The Evangelical Universalist Forum

How To Live Under An Unqualified President by John Piper


#2084

I understand what you are saying! My contention is that, some ARE called to be soldiers, and I thank God for that.
I have been pounded on by pacifists who sincerely believe they are better people than the rest of us. Not physically pounded on, of course. :slight_smile:


#2085

Thanks, It’s fair to say data and interpretations are mixed, but I’m a bit surprised that you’ve only seen Anabaptists offer only one verse (have you read some of their books presenting their exegesis?). In every work, I’ve seen, they offer dozens of texts they see supportive in Jesus’ teaching on how we are to respond to those who seek to do us evil, his repudiation at every point of his disciples to think in more traditional terms, and their impression that Paul follows Jesus at every point in urging that believers respond to threats, persecution, and evil with good, never killing. In my several papers on Jesus’ ministry already posted on this site, I detail many of the Gospel and other texts that I see consistent with explaining the prevalent pacifism of the early church.

N.T. Wright’s work is honestly what especially impressed me to appreciate this tradition (though you are a fellow Wright lover who may process it differently). With him, I see the most difficult curve or reversal Jesus threw at Israel, was boldly challenging their O.T. expectations about how God protects and delivers his people, right down to challenging what sort of victorious response to evil a messianic new King David would encourage. I see this refusal to support a violent defense of God’s people as central to what infuriated those who understandably saw God’s regular way of protecting them from violent oppressors had been to take up arms as soldiers. So Jesus’ words alone, “Love” your enemies, would have been heard as applicable to their central enemy, the empire that scorned and oppressed them, and shockingly calling them to at the very least, not entertain justifications of killing such oppressive threats, but instead to renounce any such eye for an eye, or life for life tradition.

Yes, I realize that it comes down to wrestling with specific debated texts, such as I did with Berzerk’s claim that Jesus clearly advocated killing. But I honestly think that until it’s recognized that there are numerous texts at issue, and that each side can claim to have a good share on their side, there will be no serious appreciation that good folk can read it differently, and we’ll just talk as if the other side has no serious texts.


#2086

No Bob, it’s more than that. We all know the texts, right? There is NO evidence that defending oneself or family or country is in ANY way disobeying Christ.
And as for the one verse - Tom Wright and others point out the very obvious, that knowing AD 70 was coming, Jesus was telling his disciples - and Israel - to not antagonize Rome, but go out of their way not to. Context there is everything. Jesus does not appear to have laid down a principle for all time.
Love your enemies - I don’t think that can be brought into an argument about self-defense! I love my wife more than I do my enemies.


#2087

Yep isn’t that amazing… appreciating the applicability of a text RELATIVE TO its historical setting — thus helping to minimise a text out of context becoming a pretext for a subtext, i.e., what it all actually meant to THEM.


#2088

Greg Gutfeld is a conservative political commentator who describes himself as an “agnostic atheist,” and, like President Trump, can sometimes be rather sarcastic, and vulgar.

Nevertheless, like Trump, I find he is usually right, frequently showing more discernment than many liberal Christians I see, as demonstrated in his discussion on this American news story concerning the double standard used by most of the media against Catholic high school students involved in an incident at the recent annual “March For Life” in Washington, D.C.:

(And Gutfeld teaching us to laugh at some of the more frightening boggarts on the left, brings this scene from Harry Potter to mind:)


#2089

I do strive, every day, to follow the path of “one less act of violence” as set forth in Cheri Huber’s wonderful book. (Except for the vegetarian part, so far…)


#2090

Well, as I said, there’s a “mix” of respectable views on interpretations and whether Jesus’ principles still apply in our time. I think repeating that Anabaptists have no good texts confirms my conclusion that each side is so bent on defending its’ own inclinations and politics, it asserts the other has “no serious texts,” and ignores that good folk can hear Jesus’ teaching and relevance quite differently.

I can’t see myself embracing pacifism, but I personally tend to find the Sermon of the Mount has principles that do abide over time and convicts me, and I can’t imagine easily insisting that Jesus’ many words about how his followers are to respond to evildoers who seek to do us harm have no application in our time. It’s not hard for me to see why the church of the first centuries credited it with its’ reputation for non-violence.

