What Do We Owe Veterans? Or The Last Native American

Peace Dove

I met a new friend. His name is Jason. He asked me to call this blog post “The Last Native American.”

Jason asked if he could talk to me. He said he was a veteran who had done terrible things and he needed someone to talk to.

The sun breaking through to try to chase away the remaining low-lying fog. Picture: Copyright © 2019 by Leon Kauffman

Jason’s Story

Jason was a Marine sniper in Afghanistan who worked with two other snipers as a team. They killed many people. Sometimes they would surround a position and kill everyone at that position. He said was he even was required to kill an innocent child.

To fight their guilt the three snipers would tell jokes about their targets and make bets as to who could make the best shots.

Jason wondered if God could forgive him for killing so many people.

Jason is also dealing with an alcohol addiction.

We discussed the parting of the Red Sea and the great miracle God performed to save the Children of Israel. Jason thought if God could perform such a miracle, perhaps Jesus could heal him of the sins he had committed.

What do we owe Veterans like Jason?

We owe veterans the same thing we owe every human being living today. Agape love.

Agape Love

Agape (Ancient Greek agapē) is a Greco-Christian term referring to love. Within Christianity, agape is considered to be the love originating from God or Christ for humankind In the New Testament, it refers to the covenant love of God for humans, as well as the human reciprocal love for God; the term necessarily extends to the love of one’s fellow man. Wikepedia.

We owe veterans agape love. Many veterans are followers of Jesus, our brothers and sisters in Christ. Jesus commands us to love our brothers and sisters in Christ, if we do not love our brothers and sisters in Christ we are not his followers. Veterans who are not followers of Jesus are potential followers of Jesus and we owe them the same love.

10 This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not God’s child, nor is anyone who does not love their brother and sister. 1 John 3:10 NIV

Medical Care

Many veterans have suffered severe injury in the line of duty. Because we have experienced the love of Jesus, we owe these veterans the best possible medical care.

Counseling

Many veterans have developed severe psychological and emotional problems as a result of stress and injury suffered in the line of duty. Because we have experienced the love of Jesus, we owe them the best counselors and support system we can provide.

Addiction Rehabilitation

Many veterans have become addicts. Because we have experienced the love of Jesus, we owe them the best help available to help with their addictions to drugs and alcohol. The Salvation Army has one of the most effective programs available for helping people overcome addictions through healing through Jesus Christ. ARC: Adult Rehabilitation Centers gladly open their doors to veterans who are addicts.

Truth

Many veterans were recruited in their teens and early 20s. They were told they were patriotic and protecting their families if they joined the military. Because we have experienced the love of Jesus, we owe the truth to young people who are considering joining the military. Laurence M. Vance gives many reasons why young people should not join the military. See “Should Anyone Join the Military?” 1. Link at bottom of post.

Foreign Policy

We owe to veterans a foreign policy that makes a much greater effort to use non-violent methods to settle difference between countries. According to Rod Sider there is always a way third way. Columbia University Press studied 100 violent and non-violent uprisings. Non-violent campaigns are twice as likely to succeed. There is always an option to find non-violent ways to intervene in situations. Police work could be made less violent with proper training. We can also make greater use of weapons such as stun guns. Non-violent negotiation between countries who disagree is a many times cheaper than war. 2. Link at bottom of post.

We owe veterans an end to unjust foreign policy. Giant defense contractors and oil companies have great influence in congress.

USA Today says: Maryland-based Lockheed Martin, the largest defense contractor in the world, is estimated to have had $44.9 billion in arms sales in 2017 through deals with governments all over the world. The company drew public scrutiny after a bomb it sold to Saudi Arabia was dropped on a school bus in Yemen, killing 40 boys and 11 adults. Lockheed’s revenue from the U.S. government alone is well more than the total annual budgets of the IRS and the Environmental Protection Agency, combined.3. Link at bottom of post.

