are obviously to resist the authority of man when it comes between us and God’s will (Acts 5:29, 1 Thess 2:4) but are we to resist the authorities by blocking access to abortion clinics, porn shops, refusing to obtain a marriage license or birth certificate (see this interesting but flawed take on this). Apparently they are willingly to ignore the earlier advice from Paul and Peter regarding ordinances and laws of man.

When all is said and done, I believe none of us knows what to do in every situation. Satan would have us judge others based on our own conscientious conclusions, but thankfully none of us are the judge of others, but ourselves (1 Cor 11:31-32) and God will judge all of us based on our heart’s intent. So, as Jesus plainly said, in matters such as these we are to “Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven;” (Luke 6:37 ESV). So, while we may not agree in all matters of conduct because all the answers are not given to us as clearly as we’d like, let us all who believe in Christ “Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.” (Romans 12:16-18 ESV)

Simply put, if your intent is not personal revenge or evil in intent, do what is proper in the sight of all men and God and He will judge you fairly. In that same sense I am anti-war and believe that Christians cannot, in good conscience willingly kill people they do not even know. All wars are manipulations of public ire and prejudices for political or territorial agendas and are entered in to as a result of a refusal on one or both parties to negotiate terms. To my way of thinking, war and self-defense on a personal level are quite removed from each other.

What think ye? And what scripture would you apply to help someone decide what is acceptable to God? Anabaptists refer to Jesus’ saying ““You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.” (Matthew 5:38-39 ESV). But, was Jesus saying to be passive in all respects? Surely fleeing persecution is resisting it isn’t it?  How about escaping imprisonment, which the Anabaptists did whenever they could? I recommend the following article that I found on Phil Johnson’s Pyromaniac blog as well as this free e-book  at an anabaptist site.

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22 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by jlnota on December 25, 2008 at 7:44 am

    I been asking the same questions and been struggling for answers to the what you wrote here. 5 years ago my wife and I joined a Mennonite church. I have had a tough time digesting their pacifist belief. Recently at a church business meeting I confessed that I believed in “just wars.” Many of the older members lived through WW2 and stayed home while their neighbor son’s spilled their blood fighting Nazis & The Imperial Japanese Empire.

    The other point you brought up is the protection of our family. I was dumbfounded when I heard an Adult Sunday School Teacher say that he would not resist a home invader even if they were going to kill his children. The reason is he said, “He knew where his children would go if they died but he would be cutting short the life of this evil doer and condemning him to Hell, who otherwise might get saved later on in life.”

    I have a very hard time swallowing this type of reasoning. I believe in Calvinism but not to the extent of being called a Hyper-Calvinist. I think Anabaptist and Hyper-Calvinism are opposite end extremes. You can go into the ditch on both sides of the road.

  2. Hi PK,

    Just to let you know that I find this subject extremely worthwhile discussing, and so have included it on the Faith Defenders forum along with a reference to your blog. Visit the thread

    Hopefully some of your visitors may feel inclined to expand on this subject and offer their own views on the forum?

    God bless,

    John.

  3. jinolta,

    I must admit that the reasoning of the fellow that didn’t want to be guilty of sending a man to hell seems valid. But, I can’t agree that he should passively stand by and allow his children to be murdered or harmed. Only God could truly know if those children would actually be saved.

    On the other hand, if a man and his family were suffering this fate because they were believers, then they would have to be as “sheep to the slaughter” if escape were not an option. I don’t think we have any scriptural prerogative to physically resist persecution because of our faith.

    Unlike you, I still have a problem with the idea of “just wars”. We generally do not go to war unless it somehow affects our foreign policy or harms American interests. Those are areas we are not to become entangled in because we are supposed to be soldiers for Christ.We went to war against Japan in revenge and subjected Japanese Americans to harsh treatment due to the racist overtones of that war.

