We need to fight against what is bad for our lives/survival. We need to realize when to fight and when not to fight. When to yield and when to stand firm.
There are times to stand firm. Those times are in defending one's life and way of life.
This principle applies to Politics as well.
What would Jesus say?
Title edit: When Turning the Other Cheek Becomes Being a Door Mat.
Not simple at all Kathryn; " What would Jesus do "- leads to what He has said to His listeners as we read of His action (John 18:23) He did not slavishly follow the letter of it... instead He asked a question " why did you strike me ?" ( In practical sense, my opinion : You have my other cheek, however if you won't stop there, you might face consequences...)
Present days occurrences where evil are beheading those without resisting, might lead to the extermination of human race as , at the end evil will continue killing each other... ( In some countries is already happening ).
It depends on the particulars I think Kathryn, to know what Jesus would do. I think this is a good point, and my mind can't help but go to these forums, where I observe all kinds of unsavory tactics from people, lol. Good question/point though!
I think a lot interpret Jesus' teachings as meaning we need to be doormats, when it wasn't the case necessarily.
I stand corrected, but the text makes a reference to this "turning the other cheek" as 70 x 7 times per day; approximately 20.5 times per hour, every hour. Respectively, that is to be slapped in the face 490 times, daily without administering revenge in any manner. Y-ouch!
But, is this the same as defending or protecting/preventing instances of said face-slapping? Is altruistic forgiveness truly the cure for every form of injustice?
Considering solely numerics, the probability of stopping any injustice is definite. To use an analogy of, say, bullying -be it youth or military force, politics, etc- should a measurable percentage of people endure said face-slapping, as scheduled, the effect against the bully would be quite terrifying. As with any power or force it demands, even requires, a response in order to survive, to proliferate, to continue. Without fuel, the fire consumes itself and eventually suffocates. Defense without defending. It is not apathy, nor sympathy. More so immovability that cannot be shaken by circumstances.
I am always amused at the notion that simply disagreeing with a nonbeliever means you have violated the "turn the other cheek" clause in the sermon on the mount. They always seem to think it's some kind of glaring hypocritical show stopper.
I would be curious about a few things.
In the OP, what implies that the question is how to interact with nonbelievers?
If it did imply nonbelievers...why would one consider one's actions in a different light, depending on the belief structure of another individual? You state 'disagreeing with non-believers'. Would the question be answered differently if one was sure that all parties were believers? What evidence would we have that the Sermon on the Mount was only preached to Jews at the time? Without evidence, would it not make more sense to assume the lessons from that sermon be applied to all humans, across the board? Was there any clause offered during the sermon to negate responsibility for any actions toward anyone who didn't share a similar belief structure?
What is a believer anyway? There are many different interpretations to each lesson in the Bible. Would a believer be only those who shared a common interpretation? Is there some percentage of agreement required in order to be considered a believer? I only ask because even those labeled believers argue as to who truly is a believer and who isn't. So, it seems to me that any philosophy which implied 'non believers' should not be given the same level of consideration as a 'believer' is ill advised. Wouldn't that be a convenient way of ignoring a principle belief; simply because it was inconvenient to act in accordance with it?
Hi Emile, for whatever this is worth, when Onusonus said,
"I am always amused at the notion that simply disagreeing with a nonbeliever means you have violated the "turn the other cheek" clause in the sermon on the mount. They always seem to think it's some kind of glaring hypocritical show stopper."
I read it totally different than how you took it. I took it that he experiences what he was talking about, as happening with nonbelievers, and not that he took the whole thread to be directed toward just nonbelievers. If so, you would be correct in asking, "why the mention of just nonbelievers?" I was going to respond to that post, that it is my experience as well. I haven't had many believers suggest I am being hypocritical when I disagree with them, by not turning the other cheek. It seems to be a point worth mentioning above nonbelievers, for simply disagreeing with them at times. I don't think that disagreeing with anyone, constitutes "not turning the other cheek," like is often suggested. It turns out to be just more of an accusation. They do try to magnify it into being some hypocritical show stopper, and somehow the other points being made have just been invalidated or something. Thought it might shed light, and maybe not, lol. Its just my experience. It could be viewed as a type of logical fallacy.
Not until this thread have I ever heard anyone suggest that a valid interpretation of that is to not disagree with anyone. I have no idea how anyone could think it had to do with not disagreeing with someone. Unless, of course, you guys are in the habit of being slapped while disagreeing. I would certainly hope that if you find yourself in that situation you wouldn't stand around and wait for it to happen again.
This could explain what I consider to be two faced behavior patterns by some religious folk. Smiling and agreeing with someone and then talking about them behind their back; because they appear to harbor some resentment that they were not willing to speak their mind when the opportunity was there. Being falsely 'nice' really isn't nice in the long run. It is my opinion that if you can't cheerfully embrace a philosophy you never really embraced it at all. The Sermon on the Mount had nothing to do with complaining that others don't get it. It was about getting it yourself. Complaining about 'non believers' ignores personal responsibility. Getting it and embracing it would alleviate the problem. What we all appear to do is get it and hope others embrace it so we don't have to or, at the least, embracing it ourselves won't be so darn difficult.
I am not sure how you can know such things and why you say all you say there, but ok.
You said, "I have no idea how anyone could think it had to do with not disagreeing with someone." That was my thought too. That is the point. It doesn't.
So, we agree on the fact that disagreements have nothing to do with that. That's good. However, it was the general idea of the post onusonus offered up which caused me to raise my eyebrows and ask for clarification. The fact that the term nonbeliever was inserted caught my eye because it takes a wonderful lesson and attempts to create loopholes. The fact that you offered a response which continued the use of the word nonbeliever and your experience implied to me that you, too, are of this mindset.
I think my problem arises because I perceive it as showcasing the need to categorize and separate. I certainly hope, in every day life, some don't walk around, pointing around at people in their heads, judging them as 'believer' 'non believer'; yet I know they do. I've heard some self identified believers purport that anything is fair in spiritual warfare; whatever that is to them. Lying, cheating, unkind words etc. are OK, as long as it is not done to those they identify as a believer. Speaking ill of others is general considered OK, as long as those others are considered to be nonbelievers. This doesn't equate to forcing someone to 'turn the other cheek' due to a disagreement but it does equate to the need for others to find a way to 'turn the other cheek' due to the fact that they are put into the position to find a way to overlook insensitive behavior patterns purportedly justified because they have been given the label of non believer. I considered the post I responded to as being in this vein. Separate and label differently, so we can treat differently. Why would one attempt to do this? I am judging from the viewpoint of one who has accepted and embraced the given label of non believer, so will explain the thought process that led me to respond.
This philosophy that the post I responded to appeared to showcase degrades quickly (as we see on this forum and in life) as self identified believers become judge and jury of those whose belief structure does not match their own. People become polarized. The term believer is used to rubber stamp any action or words by anyone who is considered a part of an ever narrowing group and damn the rest. Many who are easily identified as believers by those on the outside don't appear to warrant the courtesy afforded the label of believer by those who are considered by the group to be on the inside. So, the term believer appears to have nothing to do with a belief in God, or Christ. We are left to come to our own conclusions as to what the term entails. Conversely, those judged negatively by this ever narrowing group slowly offer an equally polarized reaction because they have begun to judge as they have been judged. Unfairly and negatively.
All of humanity are believers. In something. Jesus is revered by an exceptionally large percentage of the population. God is respected by an even greater percentage of the population. Simply because few agree as to interpretation, nature or intent; there is no reason to negatively brand, or treat another human being differently. We can, of course, argue that it isn't negatively branding. It is just being honest. But that claim of honesty is only valid within that individual mind; propped up by the ever narrowing group. Which means it is a very, very fleeting definition of honesty. It becomes viewed as dishonesty as the words and actions are filtered through the eyes, minds and experiences of the greater population.
I realize that you believe believers are labeled hypocritical because you think others are expecting them to turn the other cheek in foolish circumstances. I simply think that is untrue. I think those who label themselves believers are using a different measuring stick for their own words and actions and failing to recognize it.
Distinctions and labels. Isn't that a standard for all of mankind? We use " " and ( ) and numerous other symbols in writing that are not evident in speech. Then there are the are spoken labels of which the greatest is the hyphen. "I'm an "xxx-xxx" by ethnicity. My name last name is "xxx-xxx." It seems it is all a great filing system. Can't help but believe its some sort of political game or such to keep us at odds with each other. Makes me furious at times, chuckle at other times.
But to the issue, believer and non-believer. I am not in tune to what was said days ago though it would seem a distinction was made in labeling who should turn the other cheek. Can we see it as it the Biblical concept that it is? In doing so, there must be a separation of the two.
The non-believer, those that do not believe the Bible is not constrained by the words of the Bible. Yet these folks would (many times properly) use the Bible to put "believers" in the place, verbally. Most times one cannot be sure if this chastisement is an effort to clarify or be obtuse.
Likewise, there seems to be an expectation by believers (even though they should know better) that non-believers should adhere to the concepts of a Book they do not revere. And this would be obtuse.
And, yet, there is a necessary distinction between the two when it comes to scriptural matters. The believer is held to a higher plane. Whereas the non-believer is constrained only by social laws and mores', the believers, in addition to being constrained by these two, must also answer to God for their actions. This is not to say that all will one day answer to God, but we speak here on a corporeal plane.
"Turning the other cheek" is not a believer/non-believer issue, unless one is talking about things of the Bible. Then it becomes a more narrow issue than laws and mores'. Bottom line, sometimes one has to make the distinction in order to debate the point in the proper forum. Here, the forum seems to want to be strictly "Religion" but it also include "Philosophy" by title. Believers and non-believers alike are "in the house." We know what the terms mean. And we know what we are!
Jesus showed violence, anger, impatience, and intolerance himself when he made a whip, and drove out the moneychangers, and when he cursed the fig tree.
“And when he had made a scourge of small cords, he drove them all out of the temple, and the sheep, and the oxen; and poured out the changers' money, and overthrew the tables; (John 2:15) (see also Matt 21:12, and Mark 11:15)
Jesus didn't like it when the fig tree had no figs, so he made it die, even though it was out of season.
"And when he saw a fig tree in the way, he came to it, and found nothing thereon, but leaves only, and said unto it, Let no fruit grow on thee henceforward for ever. And presently the fig tree withered away".(Matthew 21:19)
He also said "Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.
For I am come to set a man at variance (difference, disagreements) against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law". (Matthew 10:34-35)
I'm not of the mindset that the Bible is the infallible word of God. I think it is important to remember that the Gospels were written by men. Their recollections of times long past in their lives. Flavored by their understanding, their beliefs and their desires for the direction the movement would take. If you take certain passages and attempt to convince yourself that was what he stood for, then it negates the greater value of his ministry. If we use perceived imperfections to justify our own less than exemplary behavior patterns, what good is served?
Common sense in this matter is based on the duty to protect oneself and loved ones.
From all M. S.75 listed from the N.T., Jesus was not a door mat and did not advocate being one.
P.S. Thank you, M. S 75.
I agree. However, I am not an advocate of using any perceived imperfections in the man as justification for glossing over imperfections in myself. And, I don't have a tendency to stand quietly when others attempt to do it. That, again, is another of my imperfections.
One must protect oneself and loved ones. But, we are commanded to love others as we love ourselves so loved ones should encompass all. Being a doormat isn't part of that equation.
I didn't say the word was infallible, and I didn't say anything about what Jesus stood for. I simply posted some verses that show that Jesus acted as though he was a normal human with the same flaws as us. I didn't make it up. Some people think he was perfect, the verses show ME he wasn't. You're free to believe what you want, but I'm not doing anything that you insinuated I'm doing. I'm sure I'm as logical as you, and able to decide for myself
If you don't believe something, do you always say it's the verse, or interpretation that's wrong, and not you?
I don't remember saying that anything was right, or wrong. I simply said people remember things through the lens of their experiences, desires and prejudices.If someone cursed a fig tree.....OK? What does that prove? If someone gives you good advice and then at some later date they curse a fig tree....does that negate the value of the advice? Do we ignore the advice because it sounds more fun to curse a fig tree?
When we quote the wisdom of Buddha or Confuscious....do we temper the lesson hoped to be taught with some tale of their transgressions? I'm not sure what the one thing has to do with the other here.
On a side note. Does the fact that Einstein was a philanderer and an imperfect father negate the value of his contribution to society?
Its occurring to me we are still reading the original post from Onusonus very differently, because as I read your first paragraph there, we should all be agreeing at this point, not disagreeing. I thought his point was that the disagreements have nothing to do with turning the other cheek like you say you and I agree here.
I suppose its possible he inserted the word nonbeliever to create loopholes, but without knowing for sure, isn't that also a judgement onto him, when it could just be the "who", a descriptive factor of what he was told? Since we can't know that, I am left wondering what justifies such a judgement?
I can at least speak for myself, so let me try to clear up any thing I can. You (Emile) say,
"I think my problem arises because I perceive it as showcasing the need to categorize and separate. I certainly hope, in every day life, some don't walk around, pointing around at people in their heads, judging them as 'believer' 'non believer'; yet I know they do."
Emile, but how do you know that? Let me assure you, I don't walk around doing that, because for one, I can't know who is a believer or non believer anymore than anyone can. Its not really pertinent to most things and not my business frankly. I am not sure how someone could know what others are thinking in their heads as you describe there. With respect, couldn't negative assumptions lead to a lot of faulty conclusions? You can't have access to the knowledge you are speaking of in someone's head, right? If peace and acceptance is a goal to be desired among us all, is assuming what people are thinking and judging of others in their heads going to aid in that? Could it create the opposite, create division? Logically, I think it could.
You share, "I've heard some self identified believers purport that anything is fair in spiritual warfare; whatever that is to them. Lying, cheating, unkind words etc. are OK, as long as it is not done to those they identify as a believer. Speaking ill of others is general considered OK, as long as those others are considered to be nonbelievers."
That is unfortunate that you have heard people do that, and I hate to hear it. How awful, and how unlike Jesus that kind of treatment would be to others. I certainly don't agree with it, and I hope most would not. Yikes. And yes, if that is done to them, then THEY might want to implement the turning of the other cheek if they chose to not respond in like manner. I also don't agree with the idea that believers are to become judge and jury of those whose belief structures don't match their own.
You also said, "The term believer is used to rubber stamp any action or words by anyone who is considered a part of an ever narrowing group and damn the rest. Many who are easily identified as believers by those on the outside don't appear to warrant the courtesy afforded the label of believer by those who are considered by the group to be on the inside. So, the term believer appears to have nothing to do with a belief in God, or Christ. We are left to come to our own conclusions as to what the term entails."
For a person to think others don't deserve the courtesy afforded a believer, is horrible. I also think its bad to justify behaviors, and to return what we think is bad behavior in kind. Which is the whole point. So again, are we not all on the same page in terms of what is being labeled as wrong here? We all agree at least in word, that what Jesus taught and did was worthy of duplicating, and that to do its opposite is not good.
You said, "I realize that you believe believers are labeled hypocritical because you think others are expecting them to turn the other cheek in foolish circumstances."
No, I don't believe that actually. I really was told what I was told, and it really did not make sense in the particular example that it happened in.
Your final thought, "I think those who label themselves believers are using a different measuring stick for their own words and actions and failing to recognize it," lumps anyone that would call themselves a believer, together. I don't know how such a statement could possibly be true or fair. To the people you DID describe in your post above, I don't doubt for one minute they are using a different measuring stick for themselves than they use for others. We agree on that though. Does the idea of people using a different measuring stick for others than themselves, apply to anyone here in this thread that can be fairly shown?
"I don't walk around doing that <judging as believer or non-believer>"
A side note here, but I do think an awful lot of people do do that. We can usually spot an Amish person, for example, or a Muslim believer. I grew up in a small sect and can identify them to this day with a high degree of precision.
A large percentage of believers wear religious jewelry, but how many non-believers would wear a cross? Or a prayer necklace? Let alone Catholic priest/nun garb? How about a family, all dressed in suits/nice dresses, on Sunday morning?
Go to Craigslist and you will find post after post advertising something from a "Christian home" - they obviously find value in advertising their status and expect others to look for it. Many of the scammers sending letters to your email do the same thing - they all seem to be "Christian" and for the same reason.
So, I think this is far more common than you might recognize. Sad but true.
Hi Wilderness, no I agree with what I think you are saying there. In that partial quote, I am speaking of myself only. I feel I only can speak that confidently for myself, and know that others do make such a thing of it in various ways. I don't find any reason or value in it. What you describe, is something that I observe to some degree as well. As for "from a Christian home", that is interesting. I have seen people on Ebay saying, "from a pet free or smoke free home", but I have never seen "from a Christian home!" I can't picture how it applies, but then I don't get on Craigslist much if ever.
I don't see it near as much on eBay, maybe because so many listers are professionals running a business. But I use Craigslist quite a bit and it is common there.
Pet free and smoke free is quite understandable, but the "from a Christian home" seems that the poster is trying to say they won't cheat anybody. That their item is the real deal, for a good price and in good condition and you can trust them when they say that because they also say they are Christian. I doubt it works very well - most people Christian or not know better - but the poster probably does believe that Christians are all good people and won't cheat them. So they look for such ads as well as place themselves. Or they are a scammer trying to suck in a Christian - I treat those ads with a little more caution myself.
I knew your post was only for yourself, but we tend to think we're average in everything and that the average person will behave much the same. Or at least I do...
I think that all of you better re-read the lessons that were taught by Jesus before continuing this discourse. Although he was sent to the lost sheep of Israel it is certain that his lessons were meant for all of humanity. It is also certain that his lessons were heard by more than just Jews. The sermon on the mount was definitely meant for all.
I guess Catholics don't have to "turn the other cheek" any more:
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article … t-too.html
The full quote of what Jesus is supposed to have said is:
'You have heard that it was said, "Love your neighbor and hate your enemy." But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.'
I don't think this is ambiguous, and I don't think it needs interpretation. In this passage Jesus is clearly telling people that they should apply the same scope in their application of love that 'the father in heaven' applies to who the sun shines on, and who gets rained on: 'He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.' Unless there is some other category of person that god uses that we are not aware of, there is no doubt about who Jesus is instructing people to love: everyone.
I do not see how anyone could reasonably interpret this passage in any other way. There is nothing unclear about it. It's a simple instruction to love indiscriminately. And it's an instruction that historical evidence tells us that early Christians followed to the death. It also tells us that love and hate has everything to do with doing what's right in the face of evil. It says that the way to 'be perfect' when faced with enemies and persecutors is to love them and pray for them. And in fact that is exactly what Christians believe Jesus himself did in the last hours and minutes of his ministry.
That would work, IF everyone did this, but when people hate, and are performing heinous acts of murder, praying without action is futile.
God gave some people the means and the intelligence to defend and protect the weak, and at times it means war
Your neighbor are those of your own home, community, state, and country
Often God himself, sent his people to war, and no person can change God's orders or his commandments
You said to DonW,
"That would work, IF everyone did this, but when people hate, and are performing heinous acts of murder, praying without action is futile.
God gave some people the means and the intelligence to defend and protect the weak, and at times it means war
Your neighbor are those of your own home, community, state, and country"
What you said above seems very obvious to me. Sometimes God might act on our prayers, but if we do ignore what he has given us as part of the aid in that, then we will reap the consequences. Its like not taking a child to the doctor when gravely ill, or not lifting a finger to help get money in which to eat, and only praying about such things. Those are not biblical ideas, and they are not a sign of a lack of trust in God. The fact some might be trying to suggest absolute pacifism is more loving when dealing even with murdererous enemies is astounding to me. Its a discussion I can't believe we are having.
Couldn't agree more. Thanks for taking the time to post that.
I agree with the verses also, and think they are not ambiguous, and don't think anyone would disagree with their straightforward, intended meaning from the writers, with all things considered in context. I sum up my thoughts on all of this in my last post to you, on the points where you take them to the extremes matter. (At the end.)
One very critical correction also on the above, is that when Jesus died on the cross (besides the "why"), is that that wasn't the last hours and minutes of his ministry. It is the ministry and most important miracle of all that made all the prior parts of his ministry so critical. The further (after death) ministry is what makes him worth listening to at all. No other had accomplished what he had. If you do care to answer the prior questions that I think would help make your case, with some new information about the suicide parts and how its good to allow people to kill others I will listen to that. Other than that, I will likely only respond to particular examples that you could point to me, where you think I wouldn't apply the above verses in an actual made up example in our lives today. I mean. Because I think you have taken what I have said as somehow being contrary to scriptures, but have not used an example we can both relate to us today.
I frankly find the rest unfortunate, the underlying ideas that are being pushed onto people in an "ought to" fashion, by those that would disagree, without successfully making the case. Even alarming (when talking about the end of people's lives. I say this because because of the only times any kind of "force" would be seen as necessary, to save innocent life at the hands of murderers, the biggest bullies of the world. This isn't made sense of to me by people that would on another day take a more moral idea to be superior, if Christianity isn't in fact true. The only thing that makes sense is that Jesus is absolutely real, and what he did and accomplished is in fact true, and all the other things he said. There are so many ways to love indiscriminately, that don't involve laying down one's life simply because an enemy wants to extinguish it.
The unsupported "morphing" of what is said in those verses, and what they supposedly must "mean" in the furthest examples of how they could work out (innocent life being lost to an enemy) isn't something I could ever support. Trying to make it look like a Christian that disagrees with you on these extreme points of view is disagreeing with the scriptures above, isn't fair. Too much has to be ignored, and yet the what I see are the same errors keep on being brought up, as if they hadn't been explained prior.
I think a primary difference comes when we attempt to understand who is doing what, to whom. Jesus did not show violence against his enemies. He allowed events to proceed, even though the text says he could have easily averted the actions and changed the outcome; in order to save his own life. He laid down his physical life, so that others might live in a spiritual way. However, stories show that when he encountered violence that endangered the life of another (the woman about to be stoned) he spoke up and showed that the violence was wrong. He didn't grab a sword and start lobbing off heads. He didn't step in until asked his opinion on the matter. I, honestly, don't know what that means to us. The woman in question had clearly broken long standing laws. The others were certainly acting within the parameters of what was expected of them; by their religious laws. One wonders what Jesus would have done had he not been asked his opinion.
I think the example Jesus has given us implies that we should certainly stand for what we believe to be along the vein of putting the needs of others on the same level of importance as our own needs. I think laying down one's life to save another is easily seen as following his example. Even stepping in, when not asked an opinion, in order to argue for the goal of everyone treating their neighbors with the same level of consideration they would their loved ones could be seen as following within the spirit of his footsteps.
I haven't followed your conversation, so I do not know where you stand on this issue. But, I have seen some here say that deadly force is acceptable when protecting innocent life. I don't see where this can be advocated through a study of the actions of Jesus. Certainly, putting oneself in harm's way to protect the innocent is justified. Being willing to use deadly force if that action results in someone threatening your life would be seen as justified; but a lot of the arguments here seem to imply that one should be willing to use deadly force as a first option when standing against what is perceived as evil. I see it as, again, an attempt to create loopholes when attempting to believe that one follows the example of Jesus. There is no agreed upon source which gives us reason to believe he would have acted in this manner; or supported any such action.
So if someone is being mugged and beaten to death in a dark alley, by three thugs, a Christian should not employ violence to save them? And to justify that belief, we should misapply one verse out of context of not "exchanging insult for insult" and not being a respecter of persons or races? Not too much love for your neighbor there. I should love my neighbor as myself, unless there is a disclaimer of they are getting stabbed and I cannot harm the attacker - just aint a commandment. THAT IS WHAT HAS BEEN IMPLIED. And the belief, is, that if someone uses violence to defend the innocent against evil or murder - it is a "first option strawman" loophole? Wrong. So you think Jesus disagrees with: "Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked?" As far as agreed upon sources, I suspect it should go without saying. One would think anyhow.
If someone is stabbing someone to death, hey turn the other cheek and do no violence. That is not even rational. That is not supported in the Bible. When people kill someones employees and their kid out of greed as in the parable of the wicked husbandman, Jesus erred in the metaphor? Ooops. Aint no Gandhi there. His metaphor does not call for Justice, violent justice? Jesus in fact does. Jesus should have chose His words more wisely if He wanted to support the strawman version Jesus. When Moses defended that man and killed the Egyptian, did not God Himself, later choose Moses to deliver them all from that same type of injustice? Does Jesus disagree with the Bible, that if someone breaks into your house at night and is incidentally killed by the homeowner, that they are not guilty? Would Jesus have told Abram, "hey don't form a rescue party and hurt no one when your relatives get kidnapped"? These men were all chosen by God and venerated in the New Testament.
Why exactly are Jesus' disciples carrying swords and why does Jesus instruct them to buy more? What does an alleged absolute non-violent philosophy need of weapons? Let us continue to ignore that elephant on steroids and continue on. Because we HAVE to ignore that, don't we? Hello? We all see. Why are men lauded for their faith for waxing valiant in fight and turning enemies to flight? No answer? All these examples do not seem to fit well with the Jesus equals Gandhi, based on one verse out of context. Should we just read the dust jacket of the Bible or just the footnotes? Either/or? Maybe we should read it all from a pragmatic viewpoint as opposed to a myopic confirmation bias. The bible and the NT are not 2 verses. Jesus is not 2 cherry picked verses. It is scripturally unsupported to believe that Jesus only espouses mercy without justice. Real time justice, real time mercy. Because there is no specific incidence in the NT to clarify certain things, does not mean we can infer things that are counter to all the Bible and Jesus says and does. It certainly does not infer that laying down and dying is the answer to defending the innocent against evil.
I agree wholeheartedly with you.
If we stand by and do nothing, it is the same as stabbing the person ourselves, we're just as guilty. It would be the same as justifying evil
If someone was attacking any of us here, we would fight back in self defense, so if we truly love others we would have to defend them too.
Self-defense here is defined as "protecting oneself from injury at the hand of others." Self-defense is not about taking vengeance. Self-defense is not about punishing criminals. Self-defense involves preserving one's own health and life when it is threatened by the actions of others. When we talk about using lethal force in self-defense, we're talking about using weapons to protect ourselves and others, even if the weapons used could kill the attacker. God is certainly not against it
Would someone "be a better Christian" if they threw themselves off of a bridge instead of physically defending some innocent person against an attacker? "Not a good Christian" unless they and whoever else dies at the hands of evil?
A conscience is not a weapon.
I understand a need to misinterpret my comments in this manner; but that is not what I said. I said Certainly, putting oneself in harm's way to protect the innocent is justified. . One can put oneself in harm's way without first resorting to deadly force.
I also said Being willing to use deadly force if that action results in someone threatening your life would be seen as justified
You chose not to pay attention to much of what I said, so you could respond as you did. Violent words are often the catalyst. I doubt that you would be able to diffuse a potentially dangerous situation in a manner that would result in a nonviolent end with such an attitude.
I get the gist of why you believe what you believe. I simply think violent behavior patterns beget violence in return.
Emile wrote: "a lot of the arguments here seem to imply that one should be willing to use deadly force as a first option"
Can you prove that?
When you say imply, you create a strawman. As I recall, no one has ever said: one should be willing to use deadly force as a first option. Also you are quoting your self out of context. I remember you saying this: "But, I have seen some here say that deadly force is acceptable when protecting innocent life. I don't see where this can be advocated through a study of the actions of Jesus."
And so, I answered that. Love your enemy simply does not address, protecting innocent life by force if necessary. Further, those that are gunslingers, will probably die as gunslingers. Live by the sword. It goes without saying. It does not create a tangent to an unequivocal philosophy of absolute nonviolence. These are the two verses. There was also a claim that early Church fathers, of which two quote mined out of context, on a WordPress blog or Wikipedia article to support absolute nonviolence, were branded as heretics and one was not a Church father at all. One quote, in context was about idolatry and dress, regarding military service, presumably military service in pagan armies. EDIT. (I believe one of them believed in reincarnation. Does a Christian gotta support absolute nonviolence and reincarnation because an alleged church father believed so? Nope)
Regardless of an argument from authoritative heretics, in those two cases, other Church fathers such as Athanasius were conveniently excluded. But Lo, what of John The Baptist's response to soldiers on what to do? Did John, say "lay down your arms" or did John say: "Don't extort money and don't accuse people falsely and be content with your pay"? The latter I assure you. I could expound further on this but my personal library does not contain volumes of the opinions of Church fathers, nor would I consider a wordpress blog a definitive source, unless my goal is to spin a narrative I like best, which I refuse to do.
I am choked with emotion that you say "my attitude" would not be conducive to resolving a life threatening situation in a manner that I speculate, here, places the concerns of a perpetrator over their victim, calls my faith into question or maximizes a hoped for nonviolent result. I feel it would be a little too late for the victim to weigh the moral implications of action or inaction. A living dog is better than a dead lion. My understanding and opinions on scripture are not an attitude. They are just my opinions on scripture... and so.... a picture is worth a thousand words.
That staff is not an accessory to his tunic. Myself, I would rather that shepherd could go "peacefully" along his way, "non violently" leading his flock from green pasture to clear brook. That is my stance. But a good shepherd will do his duty and the wolves aint gonna like it. That is also my stance.
Yes, I can. I will admit that I took the public school approach of making a general statement and not naming the poster involved. Since you asked, it was you. You said 'For instance a cop or Christian might stumble across some rapists killing someone and he blasts them to kingdom come.... Nevertheless, to not use every force available, even deadly force, to stop evil in a hypothetical instance, is evil itself. '
You speak of deadly force first and foremost, then follow up with the statement 'every force, even deadly force'. It's interesting that you state violence as your first inclination.
Here is the entire quote:
Love those that curse you, hate you, and pray for those that use you, and persecute you, does not equate to loving someone that is beheading someone and do nothing about it. I got to love their victim too. For instance a cop or Christian might stumble across some rapists killing someone and he blasts them to kingdom come. There is no implied or assumed hatred or animosity in justified violence to stop perpetrators. Later on we can all cry about it and remember when the rapists were all nice 7 year old boys that would never have hurt a flea. Nevertheless, to not use every force available, even deadly force, to stop evil in a hypothetical instance, is evil itself. Love and hate has nothing to do with doing what is right in that example.
It was a hypothetical instance, illustrating that reaction does not imply malevolence.
I am not going to create a whole bunch of peripheral personal feelings, opinions and stances around a simplified non existent hypothetical situation. But, by not doing so, does not imply by default some unspoken stance.
In the hypothetical non existent situation, I would hope that the rapists were not killing and raping in the first place, because when they do, they assume responsibility to a reasonable justified response.
I am sure a police officer might say "freeze the police." In Florida, there was a guy hopped up on bath salts that was eating the face of a homeless man. The cops shot him repeatedly until he stopped. They probably did not know him from adam to either like him or dislike him, they just responded to the threat and saved the other guys life. The actual point being made once again that reaction does not imply "love or hate"
It is your assumption that, that some how means I advocate shoot first and and ask questions later. You want to read that into it.
In that real situation, whatever it takes to stop someone from eating someones face, to save that persons life without endangering yourself, getting eaten or attacked or killed or whatever is completely justified and it would be evil to not do so.
If rapists are killing someone, should I go away and pray? Should I ponder the situation? If I create a simplified hypothetical situation, should I immediately repudiate any immediate ensuing violence? Ok
For instance a cop or Christian might stumble across some rapists killing someone and he blasts them to kingdom come...... but "first and foremost" shout *police freeze*! Unless you are not a cop and then just shout * help * really loud and if that does not stop them and you have exhausted every possible means to diffuse the killing of someone as non violently as possible and assuming the victim has not bled to death by then, and assuming they haven't started killing you by then, then... and only then can you use violence.
So, what is accomplished by creating nonexistent, hypothetical, situations where you can feel justified in making such statements? Just curious.
Those bath salts incidents were clearly ones where violence was the only appropriate reaction. Those people were clearly out of their minds, clearly endangering others and clearly not in a position to react to any response. So, we can agree that when the other party is completely out of their mind, completely beyond reason and clearly endangering the lives of others lethal force may be the only option. Although, one would assume that to be a moot point. It only involves maybe .0000000000000000001% of the experiences one might expect to have in one's life.
You are reading into it once again. I did not create a hypothetical situation just so I could justify anything. I specifically created the hypothetical to show that reacting in a justified manner, does not imply ill will.
On that florida case, my first thought was that shooting the perpetrator was risky for the victim, the bullet could have passed through the perpetrator and killed the victim. But, the reaction considering the circumstance was understandable. If the cops would have tried to pull the guy off would have been less violent, but I am not 100% sure it would have been safer for anyone including the victim. Did the cop love the perpetrator? Did the cop hate the perpetrator? Did the cops love the victim?
Love and hate are not applicable. They just did their job and the victim, despite losing most of his face lived as far as I know. In my opinion, It would be best if non violence, was actually advocated by less desensitization to violence and other ways, where lives do not hang in the balance. Less violent movies and games would be a good start. The problem with violence is the ones doing it, not the ones trying to stop it, through non violent or violent means. Someone strung out on bath salts, eating someones face, does not care, if I support Gandhi.
If our face is getting eaten by someone crazed out on bath salts should we offer them the other cheek? Be a good Christian? It is an overly, misapplied use of a verse. Same as it is better to change our inner ways, than to actually pluck out our own eyes. In other words and my advice is: do not do anything that aint too smart if one does not understand the language. It is good to believe in non violence, as much as can be reasonably done. If it can be done where innocent lives do not hang in the balance and if one never joins the police force. People with an absolute non-violent philosophy is great if its just their lives and they are not putting someone elses life on the line.
I'm beginning to believe you don't bother to read what I post. Which, makes me wonder why you keep replying. Did anyone imply you should turn the other cheek so someone crazed with bath salts could gnaw off the other one? If they did, perhaps you should direct your replies to them.
I think I'd like to be on your team at the zombie apocalypse.
Well I don't think having a gun or a sword would help in the case of zombies, and I don't own either one anyways. Speaking of which, I am feeling like I have let Jesus down, He must be disappointed in me, I feel like I am not a good Christian, because Jesus at a pivotal moment, clearly and undeniably says: He that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one.
Thats why Jesus needs to come back and answer some questions...
Is abortion okay?
Is drug abuse and over dependence on pharmaceuticals okay?
Are guns okay, (rather than swords)?
Is socialism okay?
Dollar bills over specie?
We have been given way too much free will and power, if you ask me.
And PheonixV, how do you know Jesus did not mean get rid of materialistic desires (garments) and obtain the sword of truth, (knowledge of Spirit animating all life)?
4 out of 5 early church fathers would probably not support, abortion, drug abuse, AR 15's or atomic bombs, charity is okay, only if its not forced of a laborer to someone unwilling to work, I am pretty sure the early church fathers would believe that credit cards and anything over 21% interest is of the devil, 1955 double die pennies are better than dollars, and is there a thing as too much pizza?
There is always the possibility of allegory, parable and metaphor in Scripture, regarding garments and swords, but the disciple said they already possessed two, so I am inclined to think real swords.
Much has been made of the swords. Again the whole passage says: 'He said to them, “But now if you have a purse, take it, and also a bag; and if you don't have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one. It is written: ‘And he was numbered with the transgressors’; and I tell you that this must be fulfilled in me. Yes, what is written about me is reaching its fulfillment.” The disciples said, “See, Lord, here are two swords.” “That’s enough!” he replied.'
With the whole passage we can see Jesus is talking about fulfilling the prophecy made in Isaiah 53:12: 'He poured out Himself to death, And was numbered with the transgressors; Yet He Himself bore the sin of many, And interceded for the transgressors'. So the prophecy is that he will be considered a transgressor (an outlaw or law breaker). The presence of weapons would justify Jesus being called an outlaw and be part of that prophecy 'reaching its fulfillment'.
Clearly two swords would not be enough for 12 disciples to defend themselves. So saying 'that is enough' does not makes sense. If he is saying two swords is enough to fulfil the prophecy, then that does make sense. 'That is enough' could also mean 'enough of this'. If so then we can still see later that he tells Peter to put away his sword when he tries to use it. Jesus does not say 'put it away, now is not the right time' or 'put it away, but keep it for later', or even just 'put your sword away'. He specifically says 'all who draw the sword will die by the sword'. In other words violence only begets more violence. Clearly Jesus is not encouraging violence in either passage.
Also, in the same chapter of Isaiah that Jesus quotes from it says:
'By oppression and judgment he was taken away.
Yet who of his generation protested?
For he was cut off from the land of the living;
for the transgression of my people he was punished.
He was assigned a grave with the wicked,
and with the rich in his death,
though he had done no violence,
nor was any deceit in his mouth.'
So this passage of the gospel is most likely about the fulfillment of prophecy, not an incitement to violence. In addition, every contemporaneous Christian writer of the early church that I'm aware of supports that view and rejects the use of violence. Violence and war were simply not considered compatible with the teachings of Jesus by the early Christians.
I've never looked at it that way (well I barely remembered it) so thank you. Interesting
Jesus also said "Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword" (Matthew 10:34)
" The presence of weapons would justify Jesus being called an outlaw "
Although I must admit that carrying a purse could be an indication of an outlaw, the context is about Jesus fixing to be crucified amongst thieves and the rest of the gang could not follow. Buying a sword is not an incitement to violence, and keeping your own purse and money from thenceforth, are not prophecy rather an ad hoc rescue.
Kathryn L Hill, a potent question. I sincerely wonder if you truly want the answer. I hope you do. Are you willing to give up your cherished beliefs for Truth? I am.
I don't have Truth (with a capital "T"), but I've seen and experienced things that would rip the rug out from under your beliefs.
If you think you are that beautiful body of yours, then we may as well stop the conversation right here. If you think this, you are living in a delusion and won't understand any proper answer.
If you accept that we are spiritual beings who possess temporary vehicles called Homo sapiens bodies, then you might understand an answer.
The more spiritual experiences you've had, the better your chances of understanding an answer. If you've had none, then stop reading now. None of the rest of this will make any sense.
You're using physical logic. What you say makes perfect sense from a purely physical standpoint. But then you betray your bias by your title. You don't understand "turning the other cheek" at all.
The objective of spirituality is to eliminate self-concerned (egoistic) separateness. Most people don't understand the true meaning of ego. They get all confused by western psychological mumbo-jumbo.
The opposite of ego is Love. Most people don't understand True Love. They confuse it with self-concerned pleasure. True Love doesn't keep score. True Love is unconditionally generous and infinitely abundant. True Love is never self-concerned, but always outwardly concerned for the welfare of others.
The First Law is to love others as if they were yourself -- even your enemies. This is in direct opposition to ego.
When you turn the other cheek with love of the one striking you and with infinite, unconditional generosity, you rise above being a victim. Your body may be destroyed, but you are not hurt at all.
Turning the other cheek is never masochistic, if done properly. It is empowerment of the infinite variety.
Because people -- especially Americans -- are so self-concerned, they're jumping from the frying pan into the fire. A recent poll showed that an American majority approves of CIA torture. They're cowards and want the government to protect them. Their self-concern is making them vulnerable and easily manipulated. Soon, the government will be free of all Laws and can do whatever it wants whenever it wants and the scared citizens will be able to do nothing about it. Self-concern has led them to their own destruction. They've chosen tyranny and security. As Ben Franklin said, those who give up liberty for a little security will deserve neither. Turning the other cheek would've made citizens impervious to such manipulation and such vulnerability which has led to their enslavement.
Now, America has become the land of the slave and the home of the coward. Self-concern (ego) has done this. The biggest egos on the block -- the psychopathic elite -- know how to play egos like a symphony.