I honestly see little evidence that Jesus “advocates” killing to save our own earthly life. And shucks, as I implied, though some find Jesus’ way of defeating evil as unique to him and having nothing to do with our own approach, I even sympathize with Wright that it is for all time at the heart of how we too are to overcome evil. Though I know his views perceived as liberal on such deeply offend many American Christians.


#2091

Understood. While it seems to me that you are making an argument from silence - it must be that what is common to humanity is not elaborated on in the Gospels, because taken for granted; looking after loved ones, ourselves, neighbors - protecting their lives - pretty common to mankind, so why would Gospel writers even address that?
Can anyone really imagine Jesus saying: Don’t protect your loved ones? I cannot; no doubt some can. What is ‘loving them’ to amount to, if not at minimum to guard them from evil?

What got me started was someone saying they would hope not to use any force to keep someone from raping their little girl in front of them. I do not understand that. By all counts, less violence is a good of inestimable worth, and to be striven for; and, if used, should be the minimum amount necessary; but not at the cost to those we are responsible for. Bad guys have got to be stopped.


#2092

I totally agree. And, if it requires physical restraint to stop them, so be it. And, should it require more than physical restraint to stop them, so be it.


#2093

I think this song, from one of the world wars…Was inspired by a preacher man:

I also share this news, from the BBC today. If Donald Trump can make it…;there is “potentially” room for anybody! And this gentleman - INHO - has solid “grounds” to run on! This is DEFINITELY a “wake up” call!

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#2094

Oh dear… Mr Bean


#2095

I think we need, to give our audience here - a bit of background:

And here is Mr. Bean, drinking his morning coffee (in keeping with the new and “potential”- US presidential candidate).


#2096

On the charge that Anabaptists only argue from silence, and that only one verse calls Christian violence into question, here’s an excerpt from my “How Jesus Changed Traditional Beliefs:”

"4. External Power over perverse people: In the O.T., external physical destruction was seen as a key, even in dealing with wayward family. So, killing your rebel child, a spouse or child teaching false ideas, those with a sexual sin, doing work on Saturday, etc., is seen as the divinely required solution.
(Dt 13:6-11; 17:2-7; 18:20; 21:18-21; 22:22-4; Lev 20:9-13; 24:10-23; 27:29; Ex 31:12-17; 22:20; 2Kgs 2:23f; 23:30; 2 Chr 15:13)
Violence and ethnic cleansing were also the way to obtain land, and overcome pagan opponents. Thus, “Show them no mercy… kill everything that breathes… women, children, and infants.” Outside the land Israel seized, women can be enslaved as “spoils” of war: “Kill all the boys, but save every virgin girl for yourselves!” In Canaan, failing to slaughter every life made one unholy, and exposed to pagan values.
(Dt 7:1f,6,16; 20:14-19; 2:34f; 3:6; 1Sam 15:3; 27:9; Jos 6:21; 8:24f; 10:28-40; 11:11-20; Num 31:17f,27; Ps 106:34)
In O.T. times, the best evidence your god was more powerful, was enabling your side’s violent power to “cut down all your enemies.” For “God trains hands for battle… to beat them as fine as dust.” So, it is crushing “the nations” that shows Israel is “the only nation God went out to redeem” (2Sam 7:9-23; 22:35,43).
Similarly: “Through God we trample…and destroy them… May a double-edged sword in Israel’s hands inflict vengeance… This is the glory of God’s faithful people!” Thus this call for vengeance celebrates violent “hatred:” For “Blessed is the man who seizes your infants, and dashes them against the rocks.”
(Psalms 44:5; 18:39f; 2:9; 149:6-9; 137:8f; 139: 21f; 55:15; 109:9-12; 60:12)
The prophets later believed Assyria & Babylon demolished Israel “because they’d sinned” (2Kgs 17; Eze 1-24 Isa 1-9; Jer 7-10; 32:21-24). Thus, carefully obeying God’s laws should re-enable them to crush such enemies & again gloriously dominate the nations. God promises to “summon my warriors to carry out my wrath, their infants will be dashed to pieces… I will restore you… so that your oppressors will bow at your feet.”
(Eze 25-48; Jer 49:2; Joel 3; Nah; Isa 13:1-16; 54:7; 60:12,14)
Mary & Zechariah cite this theme: God will “rescue us from the hand of our enemies… all who hate us… help Israel… bring down rulers from their thrones… and give Messiah the throne of our father, David.” (Lk 1:52-54,71,74,32) The O.T. achieved such victory by violence, and Messiah was to be a man like David whose military aptitude had liberated them (2 Sam 7). So, Jews were bound to expect this coming anointed king would again raise an army, and powerfully exterminate their own day’s pagan oppressor: Rome.

