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Reasons Christians Give to Say Violence by Christians is Legitimate

Summer seems to be winding down, but you can still find some colorful wildflowers out there. Courtesy Leon Kauffman.

Reasons Christians Give to Say Violence by Christians is Legitimate

By Jon Kauffman

I have been asking Christians why they feel it’s acceptable for Christians to use violence. Listed below are reasons I have been hearing. I have provided a link to my response. I am planning to post responses to more of the reasons.

  1. Protecting your family when violent people come.
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  2. Protecting your country when violent armies come.
    See my response. The Flag and Daniel. & What About Hitler?
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  3. Protecting religious freedom. See my response. Should a Christian Fight for Freedom?
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  4. Protecting vulnerable neighbors when violent people come.
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  5. They feel like they are doing the right thing.
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  6. Some say we have the right to self-defense. Keith Giles wrote a Christian Bill of Rights. See it here: “Christian Bill of Rights.” Pastor Giles did not include self-defense and I agree.
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  7. Soldiers have good medical benefits.
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  8. Soldiers have good educational opportunities.
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  9. The military teaches discipline.
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  10. Veterans are recognized as heroes. See my response. Why I Can’t Thank Veterans.
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  11. Theologians such as St. Augustine and Martin Luther have justified Christian use of violence. See my response. St Augustine’s Mistake.
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  12. Paul used the Armor of God (Military references) as a metaphor for Christian spiritual warfare. Ephesians 6:11-17.See my response.The Armor of God, Ephesians 6:11-17
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  13. Jesus healed the Centurion’s servant and did not ask him to leave the military. Matthew 8:5-13. See my Response. Jesus and the Roman Centurion, Matthew 8:5-13
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  14. Romans 13 teaches that Christians are to be subject to the state. See my response.Does Romans 13 Justify Christian Participation in Violence?
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  15. John the Baptist gave the soldiers advice and did not ask them to leave the military. See my response. Does John the Baptist Say Christians may Use Violence?
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  16. Christian’s must use violence to protect their constituents when they become involved in politics. See my Response. Jesus’ Kingdom, The Kingdom of God.
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  17. Christ himself said, If a man does not own a sword, let him sell his cloak and buy one. Luke 22:36.

    I follow Micheal Snow’s blog. Michael has written an excellent response to this argument. See Two Swords: Enough.
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  18. The sixth commandment “Thou shalt not kill.” should read, “Thou shalt not murder”. If you are killing at the request of the state, it is not murder.
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  19. God commanded Israel to war against the inhabitants of the Promised Land. See my response. Seven Reasons the Old Testament Cannot be used to Justify Christian Violence
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  20. Most churches and their leaders support the Christian use of violence.
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  21. Pacifism is not safe and secure. Pacifists must depend on non-pacifists to defend them physically.
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  22. 1 Peter 2:13-17 justifies Christian military service. See my response:
    Does 1 Peter 2:13-17 Justify Christian Violence?
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  23. 2 Timothy 2: 3 & 4 justifies Christian military service. See my response.Does 2 Timothy 2:3 & 4 Justify Christian Military Service
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  24. Evidence of Pacifism in Early church is too fragmentary to know what they thought.
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  25. “Pacifism is a satanic belief system designed to hurt innocent people and neuter male courage.” See my Response: “Neutering Male Courage.”
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  26. But for me,the strongest evidence that Christians can join the military in good conscience is God’s command to protect the innocent.” See my Response: Brandon Adams, Veteran, Teacher
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What arguments for violence have I missed? Please feel free to point out any errors in my thinking.

Many times the use of violence seems logical and right, but Jesus taught non-violence and gave us the example of a life and death of non-violence. Nowhere in the teaching of Jesus is violence taught as an acceptable alternative to non-violence.

Copyright © 2019 by Jon Kauffman Permission to reprint in whole or in part is gladly granted, provided full credit and a live link are given.
Permission is gladly given to re-blog this post.

Picture: Copyright © 2019 by Leon Kauffman

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Revenge For 9/11

I first published this blog post in 2017. Today, 18 years after the 9/11 tragedy some American Citizens are still suffering. Some cannot speak of the events. Imagine the feeling of those living in the Middle East who experience similar events every day. And sometimes the violence is caused by the United States Military.

NONVIOLENT CHRISTIANS

A Butterfly. Courtesy Leon Kauffman

Revenge For 9/11

By Jon Kauffman

Jesus said, “But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you,28bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.” Luke 6:27,28.

Recently, in Sunday School class, we studied: Love My Enemies? By George Lyons.Mr. Lyons makes excellent points in his study.

“Jesus claimed that those who observe the Golden rule for selfish reasons get no credit with God. Yet God will “reward” those who love, live, and give – even to enemies – out of sheer generosity. God takes note of those who treat others well, motivated only by love, with no expectation of reciprocity.” Love My Enemies? By George Lyons.