When you truly turn the other cheek -- with love, humility, generosity, wisdom, fearless confidence (faith) and perfect responsibility for the acts of others against you -- you rise to the level of creation. It was from this level that Jesus walked on the unsettled Sea of Galilee, easily negotiating the storm-tossed waves. It was from this level that Jesus calmed the storm immediately after joining his disciples on the boat. It was from this level that Jesus forgave those who crucified him as he stood dying on the cross.
Fear is self-concern. Protection of your temporary vessel is understandable but makes you tiny in this huge universe of billions of galaxies, with billions of stars in each galaxy. With the attitude of turning the other cheek, you become larger than all the galaxies of the universe. Understand this and you will see the oxymoronic nature of your title.
Interesting and beautifully written. In my opinion this is the closest interpretation I have seen of authentic Christian teaching, based on the events described in the Gospel (including Jesus' own actions) and what we know of the behaviour of the earliest Christians, who would accepted persecution and death as a form of martyrdom. This can be linked to the Christian belief that spirit is eternal and the body only a temporary vessel as described in the comment above.
Yet strangely, this seems to be the least favoured interpretation of this particular aspect of Christianity. Why is that? Isn't it a goal of every Christian to emulate Jesus. Did Jesus not surrender himself completely to persecution and eventually death ("he who lives by the sword shall die by the sword")? And is that obedient surrender not deemed by Christians to be Jesus' greatest triumph over evil? How could any Christian therefore not want to emulate that behaviour?
Jesus didn't want to go through what he did, and questioned and prayed about it to his Father God. His case, while in part example to his followers, was to exact a much more huge result. That being, evil even in its hugest forms was conquered, and the thing that most enslaves mankind, their sins and its effect, could be eradicated for the soul that was sorry and repented and believes on Him. Jesus wanted to do his Father's will, OVER what he wanted though. He also spoke up for himself when being mocked at hit before it came to being put on the cross. He asked them why they struck him? For what reason? This is to point out the injustice I think, in part. He wasn't just quiet.
No one, not Jesus nor the apostles just accepted it or welcomed it. (For Jesus alone, what he was securing by being a perfect being that saved humanity from what brought death, it was overall a good thing. Securing eternal life for mankind, no small thing, paid for with a big price.) Sure, it caused people to talk about it to this day, the great good that comes from such philosophies as those that side with Jesus. A philosophy that if employed, would not result in what we are now seeing in this world. It is a bright and shining light of GOOD vs EVIL being played out, so none could miss it. And we see that you here, don't miss it either. I do wonder about your personal belief and interpretation some of what you said.
Many think that Christianity isn't representative of reality in our world, or truth. Therefore, we are then all on the same level on that point of view, and living with each other in a pluralistic world. Freedom reigns, and living peaceably is a good thing. The scenario or point of view you seem to be talking out of, is one in which Jesus was absolutely real and truth and reality followed. It also speaks of a type or kind of time when Christians would not be able to appeal to any kind of help from anyone anywhere, and thus have to die a martyrs death. IN THAT SENSE, yes such a horror would continue to back the truth of Jesus and what is going on behind the scenes in a far greater sense. Because even the greatest evils like those we have seen these latest weeks, as cowardly as they are, cannot win over such goodness, love and light.
In the meantime, let us not forget about those that were martyred that are awaiting God to avenge them one day, the Bible speaks of them too. Vengeance wasn't theirs to have, because it belongs to God, their maker, Himself. He will not forget. Still they wonder if they will be avenged, and God seems to be very patient, though not forgetting. He is that merciful and gracious to all, to give those that don't know Him, the chance. Now that is incredible love, mercy and grace. Yet he is just. Its seems to be a matter of time for those. He is not too lenient, nor too harsh. This is part of the beauty of the message he gives.
You can't blame people for not wanting to live now in a free world, that was "bought" in America's case, by the blood sweat, tears and death of the forefathers. Its so easy to be evil and take life, and end a family's line forever, like tyrants of the past have done and are doing now. If such great evil ever took over that would bring back such barbarism, or bring the barbarism going on in the world now to "home", it would have to be dealt with, sure. It would make the same cases in point it did long ago, yes. It would be triumphing over evil, with a bullhorn, just like before. So that people that reject the good, and embrace the evil, know full well what they are doing and why. Anyway, I hope all people of all worldviews would fight hard, such an evil. Its not explained by any other world view, like it is with Christianity.
Sure, according to the Gospels Jesus didn't want to suffer and die, and he pointed out the injustice of it. So clearly his acceptance of suffering and death did not mean he wanted to suffer and die. But he never physically fought to save his own life. The only time (correct me if I'm wrong) he is said to have used physical force, was overturning the tables of the money changers in the temple. Even then it doesn't say he used force against people, it just says he "drove them out". And didn't he rebuke Peter for drawing his sword the night he was arrested with the words "those who live by the sword, die by the sword"?
So doesn't the Gospel show that Jesus was an absolute pacifist, i.e. he refused to engage in violence against others, and doesn't that align perfectly with the teaching that, while people should not throw themselves into harms way like lemmings, death is not something to be feared because it's not the end of the human spiritual journey?
And isn't it a Christian teaching that Jesus is the fulfilment of the Old Testament? So the teaching in Exodus to take an "eye for eye" was superseded by the teaching of Jesus: "You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also."?
So if it is the goal of every Christian to emulate Jesus, then why does emulating Jesus' pacifism (the rejection of violence) seem so unpopular among many Christians?
The actions of Jesus in not saving his own life, is why I wrote all that I did above. It was because he knew what had to happen, to secure what he did for humanity. This is not ever to be repeated by any human being ever. In that sense, no one could use the "not fighting to save your life" in that sense, for anyone else. Otherwise, what would be left would be people being bullied to death by those that want to, and they and Christianity would be wiped out. Not a goal of Jesus for his followers or God's goal for those that believe in him, that I have ever seen represented in scripture.
I can kind of sort of see your points, but its all based on your own interpretation and understanding, which if correct a lot of other things would have to "be the case," for the points you make to "follow through," (As I see it and understand it all to to be.) So these are the reasons I say he wasn't welcoming the treatment, but then went ahead and did what he did.
Jesus did fear his human death to at least some great degree, and sweated blood because of it, (Or in part by it.) His death was much more than any human death could be too, with the separation from his Father, etc, and being utterly innocent which none of us could ever compare to. He fled people that wanted to harm him at times. His manner promoted peace, but since before his birth, God was helping direct his own parents in ways that protected him from would be killers. This is a defense of sorts, though by God himself at times, and through dreams, angelic messengers, etc. There are evil humans to be feared, is the point. The disciples did have swords, and while he didn't want Peter and the rest to try and stop the arrest, (partly because of what was coming and had to be) he didn't say that no one should ever have swords. If people didn't have swords back then, then you might just have to die, succumb to the others that did have swords. We see in history that if some didn't, they wouldn't have any posterity here left, nor maybe many to share the very words of God in this case. There have always been some that want to annihilate such types.
Slapping on the cheek is one thing, protecting yourself from death another. I think these are the distinctions that matter. If it helps, we can speak of particular examples. Turning the cheek when someone slaps it, sheds light on what is going on, and doesn't promote more agitation or even violence. Speaking of not fearing death implies we are no longer just talking about slapping the cheek as in the story. We are then speaking of passively accepting death by those that want to kill whoever they want to kill. That is a grave evil, and if anyone were ever to suggest it, I would think that was rather odd. Especially to those that would turn the other cheek to an insult, or just a slap from people that already don't care for them or what they are saying. Those kind of people are peace promoters. We need more people like that in this world, I think.
So to me, these ideas and my prior post help respond to the question.
Why is not wanting to suffer and die relevant to whether Jesus was a pacifist? Being a pacifist does not mean wanting to die. It means not committing violence.
Show me a clear example where Jesus used violence against another person, because I can think of none. The only example where Jesus is said to have used physical force is turning over the tables in the temple. But it does not say violence was used against any person. It says he "drove them out", so that is not a clear example. Now tell me how many clear examples there are where Jesus refused to use violence (even in self-defense) and discouraged others from using violence?
Which part of these words are unclear: "You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also." This is clearly a reference to a book in the Old Testament (Exodus). That passage of Exodus justifies using physical violence in retaliation for personal injury. But here is Jesus explicitly contrasting what is said as part of the Old Covenant with what he (representing the New Covenant) says. Hence "You have heard that it was said . . . But I tell you . . ." then he tells you: "do not resist an evil person", but instead "turn the other cheek". If that does not relate to physical violence, do you think Jesus made a mistake in contrasting it with a passage about violence? Do you think Jesus (the mediator of the New Covenant) was unsure of the meaning of the passage in Exodus he was quoting?
And did Jesus stop Peter using his sword only because it was not the right time? He said "Put your sword back in its place, for all who draw the sword will die by the sword". Referring to all who draw the sword makes that a general statement doesn't it? And isn't it clear that it means all who use violence as a means of solving a problem, should expect violence to be used against them. In fact, hasn't that phrase become an idiom in the English language that means exactly that?
Once again, why do Christians seem to bend over backwards to give convoluted re-interpretations of simple passages in the New Testament that clearly promote non-violence?
Defending the country with violence is part of politics and worldly concerns and is an aspect of common sense.
I believe the ideal of Non-Violence taught by both Jesus and Krishna serves to preserve the happiness of one's soul and inner connection to one's peace of mind.
This type of non-violence requires self-mastery, self-discipline and inner strength.
Defending one's country requires the same.
Defending the country in war and practicing non-violence on an individual level are both spiritual endeavors.
It is the intention that counts.
I am often responding to what I sense you are suggesting. I found it frankly....odd. I have answered you twice now in great detail. I know you may not like my answers, but they do explain what I think is a better, more logical and reasonable point of view in light of scripture, and reality including history.
I don't agree with how you have been framing your argument in the first place, and this is what I am answering in part. So I am wondering if there is anything in particular that you disagree with, that I have actually said?
It seems you want very much to make it appear like people are convoluting a simple message of Jesus. I don't see you responding to my points, which is fine, and it seems we just really disagree.
It has been pointed out the extreme range you are really presenting, the example of turning the other cheek, vs going to ones death peacefully and without a fight. (Especially when not having the same mission Jesus did when the did the thing you are using an example.) I don't find actual teachings that end up with a same result as you. If you want to think that what is taught throughout the scriptures and by example, means what you are suggesting, then that is fine. If Christians throughout history had followed that idea though, I mean your (DonW's) interpretation, there would probably be no bible, no words of Jesus, and no Christ followers left on the planet. Is that what God really wanted? Then why the great commission of Jesus? Why all the other teachings, as if they were to go on? Thank God they didn't interpret it to mean what you do! It makes far less sense to me is all.
A better question might be, why do you want so badly for such an interpretation as yours (to the point of death, not fearing it, and welcoming the next life) to be the case? (If you do? Going off of what I am seeing you write.) The obedient surrender you want them to have towards the actions of enemies? This cause and effect would have a very poor result, and nullify the point of any of the other teachings of Jesus, ultimately. So I am taking your views, and running with the possible reality of them, what that would look like say in today's world, or in history.
Let me clarify something else. Outside of God's great love and merciful forgiving nature towards people that would be sorry for their crimes against him, I don't find him to be illogical. His world, his creation, are all seeming to express his logic. Its our own free will and stubborn ways that become very illogical at times. You are asking me to agree with you on what I find to be illogical things.
Jesus was fully aware that his message would cause division, but I think he knew why. It isn't that his message was a non peaceful, or not a good message, it is that many people would find issue with it, because of what is in their hearts. People that might be at odds with the truth. This is what causes division. If all lived in the manner Jesus taught actually, no one WOULD ever need a sword. His disciples seemed to need swords, he said his message would cause division, not only peace. I am after the "why" of that comment from Jesus. I think it is illuminated by other scripture, and prophecies. And yes we have seen in history as an example that even people with swords, in an effort to protect themselves and their families, have often died by that sword. So that isn't untrue, they did live and die often by the sword. But many have been saved also. Our whole planet would look a LOT different if they hadn't fought and fought hard. They would have died either way, but it need not be mass extinction to people that would take advantage of such.
True pacifists that often have a very narrow and shallow set of views, often are alive today because of others willingness to not live by their "pacifist only" ideas. I think your encouragement to critically evaluate the scriptures however is always a good thing. I think for Christians everywhere, God's spirit would be busy at work convicting them if it was a great idea say, to give up our national defense. They might start voting and protesting accordingly. In the meantime, many of these same Christians are using these very verses to help them be strong in the face of all kinds of various conflicts that aren't on the level of life vs death scenarios at all. They are peace promoting ideas, and it helps in the long run, even if its hard and painful in the short run.
I neither like nor dislike your comments. I can only gauge them by how well I think they address the questions I have asked. I don't think you have given any specific answers to the specific questions asked, so I hope you can do that this time round.
I also recognise that Christians are a diverse bunch, and that you obviously cannot speak on behalf of all of Christianity. So I invite anyone who self-identifies as a Christian to contribute and answer these questions also.
For example, when Jesus says ". . . all who draw the sword will die by the sword". Why is that not clear? "All" means everyone. Using a sword is a violent action. So he is saying that everyone who uses violence will die by violence. So he is telling Peter to put his sword away, and discouraging the use of violence in general. With reference to the actual passage, which specific part of that reading do you disagree with, and why?
I asked whether the teachings of Jesus enhance/supercede the teachings of the Old Testament. No answer. So I assume my understanding is correct and that it does. So . . .
When Jesus says: "You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also." An eye for an eye is a teaching in the old testament. It means that if someone injures you, then you should cause the same injury to them. That is what the Old Testament says. "But", Jesus says, I tell you . . . turn the other cheek. In other words, do not do what it says in the Old Testament with regard to personal injury, do what I tell you which is different. In fact it's the opposite of what the Old Testament says.
That mechanism of "you have heard it said . . . but I say . . ." is used throughout the chapter for contrasting what Mosaic law says with what Jesus says. It indicates to the reader that there is a difference. So it is clear that the author of Matthew is highlighting the difference between "eye for an eye" (Old Covenant) and "turn the other cheek" (New Covenant).
Again, with reference to the actual passage, which specific part of that reading do you disagree with, and why?
And finally, do you believe Jesus advocated the use of violence against other people?
I'm sorry you think these questions are "odd". I don't think they are. But if you have any specific questions you would like me to answer in return, I'd be more than happy to.
I did not say the questions are odd. What you are suggesting is in how you ask, and your interpretations. You will clearly see this, if you look back. (So that is a little twist there.)
I have addressed why I don't think your point of view makes logical sense to assume the interpretation you do. It seems you don't want to allow for people to realize you are using a rather unique interpretation. It would also mean you think all Christians that have ever defended their own lives are acting in opposition to Jesus. So we can't really be discussing this issue fairly, unless you are going to be a bit more fair in your dealing with the matters brought up. So we get you repeating yourself, and me responding in a new way of explaining what I meant that you don't want to address, or can't. I think the logical points I have made can't be addressed without perhaps abandoning the notions you have drawn in the first place, thus we aren't getting anywhere. I have answered.
Peter would have likely died that night, had he fought against the guard that came against them. That isn't unclear. Jesus calmed what could have started up that night, a huge fight, where Jesus would have likely been killed or led away anyway, with disciples laying around dead. Why on this occasion do you think that Jesus only noticed Peter's sword in the first place, and commented on it? Its not logical to take it all how you are taking it, is my point. That is my answer. I understand that you want Christians to be going against Jesus for also having "swords" if they do, but that if your own personal interpretation. None of that is hard or unclear as you keep suggesting. If it is for you, but isn't for others, then I don't know what to say more about that.
Yes, Jesus' teachings override the Old Testament when they differ, offering more grace and mercy than they often did, and we saw that in action.
In my effort to spend the time I have to answer your questions, and seeing that you repeat them, It appears you aren't really reading my posts. I don't think it applies to life and death extinction of a group of people that believe a certain way, or that some might just hate. I think you are confusing the idea of people protecting their families and their own life, with an eye for an eye stuff, slapping the cheek kind of insulting or fighting in that sense.
Why do you draw such grand conclusions that Jesus wasn't talking about? Slapping a cheek, to going to one's death at the hands of enemies? When Jesus went to his death, it would have had to be for the reason that he just didn't want to fight back, which I showed why that would be wrong thinking if that was all it was.
This might all be a bit of "quote mining", rather than an attempt to reflect the overall general tone of Jesus' message, and in keeping with realistic ideas about the times and people. Jesus was against evil. He wouldn't suddenly be promoting such ideas as you are promoting in which evil prevails against good and innocent people. In those cases of life and death, those that die at the hands of others, would just be laughed at, no goodness prevails. No message is sent on how to promote more peace. No one would be drawn to the goodness of Jesus' teachings in that case. It would be a path to extinction for all who believed like that. Where evil wins for taking cheap shots against people who don't even pretend to defend themselves. This is the point I would like you to address, if you don't answer any of the others I have asked. How much sense does that make?
So I don't disagree with your passages. But your interpretations, and not just your interpretations, but how they make sense or don't in the real world if we let them play out. That is a good test of the ideas you are suggesting.
I stand corrected. You didn't say my questions were odd, you said that what you sense I am suggesting is odd.
Your last comment clarifies your position a lot. Just to make my own position clear, I'm not advocating an interpretation. This started with my comment that lone77star's interpretation is the one that seems the most authentic (not better or worse) in relation to scripture based on my understanding of Christian teaching and the actions of early Christians. He said:
By my understanding, those comments resonate with lots of statements that Jesus is said to have made, including his behaviour during the passion. It also resonates with the reported attitudes of martyred Christians in the early years of Christianity, and several of the "Fathers of the Church". Hippolytus of Rome wrote in the third century:
'A soldier of the civil authority must be taught not to kill men and to refuse to do so if he is commanded, and to refuse to take an oath. If he is unwilling to comply, he must be rejected for baptism. A military commander or civic magistrate must resign or be rejected. If a believer seeks to become a soldier, he must be rejected, for he has despised God.'
Cyprian of Carthage wrote in the third century:
'Consider the roads blocked up by robbers, the seas beset with pirates, wars scattered all over the earth with the bloody horror of camps. The whole world is wet with mutual blood; and murder, which in the case of an individual is admitted to be a crime, is called a virtue when it is committed wholesale.'
The point of these quotes is not to try to prove one interpretation is "right" or "wrong", because they don't do that. The point is to demonstrate that the idea that Jesus advocated absolute non-violence was a fundamental aspect of the early Christian church and later formed an important part of the body of different interpretations that make up Christianity.
I was curious as to why that interpretation is not so popular now, and then became interested in how you explain your interpretation.
In that regard I'm surprised you did not borrow from St. Thomas Aquinas who wrote extensively on the subject of violence in relation to Christian principles in Summa Theologiae. This work not only forms the basis of the common Christian position in relation to violence, but also has strongly influenced western philosophy as a whole.
Article 7 of that work is titled "Whether it is lawful to kill a man in self-defense?" In this section he essentially has the same discussion we have just had. The opposing arguments (he calls them objections) come from St. Augustine (Augustine of Hippo 354 – 430 AD) who advocated personal non-violence (although he supported violence by the state). His interpretation is that killing someone for the sake of saving your own life is unlawful. Aquinas answers that view by writing the following:
'Nothing hinders one act from having two effects, only one of which is intended, while the other is beside the intention. Now moral acts take their species according to what is intended, and not according to what is beside the intention, since this is accidental as explained above. Accordingly the act of self-defense may have two effects, one is the saving of one’s life, the other is the slaying of the aggressor. Therefore this act, since one’s intention is to save one’s own life, is not unlawful, seeing that it is natural to everything to keep itself in “being,” as far as possible.'
In other words, if you kill someone in self-defense, then as long as your intention was not to kill, but to preserve your own life, then it is not a sinful act. This is referred to in Christian philosophy as the Principle of double effect. Aquinas also says:
'. . . it is not lawful for a man to intend killing a man in self-defense, except for such as have public authority, who while intending to kill a man in self-defense, refer this to the public good, as in the case of a soldier fighting against the foe, and in the minister of the judge struggling with robbers, although even these sin if they be moved by private animosity. '
Whether you are aware of it or not, the teaching of Aquinas represents one of the foundations of the modern Christian teaching around violence.
I believe that teaching, which your view is an example of, represents an attempt within Christianity to remove the tension between a religious doctrine of non-violence and a biological desire to survive by any means necessary.
The interpretation of lone77star and Christian pacifists (which I have put to you) is so radical, because it goes against a powerful biological imperative. So much so that you instinctively consider even the suggestion of it to be odd.
So I think avoiding that interpretation is a way of avoiding cognitive dissonance (mental stress or discomfort experienced by an individual who holds two or more contradictory beliefs, ideas, or values at the same time). The idea that Jesus (a perfect human being that people should emulate) advocated absolute non violence, cannot be reconciled with our biological desire to survive.
To answer my own question, I think that is why the pacifist interpretation of the Gospel is not very popular among Christians today, but I still contend that it is the most authentic, i.e. most closely related to what the original Christians believed. I believe that once Christianity was adopted by Constantine, it had to evolve to meet a new need: the need to reconcile Jesus' teachings with the reality of politics and running a state.
Jesus turned water into wine. Does that make Him a vintner? One cannot make a career out of one or two quotes. Jesus cannot be summed up in a verse and a spin. A personal philosophy of a hippy pacifist Jesus, that focuses entirely and all so conveniently about someone elses ego, does not make one an expert on Jesus. Maybe it makes someone an expert on the detriments of too much ego, in some made up new agey stuff, but it carries zero weight. Nada.
If it were so, then disciples would not be carrying any swords at all, much more sufficiently two, in the first place. I do not know any Christians that carry swords, but according to Jesus they should sell their coat and buy one, if they want to be a disciple.
I am not surprised based on some other things you have said that you agree with Lonestar and his interpretation. I appreciate you sharing your views or opinions, and am simply sharing my own.
You may not be a "victim" according to Lonestar's statement, but you are very much dead and a victim in that one sense at least. Of course God gets the last word on avenging his own children, and there will be a justice imparted unto all of us for better or for worse, depending upon our choices.
So we are speaking from different points of view, as this topic or set of ideas allows for and even demands that. I can speak from any point of view in time, from eternity looking backward, etc, of now looking forward. In the forums, I often focus more on the here and now, where we all are at the moment and don't disagree on what is doing evil unto others. I am not trying to mix the two times, now and then from eternity looking back, together too much. Its not helpful in the context I think you are working out of. I alluded to this in my first response., or touched on it.
I am not an expert on all things historical from the first to third century, but do like to study it as I can. I appreciate your quotes and question. The answer may be that which I spoke of before. Perhaps any change, if there really is one, is because of the possible extinction of a people, and the message of Jesus. Which by the way, you may not know either, even to quote back your views on, if absolute pacifism were allowed. You called it non violence, but I think another distinction needs to be made. I'll make it in the form of a question.
Is it violent (or promoting or pushing violence), to stop violence and wholesale slaughter of people that simply disagree with such a killer or killers? In the form of an example, let us look at evil murderous dictators of the past. Do you really call it a violent thing to try and stop (with force if need be) the slaughter of people by such a person? Not making this careful distinction, allows for some great error in thinking to occur, in which such an example would not be allowed. That is a great example to explain the point of view i am coming from. This is why absolute pacifism, is not ok. It allows for the most evil thugs of the world to simply dominate, and at the expense of not just innocent people, but by taking advantage of the good in them and their own beliefs.
I want to say that I copy pasted your response and read it in the box i am responding in, and see you then went to the idea of self defense.
My views may have been formed by many things such as ideas passed down through the ages from various people holding various ideas. More than anything though, I think it is common sense. I am not sure you are as tuned into my reasoning as you think you are. You are perhaps just making guesses, without saying that you are.
I think God and Jesus didn't intend for the followers of Jesus and/or his message to become extinct, especially if they are both real, lol. God's very own spirit would work in the hearts of his own, dealing with such things as true cognitive dissonance. A person may have some struggles nature and evil they are facing, but there is also great discomfort for a child of God to continually ignore the conscience, if it is direct opposition to God. Something would have to give. Christians I hope would always rather not ever have to harm anyone ever.
As the centuries went on from the first until now, much history has been covered. Things changed, and new challenges ensued. If you or anyone were ever really suggesting that every Christian that ever lived that defended their life or other innocents were in direct opposition to Jesus' teachings, then I don't know what to say. We for sure wouldn't be here to discuss it now if they had just said "ok, have it your way." As a total aside, this would be a view that would be very appealing to anyone that is anti Christian, of which there are many. Promoting never fighting back or defending even in life and death situations.
My point of view on the turning the other cheek thing could be shown in an example. Say someone offended the name of Jesus, mocked him, insulted him (as a prophet, teacher, leader, messiah, whatever....) Through the turning the other cheek passage, he would never say to cause harm to such a person that would insult him, but rather to turn the other cheek to such insults. He is strong, his views are simple and clear, what has such a strong and true message (if really true and strong) to fear from such put downs? The idea of turning the other cheek in such an exchange with him or his followers, actually sheds more light on the wrongdoing of the offending person, it doesn't really make Jesus look bad in any way. How could it? No one needs to respond in like manner, or in violence to such insults. Also, if Jesus has told Peter that night he cut off Malchus' ear, "Peter, we talked about your sword, and how you needed to get rid of your swords! Here you are still in ownership of a sword, and swinging it around trying to fight!" If something like that had been said or, "Peter, where did you get a sword, and why are you using it!?" As he was healing Malchus' ear..... Then I can imagine a Jesus that wouldn't have condoned ownership of a sword, which implies possible need of one against aggressors or enemies that may want to harm.
I think I see the difference that underpins the two interpretations. And I think you are right, it is about how the issue is framed. The way I'm framing the issue is based on my assumptions about what Christians believe, so let me be clear about what those assumptions are.
I assume that as a Christian you believe god is all good, all powerful, all knowing etc. You believe god sustains all things, has a personal relationship with those who seek to know him, and intervenes in the lives of human beings. You believe Jesus was (is) the Christ, that he suffered death, rose again, and will come again to judge the living and the dead. If any of those assumptions are wrong, let me know.
Given those assumptions, my question is: why do you believe that if Christians were not physically violent, they would become extinct? Why don't you trust that god (all good, all powerful, all knowing) would prevent that from happening? If Jesus conquered death and defeated evil simply by being obedient to god, without harming anyone, why do you believe Christianity and Christians would not prevail against evil in the same way? Don't get me wrong. I don't mean Christians doing nothing in the face of injustice. I just mean nonviolence (I started using the term "nonviolence" because it's more accurate than "pacifism" which gives the impression of doing nothing in the face of injustice).
The reason I look back to the early days of the church and at early Christians is because by all accounts those Christians had unshakable trust in god, that no amount of violence, or even death, could overcome. An attitude that can be expressed as "the lord is my light and my salvation - whom shall I fear"; lone77star called it "fearless confidence". That's not to say they were apathetic. Far from it. They protested against injustice. But they seemed to draw the line at committing violence. And it is that fearless confidence (faith) that allowed them to take that stance. That's the frame through which they seemed to view the use of violence. From that perspective, a Christian committing violence to overcome injustice represents a lack of faith, a lack of trust in god.
And this is where my confusion lies. The way early Christians seemed to frame the issue of violence, makes complete sense to me given the purported beliefs of Christianity. And it leads me to ask, how could anyone who genuinely holds the beliefs outlined above, not have the same fearless confidence? How can you, as someone who has faith in god, fear that Christianity could become extinct unless you physically hurt people? That does not seem consistent with what Christians believe about the nature of god and his redemptive plan for humanity.
We know early Christians were really persecuted. Accused of incest (because they called each other "brother" and "sister"), accused of cannibalism (because they ate the "body" and "blood" of Christ), they tore their families asunder (because they broke away from the faith they were born into - Judaism, paganism etc.) and renounced the established institutions and practices of their respective countries. So they were shunned. Hated and reviled by Jews and Romans alike, and persecuted in barbaric ways. Damnatio ad bestias ("condemnation to beasts") - the famous throwing Christians to the lions - was a favored capital punishment for the worst criminals, and for Christians. That persecution of the early church lasted around three hundred years. But the response of the early Christians was interesting.
Those who took up arms were chastised by leaders of the early church. At a Spanish council, it was decreed that anyone involved in attacks on pagan temples etc. would be denied the title of martyr. So instead Christian authors like Tertullian (160 – 225 AD) defended Christianity in works like Apologeticus, where he demanded the decriminalisation of Christianity, and equality for Christians among other groups in the Roman empire. Marcus Minucius Felix (150 and 270 AD) wrote Octavius a Christian apologetic aimed at debunking some of the myths about Christianity. Eusebius (260 – 339) recorded the deaths of Christians in his work The Martyrs of Palestine for the sake of posterity, that those sacrifices might not be forgotten; And Perpetua (unknown - 203) wrote an account of her time in prison for being a Christian, before she was "condemned to the beasts". So they bore the injustices, and in so doing bared witness to them (the word martyr literally means "witness" in Greek). The result?
In 2015 more people in the world identify as Christian than any other religion. So the nonviolent stance of early Christians did not cause Christians to become extinct, even in the face of brutal persecution. And that's also a source of confusion for me. You are suggesting that Jesus didn't advocate nonviolence, because god is logical and it is illogical to believe that injustices can always be overcome without violence. But how do you reconcile that with the historical fact that Christians endured 300 years of injustice without taking up arms, and now Christianity is the largest religion in the world? Does that not demonstrate that injustices can be overcome without resort to violence? Of course the early Christians who were condemned to the beasts could not have known that Christianity would become so widespread. But they had fearless confidence in god, from where they took their stance of nonviolence. Perhaps Christians are less fanatic today that those early Christians. But then again who is more of a fanatic, the person willing to die for the sake of their beliefs, or the person willing to kill for the sake of their beliefs?
God can intervene in the lives of human beings, as he sees fit. I think the assumptions in the beginning are fair about what I believe as a Christian.
You focus a lot on the word extinct. That is one part, and based on today's realities, and whole family lines becoming extinct etc. This would be true of anyone that was pacifist, and I was happy you made a distinction between between pacifist and non violent. Then later however I saw them overlap again, and not stay separate. So what was the point in making the fair distinction only to abandon it, and have the lines blurred again? I don't need to commit violence, and I am not sure all of this is even what the OP is all about. That was something brought in by Lonestar and then you when you spoke of how beautiful it was that he said what he said, etc.
Pacifism to the point of death isn't necessary, and you say isn't what we are talking about, but then it is kind of again. As for certain points in history, we do know of times where certain crusades, if left unchecked, would have continued on in the manner they would have, if NOT for the "violent" (unfortunately) "fighting back." The goal was extinction of the views that people were dying for. So i am not limiting my historical eras to any particular point. And its true, that trust in God is needed always, no matter what level of action is being taken. I don't believe he would have allowed for his message to die. That is part of my point though, let me re-explain.
Think of the example of illness and dying of disease. Some believe that they won't ever need a doctor so they never go nor take their kids. Its bad if they don't, because I believe God uses doctors, science and medicine in his work. One could take the same view here, and one could say faith is lacking or not......Why not just "trust in God," right? We are ready to condemn the same at the drop of a hat, for their own recklessness with the precious lives God gave them, and the knowledge and wisdom. Turn this toward pacifism and non violent ideas.... While bombs come over or people are willing to kill others by dying themselves, etc. God could technically be thinking, "why did you just sit back?" Thus, perhaps why we don't see Jesus telling disciples to have no swords perhaps?
Don, you said, "why do you believe that if Christians were not physically violent, they would become extinct?" Since you are seeming to want to keep on discussing, I have to say that this isn't a totally accurate or complete framing of my point of view. This is partly where the cleared up parts, became totally blurred again between pacifism and violence. So again, I don't need to be physically violent. I don't want to be, I don't want others to be, etc. The realities dictate appropriate responses in such cases. Again, my points and questions seem to have been missed, that some of these things could be said by you, to me.
Christians are continually having to use the brain God gave them (hopefully!) and also balance the trust factor in God. This isn't paradise, things are bad and imperfect so often due to man's choice. We are in the thick of it.
I think if Christians were in situations again of being killed or hurt like in 1st to 3rd century, when all recourse is gone, (and we find examples of this today, people are still being killed in horrifying ways, even children) then it would be just the same. What is left to do but let the playing out of even horrific scenarios shed light back onto the truth of goodness and God's message over the evils of any day now or in the future. I think they would have unshakeable faith in God again, and do now. This is more of the crux of this discussion that you and I are having, (and a couple of others) I think. Are we assuming that Christians back then just waited in the field or in their house until they were overcome, and never fought back to what you are saying Jesus taught in his examples of non violence? We know they hid for their lives, and if they could have, why do we assume they wouldn't have killed to save their child, or a husband his wife, or vice versa? Being overcome with power, perhaps, IS the crux. This is what is being waged in the world today, a fight for power. Some for evil, some say for good, etc.
So to answer you when you say, "From that perspective, a Christian committing violence to overcome injustice represents a lack of faith, a lack of trust in god." I don't know how you know for sure where they drew the line. Sometimes all form of fighting back is removed, this is the point. Of course if some are taken advantage of in this way, what else do they have? They can't fight back,for how do you fight flames, or a lion with your bare hands?
So I don't see any need for confusion, with these clarifications. You can have fearless confidence, and end up like them the 1st to 3rd century Christians, and still have fearless confidence now. The details that seem pretty obvious to me, are what we ought to be keying in on, if true confusion remains, and thus all my comments.
This is another mischaracterization of my views when you ask, "How can you, as someone who has faith in god, fear that Christianity could become extinct unless you physically hurt people?" That is a sort of twist. That isn't my view. Its been twisted and presented in another way to be my view. So you notice the inconsistency, but one that I didn't create. I think you did. I know this, because I know my views. Me speaking of a possible way of things playing out in todays world, if some would have their way with those of other religions or races, should not be so misconstrued. It was far from the only point I made. If this continues on, I would have to just cease discussion because of the unfairness of the manner of discussion/debate.
Things like attacks on pagan temples, and denying any in so doing the description of martyr seems normal, vs the man taken against his will and fed to the lions, for example. That isn't a defense to prove what I think you are wanting to show in regards to non violence. I applaud the effort to change things, to address ideas like decriminalization of Christianity, and equality for Christians, debunking myths about Christianity, etc. Good for them. People still care about these things and write about them today, and fight to maintain freedoms for all law abiding citizens. I appreciate that time you took to research and share here the things you have.
So yes, even if people are overpowered and have bold faith in God, the result can be an even bigger spreading of the message that is so trying to be silenced. That is a side effect, and God works in mysterious ways all the time. The fact that it seems to be the case in history and now, doesn't negate the prior ideas you mention like decriminalization of Christianity, etc. Some want to drastically change things. They are the ones changing things up, after humanity and civilization has come so far. I don't understand the ongoing wanting this to be somehow inconsistent with Jesus' teachings and examples, and early Christianity. I don't think that case has been made.
Perhaps God will judge harshly with those that have fought to save their families and own selves and their societies that were Christians, against those that wanted to convert them or kill them, for example. There is a lot of history that you cannot ignore. For instance, if there were Christians that tried to convert by force, convert or die, I think that is violence that Jesus and God opposes. Some though, had to use intense violence to just maintain their way of life, to have the simple freedoms that we all take for granted. That is also why they are not extinct, and not because of any non violent early Christians, and also because of God's hand.
As for early Christians fed to beasts that couldn't have known how widespread Christianity would be today, do you have proof that if they were handed over by their own permission, or allowance? How do you know that any "arms" they laid down, or didn't take up, was because they chose to out of a "non violence always" policy? What if a person about to be fed to the lions had an army to break them out, or a sword to fight the lion or beast that was tearing them to pieces, how are you so sure they wouldn't have used it to maintain their "non violent" ways? Have you successfully made the case, that if they even DID have that and did that, that THOSE things would be "violent" and not just pacifist? These are the things you are running with as being assumed to be true, when I don't see how the case has been made, nor how it makes logical sense. So I have to maintain my original points. As they got torn to shreds, sure their eternal hope of glory was an encouragement, and they were braver than we may know to even be possible. God is a just god, and will not forget, and when all are resurrected to face God at the final judgement, then all debts will be paid. Some want to pay for their own debts.
32 And what shall I more say? for the time would fail me to tell of Gedeon, and of Barak, and of Samson and of Jephthae; of David also, and Samuel, and of the prophets:
33 Who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions.
34 Quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens.
It is a false premise that Jesus' Ministry fixated on non-violence. Jesus' mission was His own mission. "Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!". There are no verses or commandments saying: if you are a christian thou shalt be a victim or thou shalt commit suicide. There is no lack of faith or contradiction in being martyred or being valiant in fight and turning armies to flight. You can have faith while being put to death for standing steadfast in Jesus or you can have faith, fighting a thousand philistines.
Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts.
Some clarity about what pacifism does and does not mean. It's easier to think in terms of a spectrum in relation to an approach to war and violence. If you imagine at one end of the spectrum is absolute pacifism, the belief that no war or violence is justifiable under any circumstances. And at the other end is absolute militarism, the willingness to fight anywhere, anytime for any reason. Then in between are various permutations of those positions. Such as selective militarism: the willingness to fight if your country deems it justifiable; selective pacifism, willingness to fight only if you personally deem it justifiable etc. The type of pacifism I am referring to in relation to early Christians is the first type, absolute pacifism.
Absolute pacifism does not mean inaction. It's often thought to mean that because of the (mis)association with the word "passive" which is derived from the Latin "passivus" (to suffer). But "pacifism" is taken from the word "pacific" which is Latin paci (“peace”) and ficus (“making”). So it would be incorrect to think that absolute pacifism means passively accepting injustice. All sorts of activism is permissible under absolute pacifism, including direct action, as long as it stops short of actual violence or war. Examples of absolute pacifism being employed to bring about social change include Mahatma Gandhi's campaign of civil disobedience in India, the campaign of civil disobedience lead by Martin Luther King Jr. during the civil rights movement, and of course the nonviolent campaign by the early Christian church to end Christian persecution.
I think I understand the distinction you are making between being a pacifist and being nonviolent, which had me confused for a while. I understand you to mean someone who does not relish violence, and who would do everything possible to avoid it, but who also believes that violence and war are warranted/justified under certain circumstances. So someone who is somewhere in the middle of the spectrum described above (if that's not what you mean, let me know).
Although I understand that distinction, and think it's useful to make, it's not the right use of the term 'nonviolent'. Nonviolence is a personal, philosophical, spiritual, religious position that can be summed up as 'do no harm'. It's actually more encompassing than pacifism because it includes things like the Ahimsa ('no harm') principle of Hinduism, and Buddhism which is the belief that no harm should be inflicted on any living thing. What you are describing is in fact the 'just war' principle which forms the foundation of the modern Christian view on violence and war.
For early Christians, violence and war were antithetical to the teachings of Jesus. You ask how we know for sure where they drew the line. There is a preponderance of historical evidence that tells us:
Clement of Alexandria (150 - 215 AD) wrote: 'Above all, Christians are not allowed to correct with violence the delinquencies of sins.'
Hippolytus (170 - 236 AD) wrote: 'The catechumen or faithful who wants to become a soldier is to be rejected, for he has despised God.'
Origen (184 - 253 AD) wrote: 'And to those who inquire of us whence we come, or who is our founder we reply that we are come, agreeably to the counsels of Jesus, to cut down our hostile and insolent wordy swords into ploughshares, and to convert into pruning-hooks the spears formerly employed in war. For we no longer take up sword against nation, nor do we learn war any more, having become children of peace, for the sake of Jesus, who is our leader.'
Tertullian (160 - 225 AD) wrote: 'But how will a Christian war, nay, how will he serve even in peace without a sword, which the Lord has taken away? For albeit soldiers had come unto John, and had received the formula of their rule; albeit, likewise, a centurion had believed, still the Lord afterward, in disarming Peter, unbelted every soldier.'
