A Christian Defense of
and Biblical Critique of
Our purpose in this essay is to prove that
The word "pacifism" comes from the Latin word for
"peace." It is not related to the word "passive."
Christians actively oppose violence and evil, and are willing to
give their own lives to save another, but Christians are commanded to
"Just War Theory" is one such accommodation to "social realities." It is an attempt to escape the clear teaching of Christ and the Scripture.
Jesus Christ commanded His followers to be "anarchists."
The word "anarchist" literally means "not an archist."
But what's an archist?
Jesus told His disciples not to be "archists." Christians are not to impose Christianity on the world by government force ("the sword")
In the Gospel of Mark, chapter 10, Jesus discovers His disciples arguing about who is going to be the "greatest" in the Kingdom of God.
They didn't understand that Jesus' Kingdom was quite unlike the kingdoms of the world.
The Greek word translated "rulers" is the Greek word from which we derive our English word "anarchist."
"Lords," "rulers" and "great ones" are "archists."
Jesus clearly says His followers are not to be "archists." They are to be "servants" instead.
The same Greek word for "servant" in Mark 10 occurs in these passages:
As "servants," Christians are to do whatever the boss says to do (unless the boss orders the servant to disobey God [Acts 5:29]).
It is often objected that if Christian pacifists had enough votes to
abolish "national defense," that America would be invaded and
taken over by the Communists, the Jihadists, or the enemy-du-jour,
and we would all be enslaved.
|There are three problems with this objection:|
According to Wikipedia, going "the extra mile"
But then Wikipedia accurately notes that:
The verse is a reference to the practice of "impressment" which, among other things, allowed a Roman soldier to conscript a Jewish native to carry his equipment for one Roman mile (milion = 1,000 paces, about 1,611 yards or 1,473 metres) -- no easy task considering a Roman soldier's backpack could weigh upwards of 100 pounds (45.4 kg).
"Going the extra mile" is thus not a feel-good Hallmark Card. As Wikipedia used to note:
Jesus' point was that his followers must relinquish their individual "rights" in order to advance God's kingdom through self-sacrifice.
We as Americans don't want to hear that last point. We don't want to "relinquish our rights." We don't like to hear anything about "self-sacrifice." Perhaps that's why the most recent edition of Wikipedia removed that last line and substituted this:
The editors of the New Oxford Annotated Study Bible have suggested that going the second mile would perhaps spare another from such compulsion.
In other words, "Don't ask ME to go the extra mile -- make my oppressors go the extra mile for me." Self-centered Americans. Wikipedia (and the New Oxford Annotated Study Bible) thereby completely negates what Jesus was saying. Turns it upside down and backwards.
If you want an example of "oppression," imagine Jews in first-century Israel being subjected to military occupation by unclean pagans from Rome. Then imagine Americans having their one-party government of Democrats and Republicans replaced by members of ISIS.
|Nothing in the Sermon on the Mount allows for "Second
Amendment remedies." Jesus said if an invading foreign soldier
putting your community under military occupation compels you to go one
mile, go with him two.
Are you ready for that?
Do you think the government will protect you from ISIS? Mitch
McConnell is not going to grab a gun and personally protect your
neighborhood from ISIS. He might conscript
you to grab a gun and go protect someone else's
neighborhood from ISIS. Will you obey the government and go fight ISIS?
Will you be like the "zealots"
and attempt to overthrow the military occupation of your
Listen to Audio
13 Let every person be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except by God, and those that exist are put in place by God. 2 So then, the one who resists authority resists the ordinance which is from God, and those who resist will receive condemnation on themselves. 3 For rulers are not a cause of terror for a good deed, but for bad conduct. So do you want not to be afraid of authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from it, 4 for it is God’s servant to you for what is good. But if you do what is bad, be afraid, because it does not bear the sword to no purpose. For it is God’s servant, the one who avenges for punishment on the one who does what is bad. 5 Therefore it is necessary to be in subjection, not only because of wrath but also because of conscience. 6 For because of this you also pay taxes, for they are servants of God, busily engaged in this very thing. 7 Pay to everyone what is owed: pay taxes to whom taxes are due; pay customs duties to whom customs duties are due; pay respect to whom respect is due; pay honor to whom honor is due.