    I believe the secular governments will go to war if they must, but as a believer, I cannot justify killing a perceived “enemy”, and especially civilians, who are caught up in a fight they often do not agree with. Most soldiers do not have a big picture view of war. They are merely pawns in a conflict they have been manipulated to engage in.

  4. Thanks John!

    I’ll check out the thread soon, I hope.

  5. I think you hit the nail on the head jlnota! Bush and Obama are at least smart enough to pretend to be “Christian”!

  6. Posted by flee the wrath on December 29, 2008 at 3:10 am

    Hi PK,
    I am appreciative as an Australian that we do not seem to have the desire to arm ourselves as many US citizens do. I note increasingly, as a response to the threat of economic and civil unrest that America faces, that American Christians seem to be quite at ease suggesting that they arm themselves in order to defend themselves. Perhaps this is peculiar to the US, or perhaps it is Australians that are peculiar. However I would have a great deal of trouble feeling at ease over the thought that Australian Christians were arming themselves with guns in order that they may have to defend themselves. You would really have to ask yourself if you are prepared to kill another in order to protect your family. Would I? big question…where do I start trusting God in this thing?

    As I read your post I am reminded of a quote by Jim Elliott as they prepared to fly into the jungle of Ecuador to meet the violent Auca peoples. When Jim and his fellow missionaries were preparing to fly in they took guns with them, but when Jim was asked if he intended to use weapons to defend themselves, his response went something like this ” No, I am ready to die, but these people are not ready to die”
    Cheers,
    Tim.

  7. Posted by coreydavis on December 31, 2008 at 9:32 am

    Matthew 24: 43″But be sure of this, that if the head of the house had known at what time of the night the thief was coming, he would have been on the alert and would not have allowed his house to be broken into.

    These are the very words of Jesus. Now He was speaking about being alert when He comes again, but it says a great deal to me that He would use this example.

    How would the head of the house have prevented his home from being broken into? Would he have kindly said, “please don’t take my belongings or hurt my family?” I think not. Several of the verses you posted indicate that we have a responsibility to protect and provide for our families. I received a handgun for Christmas this year. If someone tries to break into my home, to potentially harm my family, you better believe that the head of the house won’t let his family be harmed.

    The big difference I see is between these type of circumstances and those where we are possibly persecuted for Christ to the point of death. This is the point of Revelation 2:10 – to be faithful even if it were to cost us our lives. There is a huge difference between denying Christ to save our own lives and allowing harm to come to those we are to love and protect.

    The person who wishes to take my life, or the life of my loved ones, for some type of earthly gain will be met with force. The one who wishes to take my life for the cause of Christ can have it. As usual, the answer to this question lies between the extremes.

  8. Posted by coreydavis on December 31, 2008 at 9:42 am

    I thought of another pertinent verse:

    Romans 13: 3For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same:

    4For 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.

    5Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake.

    The part in bold tells us that the government is given the right, by God, to execute the wicked. This may be looked at as a form of violence that is used to protect the masses – executing those that have are deemed unfit/too dangerous for society.

    If God will permit the government to protect its citizens by executing the wicked does it not stand to reason that we may use force to protect ourselves and our families?

  9. Tim,

    I agree with you and also find it a paradoxical thing to think of Christians being armed to the teeth.

    Corey,

    I am afraid I don’t feel comfortable with the idea that Chrsitians should be so quick to rely on the arm of the flesh. I am acquainted with two ladies who live in a much more violent part of the world, who are not armed, and who have not fled in terror because they trust and believe that God will protect them. I believe that shows a lot more faith than a gun toting Christian. In fact, I’ll go so far as to say I would even question the depth of that person’s faith in God.