                                                                                                                                               But Jesus reverses the O.T.’s way of seeking deliverance from evil.  He never calls his followers to kill, but insists on rejecting violence toward our enemies.   Jesus warns  that rejecting his “path of peace”  is what will “dash you to the ground.”   For those “who draw the sword will die by it.”   Thus, he rebukes them when they use a weapon,  or cite Elijah’s way to “destroy” God’s enemies by “fire” (Matt 26:51-56;      
                                                                                                          Lk 1:79; 19:41-44; 9:51-56; cf 1Kgs 18:38-40; 2 Kgs 1:10).  

Jesus fulfills Isaiah’s promise to “set the oppressed free.” But, he omits its’ “vengeance” on enemies, and infuriates Israel by saying he will heal their enemies, just as Elijah healed Naaman, a pagan general. As the Passover’s lamb, he is promising the Exodus’ theme of freedom. Yet he omits that that victory depended upon killing the nations. For he sees that the real enemy we need to overcome is not external “flesh & blood,” but the dark internal powers of sin and the Evil One (Isa 61:1f; Lk 4:16-30; 22:7-20; 12:4; Mt 6:13;
Jn 1:29; 1 Cor 5:7; Eph 6:12).
His only action toward the ‘Canaanites’ that Israel sought to annihilate, was to show “mercy” (Lk 15:21-28).
Israel wants “to make him king by force.” Yet Jesus will say, no “swords” were needed to capture him. Because, “If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would fight… but my kingdom is not!” And the apostles see him rejecting swords, even for self-defense. For despite many threats, they and Jesus’ church for centuries refused all violence, and followed Jesus’ call to lay down their lives. (Jn 6:15; 18:36;
Lk 26:52)
Israel boasted in vengeance and seizing their enemies’ wealth (Isa 61:2,5f). And God’s presence provided the ability to destroy the nations (Deut 31:1-5; 7:1f). But now Jesus claims Israel’s mission is dying to self, and blessing the nations with salvation (Mt 28:19f). He insists the only way to “be children of the Father” who is merciful, is to “love enemies who persecute you.” For only by imitating the God who is “kind to the wicked,” “will you be children of the Most High.” For “peacemakers” are God’s true children, and it is “the ‘gentle’ who will inherit the earth.” (Lk 6:27-35; 11:4; Mt 5:5-9, 38-48)

In the O.T., “love” was a command only toward neighbor Israelites (Lev 19:17f). Enemies are destroyed. So Jesus challenges this by saying, “You’ve heard, love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I say, love your enemies, do good to them.” They’d heard in Scripture, “an eye for an eye,” but Jesus retorts, “I tell you, do not resist evil ones,” but “turn the other cheek, forgiving everyone who sins against us.” For “sinners love those who love them.” But the test of following God’s way is to return good for evil.
Jesus truly redefined how God’s new Davidic king wins the battle that defeats evil. Instead of a warrior-king who enables them to shed their enemies’ blood, the need is for a servant who lets enemies shed his blood. In absorbing the worst that evil and Rome could do, Jesus exposed the violence that we rely on to deal with threats. And now we most see God, not in violent conquest, but in Jesus, and him crucified! Indeed, we see that it is through apparent weakness that God’s victory is truly won.
And the cross’ way of defeating evil is not only for Jesus, but shows how we are to overcome. For we too are to follow his “example,” take up our cross & lay down our life. Such “losing our life to save it” looks like defeat! But the real key to overcoming our enemies, as well as the evil in us, is to follow Jesus’ way of love & mercy, and “overcome evil with good” (Lk 9:23f; 1Pet 2:21; 2Cor 4:10f; Col 1:24; Rom 12:21).