War Is A Racket. WAR is a racket. It always has been. It is possibly the oldest, easily the most profitable, surely the most vicious. It is the only one international in scope. It is the only one in which the profits are reckoned in dollars and the losses in lives. The Antiwar Classic by America’s Most Decorated Soldier.4 Link at bottom of post.

War in the Middle East: In “America’s War for the Greater Middle East,” by Retired Army Colonel Andrew J. Bacevich, Colonel Bacevich tells us that the Greater War in the Middle East is about oil.5. Colonel Bacevich also discusses how our military action in the Middle East is creating new terrorists faster than we can kill them. These “terrorists” are protecting their families from us.

Do we really want our young people joining the military and killing innocent children so that we can have cheap oil, drive big pickups, and buy stock in profitable oil companies?

We also owe the veterans of our enemies a great debt of Agape Love.

Why I can’t Thank Veterans.

Reasons why other Christians participate in violence: Reasons Christians Give to Say Violence by Christians is Legitimate

Notes:

1. Should Anyone Join the Military? By Laurence M. Vance

2. Doug Stuart interviews Ron Sider, Ep 145: Loving Enemies in an Age of Violence, with Ron Sider

3. “Military spending: 20 companies profiting the most from war” by Samuel Stebbins and Evan Comen, USA Today, 2019

4. War is a Racket, by General Smedley D. Butler. Also see A Biography of General Smedley.

5. “America’s War for the Greater Middle East, A Military History,” Random House, April 5, 2016. By Retired Army Colonel Andrew J. Bacevich. Book Review: “America’s War for the Greater Middle East.”

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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.

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.

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 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 was Emperor of Rome when the epistle of Romans was written. Nero was a much harsher tyrant than King George the III and Paul says Christians must not rebel.
  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. Hiroshima Mass Murder? 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 seems to have done 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.”

Return to : Reasons Christians Give to Say Violence by Christians is Legitimate

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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Neutering Male Courage

Peace Dove

By Jon Kauffman

One Christian wrote: “Pacifism is a satanic belief system designed to hurt innocent people and neuter male courage.”

When soldiers sitting in safe offices in the US “accidentally” kill innocent men, women and children in Pakistan with drones, are these soldiers demonstrating unneutered male courage? Does the US military drone system kill fewer innocent people than pacifism? Maybe the US military does people kill fewer innocent people than pacifism.

Thousands of Christians died as martyrs in 1st century Rome. It is more dangerous to be a Christian in many parts of the world today than it was to be a Christian in 1st century Rome. Christians in Rome did not die because the ran out of bullets or swords. They died because they refused to compromise with the Roman Government and they refused to use violence against their enemies.

The Christian Martyr’s Last Prayer by Jean Leon Gerome (1824-1904) Ancient accounts tell us that Christians often gathered together and prayed in the arenas as they awaited death. Rome culture was consumed by violence; the Romans loved a “spectacle,” an event in which a human life was taken before a cheering audience. Carla D. Sunberg

Jesus did not say following him would be safe. Jesus laid down his life on the cross when he had the power to physically defeat the soldiers.

Recently I listened to a Youtube video by Jordan Peterson. Professor Peterson says in reference to Jesus dying on the cross without resistance, “Jesus did the impossible.” Peterson further says we need to face the malevolence in our hearts before we take out the speck in our neighbor’s eye. See Jordan Peterson video.

Facing evil without violence is dangerous. Innocent people die. Jesus faced Rome and allowed the soldiers to kill him when he had 10,000 angels at his disposal. A pacifist position is not any less safe. Pacifism does not defend a country or political system of this world. Pacifism does not protect innocent people from terrorism.

Jesus said take up your cross and follow me. Jesus asks us to do the impossible and face evil through non-violence. I think being a pacifist takes far more courage than taking up the sword.

After Constantine came to power in 306 AD the 300 Bishops in the Council of Nicaea (325 AD) called Christians to leave the military and this seems to be the official view of the Roman church at that time.

“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.

Why is it acceptable for Christians to change the teaching of Jesus and the early church? Does anyone have the authority to change the teaching of Jesus?

