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The Christianization of War and Violence Pt. 4 (Conclusion)

 

The Christians’ Justification and the Law of Nature

Over the past 1700 years or so we have developed many justifications for violence, and have learned to tame our conscience when it speaks to the contrary. Among the many justifications for violence and war is a very loud voice that shakes the foundations with the declaration that non-resistance just isn’t natural.

The thing that “naturally” flows from our mouth when we think about the Biblical prescript to “not resist an evil man” is that it goes against the laws of nature; because all of nature teaches us to resist evil, not to “not resist” it. Well, that makes sense and the logic of it naturally resonates with the elements of our physical, mental, and spiritual, constitution.

From birth we learn to resist. The majority of men confidently assert that non-resistance is un-natural and therefore rejected, regardless of what the Bible says to the contrary. Can the majority be wrong? When we say that resisting evil is “natural” what do we mean by that? What is the “nature” of a thing? And what is the Law of nature?

The nature of a thing, according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, is:

def: the inherent character or basic constitution of a person or thing: its essence

So, we can say with a fair amount of confidence that whatever is not essential to a thing or being is not “natural” to it; but, rather the un-necessary thing is only an appendage. The appendage is something that is foreign to the true nature and may only have the appearance of something important and original.

As I was sitting in the doctor’s office today waiting for my exam I looked at all the charts on the wall, and without a doubt human nature has very many essential elements that are common to all human beings, and foundational to our wellbeing. But, on the other hand, there are also very many non-essential appendages, i.e. aging, obesity, mental illness, anger, rage, murder, vanity, lust, etc., that characterize individuals, families, communities, states, and nations. These appendages are the inherited traits, circumstances, and habits, which can be changed or modified through acts of the will. Consequently all of these characteristics, both natural and un-natural are classified under the single head of the “laws of nature.” All of these elements characterize both who we are, and what we have become. What we have become can be changed, and who we really are, without the appendages, is what Jesus came to reveal and reclaim.

While I was at the VA Hospital getting my exam I read a poster which read something like this, “It takes the strength of a soldier to ask for help,” then it showed a picture of a soldier, with rifle in hand, who was without a doubt, contemplating those whom he had killed, and the killing of himself; then there was the phone number of the suicide hotline. Is this natural? No! It is not natural! It is an evil appendage, and it didn’t come from God. The taking of another human life is the most un-natural thing that can be done, and that soldier knows it, and Jesus says that hate and anger are as murder, and reap the same results. Can you begin to see why the only answer to this problem, is the only solution that exist, and it is total non-resistance to evil mankind. It makes no sense to the natural mind, but it is the way of Christ, and He says “Follow Me.”

The message of Matthew 5, of resisting not an evil man, is the only consistently accurate meaning of the words and life of Jesus and the Apostles that exist, yet we force it from our minds as inconsistent with the laws of nature. The only real peace you will ever experience is incorporated in the life of overcoming evil with good, everything else is a lie and un-natural to the spiritual life of a believer. Jesus lived that life, and His disciples followed for close to 300 years, and they turned the world upside down. Evil men could not destroy them from without, so they corrupted them from within. The story of the Church has been downhill ever since; rolling on for two thousand years collecting debris all along the way: Fancy buildings, pulpits, titles, and pews, vestments, robes, and gowns, candles, incense, and icons, programs, colleges, and seminaries, and the list goes on, and on, and on; yet not one in a thousand will live the life that He lived, that nonresistant life. We curse fifty people a day who get in our way; that guy who cut me off on my way home; the lady who just couldn’t move fast enough in front of me; the young kid who rushes in and gets my parking spot, and the lady in front of me at the grocery store with a zillion coupons and can’t find her Kroger card; that hardware store I drove ten miles to buy the only thing they were out of; the gas station who raises their prices two minutes before I get there, and all the manager can say is “sorry dude.”

What is the solution to all of these examples and a million more, not even to mention the man who robs you, beats you, and destroys your life? Let’s hear the words of Jesus and His Apostles.

"But I say unto you, that ye resist not evil, but whoso­ever smites thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also."

"All that take the sword shall perish by it."

“Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven”

 

"If my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight."

“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

“Do not repay anyone evil for evil”

"Do good unto them that hate you."

"For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: for the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds."

"If your enemy hunger, feed him."

"For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh; that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit."

“Repay no one evil for evil.” “overcome evil with good” “When he was reviled, he did not revile in return”

“Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps. When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly”

These are only a few of the many verses that point to or command that we should follow Christ’s life of nonresistance.

There is so very much more that can, and needs to be, said on this subject. I am totally convinced that the greater part of Christendom is blind to this forgotten doctrine, but history and the Bible will confirm to anyone who is seeking the truth, that a true convert to Christ will turn from the evil of worldly politics and the need for war and self-defense. There is no way that a person can claim to be a follower of Jesus and not follow Him in the specific narrow path that He walked. The politics of self-defense is very complicated for the Christian, trying to get all the contrary verses to align, allowing him to participate in government and war, and at the same time try to honor Jesus with a righteous lifestyle; claiming to love his enemy while supporting the machine that will kill them. The simple life of non-resistance solves so much of the conflict and confusion generated by the inconsistent teaching coming from the pulpit. I believe if Jesus were asked about His follower’s involvement in the political machine He may say something like, “If My kingdom were of this world then would My servants vote.”

