Violence

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by RLBosley, Jul 14, 2014.

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. RLBosley

    RLBosley
    Expand Collapse
    Active Member

    Joined:
    May 25, 2012
    Messages:
    1,752
    Likes Received:
    0
    Lately there have been a couple threads that I have participated in that have brought up the issues of violence in general and self-defense in particular. I have responded with my conviction that scripture teaches that Christians are to be non-violent.

    By non-violence I mean this:

    The Bible does not support the idea that the church in general or Christians as individuals can use violence, particularly lethal force. Violence, like fornication, intoxication or lying, is forbidden as the way a Christians should live, even when facing death themselves.

    Also when I refer to violence I mean not only self-defense, but also participation in warfare, the Christian should not be involved. The issue of whether or not God permits the nations to war is really another matter.

    So below I will list some of the clear passages from the New Testament that support the doctrine of non-violence.

    Mat 5:9 NASB - "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.

    Mat 5:38-45 NASB - "You have heard that it was said, 'AN EYE FOR AN EYE, AND A TOOTH FOR A TOOTH.' "But I say to you, do not resist an evil person; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. "If anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, let him have your coat also. "Whoever forces you to go one mile, go with him two. "Give to him who asks of you, and do not turn away from him who wants to borrow from you. "You have heard that it was said, 'YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR and hate your enemy.' "But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.

    Mat 26:52 NASB - Then Jesus said to him, "Put your sword back into its place; for all those who take up the sword shall perish by the sword.

    Jhn 18:36 NASB - Jesus answered, "My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, then My servants would be fighting so that I would not be handed over to the Jews; but as it is, My kingdom is not of this realm."

    Rom 12:14, 17-21 NASB - Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. ... Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men. If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, "VENGEANCE IS MINE, I WILL REPAY," says the Lord. "BUT IF YOUR ENEMY IS HUNGRY, FEED HIM, AND IF HE IS THIRSTY, GIVE HIM A DRINK; FOR IN SO DOING YOU WILL HEAP BURNING COALS ON HIS HEAD." Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

    1Th 5:14-15 NASB
    - We urge you, brethren, admonish the unruly, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with everyone. See that no one repays another with evil for evil, but always seek after that which is good for one another and for all people.

    1Pe 2:19-24 NASB - For this finds favor, if for the sake of conscience toward God a person bears up under sorrows when suffering unjustly. For what credit is there if, when you sin and are harshly treated, you endure it with patience? But if when you do what is right and suffer for it you patiently endure it, this finds favor with God. For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps, WHO COMMITTED NO SIN, NOR WAS ANY DECEIT FOUND IN HIS MOUTH; and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously; and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed.

    Rev 12:11 NASB - "And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life even when faced with death.​

    The whole testimony of the New Testament is that Christians endure violence but never inflict it. When faced with violence they endure suffering and have their blood shed rather than shed the blood of others.

    I also want to say that there is nothing emotional, cultural or political driving this belief. There is nothing in the way I was taught or raised or my politics that would encourage a belief like this, I believe it solely because I believe the Bible overwhelmingly teaches it. So I would appreciate it if those who disagree could avoid (wrongly) calling me liberal or any other such nonsense. Thanks! :wavey:
     
    #1 RLBosley, Jul 14, 2014
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 14, 2014
  2. Rolfe

    Rolfe
    Expand Collapse
    Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    May 17, 2014
    Messages:
    5,294
    Likes Received:
    391
    Question: Does your belief in nonviolent self-defense extend to the protection of your family or innocents? In other words, would principle require you to stand aside and allow someone, say your family or a child or a small old lady, physical harm?
     
  3. John of Japan

    John of Japan
    Expand Collapse
    Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 22, 2005
    Messages:
    12,208
    Likes Received:
    192
    Evidence that violent self defense is right: Jesus violently defended His Father's house.
     