Christians in the US have the great strength of the US military at their disposal.  What if Christians followed Jesus’ example in fighting terrorism instead? Perhaps like 1st century Rome, 21st century terrorists would eventually become Christian?

Many enemy soldiers in the Middle East believe they are fighting an invading US enemy force far stronger than their strength. If we are soldiers fighting people protecting their innocent families are we demonstrating unneutered male courage?

When the US bombed Japan killing 1.2 million civilians, innocent men, women and children, were the pilots demonstrating unneutered male courage?

In the blog post, “What about Hitler?” I argue that if Christians on both sides had refused to fight in World War I, perhaps Hitler would not have been elected in Germany and World War II would not have taken place. In this supposition, if a Christian soldier had refused to fight and had been shot for treason, would this soldier be neutered of male courage?

When we follow Jesus we are in for the long haul with eternal significance. If we follow Jesus we will draw the line at violence against our enemies, following the example of Jesus. We would make peace, reaching out to our enemies to negotiate. We will be willing to die before we kill because we have the resurrection in mind. We will refuse to kill for temporary power, money and safety.

We as Christians are citizens of the Kingdom of God. We may also be citizens of the USA or some other country. If we are serving Jesus, then serving the Kingdom of God must be a higher priority than serving our worldly kingdom. If we are fighting for the USA kingdom and kill citizens of the Kingdom of God who happen to also be citizens of a worldly kingdom that is at war against our worldly kingdom, how is that right? Perhaps Jesus would ask us to avoid killing citizens or potential citizens of the Kingdom of God even if it causes ourselves great pain?

Pacifism is dangerous. Should we expect those who are not Christians to be pacifists? We should not expect those who are not followers of Jesus to be pacifist anymore than we should expect them to follow Jesus teaching on caring for the poor or living a chaste lifestyle or forgiving those who have hurt them.

I John says we will know someone is a Christian if he loves his brother and sister(other followers of Jesus). Perhaps if someone refuses to kill Christians and innocent men, women and children in foreign lands even when his government commands him to do so, then he is a follower of Jesus?

Patrick Coffin says “If it’s true it can stand severe tire kickings.” The Patrick Coffin Show. Does this blog post’s opening quote stand severe tire kickings? I think not!

For an excellent essay on the Old Testament and peace see Old Testament Peace Vision by Ted Grimsrud

See “What about Hitler.”

Reasons why other Christians participate in violence : Reasons Christians Give to Say Violence by Christians is Legitimate

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.

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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 for 40 years. 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.

Arguments people have given me to suggest that it is acceptable for Christians to us violence:

  1. Protecting your family when violent people come.
    See my response:

    Agent X, Blogger, “Intruder”.

    How Jesus Fights Wars
    .
  2. Protecting your country when violent armies come.
    See my response:

    The Flag and Daniel.

    What About Hitler?
    .
  3. Protecting religious freedom.
    See my response:

    Should a Christian Fight for Freedom?

    How Jesus Fights Wars.
    .
  4. Protecting vulnerable neighbors when violent people come.
    See my response:

    SERMON OF SUBVERSION: SERMON ON THE MOUNT

    Violence and Responses.
    .
  5. They feel like they are doing the right thing.
    See my response:

    Hiroshima and Mass Murder?
    .
  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.
    .
  7. Soldiers have good medical benefits. Should a Christian put medical benefits as a higher priority than following the teachings of Jesus?
    .
  8. Soldiers have good educational opportunities. Should a Christian put education as a higher priority than following the teachings of Jesus?
    .
  9. The military teaches discipline. It takes great discipline to follow the teachings of Jesus. Which is a higher priority?
    .
  10. Veterans are recognized as heroes.
    See my response:

    Why I Can’t Thank Veterans.

    What Do We Owe Veterans? Or The Last Native American
    .
  11. Theologians such as St. Augustine and Martin Luther have justified Christian use of violence. The issue is settled and we don’t need to talk about it anymore. See my response:

    St Augustine’s Mistake.

