Christians & Violence, Part 2

Preston Sprinkle —  May 15, 2012 — 20 Comments
This entry is part 2 of 8 in the seriesChristians and Violence

In the previous post, I declared myself to be a pacifist. In this post, I’m going to show why the Bible endorses pacifism. Again, I’m arguing for the so-called “non-resistance” version of Pacifism, which states that the church/Christian should not participate in War as a combatant and that violence—along with lying and intoxication—should not be the mark of a Christ-follower. Here’s why.

First, Matthew 5:38-45 says:

“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ 39 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…Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. (Matt 5:38-39, 44-45)

Now, I grew up in a context where taking the Bible literally was the mantra sung every Sunday, and yet I often heard that we can’t take this passage literally. But I’m pretty sure Jesus meant what he said: Don’t retaliate violence with violence; retaliate violence with love. Fundamental to the Christian faith is that we love—not kill—our enemies, since Christ loved his enemies (i.e., us) and was unjustly killed for them (Rom 5:8-11). He served his enemies, loved his enemies, died for his enemies. The point seems very clear: love, and not violence, should be the church’s posture.

But isn’t this passage just talking about retaliation, rather than violence as a whole? Yes, the context is about retaliation, but if violent retaliation is prohibited, then what other violence could Jesus possibly have endorsed? Certainly, a preemptive war strike would logically be excluded, as would be a bullet to the head of the person breaking into your house. If violence is prohibited in retaliation, then violence is probably not looked upon with approval in all (or at least most) circumstances by Jesus.

Moreover, Matthew 5 is part of the Sermon of the Mount, which is the “definitive charter for the life of the new covenant community” (Hays, Moral Vision, 321). As the law of Moses was for Israel, so also the Sermon on the Mount is for the Christian community (the parallel is not exact, but is still close for reasons we can’t get into). Moreover, the sermon is the first of five speeches in Matthew (chs. 5-7, 10, 13, 18, 23-25), which constitute the content of the phrase “teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you” of the Great Commission (Matt 28:18-20). The point: non-violent love of one’s enemies is fundamental to the church’s discipleship and its mission to disciple the nations. Somehow that’s been lost in the post-Constantinian church.

Second, Jesus lived out the truth of his own command by never acting violently against those who were either attacking him (physically, verbally, etc.), or other innocent people who were being attacked. The first point is clear; the second one is a matter of speculation. And yet, as Jesus walked around Palestine in the first century, it’s nearly certain that he observed all sorts of injustices taking place and yet never are there any instances of Jesus acting violently to defend the innocent. In fact, he reached out to soldiers, tax-collectors, and suicide bombers like Simon the Zealot. Again, non-violent love of one’s enemies seems to be the pattern and effective means of confronting evil (see below). And in one instance, Peter whipped out his sword to violently defend Jesus and he was rebuked! “All who take the sword will perish by the sword” (Matt 26:52).

Third, when Jesus said “my kingdom is not of this world” (John 18:36a), he explicitly means that his kingdom is not a violent kingdom. “If my kingdom were of this world,” Jesus told the violent governor, “my servants would have been fighting” (John 19:36b). But my kingdom is not a violent kingdom; it’s not of this world. A fundamental feature of Jesus’ kingdom and all who participate in it is non-violence in the face of a very violent world.

Fourth, Paul and Peter both prohibit retaliation, including, of course, violent retaliation. They commanded the same counter intuitive love of one’s enemies that Jesus announced (Rom 12:14, 17-21; 1 Pet 2:18-23). Paul’s final exhortation in Romans 12:21 is particularly noteworthy, since it says “overcome evil with good.” This would suggest that evil people should not be overcome with evil, but with good, which challenges our basic assumption that evil people (e.g., Hitler) should be overcome with evil (e.g., murder). Now, I didn’t say Romans 12:21 rules it out; I just said that it challenges it—and Bonhoeffer’s intense struggle with this very issue illustrates the tension.

