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    tmorrill

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    Christianity & violence

    Post  tmorrill on June 5th 2014, 3:54 am

    Recently I just found a book called "Farewell to Mars" by Brian Zahnd describing his path from a pro-war to being nonviolent, or as he calls it being a Christian. All in all I found the book to be a good examination and explanation of his personal conviction about violence, I'm less convinced about his case compared to other views on the matter but that's beside the point.

    It had the added bonus of making me think about my views on the use of force. Especially as someone who wants to take the teachings of Jesus seriously, but is also considering re-entering the military as an officer after college. I'm at work right now, but if I don't at least start to post something about it now, I never will. I have 3 main thoughts and then one conundrum.

    Also, this is more of a personal conviction, I'm not saying all Christians who have the ability should go out buy a gun, and learn BJJ and how to defend yourself.

    1. There is a difference between killing someone and stopping someone. If I have to use a gun, baton, bear spray, fists, etc etc etc to either defend myself or others my goal is not to kill the person. It is to stop them from continuing the action that brought me to that point. If they stop what they're doing when I get ready and they realize it, I don't go any further. If not and I shoot/hit/spray them and they stop, I've done my part and now I go try to render aid to them as needed while waiting for the cops to arrive. So the goal should be to stop someone, not kill someone, they are not synonymous with each other. When your goal is only to kill, it isn't use of force, it's blood lust.

    2. There is a difference between the desire and willingness to use force. Just because I have the ability and am willing to use a weapon with the intent to stop someone does not mean that it is my first response to that person. Nor is it a desirable outcome. Cops and military guys use escalation of force diagrams and training to cover this. Not every situation needs a gun, some can be solved with some pepper spray, a mean look, or just getting out of the situation. However, if it gets to the point where you have to use force, you need to use it quickly, effectively, and reasonably (I wouldn't stop a five year old beating up a kid in the school yard the same way I'd stop a man from beating his wife senseless) to stop the threat.

    3. The self defense in and of itself is not enough to justify the use of force. The defense of others, especially the defenseless is enough to justify action.

    Here's where I see it getting a bit tricky though, if someone decides to mug me and take my wallet and watch I believe I would be wrong to defend myself and should comply with them because Jesus DID teach to turn the other cheek. In fact, should I offer them my phone as well? However, if that person is willing to mug me, they would also be likely to mug others, possibly including those who can't defend themselves.

    Is defending myself then also preemptively defending others, or would I just be using it as an excuse to give in to a bit of manly chest pounding, "How dare he challenge me? I'll teach him!" thinking?



    Nathan James Norman
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    Re: Christianity & violence

    Post  Nathan James Norman on June 5th 2014, 10:44 am

    I may not have time in the future to post all my thoughts here... but as far as the "turn the other cheek" passage, one of my preaching professors unpacks this text very well.

    http://open.biola.edu/resources/thorny-bible-passages-turning-the-other-cheek

    tmorrill

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    Re: Christianity & violence

    Post  tmorrill on June 12th 2014, 3:00 am

    Thanks Nathan!

    That video did help, and it was a good listen. Although by the time I watched it I had already re-reasoned my way back to the view I held before I read that book.

    CS Lewis' essay "Why I am not a pacifist" also helped.

    Nathan James Norman
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    Re: Christianity & violence

    Post  Nathan James Norman on June 12th 2014, 10:24 am

    tmorrill wrote:Thanks Nathan!

    That video did help, and it was a good listen. Although by the time I watched it I had already re-reasoned my way back to the view I held before I read that book.

    CS Lewis' essay "Why I am not a pacifist" also helped.

    Probably one of the best "pro-pacifist" books I've read is "What about Hitler?: Wrestling with Jesus's Call to Nonviolence in an Evil World" by Robert W. Brimlow

    I was with him to the very end where he essentially suggests allowing Hitler to take over the world.

    I think with this whole topic, it is important to think in terms of "spheres".

    God gave us governments. Paul says they possess the sword. God gave them that sword to restrain evil. (Although it is often abused.)

    God gave us the church. I don't see a precedence where a church should ever be engaging in physical war.

    God gave us ourselves. I understand self-defense... but beyond that, we need to go to the government in cases where peace cannot be maintained and we need someone to physically intervene.


    That all is a bit over-simplified... but it helps me conceptualize everyone's roles and responsibilities.

    tmorrill

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    Re: Christianity & violence

    Post  tmorrill on June 13th 2014, 4:16 am

    Thanks for that book name! Looking at the description on Amazon it seems to cover what "Farewell to Mars" didn't cover, and what I was mostly interested in like Just War and other similar trains of thought.

    orvette1

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    Thou Shall Not

    Post  orvette1 on July 1st 2014, 1:01 am

    I can't find anywhere the Bible says not to defend yourself or someone else. I was a Marine for 4 years and faced decisions to kill or not to kill. If someone was going to mug me, I would fight. If I got him down and arrested he wouldn't be doing that again for a little while. Jesus even told his disciples to take a sword with them the first time he sent them out. The Old Testament is one of the most violent books I have ever read. David, Moses, Saul and many others did their damage. You are right in saying that there is a difference between using force to defend yourself and using force just because you can. I agree with you, you should go till the person stops, then no further. But as for me and my family I will defend myself.

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