3 Put them in mind to be subject to principalities and powers, to obey magistrates, to be ready to every good work,
1 Peter 2:13-17
13 Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme; 14 Or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well.
15 For so is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men: 16 As free, and not using your liberty for a cloke of maliciousness, but as the servants of God.
17 Honour all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the king.
- Anarcho-Pacifist Apologetics in Peter's First EpistleSocial Apologetics A Theonomic Critique of Logic Apologetics Without Aristotle Benjamin Rush Quote On Building the Kingdom
- Listen to Audio
Being "subject" is not something Americans are very good at.
King James Version (KJV)
52 Then said Jesus unto him, Put up again thy sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword.
New King James Version (NKJV)
15 Then the Pharisees went and plotted how they might entangle Him in His talk. 16 And they sent to Him their disciples with the Herodians, saying, “Teacher, we know that You are true, and teach the way of God in truth; nor do You care about anyone, for You do not regard the person of men. 17 Tell us, therefore, what do You think? Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?”
18 But Jesus perceived their wickedness, and said, “Why do you test Me, you hypocrites? 19 Show Me the tax money.”
So they brought Him a denarius.
20 And He said to them, “Whose image and inscription is this?”
21 They said to Him, “Caesar’s.”
And He said to them, “Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” 22 When they had heard these words, they marveled, and left Him and went their way.
Render Unto Caesar - R.J. Rushdoony
Jesus on Paying Taxes to Caesar
During this time many Jews were locked in conflict with Roman authorities. Many wanted to establish a theocracy as an ideal Jewish state and for them any Gentile ruler over Israel was an abomination before God. Paying taxes to such a ruler effectively denied God’s sovereignty over the nation. Jesus couldn’t afford to reject this position.
On the other hand, the Roman leaders were very touchy about anything that looked like resistance to their rule. They could be very tolerant of various religions and cultures, but only so long as they accepted Roman authority. If Jesus denied the validity of paying taxes, then he could be turned over to the Romans as someone encouraging rebellion (the Herodians were servants of Rome).
The Bible prohibits violent revolution against "the powers that be." (The prohibition is not based on the goodness of the powers, but the ordination of God.) "National Defense" is violent revolution against "the powers that wanna be."
Update September, 2013
Syria is in the news.
Suppose I am the "anarchist" you learned about in government school. Suppose I am outraged that the Syrian government used chemical weapons against "its own" people. I want to overthrow the government of Syria by detonating a bomb in the Syrian capitol, killing off members of the government, so they can be replaced by my friends.
The traditional interpretation of Romans 13 prohibits the violent overthrow of the government, such as I've described.
Suppose, then, that I renounce my Syrian citizenship and become an American citizen and vote for Barack Obama and the United States Congress to drop lots of bombs on Syria in retaliation for the Syrian government crossing "the red line." Is this prohibited by Romans 13? Why not?
Why is it that if I'm a Syrian citizen I am not allowed to overthrow my government by force and violence, but if I'm an American citizen I can overthrow the government of Syria, Iraq, Guatemala, Iran, or any government I want? Isn't it the case that in a "Representative Republic" such as the United States, that the actions of Congress and President Obama reflect the will of "the People?" If "We the People" are Christian, doesn't Romans 13 prohibit the United States government from representing "the will of the People" and therefore from overthrowing governments, fomenting civil wars, prosecuting military invasions or "police actions" around the world?
Obviously very few people in Washington D.C. have read Romans 13 in the last 50 years.
All governments -- even the most lawless and tyrannical -- are "ordained" by God.
Rome invaded and conquered Israel a few years before Christ was born.
Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB)
41 And if anyone forces[a] you to go one mile, go with him two.
a. Matthew 5:41 Roman soldiers could require people to carry loads for them.
Reformation Study Bible
5:41 if anyone forces you. The possibility of a Roman soldier coercing a person to serve as a guide or burden carrier was real. Even if compelled by force to do something for someone, one can demonstrate freedom by volunteering more than was demanded rather than begrudging the service.
Generously provided by Ligonier Ministries
Some give this sense of it: The Jews taught that the disciples of the wise, and the students of the law, were not to be pressed, as others might, by the king’s officers, to travel upon the public service; but Christ will not have his disciples to insist upon this privilege, but to comply rather than offend the government.
The IVP New Testament Commentary Series
Love Even Your Oppressors (5:41)
Here Matthew probably means submission to a Roman soldier's demands. Because tax revenues did not cover all the Roman army's needs, soldiers could requisition what they required (N. Lewis 1983:172-73; Rapske 1994:14). Romans could legally demand local inhabitants to provide forced labor if they wanted (as in Mt 27:32) and were known to abuse this privilege (for example, Apul. Metam.9.39). Yet "going the extra mile" represents not only submitting to unjust demands but actually exceeding them—showing our oppressors that we love them and take no offense, although our associates may wrongly view this love as collaboration with an enemy occupation. The truth of this passage is a life-and-death matter for many believers.
Such courageous love is not easy to come by and is easily stifled by patriotism. To take but one example that challenges my own culture, many white U.S. citizens may wish to rethink the patriotic lens through which they view the American colonies' revolt against Britain in the 1770s-did they really have grounds for secession of which Jesus would have approved if they had been his disciples? Past oppression is also easily recalled. British Christians might consider their feelings for Germans; Korean and Chinese Christians, for the Japanese. In some form the principle can apply to most national, racial and cultural groups. While early Christians responded to their persecutors with defiant love (a humility the persecutors often viewed as arrogance), many politically zealous Christians in the United States guard their rights so fiercely that they are easily given to anger (which opponents also view as arrogance).
Rather, Jesus' teaching does mean that we depend on God rather than on human weapons, although God may sovereignly raise up human weapons to fight the oppressors. If we value justice and compassion for persons rather than merely utopian idealism, we must also calculate the human cost of opposing various degrees of injustice. In first-century Palestine, few "safe" vehicles existed for nonviolent social protest against the Romans; Romans viewed most public protest as linked with revolution, and punished it accordingly. In a society like ours where Christian egalitarianism has helped shape conceptions of justice, nonviolent protest stands a much better chance of working. Neither violent revolutionaries (whose cause may be more just than their methods) nor the well-fed who complacently ignore the rest of the world's pain (and whose cause is merely personal advancement) may embrace Jesus without either distorting him or transforming themselves in the process.
Yet Jesus' own life explains the meekness he prescribes. When the time appointed by his Father arrived, Jesus allowed people to crucify him, trusting his Father's coming vindication to raise him from the dead (Mt 17:11; 20:18-19). He was too meek to cry out or bruise a reed until the time would come to bring "justice to victory" (12:19-20). Yet he proclaimed justice (12:18), openly denounced the unjust (23:13-36) and actively, even somewhat "violently," protested unrighteousness although he knew what it would cost him (21:12-13). Jesus was meek (11:29), but he was not a wimp. He called his disciples to be both harmless as doves and wise as serpents (10:16)-in short, to be ruled by the law of love (22:39). Love of neighbor not only does no harm to a neighbor but bids us place ourselves in harm's way to protect our neighbor.
IVP New Testament Commentaries are made available by the generosity of InterVarsity Press.
Zealots and Sicarii - The "Second Amendment" crowd of first century Israel.
- I Repudiate the Second Amendment
- The 2nd Amendment vs. Family Values
- Why I Would Give Obama My Guns If He Asks
- Pink Pistols Survey
- Immigration and Gun Control
- Guns in Churches
- A New Civil War?