Now, there are many other passages that need to be dealt with, and many questions left unanswered. What about Romans 13? Didn’t Jesus command his disciples to pick up swords (Luke 22)? What about Jesus’ violent actions in cleansing the temple? All of these will be addressed in the next post. For now, it’s fitting to end with two points that as far as I can see aren’t subject to much debate: (1) Jesus acted non-violently, which lays down a pattern for his followers, and (2) violence is everywhere prohibited and never commanded for the church in the New Testament. All arguments that support the use of violence by Christians must wiggle it out of indirect implications from the text in the face of clear, direct commands of the text. Romans 13 is case in point. Here, Paul says that God uses governments to punish evil violently, and so if we assume that Christians are serving in such governmental positions, then they would logically be allowed to act violently. Not a bad argument, and we’ll wrestle with this. But again, this argument builds on indirect implications from Romans 13 and not the explicit authorial meaning of the passage.

So, in the next post, I’ll address Romans 13, Luke 22, and the temple cleansing, along with any other juicy comments that arise from this blog.

Until then, peace!

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Preston Sprinkle

Preston Sprinkle

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I'm married to a beautiful wife and we have four kids (3 girls and a boy). I've been teaching college level Bible and Theology classes for a few years now (since 2007), and enjoy hanging out with my family, running, surfing, and life in SoCal. Before I became a teacher, I was in school. Lots and lots of school. I did a B.A. and M.Div here in SoCal, and then did a Ph.D. in Scotland in NT studies. Before coming to EBC, I taught at Nottingham University for a semester, and Cedarville University for a couple of years. Along with surfing, I also love to research and write, and I've written a few things on Paul, Early Judaism, and Hell.
  • Brian

    Hi Preston,

    In the words that follow, please do not confuse passionate debate with unloving words. This is written by one who loves you as a brother, but what follows is vigorous debate. If anything I say offends you, let me know and I’ll ask your forgiveness.

    First, I’d encourage you to approach an issue like this by presenting the opposing position in the best light and using its strongest arguments. Such an approach will allow the readers to feel the real strength of your arguments if indeed they are strong. I don’t think you paint your opponents in a respectful light.

    You start with your background of where there was an inconsistency with regard to taking the Scriptures literally. However, I don’t think that those serious students of Scripture that oppose pacifism would argue that way. So, you may be bordering on a straw man argument. I mean, what could Jesus’ words possibly mean if they are not to be taken literally? What figure of speech would your previous context suggest? Hyperbole?

    Regardless of that, the main issue is not whether they are to be taken literally or not, but _how_ they should be interpreted in context and what situations they apply to. The context for Jesus’ words is, first of all, for those who follow Him and are persecuted because of Him (5:10, 11). As you noted, it also is geared toward personal retaliation. I agree with you that the kingdom is not to be built by the sword and that kingdom members are to love their enemies.

    However, you arbitrarily take this from the personal persecution and advancement sphere of the Church and apply it also to the government sphere as well as self-defense and defense of others.

    What is your justification for such a sweeping application?

    In Matt 5:38-42 you must also take into account the cultural context of Roman occupation. It was really non-retaliation for insults (what the slap was), not really violence in the life-threatening sense.

    You say, “if violent retaliation is prohibited, then what other violence could Jesus possibly have endorsed?”

    You can’t really answer that question from this passage.

    You then say, “Certainly, a preemptive war strike would logically be excluded, as would be a bullet to the head of the person breaking into your house.”

    Here you make a total leap into a different sphere. First, you jump into the government military sphere which Jesus certainly was not addressing. A preemptive strike is NOT logically excluded by this passage. Then you jump to self-defense, which Jesus also was not addressing.

    Then you say, “If violence is prohibited in retaliation, then violence is probably not looked upon with approval in all (or at least most) circumstances by Jesus.” I love the use of the wily word “probably.” That stands to be proven as well.