    Your use of Matthew 24:43 strikes me odd, since what Jesus is talking about is being ready for His return. It is superfluous, I think, to use scripture to support a view that isn’t supported elsewhere. I expected you to maybe use Matthew 12:29, Mark 3:27 or the following verse “When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own palace, his goods are safe; but when one stronger than he attacks him and overcomes him, he takes away his armor in which he trusted and divides his spoil.” (Luke 11:21-22 ESV)

    Of course, some have probably used these to support lethal defense, but again, the context tells us Jesus was basically saying Satan is the strong man, but He, Jesus, is the stronger man who will plunder Satan’s kingdom and free those who are enslaved by him (i.e. Satan’s possessions). It in no way is meant as an approval for Christians to make their homes into a fortress!

    Again, Corey, I understand your desire to protect your family, but it makes one wonder if you really believe Romans 8:28. Most law enforcement officers would advise that you not resist, that you do not look the person in the face or act vengeful. If the person is after some earthly material gain, wouldn’t Matthew 5:42 apply? It has happened before that when an unarmed woman has been held hostage or carjacked that returning kindness and compassion toward someone so desperate has disarmed the perpetrator and spared the victim from any harm.

    Using the argument that if God has ordained government the right to bear the sword that it confers the same right to us is Constantinian and erroneous. You are extrapolating scripture that says we are to be subject to say we have a right to bear arms against our enemies. This same logic fomented the so-called Holy Crusades which completely besmirched the name of Christ from that time until today in the minds of the Mid-Eastern nations. One could say that when Jesus told His disciples to buy swords before He was betrayed is an approval of force, but Jesus reproof of Peter’s attempt to defend Him shows something quite differrent in our Lord’s reason for saying that. I believe He was metaphorically saying that a dangerous time was coming and they should be prepared and take cover.

    Lastly, I must ask….if you have a gun in your home with the intention of shooting anyone who comes onto your property or into your house, you really leave yourself no choice but to read that person’s true intentions, shoot first and get to the truth later. Once you pull that gun out, you are obligated to use it or else risk it being used against you. What if you are mistaken about the person’s intentions?

    It’s a tough question; indeed a conundrum, but then God says He will not allow us to suffer anything we cannot handle and I think that includes home invasion or robbery.

  10. Posted by coreydavis on January 2, 2009 at 11:27 am

    I am afraid I don’t feel comfortable with the idea that Chrsitians should be so quick to rely on the arm of the flesh. I am acquainted with two ladies who live in a much more violent part of the world, who are not armed, and who have not fled in terror because they trust and believe that God will protect them. I believe that shows a lot more faith than a gun toting Christian. In fact, I’ll go so far as to say I would even question the depth of that person’s faith in God.

    This is one of those statements that can easily be stretched if we want to go there. Do you have a savings account? If so, why? Do you not trust in God to provide for you? Do you have insurance on your home or vehicle? If so, why? Don’t you trust in God to protect you? Why is it permissible to do something to protect our valuables but not our lives?

    Your use of Matthew 24:43 strikes me odd, since what Jesus is talking about is being ready for His return. It is superfluous, I think, to use scripture to support a view that isn’t supported elsewhere.

    1. I acknowledged the purpose of the illustration, yet I still find it telling that Jesus would use the example of a man protecting his home (obviously by force if necessary).
    2. I think that it is supported in some ways by other scriptures.

    Again, Corey, I understand your desire to protect your family, but it makes one wonder if you really believe Romans 8:28. Most law enforcement officers would advise that you not resist, that you do not look the person in the face or act vengeful. If the person is after some earthly material gain, wouldn’t Matthew 5:42 apply? It has happened before that when an unarmed woman has been held hostage or carjacked that returning kindness and compassion toward someone so desperate has disarmed the perpetrator and spared the victim from any harm.

    Romans 8:28 is, in context, speaking of things working together for the good of Christians spiritually. We have many other verses that guarantee persecution and earthly woe.

    As to the advice of law enforcement, a little over a year ago my friend, Chris, followed that very advice. He was shot in the back of the head execution-style. I’ll take my chances with attempting to defend my loved ones.

