Gabe, I respectfully disagree. I think what it comes down to, for all of us, is ignorance about true spiritual warfare. I think my essay above addresses the most fundamental warfare: learning to distinguish God from Satan. (There, the Murray article I reference is so vital in understanding the true nature of God.)
As for us humans, is violence justified? Should we not oppose criminals with deadly force? Should we not protect our families and our countries through the use of (counter) violence?
BUT, instead of generalizing to “us humans,” I think that in this forum, the focus should be on “us Christians.”
So, how are we Christians to withstand violence and danger?
Well, again, from my essay above, “Our struggle is NOT against flesh and blood,” and “The weapons of our warfare are NOT carnal.” Ephesians 6:12. 2 Corinthians 10:4. And I might add, ‘Flesh just gives birth to more flesh.’ John 3:6.
My Christian experience is charismatic: I pray in tongues, and believe the Gifts of the Holy Spirit are channels of God’s love and grace still available today, ‘to as many as did receive him’. (And in spite of abuses and scandals along this line, I hope you won’t ‘throw out the baby with the bathwater.’)
Recall how the prophet Elisha would warn the king of Israel about ambushes set up against him by the king of Aram. The king of Aram eventually became so frustrated, that he accused his own counselors of selling him out. He demanded of them, “Tell me! Which of us is on the side of the king of Israel?” But someone spoke up and said, “None of us, my lord the king,” said one of his officers, “but Elisha, the prophet who is in Israel, tells the king of Israel the very words you speak in your bedroom.” 2 Kings 6.
So we Christians today, having the Holy Spirit, should be learning to hear the voice of God, just like Elisha, in order to escape danger, and to warn others, in advance, of specific danger.
Jesus, living as a human being like us, set the example for us about how to live in dependence on the Spirit, to fulfill his Father’s desires. At the Jordan River, Jesus walked us through the Baptism in the Holy Spirit, and later demonstrated all the Gifts of the Spirit. E.g., the Word of Knowledge: *“ ‘How do you know me?’ Nathanael asked. Jesus answered, ‘I saw you while you were still under the fig tree before Philip called you.’ ” * Jn 1:48. And of course, gifts of healing, miracles, prophecy, wisdom, et al, —all while living as a human being, like us, in the power of the Spirit.
Speaking of violence, Jesus supernaturally escaped untimely death, without striking a blow:
- Luke 4:29 They got up, drove him out of the town [Nazareth], and took him to the brow of the hill on which the town was built, in order to throw him off the cliff. *But he walked right through the crowd *and went on his way.
- John 8:59 Then they took up stones to cast at him: but Jesus hid himself, and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by.
He didn’t kill anybody: that is not his nature. That is not our new nature, either. And we have superior weapons available, which are not carnal.
Remember “binding and loosing”? Binding and casting out death and Satan, and proclaiming and loosing life? These are ‘the keys of the kingdom of heaven.’ Matt. 16:19, 18:18. We must learn to receive and walk in these Gifts, and to wield these weapons, in order to not be victimized, and to successfully extend the kingdom of heaven. We must proclaim, demonstrate, and enforce the finished work of Jesus (“It is finished”). We are leaven that is spreading life throughout this fallen creation, and God wants us to be in the right place, at the right time, saying and doing the right things.
Although he’s not yet an “Evangelical Universalist,” I enjoy pastor Joseph Prince of Singapore and what he teaches about the authority of the believer. And obviously I love Richard Murray.
I am glad you are wrestling with these important questions, Gabe.