  4. Gina B

    Gina B
    Expand Collapse
    Active Member

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2000
    Messages:
    16,944
    Likes Received:
    1
    By this, you take away the idea that a Christian nation can exist, or Christians be part of a nation.
    It makes no sense.
    Sin is sin. Where do you get the concept that one thing is acceptable for a nation, but wrong for a Christian?
     
  5. RLBosley

    RLBosley
    Expand Collapse
    Active Member

    Joined:
    May 25, 2012
    Messages:
    1,752
    Likes Received:
    0
    Good question. The common misconception is that pacifism=passiveness. That is not true.
    That's why I avoid the term pacifism, I think it often gets confused and misunderstood. Also it's not distinctly Christian.

    Ideally I hope I would interject myself into it and stop the attack entirely. Failing that I would hope to either restrain the attacker or redirect the attack to myself instead. So no I would never simply stand aside and let someone attack anyone else, whether family or stranger.

    Of course the tension is to what extent could I restrain someone without violence? Also would something like pepper-spray or a taser be considered violent? If it is violent, would the better outcome still conform to the principle of loving my enemy? After all, stopping the attack and yet not permanently harming the attacker would be loving, I think. But does the end justify the means?

    There are all kinds of issues like that, that I still haven't worked out yet to my own satisfaction.
     
  6. RLBosley

    RLBosley
    Expand Collapse
    Active Member

    Joined:
    May 25, 2012
    Messages:
    1,752
    Likes Received:
    0
    Does the Bible say Jesus actually used violence (the use of physical force to harm someone) in clearing the temple?

    A Christian nation does exist: The church.

    That is the only Christian nation that ever has or ever will exist.

    Again, the issue of nations is a different matter. I responded to this same objection of yours in the now closed Israel thread. I said:

     
  7. Sapper Woody

    Sapper Woody
    Expand Collapse
    Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2011
    Messages:
    2,112
    Likes Received:
    104
    I disagree with your stance on violence, but I will not be mean about it. Instead, I will show you why I believe you are wrong. After that, most likely, you will still believe as you already believe, and I won't change either. But for the sake of discussion, here goes:

    Obviously, I disagree with this statement. My first example is Jesus' own violence in driving out the money changers in the temple. I'll deal with your scripture separately, however.

    If a nation is allowed to war, it naturally follows that the Christians of the nation are allowed to war. Personally, I've seen enough of war, and hope for peace. But I understand that war is necessary, and I personally believe that Christians of a nation have the same responsibility to defend that nation that non-Christians have.

    I consider myself a peacemaker. On one hand, I believe this verse is speaking on an individual level. It is talking about those who try to avoid conflict. I don't go looking for fights, and avoid them whenever possible. If a guy holds a gun to my head and asks for my wallet, I'll give it to him. If a guy approaches me looking for a fight, I will do my best to avoid the fight. I will endeavor to make peace.

    This verse is speaking of vengeance, not violence. If a man punches you, and then walks away, you have no cause to go hit him. That's vengeance. If you stop the attack and neutralize a threat, that's self defense. If at any point you use more force than is necessary to neutralize the threat, you've overstepped this verse, and have gone into vengeance territory.

    If Peter had continued fighting, he would have been overwhelmed by the guards and killed. That's how it applied immediately. How it applies to us today is the same as the rest of the passages so far. If you seek vengeance, then "what goes around comes around". Violence begets violence.

    "There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was perfect and upright, and one that feared God, and eschewed evil." My verse has as much application here as yours.

    Again, vengeance.

    Don't complain in persecution, rather endure it for God's glory. No application here.

    Again, no application.

    I believe I've adequately responded to your post. Let me finish with two examples from my own life that I believe illustrate my stance perfectly. I'll truncate the details and background, to keep it short.

    Example 1: I intervened for a woman who was being threatened by a man with physical violence. He punched me twice in the face, and walked away. I let him go. I knew the background of this guy, and knew that fighting back would escalate the situation into one or more of us getting hurt. The police came and arrested him. The police told me that the reason he didn't escalate the violence was that he respected me for taking punches for the woman without trying to defend myself. I used the least amount of force necessary (none) to neutralize the threat.