    As to Matthew 5:42, I think this entire passage is related to humility and generosity, not allowing yourself to be robbed. If I am wrong, I’ll send you my address and I ask that you send me all the money in your possession 🙂

    Using the argument that if God has ordained government the right to bear the sword that it confers the same right to us is Constantinian and erroneous. You are extrapolating scripture that says we are to be subject to say we have a right to bear arms against our enemies. This same logic fomented the so-called Holy Crusades which completely besmirched the name of Christ from that time until today in the minds of the Mid-Eastern nations. One could say that when Jesus told His disciples to buy swords before He was betrayed is an approval of force, but Jesus reproof of Peter’s attempt to defend Him shows something quite differrent in our Lord’s reason for saying that. I believe He was metaphorically saying that a dangerous time was coming and they should be prepared and take cover.

    Again, to bring up the Crusades is to take what I’m saying to an extreme that I didn’t intend. That period of time is a clear-cut abuse of what I’m talking about.

    If you are right about what the Lord intended when He commanded them to buy a sword, you have a problem with your original argument – you say that defending yourself (and taking cover is just that) is a failure to believe Romans 8:28. The reprimand for Peter’s use of the sword is because Peter was seeking to prevent Jesus from fulfilling His mission – to die for our sins. I didn’t reference this passage because I have to admit that I am not sure exactly what is meant by it.

    Lastly, I must ask….if you have a gun in your home with the intention of shooting anyone who comes onto your property or into your house, you really leave yourself no choice but to read that person’s true intentions, shoot first and get to the truth later. Once you pull that gun out, you are obligated to use it or else risk it being used against you. What if you are mistaken about the person’s intentions?

    If someone breaks into my home I’m fairly certain that I can know their intentions, and they aren’t good ones. If someone kicks in your door I doubt they’re there to sell Girl Scout cookies.

    It’s a tough question; indeed a conundrum, but then God says He will not allow us to suffer anything we cannot handle and I think that includes home invasion or robbery.

    I agree that this is a tough issue. I know where I stand personally, but I hope I never have to act upon the decision that I’ve already made. As to the last thing you said, we’re promised that we won’t be tempted beyond that which we’re able to bear (1 Cor. 10:13). That is far different from circumstances arising like home invasion or robberies which are threats, not temptations.

    Please don’t take my comments as argumentative. I simply feel that there is scriptural precedent for self-defense and I wanted to present why I feel as I do.

  11. Corey,

    All I can say is touché! This is exactly the reason I posted this article and I hope you’ll pardon my defense of pacifism as an all encompassing stance. I am very aware that there is no pat answer to this issues. While I sincerely wish we could be passive in all things, your catch on the idea that we should flee when possible (something even the empowered Apostles did after Pentecost) and find a safe place runs counter to the idea of having complete faith and not doing anything. Well put!

    I apologize that you had to reference the brutal murder of a friend to in-validate advice that is rather Pollyanic. If criminals were decent people, maybe kindness would be the best weapon. But that is not usually the case. I like your girl scout analogy, too!

    That said, I do not own a gun and don’t plan to own one for home use. If my wife had allowed a gun at home when we were fist married I might very well have one now, I don’t know. But, your argument about insurance for material things vs. protecting lives is a very good one.

    I was honest about suspecting a person’s faith when they too quickly choose to use a gun, but that is really an echo of what I was once convinced of. Now, I am perplexed about what is and is not acceptable to God. You have made some very strong and reasonable points in favor of defending one’s home and I am glad you answered the “Crusade” question well.

    What I have discovered is that none of us: you, me, Moses or even Solomon have/had all the answers. That is really my point here. No one can condemn you for what you believe regarding this. God is your judge and I believe you have the right intentions. You aren’t planning or conspiring to kill “bad people” which would make you a murderer before you even committed the crime, but you are trusting, I gather, that you will never have to use the gun.