- What Does the Bible Say About Gun Control
If the Bible prohibits violence against those who are in authority over you, how can you justify using violence against these very same people when they are in the process of putting themselves in authority over you -- by invading your nation and conquering it?
If Christian ethics prohibits you from "standing up for your rights" against "the powers that be" (using violence), why do you think you would be permitted to "stand up for your rights" against "the powers that wanna be?" Against those same powers when they are becoming "the powers that be?"
Answer: you are not permitted to use violence against invading powers.
God sent the invaders.
God "Ordains" Evil: A collection of dozens of Biblical references to God sending "the sword" as a judgment against evil nations. This is the Old Testament background of Romans 13.
Governments are evil (sinful; violations of God's Commandments against theft, murder, enslavement, vengeance).
God "ordains" evil, sinful governments, commissioning them to violate His Commandments as a judgment against evil doers, stealing from those evil doers, depriving them of life and liberty, "serving" God as an instrument of God's vengeance.
It's not your business who the "powers" are. God puts them in place, and changes them whenever He wants.
Of course, if "the powers that be" invite your opinion of them ("voting," "referendum," "town hall," etc.) take advantage of the opportunity to speak the truth, and invite them to repent of their confiscation of property, murder, deprivation of liberty, and vengeance.
And of course, if "the powers that be" order you to sin against God, "We must obey God rather than man." (Acts 5:29). In other words, it's a sin to disobey a direct command from God, but it's not a sin to be a victim of governments that disobey direct commands of God (by stealing, murdering, kidnapping, taking vengeance, and everything else the State does routinely). Most Christian teachers fail to make this elementary distinction.
English Standard Version (ESV)
32 But recall the former days when, after you were enlightened, you endured a hard struggle with sufferings, 33 sometimes being publicly exposed to reproach and affliction, and sometimes being partners with those so treated. 34 For you had compassion on those in prison, and you joyfully accepted the plundering of your property, since you knew that you yourselves had a better possession and an abiding one.
They were afflicted in their estates, by the spoiling of their goods, by fines and forfeitures.
7 And seek the peace of the city whither I have caused you to be carried away captives, and pray unto the Lord for it: for in the peace thereof shall ye have peace.
1 Timothy 2:1-2
1 I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men;
2 For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.
27 In the beginning of the reign of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah king of Judah came this word unto Jeremiah from the Lord, saying,
2 Thus saith the Lord to me; Make thee bonds and yokes, and put them upon thy neck,
8 And it shall come to pass, that the nation and kingdom which will not serve the same Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon, and that will not put their neck under the yoke of the king of Babylon, that nation will I punish, saith the Lord, with the sword, and with the famine, and with the pestilence, until I have consumed them by his hand.
9 Therefore hearken not ye to your prophets, nor to your diviners, nor to your dreamers, nor to your enchanters, nor to your sorcerers, which speak unto you, saying, Ye shall not serve the king of Babylon:
10 For they prophesy a lie unto you, to remove you far from your land; and that I should drive you out, and ye should perish.
11 But the nations that bring their neck under the yoke of the king of Babylon, and serve him, those will I let remain still in their own land, saith the Lord; and they shall till it, and dwell therein.
"National Defense" is the attempt to avoid "bringing your neck under the yoke of the king of Babylon." Or China.
"National Defense" is a very expensive lie.
"National Defense" is not Biblical. It is Humanist. It is socialist. It is fascist.
Nebuchadnezzar was very unjust and barbarous in invading the rights and liberties of his neighbours thus, and forcing them into a subjection to him; yet God had just and holy ends in permitting him to do so, to punish these nations for their idolatry and gross immoralities. Those that would not serve the God that made them were justly made to serve their enemies that sought to ruin them. [Jeremiah] shows them the vanity of all the hopes they fed themselves with, that they should preserve their liberties,
Those that will bend shall not break. Perhaps the dominion of the king of Babylon may bear no harder upon them than that of their own kings had done. It is often more a point of honour than true wisdom to prefer liberty before life
"Better Dead than Red!"