    Example 2: I had just finished with Special Forces selection at Ft Bragg (sadly, got hurt during land navigation and had to drop the course), and a guy approached me outside my cheap hotel room. He had a steak knife in his hand. (I know, right? Who mugs someone with a steak knife?) He told me to give him my wallet. I reached for my wallet, and he lunged forward and cut my face (I was hoping for a cool scar, but it healed nicely. I have the pictures on my FB.). At that point, I felt my very life was in danger. Long story short, I hurt him. Once he was neutralized, I didn't keep attacking him. Rather, I called the police. Unfortunately, he got away before they arrived. But I think he learned his lesson.

    I feel that these two examples of courses of action exemplify Christ's stance. For everything there is a season. A time to war, a time for peace.
     
  8. Revmitchell

    Revmitchell
    Expand Collapse
    Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Feb 18, 2006
    Messages:
    38,293
    Likes Received:
    783
    If someone wants to be a pacifist or non violent defense person or whatever they want to call it more power to them. When they start trying to hold others to that they can take a long walk off of a short pier.
     
    #8 Revmitchell, Jul 14, 2014
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 14, 2014
  9. Gina B

    Gina B
    Expand Collapse
    Active Member

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2000
    Messages:
    16,944
    Likes Received:
    1
    That is why it doesn't make sense. Christians live in states.
    Believers aren't meant to be a small part of people. We were created to be HIS children. I do not grasp this concept you seem to have of making things different for what should be okay and not okay. It seems there is right and there is wrong, no matter what.
     
  10. RLBosley

    RLBosley
    Expand Collapse
    Active Member

    Joined:
    May 25, 2012
    Messages:
    1,752
    Likes Received:
    0
    Probably. That's what usually happens here.

    And I disagree that Jesus used violence in the temple, unless you believe overturning the tables is in itself violent.

    Think about what you mean by that. You are saying that a Christian has a greater responsibility to his heathen countrymen than to fellow Christians in other countries. I know you didn't think of it in those terms but when we say that we need to "defend the nation" that is essentially what we are saying because you have no idea if the person you will kill is a Christian or not.

    And that's good.

    No it certainly includes violence. When struck we are to turn the other cheek. We are not to resist the one who is evil. We are to love our enemies. Your response here is kind of ambiguous when you only say "stop the attack and neutralize a threat." Do you mean you reason with them or do you violently stop them? Shoot them? Also it is arguable that self-defense is a form of vengeance.

    Yes the primary teaching is that violence begets violence, however Jesus doesn't limit this to only this event in the garden in order to keep Peter from getting killed. He said put the sword back in it's place, indicating the only place the sword should be is away in it's sheathe, not used. It is not only about vengeance but violence.

    Cute.

    Jesus says that if his kingdom was of this world his servants would fight. The implication is that since his kingdom is not of this world his servants do not fight. Yes the immediate application is in reference to Jesus' arrest however I think the principle is applicable in general. If Christians are not to use violence, even in the defense of Jesus, how much less should we use violence in defense of ourselves or our stuff?


    Again, defending yourself is taking vengeance for the attack.

    Tremendous application! Jesus is our example. We are to follow him. He was persecuted, he suffered violence, yet he never returned it, he never even uttered a threat. He endured it and entrusted himself to the Father who will execute vengeance.

    I completely disagree. These saints do not love their lives "even when faced with death." They suffered violence and instead of defending themselves (which comes from loving your life) they instead laid down their lives. The endured violence, but did not return it.

    And that is what I am trying to say we should do. I believe what you did here is 100% right.

    This is where I have a hard time. Was it wrong to use violence here? My first answer is yes, but it can be argued that you loved him, by stopping the attack yet not killing him. Maybe he did learn his lesson as you said. That would be loving I think. This is one of those issues that I am not fully settled on.
     
