Saturday, July 15, 2006

A CHRISTIAN'S CALL FOR NONVIOLENCE

Christians calling for nonviolence among each other, and encouraging nonviolence among others has become practically nonexistent in the United States. Christians in America have been the first to encourage defense over pacifism, and because of that more wars have broken out.

I realize, as I have said before, that countries have the right to defend themselves. I just believe that Christians' callings are those of peace. Yet, it is Conservative-Christians here in America that have advocated to Israel's defense of herself via attacking Beruit. My Republican upbringing notwithstanding, I do not see how Israel's actions have worked to solve this problem or bring peace

Lebanon is equally at fault, if not moreso because it was Lebanon's Hezbola that started this incident. But that does not justify or excuse the actions of Israel as methods that will bring about peace. In fact, the Peace Process has been declared dead.

So, why are Christians in a "go-bomb-'em" attitude about this situation? I can't think of a reason that coincides with the Bible in any way, shape, or form. But I have an idea: many Conservative-Christians believe that Israel is God's people and land. And therefore, anything Israel does has this kind of divine stamp of approval on it. (Even if Israel is making the situation worse by its response). It's funny, when we're in school and we get in a fight, usually the one who HIT BACK gets into more trouble than the one who threw the first blow. Why? Because it wasn't a fight until the second party joined in. Much is the same with the current situation in the Middle East. Yes, it was bad, but was made worse when it became a fight, when a second party joined in.

But sorry, back to Israel. Conservative Christians still see Israel as God's chosen people, which has been the current line of theology since the mid-20th Century. It has been popularized by end-times fiction and dispensational theology, which holds that God as two plans: one for Christians and one for Israel (but not necessarily in that order).

So, if Israel is God's chosen people, then what they do must have the stamp or approval of God.

I do not agree with this. Christians are the new chosen people of God (according to my Bible). And we are called to be people of peace - people who work to make peace, not just love it.

The appropriate Christian stance is to work to end violence and bring about peace, not encourage people to go to war, bombing and killing each other. This is how a dark world thinks is the way to peace. God has a different one, and it was displayed when Jesus when to the cross.

16 comments:

Sanely_InSaNe said...

*SIGH*
Ah Cruz...Peace would be nice...Peace can only be obtained if both parties agree with things. If someone punches you, and you don't fight back, they're just gonna punch you again.
Jesus was awesome when he sacrificed himself for us, but sadly that kind of thing doesn't catch everyone's attention. The whole world isn't made up of Christians. (It'd be awesome if it was though.) Peace can be obtained once the ones creating problems are weeded out. Yeah, it sounds super harsh and hypocritical, but think about it. Do you really think that terrorists are just going to see the light and apologize?! Israel has been picked on for years and they're just forcing off those who are threatening them. Arabs and the people of Israel have been fighting since pretty much day one. In reality, Palestine was supposed to be a part of Israel, but the Arabs (Palestines) were allowed to have it. The Arabs have never had their own land...NEVER. It's always been actually owned by the British, and the Turks...
Anywho, peace would be awesome, but sadly, holding up a cross in front of a tank isn't going to stop the explosion. God helps those who help themselves.

Chris said...

Good on ya mate, a good article.

to ... um ... the paradox above: peace would be nice, and yes, it's a trifle unrealistic at this point, but when did unrealism stop anybody from doing anything?

I think that yes, it's highly likely (you can practically count on it) that the person who punched you would just try and punch you again. And if you can find a way to stop them (such as moving your head out of the way, for example, or perhaps catching their fist mid-punch), that's probably a good idea. But to strike back? I think Cruz is saying that that is when the fight really starts, and that is when you cross the line in the sand.

Of course, it's unlikely that terrorists are going to see the light and appologize ... but it's possible, especially if we do our part to hold up God's ideals. I think that, if left to themselves, the terrorists would weed themselves out, not that we'd rejoice at that either, but the fact remains; we are to EXPECT, not repulse, persecution, in all its forms. The world is God's chosen people, and believe it or not, that includes the terrorists, the aggressors, and everybody else, and hurting them is just like them hurting somebody else. Maybe the point is we're to aid the oppressed, defend them, but not to then go and destroy their opponent; we'd be just as bad as the aggressor.

Sanely_InSaNe said...

Ah, Chris has good points too. *waves at Chris*
I just think that force is sometimes needed to set things straight. Sometimes the only way to resolve a fight, is if you win it, whether through brute force, or peace. If you punch back hard enough, they stop for good. I'll admit, it seems kinda like a forced peace, huh? I think Israel is getting tired of making deals and the like when terrorists just walk all over them anyway. I do believe that one should always make a first strong effort of a peaceful way of dealing, but if that doesn't work, physical force is the next option. Tread silently, but carry a big stick...yanno, just in case.
If people are killing off other people, there's no way you should just stand by and watch. Peace activists just don't get the job done in my eyes.
Oh, and the world is God's chosen people, but humans get the choice of recognising it or not. Wow...I never thought about it, but if you don't recognize God...does that mean your still considered one of his children? I'd like to think so at any rate. Sorry, I'm a rambling seventeen year old. Please excuse me.>.<

theboythatis said...