    Another flaw in your reasoning I believe is your equating of killing in war with murder (the Hitler illustration). I don’t think you can sustain that equality throughout Scripture. What you would need to resolve would be whether there is a different war time ethic presented in the OT and whether that is abrogated in the NT.

    Also, after your “non-debatable points” (which I’ll grant their flatness, but not your wider applications) you issue a demeaning characterization that “All arguments that support the use of violence by Christians must _wiggle_ it out of indirect implications from the text in the face of clear, direct commands of the text.”

    No one would expect a NT “command” for a Christian to use violence. But legitimate implications in certain circumstances can easily flow from a biblical theology that allows the OT to inform the NT.

    What is totally absent so far from your presentation is dealing with the OT law. You seem to assume without explanation that Jesus’ words overturn the legitimate application of violence by governments in the OT, personal property rights, and self-defense.

    If your argument is that “Yes, governments can do that, but Christians can’t be involved in government,” then one can rightly ask, how then would anyone expect that any government would provide anything resembling justice without Christian influence? You would also have to prove its illegitimacy or else we are left with it being a liberty.

    I look forward to further reading and interaction.

    Brian

    • http://prestonsprinkle.com Preston Sprinkle

      Brian,

      You raise some really good questions–too many, actually, for me to address thoroughly. Here’s a few thoughts.

      First, you rightly point out that I should probably nuance things a bit better in this post. Thanks for pointing these out (esp. with Matt 5).

      Second, this post is part of a 6 or 7 part series, so I think most of your questions/concerns/pushbacks will be addressed throughout. So perhaps I can suspend a thorough response to all your disagreements until after all the posts. Many of them will be addressed later. If not, let me know.

      Third, I disagree with your reading of Rahab. Her her hiding the spies included lying.

      Fourth, my argument has not been “Yes, governments can do that, but Christians can’t be involved in government.” That would be a truncated deduction of my argument in the third blog. The fourth blog (I think) addresses the OT. The self-defense hypothesis will be addressed tomorrow, and perhaps some things I say there will end up slightly contradicting stuff I said in the first blog. So thanks for pointing that out! I’ll fix that in the future!

      Seriously, bro, your comments were extremely helpful! They’ve refined my thinking in many ways.

      Preston

  • Brian

    Why are lying and intoxication connecting with pacifism?

    • http://prestonsprinkle.com Preston Sprinkle

      Good question, Brian. I’ll tease out the analogy on Friday. In short, lying, intoxication, and violence (I argue), are forbidden as normative for the church. However, in some circumstances such prohibitions may be allowed when faced with an ethical dilemma of choosing the lesser of two evils. So, in the case of Rahab, she lied and was praised for it (Heb 11), but this does not mean that lying is always allowed. In a sense, she chose the “higher law” by saving the life of the two spies and helping to further God’s mission in Canaan. Likewise, if a tree falls on my leg while no one is around, and all I have is a dull pocket knife to saw off my leg at the shin, and all I have is a flask of Jack Daniels to dull the pain, I think that Paul would be ok with me violating Eph 5:18 here. This second example is a bit more subjective, of course.

      So too with violence. If someone is going to kill my family, and my ONLY way to stop them is by killing them, then I think that the lesser of two evils is to kill the killer. It’s still an evil–violence is not the posture of the church–but in certain extreme ethical dilemmas, I think it may be allowed.

      • Brian

        Wow, Preston. I think I’d disagree with you on all three of these. I think you miss the biblical theological perspective on all of these. I do not think any of them offer an ethical dilemma, or that any offer a lesser of two evils that is legitimate.

        In the case of Rahab I’d say that she is commended for protecting the spies, not lying. I’d say that lying is never allowed. Here you do what you accuse those who allow for some violence of doing. You _wiggle_ out an allowance for lying from an anecdotal passage in the face of clear prohibitions against lying.

