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  1. #1
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    Default The Folly Of Christian Pacifism

    The Folly Of Christian Pacifism

    At a dinner with some friends recently one man commented on the subject of Christian Pacifism and asked how a Christian could own, carry weapons, and (good heavens) even be willing to use them to kill.

    After I wiped the food I unintentionally launched at him via my astonished mouth, I kindly explained why he was wrong, and why his pastor, regardless of how learned he may be, was wrong.

    Some modern Christians believe that we are all called to be pacifists and turn our backs on weapons of any sort. They believe that we are to be docile and submissive to any government or governing authority, and by extension, never resist anything with violence as it is not our job to do so.

    Moreover, they believe that we must never use violence against anyone, and that we must always turn our cheek to an aggressor. In short, these misguided Christians believe that we should leave all earthly things in other hands and focus exclusively on spiritual matters.

    I believe that these well-intentioned Christians are mistaken. I believe they have been misled by clergy who misunderstand the Scriptures…or who for otherwise personal reasons have intentionally misinterpreted God’s word.

    I believe that God calls us to be faithful, and to rely on Him for all things, but He also calls us to be watchful, and being watchful, able to act upon that which we see. What good is it to be watchful if when something is seen, no one was going to do anything about it anyway? Watchfulness is only useful when there is a capacity to act.

    I also believe that He does not call us to meekly (popular meaning) submit to those who would do us evil (either physical or spiritual). How can any man not fight for his wife, his children or his nation when they are put in harm's way by an evil man. And how can any Christian submit to any group who forbids them from raising their children by the Word of God?

    God calls us to be strong and courageous (Joshua 1:9) as much as we are spiritually or physically able. God calls all of us to be alert (Eph 5:15), some to be armed (Luke 22:36), and all to resist and abhor evil wherever it is found (Rom 12:9). I have included biblical references to back up what I write.

    I am not a Pastor, nor even a theologian. I am just an interested sinner, a man at arms that God called. And when He called me, He did not make me discard my “sword”. I have read the Scriptures and this is what I read in them. The lions are NOT our legacy.

    I will discuss this issue in several parts.

    One, God does not call us to be pacifists. He calls us to love one another, and that part of the manifestation of that love is the willingness to fight, kill, or die for those you love. Possibly to kill or if needed, possibly to die for them. As Christians we may try to love the enemies whom we face in battle, but we certainly love those whom we are fighting for, our families and country, even more. When the two come into conflict, wether on a dark street, or in a big battlefield, a choice must be made. Who do you love more. Not choosing is the luxury of the coward.

    Some Christians that argue the point, refer to Jesus’ teachings, and proclaim that Our Lord was Himself a pacifist. They argue that we are supposed to love one another, and if we love as God asks us to love, we can never use force or violence against another one of God’s creations. Furthermore, they point out Jesus’ words “about turning the other cheek”. They also point to Our Lord instructing Peter to “put the sword in its place”. And that those who live by the sword shall perish by it.

    First of all, the turning cheek business has a different meaning than a simple slap. A slap on the face was an insult, not necessarily thought of as a physical attack. Think of a 21st Century slap as someone rudely giving you the finger. God is NOT telling us that if a man punches us full force in the face we are to allow him to also kick us in the crotch! Nor does it follow that if a man comes in to rape your wife, you will also offer him your daughter. Only a fool or a coward without the guts to keep from getting kicked in the crotch or to defend his family would suggest such a thing!

    The sword episode with Peter is specially important, and shows us that had Jesus not approved of swords, there would have been no swords in evidence that night. I'll bet you my 401K that none of the remaining apostles had any idols, prostitutes, or anything of the sort on hand. Yet there were two swords among them. Hmmm.

    When Peter stood and drew the sword, Jesus told him to put it in its place, not to get rid of it. Hmmmm. Also what many of the pacifistics forget is that Christ gave Himself up willingly because it was His mission to do so. He wasn't taken, He wasn't murdered, He gave Himself to this to obey His Father. Its no mystery. Its there for those who wish to read it.

    Later Christ also said that those who live by the sword shall perish by it. "Those who live by" it, not those who use it. We are not to live by the sword, but by the Word of God. That doesn't mean we aren't to use them WHEN APPROPRIATE TO DO SO.

    Two, He does not expect us to unconditionally submit to authority. As soon as an authority (any authority) prevents us from living as He calls us to live, that authority has turned from God and no longer has His blessing. We must not submit to such an authority, rather we must resist it.

    The Word is full of situations where rulers turned from God and were thwarted. Moses' mother defied the Pharoe by not allowing Moses to be killed as a boy, Rahab lied to protect the Israelites, Joseph and Mary defied the government by taking their son away to Egypt. I read and do not see the unconditional submission that some pastors call for. When an authority prevents you rom living as a Christian, that authority is no longer from God.

    It makes me wonder what some of these unconditional submission crowd would have done with regards to Hitler, Stalin, Castro, or even our own Saddam. Would they have burned bibles or turned in fellow believers to "submit to government"??