#2097

I think you’re spot-on Bob. Excellent. I encourage everyone to read all the papers you have made available.
It does not challenge self-defense however.


#2098

So Dave… I hear you to insist a bit dispensationally that all of Jesus’ instructions in the Gospels’ handbook for young Christians that call disciples of his to non-violently love those who will seek to hurt and kill them, should be dismissed as expedience not relevant. I.e. Jesus’ teaching only reflects the temporary pragmatic realism that at this stand alone time Israel lacks the firepower to prevail, and even if they turn to God any violent confrontation will end disastrously in a few years.

Thus, Bob is wrong that love your enemies should be heard as at least don’t kill them.
For if Jesus knew e.g. that Christian American zealots would secure a greater arsenal than Israel, he’d say that loving such enemies may consist of putting a bullet in all their heads.

Just know that some brethren perceive Jesus offers abiding truths that are not only amoral expedients. They even see his proverbial principle warning about perpetual violence since he who takes the sword ends up dying by the sword as remaining insightful. For they see that Jesus grounds his teachings on non-violent love toward our evil-doers in the character that he observes in his Abba who he argues practices kindness to the wicked.

I’m an oddball, but I sincerely suspect that if Jesus brought his prophetic challenge to America’s devout today, they too would say “Bad guys have got to be stopped,” and would lynch him just as surely as did Israel’s most Bible centered violent devout.

P.S. Dave, I do appreciate that you’ve displayed more appreciation for my expositions of Jesus than anyone. The irony even amid our E.U. diversity is that we can still have different perceptions of intelligible implications or applications of such texts :slight_smile:


#2099

You misread me completely, as you consistently do, and I’m beginning to catch on that it is a wilfull misreading. I can’t explain it otherwise.
DO YOU REALLY THINK I WOULD LYNCH JESUS?
I don’t believe I will interact with you any further. I hate to do that because you are one of the people I normally turn to when I’m puzzling over an issue.
BUT YOU THINK I WOULD LYNCH JESUS.


#2100

No, Dave, I don’t think you would lynch Jesus at all, and I’m sorry that my provocative way of characterizing what I do see in a lot of American fundamentalism was personally offensive. My only point as a non-pacifist is that I think the way Anabaptists read the relevance of these texts is not far fetched and is worthy of a hearing.


#2101

Why ARE you not a pacifist?


#2102

Thanks for asking. I think it’s because it does not seem realistic to the terrible nature of evil, and of caring to protect the life and worth of those relatively innocent. The catch as you can see in my exposition, is that my greatest qualms about pacifism have little to do with taking to heart the trajectory I see in Scripture, especially as it culminates in Jesus’ approach to confronting and overcoming evil.

And thus I fear that most of my resistance to the Anabaptist argument is consistent with a lack of trust in God concerning those who can kill the body, and a reticence to embrace anything like Revelation’s call to be faithful martyrs. I do sense the strongest case could be made that Jesus would discourage us from violently protecting our own lives, but be more sympathetic to protecting others who have not made the choice to lay down their own lives. I always thought Karl Barth’s famous quote was insightful, saying, that you are not required to be a pacifist, but if a Jesus follower doesn’t at least see why many find it compelling, he doesn’t see war clearly.


#2103

Thanks for the explanation.
I can see a difference between personally suffering violence for being a witness to Christ, and allowing bad people to cause suffering and violence against the innocent.
If one equates true Christian witness with being totally non-violent, even in defense of the innocent, then one is free to do so. To go further and claim that others are not witnesses for Christ because they protect innocent lives is imo divisive and uncalled for. However, we can only choose what to believe.
Anabaptists, like everyone, can give reasons for their choices. But I would not want to include, in an altar call, “Accept the Lord Jesus Christ, and that includes no self-defense or the defense of others, no matter what, because that is what the Lord teaches.”