        In your leg illustration I think that the Scriptures clearly allow for medicinal use of alcohol, just not “drunkenness” as defined in the context of Ephesians. He is speaking of a contrast between two lifestyles: that of the unbelieving world and that of God’s people. In 4:17–24 the pagan lifestyle is the riotous dark way believers are urged not to go back to. Instead, those who have learned Christ’ (v. 20) are to live according to the ‘new man’. They are to be light, walk in wisdom, be filled with the Spirit. Getting drunk ‘to be drunk’ epitomizes the ways of darkness since it leads to dissipation, sexual excess and debauchery. Paul uses a drunken lifestyle of dissipation as a foil to Spirit filled lifestyle.

        the real question in the leg illustration is “Why did you have a bottle of Jack Daniels?” Just kidding!

        With the killing illustration, I think that one’s conscience does not have to be so conflicted. Ex 22:2 is a good example of a verse that justifies killing in some cases. It is not a case of evil versus evil, or picking the lesser of two evils.

        Your posing of ethical dilemmas in these cases leads to a situational ethics.

        • http://prestonsprinkle.com Preston Sprinkle

          Just to clarify, there’s a difference between “Situation Ethics” and “Graded Absolutism,” the view I (and Augustine) take, which I articulate in blog 5 (I think).

  • Jacque

    Yvonne (by the way that’s some French name you got going on there) I absolutely agree with you. When it comes down to someone messing with our kids I know without a doubt I would put my Christianity on the shelf for about 3 minutes while I did my best to hurt someone. Am I proud of that fact? Absolutely not!
    When I took Preston’s Ethics class, I came to realize the inconsistency I have within myself and I don’t like it one bit. I believe without a doubt that Jesus is a complete pacifist. (I can’t see him pulling a trigger for any reason. I look at the pictures Preston posted with yesterday’s blog and they are too bizarre for me to even comprehend.) But yet I’m willing to “hurt someone?” and I call myself a Christian? Being a Christian is making a decision to follow Christ and live as he lived. I try every single day committed to serving Him. I am purposeful in how I live this life He’s given me, but I wrestle with this fact. If some thug was messing with one of my daughters I know I would not just stand there and pray for them or ask God to forgive them “for they know not what they do!” Agsin I am not proud of this fact, I’m just being honest. It’s a tough issue and I look forward to reading more.
    Thanks Preston for putting it on the table!

  • Seth Axen

    I’ve been wrestling with this subject for a while, and I’m looking forward to reading your responses to the objections to pacifism.
    Here’s another question. Is all violence therefore wrong? How about boxing, football, or arm wrestling? Where do we draw the line?

    • http://prestonsprinkle.com Preston Sprinkle

      Seth,

      We’ll get to some of those questions–hopefully! In short, I think that violence–like lying or intoxication–should not be the posture of Christians. Are there extreme cases where lying can be justified? Yes. How about intoxication? I think so (where morphine is unavailable). But it’s not the norm.

  • Mark Corcoran

    I’m pretty sure I completely agree with the stance you’re taking. I was thinking through the scenario of, “guy with knife my house”, from part 1. And it would seem, based on Jesus’ words of, “Do not resist an evil man..If anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, let him have your coat also.” That you might help the person robbing you by giving them more of your things and asking if they need anything else? In matters of attack, I know you can subdue someone without doing violence to them, but you could also try preaching the gospel to them during this. And if someone comes to murder you, couldn’t you lovingly embrace them, or flee?

    I just dont see anyone in the NT, or early church, responding to threats of death with violence. You see them fleeing or accepting persecution.

    The case of Jesus using the whip in the Temple is rather interesting, seeing as it is the only time Jesus used physical force. However we do not see it in regards to self defense, or war, but rather to drive wicked men out of the Temple. Which was also fulfilling prophecy “Zeal for Your house will consume Me.” So any argument in support of using physical force using that verse, for me, would have to use an argument that explained how your reason for doing it matches up with why Jesus did it. And that would be tremendously difficult because the Temple is now broken, we are now Gods house as believers, and instead of defending ourselves from persecution we are led like Jesus, as lambs to the slaughter. Not reviling when reviled, or uttering threats, but entrusting ourselves to the only Righteous Judge. Just like Jesus did.

