Even if Jesus taught pacifism, are there ever any exceptions? This is something Roger Olson posted about on his blog the other day . I was already going to blog on this subject and Roger’s post gave me more enthusiasm to do so. This post is not a response to Olson, but a response to the question above.
Many would argue that Jesus did teach his followers to be mainly nonviolent, but because we live in a fallen world violence is sometimes necessary. On the one hand, I can understand why someone would hold this view. In our fallen World, it seems that some evil can only be responded to with force and violence. Yet, in the end this view will not work. I would argue this for two reasons (although there could be many more).
1.) The rebuke of Peter (John 18:10-11). One would think that if there were ever a time where it would be allowable for a Christian to use violence, it would be to protect the one whom they call Lord. Yet, when Peter wanted to defend Jesus he was rebuked for it. If we cannot use violence to protect Jesus, I do not know how we could say it is ok for us to use violence in response to any other situation.
2.) There is no compromise. In the Bible there are no examples that show us we can compromise on this issue. If Jesus commands us not to use violence, then we cannot do it.
Someone could make the argument that at times in this fallen world we must rely on God’s grace and forgiveness. One example of this Olson gives in his post is Bonhoeffer and Hitler. Surely we will have to rely on God’s grace and forgiveness. Does this mean that we can sin when we deem it necessary? certainly not, and Paul addresses this in Romans 6. If we are Christians, then we are dead to sin. To suggest that we can continue in sin and then rely on God’s forgiveness seems like an excuse to not be obedient. Also, if we rely on God’s grace, I would argue we will be given the power to not sin and to not use violence in response to evil.
There are no exceptions, Christians are always called to be nonviolent.