    My only problem is one of grace. If you were to kill someone in defense, but in turn were killed by a person whom you did not see, would you be covered by grace? Or would you have a sin that you did not have time to confess condemn you? I am thinking (and this is suppositional) that the scripture “Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger,”
    (Ephesians 4:26 ESV) would cover this act. Woud you agree?

    Thanks very much for your input and allowing me to play devil’s advocate.

  12. Posted by memnan on January 3, 2009 at 6:44 pm

    Ok…I was just going to read and go hmmm to myself…

    “Or would you have a sin that you did not have time to confess condemn you?”

    There is therefore no condemnation for those that are IN Christ Jesus…We would be a slippin’ and a slidin’ in and out of Christ Jesus if we were condemned by unconfessed sin…It is a virtual impossibility to be totally confessed up at all, much less at all times. When Jesus died on the cross, He paid the whole price to save us from our sins, not possibly save us from our sins if we were good enough at confession….I owed a debt I could pay…He PAID the debt! That part…IT IS FINISHED.

  13. But Nancy,

    Why then would Christ tell us to pray “Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us”? And why would John remind us that “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9 ESV)

    At the same time, I agree with you, for the most part. That being based on the fact that Christ’s atonement covers our unintentional sins and sins of ignorance which we can’t confess because they are unknown or not imputed to us. Your comment “We would be a slippin’ and a slidin’ in and out of Christ” is exactly what I was taught as a child and young man and I know now that that is unscriptural.

    However, I do believe that we must confess known and intentional sin or we will be condemned for it. (Acts 8:22, Rev 2;5)

  14. Posted by memnan on January 4, 2009 at 7:03 am

    Let’s look at it like a marriage which is the example given for our relationship with Christ. It is meant to be a permanent joining. If we want our relationship to be vital, alive and loving, we should be learning and growing in the direction of being able to practice all the things listed in scripture; always submitting ourselves to the Holy Spirit and measuring our progress with the Living Word. Yes, we must repent and repent often, we must forgive always. A marriage that is endured without being alive and full of love is like death warmed over neither person in the union receives the joy intended. Jesus came that we might have life and that abundant! When our spirit is recreated and we become new creatures we can in fact simply stay infants if we do not feed on the meat of the Living Word of God and actually put it into practice. Without repentance (often) and forgiveness our relationship with Christ is unprofitable not only for us, but for those around us (we lose our saltiness)…This is a sad state that many true Christians find themselves in as carnal Christians.

    I may have sounded a bit strident in my comment, but it makes me sad to think that so many of my brothers and sisters in Christ fear that they are unable to totally trust that their union is eternally purchased by the Holy Blood of Jesus and be afraid that they could be tossed out at any given moment because of some deed (work)on our part. We should at all times be able to be free from fear. While physical life is of a limited quantity…once graced with spiritual life, we have forever. The gifts and calling of God are without repentance…He didn’t make a mistake when He called us, or when He died for us…I know in whom I have believed and know that He is able to keep me from falling. He prayed the John 17 prayer for all of those the Father was to give Him.

  15. Posted by coreydavis on January 5, 2009 at 9:21 am

    My only problem is one of grace. If you were to kill someone in defense, but in turn were killed by a person whom you did not see, would you be covered by grace? Or would you have a sin that you did not have time to confess condemn you? I am thinking (and this is suppositional) that the scripture “Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger,”
    (Ephesians 4:26 ESV) would cover this act. Woud you agree?

    I’m not sure I understand the question. From what I can tell, you’re basically asking if you die without literally asking forgiveness for a particular sin, will that condemn you? Am I correct?

    Assuming that is the question, I always refer to 1 John 1:7

    but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.

    I believe that if we are striving to walk in the light, this would cleanse us of sins that we didn’t specifically acknowledge before our death. For instance, a Christian has a lustful thought moments before dying in a car crash. If that was simply a moment of weakness in a life of faithfulness I am confident that the individual would be forgiven.