Justin the Martyr (100 - 165 AD) wrote: 'We who were filled with war, and mutual slaughter, and every wickedness, have each through the whole earth changed our warlike weapons - our swords into ploughshares, and our spears into implements of tillage - and we cultivate piety, righteousness, philanthropy, faith, and hope, which we have from the Father Himself through Him who was crucified.'
Athenagoras of Athens (133 - 190 AD) wrote: 'We cannot endure even to see a man put to death, though justly.'
Lactantius of Bithynia (240 - 317 AD) wrote: 'Thus it will be neither lawful for a just man to engage in warfare, since his warfare is justice itself, nor to accuse any one of a capital charge, because it makes no difference whether you put a man to death by word, or rather by the sword, since it is the act of putting to death itself which is prohibited. Therefore, with regard to this precept of God, there ought to be no exception at all; but that it is always unlawful to put to death a man, whom God willed to be a sacred animal.'
These are people who lived only hundreds of years after the time Jesus is said to have lived and died. But in the 4th century something changes. St Augustine, who was influential in the formation of the church, starts outlining the principle of 'just war', the idea that violence and war can be justified, based on the circumstance. What brought about this change? Many historians believe it was the result of the 'Constantinian shift'. This refers to the theological and political changes that happened within Christianity as a result of it being adopted as the state religion of Rome beginning with Constantine. This is a watershed moment. It is at this point in history that Christianity and Christian teachings first began to be used to justify the exercise of political power.
Before St. Augustine, there is no evidence to suggest that the Christian church formally supported war and violence as aspects of Christian teaching, or even as something that can be justified under certain circumstances. But there is plenty of historical evidence to suggest that the early Christian church advocated absolute pacifism. This is why I think it's reasonable to believe that the interpretation of Jesus' teachings as a message of absolute pacifism, is more authentic than the modern Christian interpretation.
You asked if there is proof that early Christians were 'handed over by their own permission, or allowance'. There is evidence that voluntary martyrdom became so common that early church leaders had to formally make a distinction between those who deliberately sought out martyrdom (which was frowned upon) and those who were genuinely martyrd. In his work Ad Scapulum Tertullian recorded that Arrius Antoninus (proconsul of Asia) became so exasperated with people presenting themselves as Christians (in the knowledge that being Christians was punishable by death) that after executing a number he is said to have dismissed the rest saying: 'If you want to die, you wretches, you can use ropes or precipices.' Also the written account of 'Perpetua' is an interesting first person account from an early Christian noblewoman martyred in the 3rd century. In this extract her father tries to persuade her to renounce this 'Christianity' and save her own life:
'. . . my father, for the sake of his affection for me, was persisting in seeking to turn me away, and to cast me down from the faith - "Father," said I, "do you see, let us say, this vessel lying here to be a little pitcher, or something else?" And he said, "I see it to be so." And I replied to him, "Can it be called by any other name than what it is?" And he said, "No". "Neither can I call myself anything else than what I am, a Christian."'
So yes we can prove, as much as is possible across such a span of time, that individuals did not violently resist being taken, and executed as Christians. Many saw dying because of their belief as a form of witnessing. I suspect, though it can't be proven, that some individuals did resist arrest by force, just as Peter tried to. But just as Jesus rebuked Peter, the early church leaders frowned upon resisting persecution with the use of violence. That doesn't mean they did not protest persecution in other ways though, such as verbally and through the written word.
You said it's a mischaracterization of your view to ask "How can you, as someone who has faith in god, fear that Christianity could become extinct unless you physically hurt people?" I don't want to misrepresent your view, so I'll ask you plainly. Do you believe that absolute pacifism as described above would lead to the extinction of Christianity (Christians)?
In relation to whether those who have committed violence (for whatever reason) have acted against the teachings of Jesus. I think it is clear that an early Christian would say that they have. But early Christians were also fully versed in concepts of forgiveness, humility and perseverance i.e. people acknowledging that they and others will fall short of emulating Jesus, recognize those faults, and continuing to try anyway. Isn't that the redemptive message that is central to Christianity? For Christians isn't this opportunity for redemption the whole point of Jesus' sacrifice? Isn't that the 'good news' which the word gospel itself refers to? So as a Christian, is it reasonable for you to think god would judge those who have committed violence (with good intention) any more harshly than those who have gone against Jesus' teaching in some other way? I can't see why it would be any different.
I think it's reasonable to assume that some early Christians committed violence, just as Christians commit violence today, sometimes with good intention and sometimes not. But there is a difference. Even though individuals may have strayed, the early church did not formally support any use of violence. Since then there have been crusades, persecutions of other religions and warfare, which have all been formally sponsored by the church and justified using the Christian 'just war' principle. That change only came about after Christianity became an instrument of politics. For that reason I do not believe the most common, modern Christian approach to war and violence, is an authentic interpretation of Jesus' teaching as written in the Christian sacred texts and as practiced by the earliest Christians.
DonW, I am happy to share my thoughts, and I appreciate yours as well. Quick question.... You know what I believe in at least in a broad sense, may I ask what religion you would say best describes your beliefs and views? I can only gather from past conversations, and don't like to assume anything. Knowing a persons religion helps a great deal in knowing where they are coming from. I ask because I was operating out of some assumptions.
Thanks for clarifying what you mean the early Christians to exhibit, that being you think its absolute pacifism.
Let me share a little of where I am coming from more though I have stated it some in past posts. I desire peace, and esteem morality and goodness, which includes valuing life, liberty and justice. I think in a world that can operate out of those basic values (there are surely more) can be the best of all possible worlds in this lifetime, these centuries we are living in. So there is that.
The only "violence" I would ever "condone" is to keep greater violence happening to people, to a greater number of people, especially innocents. That seems fair and good to me. There may be a better view than that for this topic, and if I find one then will consider and likely or perhaps adopt that view. (I am speaking in general, and would need particular details to make a "call" in a particular case.) The problem in today's world are WMD's in part, which is something new. Also new is quick access to traveling great distances across the world and back, and also new technology like drones, etc.
I struggle with the idea you share that absolute pacifism doesn't mean inaction. I need more detail from you than that to be clear. Because from a lot of what you say, that does seem like what you are suggesting overall in these posts. For instance, I could lump my views on this as absolute pacifism, IF it really didn't mean inaction. This is why I clarify above that my view includes only absolutely necessary actions to protect against those that would take life. So no, it is never ideal to have to do any kind of action (which may include violence), but its a peaceful action in that sense.
To make the case all the more clear, here is an example. Taking down a murderous tyrant in the past, through action (vs. inaction, which you allow for in your absolute pacifism definition based on that above post.), to keep them from taking more life, as they have shown themselves to do. We could look at Hitler, for example. Who is the bigger peacemaker, those that stop Hitler with eventual force, or those that allow his actions to go unchallenged. You bring up Gandhi. Would actions like Gandhi stop Hitler, or some parallel set of actions? Would Hindu ideas help against Hitler or other terrorists? I think to be reasonable people, we have to conclude that some people who would exercise the biggest evil onto the world, don't respond to peaceful means. If they did, we wouldn't have the problems of today.
I would even go so far to say, that the person trying to exercise peaceful protesting in the form of fasting almost to starvation (for example) as the means to stop a tyrant is in effect causing more violence than the one that tries to actively stop the killing in a manner that can actually get it done. By "taking the gun or sword out of their hand", or "bomb out of their possession", so to speak. The person acting like Gandhi, would often be killed by the types of things I am thinking of when I hear talk of violence in the world. Civil disobedience is surely preferred if it produces the desired effect. Of course it would! I would always try that first. I think some that would terrorize others to death, would laugh at such efforts, sadly. I do esteem them however, and that they have had effect in the past is a good thing. Again, I am speaking of our modern day problems, not problems like racism in the South against people. While racism is bad, might respond more to encouraging more peaceful ideas and love for all people, based on Jesus' teachings could be included. Ideas of racism and hatred were the main weapon waged against blacks in those days. Using ideas, promoting non violence and peace, would make eventual change, and it did. This would appeal to people in the South, and in America in general in that era. Hopefully, this makes sense of my views in all of these last several posts, if they are truly not able to be grasped before now.
When nonviolent campaigns CAN work, more power to those types of methods! I would be on board. Perhaps you would like to suggest an idea that would aid in a modern day example that you think would actually change the mentality, philosophy of those that you see as causing true, great violence upon the freedom loving people's of the world? I am open to looking at this for the sake of peace.
I think the people that were about to get to Hitler, before he committed suicide, were doing the best version of "do no harm" for the innocent Jews in concentration camps at that time, (and elsewhere). Hitler lost the benefit of the doubt to have "no harm done" unto him, when he showed himself and his choices he made for the world to see. If I listened to all I think you are saying, you are saying it would be going against some view Jesus held/taught, to stop the greater harm Hitler was doing to a massive amount of people. Talk about extinction, that was something he actually would have wanted I think. (Hitler may not be a good example to use for everyone, for whatever reason, but insert your choice of a parallel tyrant that murdered. Mao, Pol Pot, whoever you want.) Restraining the greatest evil is promoting the greatest peace. Thus, the discussion of what the greatest true evils are and why, what warrants being called the greatest good, and why? This ought to be about the greatest good, not what is publicly popular at a time in history as greatest good, but actually the greatest good. Likewise, what is the greatest moral evil, not by popular opinion, but in actuality. These things can be discovered, uncovered, etc.
So I haven't seen you make that distinction other than it seems to be "do no harm," to whom? Who gets that protection? All people? Sometimes, to "do no harm" in the manner I am taking it to mean, means ACTUALLY doing MORE harm to others. Do you see my point? Thus, being a loving peacemaker attempting to follow Jesus in today's world, the least loss of life is the more peaceful route for mankind. How is that not the automatic esteemed view? Why would anyone want to prove this is not the most esteemed view to have, if they do not? The only thing I can think of, would be if their own held set of views had some reason to be at odds with it. If that was the case, I couldn't help but wonder if they were trying to encourage ideas that simply would eliminate those that are seen to get in the way of what their greater goal might be, whatever it would be. Does this make sense?
No harm inflicted on any thing is a rule or idea I love. I struggle to kill an ant or a spider and get made fun of for it, lol. Literally laughed at. So of course I apply this to people! I am in line with those Hindu and Buddhist beliefs, I think they are great. When reality is showing us mass death however, what about those lives? Why does the person/people in charge of those scenarios warrant the same rule to apply to them? Its not fair nor good to even suggest such a rule might apply, for the sake of doing no harm to any living thing, and to pretend its about a teaching of Jesus, or going against it.
I don't know the context of those quotes you shared which might make some difference, but thank you for sharing them. I think the above ideas I shared have to be considered in light of everything, in light of the fact we aren't living back then and have new and very real threats
For early Christians, violence and war were antithetical to the teachings of Jesus. You ask how we know for sure where they drew the line. There is a preponderance of historical evidence that tells us:
To any Christians that might agree with you, that those quotes might mean what you take them to mean, I won't find fault with them. I will say though, they may be alive today and into the future and their children as well, because not all believed the same way.
This isn't a schoolyard playground where just a bully is beating up little kids and taking their lunch money. That child has some recourse, a teacher, a principle, their parents, or other adult they trust, etc. That person can help restore peace to the playground, and apply discipline to the bully. Today, the stakes are so much higher, and often no one but allies can be called upon to help stop whatever terror may be ensuring. Everyone has to protect themselves, when reasoning and peaceful tactics don't appeal to the types that hurt others. Does this not make sense to you? Is it really more peaceful, to let yourself be killed, in order to abide by some argument that hasn't clearly been made, with correct premises in the first place? (Could you answer this one, at least? Many such questions have gone unanswered. I am curious.)
I would like to talk in particular examples, for this to be a more fruitful discussion. I would like to see an example of your ideas being played out that could actually achieve the desired result through the means you share. I am totally open to that, since you seem to think its such a good idea for Christians to do.
I hope you have seen all my comments, and those of others in answer to these ideas. If you were a Christian, I would respect your right to hold the views you held, and respect them. No harm to any living thing, could be close to the idea of "the least amount of harm to the most living things", when atrocities are being committed. It can't be held at the feet of just one group, like Christians.
As for differing beliefs over the centuries, since Jesus man has been making up their own rules, changing things up quite a bit. I tend to not hold as much weight in any examples people can give, because people can find examples for all kinds of things, even using hand picked verses and creating whole new views out of them that aren't really in line with the greater whole. Jesus' message was simple. I tend to stick to that.
If one can make the case that in dying, you have a great witness to the world, couldn't a greater argument be made that in living, you can be an even bigger witness longer term? We have spoken at length why Jesus rebuked Peter. Why Jesus was unique in his laying down his life, which he himself addressed! He could have called down countless angels to do away with all his enemies. To miss the point of why he did what he did, and suggest Christians ought to do likewise, misses the greatest of the points I think.
Verbally opposing violence, and through the written word, only does so much. People will die, at the hands of those that don't care about morals, or written or spoken words that are urgently seeking them to rethink murderous ways.
You said it's a mischaracterization of your view to ask "How can you, as someone who has faith in god, fear that Christianity could become extinct unless you physically hurt people?" I don't want to misrepresent your view, so I'll ask you plainly. Do you believe that absolute pacifism as described above would lead to the extinction of Christianity (Christians)?
I don't think Christs message will ever be ultimately extinguished. I don't believe its possible and do have faith in God. That there are some that would try to make it extinct is another point, and they are a relentless bunch. Verbally discouraging killing or writing about it would be laughed at. This is a nuanced point, and part of the response to earlier points you made. I didn't say that we need to physically hurt people to in essence, prevent Christianity from going extinct. That was how you made it sound. All kinds of Christians have to trust God all the time, no matter their views. This isn't about their lack of faith.
When you asked, "So as a Christian, is it reasonable for you to think god would judge those who have committed violence (with good intention) any more harshly than those who have gone against Jesus' teaching in some other way? I can't see why it would be any different." You are running with the idea that all your premises are true or correct, and that your arguments carry through. You would have to show that using any violence, even to stop a greater violence, is worse to do than letting greater violence go unanswered, to make that case. Do you hold that view?
I can respectfully disagree with your conclusions when we disagree, and thank you for sharing them. I am all for living in a pluralistic society, peacefully coexisting side by side.
I'm not sure which religion best describes my beliefs. Nothing I have experienced has ever led to me form the belief that god (in the traditional Christian sense) exists. And nothing I have seen, read or heard has enabled me to form the opinion that god exists on the basis of reason. But neither has anything allowed me to form the opinion that god definitely does not exist. So I'm not a Christian and I don't follow any religion, organized or otherwise. I do believe strongly in the application of reason though. The most reasonable opinion I think I can give about the existence of god, is that such a being is unlikely, based on everything I know and have experienced at this time (which I'm sure in the grand scheme of things is not very much). Hope that gives you an idea. If you want to know anything else, feel free to ask.
I'll try to address some of the points you raised and answer some of the questions you asked which all seem pretty fair. Some of the points raised some more questions for me also, which I hope you'll have time to to comment on.
When I say absolute pacifists can take action, I mean non-violent action only. So I don't think you could describe your position as absolute pacifism. From your description it sounds like you sit somewhere between the selective pacifist (someone who would fight if you are personally convinced there is justification for it), and selective militarist (someone who might be prepared to fight if your political leaders deemed it justified). I think your view represents the most common among modern Christians, certainly more so than the view I think early Christians took.
Would the principle of absolute pacifism have helped against Hitler? Depends. A census of Germany taken in May 1939 (the year Germany invaded Poland) shows that 94% of the population identified as Christians. What would have happened if every Christian in Germany (or even most Christians in Germany) refused to fight in the German army? What would have happened if every Christian in Germany refused to work in the factories and yards that made the guns, bullets, bombs, planes, tanks and ships needed to wage war? And what would have happened if the majority of Christians in Germany had simply said 'no' to violence? What would Hitler have been capable of doing?
Do you know the story of the Rosenstrasse protest by non-Jewish wives of Jewish men arrested in 1943? They assembled outside the Gestapo headquarters in Berlin. They just stood there, for a week. They shouted and called for the return of their Jewish husbands. One of the women wrote later:
'The SS trained machine guns on us: "If you don't go now, we'll shoot." But by now we couldn't care less. We screamed "you murderers!" and everything else. We bellowed. We thought that now, at last, we would be shot. Behind the machine guns a man shouted something; maybe he gave a command. I didn't hear it, it was drowned out. But then they cleared out and the only sound was silence. That was the day it was so cold that the tears froze on my face.""
The result of this protest was that the men (all Jews) were released. How and why did this work? Because despite being completely deranged, Hitler and Goebbels were smart enough to know that Hitler's plans depended on the cooperation, or at least the apathy, of the German people. So one of the things the Nazi party feared most was mass dissent of the German people. Massacring over a thousand women in Berlin could not have been kept secret, and it could have ignited further protests. So what would have happened if all the Christians in Germany had protested the injustices of the nazi party, like the women of the Rosenstrasse protest?
So yes I believe the principle of absolute pacifism would have helped against Hitler, but only applied at the right time, in the right place, by the right people. I don't think it would have been quite as effective if it had been tried by the allied forces, at Omaha beach, on 6th June 1945. But that's the point, absolute pacifism by the German population would have deprived Hitler of the army and instruments of war he needed to commit his heinous crimes in the first place. Even better, the German people (94% of whom were Christians) could have stopped Hitler in his tracks if they had rejected his message of jingoism, racism and intolerance in accordance with their Christian beliefs. If they had he would not even have risen to power.
Some might say that's easy to know in hindsight. There is no way the German population could have foresaw Hitler's crimes against humanity. But again that's the point. Absolute pacifism is not something that can just be switched on to prevent a conflict. It is not a 'tactic' or a 'strategy'. Peace demands that it be a way of life. If the German population lead that way of life prior to Hitler, then all would-be Hitler's would be rendered impotent. So rather than absolute pacifism taking the weapon out of a protester's hand, it is the weapon.
In one of your earlier comments you said you do not believe god is illogical. That confuses me, because using violence, or encouraging violence to promote peace is fundamentally illogical. It's like trying to dry yourself by having a shower. Peace promotes peace. Violence promotes more violence. That's what I think the early Christians believed Jesus meant by 'those who draw the sword will die by the sword'.
But I understand your view. Not everyone is a Christian, and obviously not every Christian is an absolute pacifist. And even if we considered absolute pacifism to be the most reasonable approach to life for everyone including non-Christians, it's an unfortunate fact that not everyone is reasonable. But I, as a non-Christian, can amend my views about absolute pacifism as I wish, according to whatever I deem to be reasonable. I could abandon my view altogether if I felt an argument made more sense than my own. But I don't see you as having that same luxury. This is why I don't understand how you reconcile the view you hold with this simple command:
'Love your enemies, do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return. Your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High; for he is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful'
Even though you believe that sometimes it might be justifiable to kill someone who is doing harm, and is therefore an enemy. How do you reconcile killing an enemy, with the command from Jesus to love your enemies? How is killing your enemy, the same as loving your enemy? How do you hold these two conflicting ideas at the same time?
Also, in that passage a direct comparison is being made between you loving your enemies, and god loving the 'ungrateful and the wicked', i.e humanity. So isn't this passage saying something to the effect of 'in the same way god loves all of you wicked humans, you should love those you consider wicked too'. Which goes back to the question, is killing someone who you think is wicked, the same as loving them?
Also, as a Christian isn't what happens to the soul more important than what happens to the body, which is just a vessel for the soul? If so (and I recognise that's an assumption about the specific flavor of your Christian beliefs) then why are you concerned about innocent people dying? That's a genuine question. Don't innocent people who die go to heaven according to Christian beliefs? And isn't heaven absolutely the best place to be?
When I asked if god would judge those who had committed violence more harshly than others who had gone against Jesus' teaching, I was addressing a question you asked. You asked if the absolute pacifist interpretation is true then does that mean all those Christians who had fought in wars, believing them to be just, had actually gone against the teachings of Jesus? So I was asking, if that was the case, from a Christian perspective would they be judged any more harshly than anyone else who had gone against Jesus teachings with genuine good intentions?
In relation to the real-world application of absolute pacifism, I think I can see where we disagree. In relation to the supernatural beliefs of Christianity and the idea of absolute pacifism, I can't disagree because I'm confused by it. I can't see how someone who holds Christian beliefs can reconcile 'love your enemies' with kill your enemies. I can understand the reasoning behind killing your enemies from a political and military perspective (regardless of whether I agree with it) but I can't understand that reasoning when the supernatural elements of Christianity (Jesus is god) and the command from Jesus to 'love your enemies' are factored in.
But I appreciate the effort you've taken to clarify your perspective. And I see we share the same goal of trying to work out the best way to live harmoniously within a pluralistic society, which is a good point to agree on.
Thank you, I appreciate it. You are correct that I am for sure not an absolute pacifist especially it has been broken down in this convo. I think that is how you get taken advantage of and "get dead," lol, in this reality we live in.
As for the German examples, I can only speak for myself and I am glad you asked the questions you did. I would have been one of those women calling out to ask for my husband to be saved, for what good at that point would it do me to go and get a gun and wave it at them, even shoot at them, or wave a sword? So yes, I would have been a pacifist in that example you brought up! If I were called or forced to go to war to help Hitler, if I was in full knowledge of what was going on with people in camps, etc, I would have denied enlisting or going to war for moral reasons, and would be seen as a pacifist in your eyes!
I have a photo on one of my two hubs dedicated to remembering the Holocaust. I came across a photo that said there was a soldier that denied shooting some Jewish farmers in a field (if I am recalling correctly), and so the officers said he had to or else go line up with the Jews to be shot, which he did. That is a good soul, that won't have that blood on his hands, killing innocents. He couldn't do anything to save his life at that point, and the others. (Short of maybe taking a final parting shot on his way out, of the one in charge that said he had to shoot or be shot. What if he had, for maybe there were others that didn't have the same brave resolve as that man did. Yet, if ONE speaks up and fights back when there is nothing to lose, may embolden the others to help fight the very obvious injustice happening in front of them. They all ended up having blood on their hands instead, OR got killed, as I understand though.)
I don't feel you are being totally realistic or reasonable or fair, nor taking all my points into consideration when you in essence, keep on repeating your same views to me, and interpretations of a particular few scriptures. I have shared why, and continue to now.
Jesus knew his disciples had swords, and spoke of swords. To not admit what this means in the most obvious sense (as they weren't to clean the fish they caught likely) means a super obvious point is needing to be ignored or denied. I am sorry you haven't seen me defend my view in what you deem as an adequate manner, but I think I have done so more than enough. I think I have even made a case that never had to be made, as a case was never adequately made to support your interpretation, with ALL things considered.
I do esteem the love your enemies, and doing good, lending, etc. That isn't what we are talking about here though, this is not about suicide. I have seen PhoenixV and Katherine has answered very well, better perhaps than I can and in less words, lol. I want to ask you a very pointed question at this point. What do you think a Christian should do, if they are being murdered, or about to be, or know they will be in about an hours time (or a weeks time)? Sit and wait to see how it goes? This is a fair question, and will make the points quite fairly. Especially since you don't seem to accept or understand where I am coming from, and think I am going against my beliefs. This is a totally different situation than being cheated, called bad names, lied about, stolen from, and many other things that a Christian can actually be turning the cheek about, that they might want to respond in some poor manner. I don't get the sense however, you were ever talking about those kinds of things, like would seem the most normal.
"Be merciful, as your Father in Heaven is Merciful?" If you have read the New Testament, or even the gospels, you know full well that God doesn't let "evil" take a free ride over the top of "good", crushing it. Which is exactly what it would do, and desires to do. So I think your view of the totality of the message is distorted for the reasons I and others have stated. God's mercy of allowing those that are sorry for their sins against him and his morals, to be paid for by the terms he has laid out, IS merciful. Its gracious and loving. He did do that while we were enemies of Him, and his "life" or even well being was never in question, never hanging in the balance like the Christian lives you are willing to speak of.
We have people on this planet that follow different prophets from the past. I find it incredibly interesting yet not surprising the argument you are trying so hard to make against Christians that would ever defend in any situation with the remotest amount of force.
To correct you, I didn't say that I find it justifiable to kill someone who is doing harm and therefore an enemy. That is not my view, as that would include a ton of people on this planet, and I find that repulsive to express something I hold such an opposite view about. This is again putting words in my mouth and I regret to be seeing this again and can only respond by not responding in the future. Its subtle yet bold twisting and I take issue with it in what is supposed to be a reasonable discussion.
So it almost seems as if you take "loving your enemy" as letting anyone kill you that might want to, if you have an option to not allow that. (Because this is what it boils down to, not a put down, etc.) That seems a horrendous view, for anyone that thinks Christians should hold that.
So, what kind of view would ever need a Christian, or set of Christians, or a "nation of Christians" to not respond when threatened with death by an enemy? So a picture is becoming much less fuzzy. I mean if one is attempting to find an explanation that would explain such views.
You can't love someone any longer after you are dead. Again, the suggestion isn't suicide at the hands of a would-be murderer. This lacks reason. It needs explanation. I feel reinforced in my own views all the more as we are having this conversation, as they seem to explain what I am seeing the best, without distortion.
Your question about why I am concerned about innocent people dying is also alarming. I am asking you as a person of another set of views to live along side me in this world, as law abiding and hopefully freedom loving citizens. Yet where you "hinge" or set the "crux" of all your arguments appears faulty.
Of course, if a killer insists on killing someone because they simply can and have power over them to do so, then the person being killed can be forgiving them, as that is happening, and yes if saved, will be saved eternally in heaven and the new earth. Do you understand what you are suggesting though, over and over? That a person not stop a person with force that wants to do whatever they would want to do!? And yes, I think that killer will have to stand before God and have blood on their hands..... So yes, no matter what, even in the most heinous of situations, good wins, God wins, the innocent wins. That will always be true. This doesn't mean choosing suicide when you can choose life instead. Choosing good, over evil. I don't see how your argument is siding with anything good, and possibly its opposite. Letting others or yourself die when you could stop someone doing such a grievous evil, is enabling immoral actions, is not loving your enemy.
How is it "doing good" to your enemies, to allow them to kill you or other innocents? This isn't good for anyone, including those that would wantonly murder. This is a case you would have to make also, if your views carry through on their own merits. Which is why I don't think they do. I can see a person that may come to a more clear understanding of things, begin to feel a twinge of conscience, or that something isn't quite right with their set of beliefs or views. What if someone wasn't in their right mind, had been taken in by lies, and what turned out to be mere distortions passed down? What if they later they expressed thanks for not allowing them to do the unthinkable? That truly is good winning out.
Its not a fairly constructed argument or portrayal to say, " I can't see how someone who holds Christian beliefs can reconcile 'love your enemies' with kill your enemies." That is framing an argument in a particular way that isn't fair, for all the reasons I have stated. You need to instead made a case showing that loving your enemies MEANS letting them kill you. That is because that would be fair, and the only time I really think any response or defense is necessary, any action at all. With all the time we have spent on this, you don't seem to want to accept that this is the actual crux or hinging point of the conversation. I don't see how its not glaringly obvious.
If you can make the case that its "doing good" to your enemies to let them kill you, and that loving your enemies MEANS letting them kill how and if they want to, then I think you would be making your case.
I can only encourage you to more fully understand what the totality of Jesus' teachings are, and that of Christ followers. PhoenixV made an excellent point of when Christ's biggest enemy asked him to throw himself down in the temptation, etc. If you don't want to see the points that naturally flow from the overall contextual points of the gospels, then we will continue to be at odds, and not for the reasons you are stating that we are. This is the way I see it. I am sorry you take the views you do of Christianity, that ultimately is a form of judging them as going against their own views for what you see as being inconsistent with Christ. I will say that if you are right, you can rest assured that each one will also have to stand before God and give account for why they didn't just let themselves get slaughtered by those that obviously want to. I also hope that if you are wrong, that you would consider how and why, and that if you still wanted to hold those views after even that, then to consider what view best explains THAT set of ideas. I think this is partly how we test the merits of our own ideas, to see if they pass muster.
So again, If you can make the case that its "doing good" to your enemies to let them kill you (doing the best for them), and that loving your enemies MEANS letting them murder you, how and if they want to, then I think you would be making your case. But if not, then you have not. This seems fair.
I'm finding this exchange quite interesting. One thing I'd ask you to bear in mind though is that in such exchanges it's possible that I can misunderstand your view, or misinterpret what you've said. Then I respond to that misunderstanding or misinterpretation. That doesn't necessarily mean I'm deliberately trying to twist your view (although I know that does happen on forums sometimes). I don't do that because I believe it's wrong, and there's no point to it anyway (what is to gain from it?) So if you think I'm misrepresenting what you've said, I'd ask you to give me the benefit of the doubt and assume it's not deliberate. And I'd be happy to extend you the same courtesy in return.
There are some things I think we need to be clear on. The interpretation being expressed is, according to available historical evidence, the one that the early Christian church adopted until Christianity became the state religion of Rome, when that interpretation formally changed. So I am not repeating my view and my interpretation to you. I'm expressing the view of the early Christian church, as shown by available historical evidence.
Also, I think there are two views actually being discussed here: 1) the idea that the early church and early Christians adopted an absolute pacifist model of living; 2) the idea that absolute pacifism is the 'right' interpretation of the gospel.
The first view is an historical argument, i.e. it is based on historical evidence. The same type of evidence we use to determine what ancient Egyptians believed and how they lived. There's lots of available historical evidence that indicates early Christians were absolute pacifists. I have given some examples in the form of excerpts of documents written by contemporaries of the early church. So far (unless I have missed something) no similar historical evidence has been presented to demonstrate that the early church adopted a selective militarist, or selective pacifist approach, i.e. that they believed violence against others was justified depending on circumstances. I'm not sure whether you agree or disagree about early church beliefs. You seem to accept (correct me if I'm wrong) that it's possible, but don't seem to be convinced.
The second view (absolute pacifism is the meaning god intended to convey) is a bit of a moot point for me as a non-Christian. I've said that I think absolute pacifism is the most authentic interpretation of the gospel, i.e. most consistent with what early Christians believed. That opinion is based on the above view. But I also think it's the 'right' interpretation, in the sense that I think it best maintains the internal consistency of Christianity as a system of beliefs. I think any other interpretation of the gospel is a contradiction of those beliefs, and were developed to accommodate the realities of state politics, which Christianity acquired post-Constantine.
You seem to be saying (if I've understood you correctly) that pacifist actions can be useful (e.g. your story about the German soldier, and mine about the German wives) but absolute pacifism is not a logical or realistic way to live. Ultimately selective pacifism or selective militarism is the most logical/realistic way to live; god is logical; therefore a selective pacifism/selective militarist approach is what god intended to convey and the approach we should live by. that's your view as I understand it.
I can see that the points you have raised are a genuine effort on your part to demonstrate that absolute pacifism is not the most logical way to live. And I can see that is a view shared by most of the Christians exchanging views in this thread. But that suggests that your interpretation of the gospel starts from the perspective that absolute pacifism is not a sensible way to live, therefore it can't be the intended meaning of the gospel, therefore the passages in the gospel that seem to suggest it need to be interpreted in some other way.
The issue I have with it, is that it seems to be retrofitting scripture to make it accommodate the exercise of political power. That wasn't necessary for the early Christian church because it had no significant political power. So they adjusted their way of life to fit their interpretation of scripture, rather than adjusting their interpretation of scripture to fit their way of life.
You're right, I'm not talking about just ignoring insults etc. when I refer to 'turn the other cheek' or 'love your enemies' because I don't think early Christians took those instructions to just mean that. You asked 'What do you think a Christian should do, if they are being murdered, or about to be, or know they will be in about an hours time (or a weeks time)?' I think an early Christian would do everything (short of committing violence) to prevent themselves from being murdered. And if they got to a point where they had a choice to either commit violence or be killed, they would still choose not to commit violence.
In fact I don't think that, we know it from historical evidence. Early Christians were given the choice to declare 'caesar is lord', or be executed. Those early Christians responded with the declaration 'Jesus is lord'. We also know the early church supported that behaviour. We see it from the status given to the term 'martyr' in contemporary records. Martyrdom was considered the most faithful form of witnessing and the early Christian church held martyrs in high regard.
I think your idea that god 'doesn't let "evil" take a free ride over the top of "good"' is consistent with what I know of Christian believes. However, it does not follow that what you consider to be a 'free ride' is the same as what god would considers a 'free ride'. The persecution of the early Christian church lasted for at least 300 years. Some Christians at that time may have felt god was letting evil take a free ride over good. They could not know that Christianity would eventually become the largest religion in the world. So isn't that a case of god's thinking vs. man's thinking. Gods time-frame is not the same as your time-frame. The persecution of Christians by the Roman empire could have lasted a thousand years. Is that even the blink of an eye from god's perspective? So how can you, as a mere human, deem to judge whether god is giving evil a 'free ride'? To do so, wouldn't you need to know every outcome of every event in the history and future of humanity? In other words you would have to be all-knowing. According to your beliefs wouldn't that make you almost on a par with god?
Thanks for the clarification on what you deem to be an enemy. As I said in another post, the scope of who Jesus was referring to when when he said 'love your neighbour' and 'love your enemy' is very clear. It clearly means love everyone (see that post for further explanation).
It's not my assertion that loving your enemy means allowing them to kill you. That's a misunderstanding of what I've said. It's my assertion that early Christians believed that choosing not to be violent to people (including enemies) is a way of loving them. They also believed they were the 'lights of the world' as Jesus described them. Therefore they believed it to be their responsibility to act in accordance with what they believed was an ideal (nonviolence) even if others would not, and in doing so illuminate the darkness of man's evil with the light of god's goodness. If that resulted in their death, then they believed they died in the name of Jesus, doing as he told them.
Now I think I need to ask you to explain how killing a person, even to save your own life, qualifies as loving them? I can see how it qualifies as loving yourself, but how does it qualify as loving the person who is being killed?
The point you raise about what happens if someone isn't in their right mind, or had been taken in by lies etc. kind of misses the point. The behaviour of early christians was driven by the fact they believed Jesus instructed absolute pacifism. And they believed Jesus was the son of god. And they trusted god completely. Clearly it was not driven by their concern for their own life. By definition, the Christian god is perfect, so doubting what you believe is a genuine instruction from god is tantamount to suggesting you know better than a perfect being, which is a contradiction. In other words, holding the beliefs early Christians did, but at the same time doubting the virtue of absolute pacifism, would be a contradiction. So again this is about early Christians adapting the way they lived to fit what scripture said. As opposed to adapting what scripture said to fit the way they lived. And again, that is why I think absolute pacifism is a more authentic reading of the gospel than the modern Christian reading. If you have any evidence to suggest early Christians did not believe those things, I'd be happy to know about it.
Absolute pacifism does not mean throwing yourself off a cliff just because someone asks you to. So the point PhoenixV made doesn't make any sense. I'm not sure why that is not obvious to you, as you seem to have a good understanding of what absolute pacifism is now.
You said 'If you can make the case that its "doing good" to your enemies to let them kill you, and that loving your enemies MEANS letting them kill how and if they want to, then I think you would be making your case. '
It's not my case. It's the case I believe early Christians made. And it's obvious why they made it. They were emulating Jesus of course. You said 'That a person not stop a person with force that wants to do whatever they would want to do!?' That is exactly what Jesus did. You said 'How is it "doing good" to your enemies, to allow them to kill you or other innocents?' That is exactly what Jesus (the ultimate innocent) did. The nature of Christian belief about Jesus, is that if Jesus did it, it's a good thing. So is it not obvious why early Christians believed that being non violent at the cost of their own lives was a good thing?
Isn't that the dynamic which is at the heart of the crucifixion? Isn't that why we don't need to debate the meaning of 'turn the other cheek', or 'put away your sword', or 'love your neighbour' or 'love your enemies'. Didn't Jesus show what those things mean in the most perfect way? The early Christians thought so which is why they tried to copy the example. Were they wrong? Or do you have any historical evidence that demonstrates they believed something else?
So I do not believe I need to make the case that its "doing good" to your enemies to let them kill you etc.. It is my understanding of Christian beliefs that the case was made almost two thousand years ago on a hill just outside Jerusalem. Unfortunately the example Jesus is said to have set (laying down his life, not committing violence even to those who harmed him) does not fit in with the exercise of political power. So once the early church obtained political power, the story which inspired people to be nonviolent, was re-interpreted to become a story that would go on to justify the crusades, the spanish inquisition, the burning of 'heretics', slavery and all manner of other things.
So historical evidence suggests early Christians believed in absolute pacifism; Jesus' crucifixion is the ultimate example of the power of absolute pacifism; The church formally moved away from absolute pacifism when it gained political power; Since then Christianity has been used to justify all manner of violence under the guise of 'just war'. Therefore an absolute pacifist reading of the gospel is the most authentic interpretation (closest to what original Christians actually believed); and the most logically consistent in relation to Christianity as a system of beliefs, i.e. there is no contradiction between believing god said 'love your enemies' on the one hand, while on the other you kill your enemies.
I usually do give the benefit of the doubt, that is why my frustration with mischaracterizing my view has grown to me speaking about it like I am. I don't know about you, but in the past some have mischaracterized my view to use a straw man fallacy, which then gives the impression they are opposing a point I never made.
Based on this post, it is becoming clear where we have at least one of our "disconnects". I can tell you genuinely believe that history is on your side "pre-Constantine, regarding early Christians". I didn't respond on details, but suggested that this is just one side that can be taken when really one is simply picking out quotes that side with your view. I know that with very little effort, some quick search engine searches and researching one can find views to support the other side. I also mentioned taking all things into consideration, like the New Testament or the gospels at least in their totality, reason, logic, etc.
So I do see the views you are presenting as "your views" in that sense, because you have taken a belief stance, on SOME available information, that we weren't given the more full context of. I have seen this done by many people on all kinds of topics including from Christians of certain cults and even denominations and doctrines that are man made. They are not based on the core, simple reading of the scriptures. I am against it whenever I see it occur, and in this case, I am not sure your case is "made" as much as you think it is. I don't know that 6 or 7 examples or quotes are representative of a consensus of all Christians in the early church era. They would have to be for your to say all you say in these posts. It begins to look more like a belief in what turns out to be assertions, but then those only carry the weight that assertions and beliefs can carry, as I see it.
So we disagree on the historical argument you present as being correct. I am ok with that, and hope that maybe you would consider there is a whole other side to the historical argument as you framed it. I don't agree with the notion that they were absolute pacifists as you do. I just don't get that ongoing trying to almost seem to "guilt" people into agreeing if they don't agree, as going against the early Christians and Jesus at his most critical hours..... That is just something else.....
The second view you share while it IS a moot point for you, ought to not be in this case as you are trying to convince Christians (like me) that it should probably be their point of view as you have shared in your several posts. I mean so you ought to argue for it because of how you disagree with me, even though it doesn't apply to you, if you really believe it. We don't agree that absolute pacifism is the most authentic interpretation of the gospel. I don't know how it could be taken that way at all. I understand that you think the view I hold is a contradiction. I don't think so, and have shared at length why. We can be fine to leave this alone and just agree to disagree, but in case others might be interested, I thought it good to share the reasons why I disagree, at least in part.
Yes pacifist actions can be useful! They ought to be desired first and foremost. I don't think absolute pacifism is always the best answer. It has been shown in examples how it just allows for evil to thrive against the good.
