Is Jesus a Pacifist?

Discussion in '2003 Archive' started by LadyEagle, Jun 30, 2003.

  1. LadyEagle

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    It has been asserted by a liberal member of our board that Jesus is a pacifist. Is this true?

    I say yes & no. Will explain later. Or if someone understands my Biblical basis for saying yes & no, please articulate for me. :eek:

    So the question is:

    Is Jesus a Pacifist? Scriptures?

    Well.... ;)
     
  2. Grasshopper

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    If Jesus is God, then all we have to do is look in the Old Testament to see that Jesus is no pacifist.
     
  3. new man

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    I say no.

    Jesus a pacifist? Who do we worship, some cosmic Mr. Rogers or the King of the Universe?

    Russ &lt;&gt;&lt;
     
  4. MissAbbyIFBaptist

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    My Saviour sure isn't one! I can just imagine Jesus at the temple with the "theives" "Now fellas, could you please move those things out of my temple? I would greatly apreciate it." YEAH RIGHT! And uh, didn't he at one point call a group of people "generation of vipers" and tell them they wouldn't inhearet the kingdom of Heaven? All I can say, is we need some more people, preachers especialy like that! Jesus was NOT a sissified preacher! No sir! And I'd loved to be at some of his meetings! To think! Hearing the Son of God preach the Word of God! WOW!
    ~Miss Abby [​IMG]
     
  5. ScottEmerson

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    Shall we look at the other side? (I understand the "yes" and "no" answer.)


    Jesus was clearly a revolutionary thinker who challenged the seemingly natural idea of retribution. Rather than vengeance, Jesus commanded forgiveness (Mt. 18:22). Instead of the pagan ideals of strength and power, Jesus offered the Christian ideals of humility and meekness (Mt. 5:5). Jesus went so far as to demand that His disciples love their enemies (Mt. 5:44).

    The above is not in dispute. Even most atheists would agree that Jesus’s teachings were wise precepts concerning the uselessness of hatred and revenge. But did Jesus literally require pacifism?

    A straightforward reading would suggest that He did. He literally (given the translation) commanded "whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also" (Mt. 5:39). But perhaps this was just a specific rule? Well, immediately before this famous injunction, Jesus also gave the general rule, forbidding resistance to evil. It is this passage that inspired Christian pacifists such as William Lloyd Garrison and Leo Tolstoy, and I find their interpretation entirely plausible.

    Of course, Jesus often spoke in metaphors; one should be very careful in deriving categorical conclusions from a few Gospel passages. When studying not merely His words, but His actions, does it seem that Jesus was a pacifist?

    I for one think this is the only sensible conclusion. He rebuked Peter for drawing his sword during His arrest. And of course, the entire purpose of Jesus’s coming to Earth was to suffer unjustly at the hands of evil men, despite the fact that He obviously had the power to prevent this. Such an argument alone doesn’t prove the case for Christian pacifism, but it does show that the doctrine is consistent with Christianity.

    Horrible things happen to good people all the time. The use of violence won’t ever "solve" this. Most people would agree that it is impermissible to murder someone, even if so doing would save (through a heart transplant, say) a child from death. Yet most people believe that it is permissible to kill someone in order to prevent him from killing a child. The apparent inconsistency is evaded by classifying the latter case as justifiable defense, and by classifying the dead man as a criminal, worthy of less respect and rights than "civilized" people.

    Yet it is precisely this mentality, I claim, that Jesus sought to overthrow. The kingdom of God can only be approached when everyone voluntarily renounces violence against his neighbors. And isn’t it just possible that the best and surest way to reach that goal is for each of us personally to renounce violence, for whatever reason, right now? To say, "I will lay down my arms just as soon as all the evil people do first" is to guarantee that you will never see the kingdom of God during your life.

    [There are two main arguments used against this line of thinking. First, it is [pointed out] that Jesus came, not to overturn the Mosaic Law, but to fulfill it. He also reminds us that Jesus and God the Father are the same. Therefore, since the God of the Old Testament was clearly not a pacifist, Jesus can’t be either:

    Moving to the Gospel of John, we learn that Jesus is eternal. He always was and He always will be. He made the world and the universe. He is one with the Father. So, all of the commandments of God, as we know them, in what Christians call "the Old Testament," are likewise the commandments of Jesus. He didn't come to overturn them. He came to fulfill them.

    Read the Book of Judges and you will find that God told the Jews to utterly destroy entire unrighteous nations so that they could occupy the Promised Land. When the Jews failed to do this, they paid a heavy price. In Genesis, God Himself destroys Sodom and Gomorrah because of immorality. Throughout the Old Testament, we witness God destroying unrighteous men and ordering unrighteous men destroyed. Keep in mind, also, we are told in Hebrews 13:8 that Jesus is the same yesterday and today and forever.

