The Evangelical Universalist Forum

Fighting For God's Nonviolence. (Richard Murray's approach.)


It’s a genuine question Gabe. Could you please clarify?



Do you have children? If so, how old?


Hi Gabe -

There are many painful things in the world – and I’m not sure whether to blame God for the world as it is at all (or human beings for that matter). Some of this will always remain a mystery to me this side of eternity. In your thought experiment of course I will have to cut my child’s foot off. But that’s just one of those terrible decisions people have to make in extreme circumstances. Look Gabe I’m not calling into question your status as a parent who loves his kids dearly – that would be so wrong of me. I’m just looking at general principles here.

Excessive violence against children used to be the norm. And in indeed IMHO the use of excessive violence to break the rebellious will of children does correlate I think with children’s’ susceptibility to believe in a violent God. I remember reading Luther’s musings about faith –true faith is the ability to believe that a God how damns so many to eternal torment and saves so few is also loving and merciful’. That sounds like the confusions/rationalisations of a child who has been violently assaulted by those from whom he expects love and protection. I also know there is shed loads of evidence to suggest that the decline of hell correlates with the decline of a belief in the efficacy of excessive violence against children, brutal confinement and torture and public executions of criminals for the most trivial of crimes to the most serious, brutal treatment of the mentally ill, casual cruelty towards animals etc.

I agree about the recent obsession in some forms of therapy with victimology – ‘we are all victims now’. We are all victims in some ways to a lesser or greater extent – but we are also victimisers. Just because a certain powerless group in society is shifted from a persecuted victim status it doesn’t mean that when they are operating from a level playing field they will not become victimisers; they often will. And yes there is such a thing as counter scapegoating – people roar up for victims cloaking themselves in innocence and attacking those who they rightly or wrongly perceive as victimisers without mercy or forgiveness. None of us are that innocent. But we must attend to the real victims in our world and minster to the Christ in them

I think using a hedonic calculus of pleasure and pain as a moral guide can often become confused in people’s minds; cruelty and are often a spur to sado-masochistic problems of a most harmful kind. Life will always bring us pain – we must prepare our children and others in our care for this; but I don’t think we should add to it.

In Christ our Hen :slight_smile:



In an effort to be forthcoming and vulnerable, I will tell you that your question felt like an attack on me. No parent (Jesus said “Which of you”) would advocate physical child abuse. Even Christ gave his audience more credit than you gave me with your question. So, I did feel slighted and I do feel the question was unfair, offensive and rude. I can only hope to point out how your question made me feel. I do hope you can re-evaluate how that question can viewed as unfair, offensive and rude.

To answer your ‘sincere’ question, I am not an advocate for spanking or for child abuse, though I do not believe spanking is wrong when done properly.



Joy in Christ is a holy joy. Not just any type of joy. Holiness being understood here in the sense of moral purity. The fear of the lord is to hate evil and not delight in it. What is delighted in is holiness. Christians who call themselves hedonists don’t delight in pain for sake of pain. Or pain in and of itself. They delight in Christ who sustains them and caries them through the pain. When my grandpa died I cried. It was painful. Yet at the same time I knew he was in a better place. The joy I had was from the fact that he’s okay now. Not from the fact that he was dead and gone. Sadists take pleasure in pain itself. Having mixed emotions doesn’t lead to sadism.


Not sure we are any different in our actual views here, perhaps it is just how we express them. In regards to God. For a Biblical example of wicked children, one need to look no further than Eli and his sons. That is the result of not setting boundaries and lack of discipline.


We may well have just had a misunderstanding crossing from history and what biblical metaphors of correction meant in original context to the personal friend. Sorry if I’ve played a part.



That’s true Cole - I wasn’t talking about mixed emotions and paradoxical inner states. I was talking about being pushed and pulled by inner contradiction . Och language and communication 0 it’s a shame we can’t read each others thoughts. Well perhaps not :laughing:


In order to defuse things, I might suggest that this thread has moved away again from the topic, it’s question on dealing with and looking at texts that either appear or show violent action being ascribed to God. Asking others on their views on other issues (such as spanking, I don’t think any person here is for physical child abuse or that could be taken from their posts and I’m not surprised that Gabe to offense to it, as it is a little offensive to be asked if you are justifying child abuse) is neither necessarily connected and is another topic altogether, one’s view on violent aspects or perceived aspects of violence in the text does not give correlation to one’s views on discipline, violence or other issues, one does not lead you to know what someone else’s views on things are, and ascribing motives to people on other issues is neither justified or helpful.