The world is God's chosen people... I can agree with that. I can also agree with you have to choose God.. you know that whole "whosever believeth in me shall not parish..", there definately is a choice there. But here's the kicker: if we choose christ, then we choose to accept all of christ. that means that when he says we are to become peace makers... well that pretty clearly says it to me. yes i agree that it is unfair to allow yourself to be picked and bullied upon, but since when was life fair? Jesus never said choose to act as I act and all things well be fair upon you... he said you'll kicked and punched and spit on. it's a tough deal, but it's totally worth it.

Sanely_InSaNe said...

Hhhmmm...I totally agree about accepting every aspect of Christ. However, to allow yourself to be spit upon...Meh, no thanks. God made us each differently so we could step up to the plate, and do our share. He knows we're human, he knows we're all crooked, and he expects us to own up to what we do. We're supposed to do the right thing, but we also need to be able to survive in a world that is corrupted. To keep a safe and more fair environment, we have to fight for what we know is fair treatment. We wouldn't have America if we'd just sat back and watched things go from bad to worse. It'd be nice to think that God's plan is only about peace, but I don't think it is. Think about the tale of Sampson. In the end, he prays to God...to do what? Kill those darn Philistines. What does God do? He gives him strength to kill the Philistines. I think God wants the world to be a better place, and I'm not saying he's glad we're having wars. I do believe that he understands we're trying to help our fellow man the only way we can.
Dangit, I think I'm addicted to this topic.

Chris said...

whoa whoa whoa, since when is the gospel about survival? I can't help but notice the number of martyrs that the kingdom has generated and wonder if maybe we should be more willing to die instead of trying to stay comfortable or even alive. I think once we abandon ourselves to that sort of mentality (abandon, not resign), we'll stay alive for as long as we're needed, and be able to say we made a bigger difference in the world.

I thought of something interesting, though. I heard once that the ten commandments don't actually say "thou shalt not kill", but rather, "thou shalt not murder." An interesting distinction, no?

Sanely_InSaNe said...

I see what you're saying Chris, but think of it this way. Man is supposed to love and take care of his family. If he has the choice to either defend them (killing not murdering, interesting point)by going to war to make sure they're safe and comfortable, or just allowing injustice to occur and die/get rights taken away, which would he do? What good would it do to just allow yourself to be killed? There's no plan in that (like my Youth group was discussing) so what good would it truly do? God gave us the gift of life, and I think he wants us to defend the lives we love. Yes, I know that can mean killing, but again, God is no stranger to that, and it's not outright murdering.
And personally, I think the gospel is all about surviving. God gave every man, woman, and child...life. He then set down rules for them to abide. These rules were meant to keep people's physical forms in the best of shape, not just the spirits/souls. Everything in the bible, needs to be applied with the real world. By giving humans examples, it tells of how they should physically act, and what they should believe.

theboythatis said...

Murdering and Killing... hmmm... what is the difference really?

Both are the taking of a person's life. A person that was formed by God. A person whom God had a chosen plan for. A person whom God loved.

I understand the fact that defending someone or something is good. If the Good Samaritan came upon the robbers beating the man on the side of the road, I do think that he would of intervened and tried to stop them. But I don't think he would chased them down the road beating them with his cane, then gone home and gotten his friends together to go to their town and beat up their friends and families.

You see what I'm saying.

Intervention is ok in my opinion, but retaliation is when it's gone to far.

Sanely_InSaNe said...

But intervention needs to be strong enough to get the point across not to do it again. Once it's understood that bad things happen if you beat up on someone, that's when the problem is solved and the understanding is made.
If you just say "Oh no, don't do that anymore," do you really think they'll stop?!
Man...the whole murder apposed to killing issue is hurting my head. I'd have to say there's definitely a difference though. Killing in cold blood, and murdering to defend are two very different things.

Sanely_InSaNe said...

That's supposed to be "murdering" in cold blood, and "killing" to defend. As you can see, my head is seriously hurting. That topic always makes my head spin. Cruz! Help! Forbid me to post on this thing anymore!

cruz-control said...

Great discussion; probably one of the most robust to have taken place on the Cruz-Control. Thanks to all.

I've read all comments within hours of their posting. But I've been real busy as of late. So, I'll respond to certain points here and others in upcoming posts.

First, I never make the argument that if people don't fight back, their oppressors will simply stop. In fact, they won't; terrorists will NOT simply stop blowing people up just because we won't strike back. But why should we let their actions determine ours. Especially with terrorism, does it not legitimize their assault by us fighting back?