  11. RLBosley

    RLBosley
    Expand Collapse
    Active Member

    Joined:
    May 25, 2012
    Messages:
    1,752
    Likes Received:
    0
    Of course, if I'm right, you are telling Jesus to take a long walk of a short pier...

    I don't understand why you're having a hard time with it. Am I not explaining it well?

    Yes we are created to be his children, but what does that have to do with this? Yes Christians live in states, but we are citizens of another country. Our first allegiance is to Christ and his kingdom not promoting the interests of whatever earthly kingdom God has placed us in.
     
  12. John of Japan

    John of Japan
    Expand Collapse
    Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 22, 2005
    Messages:
    12,208
    Likes Received:
    192
    Totally invalid comparisons. Fornication, intoxication and lying all have multiple verses directly forbidding them. However, there are no verses in the entire Bible, including those you listed, which forbid violence in general, especially for self defense.



    The smiting here is a simple slap, which is not dangerous. It is extremely difficult to harm someone with a slap. Instead, a slap is an insult. So this frequently misunderstood passage is not talking about self defense against a violent attack at all.

    This verse teaches the exact opposite of non-violence. My home--part of my kingdom--is of this world, unlike the kingdom of Christ. Therefore Christ has here endorsed my self defense of my home.
    Wow. As long as you are in the book of Revelation and have cherry-picked this verse, what do you say about the extreme violence Christ inflicts on His enemies in that book? He will come as the conquering King, destroy Antichrist and his army "by the brightness of His coming" (2 Thess. 2:8).

    As usual with non-violent advocates you have allowed your pre-understandings to color your exegesis. And to an expert on self defense like myself (8th black) and a long time practitioner (40 plus years) of the Christian martial arts, your post is extremely offensive, comparing self defense to fornication, drunkenness and lying. YOUR WORDS ARE VIOLENT, while you hide behind your supposed non-violence.
     
  13. John of Japan

    John of Japan
    Expand Collapse
    Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 22, 2005
    Messages:
    12,208
    Likes Received:
    192
    Yes, Jesus clearly used violence in John 2:

    "15 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;
    16 And said unto them that sold doves, Take these things hence; make not my Father's house an house of merchandise."

    And no, as a linguist I say to you that you can't re-define violence like you want to, in order to fit your thesis, and say it harms someone. Sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn't. If you are going to defend non-violence, you really need to define it better.
     
    #13 John of Japan, Jul 14, 2014
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 14, 2014
  14. John of Japan

    John of Japan
    Expand Collapse
    Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 22, 2005
    Messages:
    12,208
    Likes Received:
    192
    Excellent example (as was the other) of godly action. In particular, this one obeys the following Scripture, which may involve godly violence:

    Prov. 24:11 If thou forbear to deliver them that are drawn unto death, and those that are ready to be slain;
    12 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?
     
  15. RLBosley

    RLBosley
    Expand Collapse
    Active Member

    Joined:
    May 25, 2012
    Messages:
    1,752
    Likes Received:
    0
    "Love your enemies."
    "Live at peace with all men."
    "Do not repay evil for evil."

    None of those have anything to do with violence? Really?


    That is a way that can be interpreted but certainly not the only. This has been debated for centuries. Regardless, let's assume you are right. It's only talking about an insult, a real slap, but still only an insult. So it's commanded to endure only a slap, but anything more than that we are free to beat the attacker up or kill them? I'm sorry but that's absurd! If we are not to return a slap, a simple insult, how much more should we not return violent attack? Your interpretation is more of a problem for you than for me.

    That is the most twisted way I could imagine anyone ever reading that verse. Really?? You have your own "kingdom"?

    What do I say? I say yes he violently destroys his enemies. Your point? I never said otherwise.
    The point is that we trust God to take vengeance, which Christ clearly will. Read through Revelation and see if the church ever inflicts violence - it doesn't happen.

