Christians and Violence?

revolutionary Notice the cross dangling from the end of this Ukrainian protestor’s bat handle. It prompts me to ask the question that is the title of this post. Jesus and his early Church followers famously did NOT resist persecution with violence, except for Peter who seems to have been rebuked for drawing his sword. And we have the sometimes discomforting command of Paul in Romans 13 to ‘obey the higher powers,’ etc. Then again, we are told to ‘resist Evil.’ Jesus violently overthrew the money-changers, not in self-defense but in defense of that which is good. The medieval theologian John of Salisbury taught that failure to overthrow tyranny was tantamount to enabling sin.

So where does this leave us? Do we ever swing bats or shoot guns at people serving Evil? If so, when? If not, what about protecting others against whom the heavy hand of Evil is falling? For the Follower of Jesus, is violence an inherent contradiction… or a reluctant option?

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “Christians and Violence?

  1. Stephen Smith

    Thank you David for broaching this challenging topic and for your thoughtful observations, and for your Frank as well.

    To repeat the oft quoted: “All that’s necessary for the forces of evil to win in the world are for enough good men to do nothing” -Edmund Burke

    While to strike in anger or malice would be simply an act driven by self-love, to strike in the cause of innocence, to protect good, or to thwart an obvious evil might be an obligation. Nevertheless, if the solution to achieving a greater good requires a political strategy then, as MLK and Ghandi showed us, a larger public sympathy can often be earned with non-violent means.

    Sometimes it is necessary to let things play out so that the extent of the corruption can be fully demonstrated. Passivity in some situations may be mistaken for cowardice but the wise person knows that “an abscess cannot be lanced until it’s ready”.

  2. I have struggled with this dilemma most of my life and the best I can say is…… I wish no one harm. However, if my family is threatened I suspect my actions would be instinctive and I would rely on God’s Grace to prohibit me or forgive me. Father, Thank You for Your Protection and Provision in my life. Amen.

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