THE HISTORY OF VIOLENCE

By Jon Kauffman

CREATION

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Genesis 1:1

There was war in heaven and Satan was thrown from heaven.

Many scientists tell us the universe is 13.7 billion years old. What if Satan was thrown from heaven 13.7 billion years ago? Did Satan’s fall from heaven cause the universe to begin dying, as the universe expands it grows colder. The beginning of violence?

Scientists tell us that the earth is 4.5 billion years old. What if as God created animal life at each step of what scientist call evolution. Satan interfered and introduced death and violence each step of the way. Dinosaurs killed dinosaurs.

Peace Dove

THE FALL OF MAN

Then God created Adam and Eve. They lived in the Garden of Eden as equals. They sinned and because of man’s stronger physic, man protected woman from the dangerous animals and evil men and used his greater strength to provide food and shelter. Man abused his strength and power over women.

Cain killed Abel. God protected Cain from revenge, but Cain and his descendants created cities and government and used the power of violence to protect thenselves. The sin of men brought about great violence.

THE FLOOD

God repented of creating man because of their violence. He started over with Noah and promised never to wipe out mankind again. God would find a way to overcome the sinfulness and violence of man without using a flood.

Man built violent and evil empires such as Sumer, Egypt and the Akkadian Empire. These empires used war and violence to control and enslave people.

GOD REVEALS HIMSELF

God began revealing himself to man and bringing about the salvation of man by becoming a friend to Abraham.

God sent Joseph to Egypt to save his family and Egypt. Joseph became vizier of Egypt during the reign of Amenemhat III. 1,2 Pharoah gave Joseph and his family a home in city of Avaris in the land of Goshen.

God blessed the Israelites, they had many children and there was a great multiplication of their numbers.

A pharaoh (Sobekhotep III)1. who did not know Joseph, enslaved the Israelites.

Then Dedumose II1,2 is confronted by Moses. God through many miracles convinces pharaoh to let his people go. 600,000 men, their wives and children leave Egypt. The pharaoh changes his mind and pursues the Children of Israel to the Red Sea. God fights for Israel and defeats Egypt, casting the pharaoh’s army into the sea.

God is leading his people to a way of nonviolence and love of enemy as he protects his people in weakness and they win a great victory.

God fights for Israel and they defeat Jericho and many other fortified cities. God is the protection of Israel.

THE TIME OF THE JUDGES

Often the Children of Israel refuse to depend on God and take their defense into their own hands. Sometimes they depend on God and win great victories in weakness, such as in the time of Gideon.

Through the law of Moses and the prophets, God teaches his people that he wants them to care for the widow and orphan, the poor and the helpless and to show compassion to the foreigner. God wants his people to trust him for protection.

FALLING INTO VIOLENCE LIKE THE NATIONS

In Deuteronomy 17: 14-20 Moses gives guidelines for a King.

Often the people take detours and do not depend on God for protection.3.

The people take a major detour and against the advice of Samuel crown Saul King.

The Kings do not follow the guidelines set by Moses.

Saul begins to depend on his own strength like the nations and loses his Kingdom to David.

David, a man after God’s own heart, defeats Goliath.

For hundreds of years during the time of the Judges, Israel did not maintain a standing army. The Israelites did not know war.

David, as King becomes a man of great violence. He depends on his own strength. Instead of depending on God, David hired foreign mercenaries to fight for Israel and to train soldiers for Israel.

David displays the sword of Goliath. Was he displaying his own great military prowess?

Because of his great violence, God does not allow David to build the Temple.

Solomon builds the temple. He also does not follow the guidelines set by Moses for a King. Solomon worships idols and has many wives. Solomon accumulates great wealth.

The Kingdom divides after the death of Solomon, some Kings allow God to fight for them and they are successful. Some Kings depend on themselves and end in defeat.

GOD PUNISHES ISRAEL

With the Babylonian capture of Judah, the King experiment ends.

God is showing his people that they will live in the nations and be a blessing to the nations.

With Ezra and Nehemiah, the people return to Israel so that the messiah can be born in Bethlehem and die and raise from the dead in Jerusalem in fulfillment of prophecy.

