A Brief, Scriptural Defense of the Non-Violent Message of Jesus

This week’s Advent focus is peace, so I thought it would be appropriate to write about something that’s been developing in my theology for some time: the implications of Jesus as the Prince of Peace (cf. Isaiah 9:6).

Clearly, Christ came to make peace between God and man. As we follow Christ, we are called to be peacemakers ourselves by the power of the Spirit (cf.  Matt 5:9; 2 Cor 5:18-19).

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Looking at the plain words of Jesus in their historical context–along with the rest of New Testament–convinces me that a non-violent ethic is explicitly and consistently affirmed throughout the Scriptures. Non-violence, also called pacifism, is an essential part of living out the implications of the Gospel. (more…)

Doesn’t Violence in the Old Testament Mean that Pacifism isn’t Biblical?

A common objection to Christian non-violence is often articulated as follows:

A unified view of Scripture demands we accept justified violence based on the Old Testament. It takes unnecessarily complex hermeneutics to wiggle out of the fact that God both commands war (the invasion of Canaan) and instituted laws for self defense and capital punishment in the Mosaic Law.

A close look reveals this isn’t true. (more…)

Jesus had his disciples buy swords, what’s up with that?

How could a non-violent Jesus ask his disciples to buy swords, as he apparently does in Luke 22:36-39?

And he said to them, “When I sent you out with no moneybag or knapsack or sandals, did you lack anything?” They said, “Nothing.” He said to them, “But now let the one who has a moneybag take it, and likewise a knapsack. And let the one who has no sword sell his cloak and buy one. For I tell you that this Scripture must be fulfilled in me: ‘And he was numbered with the transgressors.’ For what is written about me has its fulfillment.” And they said, “Look, Lord, here are two swords.” And he said to them, “It is enough.” (Luke 22:35-38, ESV)

It’s important to note that there were at least 11 disciples hanging out and only two swords–hardly enough for a decent self defense of the group. Yet Jesus says in that passage, “it is enough!” The question is, why swords, and why only two? (more…)

What About Hitler? The Myth of Ineffective Pacifism

When it comes to the non-violent message of Jesus, many people become troubled because of the what if scenarios.

What if my loved ones are attacked? What if I have no choice but to resort to violence in order to protect the innocent? And what about Hitler? Pacifism couldn’t have stopped him. Right?

It is important to remember that the way of Jesus is often counter-intuitive (the last shall be first, give up your life to gain it, etc) and that our call is to obedience and faithfulness, not effectiveness by our measure of such a thing. The Holy Spirit often uses the foolishness of the world to accomplish God’s will supernaturally, and his power is made perfect in weakness.  (more…)