Your example of renouncing one's faith in Jesus or God, is not a point that I can see applying here. I think many Christians that believe just like me, would ALSO never renounce Jesus, and even be martyrs for their faith. But how is that an example of absolute pacifism? I mean in the literal details? Would you take an opposite action on their part, to deny Jesus, to be a form of "fighting or using force?" Yet that doesn't make sense. What you share is is an example of absolute terror onto people that ought to be fought if it could be. Yet if it could not be fought for obvious reasons, then yes people will die and their enemies are guilty of shedding their blood, and have to answer to God. Those examples are in no way detrimental to my views on this topic that I can see. So I am not sure how you think they apply to help your views of absolute pacifism. We might be getting somewhere if you are willing to talk about such details.
I don't understand how the example of the persecuted early church might have viewed God as letting evil get a free ride over the top of good. This is explained by the same teachings in scripture. Yes we see examples of evil winning now, and this to me also doesn't apply to the conversation we are having about absolute pacifism. It shows how a thug or bullying types exact evil onto people in a world that has overrun with evil, the cause and effect of what has happened as a consequence to our sin. We were told by Jesus it would happen in the future. Then they saw it happen. That is something different than taking an absolute pacifist approach though.
So I am looking at things from both "time tables" One is from the point of view in which things occur to human eyes, and secondly from the point of view of an eternal perspective. I think this is how the New Testament is laid out, and it is in keeping with how Jesus thought things through. I think God WILL answer everything. Its not me claiming to be on par with God or any such thing. I couldn't ever do that, but I can take Jesus at his words. Again though, how does this apply to the idea that Christians ought to be absolute pacifists? They don't seem to apply. It shows Christians bearing up incredibly well considering their circumstances, and doesn't address the topic of using force against enemies that would even kill you.
(Going off the first sentence of the paragraph, "Its not my assertion that loving your enemy.....") I am glad that you don't think that loving your enemy means allowing them to kill you, which would mean you could use force. The problem is, that this verse about loving all people is brought up several times in this discussion, as if it applies. The problem or question then is, then why can't a person use force against a person trying to kill them, even if a Christian that is trying to love even their enemies? You see why I had to bring it up in that manner? My enemy that wants to kill me, doesn't get to, even if it means I have to use force against them, and now according to you that is in keeping with the commandments of Jesus, right? So have I really misunderstood your point, or what suddenly just "gave"? Because it seems something had to. If I have really misunderstood and you just cleared it up, you are saying then that I CAN use force, (which I thought you clarified a few times now that absolute pacifism is not in accordance with) and be loving my enemy in doing so. That turning the other cheek also doesn't apply, right?
Further reading shows that nothing "just gave way", but an inconsistency was applied in that paragraph. I just read the rest of your paragraph that started with, "Its not my assertion that loving your enemy means....." There is a huge gap being skipped over as well. Taking one thing to mean another without explaining how it logically "follows." One can fight with force to not end up in the hands of someone that wants to kill them. Its VERY possible as we see in the examples of history and now, that sometimes force isn't enough, as innocents end up in a situation where they die and in so doing, the darkness IS illuminated and God's goodness is ironically shown more boldly for all to see. So they can apply force, and still end up dead, and God will still receive all the glory when such evil supposedly prevails, BUT, you are taking the latter part to be the MEANS to make an argument that Christians should not, or must not have used any force to avoid being there in the first place. I don't think you have made that case. The results don't equate to support for your arguments that I can see. You can fight against evil (no absolute pacifism) and evil can still sometimes "win" temporarily. So using these examples isn't helpful to make the point that it was NON pacifism that gave Christians and God the victory in the larger sense. Yet one can act like pushing for absolute pacifism onto Christians is something warranted because of how these very brave people went to their deaths. The absolute pacifism part is assumed I think, even with someone being able to find some examples where it might appear otherwise. Its not that Jesus told them to not fight, and end up dying for some glory in martyrdom kind of thing. That is a byproduct of a very evil portion of the world, trying hard to strangely go after the good, and how it doesn't really work now or in the long run, as I see it.
The focus you are having to constantly have, is the focus on the "supposed wrong doing" of the good and innocent person, and ignoring the very dark and evil person's actions. So I ask you again, how is it loving someone to allow them to kill you, and I gave a good example in the Jews vs Nazi's story of how all can lose, but if someone were to have fought back, some good might have prevailed. This focus on the innocent people needing to feel bad for fighting for their life seems very backward to to me. Thus my questions.
I know that you have personal belief about what you think the early Christians thought and did based on some examples you shared. I don't share that belief. I have taken your charges against what I think and believe to heart, and think I have really considered them. To believe as you do however, has to miss the point of the unique, "and once in an eternity's amount of time", death of Jesus. I believe the early Christians weren't so confused by what they were dealing with, vs what Jesus' death meant for all. Unlike some ideas, martyrdom isn't what Christians are to strive for, and isn't part of the great commission. It might be a by product. Hopefully now you can see why I have been saying all I have said more clearly. I think I understand why there have been some off the misunderstandings we have dealt with now.
The side I am speaking from, very much needs trust in God, and all the time! I don't see the contradictions where you do. The points Phoenix do make sense, and are used in a sense to help make the points. They are no different than a person that wants you dead and ready to take action, and you not being allowed to actually fight them to stop it. I find that when you say absolute pacifism is X, and then sometimes not X, confusing. So examples please. Then I can fairly answer. If Phoenix is wrong, then what do you think an early Christian with an absolute pacifism view could do to avoid the death from being forced off a cliff, when someone asks you to or else..... You say absolute pacifism doesn't mean throwing yourself off a cliff just because someone asks you to. So they could use force to avoid it right? This is where I see actual contradictions being employed, while you are trying to point out my own that I don't see even when looking very hard. So that is why this is not obvious to me. Can you not imagine a scenario of an early Christian dying from a cliff fall, yet can imagine forcing them to face a lion?
So I don't see the case you are making, being made by the early Christians. This is why I call it "your case," though I know you want it to be "Jesus' and the early Christian's case". You seem to have missed the whole point of Jesus' death again, and I will try to address later why his death is unlike any other in history could ever be. I thought it was very obvious, and feel bad I didn't go more into detail why now. I don't think the early Christians were unclear on how it was different from their deaths, if and when they died at the hands of enemies.
To me, none of my case has to do with me wanting to defend the exercise of use of political power. You have brought this up many times, and I thought I ought to make it clear. It could play out in that sense eventually, but my case isn't dependent upon that. Its not my reasoning.
I disagree with much of the "church's" actions in history and still disagree with much. Anyone can abuse scriptures to endorse evil, and that is nothing new, and I think God will judge it also when its been done.
I don't think many would advocate a completely pacifist view as a way of life; simply because we all fear what the outcome would inevitably be. I understand how belief has morphed into current interpretation. I think the primary point is not that one should act against their instinct, or better judgment, concerning personal safety. It is more in line with hoping others will see this is not in line with Jesus's actions, not in line with his ministry and not in line with how those closest to him taught those who witnessed the miracles performed in his name.
This perverted interpretation is expedient, yet it does not serve to better society or the soul. It allows us to justify our inability to view all with the love we would give ourselves and loved ones. It is easy to bounce through the text and find justification for this interpretation. It is much harder to look at the example of Jesus and those who began the cult and justify it.
It's like looking at modern cults whose roots we can view in greater detail, comparing them to the cult which grew from that beginning. Rarely are they the same. They changed drastically in order to appeal to a greater number.
The same reasoning could be used to claim that cherry picking 4 verses, misapplied, misunderstood, out of context and making a sweeping generalization equates to an unequivocal absolute.
Tell us the story of Gideon and his absolute pacifism.
Tell us the story of Barak and his absolute pacifism.
Tell us the story of Samson and his absolute pacifism.
All these had such great faith, arguably a cornerstone of Jesus ministry, all were commended in the New Testament.
Explain to us why Jesus parables contain violent retributive justice. Parables were a fundamental part of Jesus ministry.
One of the most famous acts of Jesus, at least famous for any Christian that was ever an apologist, is the Cleansing of The Temple. Many of us would wish there had been a miracle that just made that story go away, but it is an excellent example of how absolute pacifism does not get it done. You want to clear a Temple? You want to clear a Temple where there is profit to be made? Good luck with absolute pacifism. Jesus knew better.
Have I and others not answered verse for verse, point for point? Everyone has access to a Bible and documents online to answer "any of the above questions".
Show us the knowledge of the Bible to make such claims.
How does the opinions of 6 or 7, assorted writers, assorted heretics, non- Great Church Fathers, non- Apostolic Fathers out of the entire early history of Christianity equate to a sweeping generalization of "early Christians were absolute pacifists? It does not.
How does a mere 1/2 dozen cherry picked out of context opinions ranging from military service in pagan armies and a view on capital punishment equal absolute pacifism? I do not believe in capital punishment, yet I do not support absolute pacifism. I do not think we should drink and drive does not equal, I believe alcohol should be banned for evermore. Non sequiturs are not proof.
The onus is upon the ones making the claim of absolute pacifism, have to overcome these objections, not ignore them all and hope they go away.
I am only looking at the example of Jesus. I'm not cherry picking anything, because I'm not picking anything. It's simply the example of Jesus from the time he began his ministry to his ascension. I think it can be agreed upon that Jesus did lose patience with the religious. I don't think that equates to everything you are advocating. He spoke to them with disdain, at times, it is said he made a whip in order to run the money changers out of the temple. There is no evidence he used the whip on anyone. I figured he just brandished it and everyone scattered as he turned the tables over. I think your idea of pacifism is a little different from mine. I don't see this action as dangerously violent. More of a show to make a valid point. Plus, the story was used in order to point out that he fulfilled another prophecy. So, it is possible it was embellished in the retelling.
You can certainly claim that the bible gives you ample evidence to support your theory. I don't think any Biblical reference, which goes at direct odds with Jesus' words and actions, should take precedent over his words and actions; when determining what is considered 'Christian' theory. It can certainly be considered religious, it can be argued to be morally right; but I don't see how it can be labeled Christian if it doesn't follow in what can reasonably be determined to be his footsteps.
Anyway, whether Jesus showed impatience or anger at the rare moment, to use this as an example of why one is justified in using violence is, if you are a Christian, kind of like comparing yourself to God. Do you know what is in the hearts and minds of those you would justify using violence towards?
I do not claim it. The Bible does in fact give ample evidence that absolute pacifism is not a tenet, for a follower of Christ.
Love your enemy, pray for your enemy, lend to your enemy without expectation, does not imply absolute pacifism. Absolute pacifism is conjecture and an opinion only. Unlike Jesus, a Christian cannot lay down their life and take it up again. A Christian cannot morally abandon an innocent in the face of a life threatening situation of an assailant. A Christian is morally obligated to use whatever force is necessary to protect innocent life in that situation.
Is it you or Don's position that a true follower of Jesus should allow themselves or others to be murdered, if the only option is violent self defense or violent intervention?
You say that the Bible gives ample evidence that absolute pacifism is not a tenet of Christianity; I think you are creating the problem here by inserting 'absolute'. I think there is ample evidence that the early Christians could be defined as absolute pacifists. I mean, seriously. Would you willingly step into a Roman arena to be ripped apart by lions? Something was going on there and it wasn't open revolt. Who knows what ultimately motivated them to act in that manner; but I do believe if a percentage of the population believed that the end was near and their actions at that moment would determine their cosmic fate they would probably willingly do the same. If they thought those actions would cinch their place in heaven.
However, I have already stated that by your definition of absolute pacifist Jesus didn't fit that definition, by my way of defining it. But, he never wielded a sword; never harmed another individual physically; did show a pacifist stance when he was taken in to custody; and did show a pacifist stance as he was be taken to be crucified and did appear to be somewhat of a pacifist during the event. After his resurrection I don't know of any evidence that he suggested open revolt or violent behavior patterns for his followers.
You complain that a Christian can't give their life and then take it up again. But, a person can give their life in the stead of another. I believe it is considered to be the ultimate sacrifice. The fact that you suffix that with 'and take it up again' could mean you would not be willing to save another, if it meant your life would be threatened. I don't know. This could explain the lethal force argument you have going.
No one is advocating that someone morally abandon an innocent in the face of a life threatening assailant. You are the one arguing that point. To the wind, because I have never suggested it. I think everyone is morally obligated to protect innocent life. A person's willingness to jump from 'protecting' to using lethal force, or any violence at all; is at question. The point, I think, is that if we loved our neighbor as ourselves; if we paid it forward, so to speak, with all our expendable energy.....the need for this argument would diminish.
Emile said, "You say that the Bible gives ample evidence that absolute pacifism is not a tenet of Christianity; I think you are creating the problem here by inserting 'absolute'."
DonW is one that clarified we are talking about the different types of pacifism, including absolute, etc. I am not for absolute pacifism, and I don't think Phoenix is either. So if you are disagreeing with me or Phoenix, then you might be (or are) agreeing with absolute pacifism for Christians. (But do you? i can't think that you do, especially with some other things you have said.) The term absolute is there because of DonW and the greater context of this whole conversation. He has clarified that too. This is what I am against, and what Phoenix seems to be against. I hope this helps in clarification. As you seemed to indicate a couple of days ago, you have not been fully following this conversation, and it would make sense in light of comments like the above one. Especially if you see being thrown to lions as an example of absolute pacifism.
Pacifists are great as long as they never apply for a job as a Shepherd. Who would be willing to lose the stock or pay the workers insurance premiums on someone that would feed themselves to wolves and negligently leave the stock unattended.
This whole vein is a little disconcerting. Do you listen to what other people say, because nothing you keep talking about has been advocated by anyone. Nonviolent problem resolution is not feeding oneself to the wolves. It is working with the wolves so that everyone understands where the other is coming from. If you just shove the wolves away from the dinner table because you have no love for a wolf, of course they are going to try to eat you. They have to survive too.
I think the point and the question remains immutable.
Emile wrote quote " I have seen some here say that deadly force is acceptable when protecting innocent life. I don't see where this can be advocated through a study of the actions of Jesus".
So which is it?
Can a true follower of Jesus allow themselves or others to be murdered, if the only option is violent self defense or violent intervention?
Exactly. You said, "Is it you or Don's position that a true follower of Jesus should allow themselves or others to be murdered, if the only option is violent self defense or violent intervention?"
This is the larger question. If you recall, she said a couple days ago she had not been totally following the conversation, so when she said she couldn't agree with him more at one point, she may not be fully in the understanding of all he has said. That is the fairest I can be to that.
Yes it seems one of the 'disconnects' is related the history if the church. You suggested I'm 'picking out quotes' that side with my view. I think it's important to present evidence to support the views we hold wherever it's available. Unfortunately to quote all the available evidence is not practicable within the confines of a forum comment, so some element of selectivity is necessarily involved. Likewise, the sheer volume of information makes it practically impossible to provide full context for every quote, and I believe it's unreasonable to expect that within this medium.
And naturally I think the person presenting a view is the person responsible for presenting evidence for that view. As I have asserted that the early christian church supported absolute pacifism, I believe the burden is on me to support that view with something more than opinion, e.g. some historical evidence. I have, and I've tried to give context where I can. You have asserted the early church supported selective pacifism/militarism, therefore I believe the burden is on you to support that view with some historical evidence also. So far you have referred to such evidence, but not actually presented any.
I agree all of the New Testament should be taken into consideration, because the early Christians tried to emulate Jesus. He spoke out against injustice. They apparently tried to do the same. He loved everyone. They apparently tried to do the same. He did not harm anyone with an act of violence, even when his life depended on it. Rightly or wrongly, they apparently tried to do the same. And I think it's as simple as that. The early Christians simply tried to emulate Jesus' behaviour, as such it's easy to see how they would have arrived at absolute pacifism.
You say you don't know that '6 or 7 examples or quotes are representative of a consensus of all Christians in the early church era'. That suggests you believe that's all the evidence there is. Obviously it isn't but it's not possible to quote all the available evidence and subsequent discussions around the subject here. So instead I have provided some examples to illustrate the type of evidence I'm referring to. I haven't seen you give any examples of the evidence you are referring to, which I think would be useful.
I don't understand your comments which suggest I am trying to '"guilt' people into agreeing if they don't agree' I have nothing to gain by trying to 'guilt' someone into thinking the early Christian church supported absolute pacifism. Nothing at all. For me it's a matter of historical accuracy. All I have done is state that absolute pacifism is, in my view, the most authentic interpretation of the gospel because it relates more closely to what the early church believed. And then presented some historical evidence to support that view. I also talked about early Christians apparently having an 'unshakable trust in god, that no amount of violence, or even death, could overcome' as evidenced by the accounts of early Christians refusing to be violent in the face of provocation, persecution and death. Are those the comments you are referring to? If so, for me those are observations based on historical evidence. Nothing more, nothing less. So any 'guilt' you take from them is coming from you. That begs the question, do those comments instill a sense of guilt in you? If so, why?
I mentioned recanting one's faith because from my perspective saying 'caesar is Lord' is no big deal. So I was suggesting that Christians wouldn't even do that to save their life, let alone commit violence. But I appreciate that for a Christian recanting your faith would be a big deal, and would probably be seen as an even bigger no-no than being violent. So I agree that was not the best example.
You said 'If you have read the New Testament, or even the gospels, you know full well that God doesn't let "evil" take a free ride over the top of "good", crushing it.' For me that means you think absolute pacifism would be like god giving evil a 'free ride'. But at the same time, you said you know god will answer everything, i.e. good will always triumph over evil. So I take from this that even though you believe you know the final outcome (god's ultimate triumph over evil), you believe the journey there could be better or worse depending on how we act in the meantime(?) And you are suggesting that absolute pacifism would make that journey worse instead of better(?) If that's what you're saying then, with respect, I don't see how you can draw that conclusion. You would need to know the outcomes not only of every event that's ever happened in history, but also every potential outcome of every event. E.g. what would human history be like of Christians had all remained/became absolute pacifists. How could anyone possibly know that?
I didn't say Christians ought to be absolute pacifists. I said there is historical evidence that indicates the early Christian church supported absolute pacifism, and based on that evidence I believe the early Christian church formally supported an absolute pacifist model of living. Therefore, in my view, absolute pacifism is the most authentic reading of the gospels. Not better, not worse, but most authentic. You then asked what the implications of absolute pacifism would be in the modern world "would the techniques of Ghandi have helped against Hitler". To which I answered yes, because if the German population in 1939 (94% Christians) were absolute pacifists and refused to fight in the German army, Hitler could not have waged war in the way he did. That isn't me saying Christians ought to be absolute pacifists. It's me answering a direct question from you. Whether it would have been better or worse for the German population not to fight, or for them to fight and trigger a world war as they did, is a conclusion I leave for you to draw yourself.
Correct, I don't believe loving your enemy means allowing them to kill you, but I think early Christians believed that loving your enemy meant not harming them with violence, even at the cost of your own life. They would not use force to harm even those who harmed them, because Jesus did not use force to harm those who harmed him. They believed that Jesus was 'the way, the truth, and the life' and so tried to emulate him in every way, believing that was the way to eternal life. I really think it was that simple.
The early Christians were not absolute pacifists because they believed that would 'give god the victory in the larger sense'. The writings that survive from that time suggest they were absolute pacifists simply because they believed that's what Jesus was, and they wanted to emulate him. You have to remember that some of the people we are talking about lived at a time when the New Testament as you and I know it simply did not exist. And the gospels were either not written, in the process of being written or were relatively new (hundreds not thousands of years old).
You also have to remember that people tended not to own their own personal copies of sacred texts. Instead they were read collectively for the community. So although Jesus' parables and other teachings were important, in-depth analysis of the exact language and wording Jesus used would have been very difficult for ordinary Christians to do.
What would have stood out are what Jesus did and what he did not do. The strongest argument that can be made that Jesus was not an absolute pacifist is the fact that something he said may have hinted at something that is not absolutely pacifist, if you read it a certain way. In contrast the strongest argument that can be made about Jesus being an absolute pacifist is the fact that nowhere in the story of Jesus does it say he used violence to harm another person. Even in the temple it is said that he 'drove out' the money changers. It doesn't say he physically harmed anyone. This fact combined with the sermon on the mount makes it easy to see why early Christians believed Jesus was an absolute pacifist and simply tried to copy that.
And why wouldn't they? If they genuinely believed that Jesus was the son of god, why wouldn't they want to emulate him, even to the extent of not using violence to save their own life as they believe he did? That was the logical conclusion of their beliefs. Their moral compass was the actions of Jesus as recounted to them verbally. There was no room for subtlety or nuance. Jesus did not commit violence. So they didn't. You ask 'how is it loving someone to allow them to kill you'. I believe an early Christian would say 'because Jesus did'. And some people may have striven for martyrdom . But the early church made a point of formally condemning those who did so. But I think they genuinely believed that anything Jesus did was right, and they tried to live their life by his example.
Remember, these people could not read the New Testament. They would go on to be in the New Testament. These were the Corinthians, the Galatians, the Ephesians, the Philippians, the Colossians, the Thessalonians. Is it really beyond the realms of possibility that these ordinary Christians who believed Jesus was the Christ, simply copied his actions as they understood them. I think it's more than reasonable, I think it's likely. You have to try to look at it without the benefit of hindsight that we have, which is difficult, but necessary to gain some understanding of what early Christians believed and why.
I'm sorry but the point Phoenix made did not make sense. That passage says that Jesus was asked/told to do something. He refused. It does not say he committed violence against someone. Therefore that example does not support the argument that Jesus was not an absolute pacifist. Pacifists, and absolute pacifists have historically used refusal often. Refusing to fight in the army. Refusing to sit at the back of the bus. Refusing to move in the face of people with sticks. Refusing to not go to school despite having to go through a gauntlet of abuse to get there. Refusing to recant your faith. None of these go against the principle of pacifism or absolute pacifism.
Your point about Jesus' death are interesting. It's my understanding that Jesus is considered by Christians to be the perfect example of a human being, and the perfect example of how to live. Are you suggesting that because Jesus was on a 'special mission', that he is not someone ordinary Christians should try to emulate?
There is a time for peace and a time for war.
Then Jesus asked them, "When I sent you without purse, bag or sandals, did you lack anything?" "Nothing," they answered. Then said he unto them, But now, he that hath a purse, let him take it, and likewise his scrip: and he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one.
There are no Gucci or Nike prophecies regarding Jesus purchasing purses, bags or sandals. So the logical conclusion is a literal interpretation. Literal, allegory or prophecy, carrying and/or instructing people to buy swords is not pacifism.
It is a faulty generalization to take a handful of opinions, over centuries of time, and claim a conclusion, further exacerbated by non sequitur, that opinions regarding military service in pagan armies reaches a conclusion of absolute pacifism. Your argument is that historical evidence shows that approximately 5 people over two-hundred and fifty years were specifically against war. Therefore your argument is refuted by it's own lack of logical merit.
I don't need to go by someone's interpretation of the early church, no matter how different my view is from theirs is, regarding the early church. One can be misled in such ways. You have avoided so many of my points, and my reasoning which I have gone into such great detail with, that I don't dare continue on in the same manner.
In looking at all the same material, we have come to a 180 degree different set of conclusions. It is what it is. People can decide on their own. I am not persuaded by your arguments. I don't think they carry the burden they would need to, to make the points you are making, which I think turn out to be belief. No, no guilt has been inspired by anything you have posted to me.
I hope my efforts have at least inspired some deeper thoughts by you and maybe even others if they were willing to read them. Like people being martyred after imprisonment, vs fighting to avoid capture in the first place. I addressed particular points, and asked questions (which pointed out inherent contradictions). I just get basically a reiterating of your prior points which I gave a rebuttal to. I think of that because as I read all these points here, I recall what I have already said. I am not going to keep giving different examples and reasoning of why they don't work. You seem to be very committed to your beliefs about this, and think they are backed by history. I don't find it based on scriptures, history, and logic.
As for God not letting evil get a free pass, I mentioned that because we aren't supposed to then let evil just get a free pass. As Monkeyshine and others have pointed out, these ideas don't make sense in light of greater scripture. If you want to continue to put emphasis on your historical accounts, that you think line up with your interpretation of some select scriptures then what else can I do? I don't mind what you want to conclude. You are the one that seemed to take issue with Christians of today, and since the 3rd century.
Based on ancient (1K years ago) to today, we CAN get a general idea of what happens when good people do nothing to stand up to evil. We CAN make general deductions about what it likely would have been like, without knowing for sure, because of our reasoning power, our brains...our consciences.
I get what you are saying. I know you think there were more authentic Christians early on, and you have said why at least dozens of times now. This suggests that the ones after that have ever used an ounce of violence, are not in keeping with your interpretations of scripture and early history.
Perhaps we do have more accurate renderings of what Jesus said and did then the early Christians. Maybe that will explain some of the ones since, to you.
My biggest concern of all, is your reluctance to see how people since, are different from Jesus Christ. Its not that people shouldn't emulate Jesus. In the ways you are suggesting (as the early Christians), they literally cannot. I spent a great amount of time on why. Then you asked what you did in your final paragraph there. So I don't see the point in us going around in circles anymore. I do hope to have stimulated some deeper thoughts on these important subjects though.
I find it a bit alarming too, that the final question points to what seems to be the greater point. The idea of Christians just willingly laying their lives downs to even very great and evil enemies. To not want to address the distinctions makes me think this might no longer be fruitful.
When one thinks of the most inspiring people of our time and those remembered throughout history as being the most respected; I think they could all be considered pacifists. Buddha, Gandhi, Mother Theresa, the Dalai Lama. Even Nelson Mandela (who was no pacifist) is most revered for the stoic and peaceful resistance which led to the end of apartheid. I see the example of Jesus strongly in all of them.
But, I completely understand resistance to the idea of Jesus as a pacifist. It is the most difficult route one human can take in order to attempt to elicit change on a global scale. Kind of like....willingly going to your death in order that others may live. Quite the pill to swallow.
I will say that I found one comment you made interesting. The one about us, possibly, having more accurate renderings of what Jesus did and said. Hard to imagine that scenario.
As for the people you mention, I see some examples of Jesus in them too. I address the resistance, and going to death for people on a global scale. If you or anyone wants to talk in particulars, then it can be addressed. Don hasn't wanted to do that. I think many would go to their death for a saving lives, especially on a global scale. That is what our military does all the time. They are heroes.
Going to one's death to save many others isn't what is being talked about at all though. Just at the hands of an enemy that wants to take one's life.
As for what you found interesting, I only said that in response to what Don said about the early Christians he said that didn't have a bible, like we do today. In that sense, they don't have the totality, like an actual scroll or book. (Maybe they did all have copies, in which case I would be wrong, but it doesn't seem likely.) If you had read his comment, then mine, you would have seen that.
Generally speaking ,the closer you are to the event, the more accurate the information is. They had word of mouth, and how they carried information down was very accurate. Its hard to imagine they all had it all in its totality the way we do. As far as the copies of all of the letters to all the churches of the time, who knows?
Seriously? I completely disagree. That is like telling me you know more about my childhood than I do, because you read an article in the paper yesterday. These people were there. They were contemporaries of those who were the contemporaries of Jesus. They were there for the miracles. They were there when it was all happening.
You've got a book that is what was decided you would have by a group of guys hundreds of years after the event. It isn't a complete book. It's simply the things they thought were relevant. The books which would bind a new religion into one understanding. We are the ones without the totality of understanding. Not them.
This shows me you misunderstand the points, and it is what I feared and has been happening ongoing to be honest. Let me explain. We actually aren't just talking about those that lived with Jesus and throughout what would have been a normal life span. We are talking to the 3rd century. Speaking of what we are talking about compared to your childhood is apples to oranges, and not my point at all. If it was, I would never have said it, for the obvious nature of it.
It wasn't written hundreds of years after the event either. The gospels are early, written in the first half of the first century, but even then you miss the point of what I just said. About them not having copies like we do. Its like you aren't reading my responses, and that would naturally lead to the misunderstandings you seem to continue to have. (At least in your responses to me, and to some others in this thread.) I say that because you admitted to not have been following the thread. (If things were spoken as you seem to have portrayed there, then you would be right, and I could understand your complete disagreement.) What explains it now I don't know. Hope that helps.
I notice you have a tendency to decide those who disagree aren't reading. I will be honest, you generally type too much in a response. It's like you are writing a hub. I have tried, in the past, to respond in kind. I will only respond to what I think are pertinent points and I will attempt to keep it short.
Of course the gospels are early documents. And, of course the early Christians had copies. I think your point is they didn't have the rest of the New Testament to change the flavor of the meaning of the gospels. They didn't have Paul's insertions. Plus, I think what you fail to accept is that they had more gospels than the five which were chosen to be in the New Testament.
Well, if I have answered a question in great detail prior, then you will see me say that perhaps that answer wasn't read. I went ahead and reexplained myself in these latest posts without them being as long. I don't know if first to third century christians all had copies, and I don't know if it makes sense especially in light of when printing presses came to be and that part of history. I write from that point of view.
I haven't 'avoided' your points. You just disagree with what I have said, and that's perfectly fine. People disagree. I believe communication and discussion in itself is useful. Agreement is a bonus.
Can I take from your comments that you won't be presenting historical evidence to support your view that the early church adopted a selective pacifist/militarist approach? If so, then that's a shame. I know you said 'with very little effort, some quick search engine searches and researching one can find views to support the other side', but 'views' are not the same as actual historical evidence. I have not seen any evidence in the form of contemporaneous sources that support your view, and I was hoping you could point me (and anyone else) in the direction of some. Sharing information in this way is one example of where I think discussions can be useful, even if there is no agreement. So I hope you will be able to provide something.
Your comments have certainly inspired some deeper thought. Again, that's one of the good things about discussion. When people challenge our views, it causes us to examine the underlying assumptions, which I think is always a good thing.
In relation to being martyred after imprisonment vs fighting to avoid capture. There is no evidence that I am aware of that indicates Christians fighting for their lives either before or after capture. If you know of some, I hope you can share it. This is also shown by evidence that the early church did not look favorably on Christians who were in, or entered military service (although some individuals did). And the idea that early Christians held this view is not new. I found an author from the 17th century who wrote: 'It is easy to obscure the sun at midday, as to deny that the primitive Christian renounced all revenge and war.' So it is a well established idea that early Christians simply renounced all violence. Again if you have any historical evidence, such as contemporary sources from that time which suggest that the Church was in favor of violence in certain circumstances, by all means share it.
I think I am as committed to my view on this as you are to yours, but my goal here is not to persuade you (or anyone else) to join me in that view. I see it as an (interesting) exchange of information. I tell you why I hold the view I hold, and you do the same. In that regard I'm a little disappointed though. You mentioned 'scriptures, history, and logic'. I think the history part requires something more substantial than opinion. What we understand about history is derived through historical method, i.e. the techniques through which historians form an account of the past. As such, I was hoping you could shed some light on what historical sources your view is based on.
When you say 'we CAN get a general idea of what happens when good people do nothing to stand up to evil' that doesn't relate to pacifism or absolute pacifism, because neither are about doing nothing to stand up to evil. Pacifism is not passivism. So I assume by 'nothing' you actually mean 'nothing violent'.
Wording aside, sure we can have an idea of what a history of absolute pacifism would be like. We can deduce, for example, that Germany could never have started WWII if German Christians refused to fight in the German army. But we can't determine exactly what the world would be like as there are just too many variables.
However history does tell us with absolute certainty that violence causes violence, and we don't need to imagine the effects of violence in history or in the present. And I know you share the same concern and dislike of violence as a default way to resolve conflict.
A slight correction. I don't think modern Christians have a more 'accurate' rendering of the Gospel. I think modern Christians just have the luxury of being able to access the written words more readily and therefore able to derive 'interpretations' more easily. An example of this is the fact that scriptures have been used in history to justify anything from the inquisition to slavery, which I also know you share a dislike of. But it can't be denied that those events were justified by some people on the basis of their 'interpretation' of scripture. In the early church I don't think knowledge about Jesus was based so much on 'interpretation' as it was on reputation. The way you and I might talk about someone from a few years ago. This verbal tradition leaves little room for interpretation. I think that came a few hundred years later.
In response to your suggestion that modern Christians can't do what I believe early Christians did in emulating Jesus. I don't think the question is whether they can, but whether they should. The reason I think most don't is because it is deemed morally unacceptable (and therefore socially unacceptable) for Christians to renounce all violence to such an extent that they would not intervene to save their own or someone else's life. The problem with that is the fact that it's often violence that has brought about the conditions in which the person's life is being threatened in the first place. In other words, if you go back to the point before the person's life was threatened, then there is room for nonviolence to influence the conditions that brought about that later threat. So it goes back to the idea that peace promotes peace. Violence promotes violence. We are in a cycle of violence. The cycle can only be broken by refusing to commit more violence. How that can happen in a way that does not conflict with people's natural sense survival, and the intuitive desire to defend the innocent, the weak etc, is challenging to say the least.
I don't think the early Christians were troubled with such considerations. I think the immediacy of Christ (many believed he would return within their lifetime) and the simplicity in which the 'good news' was conveyed then (word of mouth) gave them a different set of priorities, and a different understanding of the events of the gospel. On that we'll just agree to disagree. But I still would like to see any historical evidence you've turned up that suggests the early Church was in favor of violence under certain circumstances. I think that would be useful.
DonW, the view I am defending is this: That Christians should be allowed to defend a life, IF their life or another innocents life is about to be murdered at the hand of an enemy. To not do so would be a grievous evil, and I don't believe this view ever needed defending.
Then you have argued against my points in backing that up my views, from the moment I spoke up to you about this. Here is one of my own beliefs: that if we don't fight for an innocent life that will be murdered whether ours, or our children or others, then that is immoral. If that makes me an unauthentic Christian in your or anyone's eyes, then I will take that.
You believe that with a handful of incidents in history back your disagreeing with me. I don't think that is logical or reasonable to think and believe. My view would defend against an aggravated murder of an innocent. You also seem to indicate that you don't think opposing sources could be found in over 300 years of history! This is remarkable belief to me! I never intended on sharing evidences for such a thing, because 1. its so obvious, and 2. I don't think the original view you hold was held by Jesus and his disciples. I take the opposite view, that it makes complete sense that some Christian some time in over 300 years of history actually fought for the right to live when they could, or that of their child or other innocent. We don't even need an example to know this is inherently true. Yet I may still work on that and show what I find, because I never knew that a view opposing mine would actually be held by anyone, so it might be helpful in giving examples for others that might find themselves in such a conversation or debate about supposedly authentic Christians vs. a "heretical one". The view I am defending never depended upon showing any such thing.
Jesus himself came to "fight" evil. What did He do when he sent evil spirits that had possessed a man into a herd of pig and then over a cliff? What did He do when he demonstrated his intolerance for the restless activities of money changing and selling of goods in God's house of quiet, peace and hollowed reverence? What did he do when he stopped Mary's condemners? What did he do when he told his stories and ministered to the people? He was actively fighting the ignorance, injustice and the darkness of the times.
He came with a new way and many have understood and embraced it. In my view, His way led to America's golden ages. Living according to the Golden Rule with love for fellow man and for invisible God takes strength and determination and often goes against the grain of dishonest societal ways.
Fighting does not always mean violence. Maybe violence is the last straw. And ultimately necessary.
what... should we let China, Russia and Iran take us?
Can we prevent them from having power over us in the first place?
That's the question.
With respect, I have to correct you again. I have suggested that historical evidence indicates that the early Christian church supported absolute pacifism, and that early Christians lived (and died) adhering to that principle. I did not say, nor have I ever said, that every Christian in the early church adhered perfectly to that doctrine. That would be a ludicrous suggestion for me to make, and I have not made it. Remember earlier when you said 'I don't know about you, but in the past some have mischaracterized my view to use a straw man fallacy, which then gives the impression they are opposing a point I never made.' Yes I have experienced that. But like I said, I always try to give the benefit of the doubt, so I assume in this case it was just a misperception on your part.
Misunderstandings aside, whether 'some Christian some time in over 300 years of history' may have been violent, has no bearing on whether the early church formally supported the use of violence. Put another way, the fact that some individual Catholics some time over the last thousand years may have used contraceptives, has no bearing on whether the Catholic church formally supports the use of contraceptives. It doesn't.
As a reminder then, you are making two arguments 1) that the early Christian church believed violence was justified under certain circumstances (an approach to violence called selective militarism or selective pacifism); and 2) that Christians should take the selective militarism/pacifism approach to violence, i.e. violence should be justifiable under certain circumstances.
The first argument is not a matter of opinion, but a matter of historical record. We can make a reasonable determination as to whether it's true based on a preponderance of evidence. You have said there is historical evidence that supports your view. I suspect, based on the misunderstanding above, that you may be referring to evidence relating to individuals. I can't be sure of that because you have not presented the evidence you are referring to.
If it does refer to individuals then, as I said above, there is an important distinction between what a church formally supports, and what individual members of a church do. The evidence I presented relates to contemporaneous texts from authors, many of whom are deemed to be 'fathers of the church', i.e. key figures in the formation and development of the early Christian church. So they represent what the early church leaders formally supported. If you are aware of any evidence of this type that indicates the early church supported another approach to violence, then once again I'm inviting you to share that here, as I think it would be very useful.
I'm not asking for a entire thesis, but just some (in fact any) historical evidence of the same type I have presented that supports the view that the early church supported a different approach to violence.
I am not sure that Oceansnsusnets has corrected you yet on this specifically, but you are basing your argument on individuals, very few individuals, in fact. Including two heretics, and at least one not even considered a church father. Then you erroneously say/characterize that those very few people including heretics of the Church are the "early Christian church" on several occasions. Historically and more importantly factually - Spreading Christianity within private homes, standing for Christianity while in military service, various Christian communities scattered throughout the middle east, Africa, and Greece and being fed to lions in a Colosseum does not make an amalgamated "early Christian church". That is an obvious reality.
As I said in my above comment 'many of the figures quoted are deemed to be 'fathers of the church' or represent some form of church leadership. They are called fathers of the church (by Christians) because their views and writings are considered significant in the formation and development of the early Christian church. Go through the list of people I quoted and check for yourself:
Eusebius - was bishop of Caesarea 314
Origen - is considered a 'Church Father'
Clement of Rome - is considered a 'Church Father'
Tertullian - is considered a 'Church Father'
Athenagoras - is considered a 'Church Father'
Lactantius of Bithynia - became advisor to the first Christian Roman emperor, Constantine
Justine the martyr - a canonized saint who is venerated in the Anglican Communion, Eastern Orthodox Church, Lutheranism, Oriental Orthodoxy, Roman Catholicism.
These people represent the early church establishment (hence the name 'Church Fathers') before Christianity became the state religion of Rome. So I reject your assertion that their views are not significant.
As for heresy, it is absolutely true that after Constantine held the first ecumenical councils, he then enforced 'orthodoxy' by imperial authority, making 'heretics' out of anyone who did not fit-in with the official Roman state's version of Christianity. It is only after this time that 'Christians' were officially allowed to kill other Christians for the crime of heresy. I have said all along that the views of these figures represent the view of the early church. The fact this view does not represent that of the post-Constantine 'Christian' church is exactly the point I have been making. Becoming the state religion of Rome caused Christianity to change in ways that allowed it to accommodate the exercise of state power. The change from an absolute pacifist approach to a selective militarist approach is an example of one of those changes. The fact that some of those who advocated absolute pacifism were later condemned as 'heretics' further illustrates that point.
I am open to looking at any historical evidence you and Oceansnsusnets believe supports the view that the early Christian church supported violence under certain circumstances. But neither of you have presented any. So you are asserting something to be an historical fact, but not presenting any historical evidence to support it, which I think is a shame. As I said to Oceansnsusnets, I don't expect an entire thesis, but I do expect something other than just opinion. If either of you would like to present some evidence from significant figures in the early church that support your view (in the same way I have) then I think that would be very useful.
Now you are using a hedging fallacy. Before they were the "early christian church". You have said that on many occasions. Now they are "significant in the formation of the church" and they represent the church establishment, according to you.