Secondly, the idea that God helps those who help themselves is simply not in the New Testament. Rather it is the persecuted, the meek, the peacemakers that God blesses. However, we also have to approach this with a correct definition of blessing. God's blessing of his people is not more money, a bigger SUV, a house in the suburbs, 2.5 kids. God's idea of blessing is not the American dream; it isn't even freedom on earth, it's a joy and peace about WHY we live, not how our lives are going at the moment. Instead of God helps those who help themselves, it should be we should help ourseles by trusting in God alone, because of what he has already done and what he is doing.

Chris hit the nail on the head. I not only never argue that the person hitting you will 'see the light' and stop, but I also never argue that pacifism is a realistic position.

PACIFISM IS NOT A PRACITICAL POSITION for Christians or anyone to take. Because, as Sanely put it, "they're just gonna punch you again." However, I don't see a condition that Jesus' commands for us have to be realistic in order for us to follow them. In fact, if we read the Sermon on the Mount (mat. 5-7), we find that the vast majority of what Jesus said is COMPLETELY IMPRACTICAL. So, for me I don't see how it's necessary to run each of Jesus commands through at practicality test to see whether or not Christians should follow them.

Jesus said to turn the 'other' cheek when someone hits you; do not resist one who smites you. He didn't say that if you do this you will bring out the best in the other person. If he had, Jesus would simply have been labeled as a naive romantic with no idea of how people actually behave. But he didn't say that. He said something completely out of society's norms. He called him followers to be unrealistic and impractical, not just with peacemaking but with disciplship of himself in the first place. And he wasn't popular for it; he became dangerous - and IT'S THE DANGEROUS PEOPLE THAT SOCIETIES EXECUTE.

Jesus simply calls us to be peacemakers. Also, let's remember: God blesses the peaceMAKERS not the peaceLOVERS.

WORKING for peace is not practical, much less each, but we do it because a man called Jesus of Nazareth, was God and this is what he told us to do - at any cost.

Question to Sanely: why do you need to resolve a fight? I know that fights are not good, and yes people are harmed, but why must a fight that can only be won with brute force, NEED to be fought and won?

I don't advocate peace from a human perspective, but rather from a spiritual one. I can find NO reason to pursue peace in this world, as I said before - it's unrealistic and impractical. But CHRIST alone give me one, and it's the only one I need.

Christ lays ALL of who he is out in the Sermon on the Mount. He is just as much the loving, forgiving God as he is the merciful God. We've really recieved (and have preached) a very polluted gospel. This gospels says that if you some down to the front, ask Jesus into your heart, and believe that he died for you, that when you die you will go to Heaven. This is a very SMALL GLIMPSE OF THE GOSPEL. Yes, all this is true, but it is by no means the entire gospel. The gospel is a relationship with Christ and a commitment to discipleship - which means imitating every bit of who Christ is. CHRIST ALLOWED HIMSELF TO BE SPIT ON. So why is it such a bad thing for this to happen to us? The last beatitude promises persecution to those who follow Jesus (follow Jesus = accepting all of who Jesus is and calls us to (ie. the Sermon on the Mount)). We can't take the Heaven aspect of gospel, or the Cross aspect of the gospel without taking the meek part of the gospel or the peacmaking part of the gospel.

Sanely also raised another good point: how can we survive in this world without taking the necessary precautions to ensure it. My question is WHY should be be so focused on our survival in this world. I don't mean to be a downer, but the Bible (including Jesus himself) talk about an eternal home we belong to. Paul writes in Philipians that our citizenship is not of this earth (a momumental statement to come from a Roman citizen). Revelation makes it clear that martyrdom is in the cards for those who follow Christ. Why should be value what is temporary (such as life in this world) over what is eternal (God)? Personally, the way I see it, when GOD wants me with him, he'll call me - and I can't die any other way or by anyone else's desire - that call goes to God; it's him alone. If our citizenship is not of this earth, then why have we put down roots here? "Poor in Spirit" actually means hanging onto nothing of this world and coming to God needy because we have abandoned the things of this earth that our hearts have clinged onto.

Also, why are RIGHTS worth fighting for? As a Christian, we really don't have any rights - we've surrendered all of who we are to Christ. We don't have a right to chose how we behave if we truly have made Jesus our LORD. We are supposed to act like Jesus - that's what we've commanded to do.

Also, I want to note that my views in this manner apply to Christians only. You can't follow a moral code, or commands of a person or God you don't call LORD.