The early church did not take on Rome with violence. “It used subversive and counter-cultural ways” to defeat the evil one.

“Luke’s account…

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Pacifism and the folly of the Cross

Thoughts from the Catholic Cave

Pixabay image

In a manner traditional to Eastern ways of thinking, Jesus taught us about God’s kingdom through illustrative, simple yet enigmatic, stories and comparisons. One of my favorite parables of the kingdom is when he likened it to a barely noticeable seed that eventually grows into a large tree and gives shade to the birds (Mark 4:30-32). In another discourse Jesus likened the Holy Spirit’s vivifying work in us to the wind which “blows where it wills, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes” (John 3:8).

These two descriptions of how God’s kingdom, who is Jesus, takes form in the core of our being and leads us who-knows-where, has been my experience since I got serious about following the Lord in my late twenties. And how radically so many of my views of the world have changed, though in…

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Two Swords: Enough

Michael Snow’s excellent blog post addresses Reason 17 of Reasons Christians Give to Say Violence by Christians is Legitimate. 17. Christ himself said, If a man does not own a sword, let him sell his cloak and buy one. Luke 22:36.

TextsInContext

Here is a blazing example of what happens when Christians pay little attention to context in the Bible. I have seen several forum discussions in the last months where Christians said, ‘…but Jesus told his disciples to buy swords.”

On the Way to the Mt. Of Olives

Luke 22

35 And he said to them, “When I sent you out with no moneybag or knapsack or sandals, did you lack anything?” They said, “Nothing.” 36 He said to them, “But now let the one who has a moneybag take it, and likewise a knapsack. And let the one who has no sword sell his cloak and buy one. 37 For I tell you that this Scripture must be fulfilled in me: ‘And he was numbered with the transgressors.’ For what is written about me has its fulfillment.” 38 And they said, “Look, Lord, here are two swords.” And he…

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Born Again

Picture: A family of ducks floating down the Swan River at sunset. Courtesy Leon Kauffman.

By Jon Kauffman

Jesus said, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.”

4 “How can someone be born when they are old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother’s womb to be born!”

5 Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. 6 Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. 7 You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ 8 The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.” John 3:3-8 NIV

Before we are born again we are broken. We have been hurt by others and we in turn have hurt others. Our selfishness and pain, our sins have caused us to be broken.

And how did we live when we were broken? Paul said, 19 “The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, …that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.” Galatians 5: 19-21 NIV

When we are born again we experience a relationship with Jesus, Jesus becomes our friend. Jesus heals our brokenness. And how do we find this relationship with Jesus?

Jesus said, 14 “For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” Matthew 6:14, 15. NIV

We must search for that relationship with Jesus. Jesus said, 7 “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” Matthew 7:7 NIV

We must seek and pray. Perhaps ask others who have been born again to answer our questions. We must read God’s word and let the Spirit speak to us.

If someone has hurt us and we cannot forgive them, we must pray and ask Jesus to help us to forgive. If we cannot understand the Bible or hear the Spirit speaking to us, we must pray and ask Jesus to show us the truth.

John the Apostle said, 8“If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:8 & 9 NIV

And what happens to us when we are born again?

John the Apostle said, 5 “But if anyone obeys his word, love for God is truly made complete in them. This is how we know we are in him: 6 Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did.” 1 John 2:5 NIV

And later John says, 10 “Anyone who loves their brother and sister lives in the light, and there is nothing in them to make them stumble. 11 But anyone who hates a brother or sister is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness.” 1 John 2 10-11. NIV

John also says, 19 “This is how we know that we belong to the truth and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence: 20 If our hearts condemn us, we know that God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything.” 1 John 3: 19 & 20 NIV

I am a member of the The Salvation Army. The Salvation Army bases it’s teachings on the teachings of John Wesley. For many years John Wesley searched for a fulfilling relationship with Jesus. He studied religion and the Bible, yet he felt that there was more to religion than he was experiencing. While attending a Bible Study on Romans, John felt his “heart strangely warmed” and he finally felt assurance that he was really saved and that his sins had been forgiven.

When we have been born of the spirit our lives change. Paul said, 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.  Galatians 5: 22-24 NIV

When we have been born of the Spirit, we will care for the hungry, the sick and the prisoner.

Jesus said, “34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ Matthew 25:35-40

When we have been born of the Spirit, we will follow Jesus. Jesus said, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.” Mathew 16:24.

We will be willing to suffer for Jesus.

And why does Jesus want us to experience being born again? Jesus wants us to voluntarily join him in heaven and live forever with him in joy and happiness.

This new birth is necessary for anyone wishing to live the life of peace and non-violence taught by Jesus.

Copyright © 2019 by Jon Kauffman. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is gladly granted, provided full credit and a live link are given. Permission is gladly given to re-blog this post.