Because of his heretical views, Origen is technically not a Church Father by many definitions of that term but instead may simply be referred to as an ecclesiastical writer.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Church_Fa … Alexandria
Tertullian denounced Christian doctrines he considered heretical, but later in life adopted the Montanist religion, regarded as a heretical sect by the mainstream Church.
Some believed in forms of reincarnation and that "human beings were little fish" just for examples, and in the case of Tertullian, they themselves denounced doctrines as heretical. Tertullian was an polemicist of heresy, so your attempt to lay it at the feet of Constantine is refuted.
But all this does not really matter, because a few quotes, which were mostly about military service, evidently in pagan armies, becomes a faulty generalization to conclude absolute pacifism. As I posted before, regarding one of the quotes about capital punishment - which does not necessarily mean absolute pacifism, because I myself, do not support capital punishment or absolute pacifism. I am a living example of your faulty generalization.
Further, I know that you would like to shift the burden of proof, because you have failed to make your case, because of merit and multiple logical fallacies. There were people serving in pagan armies that were Christians or became Christian and still were active in the military that were martyred. But again the onus is not upon us to prove your fallacies are wrong.
It is pretty simple, really. Jesus used force to clear the temple. Jesus did not "disarm Peter and unbelt every soldier", as one of the heretics claimed, because He told Peter to put it back in its place. Absolute pacifists do not use force to clear temples, nor would their disciples carry weapons throughout a three year ministry. Soldiers should be happy with their pay and be honest, according to John and Jesus instructs His followers to buy swords.
This addresses both your posts to me.
As I have said elsewhere, the views expressed by these figures are the closest thing we have to something representing the doctrine of the early church. I'm not sure which part of that is unclear for you. I also have to repeat that when I say "the early church supported . . ." I am referring to the collection of doctrines officially endorsed by those considered fathers of the church and church leaders. In the same way that when someone says "the Catholic church supports . . ." they are referring to the collection of doctrines officially endorsed by the Catholic church, not the individual beliefs and behaviour of every single member of the Catholic church. This seems so obvious to me, I never thought I would need to state it. I take responsibility for that incorrect assumption.
The term church father is not being applied selectively. My whole point is that Christian doctrine relating to violence and war changed after Constantine. That's why I have repeatedly said that I'm open to any historical evidence from any significant figure in the church before Constantine who supported selective militarism. But none has been provided.
The quotes I provided were not selected because they represent the view I hold. It so happens that the historical evidence that indicates absolute pacifism was supported by the early church, comes mostly from those who are considered church fathers, or are otherwise significant within the church. So I hold the view I do, because that is what the available historical evidence points to. I am unaware of any similar historical evidence that supports your view, so I have asked you (repeatedly) to present the evidence you are aware of. In doing so I am assuming that your assertion of historical fact, is based on historical evidence.
Now I find myself, as a non Christian, in the strange position of defending the fathers of the Christian church, from a modern Christian who refuses to accept the collective opinion of Christian clergy, historians and scholars within his own faith. But so be it . . .
Regarding Origen, he is not only regarded as a church father, he is also considered one of the most distinguished authors among the church fathers. Look at the list of church fathers on the Catholic Encyclopedia where he is listed.
Also, if you must rely on Wikipedia, then look at the main article on Origen which says: 'Origen is regarded by the Roman Catholic Church as a Church Father, but not a Saint'.
Also the text of a homily said at St. Paul's Basilica in Rome reads: 'A Father of the Church, Origen, in one of his Homilies on Jeremiah, cites a saying attributed to Jesus, not contained in the sacred Scriptures but perhaps authentic, which reads: "Whoever is near to me, is near to the fire"'
(Pope Benedict XVI)
Also the text of an encyclical (a letter to the Bishops) called Aeterni Patris reads: 'After him came Origen, who graced the chair of the school of Alexandria, and was most learned in the teachings of the Greeks and Orientals. He published many volumes, involving great labor, which were wonderfully adapted to explain the divine writings and illustrate the sacred dogmas;'.
(Pope Leo XIII - b. 1810 d. 1903)
Leo XIII also said of Origen: 'In the Eastern Church, the greatest name of all is Origen - a man remarkable alike for penetration of genius and for persevering labour; from whose numerous works and his great Hexapla almost all have drawn that came after him'.
Also, the text of a general audience given in St. Peter's square reads: 'Origen of Alexandria truly was a figure crucial to the whole development of Christian thought. He gathered up the legacy of Clement of Alexandria, on whom we meditated last Wednesday, and launched it for the future in a way so innovative that he impressed an irreversible turning point on the development of Christian thought'.
(Pope Benedict XVI)
Also, the text of another general audience in St. Peter's Square reads: 'In this wake, commenting on the Exodus of the people of Israel from Egypt, a great Christian teacher such as Origen conceived of the New Exodus undertaken by Christians'.
(Pope John Paul II)
So Origen most certainly is a father of the Christian church, he was a significant figure in the early Christian church, and still is a significant figure in the Christian church today, despite his 'heretic' status (which was ascribed to him after Constantine). So perhaps some further research about the history of your faith might be useful.
Regarding Tertullian, I never said the charge of heresy did not exist before Constantine. Of course it did. I said that Constantine enforced 'orthodoxy' by imperial authority. Prior to Constantine that would have been impossible because the Christian church (a Jewish sect) did not have imperial authority. I also said: 'It is only after this time that "Christians" were officially allowed to kill other Christians for the crime of heresy'. That is also true. Something could only be an imperial crime deserving of a death sentence if the Roman empire deemed it so. That is one of the reasons the Sanhedrin had to manoeuvre Pontius Pilate into sentencing Jesus to death. They did not have the authority to do so themselves.
And no I don't blame Constantine. It was actually St. Augustine who developed the 'just war' principle. Constantine simply marks the change over of Christianity from a simple Jewish sect, to a state religion.
In relation to individuals serving in the military, again I repeat what I have said elsewhere. I am aware that individuals in the early church did not adhere to church doctrine. We can easily deduce that, as no religion can claim 100% adherence to church doctrine by its membership. But that would be a foolish way to gauge what a church formally supported. So I am interested in historical evidence that relates to what the early church supported, i.e. what those people who were key figures in the formation of the church actually endorsed. I believe the quotes from Origen, Tertullian etc. and other historical evidence indicates that absolute pacifism was endorsed by the fathers of the church (and therefore the church), for all the reasons I have already stated.
Once again, if you disagree with that suggestion and believe instead that the early church supported a selective militarist approach (some violence is justified depending on the circumstances) then present some historical evidence that demonstrates that. I am quite open to looking at anything you provide. So far, you have only provided opinion and faulty information based on an inaccurate wikipedia entry.
I don't think repeating comments about swords etc. which have already been addressed, helps move the discussion forward. If you want to address the issue, then provide some historical evidence that the church fathers supported selective militarism.
I think the simplest question to ask is this: does it clearly state anywhere in the gospels that Jesus used violence to harm another person even when it could be deemed 'justified'? I believe the answer to that question is no. Historical evidence indicates that the church fathers that I quoted, who tried to emulate Jesus, believed the answer to be no also. And historical evidence suggests that many ordinary Christians who died emulating Jesus believed the answer to be no.
Selective militarism is not your claim. Your claim is an authentic Christian belief is absolute pacifism. You have not even remotely shown that to be the case. Because a few early teachers of Christianity were against being a soldier, in pagan anti-christian armies, does not mean absolute pacifism. Very little original discourses of a larger set of church fathers exists (and I certainly would not have access to it ) for me to form an opinion on what a consensus might have been (if any) regarding absolute pacifism. I suspect they were more concerned about Arianism and similar type doctrinal disagreements than absolute pacifism.
Even if some did actually discuss it, I personally would never claim that it was a consensus, based upon limited resources and 4 out of context quotes. It would be foolish and it would not be intellectually honest, to make claims based on insufficient evidence eg. I could say that Jesus, said "do not call me good "no one is good but God", or that the Father is greater than Jesus", and some early Christian theologian quasi Grand Poobah Church Father seemed to agree, but seven Church Fathers Inc™ ® before Constantine decided to ram trinitarianism down everyone's throats. Now what? Which one is true? At best it is an appeal to authority either side you take. A few early Christian theologians VS five Christian theologians? Scripture can be a little ambiguous, and like many other things, there are just not enough, if any, examples to go by, so no help here or there. But then again I am not making a claim either way on which one is an absolute, whereas you are, in the other case.
The reason it IS relevant about Jesus forcefully clearing the temple, Disciples carrying and using swords, Jesus instructing them to buy swords, John telling soldiers to be content with their pay, scripture supporting defense of mere property, even if it caused death, Jesus marveling at the centurions faith and so and so forth, is these are the limited verses regarding a non absolute pacifist position. Not because of selective choices, but because of limited examples.
In the example of the good Samaritan we see Jesus commending the rendering of aid, and denouncing those that did not. It is not reasonable, for me anyway, to believe that Jesus would teach that, if the crime was being committed, one should just watch or do anything but violence, until it was all over and only then could someone render aid. If the good Samaritan had physically defended the man, while people just walked on by, I believe Jesus would have still commemorated him. Maybe even more so.
Absolute pacifists do not carry swords nor do they forcefully clear temples. Game over, if anyone can logically infer that the Pope is Catholic. If they cannot, there is nothing I can do.
One clarification. The disciples did not, as a rule, carry swords. When he told them to buy them, they pointed out that they had two and he said 'that is enough.' If he intended to ensure there were weapons among them to carry out violence.....would 2 be enough? If he intended them to be used for defense...would 2 be enough? If he had intended for them to be used...would he have chastised Peter for using one and then healed the wound inflicted?
I think you are looking at things literally and not attempting to understand the why of the words. Your interpretation doesn't work in the larger context.
A couple more things. If Jesus had any use for weapons, would he not have known there wereweapons already among his disciples. Had the disciples been in the habit of carrying them, don't you think he might have noticed?
The argument of what the disciples thought and did during Jesus's ministry isn't overly valid since they didn't understand the significance of his life until after the resurrection. How they reacted to that event and how they came to understand after that event are more indicative of what message Jesus was attempting to convey.
A few comments ago you were adamant that Origen is 'technically' not a father of the church. I told you he is regarded as a father of the church, provided you with evidence that categorically proves it, and pointed out the error in the source article you quoted from. I think it's reasonable to ask you to address that. Do you now accept that Origen is in fact regarded to be a father of the church?
DonW, let me explain. I appreciate what seems like an admission within your correction of me. (Though I don't recall saying that you said that every Christian in the early church adhered perfectly to the doctrine of absolute pacifism. So its not a correction.) You quote including that was, "I did not say, nor have I ever said, that every Christian in the early church adhered perfectly to that doctrine. That would be a ludicrous suggestion for me to make, and I have not made it." Yet your views throughout this discussion, would have to be just that however, for them to carry the weight that you think your evidence supplies for your view. I am glad you think it would be ludicrous, as would I, that all early Christians would not have at some point in over 300 years used some form of force to save their or some other innocents life from murder. It might have happened even 10 times, in all that time. (Or hundreds, or more in over 300 years....)
It almost seems that you have more recently been suggesting that I need to prove some kind of evidence for this to be true. I think, as you do now too evidently, that such evidence is not required to know this is true.
I have been focusing on early Christians, not the early Church necessarily, because I don't think the Church Fathers always have in mind what is truly representative of all authentic Christians in history.
Please ask me about my arguments if you would, as opposed to telling me what they are and then reminding me, because they are not always fully correct. I have said it before, that I don't believe the handful of evidences you have given makes the case that the early Christians lived and died living out absolute pacifism even in the face of death of innocents. You never gave it a qualifier before this last comment which is the undoing of the view I think. It can't be all the things, all at the same time. This is how I see things.
My view throughout this discussion has been that the early church supported absolute pacifism. I'm unsure why that caused you to believe I think no early Christian ever committed violence. Like you, I think it's obvious that individuals within Christianity (or any religion) do not always adhere to the formal doctrine of their religion.
So to clarify, when I say 'the early church supported . . .' I am referring to the formal doctrine of the early church, as expressed through the church fathers and early church leaders. In the same way that when someone says 'the Catholic church supports . . .' they are referring to the doctrine of the Catholic church, not the individual beliefs and behaviour of every single member of the Catholic church. I take responsibility for this misunderstanding because I assumed that the distinction was obvious.
Clearly then I don't believe the 'weight' of my view is diminished by the fact that it's likely some individuals in the early church did not adhere to church doctrine. I think that is obvious, and have thought so all along. But historical evidence suggests that many did adhere to absolute pacifism, and that this doctrine only changed after Christianity became the state religion of Rome.
So you're right, I'm not interested in historical evidence that individual Christians were not absolute pacifists. I agree, that is undoubtedly the case. I am interested in historical evidence that relates to what the early church establishment supported, i.e. those people who were key figures in the formation of the church. The church leaders, the father's of the church etc. So if you are aware of any evidence relating to the approach to violence taken by the early church (as expressed by the church fathers, or early church leaders) then I'd be happy to see it, as the views expressed by these figures are the closest thing we have to something representing the doctrine of the early church.
You say 'I don't think the Church Fathers always have in mind what is truly representative of all authentic Christians in history'. The church fathers were the early church. That is why they are called the church fathers. And the fact that the early Christian church approach to violence is at odds with the later (post-Constantine) church is exactly my point. There was a significant change in doctrine that coincided with Christianity becoming the official religion of the Roman state.
It is not only the timing of that change, but also the nature of the change. We know that later church 'interpretations' of the gospel were formalised in the ecunimical councils called by Constantine when Christianity became the official religion of Rome. But the nature of changes to doctrine also (coincidentally?) happened to suite the Roman state perfectly. You (and the post-Constantine church) appear to want to distance yourselves from the approach to violence expressed by the church fathers. You have explained your reasons for doing so, and I appreciate the explanation. But that desire does not change the fact that those leaders were (and are still) considered to be 'fathers of the church'. It is for this reason that I consider the approach taken by the early church (as expressed by the church fathers etc.) to be more authentic than the post-Constantine approach.
Not according to you, just one post earlier. One post earlier, they were "significant in the formation of the church" and "they represent the church". The truth is - They were assorted teachers, bishops, apologists, writers, theologians and even some heretics. But conveniently, according to you, only six or seven, and only the ones before Constantine, count, even if they were heretics. Specifically, the ones that you quote mined that did not like Christians being soldiers in pagan, anti-christian armies "now" have become - were the early church.
Peter, the first Pope, the Rock of which Jesus' Church was built upon, carried a sword and used it. Regardless, the Church Fathers, were not some kind of centralized, authorized and official "club" they all joined, back in them old days, it is just a descriptive phrase of some of the early teachers, across many countries and many centuries, up to at least the 7th century. One cannot apply "church fathers" selectively to only 5 or 6 and then claim "they were the early church". They are just "official church fathers" - to you, because 5 did not like Christians being soldiers, and you hope everyone else will illogically "leap to your personal conclusion" of absolute pacifism.
DonW, On page two of this thread and several times since, you have commented using the words early Christians..." One such quote from you is,"In my opinion this is the closest interpretation I have seen of authentic Christian teaching, based on the events described in the Gospel (including Jesus' own actions) and what we know of the behaviour of the earliest Christians, who would accepted persecution and death as a form of martyrdom."
So I have been responding from what I imagine was the behavior of the Christians from the first to third century, and not from different points of view of a few different church fathers. This is what I have been discussing from the beginning and that you have been responding to. You wondered about what seemed a change in the behavior of Christians. As for Church Fathers, they might sometimes reflect the truthfulness of what is going on with the whole body of Christ, but often do not. I believe the church is defined as the believers in Jesus, across the whole world. One could say they are all brothers and sisters in Christ. A very simple yet profound idea. (I think it is really kind of cool, and simple really.) Over the millenia, some have tried to control this and inserted power and corruption etc. I am not inclined to listen to such.
So like you point out in the beginning of our conversation, we are looking to find what most accurately reflects authentic Christian values, based on events in the gospels, and what we know the earliest Christians did. You pinpointed this point in history vs ever since, and so I have gone with that. Thus our whole discussion. I am not held to a few ancient Church Fathers to describe the whole of Christs actual early church. If they ever vary from the scriptures, then they will vary from what I think is authentic and what I agree with. There is a teaching that encourages Christians to test everything anyway, for this very reason, because people and leaders can say all sorts of things.
I think there might be an assumption still in play, that those that would have defended innocent life from murder (The view I am defending), are going against some formal doctrine in scriptures. This case has to be made first, so I don't see you agreeing with me when you say, "Like you, I think it's obvious that individuals within Christianity (or any religion) do not always adhere to the formal doctrine of their religion." That is not what I think is obvious at all. It makes it sound like if Christians didn't adhere to what some early Church father's thought, then they might not be authentic Christians. I don't think that is what makes an authentic Christian.
I thought when you were talking about early Christians, you meant just the whole of Christians of that time because of how you worded things. Christians seemed to be lumped together as being absolute pacifists then and as being authentic. This implies that Christians that are not absolute pacifists are not authentic Christians. I am sensing a morphing somewhat from your original wording to be more specific to a few church fathers from that time. So you see our disconnect more clearly I hope, as do I. You wouldn't have any argument from me if you just wanted to share your opinion as matching that of a few church fathers of that time, assuming those arguments carry through and weren't about anything else that would explain their position. I know how I am framing this is not how you are exactly framing it now. I am framing it by combining your words, and what you are arguing for now and since the beginning of this convo.
I think that doctrines can be perverted into many things, and almost always has been. Perverted or twisted doctrines have had to be corrected as early as the New Testament epistles. The writers of those letters showed believers to test them and because problems ensued. This is why I answer to scriptures and God only in such matters, though I will definitely listen to what other believers have to say if they think I am wrong, or any pastor, etc. I believe a person is an authentic Christian based on what Christ said. Humans have a tendency to complicate it or distort it though which makes many think that is what its all about, and then choose miss out on the gift of Christ.
So we know that some authentic Christians in an over 300 year time frame that likely believed in the words of Jesus, might have had to fight for their lives and the lives of other innocents at the hands of murderers (My view). We can find some evidence of Church Fathers that showed some of the opposite maybe occurring for a variety of reasons which might have been driven by the belief in absolute pacifism.
I don't believe like you necessarily, that the Church Fathers WERE the early Church. I find from reading the scriptures in the most simple and straightforward manner I can, that the church is made up of those that follow Jesus and believe in him. To me, this appears to be the most accurate measuring tool I can find, along with reason and logic. As for voices from down the ages that might or might not have spoken for the whole group, that can be illuminating to a degree, but may not be helpful in judging who are authentic or non authentic Christians. The scriptures, and life of Jesus seems the best measuring tool (with reason and logic). You seemed to be after the authentic, most of all. So am I. So we have that in common at least.
I appreciate that you have been discussing what you imagine was the behavior of the Christians from the first to third century. I have been discussing that too, but only inasmuch as such behaviour was driven by the doctrine of the church. In all honesty your confusion on this confuses me, because I see it all as being interlinked. The behaviour of the individuals within the early church was meant to be (according to how the church was structured) driven by the doctrine of the early church, which itself was determined by the interpretations of Jesus' teachings, as expressed by theologians and those members of the community with specific roles within the church (the clergy).
So I see all four things in the early church being linked in this way: Jesus' teachings > interpretations of Jesus' teachings by theologians/clergy > doctrine of the church > behaviour of individuals. I believe this flow was hierarchical, with Jesus and his teachings at the top, the behaviour of individuals at the bottom, and the clergy or theologians occupying the middle (only in relation to the organisation of the church, not in terms of Christian virtue). Perhaps best expressed as a diagram with a pyramid shape(?). Anyway, diagrammatics aside, the point is that within the early Christian church there was a link between doctrine and individual behaviour.
So while I see the behaviour of individuals as important, I see the views of those who developed church doctrine (and we cannot forget the writers who refer to that doctrine) as key. Because by understanding that doctrine, we can ascertain how scripture was interpreted by the early church. By determining how scripture was interpreted, we can determine which interpretation is closest to that of the early (original) church, i.e. which is more 'authentic'.
That's why I think the original question about authenticity hinges on references to early church doctrine, and the views of those who developed it. Some of those people happen to be called church fathers. My interest in them is only because of their significance within the church, not because of any titles they may have.
And this is what I meant when I said that they were the church. I was not referring to the concept of the 'mystical body of christ' (made up of those who follow Jesus). I was referring to the (more mundane) structure of the early church as an organisation, with its catechumens (Christian converts under instruction before baptism), laymen (non ordained members of the church), deacons (servants of the church), presbyters (elders), and bishops (overseers of Christian communities). The doctrine of the church would have cut across all of these different roles as it was effectively a guide on how to live, based on Jesus' teachings. So it was essential, and is an important clue as to how scripture was interpreted.
I think the early doctrine of the church was very simple, and became progressively more complex. As I said previously, I think early Christian doctrine was simply based around emulating Jesus. In relation to war and violence I think it was a case of: 'Did Jesus harm anyone with violence, even when he had reason to? No. Therefore we must not harm people with violence'. Perhaps not worded quite as simplistic as that, but I think the general principle was that simple. Some historical evidence available (the views of those who formed church doctrine, and references to that doctrine) indicates that the aversion to violence among Christians in the early church was not restricted to war and military service, but was a doctrine of absolute pacifism in general:
Tertullian asks: 'If we are enjoined to love our enemies, whom have we to hate? If injured we are forbidden to retaliate. Who then can suffer injury at our hands?'
Minucius Felix says: 'It is not right for us either to see or hear a man being killed.'
Writings like these represent glimpses of what church doctrine was. The fact that the writing from this period which relates to war and violence is anti-military, anti-war, anti killing indicates that early Christians were not supposed to cause harm by violence. Combine this with other historical evidence, such as the accounts of Christians refusing to harm others with violence (fighting gladiators) to save their own lives. It all adds up to a picture that suggests that early Christians were not expected to harm others by violence, even in defense of their own lives. Is this picture perfect? No. The fog of time makes it difficult to get a clear view, and there are lots of gaps in it. But faced with two opposing propositions, it is reasonable to make a determination based on the preponderance of evidence (just as we do in other cases of history).
In those terms, the historical evidence suggesting that absolute pacifism was an established doctrine of the early Christian church outweighs evidence suggesting selective militarism was. In fact, to date I am unaware of any available historical evidence that suggests selective militarism was an established doctrine of the early church. For that reason, it is reasonable to conclude that absolute pacifism was the doctrine of the early church, rather than selective militarism.
If additional historical evidence is found, and the evidence indicating selective militarism outweighs other evidence, then of course our view of history can change, as sometimes happens. Until then, I believe reason dictates the conclusion I have reached.
Remember, I'm not advocating anything here. I'm simply talking about what, from an historical perspective, is more authentic. For me it's a matter of historical record, not a value judgement.
DonW, before you had discussed about how the early Christians must have had the words of Jesus or the writings, at their disposal. I wasn't so sure of that, but you and Emile seemed to defend that idea. I believe that at least oral tradition was strong, and they did know what Jesus said and taught. So I am running with that idea too. So I am not sure how I am any more confused than you, on what we are discussing. I place interpretations and doctrines of Church fathers a little lower down on the list, and trust the early Christians had access to some truth themselves, is my point.
I understand your view now places high importance on what you believe the clergy taught people. With this distinction in play, then how could anyone argue that the clergy taught what they taught if you are quoting them? Can opposite views be found also? In essence, it seems you are saying then that its shifted a little bit from the actions of early Christians to the teachings of the clergy and then the response therefore from Christians. The clergy was either teaching the truth from Jesus or not. So we can test those things against the scriptures.
This is why I think people interpreting for themselves as best they can is a higher priority, because the more people and interpretations you add to the mix, the more confusion or distortion can occur. I see your link, or progression there and that is helpful in presenting your view or clarifying it. However, you can also see how if the clergy got it wrong, then in the case of the Christians themselves might or might not be following their teachings/interpretations. We still know that not all agreed with absolute pacifism even if it was taught by all Church Fathers, which is all I need for my view to stand.
I fully understand what you are saying. So it seems you are really defending the idea then that you agree with the clergy you quoted, and that they having the more authentic view of what Christi taught than those that might have fought for their lives against murderers. (My view.)
I take interpretations on case by case. I don't automatically agree with all just because they are early interpretations, like I place a high value on earlier manuscripts, say. I guess it is about what we each decide what merits more "weight" in our thinking.
Don, you said, "By determining how scripture was interpreted, we can determine which interpretation is closest to that of the early (original) church, i.e. which is more 'authentic'." I take that statement along with everything else you have said, to say that you think the interpretations of the early church are more authentic than interpretations that came later. I don't know why that would be the case however, and why they wouldn't just be one of many possible interpretations? I am going after why you think it is to be of elevated importance in these matters of life and death.
I can see why it is a reference point for some, but I hope you can see why its not necessarily a reference point worth hinging such huge matters on, after my explanation. I look at each Christian as having a relationship with God, and can technically take the church out of the picture and still very much have an authentic Christian that just has the words of God at their disposal and his other revelation.
I understand you weren't referring to the church fathers as the body of Christ. I shared my view on what I think makes up the true Church. I think the greater family of God is the Church. Jesus spoke a great deal of his followers knowing his voice, and how they will be united with him when he returns, etc. This can all take place technically without any church fathers or organizations or powerful leaders, etc. Its individual relationship I think. God knows who his children are, and they do also. The pastors, priests, etc, can be helpful and have a very huge responsibility on their shoulders for the simple fact that people do look to them for truth so often. They are human though and can get it wrong.
The reasons I am stressing this "bare bones" view in this conversation, is in no way to minimize all the roles within churches you mentioned. It is because I think the bare bones is a more common denominator for the greater church of Christ for all people alive today and from back at the beginning, and therefore speaks for all. My view allows for all authentic Christians to be included that may not have a church in their area, now or back then. I know its not your focus, but I am explaining why it is mine, when we talk about the behavior of the early and authentic Christians.
This ongoing suggestion of needing to show Jesus as harming someone with violence for my view to stand, doesn't make sense to me. We have three years of his life to observe. We don't see from those years an actual example of what I or others are defending here. He did allude to protecting your house from thieves in Matthew, and knew his disciples had and carried swords like was the custom for self defense at least from thieves and beasts. Did Jesus ever have reason to harm with violence, as you say? We have discussed in great detail the reason he went as an innocent to the cross, and he answered that for us in his own words. We don't see Jesus and the disciples in situations where my view even comes into play. Not that is recorded anyway.
In John 10:17-18 we see Jesus say:
"17The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. 18No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father."
I don't think he would make it more clear about his very distinct, once in a lifetime mission, where no one is taking his life. It appears that way, but he is laying his life down. Jesus in full control, evil was not in control and taking a back seat. (Rightly so!) Jesus is conquering evil, not letting evil have free reign over him. Taking on the wrath of God for judgement of sins of all mankind of all time. God made a way, and had a plan when we are the guilty ones. This whole thing doesn't weigh in on the idea of absolute pacifism for us today. If we let people just kill us that want to, how are we accomplishing anything good? Its a point that has to be shown wrong, and until it is, appears to stand on its own to me.
We don't have an example in Jesus to see how he exactly dealt with being almost killed outside of the salvation story, or that of another innocent right before his eyes. We don't see him blocking some blows in a fight, or a person robbing the house of Lazarus and his sisters some night. A huge leap is continuing to be made, that absolute pacifism is a "take away" from the life of Jesus. We do see he promoted good and fought evil in general. One would have to be able to show that its best to allow evil to overcome the innocent, in at least ONE example for the case for absolute pacifism to be made. Jesus predicted and explained to his disciples exactly what was going to happen to him. The differences from him to us in the one example of the crucifixion is astounding.
If you want to make the case of Tertullian there, can you explain how it is more loving to let our enemies just kill us? I don't believe in the teachings of Tertullian, though that quote you share above would be very attractive to some terrorists or terrorist defenders in our world today. Also, in my defense of my view, I am not talking simply of being injured, it hinges more on loss of life. I would hope you would always want to defend the innocent in all situations, and not side with the people that would want to kill.
As for the quote from Minucius Felix that says, "It is not right for us to see or hear a man being killed," I think that defends my view, that we shouldn't let innocents just die at the hands of killers! To add, by allowing a killer to kill, there will likely be more to follow. To argue against my view, would mean to argue for more deaths of innocents. This is not debatable, and obvious to me. Its the world we live in.
I will continue to respect your right to side what your interpretations of some from the past, be they Church Fathers or other figures. I haven't seen a reason to abandon my views which allows for more freedom and allowance to live for the innocent in the world, vs the killers of the world. I can't ever see myself coming over to a view that in essence gives the preference to murderers, and don't see how Jesus would have pushed such a view.
What is your view of harming Christians with violence then? You have focused much on what you think authentic Christians should do when faced with violence. You say, "It all adds up to a picture that suggests that early Christians were not expected to harm others by violence, even in defense of their own lives." So we are still kind of where we were at the beginning. You admit its not a perfect picture, but keep pushing that it is the most authentic. I will leave you to that view. I don't share your view. I don't think the fog of time makes these ideas so hard to understand. In fact, I think your view demands another view that would explain it.
If you want to continue to propose the view you think you have nailed down about the early church, then you can certainly do that. It seems pinpointing a particular set of quotes however, to speak for a larger span of time and people, while not addressing the rebuttals of why it might make a lot less sense. I see a repeating of the case made prior, and I find myself repeating how it seems a much more immoral view than a moral view to choose to side with. It is a chosen view based on a few quotes, that if followed, would allow for some very horrible atrocities to be committed onto a group. Crimes against humanity could ensue, with supposed justification. Ongoing, I have seen you describe my view as selective militarism, which puts me in a losing situation in this argument. Then say I haven't given support for selective militarism in the early church, likely knowing full well that Christians in a state of persecution, in the early church weren't in a position to raise up their own armies anyway. It makes sense to me there weren't armies with which to fight in, and its not my point I am defending anyway. Only the right to not have to die at the hands of a murderer.
You are not advocating anything here? After all you have said? Can we just agree to disagree that authentic Christians can fight for their lives, and probably have since they came into being? That is my stance you have been arguing against. I am not arguing against your view that some quotes can be found to back a view you are choosing to side with the interpretations of some early church Fathers. I accept you are doing just that, and have seen it as you make the case over and over.
I think logic, reason and the scriptures and the philosophy of Jesus not letting evil win in harming humanity, is an authentic view for me (or any of us) to strive for. Even if you are right, thank God the views of those church fathers has ceased since the first to third centuries! It would allow for the wholesale slaughter of Christians which as this last weeks news shows, is very much a desire of some people, when they beheaded those 21 Christian men. Jesus said in Matthew 24:43 "But know this, that if the goodman of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up." How much more would Jesus say about 21 people being beheaded for their beliefs, if he said that about a thief not allowing his house to be broken up?"
I'm glad you understand why I focused on doctrine.
Thanks for sharing your view on the clergy vs. personal interpretation. I agree, although the early church was very structured, I know lots of Christians today who are not part of an organised church, choosing instead to interpret and apply the teaching of Jesus as they understand it. In my view it would be silly not to regard such people as Christians, so I can understand your perspective. I'm only relating the structure of the early church because that is what was common then.
I'm not advocating anything, but I can see why you think that. Let me explain with a different example. Historical evidence suggests the majority of Romans were pagans who worshiped multiple gods like Jupiter, Mars, Venus etc. I would describe paganism practiced by Romans as more 'authentic' than the modern forms of paganism, not because I think worshipping Jupiter and Mars is 'right' or 'better' but because that was part of the original rituals and religious practices of pagans in that part of the world. If you disagreed on what those practices where, I would present you with historical evidence that supports my view and ask you to present historical evidence to support yours. None of that would mean I am advocating paganism. My assertion that Roman Pagans worshipped Jupiter etc. is a matter of historical accuracy, not a value judgement on paganism as a belief system. Exactly the same is true of my assertion that the early Christian church supported absolute pacifism.
The waters may have been muddied by the three different strands to your argument. The last few comments have focused on the historical and scriptural, but before that you focused on what you considered to be logical. To do that you tried to show that absolute pacifism is not logical because it could not address modern issues of violence (e.g. Hitler). I tried to show that is a poor example, because an absolute pacifist approach among Christians in Germany would have prevented WWII from starting in the first place. I think you mistook this for advocating absolute pacifism. Instead I was challenging one of the three strands on which you were rejecting the idea that the early Christian church supported absolute pacifism. In the same way I have challenged the other strands of your argument (scriptural and historical).
It also seems clear we are using the word 'authentic' in different ways. I am using it in the sense of something being original, which is why I have said a few times that I am referring to what is 'closest to the original'. You said 'I think logic, reason and the scriptures and the philosophy of Jesus not letting evil win in harming humanity, is an authentic view for me (or any of us) to strive for. ' So you seem to be using 'authentic' to mean what is 'right' or 'better'. Determining whether absolute pacifism is 'right' or 'better' than another approach to violence, is a value judgement. I am not making a value judgement.
I find the case being made against absolute pacifism using scriptures to be very weak. If Jesus knew his disciples had swords, he would not have needed to tell them to buy some. And if the disciples carried swords, they would not have said they only have two. Also, he referred to not letting a house get broken into. He made no reference to harming the thief: 'But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into.' Not letting a house get broke into is not synonymous with harming someone with violence.
In relation to emulating Jesus, I think it is clear that early Christians believed Jesus was the perfect example that should be followed. Even if you think that is a misunderstanding of the gospel message on their part, the reasons for them taking that view (which I believe they did) are obvious. I refer you back to your own sacred text:
'Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ'. (Corinthians 11:1)
'To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps'. (Peter 2:21–25)
'The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him'. (Romans 8:16)
'I want to know Christ better. Yes, I want to know the power that raised him from the dead. I want to join him in his sufferings. I want to become like him by sharing in his death. Then by God’s grace I will rise from the dead'. (Philippians 3:10-11)
If I was one of the Philippians, or Corinthians, or Romans listening to Paul's letters being read out (around 51 AD) by an elder of the community, I think I might take them to mean that I should try to be like Jesus and even 'join him in his sufferings'. If I was in a congregation that the epistle of Peter was read out to (in 80 AD), again I think I might believe that it is instructing me to 'follow in [Jesus'] footsteps'. It is on the basis of such epistles that early church doctrine was formed, which informed the members of the congregation. This is why I believe early Christian congregations (in Corinth, Philippi, Rome etc.) believed that they should emulate Jesus. That simply seems to be the message being conveyed. It's also important to note that some of these texts were written while some of the original Apostles would have been still alive. This was also before the earliest known Gospel account (Mark) was written. And before the 'New Testament', on which the view of modern Christianity is based, existed as we know it.
So if we look at the early Christian church view, we see the 'bare bones' understanding that Jesus was the son of god who showed perfect obedience, perfect humility and perfect love. Perfect obedience in doing god's will despite a very human dread of death and suffering. Perfect humility in putting others before himself, and perfect love in laying down his life to redeem all of humanity. I understand that last one is considered by Christians to be the greatest act of love in the history of the world. It is 'the good news' that the word Gospel translates into. And what form did it take, this act of love? Jesus didn't fight to liberate the Jews and early Christian church from Roman persecution. He told people to 'love thy neighbour', and then did exactly that, even as his 'neighbours' were killing him.
If early Christians understood that to be the greatest act of love, then regardless of what you think of that understanding, their refusal to use violence as their own 'neighbors' were killing them, is simply an attempt to be obedient to how they believed their master had told them (and showed them) to live. It may be your opinion that they were mistaken in that believe, but it does not change the fact that this is what the early church seems to have believed. And it is, I believe, the best explanation of the historical evidence we have from that time which shows that local authorities were perplexed by the apparent reluctance of Christians to fight and their willingness to die.
To avoid any confusion, I'm not saying that behaviour was 'good' or 'bad', I am saying that is seems to be the perspective of the early Christian church which formed just after the time of Jesus' death.
My view on harming Christians? Well another slight correction, I have not stated what I think authentic Christians 'should' do when faced with violence. That is a value judgement. I have said what I think early Christians did do, and that is a big difference. I am making an 'is' statement not an 'ought' statement as the philosopher David Hume would have put it.
In relation to what I think the early Church did do, I don't think it discriminated in who it believed should not be harmed by violence. For early Christians I think that was the whole point of Jesus' message. That changed after Constantine. Once Christianity became the state religion of Rome, those who practiced other religions were killed by the 'Christian' authorities. This paved the way for the persecution of non-Christians (including Jews) by Christians soon after. I do not believe the early church would have deemed such practices in-keeping with the teachings of Jesus. And there is nothing in the Gospel that leads me to believe that such practices are in keeping with the teachings of Jesus.
You have mentioned several times that absolute pacifism among early Christians doesn't make sense because it allows 'very horrible atrocities to be committed onto a group'. Such atrocities were committed against early Christians, who were persecuted under Nero and others. If you are correct, and the early church did not support absolute pacifism, that demonstrates that such atrocities take place regardless of an absolute pacifist approach. If you are incorrect, and absolute pacifism was supported by the early church, then the fact Christianity is now the largest religion in the world belies your suggestion that absolute pacifism does not make sense. If the goal was to spread Christianity to as many people as possible, then clearly absolute pacifism was very effective for the early church in that regard.
Either way, we know that violence is not what stopped the persecution of Christians by the Romans. It was the conversion of Constantine, who was influenced by his mother St. Helena. I find it ironic, given the subject under discussion, that the source of Christianity becoming the religion of the Roman empire, was a mother passing on what she believed to her son. How mighty oaks from little acorns grow. And actually I think that saying pretty much sums up the approach of the early Christian church.
DonW, I appreciate all the time you have taken to discuss this with me and in such great detail, etc. My hope at this point is to give at least a partial summing up of our differences and maybe even some agreements.
I think a lot of what this all boils down to is our definitions and then what we think constitutes proof for our claims, and then how we perceive what the other person is even arguing for or against. I am pretty confident we are not even arguing on two sides of the same coin. In my own stance against the idea that "Christians ought to practice absolute pacifism in the face of death when fighting for one's life or that of another innocent if it can be prevented", I think I have defended that idea. In your stance that you believe the early church supported even absolute pacifism like that, based upon a few instances of church fathers quotes, I understand that you believe you have totally made your case.
In the parsing out of the particulars that help us to fully understand what it is we are talking about exactly, I think lies the answers to these things. For instance, how we even define "early Christians" and "early Church." You define it one way, I define it another. So naturally, we will come up with differing answers on what they did and didn't do, using logic, reason, and quotes from early Church fathers, in over 300 years.
Also, how we look at Jesus seems to be very different from one another. How we look at his death and resurrection, and especially how we look at the "why" of all of that. Can what Jesus accomplished, be copied in the first place? Was he laying down his innocent life (when he could call on all things in heaven and earth to defend him) to SHOW us how to lay down our own when people want to murder us? Understand I am not asking these things again to you, I am presenting particulars, that I think the answers lie within. I think its like asking Christians to copy one thing, but for what turns out to be different reasons than Jesus did. (To me, illogical on many points.) So even if some early Church father's agree with you, I would disagree with them also.
(More hypothetical ?'s) Also, does a Christian being fed to a lion, or being crucified, even weigh in on this subject at all, if they would have rather have lived and shared the truth of the gospel of Christ with others instead? I imagine that most that were fed to lions, or any other brutal torture and death, would have rather have lived. To me, being forcefully taken against your will and having those things done to you, while it CAN spread the gospel of Christ because of the truth it shows to all around, doesn't mean it defends any case against my stance. Even if some could be shown to think that lining up to die in such ways, would further the gospel, I still don't think it makes the case against my view. It may make a case for your view however, depending on what you use/insist makes the case for yours. We might differ a little there also.