    • http://prestonsprinkle.com Preston Sprinkle

      Mark,

      I’m glad I’m not alone!

      I like your phrase: “That you might help the person robbing you by giving them more of your things and asking if they need anything else?” Isn’t this what makes Les Miserable so powerful? And forgiveness and love–rather than murder–seems to fit the radical call to follow Jesus’ cross-shaped footsteps, even (or especially) toward those who violently attack you. As MLK has shown, such action actually is more powerful and effective to accomplish justice than violent retaliation.

      Thanks for dropping in!

      • yvonne

        Question for Mark: Suing someone in court is not the same as robbing someone at knifepoint. I don’t believe Jesus is saying as long as the robber is stealing the flatscreen, give him the BluRay also. If evil enters my home and a man rapes me how do I “subdue him without doing violence to him”? Do I “lovingly embrace him” and offer him some other sexual act also, or “preach the gospel to him”? (That may be difficult if he has a rag stuffed down my throat and my hands tied behind my back.) Do I give him my two daughters and triple his perverse violent enjoyment while I stand by and watch??? Do I validate his humanity while he dehumanizes my children?

        I am waiting to see how you approach this issue tomorrow, Preston. I am not sure how I would respond if someone attacked me, even though I am aware of the possibility every time I walk through a dark or lonely parking lot. (A thought, I venture to guess, that does not enter into the mind of a man with much regularity.) However, if someone is attacking or raping my kid, I would be hard pressed to not find the nearest baseball bat and “swing away,” the same way I once beat a pitbull off my dog. As much as I believe in living the cruciform life, I don’t see the redemptive value of passively observing violence. Just my honest response.

        • http://prestonsprinkle.com Preston Sprinkle

          Ouch. Mark, umm, I’ll go ahead and let you take that one.

          Some of these things will be addressed later, but for now, I do think that violence (like lying and intoxication) is allowed in certain circumstances as the lesser of two evils (e.g. when a life is threatened and violence is the only option to halt it). So if repeatedly kicking the dude in the groan is the only means to prevent rape (or taking a baseball bat…well, you get the point), then ya, I think it’s the lesser of two evils and therefore the best moral choice. More on this anon.

          • Malek

            I’m glad Yvonne brought this up because I was just thinking about the RAD (Rape Aggression Defense) course I took last year and wondering – was that wrong to do? Was it un-Christian to learn how to defend myself and, if necessary, even harm someone who might try to rape me.

            Tension here is a desire to be TOTALLY submitted to what scripture (and, therefore, Jesus) teaches but also just a very strong aversion to the idea of being raped. I mean, obviously, that’s human.

            In reality, even if I believed hurting someone in self-defense was definitely sin, I would probably just do it anyway and plead God’s mercy afterwards (I know this is not the ideal).

            I mean, I respect what Yvonne’s saying about protecting her children but, you know, Jesus did say in Luke 14:26 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters–yes, even his own life–he cannot be my disciple.” So – yes – we have those natural, human desires for self-preservation and the preservation of those we love but … if it actually is the case that protecting your wife and children from harm is against Jesus’ command (and I’m not convinced that it is) than …… we have to obey that, right?

            Wow. This is really tough stuff here. How do we reconcile Jesus’ easy yoke and light burden with all the stuff about taking up your cross (as evidenced in this teaching re: not resisting violence) ???

        • Mark Corcoran

          Sorry for the delay in response.

          I’ll be honest thats the one scenario that played through my mind as I wrote this, that caused me to pause. Its such a grievous thing for someone to do that it’s hard to imagine not using violence on them.

          (Side note: why wouldnt it be giving the guy your blu ray also? Why not talk to him and see if he has any needs? Why he’s robbing you? Just a thought.)