Alexander the Great conquers Jerusalem in 332 BC.

The Jews rebel in violence.

In 63 BC Pompey conquers Jerusalem for Rome.

The Jews rebel in violence.

God does not allow the Jews to win against their oppressors. God is leading them to be a blessing to all the nations and to live out among the nations, he does not allow the return to the rule of earthly kings of Israel.

JESUS, KING OF PEACE

Jesus is born.

He is tempted in the desert by the devil to take political power. The Kingdom of God on earth is not an earthly kingdom, but a Kingdom with members living in every nation.

Jesus preaches the Kingdom of God. He teaches us to feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, visit the prisoner to love our brother and sister and to love our enemy so that they can become our brother and sister.

Jesus sent out his 72 disciples representing the 72 nations of the earth as mentioned in Genesis. Jesus sees Satan fall like lightening from heaven. See Luke 10.

The zealots wanted to fight violently for freedom. Simon the zealot is Jesus disciple. But Jesus teaches peace.

Jesus died without resistance to conquer his enemies when he had 12 legions of angels at his disposal.

50 Jesus replied, “Do what you came for, friend. Then the men stepped forward, seized Jesus and arrested him. 51 With that, one of Jesus’ companions reached for his sword, drew it out and struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his ear. 52 “Put your sword back in its place,” Jesus said to him, “for all who draw the sword will die by the sword. 53 Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels? 54 But how then would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen in this way?” Matthew 26:50-54

After the resurrection Jesus sends his people to preach to every nation. His Kingdom is a part of every nation. Jesus allows persecution in Jerusalem to push the Christians into all the world.

Even when Jesus ascended to heaven, the disciples were asking when he would restore the earthly kingdom of Israel:

Then they gathered around him and asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Acts 1 6-8.

Jesus said we must be willing to die in the same way:

Jesus said: 27 And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple. Luke 14:27

Paul continues the idea of a Kingdom of God that does not include a earthly kingdom. Paul tells us Christians do not fight with weapons of the world such as guns and knives and swords, but put on the armor of God. Ephesians 6.

11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 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: 11,12

The Ephesians passage is reminiscent of Luke 10. Demons rule the nations.

The Jews rebel violently against Rome and suffer great defeat in 70 AD, just as Jesus predicts.

The church depends on God for protection.

Prostitutes, tax collectors and soldiers become followers of Jesus.

CHRISTIANS TURN TO VIOLENCE

Most Christians were pacifist but as time passed soldiers began to remain in the military. In 170 AD, the first soldiers to become Christian and to remain in the military are confirmed historically.

Christians in the military became a problem for the church.

The 300 Bishops in the Council of Nicaea (325 AD) addressed this problem and called Christians to leave the military.

“Those who endured violence and were seen to have resisted, but who afterwards yielded to wickedness, and returned to the army, shall be excommunicated for ten years.” 
Excerpt from Cannon 12 of the Council of Nicaea.

Then St. Ambrose, a master politician, was made bishop by popular demand. Ambrose called for the killing of pagans by Christians. The preaching of the gospel was put on hold and earthly power was grasped by Christians. Romans and Christians discriminated against pagans.

Soon only Christians could become soldiers in the Roman Army.

The military was used to force people to become “Christian.” Instead of preaching the gospel and teaching people to choose Kingdom of God through love, Christians turn to the violence of the world.

St. Augustine wrote about just war. Even his watered-down teachings concerning violence were twisted and ignored.

Christians fought for land and power and safety and did not trust God for protection.

THE CRUSADES

Christians fought the Crusades to conquer Jerusalem and kill the Muslims. Christians are not loving their enemies and preaching the gospel to Muslims, they are killing their enemies like the nations of the earth.

EUROPEAN VIOLENCE

Christian governments prove they are no better at peace than were the Empires of Rome and Egypt. The Holy Roman Empire, France and England fought constantly, Christian slaughtering Christian.

Thomas Aquinas refines the Just War theory.

Nations continue to ignore the teachings of Jesus. Nations and Christians alike refuse to follow Aquinas’ Just War theory.