Picture: Copyright © 2019 by Leon Kauffman

Rocky’s Last Picture

I recently caught Rocky sleeping in a crazy position. This happened to be Rocky’s last picture.

Rocky was 17 1/2 years old when he died roaming the neighborhood. Carol was there when Rocky was born and he was her baby for all those years.

About a month ago our rabbit died of old age.

On Carol’s birthday, July 2nd, Rocky caught a cottontail bunny, about 2 or 3 months old. He did not hurt it. He carried it home by the nape of the neck like a mama cat carrying her kitten. Rocky brought the bunny into the house and dropped it at Carol’s feet. He gently herded it with his paws so that it couldn’t run away.

Everyone loved Rocky. The grandkids petted him and played with him.

Rocky kept the rats and mice away from our house and squirrels and rabbits out of our garden and back yard. And the neighbor’s yard also. Our next-door neighbor made a place under her porch for Rocky to hide so he could help keep pests away from her yard.

Mary, Warrior of God

Cloudy view in Glacier National Park. Courtesy Leon Kauffman.

Mary, Warrior of God

By Jon Kauffman

Mary and Jael are the only two women who are called “Blessed among Women” in the Bible.

Mary was called Blessed by Elizabeth when she was pregnant with Jesus and she went to visit Elizabeth.

41 When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. 42 In a loud voice she exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women,and blessed is the child you will bear! 43 But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44 As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. 45 Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!” Luke 1:41-45, NIV

Jael was called blessed because she crushed the head of her enemy Sisera. Here is the story from Judges.

18 Jael went out to meet Sisera and said to him, “Come, my lord, come right in. Don’t be afraid.” So he entered her tent, and she covered him with a blanket. 19 “I’m thirsty,” he said. “Please give me some water.” She opened a skin of milk, gave him a drink, and covered him up. 20 “Stand in the doorway of the tent,” he told her. “If someone comes by and asks you, ‘Is anyone in there?’ say ‘No.’” 21 But Jael, Heber’s wife, picked up a tent peg and a hammer and went quietly to him while he lay fast asleep, exhausted. She drove the peg through his temple into the ground, and he died. 22 Just then Barak came by in pursuit of Sisera, and Jael went out to meet him. “Come,” she said, “I will show you the man you’re looking for.” So he went in with her, and there lay Sisera with the tent peg through his temple—dead. Judges 4:18-22, NIV

Jael is remembered in the “Song of Deborah” as blessed.

“Most blessed of women be Jael, the wife of Heber the Kenite, most blessed of tent-dwelling women. Joshua 5:24, NIV

Jael’s story of crushing the head of her temporal enemy foreshadows Mary’s Son crushing the head of our true enemy Satan, the serpent. The prophecy that is fulfilled through Mary is found in Genesis.

15 And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.” Genesis 3:15, NIV

Revelation 12 speaks of Mary’s final victory over the dragon.

Jael was the magnificent warrior as she crushed the violent physical enemy of Israel. Mary was the magnificent warrior as she crushed our true enemy through her son.

When Jesus came to earth the enemy we fight changed. Before Jesus Israel was God’s Kingdom on earth. Israel could fight her earthly physical enemies. This foreshadows the spiritual battles involving the church against spiritual forces in heavenly realms. The war we are now fighting is more violent and more important that any physical battle that we could fight.

12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Ephesians 6:12, NIV

We no longer are called to fight physical battles against temporal human enemies but we are called to “Love our enemies” Matthew 5:43. Jesus has won the eternally significant war and we continue to fight mop up battles. We must love our enemies. The state may say someone is our enemy, but if that enemy is a follower of Jesus or a potential follower of Jesus, we do violence against the Kingdom of God if we kill them.

Israel was the Kingdom of God on earth before the coming of Jesus. With the coming of the church, the Kingdom of God is part of every tongue and every nation. Any earthly government or empire must be subservient to the Kingdom of God.

I think that it is likely that when we get to heaven, Jesus will point out to each of us how our own spiritual battles were foreshadowed in the Old Testament.

Copyright © 2019 by Jon Kauffman. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is gladly granted, provided full credit and a live link are given. Permission is gladly given to re-blog this post.

Picture: Copyright © 2019 by Leon Kauffman

Brandon Adams, Veteran, Teacher

The first Jim Lake is mostly grass by this time of year, but there was enough open water to give an evening reflection. Courtesy Leon Kauffman

Brandon Adams, Veteran, Teacher

Recently I asked Brandon Adams, “As a veteran and a Christian, perhaps you can help me. I am asking for reasons based on the teachings of Jesus that support a Christian serving in the military.

Brandon answered my question with an excellent blog post “Can Christians Serve in the Military.”

My response to Brandon Adams

I would like to thank Brandon for so kindly taking the time to thoughtfully answer my question.