    Three, that we, with His help and blessing, are responsible for our own selves, family, and community. He calls us to provide for our own. We rely on His help, but that it is an active reliance, not a passive one. Part of that provision is security.

    "But if anyone does not provide for his own, and specially those of his household, he has denied the faith, and is worse than an unbeliever".
    1 Timothy 5:8


    Part of "provide" is security. This can no more be shirked off to the authorities than the feeding, clothing, and spiritual training of your children can. If you do, you are worse than..well, you know.

    Four, that to insure our freedom to live as Christians, to insure the security and freedom of our loved ones, able Christians that are called by God to do so, must “sell their cloaks”, and as Jesus our Lord asked His men to do in Luke 22:36, purchase the means to insure all these things we discussed. In the 21st Century, those means are firearms.

    Those who would prevent you from "selling your cloak to buy a sword", which by chronological application today means a handgun, and by extension carrying it around with you, are in effect preventing you from exercising your religious beliefs, and living your life as your God calls you to live it. Such prohibition is a henious violation of your God given right to religious freedom.

    So, to recap. God calls us to be strong in faith in Him. He calls us to attempt to live in peace with all men as much as lies on us. He calls us to be alert to the evil around us, and to abhor it. He calls us to provide for our own (part of which is security). And finally, through reading His Word, we are called...some of us..to pick up the sword of a mighty man of God and wield it in faith.
    Last edited by Gabriel Suarez; 12-19-2003 at 02:18 PM.
    Gabe Suarez

    Turning Lambs into Lions Since 1995

    Suarez International USA Headquarters

  2. #2
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    I have always wanted to ask those that say Jesus was a pacifist what about when he cleared the money changers out of the temple with a whip and turned over their tables. Don't sound very passive to me. Also, Jesus could have opened a whole case of whoop butt on anyone he wanted to be just snapping his fingers yet he wanted his people to be armed, so they could take care of themselves when needed.

  3. #3
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    Default excellent thread,

    Re the sword episode, I believe Jesus was also trying to save Peter from being killed needlessly..........Jesus knew he was to die, there was no point in Peter doing so for no reason.

    Dave

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    Very well said, Gabe. It's too bad that many of our Pastor's and "learned" theologians cannot see what is plainly written in the Word.
    **Spero optimus instruo pro pessimus**

    **Out of destruction rises opportunity. We are only defeated when we give up. Never, ever give up. (Phil 4:13)**

  5. #5
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    Ah, loving your enemies....

    When you love, what is that you want? You don't want your loved one to have all the sweets and goodies he can handle, not really. While a diet of bon-bons and Mountain Dew may be momentarily pleasant, it's not really the best thing.

    And there is the focus of love. You want what's best for your loved one. When you punish your children, it's out of love, and while that correction isn't pleasant for them, the longer-term outcome is.

    So the BG launches on a course of murder and rape. It's obvious what's best for the victim, but what's the best thing for him? It would be better for his soul if he didn't complete his acts, and go on to commit others, no?

  6. #6
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    Amen Gabe. I agree with what you wrote, but you said that you are not a theologian. From what I have read in the scriptures we are all theologians. It basically means that you understand the Word and are able to use it in the proper context.

    Theology comes from two words, Theo which means God and Logos Which means Word. So if you are a Christian you have the Holy Spirit which is a helper given by God in place of Jesus' physical presence Jn. 13,14,15 and 17:3. You are a Theologian you just didnt realize it.

    If I were a criminal and wanted to rob, pilliage, and plunder people I would go to a church who preaches pacifism and follow one member home each week. I know of a guy that has the mentality that he will not hurt anyone because Christ did say that turning the other cheek. Its sad that people who are taught from the Word accuratly, can misinterperate the Word. It may just be the health, wealth and prosparity faith that some are clinging to. Or it could be that these people are looking for the easy answers and throwing out what they dont like. Easy Christianity is always going to be a problem for us in America, it will make the Church look like a bunch of ninnies who fold whenever pressure is put on them by anyone.

  7. #7
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    As Gabe cited with text and verse pacifism is not scripturally a valid way of life for a Christian.

    If we as Christians were to be true pacifists we would need to employ a seperate, "Infidel" (from the Latin meaning unfaithful) class to patrol our streets, enforce our borders and defend our nation and its borders. To me, that is analogous to the sheep hiring the wolves to keep the coyotes at bay. The rub is who keeps the wolves from eating the sheep?

    Further as I said in a seperate thread (unless it didn't post for some reason), we as Christians are morally obligated to defend innocence and the innocent. To do less is to aid and abet sin and evil. We as followers of Christ are called by Him to oppose sinfulness. As such, how can we turn a blind eye to the perpetration of evil simply because we choose non-violence? How could we allow a rapist to savagely assault a teenage girl because stopping him would require us to use force? I offer that we can't - not if we follow Christ's teachings and examples.

    VIVA JESUS

  8. #8
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    Very cool stuff my friends.