Protestants and Catholics fought and killed each other. In the 30-year war 1/3 of the population of Europe died as this religious and political conflict raged. Were Christians becoming more violent than the world?

VIOLENTLY CONQUERING THE WORLD

Pope Alexander VI issued the Papal Bull ‘Inter Caetera,” on May 4, 1493. This came to be called the “Doctrine of Discovery” used by “Christian” European Empires such as Spain, England and France to conquer foreign lands in North and South America, Africa, Australia and India for profit. The Doctrine of Discovery allowed the United States to legally and with the blessing of the church steal land from the Native Americans.

AMERICAN VIOLENCE

The Unites States has fought many wars with Christian nations. Fighting for land, resources and power.

The United States became a nation as a result of the Revolutionary War in direct disobedience to Paul:

2 Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. Romans 13:2

Today many of the most vocal war mongers in America call themselves Christian.

In 1918 after Germany signed the peace treaty, Germans were starving. The US Congress voted not to send wheat to Germany. Nearly 1,000,000 Germans starved to death as a result. Because to the starvation Germans elected Hitler. If we had feed the hungry as instructed by Jesus could we have prevented World War II? And with that one act perhaps we could have prevented the Cold War? And the Korean and Vietnam Wars? See What about Hitler.

Jimmy Carter submerged the US in endless war in the Middle East to ensure large quantities of cheap oil for America. Military contractors make huge profits from the war in the Middle East. Soldiers protect oil wells to ensure profits of oil companies and the war continues. See America’s War for the Greater Middle East.”

Can we in America be saved from God’s judgment for our violence?

SLAVERY

Europe and America brought slaves from Africa. America fought the Civil War in direct disobedience to the teachings of Jesus. Christian brother killing Christian brother. This war was about power and greed. The south rebelling against unfair taxes and refusing to free their slaves. The North demanding taxes and politicians using the end of slavery as a means to gain political support. Great Britain ended slavery without war. Why not America?

We can see through history how true are the words of Jesus: Live by the sword die by the sword. America’s war and death continues in the Middle East as Christians fail to follow Jesus’ words of peace.

HAS SATAN WON?

Today Satan still seems to rule the Christian nations, as Christians fail to resist the temptation to rule through worldly politics. The same temptation Jesus overcame in Matthew 4: 8-10.

8 Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. 9 “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.” 10 Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.” Matthew 4: 8-10. NIV

Jesus and Paul gave us a way to defeat Satan if we only take it. See Luke 10 and Ephesians 6.

Today Jesus still calls us to love our enemies and preach the gospel to all creation. Our brothers and sisters, our fellow members of the Kingdom of God live in every nation.

How can we feed the hungry, house the homeless and give water to the thirsty when we join the military and kill the hungry and thirsty? Or join the military make more people hungry and thirsty? How can we love our brothers and sisters in Christ if we join the military and kill them? How can we love our enemies when we join the military and kill them?

Jesus will continue to build his Kingdom even when Christians do not follow his gospel of peace.

Remember that Jesus saw Satan falling when he sent out the 72. Jesus defeated evil on the cross and has won the victory even if Christians do not follow his teaching. Whatever our sin, we can all expect Jesus to work in our lives as he teaches each of us to become more like him.

Jesus will have the victory.

Coming soon: A new heavens and a new earth without death and violence.

Notes:

  1. Pharaohs and Kings: A Biblical Quest by David Rohl.
  2. Patterns of Evidence, The Exodus, Documentary by Tim Mahoney
  3. The Politics of Yahweh, by John Nugent

Copyright © 2020 by Jon Kauffman. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is gladly granted when used to further the Kingdom of God. Permission is gladly given to re-blog this post.

All My Posts (Links)

Can Christians Join the US Military?

By Jon Kauffman

Christians disagree strongly about whether or not Christians should join the United States military.

Many pacifists and just war advocates think Christians should not join the US military. Some feel it is OK to join the military if for example they are in a position that does not carry weapons. Other Christians feel any position in the military is OK if a person is obeying the commands of those in authority over them.

I think this post gives us good reasons why Christians should never join the US Military.

To Join the military Christians must disobey the Teachings of Jesus.

I am not aware of any teachings of Jesus or early church leaders up until Ambrose that would allow Christians to use violence.