    Greatest Heresy of All Time? Just War Doctrine?

    Does Just War Exist?

    The Authority We Follow
    .
  12. Paul used the Armor of God (Military references) as a metaphor for Christian spiritual warfare. Ephesians 6:11-17. Because Paul referenced military equipment, that means he approved of Christians participating in military violence.
    See my response:

    The Armor of God, Ephesians 6:11-17
    .
  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

    OUR FRIEND TALKS PACIFISM
    .
  14. Romans 13 teaches that Christians are to be subject to the state.
    See my response:

    Does Romans 13 Justify Christian Participation in Violence?

    Can Christians Join the US Military?

    Submission to Governing Authorities: A Study of Romans 13:1-7 by Matthew G. Neufeld

    .
  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?
    .
  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

    Why I Won’t be Voting in 2020.
    .
  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.

    Two Swords: Enough. By Michael Snow.

    “No More of This!” (Why Jesus Armed and disarmed Peter) by Brian Zahnd.
    .
  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.
    See my response:

    Hiroshima and Mass Murder

    Who is God? Thou Shalt Not Kill
    .
  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

Does 2 Kings 9 Justify Christian Violence?

Mary, Warrior of God.

Does Isaiah 2:3-4 Teach Christian Non-Violence?

God Is Not Violent: Korah’s Rebellion

Jason Potterfield discusses Violence in the Old Testament:

New Series: Violence In The Old Testament by Jason Potterfield
Violence In The Old Testament. Part 2: The Problem by Jason Potterfield
Violence In The Old Testament Part 3: Filter The Bible Through Jesus by Jason Potterfield
.

Most churches and their leaders support the Christian use of violence.
See my response:

St. Augustine’s Mistake
.

Pacifism is not safe and secure. Pacifists must depend on non-pacifists to defend them physically.
See my response:

“Neutering Male Courage.”
.

1 Peter 2:13-17 justifies Christian military service.
See my response:

Does 1 Peter 2:13-17 Justify Christian Violence?
.

2 Timothy 2: 3 & 4 justifies Christian military service.
See my response:

Does 2 Timothy 2:3 & 4 Justify Christian Military Service
.

Evidence of Pacifism in Early church is too fragmentary to know what they thought.
See my Response:

Does Isaiah 2:3-4 Teach Christian Non-Violence?

SERMON OF SUBVERSION: SERMON ON THE MOUNT
.

“Pacifism is a satanic belief system designed to hurt innocent people and neuter male courage.”
See my response:

“Neutering Male Courage.”

How Jesus Fights Wars.
.

“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
.

If Christians did not fight as soldiers, the whole world would fall apart. Christianity would be destroyed and civilization would end.
.

To prevent future terrorist attacks. Terrorists would destroy our country if Christians did not fight.
See my response:

“Neutering Male Courage.”
.

It is foolish for Christians to depend on evil people for protection.
See my response:
.

Jesus is violent in the book of Revelation and uses violence to bring justice. If Jesus is violent we also can be violent.
See my response:

Does Revelation 19 Justify Violence by Christians?

See how Jesus fights: “Holy War.” video by Greg Boyd
.

Christians can fight in any war. The war does not need to be just. The only requirement is that the Christian must fight heroically.

Can Christians Join the US Military?
.

Ryan Callahan has written one of the best defenses for Christian violence than I have heard or read over the last 40 years of asking. Ryan said, “Good to meet you Jon. I agree that as followers of Jesus we should be men of peace. The Bible is also clear in 1 Corinthians 13:7 that love always protects. Defending your family is not a matter of violence. It is a matter of love.” Closely related is Phil Robinson’s defense of Christian violence.
See my Response:


See the very interesting conversation between Ryan and Agent X.

Ryan Callahan, Author, Blogger and Everyday Minister
.

My friend, Mark Netum told me a story that he felt demonstrated the need of Christians to fight.

Mark Nettum, Veteran, Retired. Does Matthew 13:24-29 Teach Nonviolence?
.