          Clearly my point wasnt to suggest offering up yourself more or offering your daughters. Not at all. And it is hard to know what to do in each scenario. I cant see myself faulting someone for defending their children from abuse like that. However, I wrestle with trying to live a life in response to the truth that God hates violence. And while the dogs in your situation are not people, just animals, I recognize the point you’re making. I wouldnt want anyone to go too far with it, as far as swinging the bat. Especially when we hear stories of people that visit their attackers in prison, forgiving them, and sharing Jesus with them. I hope this would be our response as well.

          I know that the early church started to experience persecution of a sort we never have, at least nobody I know. And we dont see them responding with violence. I guess the bible is pretty vague on this particular situation, aside from the OT where the attacker has to marry the girl he violates. So Im not sure exactly.

          Its a pretty sensitive subject, and I wont pretend I know the perfect answer. At the end of the day I know that God hates violence, and that we forget that too often. Perhaps there are specific scenarios in which force is permissible. I just hope that the Holy Spirit would direct us in each situation to walk in accord with the Fathers will to the glory of Jesus Christ.

          • Mark Corcoran

            I guess I would like to add, that my reply feels lacking. I apologize if Im not being concise.

            I think that a person could take the bat and put the dog down, or they could use the bat only to defend the dog. And I wouldnt want someone to kill the attacker instead of just fight them off.

            But I also want to be in prayer always, and maybe in the moment God would lead me to pray, and He might move in His power, or provide a way out. Its entirely possible that God would open a door to something even greater than just the 2 scenarios we have here of either 1. Violence, 2. dont do anything. Perhaps a scenario in which the gospel transcends the act of evil to be basically, miraculous. Im hoping theres a way to not be violent but also show the gospel and protect people.

  • http://prestonsprinkle.com Preston Sprinkle

    Hey Colby,

    It is a funny world we live in where defending non-violent love is seen as radical, sticking your neck out, or going against the norm. A former student of mine, who also is a pacifist, facebooked my blog as my “coming out as a pacifist” as if I announced I was gay or something. It just shows how jaded our reading of Scripture can be. At the very least, I think all Christians should come to a point where they would see pacifism as carrying with it a good deal of Scriptural support, even if they ultimately argue for the Just War position. And the fact that some Christians almost get angry at the pacifism is really telling.

    To your point, I really like (and agree with) your point:

    “On the whole, Jesus’ call to discipleship seems to be twofold: 1) renounce oneself and 2) pick up one’s cross. That renouncing one’s self and picking up one’s cross is to be understood as call to nonviolent love is made evident by Jesus’ life, death and resurrection. Jesus was not calling His disciples to something He wasn’t doing Himself.”

    Not much to expand on here. Seems pretty spot on. Andrew and I have been in dialogue about this very point.

    Preston

  • Colby Truesdell

    Preston,

    First off, daggum (Southern slang for “dang”). Thanks for having the boldness to address this issue. Like you said, pacifism isn’t a common evangelical position on violence; and, as such, much theological discussion – not least debate- needs to happen to provide a way forward. For that, I thank you.

    Now, from what I gathered in this post, it seems you are starting off by showing that there is a consistent theme of nonviolence throughout the NT Scripture. With this, I wholeheartedly agree. On that note, it seems that another thread in the NT tapestry of nonviolent language seems to be “cross” or “cruciform” language. For instance, it is interesting to note that the words “disciple” and/or “discipleship” never occur outside of the Gospel writers (which includes Acts). This is odd because that is the main objective given to us in the Great Commission: Go make disciples! Why doesn’t the word occur in the epistles? Or, in the Apocalypse? I’m inclined to think that Paul’s cruciform language could, more or less, be understood as discipleship language, which is inherently nonviolent. On the whole, Jesus’ call to discipleship seems to be twofold: 1) renounce oneself and 2) pick up one’s cross. That renouncing one’s self and picking up one’s cross is to be understood as call to nonviolent love is made evident by Jesus’ life, death and resurrection. Jesus was not calling His disciples to something He wasn’t doing Himself. To understand the teachings in the Sermon on the Mount is to understand the person of Jesus. This is why Paul talks so much about cruciformity and suffering, because Christ suffered and was crucified. If we are called to be conformed into the image of the suffering Christ, nonviolent cruciformity necessarily follows. For example, Paul talks about being crucified with Christ, carrying in his body the dying Jesus, filling up what what is lacking in Christ afflictions, and bearing the marks of Jesus on his body. Do you think Paul’s cruciform language could be understood as, more or less, discipleship language, which, in turn, is inherently nonviolent?