Jesus taught and the early Church writers wrote many statements claiming that violence by Christians is wrong. They also demonstrated that they believed this by their actions.

If we are true followers of Jesus, living for Jesus will be our number one goal.

An Easter Morning. Picture: Copyright © 2020 by Leon Kauffman

Does the Government have the Responsibility to Control Violence?

Some Christians claim that if the government asks us to participate in actions that are contrary to the teachings of Jesus we must obey because the government has the right to ask us to do so.

These Christians sometimes claim that the government has the responsibility to control violent people. Normally Romans 13 is used to back up this claim. However, Romans 13 does not say that we as Christians can participate in this violence. The passage actually asserts that since governments participate in violence, God will use those evil governments to control evil people. Romans 13 does not even claim that governments have the right to use violence. Only that God uses them as agents.

Using violence is wrong even for those who are not Christians. Jesus wants everyone to become his follower and live a life of nonviolence.

Perhaps Christians can find ways to control violence without using violence?

The early Christians refused to worship the emperor and they refused to participate in violence. Should we as Christians ignore the teaching of Jesus and the example of the early church only because the government or the military tells us we should.

How Do Government Officials Know they are Doing What is Right?

The next paragraph in Romans, verses 13:8-10 tells us.

8 Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law. 9 The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not covet,” and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” 10 Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law. Romans 13:8-10 NIV

If we are in the military or government when we become Christians, it seems obvious that Paul expects us to follow the teaching of Jesus and “Love your Neighbor as yourself.” While serving in a government or military position.

The United States military is concerned only with crushing and destroying the enemy as defined by US foreign policy.

The Jews considered people such as the Samaritan woman and the Roman Centurion to be enemies. Jesus taught and demonstrated that he considered them to be neighbors and he loved them. How can we do less?

Isis and Boko Haram soldiers are our neighbors. As Christians, our job is to love them into the Kingdom of God, not to kill them. Chinese, Iraq and Iranian Christians are our brothers and sisters. Our job as Christians is to protect them and lay down our lives for them, not to kill them. Jesus said, Greater love has no man than to lay down his life for his friends.

We are like the Roman Soldier when we join the military, we kill people that Jesus loves. Our enemies are like the Jews and other conquered people in the Roman Empire at the time of Jesus.

We live in the United States. The country with a crushing and violent military, like Rome. Like Rome, the US has a mighty empire and countries all over the world contribute to the wealth of the US empire.

Is it possible to join the United States military and love your neighbor?

See How Jesus Fights Wars.

Violent Rebellion

And what is the responsibility of Christians concerning violence? Romans 13 says that Christians should not participate in violent rebellion.

Some Christians claim that the colonies were justified in fighting Great Britain for independence. Before a single shot was fired in the Revolutionary War, nine of the colonies had already won de facto independence by nonviolent means. Page 6, “Nonviolent Action,” by Ronald J. Sider.

If the 13 colonies could have been freed with patience and nonviolent negotiations, why did they fight and kill? Is that like Jesus?

Our military perpetrated great injustice against Native Americans when our government stole their land.

Great Britain ended slavery through nonviolence. If it had already been demonstrated that slavery could end by nonviolent action, why did Americans use war to end slavery?

How different would our nation be if it had been brought about through nonviolence?

We Must Not Steal

Paul had a big thing against stealing.

In Romans 13, Paul quotes the 10 commandments saying, “You shall not steal.”

In Ephesians 4 Paul gives us instructions for Christian living: 28 Anyone who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with their own hands, that they may have something to share with those in need. Ephesians 4:28 NIV

The US has sent the Marines to Honduras and Guatemala to protect US banana companies and ensure cheap bananas for the US on the backs of the poor in these countries. There are many more examples where the US has used the military to steal.

How can a Christian join the US military without participating in stealing? Perhaps Paul expects those Christians who are in the military to leave and take up work with their own hands?

Did the Doctrine of Discovery Justify Stealing the Land from the Native Americans?

We had the Doctrine of Discovery. The military conquests of the United States are based on the Doctrine of Discovery and Manifest Destiny.