    Silly nonsense. I came to this conclusion after a long struggle. Apparently you didn't read all I said in the OP. I didn't come to any of the texts with a presupposition of nonviolence.

    If you take offense to it that's on you, not me. I said nothing offense. Maybe that's your conscience?

    Not sure what you mean by my words being violent.

    I didn't redefine anything. How do you define violence?
     
    #15 RLBosley, Jul 14, 2014
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 14, 2014
  16. exscentric

    exscentric
    Expand Collapse
    Active Member

    Joined:
    May 24, 2004
    Messages:
    4,253
    Likes Received:
    16
  17. RLBosley

    RLBosley
    Expand Collapse
    Active Member

    Joined:
    May 25, 2012
    Messages:
    1,752
    Likes Received:
    0
    A couple people brought up John 2, Jesus clearing out the temple, as evidence that violence is permitted.

    Jhn 2:13-17 NASB - The Passover of the Jews was near, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. And He found in the temple those who were selling oxen and sheep and doves, and the money changers seated at their tables. And He made a scourge of cords, and drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and the oxen; and He poured out the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables; and to those who were selling the doves He said, "Take these things away; stop making My Father's house a place of business." His disciples remembered that it was written, "ZEAL FOR YOUR HOUSE WILL CONSUME ME."​

    I would like to point out two things:

    First, if the scene promotes or permits violence then the only application could be for defending the faith. Perhaps if a church was attacked or something similar, but there certainly is no way application could be made that we can defend our stuff or even our own lives. But even then, that would be an issue of defense, defending a church etc, and that isn't what happened here. Jesus wasn't defending himself or anyone from physical attack. After all the reason for Jesus' actions was zeal for God's house, not self-preservation or anything like that.

    Second, did Jesus actually use violence on the people in the temple? I say no. There is nothing in the text that says he used the whip against people or harmed anyone. More likely the whip was used to drive the oxen out. Also, it would be the height of hypocrisy for the one who said "love your enemies" to go around whipping them.
     
  18. Sapper Woody

    Sapper Woody
    Expand Collapse
    Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2011
    Messages:
    2,112
    Likes Received:
    104
    Are our bodies not the temple of God? Did he not command us to be good stewards of what He has given us? In my opinion, that direct command of stewardship outweighs any indirect inferences of nonviolence. "I'm sorry Jesus, that I didn't take care of what you gave me. Someone took it. ... Um, no, I didn't try and stop him."
     
  19. RLBosley

    RLBosley
    Expand Collapse
    Active Member

    Joined:
    May 25, 2012
    Messages:
    1,752
    Likes Received:
    0
    Joe 3:10 NASB - Beat your plowshares into swords And your pruning hooks into spears; Let the weak say, "I am a mighty man."​

    This is, I think, talking about the end times gathering of the nations to war against Christ. So God is telling them to prepare instruments of war for that battle where he will then slaughter them. Maybe it is talking about a time in the past but regardless of if it's past or future, the point is that the heathen nations are being told to prepare for war in order to be destroyed by God. I don't think this really helps the position that Christians can use violence.

    In fact, the various Old Testament passages that speak of the Messiah's coming and his reign have the opposite instruction:

    Isa 2:4 NASB - And He will judge between the nations, And will render decisions for many peoples; And they will hammer their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not lift up sword against nation, And never again will they learn war.

    Mic 4:3 NASB - And He will judge between many peoples And render decisions for mighty, distant nations. Then they will hammer their swords into plowshares And their spears into pruning hooks; Nation will not lift up sword against nation, And never again will they train for war.​

    Now there are some, depending on various theological views, who would say this entirely future in the millennial kingdom. I agree, to a point, that this is talking about the millennium if there is one (I tentatively hold to premillennialism) however we as Christians are already in the kingdom of the Messiah in a sense.

    Luk 11:20 NASB - "But if I cast out demons by the finger of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.