    If Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever, that means Jesus destroyed unrighteous men and ordered unrighteous men destroyed.

    Now this is, to me, a rather strange argument. Granted, to the extent that we use the Trinity to make Jesus the same as the Old Testament God, then Jesus isn’t a pacifist. But that’s not what Christian pacifists mean; I don’t think anybody would argue that the God of Moses was a pacifist. In any event, when I say that I think Jesus was a pacifist, I mean the living and acting man of the New Testament renounced the use of violence, and commanded His followers to do the same.

    More serious, I simply cannot understand [the second] argument concerning the Mosaic Law. In the very sermon in which Jesus states that He has come to fulfill it, Jesus goes on to "update" all sorts of Old Testament commands. It is true, for most of them Jesus merely increases the requirements, in the sense that a Christian must not only obey the letter of the Law but do so with the right heart.

    Nonetheless, Jesus clearly overturns many literal rules of the Old Testament. The most relevant for the current article is the "eye for an eye" revision; this was not some pagan barbarism, but commanded by God (Ex. 21:24). God also told the Jews not to gather food on the Sabbath (Ex. 16:28-29). Indeed, when Jesus’s disciples did this (with His approval), the Pharisees accused Him of breaking the Mosaic Law (Mk. 2:23-24). Finally, Jesus did not endorse the Mosaic penalty of stoning for an adulteress, but rather forgave the woman and told her to sin no more (Jn. 8:3-11).

    Farah’s only other argument is Jesus’s command to purchase swords (Lk. 22:36). Now this is one instance where I think Jesus is speaking metaphorically; in the context it seems to me that He is trying to prepare His disciples for the fact that their leader will soon be taken from them. (In any event, He says that two swords are "enough." I have heard one interpretation that Jesus was exasperated that His disciples had once again misunderstood His message, and so said, in effect, "Enough of this." But even if one takes that literally – so that two swords among all his disciples are "enough" – then this hardly seems reconcilable with Farah’s belief that Jesus believed in smiting evildoers.)

    Shortly after the admittedly troublesome (from a pacifist viewpoint) verse in which Jesus tells his followers to buy swords, He is arrested. He rebukes Peter for cutting off the ear of the high priest’s servant, saying, "Put up again thy sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword" (Mt. 26:52).


    ---- Bob Murphy http://www.lewrockwell.com/murphy/murphy60.html
     
  6. NarrowWay

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    I agree with you Scott. It would have been totally out of Jesus' nature to take violent action or to order His followers to do so. After all, our Savior very eloquently preached:

    "Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy"
    Matthew 5:7

    "Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God"
    Matthew 5:9

    First, let us consider the marked contrast between the tasks that God assigned to His people under the Old Covenant and New Covenant respectively. After the giving of the Law, Israel was commanded to take up the sword and to conquer the land of Canaan, destroying the enemies of Jehovah. The risen Christ has given different orders to His Church. Throughout this Gospel dispensation, we are to go into all nations as heralds of the cross, seeking the reconciliation of those who by nature are at enmity with our Master. Second, this grace of peacemaking supplements the six graces mentioned in the previous verses.

    "Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for My sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you"
    Matthew 5:10-12

    That which arouses the anger of Satan and most stirs up his children are the efforts of Christians to be peacemakers. The Lord here prepares us to expect that loyalty to Him and His Gospel will result in our own peace being disturbed, introducing us to the prospect of strife and warfare. Proof of this is found when He says, "For so persecuted they the prophets which were before you." It is service for God that calls forth the fiercest opposition. Necessarily so, for we are living in a world that is hostile to Christ, as His cross has once and for all demonstrated.

    Commentary by A.W. Pink


    Jhn 18:36 Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence.

    Christ stated that He did not come to establish an earthly kingdom but rather a heavenly one. What part would war have in doing this? Of course, He will come again in power to claim His own but this will establish a heavenly kingdom not one here on earth. I see absolutely nothing in Christ's nature as revealed in my Bible that would suggest that He supports war or the taking of human life. Abortion is a special case of the more general position on the Sanctity of Human Life.
     
  7. fgm

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    Jesus Christ came the first time as the Passover Lamb and He will come the second time as the Lion of the tribe of Judah.Lions are not passive.
     
  8. Sola-Scriptura

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    Pacifism is by definition non violence, with PEACE as it's ultimate goal. This seems admirable and under God's restraining hand, it partly keeps the world from spinning into anarchy. But this is not the ultimate goal of our obedience to Christ's commands of gentleness etc. We are not here to bring world peace for peace sake(no pun intended). But to be ambassadors of the Gospel which brings peace with the One we were all at war with--God.(Rom 5:1) My point is this, morality can blind us to our need of the Gospel of grace just as easily as immorality. And Christians running around being moral, peaceful, helpful alone does not allow the sword of the word of God to "cut them to the heart." So yes, "overcome evil with good" (Rom. 12:21), but to those who disobey the Gospel message there is more...
    Revelation 6
    4"Another horse, fiery red, went out. And it was granted to the one who sat on it to take peace from the earth, and that people should kill one another; and there was given to him a great sword."
    Soli Deo Gloria.
     