“It started with the early explorers. They were accompanied by priests with the goal of bringing Christianity to the New World from Spain in 1492. The Papal Bull “Inter Caetera,” issued by Pope Alexander VI a year later, played a central role in the Spanish conquest of this New World. The document supported Spain’s strategy to ensure its exclusive right to the lands “discovered” by Columbus. This philosophy has become the primary world view of colonization, domination, exploitation, and Christianization of the world by people of Western European origins for the past 500 years. At its core is the claim that all land not settled by European Christians is available for their development and settlement, and that those people currently living on and using the land have no claim of ownership or rights of use.

Even as late as 1823, this “Papal Bull,” called the Doctrine of Discovery, was affirmed by the United States Supreme Court in a series of decisions. Chief Justice John Marshall justified the way in which colonial powers laid claim to lands belonging to foreign sovereign nations. The doctrine has been primarily used to support decisions invalidating or ignoring indigenous and aboriginal possession of land in favor of colonial or post-colonial governments into the present.” 1.

The Catholic Church affirmed the Doctrine of Discovery through a papal bull, the protestant churches affirmed the Doctrine of Discovery through their actions. Did this make it right?

Gros Ventre moving camp with travois. Public Domain

Worshiping the Emperor

The early Christians refused to worship the Emperor. Today some Christians put the commands of the state above the teaching of Jesus. Are we worshiping the wealth, the security and the power the state gives when we without question follow orders?  How are we different than Romans who worshiped the emperor?

Jesus is Above Every Power

Contrast the teaching of Jesus with the teaching of Moses.

Jesus taught us the way of nonviolence. Turn the other check.

Moses taught us a way of revenge. An eye for an eye.

Jesus demonstrated nonviolence. When he had the power to rescue himself, he died on the cross and when he has the power to rescue us, he tells us we must take up our cross and follow him.

Are we too weak and feeble to lose our wealth and comfort and suffer like Jesus by taking up our cross and following him?

Jesus has great power and rose from the dead. He does not need violence to rule the universe. Paul said:

18 I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, 19 and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength 20 he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, 21 far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. 22 And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church. Ephesians 1:18-22 NIV.

If Jesus told us not to participate in violence, should we obey him? Why should we join the US Military? Isn’t Jesus God? As God, doesn’t he have the right to change the law of Moses concerning the way his people interact with their enemies?

Do I Need to Check out my Potential Employer?

I wrote “My Ethical Dilemma: Letter to Pope Francis.” I asked the question, Should I pay Taxes? Professor Ardell Caneday of the University of Northwestern in St. Paul, Minnesota, Professor of New Testament Studies and Greek replied with some excellent advice.

“You are not accountable for how governing officials use the tax dollars that you pay whether at a municipal level, a county level, a state level, or a federal level. Those who govern are accountable for their implementation of tax dollars.” Professor Ardell Caneday.

If Professor Caneday is correct when he says that those who govern are accountable. In the same way, I believe if we take a position that we know participates in injustice, we are acting contrary to the teaching of Jesus. We know that it is well documented that the military participates in injustice, murder and stealing. If we join the military with that knowledge, are we accountable for the injustice? Will Jesus be pleased?

If we take a position with a company that supplies military weapons, we know those weapons will very likely be used to perpetrate injustice. Are we accountable for that injustice? Will Jesus be pleased?

Protecting the Innocent.

Some positions in government protect the innocent. For example, EMTs, firemen and social workers are not required to kill people. Their job is to help people. It seems to me that these are positions that Christians can and should take as a line of work.

I am not sure how it is possible to follow the teaching of Jesus and join the US military.

1. Paula Killough, Returning to Our Roots, God at work in spite of the Doctrine of Discovery, 2016.

Find more information about the Doctrine of Discovery. Here.

Does Romans 13 Justify Christian Participation in Violence?

See reasons that others have given to support the use of violence by Christians: Reasons Christians Give to Say Violence by Christians is Legitimate

My Ethical Dilemma: Letter to Pope Francis.

All My Posts (Links)

Copyright © 2020 by Jon Kauffman. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is gladly granted when used to further the Kingdom of God. Permission is gladly given to re-blog this post.