I like to use the example of George Whitfield and John Wesley who had great theological differences. George Whitfield taught eternal security and John Wesley taught Armenianism. When one of Whitfield’s followers suggested they would not see Wesley in Heaven, Whitfield said, “Yes, you’re right, we won’t see him in heaven. He will be so close to the Throne of God and we will be so far away, that we won’t be able to see him!” I can hardly compare myself to George Whitfield, but I suspect from reading his blog that Brandon may be close John Wesley.

And as John Wesley said about George Whitfield, “There are many doctrines of a less essential nature with regard to which even the most sincere children of God…are and have been divided for many ages. In these we may think and let think; we may ‘agree to disagree.’”

We must remember that we see things differently when we disagree and that loving our brothers and sisters in Christ is far more important than demanding someone agrees with our interpretation of scripture. Dialogue with other Christians about Christian military participation can be very useful to all involved.

I noticed first of all that Brandon and I agree on many things. We agree far more than we disagree.

Perhaps one the greatest areas of agreement between Brandon and me is the authority of scripture. Brandon says, “It should be noted that the belief that Scriptures outside the four Gospels carry a lesser authority than Jesus’ words is a position this blog does not entertain.”

We agree that the Bible is our authority. God has spoken to us through his word. However, I think we need to be careful that we are correctly interpreting scripture.

We are followers of Jesus. Jesus is the Son of God, the final authority. If our interpretation of scripture is different than the teaching of Jesus or how Jesus would have interpreted that passage, we must question our own interpretation of that scripture. We must be sure we correctly understand the teaching of Jesus. We can do this by making sure we understand what the Biblical writer was saying in context of culture and context of the writer’s situation.

The New Testament Biblical writers were closest to Jesus. The men who were taught by Jesus had a much better perspective than we as to how Jesus taught. We can see how these men interpreted the teachings of Jesus by reading the New Testament.

Also closer to Jesus than us, were early Christian writers. We can use writings of the early Church writers to gain an understanding of how what Jesus taught fit into the culture of their day and how they understood that teaching to affect their lives. For example Polycarp was a disciple of John the Apostle. Polycarp would have a much better understanding of how John understood the teaching of Jesus than we do because we are so far removed in time and culture from Jesus.

Brandon says, “But for me, the strongest evidence that Christians can join the military in good conscience is God’s command to protect the innocent.”

This may be our strongest area of disagreement. I would agree we need to protect the innocent. Yet, I would strongly disagree that joining the US military necessarily means we will be protecting the innocent.

Soldiers must follow the orders of their superiors and cannot refuse if they think the orders are unjust. Often soldiers and their commanding officers are not aware that they are participating in injustice. Serving in the military is the wrong method for Christians to use to protect the innocent.

I believe that most soldiers who have served in the United States military felt they were doing the right thing. For me there are just too many examples where American soldiers were required to participate in injustice. It is far easier to see the injustice of those situations now than it was at the time these wars were fought. Examples include:

  1. The Revolutionary War was a direct disobedience to Romans 13. Nero who was Emperor of Rome when the epistle of Romans was written was a much harsher tyrant than King George the III.
  2. Stealing land from Native Americans during the Indian Wars. The Wounded Knee Massacre was one of many examples of military and US Indian policy injustice.
  3. I question the justice of our fighting in World War II, especially dropping nuclear weapons on Japan. And perhaps the US could have prevented World War II if they had not participated in the Starvation Blockade? See “What About Hitler?”
  4. According to Retired Army Colonel Andrew J. Bacevich we have been fighting a 40 year war in the Middle East for cheap oil. See “Book Review: ‘America’s War for the Greater Middle East.’”
  5. When I read Osama Bin Laden’s “Letter to America,” I asked myself, “Who is fighting the more just war?”, the United States or groups fighting against the US in the Middle East.
  6. I could give many, many more examples.

Sometimes United States soldier’s fighting have done great good, but that seems to be the exception. Often soldiers have helped in natural disasters and rebuilding, certainly honorable endeavors.

When Jesus died on the cross he was the most innocent person to ever live. If Jesus refused to use violence to protect the most innocent how can we in good conscience use violence. Jesus said, “Take up your cross and follow me.” If we are fighting, it will be difficult to take up our cross.

Brandon also discussed Romans 13, Ephesians 6 and God’s use of war to conquer Canaan. I have addressed these in other blog posts: “Does Romans 13 Justify Christian Participation in Violence?;” “The Armor of God, Ephesians 6:11-17;” and “7 Reasons the Old Testament Cannot be used to Justify Christian Violence.”

Copyright © 2019 by Jon Kauffman. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is gladly granted, provided full credit and a live link are given. Permission is gladly given to re-blog this post.

Picture: Copyright © 2019 by Leon Kauffman