    Heck, I could be way off. I’m systematizing a lot, which is something I don’t like to do, but I think it may hit the mark at some point.

    I look forward to the rest of your post. Thanks again, dude.

  • Lyndell

    Jesus turned his mother over to John for provision and protection, that is what Jewish men did. You don’t shoot someone because they come in your house. You shoot them to stop them from killing others. The tradition of Judaism and Christianity argues against your interpretation and you cannot interpret the Bible outside the Literal and Cultural Context and get its true meaning. Jewish tradition says that you can do anything to save a life. I submit that Jesus was pointing out a misuse of ‘eye for an eye,’ not repealing the principle of law that the punishment should fit the crime. This is one of the most misquoted and misinterpreted parts of the OT. It is not about vengeance, it is about forgiving people where and whenever we can, but stopping violence, also. God set up law and government in Genesis 9 and commanded us to follow through. Jesus did not remove Genesis. Jesus instructed us on personal interactions. He made the point that we should err on the side of forgiveness. Jesus took a whip to the men in the temple who dishonored God and extorted from the poor. Was that not violence in your usage? I would say that it was wrath and justice. Would He who taught us the value of life and reverence for it, not say that the killing of innocents is an abomination. Genesis 9 says it is deserving of death.

    • http://prestonsprinkle.com Preston Sprinkle

      Lyndell,

      I’m not sure I can address all of these questions and/or concerns, but here’s a few quick responses.

      “Jesus turned his mother over to John for provision and protection, that is what Jewish men did.” I don’t understand how this is relevant.

      “You don’t shoot someone because they come in your house. You shoot them to stop them from killing others.” We’ll address this later–killing for the sake of saving another’s life. For now, you have no evidence from Jesus’ words or actions that He took this posture. Somehow you have to proof (against the grain, I think) that loving your enemy can somehow include killing them.

      “The tradition of Judaism and Christianity argues against your interpretation.” Judaism, yes. Christianity, no. I’m not a Jew, I’m a Christian, and Jesus’ non-violent action/commands countered the typical Jewish view (cf. the Maccabean revolt, Judas the Galilean, etc.).

      “you cannot interpret the Bible outside the Literal and Cultural Context and get its true meaning.” Neither can you.

      “Jewish tradition says that you can do anything to save a life.” I’m not Jewish. And…really? Anything?

      “I submit that Jesus was pointing out a misuse of ‘eye for an eye,’ not repealing the principle of law that the punishment should fit the crime.” True, sort of, but it’s a false dichotomy. If the punishment should fit the crime, then we’re all screwed.

      “God set up law and government in Genesis 9 and commanded us to follow through. Jesus did not remove Genesis.” True, Jesus did not “remove” Genesis, but He did declare himself as the apex and culmination of everything the OT was pointing to. We’ll get to that on Thursday.

      Ok, that’s all I got. Sorry I can’t respond more thoroughly to all of these, but there’s a ton of different ideas/questions in your comment. It’d be helpful in the future if you stuck to one major question/disagreement to foster a more thorough dialogue.

      All and all, you raise some very challenging thoughts and I hope that I can address them all in the forthcoming posts.

      Thanks for dropping in, brother!

      (Did you ever get that tree cut down??)