  9. Dr. Bob

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    In red letters in Matthew:
    Does not sound like a pacifist to my ears.
     
  10. LandonL

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    I say as loudly as possible NO. The LORD is NOT a pacifist!

    Why would Moses, Job, the Psalmist, Isaiah, Zephaniah, and John all paint the picture of God as the warrior? Because he is one! And by definition, a warrior is not a pacifist.

    In my opinion, the entire basis for the pacifism of so many Christians today is well-founded on the words of Christ to "turn the other cheek" and to "go the extra mile." These I all well agree with as practice for our daily lives. But I laugh every time someone tells me that this reveals Yeshua's character. If we let scripture interpret scripture here, we must remember:

    To my spirit, this tells me that Christ's words to turn the other cheek were to tell us not to take vengeance. Yes. We are not to take vengeance when others attack us, we are to "turn the other cheek." But there WILL be vengeance. From God. Therefore we are not to take said vengeance, unless we are an instrument of the governing authorites, as God says through Paul in Romans 13.

    Hope that helps some. Oh, and all quotes are New American Standard, by the way.
     
  11. ScottEmerson

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    It seems, then, as if we have a contradiction.

    Or perhaps, we can see that Christ taught us that in the relationships between people here on earth should be marked by pacifism. God, on the other hand, has the right to do what He wants to do with sin and judgement. Vengeance is God's responsibility, not ours.

    So the command is for us to be peacemakers, and leave all the fighting to God.
     
  12. RaptureReady

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    Don't forget that the Lord was the first person to use a weapon. Genesis 3:24. Roundum up and moveum out. [​IMG]
     
  13. Me2

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    Jesus brought a sword of variance..

    he brought truth
    he brought grace into a world of law.

    a sword that cuts into the soul of the selfish believer.

    Mat 5:43 Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy.
    Mat 5:44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;

    Id call it pacifism, from the viewpoint of full knowledge.

    the battle has been fought, and won.

    Me2
     
  14. LadyEagle

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    Excellent! [​IMG]

    The member who claimed Jesus is a pacifist also regards the Garden of Eden story as a fable. Therefore, one can only conclude that he doesn't believe the Book of Revelation either, which tells us that Jesus comes back as the LION of the Tribe of Judah, defeating the enemies of God at the Valley of Megiddo, to Rule & Reign with a Rod of Iron for 1000 years from Jerusalem, the City of David, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Forevermore. Hallelujah!

    And then, fellow Christian, fellow griever over the condition of this sin sick and evil world, then, all our tears shall be wiped away. And we shall weep no more. [​IMG]

    Hold on, faithful blood-washed, Holy Spirit filled believer, hold on.

    Satan knows he doesn't have that much longer to deceive the world.
     
  15. NarrowWay

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    I believe that some of the confusion here about this question is that you have to evaluate Jesus' two roles, that of one who came to earth to sacrifice Himself for our salvation and that of one who will return in glory and mighty at the end of the age. In the first role, He taught that we should be meek and be peacemakers and to turn the other cheek. This is because he did NOT come to establish a worldly kingdom by force and He taught His deciples (us) that that is not our objective either.

    In the second role as Lord and God He ushers in His Heavenly kingdom. That is what He came to do and He will do that with all the might of the heavenly host behind Him. JESUS CHRIST NEVER PREACHED IN FAVOR OF VIOLENCE AND EARTHLY WAR. If you think He did please show me the scripture.
     
  16. latterrain77

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    Does not sound like a pacifist to my ears. </font>[/QUOTE]Hi Bob. If the sword of Matt. 10: 34 is a "literal" sword, then your conclusion is reasonable. However, I do not believe this sword is a literal one at all. The Lord was referring to the "sword" spoken of in Eph. 6: 17 and Heb. 4: 12, which clearly is not a literal sword. That "sword" is shown to be the Bible itself (the Word of GOD). If so, then "pacifism" rather than "warrior" is the more logical conclusion of the Matt 10: 34-39 text you quoted.

    When we preach the Bible (the sword) all of the parties mentioned in the Matthew text DO become offended. They ARE at variance with what we preach, because the Bible Sword cuts them DEEP to their hearts. In this sense, we do NOT bring "peace" to those who are offended. However, we DO bring peace to those who become saved as a result. BIG PEACE (Matt. 5: 9).

