Adapted from a book (Christian Non-Resistance) by Adin Ballou
This is a reflection on the doctrine of non-resistance with respect to the underlying standard from which it proceeds, then on to the justification from which it originates, and then to the sub-principle of duty in which we understand the application.
What is the standard from which non-resistance has emerged? It is the standard on which all creation is based. It rests on the perfect love of God, the absolute, sovereign, all-knowing, righteousness, which sets God apart from all other things, and which, instilled into the fleshly feelings and thoughts of human emotion, produces goodness that exceeds understanding or appreciation. Of this standard of love we read that,
“Love does no wrong to a neighbor. Love, therefore, is the fulfillment of the law.”
John expressed it this way,
“And we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and the one who remains in love remains in God, and God remains in him.”
This love is not mere fleshly affection, or emotional lust, but a pure, supernatural, painstaking principle. It is a divine energizing, which intuitively and instinctively stimulates the doing of good, i.e. love, to others, whether they be good or evil. In its nature it is unselfish, and does not consider the worthiness of others. Regardless of what others do I will do the right thing; I will love; I will bless; I will “Overcome evil with good.” Therefore, this standard of love is not determined by the worthiness of others, but finds within the standard itself sufficient motivation for obeying and doing nothing but good to all men.
Jesus, in whom flowed the full force of this mysterious love, grasping this great commandment, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” brought it forth from the Law of Moses, all damp and dirty with human misunderstanding, and lit an eternal fire. The truth was hidden within it and men could not clearly identify it much less appreciate its brilliance and quality. He illustrated, with His life, that the “neighbor” intended was any human being, a stranger, an enemy, or bitter foe – anyone needing help, – the cruelest criminal, or wretch of our race. Therefore, knowing that the whole world justifies “An eye for an eye,” hatred toward our enemies, and death to killers, Christ reversed the ancient decrees, abolished the law of revenge, and preached the responsibility of boundless restraint, mercy, and kindness.
Worldly religion, ignorant philosophy and psychology, and vindictive selfishness have simultaneously declared, “There is a point beyond which self-control ceases to be a virtue and must be released.” Christ unmasked this heartless delusion with a single sentence, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” and taught acceptance and everlasting obedience to the law of love.
“I say unto you, do not take life for life, eye for eye, and tooth for tooth. Do not hit back the one who hits you. Give to him who ask, and do not ignore the one who wants to borrower from you. Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you and persecute you; that you may be the children of your Father 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. For if you love, and greet, and do good to them that love you, what are you better than unbelievers?”
This is the true light shining from the heart of the Father, and reflected into this dark world from the face of Jesus Christ. What value are the excessive expressions of non-Christian poets, or the muddy complexities of the world’s philosophers, or the fantasies of psychology, or the sublime prayers of sincere but unforgiving religionists, compared with the divine purity of truth as it is extracted from the Divine source? DIVINE LOVE – is the principle from which Christian non-resistance occurs and continues on.
What is the sub-standard that constitutes non-resistance’s immediate moral basis? What is the essential value of overcoming evil with good? The wisdom of this world has relied on the deterrent of injury, fear, and greater-evil to resist evil. It has trusted in this during all of history. It has educated the human race to believe that their welfare and security depends primarily on their ability to inflict a greater injury on offenders. Hence, it has been their continuous goal to possess an adequacy of injurious abilities to intimidate and defeat their enemies. The clear message of this display of powers is, “Keep your distance; touch not my property; and be respectful because I have the power to hurt you.” For this reason the inhabitants of this world, Christian or otherwise, are tricked and put their faith in evil as their security, and barely one in a thousand will at first allow the nonresistance doctrine to be anything better than a proclamation of cowardice. Nearly all mankind is controlled by the fear of deadly assault or personal injury and unconsciously feel that if they surrender their trust in retaliatory evil that they would be instantly killed, their family murdered, or some other horrible harm imposed.
Very few realize how much they put their faith and trust in this demonic god of human injury. They have enshrined him in the DoD, NSA, CIA, and the U.N. They worship him in armies, navies, militia organizations, battle-ships, arsenals, criminal laws, judicial judgments, guns, bombs, and poison gas. And if we propose that Christians separate themselves from all these evils and live a life of un-injurious charitable treatment of mankind they cry out with alarm, “These have come hither that turn the world upside down!” “Great is Diana of the Ephesians!” and “Make America Great Again.” “What would become of our Christian society if war, capital, and other injurious punishments should be abolished?” On this altar Christians have sacrificed human beings enough to people several such planets as the earth, with no other result than to confirm and systematize violence throughout the whole globe. And yet INJURY is still their god, and at his gory altar of revenge and cruelty they are determined to worship, amid the mushroom clouds of deadly weapons, and the groans of a bleeding world.
But the Son of the Highest, the great self-sacrificing Non-Resistant Jesus, is our prophet, priest, and king. Even though the angered inhabitants of the earth have turned a deaf ear to his voice, he shall yet be heard. He declares that good is the only adversary that can conquer evil. Therefore, He instructs His disciples to resist evil only with good. This is the sub-principle of Christian non-resistance. “Evil can be overcome only with good.”
Faith, then, in the inherent superiority of good over evil, truth over error, right over wrong, love over hatred, is the immediate moral foundation of our doctrine. Therefore, we transfer all the faith we have been taught to value in injury to charity, kindness, and un-injurious treatment, as the only manner of war against evil-doers.
We no longer seek to put down evil with evil, we lift up the cross of Jesus as our banner, and triumph in the divine motto “RESIST NOT INJURY WITH INJURY.” Let this be the magnetic needle of our narrow way across the troubled waters of Christian reformation, until all called men, shall have been formed into proper harmony with the Kingdom law of the living God – “THOU SHALT LOVE THY NEIGHBOR AS THYSELF.”
The earth, so long a slaughter-field, Shall yet an Eden bloom;
The tiger to the lamb shall yield, And War descend the tomb.
For all shall feel the Savior’s love, Reflected from the cross;
That love, that non-resistant love, Which triumphed on the cross.