I think my view lines up (and not inconsistent) with the two greatest commandments also. From Luke 10:25-28
"On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
“What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”
He answered, “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’ ; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.”
“You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”
I also think we have a differing view on what making a value judgement looks like. On page two of this thread, where you first responded to Lonestar's comment, is a good example. This is why I thought you would argue to defend the view to the degree we see. If your only goal was to show me that some early Church fathers have quotes that might defend your views on absolute pacifism (with one I thought supported my view) for the early Christians/Church, then I think you made your case early on. Yet in my (over the top almost) re-clarifying my own view, and your continual responding to that as if it was wrong, made it seem like you had some value judgements within the arguments. So this is partly why I think we look at value judgements differently.
With all our disagreements however, (which to me explains why there's no consensus on what seems easy to understand), we have maintained a tone throughout which I really appreciate. You have not done what a lot of people do when disagreements ensue on these threads so often, and resorted to tactics. (Which to me is like waving a white flag of surrendering up one's view anyway.) So that actually saved us a lot of time, grief, etc, which again I really appreciate. While we don't agree on all things, this is actually the kind of conversation I wish I could have more of, with people that disagree with me, and it gives more credibility, respect, etc.
So anyway, I understand where you are coming from, and think we have (I hope) some things to think on, and even others as well. As for the OP, and turning the other cheek to the point of becoming a doormat, perhaps some Christians really did, and didn't live to tell about it. I worry that with the evil we see in the world, that the wholesale slaughter of many would be in play (allowing a great evil) if more didn't adopt the views I hold, vs their opposite. Even if you are 100% right on all counts, I sure am glad those views were short lived because I think evil (especially the kind we are talking about) is something worth fighting very hard.
Thank you for polite and decent discussion that promotes deeper thinking and research and searching out of truth. It means a lot!
If our face is getting eaten by someone crazed out on bath salts should we offer them the other cheek? Be a good Christian? Have faith? Love our enemy? Lack of trust in God? I trust in God to give me the courage and strength to be as violent as it takes to save myself or anyone else in that position. God says for me to have faith, He mentions nothing of being sadistic, stupid or a victim. I do not think peoples consciences are so weak that they can be convinced or guilt tripped into believing unsubstantiated opinion.
In certain situations you might want to negotiate, in others you might want to run for your life.
In others you have to use your martial arts skills, and if you need your gun, well, you need your gun.
Too bad if you are not carrying yours when the zombi apocalypse hits.
Yea, ya gotta be pragmatic. If you can run, or avoid violence, or can talk your way out of it, or whatever it takes, if you have to fight then do your best, especially if you have to fight to protect some innocent child or person.. Followers of Jesus or Christians are to live and tell the good news, they are not High Priests, that give their lives as a substitutionary atonement. They do not have the authority to do that.
I hope you don't mind me saying so, but I think the word you are looking for, instead of ego, is egocentric, or thinking only of oneself, without regard for the feelings or desires of others, which is being self-centered
What should we do about the terrorists?
Perhaps it is a matter of "giving to Caesar what is Caesar's." Perhaps politics and religion is separate in regards to protecting one's country and the countries of others.
How are we supposed to protect our country from invaders?
What if we hadn't fought the British in the revolutionary war?
What if we hadn't fought Hitler?
If the we is a united collective then turning the other cheek is the way to go aways.
But yet you are part of the we (collective) who does not believe in turning the other cheek always.
Get rid of the dilemma and you will see clearly.
Terrorists? Do you mean the CIA and their black ops (Al Qaeda, ISIS, etc)?
Or do you mean the Rockefellers and Rothschilds?
Why not make more people aware of as much truth and facts as we can muster so that they don't react as self-concerned and fearful individuals might, but merely observe and turn the other cheek to such scare-mongering. That way, they won't jump from the frying pan into the fire.
But ultimately, if we turn the other cheek, and love others as if they were ourselves, then everyone will be taken care of. This won't happen overnight, but it can happen eventually, if we each start now. If we take each of our egoistic desires and convert them one by one to altruistic and loving desires, then we can build a force of good and love for the world.
Our physical bodies will die, but our continuity of consciousness can be established, if we are able to remove ego entirely.
The Jewish don't teach to turn the other cheek, not in the way the Western churches do.
Most churches think it means to allow others to hurt you over and over without resistance
Leviticus 19:18 says
Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I am the Lord.
We are told to love our neighbor as much as we love ourselves
If we allow someone to hurt us over and over, it'll be hard to love that person, and God knows this.
What this means, is the same as Leviticus, if someone hurts you in any way (slapping is only an example), we are not to avenge ourselves, or hold a grudge against our people
Love God with your whole heart, and soul, love your neighbor, and keep God's laws and commandments
I often wonder what someone of the previous generation would say to all of our musings. Thats what I mean. They had a lot of common sense which we do not tap into into very much any more. My generation rebelled against them so throughly and all they stood for. I wonder if we didn't go overboard.
Wouldn't it be hilarious, (but enlightening in a revisited kind of a way,) if an 84 year old (or older) came on board here in the Forums?
I can just see it now:
"You do what you have to do when you have to do it! You send in the troops and you get the job done. You don't wait around like a crying scared infant. If you have to put troops on the borders to keep out the blankety-blank terrorsts, then put troops on the blankety blank-borders. Whats wrong with you people? Never had to walk five miles to school and back again in the snow? Never had to entertain yourselves with books, board games and each other? Oh no! You want everything now / yesterday and for someone else to do it. Well, it takes hard work for whatever you want in this life and if you don't work hard for it you don't get it! if you want peace and prospertity well, then GET BUSY!"
Yep. Thats what any one of them would say.
and what would we say in response?
" Yawn... make love, not war, gramps."
On what part are you serious? A Question " what would an 80..."or the answer "You do what..."
How-about if you wait another five months and one of us will reach the age when God could use Moses ...
Dear Michael Milec:
<" What would Jesus do "- leads to what He has said to His listeners as we read of His action (John 18:23) He did not slavishly follow the letter of it... instead He asked a question " why did you strike me ?" ( In practical sense, my opinion : You have my other cheek, however if you won't stop there,
you might face consequences…")
I would agree with this, but as far as I can see, this is not typical of today's thinking.
(Maybe I am wrong.)
I just think we need to secure our borders and we aren't...
and no one seems to care. Perhaps because we have a "make love not war" type of attitude handed down from the hippie generation, (mine.) Of course, I do not like war either.. especially when waged for economic/(greed) reasons alone.
However, I am for some type of positive action When Called For.
I am really just trying to find out how we are going to deal with encroaching terrorism.
By turning the other cheek with no consequences and as lone star wrote?
<:" When you turn the other cheek with love of the one striking you and with infinite, unconditional generosity, you rise above being a victim."> Your body may be destroyed, but you are not hurt at all.
This is true for an individual, because our spirits go on forever.. But, what about for a nation of people defending that nation for the sake of posterity?
Dear Kathryn L Hill, after reconsidering the topic including my contribution to it I have realized there isn't a ' quick fix'' to the issue. Difficulty begins when "we" the readers miss the fact that Jesus is not speaking in chapters or verses but giving in this case a "blueprint " to the " Repent, for the kingdom of heaven / God has drawn near ." (Matt. 5:3- 7:27 in translations' version , appears as a ONE LONG SENTENCE, original Concordant Greek Text). Another difficulty lies in not seeing that he is NOT speaking to "us" (nowadays or previously organized christians) , but in His Discourse specifically he addresses those who know their spiritual need; the mourners; the meek; those who hunger and thirst for what is right; those who show mercy; the pure in heart; the peace makers as well as those who are persecuted because they do what is right (Matt. 5:3-10) just to mention some . He has in mind a "New chosen race, a royal priesthood, a dedicated nation, God's own purchased, special people, that you may set forth the wonderful deeds and display the virtues and perfections of him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light." These are in His perspective " Perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect, " 5:48. (Notice please a " family'" relationship, the God's family once we call Him " Our Father in heaven..." Also somewhere in this public talk we hear Jesus saying " your Father , who sees what is done in secret, will reward you."
Now, in my humble opinion Jesus in full confidence it will happen talking to "His king of people" - "" turn the other cheek..."" I would like to quote - almost entirely the ' lone 77 star's' comments in this forum, so well explained and so well said in agreement with the Master's demand.
Recalling my previous statement "what would Jesus do," (J.18:23)- not turning other cheek occurred to lead to more severe none resisting since His suffering was ultimate way into the glorious life which in our case is at the stage of hope and belief ...
( Here I am learning something new what i have seen differently previously...)
The "age" doesn't matter, our inner- spirit man is the same age forever; do not look at the body's beginning...
*Take ACTION against wrong doers who would stop your path toward God. Try to help them, but in the end…
" If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses. If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church,
... treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector."
* In devotng oneself to Spirit, one must take ACTION against one's family members:
"Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. A man's enemies will be the members of his own household.
* Example of when Jesus took ACTION in defense of His Fathers house: Matthew 21 :12 ______
"Then Jesus went into the Temple, threw out everyone who was selling and buying in the Temple, and overturned the moneychangers' tables and the chairs of those who sold doves."
(Jesus cleansed the temple of the money-changers and sellers of merchandise because of His disgust at what they had made of God’s house of prayer and His zeal to purify it from the abuse of ungodly men. Judea was under the rule of the Romans, and the money in current use was Roman coin. However, the Jewish law required that every man should pay a tribute to the service of the sanctuary of “half a shekel” (Exodus 30:11-16), a Jewish coin. It became, therefore, a matter of convenience to have a place where the Roman coin could be exchanged for the Jewish half shekel. The money-changers provided this convenience, but would demand a small sum for the exchange. Because so many thousands came up to the great feasts, changing money was a very profitable business and one that resulted in fraud and oppression of the poor.)
From: http://www.gotquestions.org/temple-clea … z3Mq7yfr2U
PS Call to ACTION by Jesus: "The laborers are few but the harvest is abundant:"
Never be a doormat. It just enables people to be crummy. By being a doormat you become a willing partner in the other person continuing to be doing something bad. So it is not helping them, only the opposite. Also people are more inclined to listen to a message from someone that is confident. There is a difference between patience, kindness, not returning evil for evil and being just a doormat. Where to draw the line is based on the individuals involved TWISI
On a physical level, it makes perfect sense. If you want to remain a physical cog in the universe, continue with that. By your self-concern, you are contributing to the evil.
When you truly turn the other cheek, you are rising above the ability to be a doormat. A doormat is physical and at effect. Turning the other cheek returns you to your spiritual nature superior to the entire physical universe.
Totally agree. Helping or allowing (enabling really) others to be just crummy, isn't good for anyone, including the one being crummy. There are some really evil people in the world, looking for anyone to just dump on. Some don't even have consciences, so they will carry on hurting others.
I agree with you, and you have provided scripture to back up your beliefs
I would like to add that first we have to value ourselves so that we will be able to mirror that love onto others, because we always mirror others, and they mirror us
We are also told to take care of our own first (ourselves, family, country)
“But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel” (1 Timothy 5:8)
How many people saying that we have to love others more than ourselves, and never fight, or go to war, would take food from their own hungry children, and give it away to their neighbors, enemies, and strangers. If they did, they would be infidels, which is true according to 1 Timothy
I just heard someone say the biggest threat to this nation is from within. Gun shooting mentally ill people have caused more harm in this country than any terrorist or force from without. This person said the King of Saudi Arabia considers terrorism to be a Muslim problem and that the Muslims will have to become very aggressive in setting standards for their religion. I would agree. Is it possible?
They need to get on this. Don't you think it will take more than turning the other cheek?
Have you ever been in a situation where turning the other cheek was an especially bad idea?
In martial arts one does not immediately engage in fighting a threatening person, one tries to walk away.
My teenage son was harassed by a trio of up-to-no good types. He raised his arm, martial arts style, (he had just taken a couple of classes,) and the trio split immediately. One time I was on a public phone near the LA Coliseum. A couple of guys walked up to me and demanded money. When I told the operator to get the police, they turned around and quickly walked away. Another time, a guy, obviously high on some substance, walked up to my VW Bug, (I had just pulled into a parking spot,) opened my door and demanded my car as he grabbed the steering wheel. I kicked him away with my foot and reached for my cell phone in my purse. (I was determined he would not steal my car as it had been stolen a few times already…) I angrily told him I was calling the police. He left.
5. Turn the other cheek...what does this phrase even mean? When would you use this tactic?
Other situations demand the use of mace.
Matthew 5:38-39 "Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also."
Jesus is speaking to people on an individual level, not telling a governing agency or government how to serve and protect it's people. Neither is it telling someone to succumb to violence. A slap on the cheek was given as an insult. As usual, this is to be considered supplementally to all of scripture, and in context, being discerned through the Spirit. For some more perspective perhaps consider:
1 Peter 2:19-23 "For this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully. For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? but if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God. For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously:"
A real time example would be here in the forums. I sometimes have a hard time applying what these verses teach in that when people go beyond discussion and become antagonistic it is better to make sure your point is well articulated for those with ears to hear, but not bother engaging those who clearly never will. Otherwise you just waste your time and detract from your point. I find, and believe we are told here that it is better to step away, ("resist not evil"), allowing your adversary the last word they will demand anyway. Presumably they have much more time than I for such concerns, and feel that last word declares their victory. Rather than a believer worrying about defending their ego, they should be content if certain the intended pearl has been placed as a treasure to be found by those who seek it.
The strongest instinct is survival, which is deeply instilled in us by natural instinct. I believe there are times we have to endure a lot, to help us grow…but..we aren’t suppose to, and we shouldn’t be doormats
These are opposite each other,- everyone born will die, if you weep, one day you will laugh, we need peace, but war becomes necessary., and we shouldn't hold grudges against someone who helps us grow
To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
2 A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
3 A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
4 A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
5 A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
6 A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
7 A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
8 A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.
9 What profit hath he that worketh in that wherein he laboureth?
10 I have seen the travail, which God hath given to the sons of men to be exercised in it.
11 He hath made every thing beautiful in his time: also he hath set the world in their heart, so that no man can find out the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end.
12 I know that there is no good in them, but for a man to rejoice, and to do good in his life.
Thanks for all your replies and musings. I love them all. I really do. Self-defense is a common sense issue. I sure we all have common sense.
And love in our hearts.
I have a feeling things are looking up for the New Year.
...at what point is turning the other cheek with love in your heart and all enabling evil?
We must be able to discern when to turn the cheek and when not to.
My neighbor allowed one person to rent a room attached to her garage, but the one person allowed two other adult family members, (a 40 yr. old daughter and a 19 yr. old granddaughter,) to move in. Now, after three months, none of them are paying a cent for living there. Only the first month's rent was paid by the father, the original and only allowed occupant of the small guest room. They are refusing to move, pay or work for their keep. My neighbor cannot afford the increased utility bills.
Turning the other cheek would be to allow them to stay. The law seems to be on their side. The sheriffs were called and since it is "now their home," (one of them is receiving mail there) the sheriffs could not ask them to leave. My neighbor was told she would have to get a lawyer and evict them, (which she cannot afford.)
It would seem that to evict them would not be "turning the other cheek." However, in my mind, turning the other cheek, by allowing them to stay, would be to enable them to act upon their sense of entitlement which they seem to have. It also would allow them to indefinitely take advantage of the home owner who is in her late seventies.
My neighbor, who is a Christian woman, will get a lawyer and evict them. Is this wrong, Lone77Star et al?
What would be the truly loving and unselfish way to deal with this situation?
Turning the other cheek?
or being a door mat?
PS She has tried to help them in many ways. Still, they will not pay or leave.
I don't have a comment on the turning the other cheek thing. Everyone interprets that differently. But, as to the squatters. In one of the apartments my dad owned there were some just like that. He finally just started removing things. He took the front door off first. Then had a sink removed. He probably would have had the toilet taken out if they hadn't moved by that time. For anyone who thinks he was evil, this was six months past the last time anyone had paid a dime in rent and by all appearances they were a bunch of druggies.
Her situation might be easier. She owns the property. I'd turn off any breakers that serviced that part of the house first. Put up a few 'no parking' signs and have any cars towed they owned, anytime they parked them in her driveway or on her property. They can certainly lay some semblance of a claim to the floor space they occupy, but nothing else.
I thought those ideas were rather clever, and would help to get a more favorable response out of a very negative situation. The people having to take action didn't bring it on themselves either, how frustrating. Ingenious ideas, and a way to not get run over by those types of people.
The law will not kick them out if they are recieving mail !!!!
One must get a lawyer and evict them. It takes about three months to evict squatters. They know this and take advantage.
That seems like a very unfair "loophole" for people such as these to be taking advantage of! A landlords ability to make changes structurally or call for a tow truck when no parking signs have been put up (etc.), could make it very hard for a person to want to remain in a place. I would worry though they might really retaliate, if these had escalated to that degree at that point though. Good grief.
Edited, you answered my other question, and refreshed my memory, lol.
Seems like a "thugs rule" kind of set up, lol. I get so annoyed when law abiding and freedom loving people have to pay for others very poor choices. "No good deed goes unpunished" seems to be at play here.
Does "turn the other cheek" mean you should tolerate injustice? Or does it mean not using violence against others, even in the face of injustice?
I would like to see this stated clearly:
"Turn the other cheek" does not mean you should tolerate injustice. It means not using violence against others, even in the face of injustice."
What about hissing at others to let them know they have crossed a line?
Just yesterday, I yelled at the nineteen year old because she got into it with me while I was with my neighbor.
Should I feel bad for asking this girl in no uncertain terms with a very loud voice why she and her family are stiil in the room? Why they have not moved out!?
She was videotaping me with her phone and at one point I pushed her arm away from my face.
Then I turned from her and got in my neighbor's car.
Am I a bad person because of this hissing / pushing?
The one condemned to forever crawl on their bellies hiss, too. Just sayin'...
I think part of that depends on how one defines "violence" in that case. In such a scenario, the person doing the maltreatment cannot be the one to define violence, because they have shown themselves to be too unfair as it is. They would often be the first to scream "violence" or great injustice being done unto them, if you try to right such a situation, even with all they had done to harm others. No fair measuring sticks seem to be allowed. Thus, its put upon the freedom and law abiding citizens to not be run over by such types. Unless the whole world is ready to just let such types rule over all, lol. Then those types would likely quarrel with each other and it would just be mass chaos till extinguished the life out of each other.
Wow, how awful. What a miserable situation. People that take advantage to this great of a degree, of others, will always push the envelope. Its like they find where a "line is drawn" and forever are tipping their foot across that line, or even just boldly skipping far across it. I don't think anyone is served well in such a situation, and such people as these that won't pay or leave even after being helped, bring misery on freedom and law abiding citizens world over. So its bad for the person being mistreated, and bad for the people doing the mistreating. Its far better to stop the "bad" in that situation, and doesn't seem to be a situation of turning the other cheek. These types of mentalities would be running the whole world in such manner, if allowed. What an awful world that would be, if ideas like that were allowed to just slide because of some people's insisted upon interpretations of scriptures of turning the other cheek.
Noted, once again, an incorrect statement in regards to the Bible. Read it again, you will find Jesus, a carpenter probably of some strength, literally, that's literally, picked up and threw folks out of the Temple, Mat 21:12; Mk 11:15.
Note, Jesus told his disciples to buy a sword for the coming times, Luke 22:36.
Note, Jesus did not tell Peter he was wrong to have a sword when he swatted the ear of Malchus. He only implied it wasn't the time to use it, John 18:10-11.
Note, back to the OP, this "turning the other cheek" has to do with either a verbal or a physical attack upon a believer who is "giving out the Gospel." Context, Mat 5.
What would Jesus Do? Don't be unctuous. Who knows! Isaiah 55:8
Why do people think that turning the other cheek means offering your face to be slapped again? I don’t think it means to let others walk all over us.
I heard a very smart, and spiritual person once say that it refers to “responding to insult without avenging oneself”
He said "that means if someone yells at you, no yelling back" If they hit you no hitting back, but you are to walk away in every situation.
Some seek the Kingdom of God or Jesus. Some in actuality are seeking a cupcake with sprinkles. There is a difference.
I believe that Jesus was an avatar and is a guru for many.
He is an example of how to behave.
When he said I bring a sword, he meant he brought the sword of truth. He indicated one is free to pursue a spiritual life/truth even when family members do not agree.
He indicated that one can listen to God Himself, over family members.
Clearly, a doormat would just yield to the influence of family members and let them walk all over him or her.
We may depend on secular history for a lot of things, including certain info regarding "religions." But what we know of God is in and from the Bible. So how does one believe in God without believing the Bible to be infallible? On what does one base their expectation of Heaven? Good intentions and personal opinions are addressed in this Book, and not in a good light.
And I should add that Jesus had no "flaws."
'Flaws' are in the eye of the beholder. One person may see them where another does not. Stating that Jesus had no flaws, in my opinion, is the first step in understanding that flaws are a matter of perception. To be able to see none in one sets the stage to learn how to understand they don't really exist in others.
What we know of God is not only from the Bible. There are many sources which speak of a one god and the term God is all encompassing; meaning that all interpretations of that word are equally of value and combined describe that force. You must realize that all who profess a belief in God do not profess a belief in heaven. This does not negate their understanding of God or the universe. It simply means they have come to different conclusions as to what eternity may entail; or may not.
A question that 'So how does one believe in God without believing the Bible to be infallible?' is not taking all belief structures into account.
But there's a problem with this.
If I google "Emile" I find 5 million results, ranging from movies to thousands of people. The word is not limited to a single individual.
Similarly, the word "God" is not limited to just one entity but to dozens or hundreds, all different. The bible, therefore, is the only real source (outside of personal opinions) of information of the god referenced in Christianity. Other sources are speaking of a different god even though using the same word and (very generally) the same characteristics. It is egocentric in the extreme to decide that all gods of all peoples are actually the one "true" god that I worship.
As an individual who can be seen with the naked eye, touched with the hand, heard when I speak....I think your comparison is poorly thought.
Claiming that the term god is not limited to one entity is interesting. Can you prove that? If not, it is an opinion. As is mine. The Bible is not the only source of information available when attempting to understand what the term god might apply to. Stating that it is, is a little bit of western arrogance.
I don't see it as arrogant to assume all people are seeking the same source. I see it as accepting that we are all different and take different roads in the journey. All roads being of equal value because we seek to arrive at the same point.
Yes, we seek to arrive at the same point, but it becomes arrogant to decide that we have all arrived at that point.
If I decide to go to a beach, and do so, it likely won't be the same beach that you arrive at. I'm happy there, you're happy at yours, but they are not the same. Mine has rocks, cliffs and tide pools while yours has a seemingly endless expanse of sand. They are very different.
Likewise, the gods traveled towards are very different. One person finds a collection of gods, all different and with differing characteristics. You find a single one with all the attributes you want in a god. Just as you say, claiming that Shiva and his hundreds of cohorts is actually just one entity - the same one you worship - is western arrogance and there is no perceptible reason (that I can find) for such a claim.
Really? Who said we had all arrived at the same point? I do remember saying we were all on similar roads. Seeking the same source.
I don't think the analogy is accurate. Although, I do believe that the final destination could appear different depending on who is looking. We could all be seeking the same beach, arrive at the same beach, yet view it in such different manners that were each of us to describe the beach a listener could come to the conclusion that we were not standing together.
Everyone is seeking answers. Their understanding of the answers may lead them to believe one thing as opposed to the other; but that is not the fault of the answer. That is the problem with the person interpreting the data they are collecting.
The fact that you can find no perceptible reason for such a claim does not negate the validity of the claim. Nor does my belief make it valid. It is simply my opinion. I don't know that it matters to me if you share it or not. If there were one perfect answer then I personally think we would all know it by now.
Edited: I tend to agree with you if I am understanding what you are saying. If relativism is being talked about, then I don't see how it logically works out in the details. Its an ideal view and there is no denying that, but unfortunately as I understand it, not plausible. (I had said pluralism before, but meant relativism.)
One might say the Bible is fallible because they do not chose to be directed by it. Yet, no one has ever pointed out an item in the Bible that was in error.
One might say Jesus had flaws but then not really as it is "in the eye of the beholder." So what might be His flaws? Possibly His thought process and emoted actions are above common understanding?
What is the value of a book that is not dependable?
What is the value of a god with flaws?
"Philosophy" and all its spin offs are nothing more that the words and wishes of man. And philosophy has the same value as a book of fiction or an unreliable friend.
You're right in that the bible is never in error...as long as one is willing to endlessly change the words and/or the meaning of the words to match reality.
But that does not mean it is worthless or of no value, just that the philosophical truths it espouses must change and evolve with the ever evolving philosophy and ethics of the reader. It is unfortunate that we too often feel that the "historical" sections of the book must also be spun and twisted in order that the philosophy and ethics be of any use. Like any other fictional tale, those philosophies do not need a solid foundation of absolute truth to be useful; the "moral of the story" can be and is a good guide for living whether from the bible or the brothers Grimm.
Yes, another good book of metaphors tales.
Wow... hhmm. Okay, I'll take as "you've seen the light". I hate to think that was biting sarcasm. You don't seem the type, and I my fragile emotions might not be able to bear it otherwise.
Well, your emotional stability is always at the forefront of my thoughts.
To be honest, I thought you were the hubber monkeyshine responding again, at first. I was really scratching my head at the comments. Then I realized someone else had chimed in and it all began to make sense.
Now you did it. "Someone else.... made sense." I'm feeling used and unappreciated.
No. Don't feel used and abused. I didn't say the other hubber made sense. It was just they came off as an agnostic, atheist or spiritual person and then it appeared I was responding to a Bible believer. I was simply confused. Not an unusual state for me.
I sort of feel there is a God too, even though I'm not religious, and I don't go to church, I have a bible that my aunt bought me when I was ten years old, and my mom had just died.
I've read a bit of it, but I've never thought of it as infallible
When we have these such discussions I go to this bible online (Bible Gateway)
Here are a few contradictions I found to be in the Bible
The angel told Joseph. Mt.1:20.
The angel told Mary. Lk.1:28.
There were 28 generations from David to Jesus. Mt.1:17.
There were 43 generations from David to Jesus. Lk.3:23-31.
Jacob was Joseph’s father. Mt.1:16.
Heli was Joseph’s father. Lk.3:23.
He was to be called Emmanuel. Mt.1:23.
He was called Jesus. Mt.1:25.
Joseph, Mary, and Jesus flee to Egypt while Herod slaughters all males under 2 years old. Mt.2:13-16. (Note: Jesus’ cousin, John, was also under 2 and survived without having to flee.)
Joseph, Mary, and Jesus did not flee to Egypt, but remained for temple rituals. No slaughter of infants is mentioned! Lk.2:21-39.
Jesus was tempted during the 40 days in the wilderness. Mk.1:13.
Jesus was tempted after the 40 days in the wilderness. Mt.4:2,3.
My opinion only:
Because Jesus had flaws he could not be God. God is limitless
A God with flaws can't be an all encompassing God, and God has no flaws and is very valuable
I see no contradictions in these comparative verses. (Since I don’t know how to use that “green box” insert to separate them, I’ll address them in the numerical order they appear.)
The angel(s) - appeared at different times in different locations.
Generations and lineage - Matthew (a Hebrew) splits the time frames of the “lineage” of Joseph into 3 parts which he calls Generations. Luke (a Gentile) gives the lineage of Mary. Regarding the generations as written in Matthew, there has never been agreement by theologists of Judaism or Christianity as to what format was used in Matthew used, and there are several, but none disagree with the correctness of the time frames as divided by the names. It is apparent to me that he is splitting the “generations” by pre-kingship of Judah, kingship of Judah, and post kingship of Judah, this last leading to the new “kingly line” headed by Jesus. Suffice to say, there is no error here as the information is correct, but not clear. It remains a mystery which is not the same as an error.
I think the above answers the next question also about the “fathers” issue.
Jesus name was Jesus. Emmanuel, meaning “God with us,” is referencing a quote/verse from the Old Testament, Isaiah 7:14. This is fulfilled (to an extent/foreshadow) in the “Triumphal Entry” accounts of Matthew, Mark and John, and fully in Revelation (in the future) 21.
Nazareth, where Mary lived, is some 80-100 miles north of Bethlehem. She went into the hill country to visit her cousin the mother of John, Luke 1:39. We don’t know where Elisabeth lived but it was apparently not far from Mary and not Bethlehem where the slaughter took place. John, later, did most of his work just southeast of Nazareth. And he was at least 6 months older which could have protected him also.
Mary went to the Temple 8 days after the birth. The wise men showed up about 2 years later.
I see no conflict in the statements about the temptations. They were on going with a culminating temptation.
It is good to see folks study on their own and not just accept the comments of others as correct.
I would be curious to know what flaws you think Jesus had or how the above relates to these flaws.
Thanks for the input. I hope this helped. You taxed my old brain and caused me to go back to a long time ago and review some old studies, some from the times before I accepted Jesus Christ as my savior. It was greatly appreciated.
Why can't a god have flaws? Every single living entity we've ever encountered has flaws; why not a god as well?
It does seem as though the popular response is to declare that only a god can assess and determine what a "flaw" is, and therefore does it in such a way that the god has none. But surely by human standards, every god we've ever created has had flaws; all it takes is time enough for mankind to evolve/develop morally and those flaws become quite apparent.
It says we were made in the image of God, so he must have flaws since we do
Why not, he says he's jealous, and most people see jealousy as a flaw in a relationship
You assume that mankind is capable of evolving and developing morally. History shows, and is now being repeated in America, as among other declining countries, they are not. When civilizations (or cultures which ever fits your vocab) begin to decline, the item that begins and spurs the decline is the lack of morality.
If God were flawed then man would have a right to manufacture their own gods. They would be similar to the Greek and Roman gods, myths of course. If God were flawed then the world would be without hope and the present degradation would continue to devolve as rats in a sewer, left alone would turn on themselves and devour each other literally, as science has shown.
However, the humanist, those who chose to make a better way by doing as they please, does conceive of a god with flaws, one they can blame when things go wrong but need not thank when things seem good.
What value is there to a god with flaws? Can you count on him in times of trouble? Can you expect he or she will deliver as promised? One might as well talk to a tree or rock.
Fortunately, my God has no flaws. And I know my future.
How does a Christian reconcile "love your enemies" in the light of a tendentious premise of total non-violence or pacifism.
First the contextomy is resolved by the previous statement in Mathew : You have heard that it is said to love your neighbor and hate your enemy. Jesus, related another story of a man that was attacked by robbers and was injured and priests and others just walked on by, but a Samaritan stopped and gave aid. That gives credence to a practice of only helping your own people, race or neighbor, ie loving your neighbor but hating your enemy. In further context it is clear that Jesus was trying to change the personal lives, by the stated examples, of those around Him regarding harsh and often personally used vengeance. Eye for an eye tooth for a tooth etc. The point being to not be too quick to extract their own justice in their personal lives and to abandoned practices that were not scripturally supported. The OT testament supports "love your neighbor", but the practice of ignoring someone in need because they are not your neighbor or race or hating your enemy, was not supported by Jesus' clarification.
Love those that curse you, hate you, and pray for those that use you, and persecute you, does not equate to loving someone that is beheading someone and do nothing about it. I got to love their victim too. For instance a cop or Christian might stumble across some rapists killing someone and he blasts them to kingdom come. There is no implied or assumed hatred or animosity in justified violence to stop perpetrators. Later on we can all cry about it and remember when the rapists were all nice 7 year old boys that would never have hurt a flea. Nevertheless, to not use every force available, even deadly force, to stop evil in a hypothetical instance, is evil itself. Love and hate has nothing to do with doing what is right in that example.
I heard there were certain Christians who planned to kill Hitler. The plans were discovered and the planners killed.
What if we had not fought the British on our soil?
To what extent would they have allowed us our freedom?
I doubt it.
What if another force comes trying to take our land for their own?
Do you think the majority of Americans would allow such an event?
Would they be willing to do all they could to fight off such a force?
Would they be justified in God's eyes?
I agree, and for those who are religious, even the bible says that sometimes we have to go to war
A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.
From Bible Gateway
https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?s … ersion=KJV
True. But, we have to make sure the war is justified and not just for the sake of greed for oil or overly ambitious conquest, forcing others to believe and behave as we do…etc.
I agree with your response to Don.
No, I agree, but war to protect people from being raped, and murdered is necessary and we can't just wait and say let God defend them. I think that faith requires actions, and deeds.
Some aren't looking at it logically. And I am pretty sure that some of those saying we need to be peaceful at all cost, would themselves attack anyone who disagrees with their premise, and aren't really peaceful at all (even though they may think they are)
What if the North had not lifted a finger against the South? Would we be the unified nation without slavery that we are today?
"November 6, 1860 - Abraham Lincoln, who had declared "Government cannot endure permanently half slave, half free..." is elected president, the first Republican, receiving 180 of 303 possible electoral votes and 40 percent of the popular vote."
December 20, 1860 - South Carolina secedes from the Union. Followed within two months by Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana and Texas."
satan once asked Jesus to throw Himself off of a pinnacle, to His death. Jesus once said if anyone asks you to go a mile, go with him for two. But Jesus did not throw Himself off the pinnacle or even two pinnacles and later instructed His people to buy swords.
Make no mistake. If you are a Christian and some evil person is doing harm or killing someone and you fail to warn or aid the victim, with as much violence that may be necessary, or whatever you can personally muster, if that is what is required, reasonably, then you will have to answer to God for that inaction.
Sometimes violence is not actually necessary. Ghandi accomplished much through non-violent protests etc. In this way, he freed India from the tyranny of Britain!
Praying for world peace is powerful and I believe if we all prayed intensely, amazing things would happen.
When all else fails, a bomb might have to be dropped... in a show of determination and powerful resistance to injustice and tyranny in the spirit of self protection.
The Bible clearly teaches that we must preserve life--our own lives and the lives of other people. 1 Corinthians 6:19 teaches that our bodies are not our own. Rather, our bodies belong to God. Our bodies are His property and so we are not permitted to treat or destroy them as we please:
19 Or know ye not that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit which is in you, which ye have from God? and ye are not your own; 20 for ye were bought with a price: glorify God therefore in your body. (1Cor 6:19-20 ASV)
Not only are we to take care of our bodies and the life contained. We have an obligation to preserve the body and life of other people. Psalm 82:4 even says we have an obligation to protect those who are in danger:
Psalm 82:4 Rescue the weak and needy; Deliver them out of the hand of the wicked.
Proverbs 24:11, which indicates we have a duty to preserve the lives of those who are harming themselves:
Proverbs 24:11 Deliver those who are drawn toward death, And hold back those stumbling to the slaughter.
If we go by the bible
Psalm 82:4 Rescue the weak and needy; Deliver them out of the hand of the wicked.
Proverbs indicates we have a duty to save the lives of people who are harming themselves, and or being harmed by someone else
Proverbs 24:11 KJV
1 If thou forbear to deliver them that are drawn unto death, and those that are ready to be slain;
Nothing is more clear to me
In the bible even when Jesus spoke of being angry with someone, he said if it is without a cause, and according to Jesus, only then is it wrong
If someone is being harmed we have cause to harm them back if needed. Read what it says
But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.
I don't understand how anyone can reconcile the view they hold in light of these simple verses, common sense and doing what is best, in a given situation. If someone is brutally murdering someone, I am pretty sure that singing kumbaya is not going to deter them.
I agree, and it goes on further to say that God knows that you didn't help and you'll get back what you did or did not do to help the person
"If thou forbear to deliver them that are drawn unto death, and those that are ready to be slain;
If thou sayest, Behold, we knew it not; doth not he that pondereth the heart consider it? and he that keepeth thy soul, doth not he know it? and shall not he render to every man according to his works"? (Proverbs 24 11, 12)
The word forbear means to politely or patiently restrain an impulse to do something, according to the dictionary
How else but with force can you stop a killer? Taking the time to ask questions will get the other person killed for sure
<"Yes pacifist actions can be useful! They ought to be desired first and foremost. I don't think absolute pacifism is always the best answer. It has been shown in examples how it just allows for evil to thrive against the good'>
Think of Joan of Arc. I think she pretty much saved France by riding a horse wearing armor and donning a lance or sword of some type.
" ( c. 1412–31), French national heroine; known as the Maid of Orleans; French name Jeanne d'Arc. She led the French armies against the English in the Hundred Years War, relieving besieged Orleans in 1429 and ensuring that Charles VII could be crowned in Reims." W
Maybe this an acceptable ending for pacifists:
Captured by the Burgundians in 1430, she was handed over to the English, convicted of heresy, and burned at the stake." W
I think it is a category error or mistake to use Jesus' example in laying down his life, as a means to defend the idea of absolute pacifism for Christians facing a murderer. Here is why I say this.
Jesus going peacefully to his death was not because he was showing how Christians should likewise peacefully lay down their lives in going to their own deaths. (Handing yourself over to the ones that would murder you.) It wasn't a way to give in to evil for HIM, to let evil overcome HIM (Jesus.) It was part of his greater effort to combat the greatest evil and its effects on the world. We, by peacefully laying down our lives at the hands of murderers aren't securing salvation for all people of all time, for the rest of eternity. (Which is what Jesus' reasoning was, the driving force.) We also couldn't resurrect ourselves after 3 days, which would further the cause and fight against the greatest wrongs. (Nevermind being here 40 more days with people, then the ascension to heaven.)
The very fact that Jesus laid his life down when he could call on an army of angels to defend him, WAS a show of incredible strength on his part. Yet that wouldn't have achieved the goal he was after in defeating evil. He was defending our lives, fighting for humanity, in the manner that could get it done. For us to try and copy it in the ways some have suggested, wouldn't be defeating evil, but fighting FOR or with evil. (Which would be opposing Jesus, as I see it.)
I would remark, that Jesus had authority to lay down His life and authority to take it up again. And the reason for that mission. The thief or the wolf, wants to steal or to kill. The wolf wants to kill sheep with impunity. The wolf wants to kill with impunity. We know what the wolf wants. It would be an antithesis, for the aforementioned mission, of life and life abundantly only to facilitate or sanction, death by wolf, with impunity.
Jesus also said he did everything to fulfill the prophecies about himself, thus obedience to God. You're right evil did not overtake Jesus, because he gave of his life freely.
In an everyday occurrence, if someone kills another person as we stand by and watch without trying to help we are allowing evil to overtake that person
I found this in Luke 10
The Samaritans were enemies of the Jews, but Jesus used them to show that we are even suppose to help our enemies.
If we see someone being hurt, I think God would want us to help
Matt Perman said:
"Pacifism is harmful, and to let someone murder when it is in your power to stop them is completely contrary to our moral sentiments. If a Hitler is on the move and seeking to bind the world in tyranny and destroy entire ethnic groups (or a single person) , (this also includes anyone who murders, not just Hitler) it would seem very clearly wrong not to oppose him with force (which sometimes is the only effective method). It is true that war itself is harmful and tragic; but pacifism would result in even more harm to the world because it would give wicked people virtually free reign. We of course must be open to letting the Bible transform our moral sentiments, but this observation should at least cause us to pause and reflect more deeply before concluding that Jesus is intending to teach pacifism".
And I agree with Matt
In John 18:36 it acknowledges the right to fight here in our earthly kingdom
Jesus says: "My kingdom is not of this world. IF my kingdom were of this world, then my servants would be fighting, that I might not be delivered up to the Jews; but as it is, My kingdom is not of this realm."
