Great video

“This is what Isaiah son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem:

2 In the last days the mountain of the Lord’s temple will be established as the highest of the mountains; it will be exalted above the hills, and all nations will stream to it.

3 Many peoples will come and say,

“Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob. He will teach us his ways, so that we may walk in his paths.” The law   will go out from Zion, the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. 4 He will judge   between the nations and will settle disputes for many peoples. They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore.

5 Come, house of Jacob, let us walk in the light of the Lord.”

(Isaiah 2:1-5, [I usually use my own Bible, but it makes it really convenient when you can just copy and paste haha]

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Four thoughts this week

1.)       Some thoughts on the emerging church movement by Ben Witherington

2.)     Greg Boyd on faith

3.)     Good thoughts on Pacifism and Just War Theory

4.)   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. While I am a pacifist, does that mean I should automatically support more gun control laws? No.

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?

Now, I’m certainly not against all gun control. For example, background checks being required for the sale of a gun (gun show loophole). Also, making sure that mentally unstable people are not getting guns. There are other examples as well.

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. It would really help if Christians would not buy guns at all (unless for hunting). Rather than trying to force gun control on people, we should show others why they don’t need guns to protect themselves in the first place. As the lyric from the hymn “Because He lives” goes, “Because He lives, all fear is Gone”.

Also, why do people decide to pick up guns and go on a shooting rampage. One of the reasons (not the only one), is because they are not part of a community that teaches against violence. I would argue that our culture, especially young males [3], are obsessed with violence. Therefore, a Christian community that teaches against all forms of violence is necessary.

I would also add that if we were a united community that decided to be counter cultural (not just with violence), this would invite others to join us who might otherwise waste their life. Being counter cultural can be very persuading to younger people. 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 way to limit gun violence is not by trying to pass laws. The best and most Christ like way to limit gun violence is for us as his followers to corporately and individually show by our love why people don’t need guns or violence.

End Notes:



[3] For example, see this post by Roger Olson :

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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] 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.

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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:


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The New Testament, Revelation, and Violence

          There are many Christians who read the book of Revelation and believe that the book supports  violence, and even that Jesus participates in that violence.[1]  Now, I do not accept that argument. There are much better, more accurate interpretations that highlight the nonviolence included in that book.[2] Yet,  even if Revelation did support violence and even if  Jesus participated in it,  I would still be a Christian pacifist. The main reason for that is this: 

  What happens in Revelation would not change or get rid of what Jesus had stated so clearly earlier. We are to love our enemies and even pray for them when they persecute us!  (Matt. 5:43-48). Also, it is not as if pacifists are only pacifists because of the Sermon on the Mount. While that sermon clearly teaches that followers of Christ are to be nonviolent, throughout the New Testament there are other times when we are taught to be nonviolent. For example, Romans 12 and Matthew 26:50-53 (There are many more!!). 

Even if someone interprets Revelation as showing that Jesus was not a pacifist, they should not allow that to discard everything Jesus had stated about nonviolence before his crucifixion [3], or the things Paul states about nonviolence. So, I guess one could hold the view that  Jesus uses violence in Revelation. Yet,  Jesus taught his followers to be peaceful and so we are to continue to follow that path. 

Now, that argument would not be one I would make. For one, it would make me wonder why Jesus had been against violence before his crucifixion, and then changed his view on this issue after his crucifixion. Secondly, it is not a very good interpretation of Revelation.  

The main point though is that if one takes the violent imagery in the book of Revelation literally [4], it does not alter my conviction that the way of peace and loving our enemies is one of the ways in which we are to be faithful followers of Jesus.  

Footnotes :

1.) One problem with this interpretation is that while there is violent imagery, it is symbolic and should not be taken literally. 

2.) For example, see Richard Bauckham and his book The Theology of the book of Revelation. Also, see Greg Boyd’s post on his blog  

3.) To be clear, it was not just that Jesus stated things about nonviolence, but he also showed he was nonviolent by his actions.  

4.) There is another reason why I believe that if there are pictures of Jesus as supposedly using literal violence in Revelation, they must be seen symbolically or interpreted in a different light. We must know that throughout the rest of the N.T, Jesus shows himself to be clearly against all violence against humans. So if Jesus is seen in Revelation as using violence, these passages must be read in light of how Jesus represents himself throughout the rest of the New Testament. It seems odd to me that some seem to do the exact opposite.  



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