Tag Archives: peace

A Non-Violent Response to Violence.

violence is morally imposible
The question always arises when my pacifist theology is exposed in front of others is, “what would you do if a man was attacking your wife, or a child?” Would you attack the man? How could you not act violently to them?”
To these questions I will refer heavily upon Leo Tolstoy words from the book, What Would You Do?

“There are actions which are morally impossible, just as other are physically impossible. As a man cannot lift a mountain, and a kindly man cannot kill an infant, so a man living the Christian life cannot take part in deeds of violence.”
However, this is a statement many have a hard time agreeing with when the question arises about defending a child from a madman, or a woman from an attacker.
“It is generally assumed that the only possible reply is that one should kill the assailant to save the child [or the woman]. But this answer is given so quickly and decided only because we are all so accustomed to the use of violence—not only to save the child, but even to prevent a neighboring government altering its frontier at the expense of ours…”
“If the man be a Christian and consequently acknowledges God and sees the meaning of life in fulfilling his will, then however ferocious the assailant, however innocent and lovely the child, he has even less ground to abandon the God-given law and to do to the criminal as the criminal wishes to do to the child. He may plead with the assailant, may interpose his own body between the assailant and the victim; but there is one thing he cannot do—he cannot deliberately abandon the law he has received from God, the fulfillment of which alone gives meaning to life.”
Furthermore Tolstoy inquires into how someone can judge who needs to be saved. For he argues that no man can see into the future to see what either of the two people will become.  Moreover, what if one or both of them are not Christians? That means by ending their life you vanquish all possibilities for them to come to the saving knowledge of Christ.
“There is no moral law concerning which one might not devise a case in which it is difficult to decide which is more moral, to disobey the law or to obey it? But all such devises fail to prove that the laws, ‘Thou shall not lie, steal or kill,’ are invalid.”
“Excuses can be made for every use of violence, and no infallible standard has ever been discovered by which to measure the worth of these excuses. Therefore Christ taught us to disbelieve in any excuse for violence and never to use violence.”

Two wrongs do not make a right. And as Christians we have to believe that evil can be overcome with good. If we fail to believe this we have not only abound our Christian morals but our savior as well, who laid down his life, so that we may inherit life.

I don’t suppose that this is easy to live nonviolently in the face of such evil. However, what is easy and what is right don’t always go hand in hand.

Violence only begets violence. Violence will never lead to free peace.  In a totalitarian state violence may help to keep its subjects under submission and fear, but in the absences of that power violence will flood forth and all former peace will be lost. Peaceful non-violent action is the only way to sustain peaceful nonviolent action. We have to believe in the power of Christ love, but not only believe but also live it out. Then and only then will lasting peace be possible.

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The Power of Nonviolence

micah 4 3 color2

He will judge between many peoples
and will settle disputes for strong nations far and wide.
They will beat their swords into plowshares
and their spears into pruning hooks.
Nation will not take up sword against nation,
nor will they train for war anymore.

Micah 4:3

I have not written much about nonviolence on this blog. It is a position I have acquired after much theological, moral, ethical questioning a few years back. However, Recently I have been thinking about it again, and taking about it with others. So this is an overflow of some of those thoughts and conversations.

A nonviolent response that allows for possibility for self-sacrifice robs violent offenders of their power. The kingdom of this world’s greatest threat and manipulation of power is the illusion that they can take your life or make it miserable. However, in truth God is the giver and taker of life. Jesus said, “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” (Matthew 10:28).  Furthermore, as believers we have a greater hope, a hope of resurrection. As Paul understood he said, “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.”(Philippians 1:21). Believers do not have to fight to save this life, nor should they.  To us, this life becomes in a sense worthless as a bargaining chip. We should enter into nonviolent action ready to sacrifice our life if needed to, and in doing so we remove from the enemy their greatest power over us. In nonviolent humble self-sacrificing love believers conquer and stand victorious over the enemy. When we do not respond with violence to violence we rise above our enemies, and when we do not allow their threats to move us from this position we walk in the likeness of our lord Jesus Christ.

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The Missinglink Between Nonviolence and the Book of Revelation…

rapture exposed

So I just finished Barbara R. Rossing Book The Rapture Exposed. WOW! I’m not usually one to revert to such vague expressions of excitement, but her book answered so many questions! In one of my early post I refer readers to investigate the possibility that the “Rapture” is a heretical teaching. However, in my own quest these sources only served as a accelerant in my quest for truth in this subject. So I stumbled across Rossing book and was curious in a very cautious way. Nonetheless, I decided read the book. I was worried the book would be judgmental and condescending in tone, authors who stand-alone in the wilderness often have this attitude. Yet, Rossing did not. Her book is very level headed and inviting. She does, admittedly direct many of her attacks against rapture enthusiasts Hal Linsey and Tim Layhe. In all fairness though they have set themselves up as the gurus of Bible Prophecy and End Times Chorology.