I don’t suspect that I have changed too many minds, but I pray that at the very least I have stood up for a most controversial doctrine, and caused you to think about what you have been told that the Bible says, and accepted without question, and what it actually does say.

Grace and Peace

Series Navigation<< The Christianization of War and Violence Pt. 3The Christianization of War and Violence Pt. 5 A Response to a Question >>

2 replies on “The Christianization of War and Violence Pt. 4 (Conclusion)”

 
These are wonderful posts and I almost wish I had written them. But, you are truly preaching to the choir, brother, Like you, I cannot reconcile the idea of a young man volunteering to go fight and kill people that his government declares his enemy and whom he does not even know.
As "a true convert to Christ" I have "turned from the evil of worldly politics and the need for war and self-defense", although the latter is one I do struggle with a bit. One of the first things I did after becoming a follower of Christ was to renounce any political affiliation and even the idea that I should be a loyal American. Doesn't scripture say we are "aliens" and that our "citizenship is in heaven"?
Anyway, I think the logical next step is for you to address the scriptural emphasis on defending the weak, the poor, the widow and the orphan. And how about defending our families or disarming an evil person who is harming or threatening to harm another person? The policy of non-violence and non-resistance, I think, pertains to any violence against us due to our beliefs. I do not think it is broad enough to exclude stepping in to forcefully subdue a gunman or a rapist, if we have the means and opportunity. It would be a strange thing for scripture to say, "Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world." (James 1:27), if it only means we visit like Job's friends and do nothing to help those in need of sustenance or medical care or ultimately, protection.
If I were to quarrel with any of this, it would be to say that the continual corruption of the true doctrines of the church are rampant throughout. While the Reformation accomplished much, it brought along a lot of traditional baggage that men have not only accepted, but have added on to.
An simple example: 
What is the Great Commission? Most will answer, "To preach the gospel to all nations."
Answer: To do that AND make disciples, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, AND teaching them to observe ALL that I have commanded you. 
John 3:16 is not the whole gospel!
Neither is Acts 2:38.
Anyway, I digress, but such foolish doctrines as the immortality of the unconverted in HELL is unscriptural!  As is the Rapture which Jesus refutes in any parable concerning the end of the age (see Matthew 13:37 – 50 as well as his discussion in John 5:25-29.
The problem is there are "many called, but few will be chosen". Just consider how many "Christians" choose to believe in evolution! One cannot believe that and scripture also. But, you will find more people claiming to follow Christ, through whom God created all things, that believe what National Geographic or Scientific American says more than what God has said. 
Only those who have ears to hear and eyes to see will find their way home.
May God bless and guide us to our rightful end!

Steve,

I truly believe that when all true converts get to heaven we will find that we were in disagreement on many things. Also, I think that we will find that there are a great many things that we believe in common, that are essentials of our Christian character. The rapture and the immortality of the soul will probably not be part of the short list of essentials. But non-resistance, I believe, will be on that list. Having the attitude of Jesus in regard to evil, hatred, violence, and war are characteristics which are inherent in all of God’s children. Meekness, gentleness, love, compassion, mercy, forgiveness, and tenderness all speak of the nature of a lamb or a dove, or of Jesus who was our example. Trying to pour the new wine of the Christ nature into the old skins of war and violence simply will not work, and have been the cause of untold persecution to those who have pursued the simple life, and trusted God for their protection. This is a life that cannot be understood apart from a total commitment of faith and trust in the power and provision of the Almighty God. Self-defense is part of the nature carried over from the act of defiance perpetrated against our Father that resulted in our expulsion from a paradise of peace and safety. Self-defense makes all the sense “in the world” but it is not a part of the nature of those who will occupy Heaven; there just will-not be any need of it there; and that “kingdom” has come to us now, and that new nature is part of the Good News that “When a man’s ways please the Lord, He maketh even his enemies to live at peace with him.”

When I speak of non-resistance I don’t mean pacifism; they are totally two different things, and I will have nothing to do with that or a Gandhi type of “active non-resistance” which is just another type of waging war by hunger strikes, standing in front of tanks, or setting fire to yourself in the public square. When I say non-resistance I mean the non-resistance exemplified by Jesus, who overcame evil with good, and by His death, defeated death and Hell, and led Satan bound and captive to his great humiliation.

If war, violence, and self-defense are the ways of the preservation of life, it is not working. War and self-defense will always be here, and the governments that practice these things were ordained by God, but they are not the ways of His children; and the opposite of these very things will be the earmarks of those who are called by His Name. His children are in this world, but they are not of it, as is apparent by their lives. They support government in as far as it doesn’t conflict with their higher and more perfect life; after-all their Father ordained it to offset anarchy, which men of this world gravitate toward, in the absence of the rule of law.

Thanks for writing Steve, your thoughts always challenge my beliefs and make me re-examine why I believe the way I do.

I may take up the advice to expound further on this topic.

Steve Blackwell

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