Old Testament "Holy Wars" are not a valid basis for "National Defense" in New Testament times. They were offensive, not defensive, and ceremonial, fulfilled in Christ.
- No "Holy Wars" in Our Day
- Holy War: Ceremonial Atonement by Destruction
- Humanist Holy War
- Holy War: National Capital Punishment
- Capital Punishment: A Ceremonial Shedding of Blood
"National Defense" really means "Government Defense," that is, not the defense and protection of the American People, but the perpetuation of the power of Washington D.C. insiders. Google "Continuity of Government"
Pure "Patriotism" is un-Christian
The United States is not the Christian's Nation.
Our real citizenship is not in this nation-state.
Our allegiance is not to this government.
The State recognizes the conflict, even if most "Christians" do not:
- A Christian cannot hold public office under the Bush-Obama regime.
- A Christian cannot even become a naturalized citizen of the United States.
Why should any Christian kill or die for an atheistic tyranny like that in Washington D.C.? Why would any educated Christian participate in "National Defense?"
National Security, Swiss-Style by Nick Bradley
For years I opposed pacifism as "unrealistic" and "impractical."
I claimed that God imposed a moral requirement on me to "defend my family" in the event of a home invasion, and that pacifism in the face of such an attack was immoral, not just cowardly.
To discharge my moral responsibility, I voted for a system of self-defense called "The State." This was the only "realistic" view. I was "practical." Not like those crazy pacifists.
Now, as I begin my second half-century of life, I look back on a bad decision. Since I was born, the machinery of self-defense called "The United States Federal Government" has murdered, crippled, or made homeless tens of millions of innocent non-combatant civilians. Children, grandmothers, and breadwinners.
It started with my fear of an attack on my family by a random, anonymous home invader.
- Statistically, this event is wildly improbable. Millions of American homes have never been invaded.
- "The State" doesn't even promise to prevent such an event. Some police departments have the slogan "To Protect and to Serve." They have been sued in court for failing to protect after victims called 911. Courts have always thrown these cases out. The State has no duty to protect, and citizens have no legal expectation to be protected. So much for "defense."
- The State only claims to "deter" such an event to some extent by taking vengeance on the attacker -- after the invasion has taken place and my family is dead.
- But my family was never really in danger. Most attackers attack their own families or friends.
- All such violent criminals are then warehoused by the State in atheistic penitentiaries (where no one is helped to become "penitent") so that their dysfunctional character and bad morals can spread and multiply among the prison population.
- If my home was ever actually invaded, I would probably not be in the same room as my gun, and I would have no idea how to respond to the invader. I would never have imagined myself preaching the gospel to him, engaging him in a way that psychologically disarmed his anger or fear, and praying at the same time. I have been trained by media and academia to be a "tough guy" and blow the attacker's brains out, and this leaves me silent and dependent.
- Every year hundreds of unarmed Christians pray and preach their way out of violent attacks.
- I have never been systematically trained by church or state to know the commands and example of Christ and to "follow in His steps" (1 Peter 2:21) in case of a violent confrontation. I just keep voting for "the State."
From this crippled, unrealistic, skewed vision of "self-defense" comes the global disaster known as "national defense."
- There is no danger of America being invaded. No totalitarian foreign government would ever let a million of its soldiers step foot on American soil, and witness our high standard of living. The entire army would immediately defect.
- We spend a trillion dollars a year, but have no realistic defense against incoming nuclear-armed missiles.
- What "the State" defends is not the "homeland," but the assets of multinational corporations abroad and the jobs they create for foreigners.
- "The State" also uses the armed services to advance the agenda of atheistic Communism and Secular Humanism.
- Churches are often ground-zero for military attacks by the U.S. armed services. A prominent church steeple was the target in Nagasaki, which had the largest Christian population in Japan. Iraq also had the largest Christian population of any Arab nation.
