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Christians and Violence

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Having been born and raised in the inner-city of Indianapolis, weaned on violent T.V., serving in the Army with two years in Viet Nam, receiving Christ, and spending the next forty-or-so years in the flag-waving Church of Evangelicalism, it is only reasonable that violence would become acceptable to my way of thinking; but on the contrary, it never made any sense to me. A person either has to accept violence as normal and adapt to it and weave it into the fabric of their lives, hiding in a closet and pretending they’re safe, or reject it flat-out as a foreign malignant disease that has afflicted the vast majority of the human race.

After experiencing violence up close in many different expressions before becoming a Christian I chose to surrender and gave my life to Jesus. Unfortunately, the many Denominational Churches that my wife and I attended embraced violence as natural, even necessary, and displayed the American flag, and promoted patriotism. For forty years I questioned this general attitude yet I participated in the events with fireworks, parades, and flag-waving. The Sermon on the Mount, which contained the answer, was read and ignored by evangelicals, then explained away hurriedly or simply pushed aside by the pastors.

Now, I understand, that preaching the truth of nonresistance to evil can be detrimental to one’s pastoral practice. The German Church showed this to be true during the rise of Hitler and Nazism when Protestantism supported what the power elite, politicians, and the people wanted to hear. Furthermore, those in the Evangelical Church found the violence of their beloved Reformers Luther, Zwingli, and Calvin as support for their own violence. Most Evangelicals prefer to remain ignorant of the truth and join in the celebrations of murderous patriotic holidays and proudly display the fact that they don’t mind killing or maiming other human beings for “just” reasons. This, done in conjunction with their leaders heaping scorn and disgrace on nonresistant Christians and the Anabaptist Radical Reformers, who were burned at the stake for preaching the nonresistance proclaimed by Jesus and His Apostles.

And, if that isn’t enough, now there are Anabaptists justifying violence. I am not surprised to discover this fact, although being relatively new to Anabaptism, I am somewhat hurt and ashamed for them. But, considering these dark times of advancing indiscriminate violence by those who lash out at those making an open stand for the truth, the fearfulness of so many shouldn’t be surprising. In the face of violence, either personal or national, a response of violence seems warranted. As I see it, being witnessed in the Anabaptist communities I am familiar with, to avoid the persecution associated with their convictions, have simply withdrawn their voice from the fight. The majority stay safe by strict avoidance of situations where their beliefs may be tested. Making concessions in the presentation of the Gospel for the sake of safety is not exemplified by the Bible or by the history of Anabaptism.

Some may disagree with me, I expect it, but it needs to be said. I have read much on the topic along with very many historical accounts and I suspect that what I say is very close to the truth. I am thankful for the Anabaptist and now consider myself Anabaptist since there is no other group that follows as closely to the truth of Scripture as they do. But, the long and relaxing years that they have experienced in America have dulled their sensitivity to their mission of preaching the whole Gospel. Today, they are no different than other denominations who mind their own business and preach a compromised message or preach to those in closed communities.

“God so loved the world,” a world which is radically and entirely evil, that nothing less than the gift of His own Son would do. The boundless love of God is the only thing that can explain the care He has for mankind that is by nature detestable. So, consequently, we are told to distance ourselves from society with its evil tendencies and corrupted nature, but equally, we are not to be altogether extracted from it; we are to be in the world but not of it; we are to seek out a particular Christian posture. We are first-and-foremost soldiers of the Cross, dropped behind enemy lines, and given a mission. We are to present the Gospel and to face the population of that country with nonresistant love and to lay down of our lives, if necessary, refusing a violent reply.

In an Anabaptist World article originally published by Mennonite World Review in April 2014, the headline reads “Graham’s almost agreement with nonresistance”. In 1961 Billy Graham accepted an invitation to meet with Mennonite and Brethren in Christ leaders to try and get the celebrity to support their message of nonresistance and for their organizations to become more evangelistic. Billy’s short answer was, thanks but no thanks, and he forbid them from using any quotes from their meeting in follow-up articles. My question is, “what is so anathema about nonresistance to the Evangelicals?” The answer came to me quickly. Besides the enormous amount of Biblical ignorance on the subject, the answer is simple, money! People do not want to hear a message of separation from the world and nonresistance to the evil person. You cannot build a large and profitable church by preaching on these subjects. As a corollary to this, preaching this message in the Evangelical strongholds of the cities will, without doubt, stir-up a lust for violence among those in the Protestant Churches. I guess that the Anabaptists have no desire to return to the days of persecution and burning flesh, which is understandable, but how else will the message get into the cities unless someone goes there, boldly!?

“If you live righteously you will be persecuted,” Paul told Timothy. Jesus told His followers that “A servant is not greater than his master. If they persecuted Me they will persecute you.” Have you asked the question lately, “Why isn’t the Church in America being persecuted?” Could the answer be that the whole message of Truth invites violence so it is kept hidden?

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