Four thoughts this week

1.) http://www.huffingtonpost.com/craig-s-keener/jesus-nonviolent-resistance-for-the-marginalized_b_1972370.html Craig keener on some facts about the historical Jesus

2) http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/map_of_the_week/2012/10/drone_strikes_map_shows_pakistan_drone_strikes.htmlA map showing all of American Drone strikes in Pakistan under Obama and Bush.

3.) http://reknew.org/2012/10/a-response-to-tony-campolo-on-taxes/    Greg Boyd’s first post responding to Tony Campolo

4.) http://www.christianitytoday.com/thisisourcity/7thcity/why-urban-christians-need-wendell-berry.html?paging=off  Urban areas and Wendell Berry

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Four thoughts this week

1.) http://www.dennyburk.com/illegitimate-responses-to-illegitimate-rape-remarks/    Denny Burk writes about the responses to Rep. Todd Akin.

2.)  http://www.patheos.com/blogs/rogereolson/2012/08/who-is-the-suffering-servant-of-isaiah-53/     Roger Olson on Isaiah 53

3.) http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2012-08-23/entertainment/sns-rt-us-usa-king-recordingbre87n03p-20120823_1_civil-rights-tape-attic   Martin Luther King Jr. audio found

4.)  http://larryhurtado.wordpress.com/2012/08/23/early-christian-movements-successful-and-unsuccessful/   Larry Hurtado on early Christian movements

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Four thoughts this week

1.) http://www.patheos.com/blogs/bibleandculture/2012/08/13/the-anti-ecclesial-rhetoric-of-emerging-church-movements/       Some thoughts on the emerging church movement by Ben Witherington

2.) http://reknew.org/2012/08/is-faith-inherently-irrational/     Greg Boyd on faith

3.) http://theitinerantmind.wordpress.com/2012/08/12/pacifism-and-just-war-finding-common-ground/     Good thoughts on Pacifism and Just War Theory

4.) http://www.abc.net.au/rampup/articles/2012/08/15/3568157.htm   This piece by Stella Young has some very good thoughts on Peter Singer.

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Should Christians argue for or against Gun Control? Any other options?

After the shootings in Aurora this past weekend, many are calling on stricter gun control laws. This includes some Christians such as Ben Witherington. While they may be right, I’m not convinced.

One reason for this has to do with whether it could work. On Ben Witherington’s blog, he suggests that, “I do not think it is any accident that both the Columbine killings and the Aurora killings took place in Colorado, which, as I have said, has some of the most lax gun control laws anywhere”. [1]

Yet, there are other places with very strict gun control laws that have high gun violence (ex. Chicago). Then there are other areas with not much gun control that have low rates of gun violence. Also, with more gun control won’t the criminals still be able to get guns illegally?

A lot more could be stated about this issue and there will be. My mind is open and I’m willing to hear reasons why I’m wrong. As a Christian, I’m not going to go out of my way to defend people’s rights to bear arms. As of now though, I’m not convinced that more gun control will lower gun crime.

For the record, I do not think that less gun control is the answer either. For many, the only two options are either more gun control or less. It is focused on what the government should do. As Christians, we need to show a third option: the way of Christ. When it comes to the issue of gun violence, Christians need to be focused on how we can bear witness to Christ. We need to find ways to bring glory to God.

Christianity can only impact society inasmuch as it is done through persuasion and love.

For example, one of the main reasons why people buy guns is because of a fear of death. In fact, after the shootings in Colorado gun sales are increasing [2]. This is where the Christian community needs to come together and show the world that we don’t fear death because of Christ. As the lyric from the hymn “Because He lives” goes, “Because He lives, all fear is Gone”.

I would also add that if we were a united community that decided to be counter-cultural (which Christianity by definition is), this would invite others to join us who might otherwise waste their life. This is especially true of those who might feel more like outsiders, like the Columbine shooters and James Holmes. If we provided a counter-cultural community that was against all violence, we would provide an alternative option for those who might otherwise use their life to destroy the lives of others.

The best and most Christ-like way to limit gun violence is for us as his followers to corporately and individually show the love of Christ.

End Notes:

[1] http://www.patheos.com/blogs/bibleandculture/2012/07/21/the-aurora-debacle/

[2]   http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/25/aurora-shooting-panic-pro_n_1703402.html

 

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Quoting the Old Testament is not good enough.

One argument many level against pacifism is that there is a lot violence and bloodshed in the Old Testament. It is important, however, to remember that there is much in the Old Testament that Christians must not follow anymore. As Tim Keller wrote recently “And so those who really believe in Christ must follow some Old Testament texts and not others.”[1] In reality, everyone recognizes this.

Those of us who are pacifists would then argue that violence should be put in that category. While there may be Old Testament texts that contain God’s people using violence, pacifists would argue that the New Testament has a clear and definitive view against all violence.

Now, if one wants to disagree with that then that is fine. Yet, they must do so from New Testament texts. Once again this is so because I and many others would argue that this is one of those issues that as Christ followers we must not follow Old Testament texts supporting violence.

So if those arguing against pacifism could demonstrate that pacifist interpretations of Jesus and the New Testament are wrong, then they could use the Old Testament against pacifism.

Now, I really want to avoid being misunderstood. Notice I am not suggesting that the Old Testament has nothing to contribute to the matter. We do find many nonviolent texts in the Old Testament, and  we see God’s heart and desire against violence (ex. 1 Chronicles 22:8; Isaiah 2:1-4).

What I am suggesting is this: Christ and the rest of the New Testament make it clear that texts in the Old Testament showing God’s people using violence are examples of texts that Christ followers are not called to follow.

Footnotes :

[1] http://redeemer.com/news_and_events/newsletter/?aid=363 Tim Keller does not suggest that violence be put in this category.

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Good documentary on Just war and Pacifism

I have not been able to write much on here lately, although I will be able to again very soon. Anyway, the link provided is a good documentary on just war and pacifism. It is about an hour, but I thought it was worth posting.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hmmh-3hUKTI

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Exceptions to the Rule?

Even if Jesus taught pacifism, are there ever any exceptions? This is something Roger Olson posted about on his blog the other day [1]. 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.

End notes:

[1] http://www.patheos.com/blogs/rogereolson/2012/03/truly-caught-on-the-horns-of-a-theological-dilemma/

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