But I think we start at a fundamentally fallacious point by asking: what good would it do for us to die? I provide an answer however: God's glory; God's renown. If God is glorified though my death, then my death wasn't without a doubt worth it. Everything we do, every step we take, everything breath we breath should be for the glory of God alone. If we have truly surrendered our lives to God, we cannot say, "I'll glorify you as long as it doesn't cost me my life." It's not ours anymore; it's his. So I am willing to die for the glory of God, which I believe includes doing what he calls us to do: make peace (cf. Mat. 5:38-48, Revelation 13:10).

But I also think that Christians justify revenge under the cover of justice. But as I said in an earlier post: JUSTICE IS NOT A CHRISTIAN IDEAL. Yes, it is in the Bible and it is a Hebrew concept, but it is not what Jesus preached. Jesus preached mercy and calls his followers to be merciful. Everytime the idea of justice is mentioned in the New Testament, it refers to God alone as the exactor of justice. Never his people. His people are to show mercy and compassion, because that's what we were shown on the cross.

Now I make a big distinction one what Christians should persue (mercy over justice) and what is healthy for a secular nation-state to pursue. A Christian's stance should be that of Christ and Christ alone.
See my new post "Resident Alien Theology" for more.


Great discussion. But I think that we are coming from fundamentally different foundations from which we base our ideology. I will try to outline mine in a more consice manner. Keep talking, folks!

cruz-control said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
cruz-control said...

Let me add this with regard to justice, in the Old Testament (Hebrew Bible) justice was allowed to be served by people. God punished Israel by allowing invaders to come in and conquer them (and much blood was shed). Wrongs against God have to be paid for as well, by the same currency: blood. Animals were slaughtered for sacrifice to atone for sins.

Basically, it's this: wrongs had to be paid for by blood, and humans were allowed to exact revenge on one another. UNTIL, God took it all into his hands when Jesus died for us. God paid the price, and now HE alone gets to exact revenge. It is not longer up to us. This is what the New Testament teaches. He took the whole issue onto himself. He offers us grace and forgiveness, and that is what we are to pursue as well. Christians are not to seek justice, that's God's turf now. We are to offer mercy.

Sanely_InSaNe said...

Oh my gosh Cruz. I think part of my brain is literally floating somewhere in the atmosphere now made up of tiny itty bitty pieces. Yes, part of my brain exploded.
Oh my gosh! I'm so confused, but I'm trying to sort everything out. I wish the bible were just like reading instructions on how to color inside the lines of a picture book.
*sigh*
Where to start? Well, the things that really confuzzled me was the question "why do we need to resolve a fight?"
The answer seemed so obvious, and yet...the more I thought about it...the more confused I became. I was taught that closure is always the answer, but closure doesn't seem possible at times, huh? Perhaps I'm being immature, but I just feel that to "resolve"="to find peace."
Urgh, another HARD topic is the bit about what living on earth has to really do with eternal life. As a human being, I just feel the natural inclination to protect what is rightfully mine. And yes, I believe that if we didn't have personal rights, we'd all be in a heap of trouble. Without our rights, it could possibly be a lot harder to even have the freedome to read the bible without being persecuted or locked up.
Here's something else I believe in. We may be Christians, but we are also just human beings and for my sake, I really hope God and Jesus acknowledge that. And I mean, if no Christian fought back against opposing forces...there wouldn't be many of us left, would there?
And about "God helps those who help themselves" I just gotta stand by that. I don't mean to use the term in a selfish way, just in a nonlazy way. I think that you have to make an effort (whether it be peaceful with words or physical with actions) to have God help you. If all you think is meh, God'll save me from this angry mob...nothing is going to happen. Then again, if you consider dying and going to heaven as help I suppose that could be taken into condsideration as well...
Urgh, excuse me while I go retrieve the rest of my brain. >.<

Hicksie said...

Cruz I am wondering if you can explain a little more about the way you mention the OT (Hebrew Bible) vs. the NT... You seem to weigh one (NT) over the other. Maybe you can explain a little more about why that is, if in fact is what you meant ot convey. Thanks, Hicks

cruz-control said...

I do infact weigh one covenant above the other. While I don't think that the commands of Jesus contradict the OT (and therefore it should be thrown out), I do believe they are different and they strengthen the law.

In teh instance of revenge, the Levitical code alloweed for restrained revenge. It put limits on how much one can take revenge (i.e., an eye for an eye, etc). One could not slaughter a man's wife and kids as pay back for punching you in the teethies.

Likewise, the command for us to seek mercy as opposed to Justice (Mat. 5.7) takes precendence. Why? Because we were offered mercy first by God, and then asked to bestow it on others.

The idea of justice makes the score even, it demands atonement for wrongs. Mercy does not. Because Jesus has alread payed for those wrongs, he has satisfied justice, and offered us mercy.

Every time the word justice is mentioned in the NT, it refers to God alone as the exactor of justice. We as his people are to offer mercy.

So, I don't throw out the OT, I just weigh the commands of the Jesus as taking precendence, because Jesus satisfied justice and gave us a new command.