Not to give too much away, because I recommend the book to all, Rossing deals with the historical rise of dispensationalism beginning about 170 years ago with John Darby, and flourishing with the popularity of the Scottfeild Reference Bible. Rapture theology now permeates American Cuture, even our politics. But what I love about her book is that she doesn’t waste extensive time arguing the historical rise of dispensationalism, rather deals with Rapture theology head on, biblically, theologically, and its effects of culture and society. (Her epilogue debunks several of these “rapture” passage.) Yet, for me this book was much more than a theology against the Rapture. Rossings book was a theology for a complete and full unveiling of the character of God. One of the main points she affirms over and over again in her book, almost to the point of redundancy, is that revelation is a story of hope, where God comes to dwell with man on Earth amongst our pain and brokenness rather that snatching us always from reality.

Furthermore, as a pacifist, the book of revelation has always been a thorn in my theology against a violent militarist God who calls his people to war and kill evildoers. I can deal with the Old Testaments conquests, understanding the life and message of Jesus was inviting us to live in a new kingdom, the Kingdom of God. And as citizens of this new kingdom we are called to live under its rules, we are to live selflessly, peaceably, and worshiping God and loving others. The prophet Micah exclaims this new kingdom would be a place where its people took their instruments of war and turned them into instruments of cultivation and agriculture. And although the Kingdom of God is seen in tension between “already” here and “not yet” here we are invited citizens. Then, came the book of Revelation; this dark and gloomy, blood and guts, sadistic steamroller vision of God who comes to trample of the heads of the unrighteous in warlike fashion.

I had previously dealt with this issue by remarking God can do what ever he wants, but he has called us to live peaceable lives… This however, as true as it may be, stood in as a contradiction to a God who had previously came and suffered in nonviolent resistance. Why would the he in round two come back swinging?

This is what surprised me most about Rossing book. Rossing exposed the error in traditional views of the Book of Revelation. Revelation was not a God who is coming back to wage war with violence, but a God who has already won the war when the Lamb of God was slaying.  Moreover, as followers we “conquer only by [our] testimony and faithfulness—not by making war or killing.”(pg 121) Rossing argues that the John paints a picture in revelation of a God who acts in every way contrary to the Roman militaristic way of life. The Kingdom of God is in fact upside down from the way the kingdom of this world operates. By submitting oneself self to death on the cross Jesus conquered the Kingdom of this world and made a public spectacle out of it.  His death mocked the system of this world and stripped it of its power.

Revelation is not about a militaristic God, but a nonviolent God who loves the world, even enough to die for us and dwell among us forever.

Thank you so much Rossing. I read your book in two days… I could not put it down!

For everyone else out there please pick up the book and read it, even if you disagree with everything I have just said. If nothing else you’ll get a glimpse into the oppositions camp.

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Justice or Charity?

justice-or-charity

Both justice and charity are mentioned in the Bible as qualities of both God and the faithful. Yet, it seems to me charity has somehow been subtitled for justice. People think they are supporting justice when all they are is being charitable. For example giving toys to needed Children during the Holidays is nice, its charitable, but its not justice. Those Children will still have to return to their families who are broken, possibly abusive, and most likely unable to provide adequately for them. Giving a sandwich or a few dollars to the homeless person standing on the corner is great and should be commended, however its still not justice. That sandwich only met the most temporal of his needs, and did not change his life, soul, or the cold park bench or overpass which he calls home.

Hear me correctly, I’m not speaking ill of charity. I know how hard it is to motivate people to be charitable, to bring in toys for children, or roll down their windows to give to the homeless. But justice is what is needed the most. Justice will help fight to root of the problem, greed, pride, and selfishness.Justice will help move a homeless person off the street permanently, by providing education and counseling. Justice will help end poverty, and war. The Kingdom of God is concerned about justice, as well as charity. But Charity without justice is like pouring water into a bucket without first plugging the hole in the bottom.

The Torah (the first five book of the Old Testament) imposed an obligation to maintain a society in which justice reigned. Maintaining societal Law was seen as maintaining Spiritual Law. You could not consider yourself spiritual if you did not carry out justice in your community. And when justice was not being maintained the prophets that their altars and places of worship would soon come crumbling down and they would be inhibited from worshiping God. Social Laws and Spiritual Laws go hand in hand. To live out justice is to take action against the evils of this world, but it is also to live out love, grace, and mercy. To live out justice is not only to stomp out the negative, but to live out the positive.

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