    Now I'll tell you. Its our job as those called to the sword to teach our brothers so they don't fall onto the wrong path. I believe that is what I'm called to do, thus this forum.

    We must show our brothers by our example, by our words, and by being ready to quote the correct scripture when asked that God's men are not a passle of pacified, unarmed, harmless, de-nutted, super-nice sissies.

    "Some Gadites joined David at the stronghold in the wilderness, mighty men of valor, men trained for battle, who could handle shield and spear, whose faces were like faces of lions and were as swift as gazelles on the mountains."

    1 Chron 12:8


    Sure doesn't sound like a bunch of glad-handing, always-submissive, no-load-nice-at-all-costs pumpkin boys to me!!!

    Lets gather around our Lord as the Gadites gathered around David!!

    Jehova is a warrior - Jehova is His name
    Ex 15:3

    Jesus is a warrior - Jesus is His name
    Last edited by Gabriel Suarez; 12-19-2003 at 09:04 PM.
    Gabe Suarez

    Turning Lambs into Lions Since 1995

    Suarez International USA Headquarters

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gabe Suarez

    Four, that to insure our freedom to live as Christians, to insure the security and freedom of our loved ones, able Christians that are called by God to do so, must “sell their cloaks”, and as Jesus our Lord asked His men to do in Luke 22:36, purchase the means to insure all these things we discussed. In the 21st Century, those means are firearms.

    Those who would prevent you from "selling your cloak to buy a sword", which by chronological application today means a handgun, and by extension carrying it around with you, are in effect preventing you from exercising your religious beliefs, and living your life as your God calls you to live it. Such prohibition is a henious violation of your God given right to religious freedom.
    Excellent thread, Gabe.

    I would just like to add a couple of things.

    Back then a cloak served as a groundcloth as well as blanket which was necessary for those freezing nights in the desert. To be without one was to risk death by exposure so it was no small matter to be without one.

    In order for Jesus to ask His men to sell their cloaks it could only have meant that He was adamant that His disciples be armed.

    Also, notice He had ordered them to buy *swords*. Not staffs, butcher knives, or hammers but swords. The only purpose of a sword is for combat and killing people in self-defense.

    Btw, are any of you folks familiar with St. Gabriel Possenti of Isola?

    If not, take a gander at the link below. I think y'all will find it to be a fascinating read.

    http://www.possentisociety.com/default.asp

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Liberty or Death
    Btw, are any of you folks familiar with St. Gabriel Possenti of Isola?
    http://www.possentisociety.com/default.asp
    I'm going to assume you are a Protestant, as I am, if you choose St Gabriel Possenti as your example without acknowledging that there are innumerable examples of saints who died in pacifistic circumstances. Most Protestants have not studied the writings of the Church Fathers, and do not realize the value of learning the beliefs and justications of those spectacularly able men who have often spent their lives doing nothing but studying scripture and pursuing, systematically, an understanding of our role in the world as Christians.

    There is a long and venerable tradition of Christian Pacifism, and it cannot be compared to the loud, false, pacifism of your typical soft, want to have both pacifism and security, version we see so often these days. A true, Christian pacifist is such because they have been inspired to believe that that is the best path to the same outcome we non-pacifists (activists?) desire, and a precursor to the perfected life of the saints. They do not constantly tell you that they occupy the moral high ground simply because they don't dirty their hands in the real world. I have, in my travels, seen many Christian pacifists performing their ministries in places you or I would be very unlikely to visit without fully armored vehicles, a full spectrum of antibiotics, and an armory of weapons. In my experience, they seldom have families to protect, and when they do, their families are also blessed with the same faith. To them, as to us, there are worse things than death.

    There IS an intellectually coherent Christian pacifist tradition to which some are called, as some are called to monasticism, or ministry, or medicine, or arms. Don't confuse childish, or new age spiritualist hippy long haired nonsense with true Christian pacifism. Some of these true pacifists do not realize that they are special, and that their ministry and purpose is not ours, and so they might not understand our calling. We should be patient with them knowing they are only trying to fulfill their purposes as best they can, as are we. Jesus did not let his disciples fight His arresting officers because he knew he was fulfilling his purpose in being arrested, tried, convicted, and executed. This is not inconsistent with a call to resistance and "just" war.

    Most "pacifists" are, of course, utopian children of all ages, just like most "warriors" are swaggering knuckledraggers with a gun and no other understanding of what it is really good for. I do not think you will find a Christian pacifist living in New York or San Francisco, because their calling takes them elsewhere, but you may very well find them in Somalia, Sudan, Lebanon, Palestine etc. Of course, you'll not hear from them, as they are too busy doing the things that only they can do, while the loud mouthed "No War for Oil" dipsticks are all over the papers.

    In short, don't over simplify the issue. Those of us called to be sheepdogs are not superior to those called to be lambs. The only failure is when a sheepdog refuses to get off the porch, or a lamb tries stalking the wolf.


    KarlJ

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