Why is it that discernment ministries are afraid to address the topic of nonresistance even though I believe that some of them are nonresistant, at least in principle?
During the Reformation there were three things that caused great distress to the Reformers Zwingli, Luther, and Calvin, and they were:
1) The separation of Church and state,
2) Believer’s baptism, and
Theocracy was the norm in those days as was infant baptism, even among the Protestants, but today, except if you are a Catholic, we believe that there should be a separation of Church from the state. We also generally accept Believer’s (adult) baptism, unless you are Catholic or Lutheran. But, number three causes many problems for Protestants, then, as well as today.
The odd thing about nonresistance is that in the early stages of the Reformation both Zwingli and Luther agreed with the Anabaptist that nonresistance should be practiced. Martin Luther, who is called the father of Protestantism, defended a peculiar view on this question, a view which is even today held by many Protestant theologians. He taught that a Christian is to be strictly nonresistant and that no one can as a Christian have a part in violence and bloodshed, be it in self-defense or in war. No one can do so as a Christian. But a Christian, he says, is also a “world person,” or a citizen, and as such he is under a duty to use violence in the service of the government, as a magistrate, officer, or soldier. When in such capacity he acts contrary to the precept and example of Christ, it is not a sin to him but is his duty. He does this as a citizen, not as a Christian. Luther divided the Christian into two kingdoms, the duty of the one is opposite to that of the other. The fact is that he, in theory, defended the principle of strict nonresistance of the Christian. Zwingli, who was the founder of the Reformed Church, wrote in 1522: “Considered from the Christian point of view it is by no means right to have a part in war. According to Christ’s teaching, we should pray for those who despitefully use us and persecute us, and if an aggressor smites us on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.” Again, in one of his largest books, published in 1523, Zwingli says: “Christ commands that we should not go to law nor engage in carnal strife, but if one takes away our coat, let him have our cloke also, and He has taught this by His own example as well. He also forbids all oaths.” Nine years after making this statement Zwingli would die with a sword in his hand. What prompted the radical change in their attitudes? After studying their history I detected in both of these men a proud and determined spirit.
With the spirit of humility and meekness comes great faith and trust in God as our strength and provider. With a faith which lacks humility and meekness comes fear, pride, and compromise. Both Zwingli and Luther produced great movements that necessitated the use of authority much like the Catholic Church they had come out of. Both of these men allowed their excessive abilities to think, reason, and self-promote take precedence over their trust in God, leading them to link arms with the state to advance their movement. God’s ways are not man’s ways and we see clearly the difference in the other Reformation initiated by the Radical Reformers Conrad Grebel, Felix Mannz, and George Blurock. These men refused to compromise and held tightly to their Lord and as a consequence was persecuted, as Jesus and the Apostles said they would be.
Today, this fear of rejection and failure, the fear of smallness, the fear of not being taken seriously, still chokes and blocks the way for nearly all Christians. To be counted as one of those weirdos who will not defend themselves, their country, or family is the last straw and they simply will not bow to this doctrine of our Lord who Himself practiced nonresistance; this doctrine has become the last stumbling stone of which many will be crushed. The Catholic Church stumbled, Zwingli stumbled, Luther stumbled, Calvin Stumbled, and those who have followed these men and their false doctrine have, and will, stumble. But, from the beginning there has existed a small, weak, persecuted flock, called the ecclesia, the called out ones, who have refused to follow the lead of men and have discovered that true peace which comes through mercy, forgiveness, and even forgiving those who would kill and torment our friends and family, and nation.
It is a sad tale that the one who started a movement, the Reformed Movement, and now has many millions of followers, who at his start firmly embraced the nonresistant doctrine, would finish his race killing and being killed. Luther and Calvin were also unashamed murderers of their supposed enemies, their brothers. Yet, these are the men who have by their deeds built mighty fortresses to their leader, the spirit of this world.
It is obvious that discernment ministries stay away from the topic of nonresistance because it cannot be found and is totally missing from any of their communications. I have to assume that they do so because of the fear of alienating their readership and audience and the risk of losing customers because of a doctrine that is controversial. If it were just controversy for controversy’s sake then I would agree with them but this issue is fundamental in our understanding the heart of our Savior, the Lamb of God. How can we follow and imitate the Lamb in His death while at the same time preparing to kill? It is impossible. We cannot bring forth both bitter and sweet water. We cannot both love our enemy and kill him. We cannot both forgive and sit in a jury box to judge, and we cannot hold a gun in one hand and an olive branch in the other. Discernment ministries stay away from this topic because it is costly, and to put your foot down in this ring will bring you only scorn, disrespect, persecution, and possibly death. But, this too is Christianity. This doctrine is not hidden in esoteric and obscure language, it is right there in the BOOK. Shame on those who are afraid to step into the ring. Christ was not afraid and neither was His Apostles, and thousands upon thousands of martyrs followed, and the trail of blood has never ceased from that time to this. The Anabaptists were a shining light that has dimmed but I can assure you that that light will burn ever so brightly one more time. Many are seeing it even now, and the voices of those saints whose souls rest beneath the altar of God can almost be heard; “How much longer Lord, how long.”
“Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased
to give you the kingdom.”