    If the sword in Matt. 10: 34 is NOT the Bible (Word of GOD) and is meant to be used for "aggressive" purposes, it would mean that Christians should be aggressive with loved ones - including parents (Matt. 10: 35) which the Bible strictly forbids in the Ten Commandments (Exo. 20: 12), as well as Exo. 21: 15, 17, in addition to many others.

    Finally, when you test this conclusion in light of Matt. 26: 52, Matt. 5: 9, 1 Pet. 2: 23 and others, it suggests that "pacifism" seems more accurate. Thanks Bob. [​IMG] latterrain77
     
  17. LadyEagle

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    So, what are you saying, latterrain - did Peter use a symbolic sword when he cut off the guard's ear?

    Did Jesus use a fake symbolic whip when He drove the money changers from the temple?
     
  18. John Wells

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    Latterrain,

    Do you call this a figurative sword?

    He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God. The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. Out of his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. “He will rule them with an iron scepter.” He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty. On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS. (Revelation 19:13-16)

    In Jesus' first advent, He played the role of a servant and sacrificial Lamb. Jesus' teachings were focused on how believers should live their lives in such a way as to be His salt and light in the world, but He did NOT teach total pacifism! Even though He taught "turn the other cheek," I don't think that is to be taken as complete non-resistance to personal attack. If a stranger comes into our home, are we to stand idle and watch them rape our wife and kill our children? Maybe tell them that Jesus loves them while we watch them? Hardly! :eek: I think Jesus taught that we should go the extra mile to avoid violence, but there comes a point when self-defense becomes righteous!

    The second advent of Jesus will be totally different! I can't wait! :D Read on in Revelation 19! When the "white horse" appears, it's "ask no questions, take no prisoners" time! :D The world that hates Him will experience the wrath of The Holy! The Righteous One will mete out perfect justice to all the world!
     
  19. LadyEagle

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    Oh, Hallelujah, Brother John!
    Hallelujah! [​IMG]
     
  20. latterrain77

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    Hi John Wells. Thank you for your comments. You said; " Do you call this a figurative sword?" Yes. The "sharp sword" in Rev. 19: 15 refers to the WORD OF GOD (the Bible) as it cuts down the world with truth (Heb. 4: 12, Eph. 6: 17). The sharp "two edge sword" in Rev. 1: 16 is undeniably IDENTICAL to the "spiritual sword" of Heb. 4: 12. That "sharp sword" comes from the LORD's "mouth" in Rev. 19: 15 and Rev. 1: 16 because it is symbolic of the WORDS of the Bible. That sword is not a "physical instrument" proceeding out the LORD's physical mouth. Matt. 26: 52 provides the LORD's insights on "physical swords."

    In addition, the "winepress" of Rev. 19: 15 is NOT a literal winepress, but symbolic of GOD's wrath (v15). It is similar to the figurative winepress in Rev. 14: 9. The "robe dipped in blood" is also NOT a literal robe or a piece of physical clothing. It is a spiritual reference to the "robe of Christ's righteousness" (Isa. 61: 10). Even Christ's name in this verse (v13 - "the Word of God") also has spiritual and symbolic meaning, rather than a literal one.

    You said; "Even though He taught "turn the other cheek," I don't think that is to be taken as complete non-resistance to personal attack." If by "personal attack" you mean "physical attack" then I agree. There is nothing wrong with resisting a physical attack. However, as any advanced "uki" can demonstrate, it is not necessary to "attack" in order to prevent an opponent from attacking. When the LORD was "attacked" he did not resist (1 Pet. 2: 23, John 18: 3-9, Matt. 26: 67-68, etc).

    You said; " The second advent of Jesus will be totally different!...." Different from what? The FIRST coming (at the Cross) was victorious in every respect. Were you disappointed in the First Coming?

    You said; " I can't wait!" The Bible disagrees with your joyous sentiment about judgment day John (Amos 5: 18). Believers are encouraged to "watch and pray" (Mark 13: 33), not "watch and rejoice" in the misery of others. There is no "joy" in the destruction of the lost (2 Pet 3: 9, 1 Tim. 2: 4, Eze. 18: 32, Eze. 33: 11) and it is not the role of the believer to anxiously await the coming doom of the unsaved. We are to await our own redemption (Luke 21: 28).

    You said; "... it's "ask no questions, take no prisoners" time!" The "end of the world" is not a football game or boxing match. Christians are not called to be gleeful cheerleaders for the doom and destruction of others. We are called to WITNESS the Good News to others. Believers are more focused on SAVING than DESTROYING.

    You said; " The world that hates Him will experience the wrath of The Holy!" Those who are not TRUE believers will experience the wrath of the Holy. There are many who SAY they "love" GOD who will experience that very wrath (Matt. 7: 22-23).

    You said; " The Righteous One will mete out perfect justice to all the world!" HE already has (John 12: 31, Matt. 28: 18). Thanks. latterrain77
     

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