The natural state of man is to protect himself and his property at all cost. If someone were to teach this concept as a religious principle it would be easy to receive a very solid following. On the other hand, to teach non-resistance to evil would draw the opposite effect, especially if it included as a fact that the head of the Church taught this as a divine law.
The divine law of Christ has been proclaimed for two thousand years by multiplied millions, and millions more have studied and preached that law. By what right do I claim this novel idea that Jesus really meant what He said in the Sermon on the Mount and encapsulated the essence of those words in, “Resist not an evil person”? There is no need to state some special right to simply believe the words that a man speaks, and doubly so, when that man is Christ.
How is it that I came upon this novel idea? I was a seeker of truth. I was not a seeker of religion or fellowship, or of a particular man or denomination, or of a theological concept or style of worship, nor did I care about ethics or morality, except where it touched “truth.” Following the crowd or the herd instinct had no appeal and was repulsive to me. It was this attitude that gave me the liberty to explore and to seek out truth unhampered by associations and feelings of loyalty to anyone or anything. Having found the Gospel, or rather, having been found by the Gospel, I proceeded, not aware that I carried within me a whole set of preconceived ideas about truth, blocking the light, not least of which was the idea of patriotism, courage, and national allegiance. Even after leaving institutionalized Christianity, due to its blatant corruption, I still held to many false concepts which are not part of the Gospel, and even explicitly spoken against by Jesus Himself. Two thousand years of manhandling the truth has produced a product still labeled the “truth,” but is in reality a prostitution of the truth and believed in by the masses, because it blends so naturally with what we want to believe anyway. Extreme radicals and conservative orthodoxy both use the same corrupted doctrines to justify their reasons to NOT turn the other cheek and to kill their enemies fighting, in what is termed, “just wars,” and rebelling against the Gospel.
As a seeker of truth I could not ignore the facts that the words of Jesus stand firmly against our accepted belief that the Old Testament holds the answers to the reasons we act the way we do toward our enemies. Jesus has overruled Moses and instituted a whole new way of life with new laws, yet no one believes or accepts them, although He speaks plainly. We do not look at Christ as one who was the revealer of a divine law, but as one who accepted and explained a law already known by me and everyone else. As Americans we already possess a complete and complex teaching about how God works through the Law of Moses, and how those laws translates into the American belief system and founding. We accept the idea of justice, peace, conflict, and violence, as held by our government as the correct interpretation of New Testament truth as presented by Jesus. We accept the internal conflicts of scriptures and the contradictions as answered by all the schooled teachers and pastors who repeat the party-line, and no one asks the obvious questions of: what about forgiveness, mercy, turning the other cheek, the fellowship of man, overcoming evil with good, going the extra mile, not judging, not resisting an evil person, if you live by the sword you will die by the sword, and Jesus’ words, “If my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight.”
If a person who had not known anything about the Bible or knew nothing of national allegiance was for the first time to read the Sermon on the Mount he would probably either view it as the writings of a madman or as the genius of divinity, but no way could he accept them as meaning something other than what they simply say. Only through the brilliance of theological training have these words been turned on their ear. It is plain in the reading that Christ is here denying the old law and instituting a new law of His own. In the Great Sermon you read, “Ye have heard it was said, ‘an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth;’ but I say unto you, Resist not him that is evil.” The words, “An eye for and eye and a tooth for a tooth,” is the old Law of Moses, but the conjunction “but” introduces something that is in contrast or unexpected, in this case it is something opposite. The words, “Resist not him that is evil,” is the new law which repeals the old law.
Logically I should have just believed and accepted these words a long time ago, but the natural inclination of the flesh, the national prescription of allegiance, along with centuries of theological interpretations has effectively hidden the truth of these plain words. The Church claims and teaches that Christ did not deny the Law of Moses, but rather confirmed it, “To the last jot and tittle.” How could Christ both deny and confirm the Law of Moses? Christ said both of these things; how are we to reconcile these words? Does the Law of Moses agree with the Law of Christ? Today and for the past seventeen hundred years we have accepted, unverified, the idea that the interpretations of the esteemed Church Fathers are correct; that both of these laws agree and that Christ confirms the Law of Moses and completed it. The question remains, how did Christ’s words, “…but I say unto you” effect a completion of Moses’ law when it is apparent that He is overriding it? What is also apparent is that these two statements are contradictory and that there can be no agreement between them, which is not forced or manipulative; the one cannot complete the other. As a consequence of this discovery I chose to believe the plain words of Christ, and by doing so very much that used to be obscure started to become discernible.
Once this truth was revealed to me I had no other choice but to turn toward the light. This was not the light of Luther, Calvin, the Catholic’s, the Orthodox’s, or the light of reason, but it was the same light that lit the way for the primitive Christians of the first three hundred years, and the Albigensian’s, the Waldensian’s, the Anabaptist, and others including the Mennonites and the Amish. This was and is the light that has been veiled and has blacked-out the “City on a Hill.” This light comes not by a re-interpretation by me of His words, but because the artificial light of men’s teaching over the years, was rejected, and truth entered as a revelation.
More on Christ’s view of the Law of Moses in the next article.