“I have no problem with people Christian or otherwise for that matter choosing not to defend themselves ( particularly if doing so would involve violence) I do have an issue with people who refuse to defend OTHER people and/or tell people that it is wrong to use their legal right to self defense.” I found this quote on Christian Forums.

See my Response:

Can Christians Join the US Military?


.

Philippians 2:25 and 2 Timothy 2:3,4 clearly justify serving as a soldier.
See my response:

Do Philippians 2:25 and 2 Timothy 2:3,4 Justify Violence by Christians?
.

In Numbers 32, two tribes of Israel wanted to stay in Gilead and discontinue fighting. Moses spoke severely to them therefor we also should fight in war.
.

One friend said, “Jesus often saves people in the military so it must be alright to work in the military.” Jesus saves people who once were prostitutes and thieves. That does not indicate that is acceptable for people to remain prostitutes and thieves.
.

What arguments for violence have I missed? Please feel free to point out any errors in my thinking.

A Few New Testament References That Support A Nonviolent Position:

What arguments for violence have I missed? Please feel free to point out any errors in my thinking.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is dirk-willem-2.jpg
In the Sixteenth Century at least 1500 Anabaptists were tortured and killed because they insisted on living by the teachings of Jesus. An Anabaptist, Dirk Willem was imprisoned to be killed.

Dirk escaped prison and was fleeing for his life. He crossed a pond covered by a thin layer of ice. His pursuer fell through the ice. Dirk turned back and saved his enemy from drowning. The man he saved, grabbed him and held him for arrest. On May 16, 1569, Dirk Willem was executed by fire.

I absolutely agree with you that war is not compatible with Christian belief. It’s the reason I long ago ceased to call myself a Christian. I believe that there are circumstances in which war is justified and would cite the activity of Adolf Hitler and his followers. Had the rest of the world permitted the Nazi’s to continue with their programme, which included unspeakable violence against large numbers of our fellow humans based on their ethnicity/religious beliefs/failure to meet a supposed ideal of physical and mental perfection, neither you nor I would be alive today. Frank Parker

I find Frank’s honesty refreshing. I remain a Christian and believe it is wrong for Christians to participate in war.

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.

Jesus as the Son of God has the right to ask his followers to live lives of non-violence if that is what he wants to do.

40 years and I have not found any reasons that Christians use to justify violence, that I felt is convincing.

When We Disagree.

Contact me: jonkauffman01@gmail.com.

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.
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Edited 10/31/2021

Does John the Baptist say Christians may Use Violence?

By Jon Kauffman

Some Christians say that because when the soldiers asked John the Baptist what they should do, John did not tell them to leave the military, therefore Christians can use serve in the military today and use violence.

Lake Inez on a still morning. Courtesy Leon Kauffman.

Luke tells us the story.

10 “What should we do then?” the crowd asked.

11 John answered, “Anyone who has two shirts should share with the one who has none, and anyone who has food should do the same.”

12 Even tax collectors came to be baptized. “Teacher,” they asked, “what should we do?”

13 “Don’t collect any more than you are required to,” he told them.

14 Then some soldiers asked him, “And what should we do?”

He replied, “Don’t extort money and don’t accuse people falsely—be content with your pay.”

Luke 3:10-14

A few general thoughts on how the passage applies to Christians serving in the military.