I’ve PMed Derek regarding his question to Gabe but he hasn’t read it yet. Probably best to leave that particular issue until Derek has a chance to respond…


There was some cross over between two different and related threads here Grant - certainly I was having to straddle two worlds here. I think we are all to blame for anything that’s gone awry. :frowning: I knew that when you started the other thread when I’d mentioned ‘just war’ that you didn’t really mean to cry me for a warmonger. But that’s because I know you. Your a good bloke. So are Derek and Gabe :smiley:


What is the other thread? I was not aware there are two active threads closely related here.


I appreciate you letting me know how my question made you feel. That was certainly not my intent, and I offer my sincere apologies.

I can understand why you would be offended, but do please keep in mind that I do not know you at all, and have spoken with people on the internet who do advocate for it. So I wanted to clarify. Again, if my question upset you, I do apologize for that.

The reason I wanted to clarify is because when I said what I did about corporal punishment being damaging, I was referring to child abuse. I was saying that:

That’s why I was a bit surprised when you disagreed with me there, and why I then attempted to clarify by offering a definition of terms:

and I was using that understanding when I wrote:

Seems to me we do have a case of “apples and oranges” here. We are talking about two very different things, and as a consequence are talking past one another, which is unfortunate. Hopefully this helps in clearing things up and getting us on the same page.


Gabe Grinstead asked:

Yes, in the “Potentially Controversial/Sensitive Topics” area, Nightrevan started a thread, “Christianity and Violence”, as a spin-off of this thread looking less at scriptural violence and how to interpret it and more at pacifism, the role of the justice system/police, personal non-violence etc. in living as a Christian.



I understand there was some misunderstanding. I think we both agree that children are precious and want the best for them.


Yes, we certainly agree there :slight_smile:


I’d like to return to a discussion of God, Jesus, Violence, non Violence and ‘scriptural hermeneutics’ here (hermeneutics means something like interpretation with a few extra nuances, and whistles and bells). I think the discussion here has been fruitful and by no means exhausted - which is to say I’ve enjoyed it :slight_smile: . I’d also be very happy if sometime, some when, in the none too distant future (like as soon as possible after we’ve continued this one for a bit) we could do a thread specifically on Derek’s very helpful ideas about practical applications and misapplications of ‘turning the other cheek’. What do you think? :slight_smile:


I think we should follow in the footsteps of Jesus and have faith in God. I trust that He brings Beauty out of ashes even when I don’t know or understand “why”. “God is light” reflects an OT background where light symbolizes both knowledge and moral purity. This is one aspect of God’s holiness. God as the light brings to this dark world true knowledge and moral purity. “God is light” emphasizes this moral purity and omniscience of God. Holiness is what sets God apart from His creation and His creatures. There are many things that do this, but moral purity and omniscience are the two that the passage above speak of. God is light. It’s His essence. There is no darkness in Him at all. His love is a Holy and morally pure love. It’s no mere human love. This is why people struggle with the problem of violence. They attribute to Father a purely human kind of love and then expect Him to act accordingly. But Father is morally excellent and can see all of reality while we remain in the dark about all of reality. He has morally justifiable reasons that we don’t know about as He permits violence. He is infinite in knowledge and knows what is best in each circumstance. There is a Creator creature distinction. His sovereign will is His business alone. My job is to trust Him, take care of myself, and help others. This is only reasonable for I don’t see all of reality like He does. Other ways God is distinct from His creation and creatures include:

God is self-sufficient we are not

God is all-knowing we are not

God is infinite in wisdom we are not

God is omnipresent we are not

God is all powerful we are not

God is in a category all by Himself. To compare Him with humans is to make a categorical error. I cannot be like God in every way. When I try to be like God in every way it leads to pride. There are ways we are to be like God and ways we are not to be like God. He alone is God. :smiley:


And God became man in Christ or Lord :slight_smile:


“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. - John 14:1