    I am sure that we still commit sins of ignorance (sins that we aren’t even aware of). In Numbers 15:27 there was an offering for such sins. We have Jesus making the ultimate offering for us, so I am confident that His blood cleanses us of those sins as well, if we are faithful, without us having to literally confess that particular sin to God (how could we? We would be unaware of it).

  16. Posted by memnan on January 5, 2009 at 11:32 am

    Corey,

    I mostly agree with your statement…I’m sure they would be forgiven if they were truly Christian…After all,life isn’t totally like a big ledger book in the sky as far as debits and credits and you make “it” (eternal life) if you end up with a credit balance…except with the cash account…But God, the Great Bookkeeper of Eternity…did give Jesus the “Pain in Full Stamp” inked with His very own Blood!

  17. Posted by memnan on January 5, 2009 at 11:35 am

    Unfortunately…many of us think Christianity is free from pain…*; (

  18. Posted by brotherjohnny on January 10, 2009 at 11:13 am

    Greetings!
    I confess that I did not read your entire post, nor all of the comments, but your questions about standing up for the innocent are certainly worth consideration.

    While I don’t believe that physical violence is the answer, I do believe that we are sometimes called to diffuse wicked works in the same way that Jesus did.
    He wasn’t afraid to speak the truth to either the demon possesed or the ‘powers to be'(not that they are necessarily mutually exclusive).

    God Himself is our defense, even if it costs us our own temporal lives.

    That said, I believe that we must be careful to not act out in our own ‘flesh’ but rather be sensitive to the Spirit which leads us into all truth.

  19. Thanks brother Johnny, for your thoughts.

    I agree with them, in most instances. It’s the times when we are caught off guard that we tend to do things “in the flesh”.

  20. Thanks Corey, for the follow-up. That sounds to me like you truly believe that we are saved by faith and grace rather than our own obedience to the “letter”. And I am beginning to agree.

  21. Nancy dear,

    Having read 1 Peter three times this past week (I wasn’t sure why!) I am more convinced than ever that you are perfectly right about our security in Christ.
    Our calling is not only without repentance, on God’s part, but it is also a particular calling as in “many are called, but few are chosen” which I think is illuminated by the parable of the sower. I am beginning to see the truth of Election as well. I never imagined I’d be inclined this way, having rejected Calvinism mostly on the basis of Calvin’s own failings and his willingness to joing state and church. But, God’s Word doesn’t say one thing and mean another when it is clear that Jesus believed He was answered when He prayed “Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world. (John 17:23 ESV)

    I have learned a lot from Peter and my next article will probably expand on his first letter.

  22. PK,

    I think we are on the same page. Jesus’ kingdom is not of this world…it is not a kingdom of blood-shed and war. And it is Him and His kingdom that we are to be loyal to. What does this mean in the particulars and the what-ifs? I am not entirely sure. But I do know we certainly do not give non-violence the chance it deserves. There are plenty of examples of armed intruders who were deterred by a word softly spoken, a prayer said on their behalf out loud, or some other non-violent response.

    You are right that John the Baptist did not tell the soldiers to lay down their arms…but then again, John was only a herald, not the law-giving King Himself who came to institute a new covenant.

    I would whole-heartedly agree with the commentor from Australia who says that American Christians are too quick to pick up arms. For some reason patriotism has become a Christian virtue. But, we are never called to patriotism, only subjection, and only in areas that do not conflict with the kingdom.

    Certainly serving in the armed forces does not count as “rendering to Caesar what is Caesar’s,” epsecially since one does not have to go to war in our country….correct me if I am wrong, but I was under the impression that even if drafted a person could claim pacifism and be assigned to a post away from battle.

    There is an excellent book that advocates the pacifist position…and much more. It is called Mere Discipleship and the author is Lee C. Camp (a Lipscomb Bible professor).

    Well, there are my rantings for now. Thanks for your thoughts.

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