  1. Because Luke did not record John saying the soldiers should leave the military does not mean that he did not at some other time tell them to do so.
    .
  2. Jesus taught that we must love our enemies and that we must not violently resist evil men. Following Jesus is more important than following our interpretation of what we might think John’s silence might mean.
    .
  3. Early Christians did not understand John the Baptist to be approving of military service when they read this passage. 
    .
    A soldier of the civil authority must be taught not to kill men and to refuse to do so if he is commanded, and to refuse to take an oath. If he is unwilling to comply, he must be rejected for baptism. A military commander or civic magistrate must resign or be rejected. If a believer seeks to become a soldier, he must be rejected, for he has despised God. Apostolic Tradition, Chapter 16, by Hippolytus of Rome.
    .
    Hippolytus lived from AD 170 to AD 235. Hippolytus was a disciple of Polycarp who was a disciple of John the Apostle.
    .
  4. Although early Christians clearly taught that Christians must follow the teachings of Jesus, they did not always say how to carry out his teachings. John the Baptist perhaps had similar feelings when he was talking to the soldiers. David Bercot tells us: “Consistent with its position of not legislating righteousness in other areas of life, the early church made no law that Christians could not serve in the army. The Scriptures only commanded a Christian to love his enemies and not to return evil for evil. Neither Jesus nor the apostles ever strictly forbade Christians to serve in the military…it was quite possible for a Christian to spend his entire life in the army and never be required to shed blood. In fact, during this period, soldiers primarily served in a capacity similar to American police officers. Generally speaking, the church did not permit a Christian to join the army after his conversion. However, if a man was already a soldier when he became a Christian, the church did not require him to resign. He was only required to agree to never use the sword against anyone. One reason for this flexibility was that the Romans did not normally allow a soldier to leave the army until his time of service was completed.” Will the Real Heretics Please Stand Up by David W. Bercot, Page 97, 98.
    .
  5. In conjunction with the teaching of Jesus and the understanding of how the early church understood the teaching of Jesus it is difficult to see how John the Baptist’s comments justify Christians entering the military or using violence.

Return to : Reasons Christians Give to Say Violence by Christians is Legitimate

Jason Potterfield has written an excellent post about John the Baptist on“EnemyLove”.

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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Should a Christian Fight for Freedom?

By Jon Kauffman

Our Pastor told us, “The root word of happiness is happen. Happiness is a good feeling or contentment because something good happened to us.” I’m happy because I ate a good breakfast. An hour later I’m not happy because my computer crashed and I lost 15 minutes of work on my document.

Some morning color in the sky over Summit Lake. Courtesy Leon Kauffman.

Joy on the other hand is peace and well being of the spirit because we have Jesus in our lives. Jesus can give us joy when we are in the middle of great pain and difficulty. Joy does not depend on the circumstances of our lives.

There are also two kinds of freedom.

The freedom the military and our government laws gives us and the freedom Jesus gives us.

The military can give us freedom to build church buildings and to use those buildings for worship. The United States has the most powerful military in the world. Who can defeat it?

The freedom Jesus gives us does not depend on circumstance. A Christian from North Africa beheaded by Boko Haram has more true freedom than the average American.

Jesus said, 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven…  Matthew 5: 44,45

How can we kill for transitory freedom when Jesus tells us to love our enemies?

Reasons why other Christians participate in violence: Reasons Christians Give to Say Violence by Christians is Legitimate

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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7 Reasons the Old Testament Cannot be used to Justify Christian Violence

It is often the bee who gets the credit for being busy; however it seems the spider could claim the title as well. Courtesy Leon Kauffman.

7 Reasons the Old Testament Cannot be used to Justify Christian Violence

By Jon Kauffman

Many Christians claim that because God commanded Joshua to use violence in the Old Testament, then violence is acceptable for Christians.

Seven reasons that Christians cannot use the Old Testament to justify violence:

  1. JESUS: Jesus is the Prince of Peace. Jesus very clearly taught and demonstrated non-violence even in the face of death. No other reason is necessary for a follower of Jesus to reject violence and war.

    Jesus, an innocent man, did not use violence to protect himself, instead Jesus said, “’Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.’ And they divided up his clothes by casting lots.” Luke 23:34

    The Old Testament tells the story of humanities journey to God and healing through His revelation. It takes time for mankind to draw closer to God just as it takes time each of us to draw closer to God.

    Moses says: “Show no pity: life shall be for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot.” – Deuteronomy 19:21

    But Jesus contradicts this and says: “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also.” – Matthew 5:38–39

    And Jesus continues: “But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them that despitefully use you; that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven.” – Matthew 5:43-48

    That journey of God’s revelation took a huge leap forward when Jesus came to earth as He taught us to Love our enemies. That journey will not culminate until we see Jesus face to face and we will be like him because we will see him as he is.