- Christians in America have trillions of dollars of disposable income. "Obamacare" is God's judgment on Christians, who have failed to carry out the "works of mercy" which are supposed to characterize Christians. Christians have given liberals an excuse to step in and give glory to the State. Christians alone could eliminate all health and welfare problems -- not only for other Americans, but for the world's poor. Prof. Ronald J. Sider notes;
“If American Christians simply gave a tithe rather than the current one-quarter of a tithe, there would be enough private Christian dollars to provide basic health care and education to all the poor of the earth. And we would still have an extra $60-70 billion left over for evangelism around the world.”
Book Review: The Scandal Of The Evangelical Conscience - Acton Institute PowerBlog
We could bribe half the world into abandoning Jihadism and becoming Christian. But American Christians prefer the delusion of "national defense" and comfortable entertainment in their mega-churches.
American Christians have the economic muscle to bring in "the millennium." But we waste it on "defense."
- The tentacles of "the State" -- the institution of "defense" -- now choke Christianity around the world.
- Home invasions occur ten thousand times a year. Governments kill ten thousand people every single DAY, on average.
- In order to protect myself from a statistically improbable act of violence, which could probably be defused by a courageous and prayerful Christian witness, and vainly gambling on the State to give me an extra 20 years of life, I'm willing to create an institution of "defense" to protect me from an equally improbable foreign invasion, and this institution is responsible for killing tens of millions of human beings around the world since I was born. [body count] This is so radically self-centered and barbaric that it staggers the imagination of a Christian worldview.
Conclusion: "Self-defense" is irresponsible and unChristlike. "National Defense" is unmitigated evil.
Obama and Romney spent over a BILLION dollars on their 2012 campaign. America moved not one iota closer to the peaceful ideal of Micah 4.
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Prophecy (Micah 4:1-7)
click for audio
|1||And it will come about in the last
[For the LORD of hosts has spoken.]
That the mountain of the House of the LORD
Will be established as the chief of the mountains
And it will be raised above the hills
V&FT "impossible even for God."
No. Vine & Fig Tree
|2||And the peoples will stream to it.
And many nations will come and say,
"Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD
And to the House of the God of Jacob,
of the Gentiles
One has caught our attention: Jihadism
blow-up vs. convert
|Peace is possible
Peace is inevitable
|3||That He may teach us about His
And that we may walk in His paths."
For from Zion will go forth the Law
Even the Word of the LORD from Jerusalem.
And He will judge between many peoples
And render decisions for mighty, distant nations.
||• The God who gave you life
deserves your respect
• Every Word this God speaks deserves your attention/ obedience
• Bible is not just for "private" religion, "down in your heart"
• Also for public policy
• Textbook for every area
|When Americans learned the Bible in
America was the most prosperous, admired nation on earth
Now U.S. exports weapons/pornography
"judgmental" vs. Hitler
|4||[And each of them will sit under his
Vine and under his fig tree,]
Father + mother
Family = "undemocratic"
|When families are functional, the
State is unnecessary;
Archism is suppressed
|5||Then they will hammer their
swords into plowshares
And their spears into pruning hooks;
Nation will not lift up sword against nation
And never again will they train for war.
|6||And each of them will sit under
Vine and under his Fig Tree,
With no one to make them afraid.
For the LORD of hosts has spoken.
|Agrarianism vs. technology||Garden of Eden / City of God
Wilderness vs. Garden
|7||Though all the peoples walk
Each in the name of his god,
As for us, we will walk
In the Name of the LORD our God
forever and ever.
In that day, saith the LORD,
will I assemble her that halteth,
and I will gather her that is driven out,
and her that I have afflicted;
And I will make her that halted a remnant,
and her that was cast far off a strong nation:
and the LORD shall reign over them in mount Zion
from henceforth, even for ever.
||social darwinism||works of mercy vs. focus on "winners," celebrities, power-brokers|
Bereans, search scriptures
"I'll have to think about this"
"This is what I've always been looking for"