When Jesus says that if his kingdom were of this world his servants would be fighting, he implies that it is right for kingdoms of this world to fight when the cause is just and circumstances require it. As Christians, you are citizens of "two kingdoms"--our country on earth, and the Kingdom to come Jesus shows us that it is never right to fight for the sake of his spiritual kingdom, but that it is right to fight on behalf of earthly kingdoms (when necessary to counter evil and destruction).
'My servants would be fighting. Not 'I would be fighting'. And I see no suggestion that Jesus condones that behaviour. He is saying it as a neutral statement of fact. There is no value judgement either way. The statement could just as easily be read to mean 'my servants [foolish as they are] would be fighting'. But the point of this statement is not to comment on violence or the foolishness of his servants. Jesus is trying to explain to Pilot that his kingdom is not of this world, by describing what would be happening if it was. A comment on the virtue (or not) of violence is not what is intended, so is not explicitly or implicitly made.
It could also be argued that the reference to only his servants fighting further implies a pacifist Jesus. Kings fought to defend their kingdoms (or at least armored up, pranced around a bit and called it fighting). But even as king of a hypothetical worldly kingdom, Jesus does not say that he himself would be fighting. But he is realistic and knows what people are like (a foreshadowing of Peter later?) so simply says 'my servants would be fighting'. There is no hint of support in that statement though.
I would agree, and this seems like it would make sense, and "go without saying." There is a lot implied (and logically so) in the scriptures you shared.
To let evil have free reign would make an imperfect world really awful. One has to wonder at the suggestion of the opposite, to not ever use any force which might include violence against the greatest kinds of evil, which if left unanswered, would be wreaking more havoc than it already has. If we had let it be the case all along, then we may not even be here to be discussing it.
The question at hand is more along the lines of....did Jesus stand up against what is currently being defined as evil? Did he fight against what is currently being defined as evil in order for it not to have free reign? Did he use force against these things being defined as the kinds of evil?
We can argue until the cows come home about what we should and shouldn't do. The question is, what did Jesus do? None of that. So, whatever we may believe to be the right course of action we can't fairly say that it is what Jesus would do, or want if it is not in line with what he actually did.
I think the question at hand is what Don is suggesting, that only the early Christians (and in particular the ones he gave in his examples) have the authentic model of what he thinks Jesus did and taught. Therefore, its suggesting all since that would not be absolute pacifists, are not copying the behavior. We aren't talking about then, but now, so it makes sense we are talking in light of current evil. If you are still agreeing with him some, I don't mind one bit. I am just giving my thoughts in return, and whatever anyone wants to believe, is what they believe.
I personally stand by what I have said, and don't think laying down one's life at the hands of those that simply want to take it is following Jesus. I explained why in detail, though I don't think it needs any explaining.
I'm not a pacifist. I am like you. Stand firmly for what is right, no matter what action that entails and no matter the cost. However. The evils of today are no different from the evils of yesterday, or tomorrow. As a matter of fact, I think what happened to Jesus was the most horrible thing imaginable. That was evil. State sponsored. Yet, he didn't argue these points you are presenting. Why is that, do you think?
Edited: Well, I would point you to my posts, which I explain all of that in great detail. I will reexplain it here again. It wasn't because Jesus was an absolute pacifist. Jesus in doing what he did and because of who he was, was fighting the greatest evil, on behalf of all humanity, for all of time. He was literally giving salvation to all in what he did. The effects of sin was conquered that day. He willingly laid down his life, not because someone just wanted to take it. He did it for all the reasons laid out in the gospels! This is something that even if we emulated, could never copy. No human will ever be a perfect Son of God sacrifice for all of humanity. This WAS how he fought evil. (And I might add, only part one. He is not done, and he is not dead.) I am keeping in context of this reality, which I think is true. How later books in the bible address his coming after all have had a chance to know about the truth, is anything but a pacifist Jesus. (Also not a model for us today to follow, lol, that will be God's wrath being poured out, and things will be way worse than they are now. As of today, the recent news I heard was 21 people being burned alive today, after the multiple beheadings at one time yesterday? I could be off in my numbers, but its pretty bad and seeming to get worse. This is just one segment of the evil, and every country has their own set of evil.)
Even if someone were confused today and thought that their laying down their life could be the means of forgiveness for all of humankind's sins of all time, it would not be the case. What WOULD be the case, is that that person would be dying at the hands of an evil person. As we see, we aren't lacking for people that simply want to take life.
So Jesus did not argue the points I am to DonW, for these reasons. Why would Jesus argue my points, to accomplish the mission he did, when he actually laid down his life? Don is putting into question the actions of Christians after the 3rd century on, when they began to formally fight against what they perceived evils until this day. Some were probably justified, some were probably not. I don't believe in abusing scripture to exact evils onto people either. Many have done that.
I can easily see how many today would love to see Christians have this point of view however, the one DonW holds. It would allow evil to have some real free reign over freedom loving people's everywhere.
I will leave you to your beliefs. I will add a quote from Thomas Jefferson.
The moment a person forms a theory, his imagination sees in every object only the traits which favor that theory.
I find this to be so true, about so many things. We want to believe we are good and we want others to believe this also. We look to the example of a person who is good. We can't emulate those behavior patterns, so we may find ourselves attempting to justify our beliefs and actions by explaining that this 'good' person is really like us, no matter how much it may appear otherwise. We search the rest of the scriptures, ignoring the example of this good person, in order to support our theory even if our justification runs at direct odds with the example of the life of that good person.
The truth is, we do the best we can, but we should be honest enough to know that the best we can is not the best that can be. Pacifism is the closest we could ever come to 'Love your neighbor'. When practiced in its perfect form, it could never include violence. We pick and chose our neighbors. Let's simply be honest about it.
We each have to decide, and I am doing my best like everyone else is. If the ideas I express are perceived to be simply beliefs or imagination in light of all the facts and reasoning I give to back them up, then that is totally ok with me.
To be clear, I have not been speaking against simple pacifism in this whole thread. Only absolute pacifism. If there is anything outright dishonest, or ignoring any scriptures, or attempting to justify as you share there, if you see in my words I type, please address it in the particulars so I will know what you mean exactly. Thanks. Otherwise, all your comments there seem directed at something I might have said in my own posts, but also could appear to be thrown out there randomly for others comments.
If you disagree with me that Christians shouldn't be absolute pacifists to the point of laying down their lives willingly to anyone that wants to take it, then that is fine. That is my stance in this greater discussion. I don't think you do think that though.
Maybe, Jesus and the early Christians were absolute pacifists, give or take a few swords and whips. It was just an human ear after all, hardly a flesh wound.
Absolute pacifism is good, "in principle" and if you are surrounded by people that look like Agent Smith from the Matrix.
<<< whispering to oceansnsunsets. I think Don W and others would prefer to have Jesus out of the way. What better reason other than this: "Jesus promotes pacifism and it doesn't make sense!" ??? I am sensing a strong atheistic push... disguised somewhat, but strong. What do you think?>>>
How in the world could you come to that conclusion? Were we all to emulate that man the world would be paradise. It appears to me that some might have already shoved him over a cliff to ensure his example doesn't cause any angst.
I wish someone could explain to me how the term pacifist has come to be like a four letter word. It doesn't mean what you guys appear to think it does.
We all have to do what we believe to be right. But, I will say I don't see why some will use the name of Jesus in order to justify what they think is right, when that 'right' can include physical violence toward other human beings. This was not his example, not his mandate. I could see everyone saying 'It's too difficult to follow his example in the world we live in'. That would make sense.
Are you sure it would be a paradise? I seem to remember the man entering the bank and leaving carnage behind him, simply because he found the perfectly legal and accepted practices there inappropriate in his mind.
Isn't that what ISIS is doing as well?
I don't remember any stories of Jesus beheading 32 people simply because they weren't Jewish. So, I don't think a comparison to ISIS is appropriate.
If we loved our neighbors as ourselves and they did likewise....I don't see the downside here.
While the actions and results are quite different, the underlying thought and reasoning seems much the same. "Do as I think you should or else!", and people being what they are, ISIS can be (and currently is) the result.
On the whole, Jesus led an exemplary life with but the one (reported) incident, but it it does make one wonder...
Of course, without any more information than the blurb available; I can see why one would wonder. I don't. I don't see his actions as violent, so much so as one of frustration. I see it as a solitary moment of reaction in a life that was defined by action. Being momentarily frustrated does not equate to being two steps away from violence. I honestly don't see the correlation between anything Jesus did and ISIS.
I don't see ISIS as acting. I see them as reacting.
Not violent? Overturning tables and bodily throwing people out isn't violent? I'd disagree.
Of course it was frustration, but that doesn't mean non-violent. And a "solitary moment"...we have no means of knowing if it was or not. Just reports from people with an axe to grind; people that were very highly unlikely to report anything negative (his actions sound reasonable until we actually look at what was done and why). Jesus could have lived a life of such actions (not that I believe it) and we would never know without reports from those in opposition; reports we don't have available.
As far as acting/reacting; ISIS is, and just as you indicate Jesus did, too. He reacted to his own frustration and anger, just as ISIS does.
It was an example of eradicating evil… as we must do. Perhaps we need to eradicate ISIS… however it can be done… If it is a US created entity.. which I have heard... we need to get on the Govt. about it. Praying for the truth is a good start in my mind…
When the examples range from an extreme version of Gandhi to a kinda like ISIS, then we know there is no intellectually honest search for the truth.
Eradicating evil...with you defining what evil is. I dare say ISIS will not agree with your definition. They already have God's word - your prayers to your god are thus meaningless.
We can agree that tables were overturned. I think you are simply interpreting in line with what you want to believe by stating that people were 'bodily' thrown out. I don't think the text states that; nor do I think it implies it, unless it is what someone is hoping to find. It's usually best not to expand anything with personal opinion. I think, since there is no indication in any other sections of the gospels that Jesus was prone to physical violence that a different interpretation is more accurate. One that he brandished the whip, without the intent to lay open flesh with it. But I can see why one might think otherwise.
I do believe that if Jesus had been a violent malcontent we would have some evidence in the writings. But, that is simply opinion also.
Comparing him to ISIS leaves all of us open to an even closer comparison. I suppose if you can accept that you are one step away from beheading people then I should accept that you think others are also.
Unless, you are going to argue the point that you have never reacted in anger, or frustration. To which I'd need an exceptionally large amount of proof to believe it.
Do you really think his disciples would have reported bad things that Jesus did, all while holding him up as the perfect being? Your choice, of course, but I would have to disagree and there are no other reports of his existence, let alone his actions.
But I do not compare Jesus to ISIS - simply point out that hoping all people would act out of frustration and anger is where we already are. That and greed, of course, with Jesus not showing that trait that we know of.
Well, when we have a case of assuming the worst in a person presented as being rather special (even though you can point to only one incident that can easily be seen in a less negative light) we can understand why the world is in the shape it is today. That's the way it is, isn't it? See the good,assume the bad? Imagine the worst? Why is that, do you think?
Jesus consciously resisted all the temptations laid out by satanic delusion: power, fame, glory, wealth... He wanted one thing and one thing only. It was something invisible.
He tried to impart what that invisible thing was… He said know ye not that ye are gods? why can't you already heal as I heal? see as I see?
He was tired and impatient of the denseness of human perception… Yet, because God loved the world He sent Jesus to help us. So, Jesus carried out the assigned mission even though it was unbearable. We understand Jesus not. We understand ourselves not. We understand God not
…. and, apparently, how to protect ourselves not!
If those are the qualifiers. What is good for the goose I guess.
Jesus cleansed the temple because He felt they were swindling poor people and widows. His actions were in response to injustice. Jesus did not stage a "sit in" nor did He "fast" in protest. I do not think that appealing to Romans or the priests, would have done much good, nor would any Christian say that Jesus did not have the authority. They would look at it like a one man police raid on fraudulent practices, with no jail time and no one reportedly injured.
ISIS acts like atheist dictators and states sponsored atheism like Enver Hoxha and others. You know, where they actually kill thousands of people.
Furthermore, it was God's temple of Peace and Bliss; the one place to offer holy reverence to the Creator, our God of love and perfection… and to find Heaven WITHIN.
Just like some TV evangelists today. They live in multiple multi-million dollar mansions, wear gaudy outfits, drive BMW's while urging elderly to give away their last 2 cents. Now an atheist will decry that until they are bluer in the face, but oddly take exception to Jesus and suggest that it was all acceptable practices, working within the story. I wonder why that is?
Just like Christians when they are in complete control. So, if ISIS is like atheists and atheists are like Christians, then we agree all groups aren't Christ like. I thought we'd never agree.
That's what I said, isn't it? Jesus, in his opinion found something wrong and took violent action to correct it. What he thought wrong was (I presume) a legal and accepted practice but he didn't like it and so "corrected" it.
Which, if you ask ISIS, is exactly what they are doing. They find more wrong, and worse wrong, but it still a matter of wrongness in their opinion. And that of their god, of course.
That I personally would eradicate ISIS from the world and would invite Jesus into my home does not change the fact that both did what they did (and do) from a personal sense of outrage. Nor does it change that such action is at the root of much of what is wrong in the world today; people trying to force others into the mold they like to see.
Jesus cleared out the activity preventing access to the ultimate invisible reality of God.
We should all do the same every day of our lives.
He showed a good example.
So the reports of Jesus' actions claim. The Romans, of course, had a very different viewpoint and one just as valid.
Do you mean that everyone should stop activity preventing access to YOUR god, or to the gods of all people (including the desires and wants of the godless)? If the former, can you justify your answer in terms of the golden rule: Do unto others as you would they do unto you? Or would you ignore it just as Jesus did?
That description seems to be a strawman. As the bible relays the story, in Matthew 21,
"12And Jesus entered the temple and drove out all who sold and bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. 13He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you make it a den of robbers.”"
Or in more detail in John's relaying of this account: Gospel of John, chapter 2
"13The Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 14In the temple he found those who were selling oxen and sheep and pigeons, and the money-changers sitting there. 15And making a whip of cords, he drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and oxen. And he poured out the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables. 16And he told those who sold the pigeons, “Take these things away; do not make my Father’s house a house of trade.” 17His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for your house will consume me.”
18So the Jews said to him, “What sign do you show us for doing these things?” 19Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” 20The Jews then said, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple,c and will you raise it up in three days?” 21But he was speaking about the temple of his body. 22When therefore he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this, and they believed the Scripture and the word that Jesus had spoken."
Or Luke 19:
"45 And he entered the temple and began to drive out those who sold, 46 saying to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be a house of prayer,’ but you have made it a den of robbers.”
47 And he was teaching daily in the temple. The chief priests and the scribes and the principal men of the people were seeking to destroy him, 48 but they did not find anything they could do, for all the people were hanging on his words."
Or Gospel of Mark chapter 11 says:
"15 And they came to Jerusalem. And he entered the temple and began to drive out those who sold and those who bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. 16 And he would not allow anyone to carry anything through the temple. 17 And he was teaching them and saying to them, “Is it not written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations’? But you have made it a den of robbers.” 18 And the chief priests and the scribes heard it and were seeking a way to destroy him, for they feared him, because all the crowd was astonished at his teaching. 19 And when evening came they[b] went out of the city."
So nowhere in any of the accounts can I see a parallel to how it was described in the above post, in a bank, or have carnage, and then asked how it could be different from ISIS? This is how straw men arguments seemingly work, but why they do not.
I don't have much time at the moment, but you could be right, and bear in mind, he is pushing absolute pacifism, not just pacifism, which is very extreme in my opinion. I don't know anyone that supports this view. I know of some groups that would LOVE for Christians to have this view though. I don't want any Christian to feel shamed or like they are "unauthentic" for not being absolute pacifists because of such arguments,
The view I hold that DonW keeps responding to is that Christians should be able to defend against a murderer of innocents, whether self or others. I find this unbelievable.
There were Christians that were actively serving in the military prior to Constantine. Later, some would be considered martyrs. Some were killed because they would not worship Roman gods or deities or because they would not persecute other Christians. Some even held high ranks.
It is amazing that there were Christians in the Roman armies, because, being in the Roman military, would be exactly like joining the enemy's side, considering they killed Christians. Nevertheless, they indeed were in military positions. Thus, it is no surprise that some thought it was contradictory to Christianity, in regards to idolatry, as well as other reasons, seeing there was no such thing as a "christian army to join" ie. by default they would be joining another religion's armed forces or at least an army that had their own non-christian beliefs.
Just as Jesus marveled at the centurions faith, just as John the Baptist, told the soldiers to be content with their pay, just as the fact that Peter was carrying a weapon and using it, not at the beginning of Christ's ministry, mind us, but at the last, should speak for itself.
Yes, at the last when opposition was mounting...
If Peter was carrying a sword and using it, early on in Jesus' ministry, one could argue that, later on that carrying a weapon was not supported. On the contrary, we can speculate that at least some of the Disciples, carried weapons, throughout Jesus ministry, right on up to the very last. A religious movement that was allegedly absolute pacifistic, would not be carrying weapons, the entire time of the ministry, and then using them in what they believed was a defense of Jesus' life or liberty. It cannot be argued reasonably, that Jesus was unaware that they carried weapons and the possibility of their potential use.
Thank you for sharing about how Christians served in the military before Constantine, and why some would not that were for reasons other than absolute pacifist thinking.
And yes, that the disciples carried swords is not a point that can be just casually dismissed. It has to be answered by anyone holding that they had an absolute pacifist way of believing and thinking that ought to be emulated. The cutting off and then healing of the centurions ear, was not because the disciples shouldn't have had swords. It wasn't to clean the fish they caught, nor were they for walking sticks. It was because Jesus had to be taken away, and eventually killed for a once in a lifetime event. That was why he laid his life down in the manner he did and said he didn't have to do that. It is abundantly clear. The early Christians that fought for their lives or in the military weren't having to act against their consciences to do so.
I would say that the move from turning the other cheek to becoming a door mat is when the one throwing that first slap or punch takes you up on it every time you offer the other cheek.
This comes from
(just add the www.)
"We must be careful to understand what "nonviolence" means. Under the right conditions, it could include killing a terrorist.
“The following story is analogous to a terrorist situation. It is known throughout northern Buddhism. Communists even used it to rouse Chinese Buddhists to fight in Korea. The Buddha, in a past life as a ship's captain named Super Compassionate, discovered a criminal on board who intended to kill the 500 passengers. If he told the passengers, they would panic and become killers themselves, as happened on a Southwest Airlines flight in 2000. With no other way out, he compassionately stabbed the criminal to death. Captain Compassionate saved the passengers not only from murder, but from becoming murderers themselves. Unlike him, they would have killed in rage and suffered hell. He saved the criminal from becoming a mass murderer and even worse suffering. He himself generated vast karmic merit by acting with compassion.”
Thank you for sharing this Monkeyshine. How interesting. And to think that some would call that "violence" against another, and yet they do, though it doesn't make sense. The truth is we don't live with a bunch of pacifists and some general petty thieves or something in this world. We are dealing with terrorists, and compassion for the innocent in such cases takes prominence over the desires of the killers.
In doing some more research into Luke 22 and verse 38 in particular, I found this. It was the first commentator I came across. From Barnes Commentary
"And they said, Lord, behold, here are two swords. And he said unto them, It is enough."
Are two swords - The Galileans, it is said, often went armed. The Essenes did so also. The reason was that the country was full of robbers and wild beasts, and it was necessary to carry, in their travels, some means of defense. It seems that the disciples followed the customs of the country, and had with them some means of defense, though they had but two swords among the twelve.
It is enough - It is difficult to understand this. Some suppose that it is spoken "ironically;" as if he had said, "You are bravely armed indeed, with two swords among twelve men, and to meet such a host!" Others, that he meant to reprove them for understanding him "literally," as if he meant that they were then to procure swords for "immediate" battle. As if he had said, "This is absurd, or a perversion of my meaning. I did not intend this, but merely to foretell you of impending dangers after my death." It is to be observed that he did not say "the two swords are enough," but "it is enough;" perhaps meaning simply, enough has been said. Other matters press on, and you will yet understand what I mean."
It makes sense the disciples carried swords like others in that day to protect from robbers and wild beasts. I imagine this was the case in much of the world, for logical and practical reasons. No least of which would be for self defense, which is not an absolute pacifist approach when your life is in danger. I thought this commentator thought the ideas through carefully. Unless justifiable reasons are given that show there are other reasons these men would act against the customs of the day for self defense, then I think the way the text reads makes the most sense. There have been no responses in this thread with reasoning or evidence given as of yet, to the rebuttals filled with reasons why an absolute pacifist approach while carrying swords makes no sense. Jesus knew they had swords, and if one takes it to mean just two which may not be valid, but even if you do take it to be that way, then what were those swords for? It begins to seem the belief is seemed to be elevated above what the reason, logic and facts warrant. An absolute pacifist would let robbers rob and even kill you, and have no need for swords.
I think one problem is that you insist on the term 'absolute pacifism'. I suppose it could be a matter of your definition. To me, absolute pacifism is a moral stance against using violence as a way to settle disputes. You seem to define it as standing in the middle of the road in order to allow yourself to be hit by a car; if the motorist so chooses.
Pacifism isn't about allowing violence to happen. It is about being proactive. Creating an acceptable alternative to violence. Showing the way to an acceptable alternative; through example. Pacifism has been the greatest force of change in our world on many occasions. It is not choosing to sit on your hands and allow bad things to happen. It is much more powerful than any gun.
In this particular conversation, DonW and PhoenixV and I and some others have been discussing not pacifism, but absolute pacifism, so that could create some problems in understanding if anyone has missed that. It is the stance I am arguing against, and the one that DonW is arguing the early Christians had, and that was following Jesus' example. I disagree. So hopefully that helps shed some light on what is going on here.
This is why comments about just general pacifism, which I have praised and said many times, is not addressing the problem DonW is defending that the early Christians had. In this context however, it turns out to be a different argument, so that is more likely the problem. Absolute pacifism isn't more powerful than any gun, in the instances we are speaking about. Its just sure death, and letting evil win.
The example of standing in the middle of the road and being hit by a car is an idea that neither pacifism nor absolute pacifism addresses. My stance has been made clear, and DonW opposes as you see he keeps on responding to it.
I am not opposed to having a discussion however, about general pacifism if you want to have it. I do notice that is what you keep on bringing up in this discussion.
Well, I agree with Don that all evidence supports the notion that the early Christians were strong pacifists. I consider Jesus to be a strong pacifist by his words and actions. I don't know that Don has supported absolute pacifism. He has simply pointed out what the historical records point to. By my understanding of his statements. I get the impression that his statements ruffle feathers because it is assumed he is saying those who don't support that stance aren't authentic Christians. I wouldn't assume that; although I would assume those who deviate from that stance aren't 'following in the footsteps of Jesus'. But, that shouldn't offend. Who does?
Emile, when you said, "Well, I agree with Don that all evidence supports the notion that the early Christians were strong pacifists." You are not expressing the point of view that he has been defending. I know that you say my posts are too long (and I gather you then don't read them nor all of Don's which seems clear from some responses), but I have answered all the points in detail that you continue to bring up, including this same one of clearly understanding what DonW and I are defending and discussing.
This idea of wanting to oppose a view that is against absolute pacifism, but using terminology that is only about pacifism, (even strong pacifism) means we are not discussing the same things. I am for pacifism. I am not for absolute pacifism.
I do read Don's posts. I find his view highly informed and well stated, with no meandering.
I use the term strong pacifism as a courtesy to you since I think your definition of absolute pacifism goes above and beyond the definition of absolute pacifism as I would define it. However, I think it is fair to say that many early Christians whose fate is documented in the Acts of the Apostles would fit the definition as you use it.
No one can prove every Christian was a pacifist at that time. Which, by my understanding, appears to be your reasoning for arguing the point. Don is simply pointing out that pacifism was the understanding of those who were respected as leaders by the early Christians.
If you are arguing against my points, you would have to think the Jesus, the disciples and early Christians were absolute pacifists.
You haven't completely encapsulated my defense, but that is one point that does defend it. That there were obviously people that would fight for their lives, or defend their loved ones, yes, even with force. I have the easy side to defend here, and am still completely baffled that others seem to keep opposing it. In stating my view, I am not necessarily claiming to point out OTHER'S views, simply restating my own, so people realize that when they are arguing with me that they are arguing against my view. Which would be arguing for absolute pacifism.
I think the evidence is clear that Jesus was an absolute pacifist. It's mind boggling that anyone would believe otherwise. As I stated previously. The actions of the disciples cannot be used until after the ascension of Christ. Until the resurrection they were simply following a teacher. When he was crucified, they assumed it was over. I would think, even after the ascension they were still attempting to fully understand. Their subsequent actions are what should be used to judge how they perceived the meaning.
I believe the apostles were martyred. If you can show they went down physically fighting, then that might substantiate your argument, in my eyes.
I realize you are baffled. Possibly, because you are attempting to add to the meaning if the term?
We can agree to disagree. I wondered earlier about if you had read Don's posts, because he would have clarified his own position throughout, if you had, on absolute pacifism. I am glad you call it absolute pacifism in your post there, because that is more in line with what we have been talking about. You do now have a verse from Matthew that clears it up where Jesus is speaking on an example of a thief breaking in.
I know you said the actions of the disciples can't be used until later, but you haven't given any justification, which would have to include that Jesus would have corrected them as he often did if needed. He never told them to get rid of their swords, and spoke of the future when he would be gone. They were going to need them, maybe more than they already had needed them in the past. It was part of their culture. We don't see any advice to allow evil to just overtake them, or instruction to get rid of swords.
As to the fighting against the powers over you when you are being martyred, this is just another example of how something has been discussed in great detail previously. I will restate it in short form here. If you are taken and overpowered and imprisoned, you are past the point of fighting back. If you are being crucified upside down like Peter, how do you fight back? If you are being stoned to death like Stephen, how do you fight back? (I only have a case if Stephen threw the rocks back?) What about the Christians thrown to the lions? How do you fight back? That is the great terror and evil with which we are talking about having the chance to avoid. You have to actually be using examples in which a Christian has the chance to fight back, to make the case for absolute pacifism.
Jesus was a unique case, and not a pacifist in laying down his own life. Jesus' mission was unique, he was fighting the greatest evil of all time for all people in conquering sin and its effects on humanity. You can't fairly use his own admission of laying down of his life as a means for other believers to do likewise. It doesn't make sense, for in the case of anyone else, its just evil playing out, and not saving all of humanity from death. It is allowing evil to win, to just allow someone to take your life that wants to.
Emile claimed: "all evidence supports the notion that the early Christians were strong pacifists"
You mean other than Saint Peter, Saint Eustace, Saint Gregory, Saint Agathius, Saint Adrian, Saint Demetrius, Saint George, Saint Typasius, Saint Gereon , Saint Florian and all the ones serving in the military?
Emile wrote: " I don't know that Don has supported absolute pacifism."
Don claimed: Jesus was an absolute pacifist
http://hubpages.com/forum/topic/127544? … ost2705338
Don claimed: Jesus advocated absolute non-violence
http://hubpages.com/forum/topic/127544? … ost2705829
Don claimed: the early Christian church advocated absolute pacifism.
http://hubpages.com/forum/topic/127544? … ost2706526
Where was the early Christian church located? List the wars Jesus non-violently protested.
..And making a whip of cords, he drove them all out of the temple..
...and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers...
Then Simon Peter having a sword drew it, and smote the high priest's servant, and cut off his right ear. The servant's name was Malchus. Then said Jesus unto Peter, Put up thy sword into the sheath: the cup which my Father hath given me, shall I not drink it?
Jesus did not want Peter to interfere with His mission. Absolute pacifists do not do these things, if reality and truth have any meaning.
Matthew 24:43 "But know this, that if the goodman of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up."
That doesn't imply violence would be his solution. Unless, violence is the only solution you can think of.
So instead of concluding the obvious or making a logical inference, you suggest an ad hominem?
Here is the cross reference.
If a thief is caught breaking in at night and is struck a fatal blow, the defender is not guilty of bloodshed;
An ad hominem? I can think of quite a few solutions which don't include violence. Just because that would be your first option of choice doesn't make it the right one.
That is a strawman and an ad hominem. Neither bBerean or anyone else has said how they would react. We just posted scriptural support. Jesus did not advocate lawlessness. Let us hear your solutions to someone breaking in your house at night, instead of falsely claiming everyone else would only react violently as the first option.
Well, it would depend on my perception of why they were there. If it were for material things, isviolence appropriate? Would you hurt a human being to defend an inanimate object? Would you risk your life in defense of it?
If the intent for the break in were solely bodily harm to me or a loved one I would have no choice but defense.
You are trying and convicting. What motivates? If I steal bread because my children are starving am I thief or are you a miser? Whose is the greater crime?
I'm not saying there aren't violent people in the world. But, violence should be a last resort and only for valid reasons. I don't think harming someone for attempting to steal a stereo.counts as a valid reason. You would be putting an inanimate object above a life. How warped is that?
You presume to know the intent of the thief. By definition, it is someone whose primary motivation is stealing. How far they would go to accomplish that is unknown. Defending the house is justified. Using it as an example means it was a "no brainer" that someone would defend their home, it was a given.
A house. An inanimate object. How does it feel about your actions? How would it feel if you didn't defend it?
If, by house, you mean your household...human beings you are responsible for the care of then you have a point. If the thief was there specifically to cause bodily harm
If, by house, you mean your life...how did Jesus react when the theives came to steal his?
Besides ad hominem , can you give rebuttal to:
If a thief is caught breaking in at night and is struck a fatal blow, the defender is not guilty of bloodshed;
"Would not have suffered his house to be broken up" puts no restriction on actions taken to accomplish the stated goal. No "if" involved. Thwarting home invaders is pretty much synonymous with at least a show of force and threat of violence. Pretty hard to imagine thieves who are so bold as to break into a house, saying, "Oh my, what was I thinking? So sorry", and leaving unless under the threat of overwhelming force. If they don't like their odds of being harmed or captured, they will flee.
Exactly, if someone is bold enough to break into someone house with occupants, I am pretty sure that a peace symbol bumper sticker on the VW parked out front is not going to deter them.
An estimated 3.7 million household
burglaries occurred each year on
average from 2003 to 2007. In about
28% of these burglaries, a household member
was present during the burglary. In 7% of all
household burglaries, a household member
experienced some form of violent victimization.
I'm reminded of the priest in Le Miserable. I wonder how the story would have played out if he'd simply resorted to violence.
Jesus quote is clearly stated as though the homeowner's resistance would be such an obvious and correct response to invasion that He chose it to illustrate another point.
So the priest's actions, in your mind, weren't Christ like. I find that interesting. Christ would have been more supportive of a strong whack on the head? Perhaps scourged with a bull whip?
I am consistently flabbergasted for what passes as Christian thinking.
I believe i already have. You apparently don't like it.
You are only arguing for a violent interpretation because that's what you want to find. Others exist. The fact that you can't see it says more of your motivations than mine.
This passage has nothing to do with theft of personal possesions.
This passage is talking about a person being ready for the second coming of Christ and the devastation that is to follow before that time. Jesus is reminding the disciples that they are to be ready:
"But know this, that if the goodman of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up."
"The goodman", is a watchman but basically he is using the term "goodman" in the same way some of our early philosophers and writers used the term "Everyman" ...ie; a play by Charles Frohman in the early 1900 used this term to describe the common man.
But the term Goodman is also another way of of those times to distinctly describing one who is watching his masters home; other places have referred to him as the watchman.
“and would not have suffered his house to be broken up." has nothing to do with violence nor non-violence. It is talking simply about the lack of preparedness for that thief.
The goodman is watching and taking care of the owners home while the owner is away. By all logistics , since this was the goodman's job he should have been prepared at all times for a break-in or something that might happen
This is speaking to Gods people about being prepared at all times for the return and all that would come before. So, who is the thief? The thief is the one who would come to draw away the believer; the thief is the one who would steal your soul.
“To not suffer” means simply to not allow; that he would have been prepared and would not have allowed a break-in to occur had he known what hour the thief would come; how he prevented is not the point so much as that he would have been ready.
All of the surrounding verses in this passage is speaking of how things 'are going' to be at the time of the return of Christ, , but for the clencher here, to let you know that this IS what the passage is speaking of, look at the scripture immediately proceeding'
42 Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come."
And the the one following:
44 Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh
And then read all of the passages there so that you can see that this is NOT speaking of theft of personal your or our property.
See? Although there is probably scripture speaking of self defense, this is not one of them. This is speaking directly to being prepared for the second coming of Jesus and all that is going to occur before it.
In other words it is saying that you know Christ is to return but you do not know the hour, so be ready at all times. It also can easily say that you know that there are thieves and 'evil men' out there so be ready because you do not know when they may strike.
There is more than one message here. You are correct in regards to Matthew 24:43 being a warning to be ready. Consider though, the purpose of an analogy. Clarifying and illustrating a person's point by means of analogy requires picking a comparative that is fully accepted and indisputable to your audience. You are making them understand something new by showing how it is similar to something familiar. Therefore, utilizing protection of one's home against a thief as an analogy is a very strong endorsement of that action. It is proper therefore to use this verse to defend both points.
One of the main problems I have with this is that Jesus never acted in a manner which would imply he strongly endorsed this action. You are putting words into Jesus's mouth he may not have been inclined to say.
I'd be curious how you resolve that with the Sermon on the Mount. When Jesus was speaking to the multitude. He said "I say, don't resist an evil person." That isn't an endorsement through analogy. It's a statement made for all ears to hear. I'm assuming you'd consider a thief to be an evil person.
First, as others have pointed out Emile, you are speaking of a different Jesus, so there won't be agreement between us. You have locked onto a quote and out of context of all which believers would consider, decided what it means. Forget about Jesus being God, forget about why He came, forget about other things He said, forget about the rest of scripture and what we know of God from it, and most of all forget that none of it according to scripture itself can be understood without spiritual discernment provided by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Those who consider that nonsense will of course have a very different take on any of this based on whatever Jesus they decide to imagine.
Regarding your statement above, I am not putting words in Jesus mouth. He said them and His choice to use that analogy is a valid statement, just as I explained. You just chose to dismiss it, as you have elsewhere in this thread.
The sermon on the mount is a major study which common ground on who Jesus is, (a belief He is the Christ would be a good start), would be required to even begin to analyze it. I expect we can agree neither that nor consensus regarding the other foundational items I mentioned will be possible here.
Perhaps though, you can tell me how you resolve the quote you've chosen with the analogy Jesus gave, that I brought up. Or with Luke 22:52 where it is again acknowledged by Jesus that thieves are commonly met with a sword, (not condemning that but referencing it as that which is expected)? Or earlier in the same chapter when Jesus told the disciples to be sure to have swords, buying them if necessary? Or when His disciples asked Jesus if He wanted them to use those swords against those who came to capture Him? Wouldn't three years of training with Jesus have made the point clear if total pacifism were the default? This situation was unique, as others have explained repeatedly in this thread.
Again, we have no common ground to discuss this. I simply made the point to Debi to clarify that, as is common with scripture, much more than one point is often being made.
I don't think you represent all believers, so you might want to back off of that one. And, we are speaking of the same Jesus, unless you've got some text you are looking at that is't the same one I do.
Claiming an indwelling is, basically, you rubber stamping your beliefs. Although I am sure it is convenient, it isn't reason enough for anyone to accept what you say without using their brains in the process. I am not forgetting anything. I am putting it into context; by my understanding of who Jesus was, as the man. I certainly don't think God would treat taking human form as an opportunity to act in direct contradiction to what he hoped you might get from his words. Nor am I discounting why he came. That's the good news.
I'm not attempting to insist I'm right because of an indwelling of the Holy Spirit. I am saying you are wrong because you don't appear to take what Jesus said to heart; except the easy parts for you to digest. So, I do not consider Jesus, his mission, his message or his example nonsense. I see those who ignore his life as the ones that are imaging a more palatable Jesus.
And you have ignored the question. How do you take a statement he clearly made, when preaching to the multitude; and dismiss it out of hand in order to treat an analogy as some proof that violence is acceptable?
You have not answered my questions, but you have illustrated my points well.
Not very well side stepped bberean; but I get why you won't answer. And, you are the third evangelical to do that here in this thread. Very telling.
I responded both to your charge, and your question. I'll try to rephrase it for you, breaking down and addressing your loaded and misleading inquiry as you most recently stated it:
Now let's break it down:
I didn't dismiss it out of hand at all, I simply refused to take the bait of stripping a few words from the whole of the scripture, and presenting it out of context which brings us to the rest of your question:
I made a very clear case for why that analogy is part of the context regarding what Jesus taught and believed. A context you seem unwilling to consider, presumably as it goes against the Jesus you have made for yourself. I provided further examples to again clarify even more context, which you've also ignored.
If you reread what I posted earlier I also explained even this does not go far enough in understanding Jesus, as the entirety of scripture involves and explains God, and that same scripture speaks of the guidance of the Holy Spirit, (which you dismiss), as being critical to it's understanding.
The only way the argument of 'guidance of the Holy Spirit' holds up is if the ensuing argument is in line with the 'Holy Spirit'. Which, I don't see it as satisfying.
I don't believe you have ever answered the question. You can't justify one, if you accept the other. Jesus, by example, led a non violent life. Jesus, by his teaching, advocated non violence. God, by his actions during the life of Christ; displayed nonviolence as his approach.
Now you present Jesus, with an analogy, as advocating violence as a means of problem resolution. And the only defense you and others have presented for this are self satisfactory statements that you are guided by an unseen force or that you professed Jesus as your savior. As if this somehow clinches the argument. I am not unwilling to accept your argument; I simply don't see it as in line with his core ministry; so do not see justification for accepting it. Your words, compared with Jesus, don't line up. Who should take precedent?
I get that the text can read in many different ways and can be contradictory. Which is why the example of Christ becomes that much more important when attempting to understand those words. When in doubt, fall back on him. This is the problem I perceive with this evangelical approach. You are leaning, instead, on analogies and arguments in order to justify belief which is contradictory to his life.
No point looking for another way to put it. I've already explained, and another swing at it won't matter. Many different versions of Jesus can be made from your approach, and indeed they have been, (also something scripture foretold).
I am not asking you to change my mind; simply adequately defend your deviation. If you can't, that's OK.
Funny, though. I am not attempting to present a different version of Christ. I just don't see the warrior god you find.
Not only does a skewed version of Jesus have to be presented, but positions have to be misrepresented.
1 Jesus advocated violence.
2 Jesus was a warrior God.
3. The only arguments being made are self satisfactory or guided by the HS etc.
The strawmen are endless. They are obvious and endless.
1. Jesus cleared a temple using force.
2. Peter, after following Jesus for three years, used the sword he carried to remove an ear.
3. Some of Jesus teachings and parables, do not say to "hey just forgive them and let it go". Just the opposite, they involve retributive justice. Often very violently worded retributive justice.
4. The Bible makes it very clear that if someone is incidentally killed while breaking and entering that their is no guilt by the homeowner.
5. Jesus instructed the disciples to buy swords.
These unanswered rebuttals among many others are not a stance or position, but rebuttals only, and not an opinion of who Jesus definitively was or what He taught in entirety. But they are used to create jejune strawmen fallacies, as replacement for good debate.
In some 2,000 years after Jesus, people have studied the Bible exhaustively. I can assure everyone that no overly simplistic magic wand was waved at the time of Constantine and that was just the end of it.
Saint Peter, Saint Eustace, Saint Gregory, Saint Agathius, Saint Adrian, Saint Demetrius, Saint George, Saint Typasius, Saint Gereon , Saint Florian.
It's amazing I look in for a minute and you just posted.
I will ask you. What was Jesus's reaction when Peter used the sword? Do we have any evidence that, after the resurrection, Peter continued to use a sword? This is an important question. If it had been acceptable I don't think Jesus would have healed the ear and we would have ample evidence that the apostles were carrying swords around as they proselytized later.