    Luk 17:20-21 NASB - Now having been questioned by the Pharisees as to when the kingdom of God was coming, He answered them and said, "The kingdom of God is not coming with signs to be observed; nor will they say, 'Look, here it is!' or, 'There it is!' For behold, the kingdom of God is in your midst."​

    The OT looked forward to the then coming Messiah who would bring the Kingdom and that kingdom would be one of peace and a turning away from violence. Jesus brought in the Kingdom of God, at least in a veiled form, at his first coming. Therefore, I believe that we should obey this and pursue peace and not commit violence. At least some in the early church also interpreted those passages as applying to us today both in that the Kingdom has come and that we are, as citizens of that kingdom, to turn away from violence:

    When you refer to Luke 22 I assume you mean this:

    Luk 22:36-38 NASB - And He said to them, "But now, whoever has a money belt is to take it along, likewise also a bag, and whoever has no sword is to sell his coat and buy one. "For I tell you that this which is written must be fulfilled in Me, 'AND HE WAS NUMBERED WITH TRANSGRESSORS'; for that which refers to Me has its fulfillment." They said, "Lord, look, here are two swords." And He said to them, "It is enough."​

    This and John 2 are the texts that almost everyone goes to to try and counter non-violence. However, I don't believe an honest examination of the passage permits us to interpret it as defending the Christian's use of violence for several reasons:

    First, up to this point, Jesus' teachings and ministry has been entirely non-violent. Again there is no reason to assume Jesus physically harmed anyone in the temple cleansing, the whip was most likely to aid in driving out the animals. This same Jesus had taught to unconditionally love enemies, pray for persecutors, and never repay evil with evil. He has perfectly modeled that by never resorting to violence, and was preparing to give the supreme example of loving his enemies.

    Second, the very first time the sword is used, a few verses later by Peter, Jesus sharply rebukes it and condemns the use of the sword. Some say it was only a prohibition for that single time, that Jesus was only keeping Peter from getting himself killed and preventing the Lord's arrest. This however can't be the case as Jesus applies a general truth to his rebuke and says nothing about the permissibility of using the sword later. I like what Cecil Cadoux said about this point in his book, The Early Christian Attitude to War:

    Third, from a practical standpoint it's obvious this was not intended for self-defense. Jesus said the two swords were "enough." Enough for what? It can't be for self-defense. Two swords is not enough for 11 men to defend themselves, especially when we consider that these men would have been largely if not totally untrained in combat and soon would be facing temple guards as well as the best trained military in the world. Clearly the two swords where "enough" for something else...

    Fourth, Jesus explains the very purpose for the swords - so that prophecy would be fulfilled, that he be counted as a lawbreaker. Jesus had to be considered a threat of some kind in order for the Romans to arrest and execute him. The two swords were "enough" to accomplish that.
     
    #19 RLBosley, Jul 14, 2014
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 15, 2014
  20. RLBosley

    RLBosley
    Expand Collapse
    Active Member

    Joined:
    May 25, 2012
    Messages:
    1,752
    Likes Received:
    0
    That's an interesting way of looking at it. But you are making an indirect inference similar to what you accuse me of. You are inferring that stewardship of our body must include defending it when scripture never says that. I would also say the teaching that we are to love our enemies without exception is far more than an indirect inference.

    This also doesn't account for scriptures view of martyrdom. It is an honorable, praiseworthy thing to die for the faith. If stewardship of the body as the Spirit's temple was grounds for violently defending yourself, then the martyrs in scripture and the apostles were wrong for not doing so. There is no evidence, for example, that Stephen tried to defend himself in Acts 7. If you are right then he was wrong, but the Bible says he was actually given a vision of the glory of God and Jesus standing to receive him into his presence. Instead of disapproving Stephen's actions, he was rewarded!
     
    #20 RLBosley, Jul 14, 2014
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 14, 2014
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.

Share This Page

Loading...