Reply to Maul Panata


Maul Panata First of all, thanks for letting me use your wall as a soapbox. I have tried not to abuse the privilege.
I presented a possible scenario. You said,  
Kevin: "You say 'If X, then Y' with metaphysical certitude, but I don't believe you. There are zillions of cases of attempted crimes where the threats are bluster and not carried out."
No, I merely claimed that the scenario is *possible*. Do you deny this? Then you claim it's *impossible*. Ironically, that's the stronger claim. What's your argument for *impossibility*? One way to argue that a scenario is *impossible* is to show that it entails a contradiction. As far as I can see, my scenario is logically consistent. Another way to view possibility is as a function of divine omnipotence. If God can create the state of affairs, then it's possible. Seems to me God could create the state of affairs I illustrated. So, I *stipulated* a scenario that closed off all options except for killing, witnessing, doing nothing that helps. I don't need to "know the future." I just need to know, or justifiably believe, that the situation is possible. If unicorns are possible, certainly my case is possible! So you've failed to engage the argument. The Bible says with God "all things are possible." That means to me that it is always possible to act in a way that does not violate God's commandment to "love your enemies." The intentional killing of someone ("enemy") is a violation of this command (and others).

Is it "possible" for God to create a rock so big that He cannot move it?

Your scenario was "If you witness [instead of killing], Bob shoots the boss." My response is that there will never be a circumstance in which I can know this infallibly or with metaphysical certitude. I believe, to the contrary, I am commanded to act as though it were certain that God will make even my enemies to be at peace (Proverbs 16:7). I should act as though it were certain that loving my enemies is always the best thing to do, and that intentionally killing is never the best thing to do.

Kevin: "Witnessing is never "pointless." The Word of God is sharper than a brain tumor."
Yes, in the possible scenario, it is. So here's how: Suppose God decrees that he will cause person S to have a brain tumor at time t, and this tumor will render him unable to respond to moral or spiritual pleas to stop; in fact, it will infuriate him. This seems like something God can decree. It seems within his power. Now, *given* his decree, he cannot change what he has decreed, so, *in the scenario*, God cannot override the tumor's "blocking" powers. So you've failed to engage the argument. I will never know God's secret decree.

Deuteronomy 29:29
29 The secret things belong unto the Lord our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law.

The question is what has been revealed? How shall we then live? What should we do? My answer is, We should always love our enemies, and never intentionally kill.

In response to my claim that the 6th commandment hangs on fiercely loving your neighbor, but your view of the 6th invites cases where it appears you don't act with love toward your neighbor, you write: I will love my enemy and my neighbor by non-violently protecting my neighbor from the enemy.
1. "What does it profit a man if he keeps the whole world from burning and loses his soul, by putting the world ahead of the commands of God?  
2. You cannot "love" your neighbor if you kill him."
1. Yes, this depends on what God has commanded. Your interpretation allows for very counterintuitive results. So that's (defeasible) evidence against your view. "Counterintuitive" because we live submerged in a Culture of Death.
A. First, as stated, this is *clearly* false. Suppose I am a doctor. Suppose my neighbor has a painful wasting terminal disease, and suffers in extreme pain. Suppose I give him a recommended dose of pain medication. Suppose this kills him. So we have a true antecedent and a false consequent, hence you're conditional is false. This is not an intentional killing.
B. You may want to qualify it. You may want to add "intentionally." Still, seems false. Same case as the above. This time, the patient's pain is so severe, so excruciatingly painful, that the minimum amount of pain medication will result in his death. Seems part of loving neighbor also would involve alleviating severe pain, alleviating suffering. So, I don't want the man to die. It's not the intention driving my action. I want to alleviate his suffering. So I administer the medication, and the man peacefully dies. This *hardly* seems inconsistent with loving my neighbor. Oops. There you go.


I don't understand why pain can be so excruciating that the minimum amount of medication will kill. I don't see how anyone could know that death would result from the administration of a minimum amount of medication. But I'm not a doctor. I would not have killed Jesus to prevent Him from having to suffer on the Cross. I would not knowingly or intentionally kill the patient. But I'm not convinced there is ever a case where the most minimal attempt to alleviate pain would be known in advance to cause death.

C. If (2) is true, it also seems true that you don't act in a loving way toward your neighbor if a murderer is about to torture and kill your neighbor, a small child, and you are the only person who can stop the act, but this would involve killing the aggressor, and you don't do what needs to be done to protect the small child. I don't believe that intentionally killing an attacker is "what needs to be done." Something else could be done. The intention required is to prevent the attack, not to kill the attacker.
Also note that you may object to (B)'s case by rejecting the distinction between intending to kill X and letting X die. But note that your view *utterly rests* on a similar principle. You don't think you're guilty for the child's torture and death because you didn't intend it and you didn't kill the child, you just let her die. I have always rejected "just letting" the attack take place as a valid moral option. There is a lot of ground between intentionally killing the attacker and "just letting" (passively) the attack take place. I object to this false anti-pacifist antithesis.
So I must conclude that you've failed to even *advance* the discussion past my opening argument. Let's go back to the opening argument:

Jesus says that the second greatest commandment is to love your *neighbor*. That's more weighty [than the command to love one's *enemy*]. Indeed, Jesus went on to say that the other commandments all hang on the first two. So loving enemies hangs on our fiercely loving neighbor. That must be protected over the command to love your enemies, and there are cases where loving your neighbor requires killing his and your enemy.

I disagree that there are cases where someone is morally required to intentionally kill an enemy (1 Corinthians 10:13).  There is always another option. Following Christ means imagining, preparing, and praying for that other option, that of loving one's enemy. Preparing for and mentally rehearsing the intentional killing of one's enemy is sin (Romans 13:14). If you believe you are likely to encounter an enemy in a circumstance like we've been discussing, then you have a moral duty to prepare for a non-violent response, so far as your stewardship over your financial assets allows. That might mean a little more expense than buying a cheap handgun, or taking lessons that equip you to use the cheap handgun in a non-violent way (I don't know what that would be off hand, but I'll concede the possibility).