Pre-resurrection and post resurrection actions by the apostles have to match up in order to show that pre-resurrection actions are in line with their understanding of the will of the Savior. Prior to that, he was not the savior. He was simply a teacher to them. The resurrection was a life changing, thought changing, event.
And yes you are right that the Bible says it is OK to kill someone breaking in. But, that is only if it is night time. There was a difference between what was allowed during daylight hours and after dark.
Please show me where the actions of Jesus, himself, support the idea that he ever used retributive justice. If it was acceptable, I'm sure he was using it during his ministry.
And, one last thing. Yes. The faith changed dramatically when it became the religion of the empire. Anyone who says different is selling something.
Jesus used force to clear the temple. Jesus preached retributive justice.
Saint Peter, Saint Eustace, Saint Gregory, Saint Agathius, Saint Adrian, Saint Demetrius, Saint George, Saint Typasius, Saint Gereon , Saint Florian.
Jesus clearing the temple was much more than it even appears, though he did no one physical harm I believe. It was nearly a miracle, that he got away with what he did. No one tried to stop him that we can see from the text. Turning over tables and benches and taking the time to make such a chord, we see a Christ that was fed up with the evil he was observing, and not afraid of the very people that wanted to kill him, nor the authorities. They knew it was wrong to be doing this. They knew the authority he was showing was legitimate and respected it I believe.
The reason the strawman arguments are so obvious, is that no one here really believes that Jesus lived or taught violence. YET, that has to be believed to be true for the sake of the illogical argument we see being employed. You can see the belief playing out in arguments that Christians are somehow deviating from Christ, but without making any cases for it. I think this is because there isn't a way to make such a case.
That and debating for pacifism, but using those arguments against people that aren't defending pacifism, but absolute pacifism.
You guys are the ones arguing that Jesus said you could meet a thief with violence. You guys are the ones saying you know this because you are being led by 'the holy spirit'. Out of curiosity, isn't Jesus one with the holy spirit? Or, are you saying you are not being guided by Jesus.
Again, aren't you one of the ones arguing that Jesus made it clear in his analogy that violence is acceptable?
Your assumption. I think you also assume that he used the whip on the people. I don't think that is explicitly said or implied.
Again, I must point out that Jesus was, obviously, displeased with this action. Again, I must point out that this was prior to his understanding fully who Jesus was. Again, I ask, do you have any evidence that Peter continued in this vein after the resurrection? Pre-resurrection behavior if not followed up with post-resurrection behavior implies a change of heart. A higher understanding.
True. But, the desire for retributive justice does not line up with Jesus's words on the cross.
No. It does not. According to the Mosaic law there is no retribution if a thief comes in at night; but there is blood guilt if you kill a thief in daylight. I would think, if we put on our thinking caps; we can see where electricity might change that rule just a bit. Not in favor of your argument, though.
**bangs head against wall** They said they had two. He said that is enough. Not building an army or setting up a line of defense. So, we must (again) put on our thinking caps. Whatever else could that have meant?
You have been answered. Again and again. Refusal to read is not reason to make a false statement.
There are many schools of thought, many denominations and many many many interpretations. If we are going to think of magic wands then I think you think you have one which magically makes your interpretation the only valid one.
No one said: Jesus said you could meet a thief with violence. It was clearly stated it was from the Bible and scripture. I have never said "led by the holy spirit. That is two.
"Jesus is warrior God", is not the same as "violence is acceptable" and it is certainly not the actual stance of absolute pacifism. So that is two more which equals four.
The rest is red herrings.
Are you saying that is not what bberean was arguing in favor of? If so, are you being totally honest? No one has argued that it wasn't something found in the Bible. What does that statement have to do with anything?
You may not had said you were led by the holy spirit, but you did say to me If you cannot recognize Jesus and state Jesus mission, then I feel you disqualify yourself . so you might tread carefully around accusing others of red herrings.
Well of course being a warrior god and accepting violence are not the stance of absolute pacifism. Did you just figure that one out?
I agree, and would like to add some things that goes along with some of the things you have already stated
Of course we know Jesus was not God, but he did represent him. For anyone to say Jesus was never angry is ridiculous, because he was not better than God, or stronger than God when it came to controlling his emotions, and from the Old Testament we see that God was angry many times, even full of wrath, and violent at times. To say that Jesus was never angry, is to say that Jesus was more in control of himself, than God was. To say we should never be angry, and should never be violent no matter what, is making mankind better than God.
If we entertain the idea that Jesus is God (to make my point, because I know that’s not true) than the Old Testament certainly shoots that idea down
I looked up words in the online bible
When Jesus cleared the temple of the moneychangers and animal-sellers, He showed great emotion and anger (Matthew 21:12-13; Mark 11:15-18; John 2:13-22). Jesus’ emotion was described as “zeal” for God’s house (John 2:17). His anger was pure and completely justified because at its root was concern for God’s holiness and worship. Because these were at stake, Jesus took quick and decisive action. Another time Jesus showed anger was in the synagogue of Capernaum. When the Pharisees refused to answer Jesus’ questions, “He looked around at them in anger, deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts” (Mark 3:5).
Many times, we think of anger as a selfish, destructive emotion that we should put an end to from our lives altogether. But, the fact that Jesus did sometimes become angry indicates that anger itself, as an emotion, lacks any moral sense, or is not based on right or wrong. This is shown elsewhere in the New Testament. Ephesians 4:26 instructs us “in your anger do not sin” and not to let the sun go down on our anger. The command is not to “avoid anger” (or suppress it or ignore it) but to deal with it properly, in a timely manner. We see the following facts about Jesus’ displays of anger:
His anger had the proper motivation. In other words, He was angry for the right reasons. Jesus’ anger did not arise from petty arguments or personal slights against Him. There was no selfishness involved.
His anger had the proper focus. He was not angry at God or at the “weaknesses” of others. His anger targeted sinful behavior and true injustice. (like person #1 hurting person #2 physically, and person #3 coming to their aid, and using violence to stop person #1 this is proper focus toward a true injustice)
America coming up against the militants that rape, kill, and take over the weaker people and countries is proper focus against true injustices, and is the reason we've been blessed-plus our being allies of Israel
His anger had the proper duration. He did not allow His anger to turn into bitterness; He did not hold grudges. He dealt with each situation properly, and He handled anger in good time.
When we get angry, too often we have improper control or an improper focus. We fail in one or more of the above points. This is the wrath of man, of which we are told “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires
For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God.” (James 1:19-20). Jesus did not exhibit man’s anger, but the righteous indignation of God
Helping someone with violence to keep them from being hurt is not the “wrath of man”, but is the “righteous indignation of God”
How strange that the “righteous indignation of God” only seems to be applied to those whom we have no political, economic or strategic interest in. The Saudi authorities who murder women for committing 'adultery' are apparently not deserving of god's indignation. The Israeli Defense Force killing Palestinian children in their school with shells are apparently not deserving of god's indignation either. Does god not like Saudi women and Palestinian children? Or is harming innocents acceptable as long it is done by our political allies?
The war raging in the Middle East has nothing to do with righteous indignation. If there were no political, economic or strategic advantage for us to be involved, we wouldn't be. Don't try to sell it as some sort of holy war being fought on moral grounds. That's religious propaganda. It's not a holy war, it's a political one.
Besides, there is nothing holy about war. War is a complete failure. A failure of civilisation. A failure to live as Jesus challenged humanity to live: peacefully. And saying 'they started it' doesn't make it any better. Because there is no such thing as 'us' and 'them', it's all just us, humanity, collectively. ISIS are not aliens. They are just other human beings. The things that cause ISIS to be what they are, exist in all of us. And the fact that the conditions existed that allowed ISIS to gain influence in the first place is an indictment of all of us. We, humanity, collectively, are to blame for the war in the Middle East, not god's indignation righteous or otherwise.
You are using religion to justify violence, which I think is deplorable. You even say that we are 'blessed' because we use violence to protect people. Having to resort to violence in order to protect people is not being blessed, it's being cursed. As a non Christian I would suggest we have evolved in a way that makes competing for resources a biological imperative. As a Christian you might just call it original sin. However you want to describe it, that is what we are really fighting: human nature, and our own failings as a species. That is what we need to overcome. The attitude you have does not help us to do that.
There is nothing good about war. Even if you say it helped saved some people from harm, the fact that you had to do that at all, is still a tragedy. War is not an example of god's righteous indignation. It's an example of man's sinful folly.
I'm not going to argue with you Don because you have your opinion, and I have my military dad to keep me informed.
We do not declare war on everyone who murders someone, and I didn't say everything America did or didn't do is good. But you did know you can't declare war
on Allies? I back America in their decisions
That is not for this thread, I was using it as an example, and you believe what you wish, and so will I
Back on topic
No disrespect to you or your 'military dad', but I don't believe either of you are the arbiters of 'god's righteous indignation' and I don't believe the US military is either.
You said we 'do not declare war on everyone who murders someone'. Technically we haven't declared war on anyone since WWII (I don't think declaring 'war on drugs' and 'war on terror' count as formal declarations of war). But in principle you're right, we do not use military force against every regime that routinely murders and represses its citizens. And that is exactly the point. The use of military force is based on political, economic, and long-term strategic considerations. If it were was based on moral principles, then we would be involved in a military conflict with North Korea right now. The fact we are not, demonstrates very clearly that morality is not the driving factor for deploying the US military. Unless of course you are suggesting that the suffering inflicted on the citizens of North Korea by the current regime is morally right.
Conflating politically motivated violence with religious belief is both dangerous and disingenuous. It's exactly what the church did in the middle ages. Surely Christianity has moved on from that.
I agree with you
This is my viewpoint
Pacifism is sometimes confused with being passive.
Passive means to accept or allow what happens or what others do without active response to it.
Passiveness is what Jesus taught, and not pacifism
Many will say they are the same thing, but they aren't
And Jesus wasn't even passive all the time, like when he ran the money changers out of the temple. Whether he hit someone with the whip is irrelevant, because he at least brought out the whip as a threat. I personally think he did use the whip on them
If not on the people, at least on the animals
What Jesus meant by being passive
Jesus and the Adultress
Mary was caught in adultery, and the Pharisees were going to stone her, but first they wanted to use her to trick Jesus.
Jesus saved the adulteress woman from being killed.
“And the scribes and Pharisees brought unto him a woman taken in adultery; and when they had set her in the midst”
Jesus first ignored the Pharisees when they spoke to him, then he stopped them from stoning Mary for adultery, and he did it in a passive way by saying
“He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her” (John 8:7)
He caused them to allow their spirits to convict them
“And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst” (John 8:9)
But there are situations where passiveness can't be used. We have to ask, if the Pharisees had not been convicted by their own spirit, and started to stone Mary, what would Jesus have done then? Use violence to save her? Or let her die? If he had let Mary die, I don't think I'd have any respect for him
When Jesus ran out the moneychangers from the temple it was because he felt it was important enough to use violence
Gandhi was not against violence if necessary, as Jesus wasn’t.
We need to come to the aid of countries, and people in trouble. We should love our neighbor
Being Passive in daily life is good if the situation can be handled that way, but it can't always
That's too bad monkeyshine because in showing the selectiveness of Gods righteous indignation Don W makes some excellent points that are actually very relevant to the conversation. In fact, they are comments that could carry this whole conversation in looking at the reasons that righteous indignation would be shown only towards America or 'certain' acts of violence and not all.
We have a thread for that, so that's where he'd post it.
Why are you responding to me, but replying to Emile's remark? I wouldn't have known you were speaking to me except for you calling me Monkeyshine
We don't declare war on Allies, we have contracts with them, and we would never stop Israel from defending themselves. No one seems to care about the Jewish children who were killed, and the bible tells us to pray for, and bless Israel, right?
I don't know why people who don't stand by America live here
That's all about that for me
I understand analogy. This was the first thing I considered before I wrote my comment. The first thing that I usually consider before I use a passage outside of context is if it can be used for another purpose without turning it completely upside down.
Matthew 24:43 is not one of those passages.
Even though the words 'would not suffer' (his house to be broken into) are broad and could easily encorporate the use of violent means if necessary, this was not at all the intent that Jesus had for saying this. First consider though, Jesus was specifically stressing the importance of being prepared ahead of time. THAT was his only point in this passage. The use of whatever means necessary to keep the thief from entering is a very small part and, considering the way that it is introduced and backed up with the idea of being pro-active and prepared shows that being ready was the main intent.
The entire chapter is clearly given for this purpose, although I do understand how you have chosen that specific phrase to show that Jesus is not against the use of force when needed. But here in this passage the phrase has to do with doing whatever is necessary ahead of time to Prevent the need of force or other violent action in order to procure the safety of the home, or in this case, the individual; the soul.
Again, I am not speaking against the use of violence if necessary to defend, but this is not, neither literally nor allegorically meant as a means of advocating violence. Its sole intent, from the beginning to the end is one of being alert and prepared; remaining alert before hand so that no stronger action is needed.
True, usually messages you find in the bible have two meanings, the literal, and the spiritual.
You have to have a literal meaning to show spiritual meanings such as the ones you mention. Just common sense
There is an ongoing assumption that its violent to not allow others to commit violence against others. Its not "resorting to violence." To answer you, there would be no story very likely, as it counts on the thief getting away then getting rehabilitated.
The thing is, that isn't what DonW has been saying early Christians were mimicking, but rather Jesus and his teachings. So it doesn't fit in this argument. If the argument was, "Are Christians authentic in being absolute pacifists like is observed by the priest in Victor Hugo's novel?" Well then it would be applicable or helpful.
Thank you for sharing another point, that shows that Jesus isn't an absolute pacifist. One can't expect a thief to be put off by a simple wagging of the finger, or fasting and praying, or asking him to politely leave.
Thanks to Jesus for sharing some practical views that make logical sense in the face of others committing violence. I imagine that owner of the house, if the thief didn't leave after trying a pacifist approach, may have relied on his sword that many in that culture and day carried for exactly that purpose or for reacting to wild beasts. I have to side with reason and logic and Jesus on this one.
You see violence where other options exist. Does that bear witness to Jesus's frame of mind, or yours?
All I said was that he had a sword. You can use that to scare someone off. I am referring to the fact that they had swords in that day. Please defend your point of view that Jesus only could mean absolute pacifism by that verse with a thief breaking in. (Absolute pacifism, the view you have clarified in the last post I responded to, and attempting to refute the points of others, being against absolute pacifism.)
I gave other examples too, please respond to those. They were things like wagging of the finger at the thief, asking him to politely leave, or do you suggest they phone emergency, like 911 in the US? What practical way do you propose in which all win in the case of others committing violence against others? Short of using anything but absolute pacifism.
Please defend your view, that Jesus meant that absolute pacifism can defend against a thief that means to cause harm. If you can not, can you lay off the put downs? Its easy to do that, while not making ones case, and making others look like they aren't making theirs. Otherwise, it appears to be petty and just fighting and disagreeing for the sake of it. Looking forward to how you would deal with an intruder in your home in that day. I have not stated how I would deal with it, but am not making the claims that you have. Thank you.
The Bible Says - If a thief is caught breaking in at night and is struck a fatal blow, the defender is not guilty of bloodshed..
: causing death
: a person who defends someone or something
: the Christian scriptures, consisting of the 66 books of the Old and New Testaments.
Confusion regarding Jesus is inevitable for those who do not know He is God, or understand or believe why He came or what He did. In willingly taking the humiliation and aggression, to the point of death, that He did not deserve, those who believe He was merely a man setting an example would obviously see Him as the ultimate pacifist. Clearing the confusion in this thread would require bringing them to the correct understanding of Christ, and this is an unlikely starting point for that, so the disagreement will go unresolved here.
Yes, it will go unresolved. I agree bBerean. Jesus is a man who had Spirit foremost in his mind and being and came to deliver us from the illusion of the material world on so many levels and in so may ways, we cannot fathom.
To label him this or that or whatever is futile.
Way to go bberean. The example of Christ isn't good enough for Christians, I see. Honestly, that's been clear for some time. It's just fun to watch those who can't defend their thoughts and actions when faced with the example Christ left for us fall back on comments such as that.
Jesus didn't do anything remotely like what you are attempting to argue. Why is that, do you think? Just because he was in human form? Now that he's in God form he's a monster? Why wouldn't he show his true nature when he had the opportunity?
Laugh away… But at the final curtain call, you'll wish you had worked a little harder to read the Bible and absorb the messages directly without prejudice, with openness, with reverence and respect. And ask yourself…would we all be enjoying this world and our lives if Jesus had not died for us?????
It is something to contemplate if you ask me.
Actually Kathryn I have read the Bible. I appear to have more respect for the man and his message. I see it, understand it, know how difficult it is to truly live it. Not like some Christians who pervert the man into a more palatable image.
Perhaps, at the final curtain, you will find that putting your wants above the needs of others didn't really pan out the way you hoped it would.
...unless you see that fulfilling the needs of others makes them happy. and their happiness makes you happy.
What is the actual difficulty in the discussion according to you, Emile?
How do you figure you have more respect for Jesus and his message than the others here you are disagreeing with? Is it because they don't believe in absolute pacifism? If so, can you explain why not believing in absolute pacifism means you don't respect Jesusthe message of Jesus?
Then you said people here are perverting the man into a more palatable image. How can you say that, and can you defend that statement which I find completely untrue? How has Kathryn put her wants and needs above others by simply sharing her views here?
Absolute pacifism doesn't mean to put your wants and needs above others. Unless you mean it would be a good thing to let a terrorist that has a want or a need to kill her, and she puts her "want or need to stay alive" over their "wanting her dead." My example may sound bold, yet its the only thing being defended here, can you defend in an example how she has put her wants and needs over others?
There really is no historcal evidence that Jesus actually existed as a living man. Our minds are powerful and to learn the concepts as taught in scripture about the teachings of Jesus through threat of hell if we do not believe is enough to give humans a strong will to believe thus bringing about the changes that you may be speaking of when you ask if we would even have the world that we have to today if Jesus had not died for the sins of the world.
I have been trying to determine exactly what are the privileges that you yourself see when you ask that question. In your opinion how did the death of Jesus create the world that people enjoy today?
If you read what Jesus said in the gospels about how he was laying down his own life, when he could call on angels to rescue him, as well as learn what the reason was including his resurrection, you would see why he did it just the way he did. Its a fulfillment of his whole mission.
As we see, it still gets our attention to this day. He wasn't letting evil win though in that case. He was doing the greatest conquering of evil ever witnessed in all of humanity's history. If we laid down our life in like manner every time someone might want to take it, we WOULD be letting evil win, not conquering it like Jesus did. I think these particulars matter, or they do to me anyway. I hope they will to others that might want to see it.
Thinking out loud:
And he did it with non-violence. He turned the other cheek. He did not fight for his life.
Can we be like that???
should we be like that????
Do we have that particular mission?
If the terrorists behead one of our own, would we allow it and say,
Wow, I forgive you!
Who was a "man after God's own heart?"
Whose throne will Jesus rule from?
What was that man's role, and what would be done under his leadership?
If pacifism is the answer, how does one reconcile that?
Part of why Jesus took the assault he did, especially being perfect and undeserving, was to take on the punishment of all sin of all time, onto himself, for us. It was for what he would accomplish, as painful as it was in more ways than we often recognize. (Separation from His Father, which is why He cried about being forsaken.... It was agonizing for Him.) Yes, he conquered all he did without having to commit any violence, but crushed violence, sin and death with one blow in doing so. He knew and predicted his own resurrection, which was seen as pure blasphemy to the religious leaders of the day.
We can't be exactly like that I don't think in actuality, because of who he was and what he accomplished, but we can always try our best to emulate him in any manner we can that is in line with the overall message and context of the gospels.. I believe it is to be our goal. Using the term turning the other cheek, is used in a different sense in the scriptures but yes, he took the offense, all the offense in fact.
I think Jesus was overall Kingdom minded, and spoke of life both here and now and then eternal life as well. Whatever causes the most people to see and be a part of that Kingdom, and not have to perish for their own sins, the better. So if we are dead at the hands of murderers, its hard to share the good news, and we can accomplish more being alive.
In the very sad state of affairs some find themselves in however, captured or imprisoned like American Pastor Saeed Abedini, we can do our best in that scenario with God's help, grace and mercy. I think some have impact even in those scenarios, and I need to pray more for those like him who are being imprisoned and persecuted throughout the world. I find that at that point, we can appeal to our government for help to get release hopefully, but as for fighting, how do you fight once in that state? (Our government hasn't seemed to do much for him to this point, after all these years, and his wife and children miss him dearly, a very sad story.) You can still fight the good fight through prayer, and remembering you are not alone and that God will be glorified in all things. So this is why I think the particulars matter and can be discussed.
As for beheading one of our own, I would say no, to never "allow" it if it can be avoided. Yet if it can't be avoided, of course choosing good over evil, like saying "I forgive you!" is in order. I think at that point, forgiving still is one way to show that good is even more powerful than that kind of dark evil. Good trumps evil always. Even when all manner of appearances show otherwise. Evil is allowed for a time. Those are tough questions, but good ones.
I suppose he laid down his life so that you could ignore the example of it. Very strange, indeed.
The example!!!! There is more than example going on, for gosh sakes!
He had a MISSION from GOD!
When I share why Jesus' example was a particular and unique case, why do you say, "I suppose he laid down his life so that you could ignore the example of it." I thought it was a good thing to take the time to explain it again since you have missed so many posts.
Can you please stop just accusing people of doing what they are not doing, or at least show how I am ignoring Jesus' example? I don't believe I have to die at the hands of a murderer, just lay down and take it. That is my stance. Please show how this is ignoring Jesus' example. Thank you.
Well, I think we can all agree that even God wouldn't expect anyone to lay down and die at the hands of a murderer. It would be insane to expect anyone to do that willingly. Yet, I also consider it a ridiculous argument because no one would expect another human being to do that. If it is your understanding that the only way I would think anyone could follow the example of Jesus is to allow themselves to be crucified then you are ignoring his entire ministry in order to believe such as that.
If you agree with us that even God wouldn't expect such things, then why be so against those in this discussion that you might actually agree with? It is Don'W's argument that the authentic early Christians based on evidence from some quotes he found of the early Church fathers, did just that. He believes it was the stance of the early church and wondered at the change since Constantine.
So only you know the answer why you took Don's side against what I think is probably more reflective of your actual views. I hope you understand more now? I hope you can recant at least some of your remarks, now that you might understand more?
I hear you, but even if they don't agree, many here will understand what he said his mission was. Many have read the New Testament. They understand the greater point of how Jesus went to the cross and why. I believe that even as a unbeliever, they could see how this isn't meant to be attempted to mimic, because no one else COULD be the savior of the world, even in that context. I don't know that it requires complete belief to get why its not the same, nor meant to be an example.
So I think Jesus' one time example could be used as an excuse to try and shame Christians or allude to them as possibly unauthentic Christians for not copying what wouldn't make sense to in the first place.
Emile's response makes my case: http://hubpages.com/forum/post/2711031
I agree it remains worthwhile for others who might be reading and have "ears to hear", I was just speaking about those who you have been discussing this with and others of like mind.
I think you are on to something, in that Jesus is just someone with some philosophies, not even that, a caricature. A caricature to make an argument. Jesus is not the Son of God, he is a lampoon to find fault with those that actually believe.
So, we should all simply pretend that Jesus was what you guys are attempting to make him out to be? The image of you? I don't see an upside to that.
" what you guys " and " image of you " are contradictory in that "all of us guys cannot just be one of us. I assume, Us guys believe that Jesus is the Son of God, who died for our sins and rose from the dead. Jesus is our personal Savior. What is Jesus to you?
No. You guys would be all those arguing that Jesus expects you to kill someone for stealing. All who are advocating violence as a first solution when faced with violence. Basically, everyone ignoring everything the man stood for.
What he is to anyone isn't the point. Do you think just because you claim to believe he is the son of God you can ignore his ministry? Does this make any sense at all?
Know yourself. Know what motivates you. Know why the law exists; what it's intent was. You all sound like lawyers. Yes this, but it really means this. Because you perceive a lowest common denominator and you have to figure out a way to protect yourself against that contingency. It isn't reacting to a message of love. It is creating a safety zone inside fear. Fear of your fellow man. Is that loving your neighbor?
If you trace every action back to the action that preceded it (that which it is reacting to) don't you think you can find some point where love would have made a difference? Where violence could have been averted had the action it reacted to been love? You argue for justification for violence. But, it is violence that beget violence in the first place. Wrongs which propel wrong into a farther reaching spiral.
Isn't it? Although I cannot speak for all of us, although I assume it is very similar, but to me Jesus is the Son of God, who died for my sins and was resurrected. Jesus is my personal Savior. What is Jesus to you?
Again. Please explain why calling him your savior allows you to completely ignore his ministry? If Jesus is the son of God, who died for your sins.....how can you ignore him?
Actually, what would Jesus have us do? He knows we aren't dying for the sins of humanity, and we aren't God.
Ho hum. Of course no one is dying and no one is God. I will ask again. God could have created any scenario he chose in order to accomplish the same goal. Why would he chose to have Jesus walk among us for so many years? Why the ministry? If everything Jesus the man stood for can be so cavalierly dismissed.....why bother with the whole thing?
His ministry lasted three short years.
He came to save us.
He taught us how to live. He told us God exists. We carry on as humans trying to become the gods we were designed to be. God loves us and expects us to fight for what is right and good.
Like this country. Can you imagine the tedious battles we waged against the British?
I am hopelessly patriotic and I hope any president will maintain what this country is and what it offers for all God's people who believe in Him no matter what true religion they follow…Jihadists do not follow a true religion and do not know what God or Love is.
Thank You for this Freedom of Speech which my forefathers fought for.
It is your claim that what Jesus stood for is being cavalierly dismissed. But you will not say who Jesus is.
How can anyone that cannot even publicly admit who or what they think Jesus is or was, claim everyone else is cavalierly dismissing what He stood for? I am not embarrassed or shy, or whatever it may be. I sin. Big time sinner, low man on the totem poll Christian. I probably grieve God on a regular basis. But here I am, I aint scared. Jesus is the Son of God and my personal savior.
How can anyone that cannot even publicly admit who or what they think Jesus is or was, claim everyone else is cavalierly dismissing what He stood for?
Read the gospels. If the example of the man wasn't worthy of respect we wouldn't be having this conversation. Mouthing words means nothing. As evidenced here. You can't love someone you show absolutely no respect for.
So what should Obama be doing to protect our nation and the nations of others who could be affected by the growing influence of Jihad?
He has gone to the United Nations. He has gone to the Muslim Brotherhood.
He has done this and that already, but when it comes down to it, will he, as Commander in Chief, take steps to protect us?
I just don't think so and I don't know why not.
I could be wrong.
I deleted my last post. If you had read it, or were responding to it; I apologize.
I don't know why there is this perception that Obama isn't protecting us. I don't know that he is, or isn't. I think a lot of our problems could have been avoided if we simply stopped depending on foreign oil. This whole Middle East dilemma could be forgotten if we didn't have the perception of the need for them. I've always said if I was president and wanted a legacy I'd build infrastructure and subsidize the drive to get us all in either electric of hydrogen fuel cell cars. Cut the defense budget down to just defending our borders for a couple of years and use the surplus cash for getting us energy independent. Then we could simply tell them to bugger off. We could care less. Take the oil money away from them and they'd either evolve and join the modern world or disappear into the sahara.
If you want to blame someone for the world situation. Blame big corporations. Not the president.
I don't think you are wrong for sensing that, though I hope you and I are wrong.
One thing is for sure, that when he said he wanted to fundamentally transform America, he wasn't joking.
Respect? Love? Mouthing words means nothing? I have read the Gospels.
Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven.
Who is Jesus to you?
The entire verse reads 32"Therefore everyone who confesses Me before men, I will also confess him before My Father who is in heaven. 33"But whoever denies Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father who is in heaven.
Who is denying Christ in this conversation? Quite a few are quoting everything they can, from every part of the text outside of the gospels.....in order to justify behavior patterns that do not, in any way, line up with what he identified as the two greatest commandments. This belief that you can sway from those because it is expedient, or because it makes your life easier is, in my opinion, denying Christ. It is religious jargon specifically designed to ignore what he said mattered most.
Those who enter these forums and call him the son of God or God incarnate invariably are the ones who sideline Jesus. I find it interesting that people who call him God or the son of God are the ones who ignore him most.
I noticed one poster scoff at the idea of thinking 'what would Jesus do' and suggested instead one think 'what would Jesus have us do'. I see this as setting the stage for making one's life easier. It's the first step in justifying wavering from the path. Setting oneself up for rationalizing behavior patterns which deviate. I don't think that is what Jesus would have anyone do.
Most of us have been quoting scripture from the gospels, that we feel pertains to absolute pacifism. The commandments are to love God and to love your neighbor. I do not believe we can love God or our neighbor if we allow our neighbor to be murdered and do not defend them by whatever means possible. My life would be a lot easier if I did not have to save someone from being murdered. That would be expedient to me, just to go on my way.
It is very interesting that you believe that confessing Christ in public is "religious jargon" with some disingenuous intent behind it, for those that do. Jesus has a way of separating the men from the boys that way, a variance, as the rest of that verse plays out, to see who really loves Him. For me, Jesus mission here on earth was to do certain things. He is made a priest after the order of Melchizedek, and in that capacity, He was to make a substitutionary sacrifice. Jesus said He had the authority to lay down His life and the authority to take it up again. This is my stated positions. We are all waiting for you to state your positions on who Jesus was or is. These positions are relevant, to gauge ensuing premises.
I believe that It is imperative that we understand Jesus mission, rather than, choosing a couple of quotes here and there and brandishing them about, while calling other quotes religious jargon, then claiming everyone else is not adhering to Jesus. You have not qualified yourself to make such au fait, dogmatic claims. You are making the claims, along with the strawmen, yet you will not even clarify your position on who Jesus was or is. If you cannot recognize Jesus and state Jesus mission, then I feel you disqualify yourself from making wholesale claims. It's like a backseat driver soon-to-be hitchhiker, kinda deal.
Share with me the details of the last time you had to save someone from being murdered. I can't remember the last time I was put in such a position. I find it interesting to think your life would be easier if you could just go on your way. How would you sleep at night? And, more interestingly, why is that at the forefront of your mind? How many people do you know who have been murdered? I don't know anyone, so maybe that is why I consider this whole line of discussion outlandish and looking for reasons to hate other human beings.
I realize it is easier to argue against someone thinking 'everyone' who does such is considered in that manner. But, that isn't true. I just think those who confess Christ from one side of their mouth and then argue against his teachings on the other are spouting religious jargon. If that wasn't clear I do apologize for the confusion.
Yes. I've heard this argument before. Agree with me or Jesus won't recognize you. Basically, it's an asinine argument. Unless, I'm to believe you are the mouthpiece of Jesus on earth. If so, I'll need some type of proof.
OK. So, you think he was a priest, who had to make a sacrifice. He could lay down his life and take it up again. That's it? So, his ministry means nothing to you. It isn't part of your stated position, at all.
Here's my position. If Jesus was the son of God, or God incarnate........you should put his words above every other word you can possible place any value on. My stated position is that if your words, your intent and your actions don't strive to fulfill the two commandments he made clear were the greatest; than you fail. Of course,we all fail. But if you don't even try....that's a problem.
Well, you already stated his mission was to be a priest and a sacrifice. You didn't add anything to that. So, to be a teacher and a role model are not part of your understanding.But, they are the primary part of my understanding. So, brandishing 'scripture' to bypass his teaching and example is religious jargon; by my estimation.
Nor, have you qualified yourself to make any statements.
I know it's always fun to throw out the accusation of 'strawmen' but even though you and others have repeatedly misrepresented my view, by my estimation, I haven't returned in kind. Mainly because I simply assume you don't get it. I get that. It's sad, but I accept it.
No, what I haven't done is say whatever it is you want to hear.
And this tendency to claim Jesus as your savior without giving him the courtesy of attempting to follow his example is kind of like someone telling me I'm the best cook alive and refusing to eat the food I make. Ignoring his words and his example makes absolutely no sense when you claim he is the son of God.
It is my opinion that If you do not understand that the duty to rescue, with reasonable force if necessary, supersedes absolute pacifism or any other kind of pacifism, then It is my opinion that you are not aware of who Jesus is, His mission or His example.
Again. It is obvious that you willingly ignore my statements. This is becoming a habit of yours.
I am not willing to address red herrings. It is just too time consuming and pointless. I try to ignore your ad homs, and I try not to return in kind. Do you or don't you understand or do you or don't you disagree, that a duty to rescue innocent people from any peril, if the only option is force, supersedes pacifism, based upon your understanding of Jesus.
By my understanding of the words and actions of Jesus; laying down your life in defense of another is preferred. Killing to avoid being killed is not. Killing to avoid killers killing is not.
Can we live by that? Obviously not.
Preferred? Is that some new absolute pacifism stipulation? Absolute pacifism with a disclaimer is not absolute, no matter how it is spun.
I've never claimed to be an absolute pacifist. I could't claim that because I don't blame people for choosing a violent solution when it is to save human life. However, violence is always a tragedy. It is admitting that we have given up on reaching out to the person on the other end of the gun. It is the end of a chain reaction where somewhere, some moment in the life of the person labeled the perpetrator, violence could have been averted. A life saved is a life lost; in your scenario. What of the life lost? You probably think good riddance. I wonder where in that life other human beings weren't there with non violent solutions when it would have made a difference.
Instead of lashing out, being willing to think up all the scenarios where we can justify violence; we would better serve ourselves and our fellow man to think up scenarios where we can attempt to understand other human beings so violence doesn't have to be a 'solution'.
Isn't that one of the points of the story of Jesus? God found a non violent solution for the worship of him? Aren't you, by attempting to justify violence through the love of God, going against the whole spirit of that solution?
Is that what I think?
I am not creating scenarios to justify violence. I am creating scenarios to test the boundaries of absolute pacifism.
The story of Jesus? A non-violent solution to worship Him?
But what of the harm we have all caused with our words and actions. How do we resolve that? Who picks up the tab on that?
I agree that words and actions cut as deeply as any sword. But, you were discussing physical violence. Are we changing the subject now?
I think harm of any kind to others is very much something that ought to matter to Christians that esteem the teachings and actions of Jesus. If we preach absolute pacifism ongoing, only to harm with our words, then isn't that a bit telling also?
I can't imagine someone being for absolute pacifism even in life and death scenarios, but thinking its ok to harm with words. Speaking in general here, but its worth noting and I was thinking the same thing tonight, ironically.
I'm attempting to be nice here. You were having a discussion with Don about absolute pacifism. Not me. I've never advocated anyone being able to live up to the ideal of absolute pacifism by my definition, or anyone being foolish enough to attempt to live by your definition. If you want to continue to argue from that stance, I'm not the one whose posts you should be replying to.
Well this surprises me. Thanks for the clarification at this point, and I have only been responding from that point of view since the beginning and you have interacted with me a lot in that time, complementing and reading all Dons post, and used the words absolute pacifism even. So you can see my assumption you were discussing the same points we were.
While you may not be advocating anyone to be able to live up to the ideals you see in Jesus, you do not seem to mind sharing with them when you perceive they are not living up to them. I only say all of this to explain why I thought very differently from what you say there. Hopefully we more fully understand each other now, even if we disagree. I know I have a much better understanding and have learned a lot.
I wanted to add too, that in my discussion with Don and others on this thread, its not that letting oneself die at the hands of any murderer is the complete definition as I have "made up" and therefore discussing. (Speaking of the absolute pacifism) Its the way we defined it playing out early on and then went on from there. I confirmed it with him, "like even to death, never fighting or causing harm even then?" Amazingly, the answer was yes. This is not an attempt to discuss this with anyone now, but to share how or why those here, got to be discussing that particular point to that extreme. Its not "just my definition" or anything, and I had not clarified that, but saw one at least took it to be that it was my simply my personal definition. (I don't have any reason to argue that it wouldn't be an example of absolute pacifism either.)
I suppose I should reiterate (for the umpteenth time) that I don't agree with your definition, have made it clear and have not been discussing it. If you insist on forcing others to agree with your premises; that, again, creates confusion.
No, you did with your "Jesus story was a non-violent solution to worship Him". Can you provide a verse for that?
Your belief seems different than mine and John The Baptist's.
But what of the harm we have all caused with our words and actions. How do we resolve that? Who picks up the tab on that?
Look! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! and But you know that he appeared so that he might take away our sins.
Don't take this the wrong way, but one should not have to supply a verse to support the obvious. Pre-Jesus. Animal Sacrifice. Post-Jesus. No need for animal sacrifice. Have you ever wondered how many animals were sacrificed, daily, at the Jewish temple in Jerusalem during Jesus' time? How many lambs might have been slaughtered at passover? How many animals the gentiles who were soon to be converts were slaughtering within the other religions?
Did I miss a verse where John the Baptist says keep slaughtering animals even if this guy gets crucified and raises from the grave?
Yes. That was, in my opinion, Jesus's greater point. Thoughts, words and actions are all responsible for the problems of the world. What we think secretly, influences how we act and speak. Why do you think his response to the question about adultery was that even if you think it, you are guilty of it? That is the point I was attempting to make when I asked you about the chain of events which leads to violence. How the person you are imagining to be the perpetrator came to that juncture. It's why I said we can all be classified as 'sinners'. We hurt others in some way no matter how hard we may try not to. We all fail if our thoughts and actions are run through the sieve of the two commandments. Even the 'absolute pacifist' everyone is arguing against will fail because somehow, someone is hurt by their actions which are a result of their thoughts.
I am sure we disagree on the meaning of that one. The easy way is to think 'Hey, I'm forgiven everything. All I have to do is believe it. Those who don't believe it, aren't included' But, without accepting that he said 'the world'.....making it personal only....that's part of the problem. And that belief spurs all religion which has to ignore the assumption that God fulfilled the two commandments as the starting premise of Jesus's life.
Is there universal law? If so, what is it?
I see. You believe that the point of Jesus or one point of Jesus was to end animal sacrifices so people could worship God without killing animals. That way there is some non-violent moral to a story.
The sacrifices, were mostly for atonement of sin, some for guilt offering and others for peace offering. As opposed to worship, they were for recognizing and an assuming of responsibility.
I disagree with your mischaracterization - "Hey, I'm forgiven everything. All I have to do is believe it. Those who don't believe it, aren't included." The easy way is to suggest everyone else has nefarious intent, I guess, and then argue against that manufactured characterization. I cannot know the intent of some other persons heart, to recklessly make some claim like that, and even if it were so, that is between them and God.
Although I do not speak for all Christians, or any Christians, for that matter, but to make my points clearer regarding what we are speaking about is this: Is there a universal law?
For me the universal law is: seared consciences will be convicted of heart, without acceptation.
I am not sure that God is wanting an animal sacrifice, or just worship, or how much we claim to love others, or a 50 billion dollar donation to charity. I believe that He is just waiting for each individual's heart. He wants relationship with that human being on those terms. And it is no concern to anyone else, but them and God.
seared consciences will be convicted of heart, without acceptation.
Could you explain that?
I do agree that there were reasons for the sacrifice as you stated. But, no one would have gone through those hoops for any reason other than to please a god. A show of worship. Or, fear. Either way, the practice was ended.
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart....
A broken spirit? I don't know that I could agree with that. Although, I am going to assume you don't mean what I think you mean.
To the contrite heart...I think Jesus said something to the effect of if you are at the altar and remember you have offended someone, leave the altar and go immediately to correct that. Sometimes I don't get the impression that Christians ponder this. What does that mean, to you? Do you think asking God's forgiveness is better than asking forgiveness from another human? Just curious.