    We see many indications in the Old Testament of the journey to non-violence. Just as sometimes God deals with our sins one at a time, so God sometime deals with mankind’s sins one at a time.
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  2. EARLY CHRISTIANS: The early Christians very clearly taught and demonstrated that they understood Jesus to be saying that Christians must not participate in violence. For example:

    Justin Martyr said, “For from Jerusalem there went out into the world, men, twelve in number, and these illiterate, of no ability in speaking: but by the power of God they proclaimed to every race of men that they were sent by Christ to teach to all the word of God, and we who formerly used to murder one another do not only now refrain from making war upon our enemies, but also, that we may not lie nor deceive our examiners, willingly die confessing Christ.” Justin Martyr, 100 AD to 165 AD, First Apology, Chapter 39.

    Arnobius said, “For since we, a numerous band of men as we are, have learned from His teaching and His law that evil ought not to be repaid with evil, Matthew 5:39 that it is better to suffer wrong than to inflict it, that we should rather shed our own blood than stain our hands and our conscience with that of another.” Arnobius (Died 330 AD) Book 1, Section 6.

  3. GOD’S CHOSEN PEOPLE: Israel was God’s chosen people. God was their King. God separated Israel from the rest of the world so that he could reveal himself to them and make a way for Jesus to be born.

    Today God’s chosen people come from every race and live in every country and speak every language. God’s Kingdom is no longer confined to one country. Jesus is our King, our President, our Prime Minister. Jesus is a higher authority than any earthly king or president. As his followers, Jesus does not ask us to crush our brothers and sisters and the poor in foreign lands to make America greater. Our brothers and sisters in Christ in foreign lands are citizens of our own country or kingdom. The kingdom of God spread throughout the world.

  4. GOD FOUGHT FOR ISRAEL: When God commanded Israel to fight wars, God fought for Israel. When Gideon was given the task of fighting Israel’s enemies, God told him to whittle down the numbers of his troops until there was no doubt but that God had won the victory. The United States wins it’s battles by brute strength.

  5. WAR AND WEALTH: God did not allow Israel to gain wealth when waging war. Often God commanded Israel to destroy everything their enemies possessed when they conquered them.

    Primarily the Crusades, European wars, and the wars of the United States have been about the gain of wealth. The United States used brutal tactics to steal land from Native Americans. For the last 40 years, the number one reason that the United States has been fighting in the Middle East is to ensure a large supply of oil for the United States. See America’s War for the Greater Middle East, by Retired Army Colonel Andrew J. Bacevich

  6. OLD TESTAMENT AS METAPHOR: Much of the Old Testament is foretelling the coming of Jesus and a metaphor for His coming. For example, the story of Jonah’s 3 days in the belly of the whale is a metaphor for the 3 days Jesus was dead. God had the whale spit Jonah onto dry land. God raised Jesus from the dead. The physical warfare of the Old Testament is a metaphor for the spiritual warfare Christians are involved in during the Church period. King David is like Christ. David fought the physical enemies of God. Jesus fought the spiritual enemies of God. King Solomon is like Christ ruling in peace now and in the future. We must join this Kingdom of Peace.

  7. TIME FOR WAR: Ecclesiastes 3:8 says there is a time for war and a time for peace. The Old Testament period was a time for war. The Church period is a time for peace. And yet the Church is living in a time of war, an eternally important war.
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    Paul said,“Some people who think that we live by the standards of this world. For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” 2 Corinthians 10:2-5. NIV

    For an excellent essay on the Old Testament and peace see Old Testament Peace Vision by Ted Grimsrud

    Jason Porterfield has written an excellent piece explaining why the cross requires Christians to use mercy against their enemies. “Vengeance Is Forbidden. Mercy Is Commanded.”

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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.

Picture: Copyright © 2019 by Leon Kauffman

All My Posts (Links)

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