>Jesus was a pacifist too.

>A lot of people will disagree with me on that point, especially Western Christians who’ve been raised on Church sanctioned violence and modern Just War theory. But if you take a close look at Jesus own words and early church history, prior to gaining a significant amount power under Constantine, and read the New Testament in light of that first century context you’ll start to see things in a whole new light.

Bottom line; Constantine got it wrong and we’ve been living with the consequences of his error (sin) for nearly 1700 years.

You see Jesus never intended to set up a new religion at all, let alone one that would hold as much power over civilization as Christianity would one day command. On the contrary, Jesus wanted to tear down the old religious system and replace it with a new kind of covenant that would provide people direct access to the father without the need for a religious or political system at all. Remember the Jews only had a king in the first place as a result of a compromise God made with them through the profit Samuel. The entire political structure of the Old Testament was never part of God’s original plan. The fact that the Christian Church would eventually join with the state and form one of the most powerful political forces on the planet, a force that would leave oppression, coercion, torture and outright murder in its’ wake is a tragedy of epic proportions.

It is true that Christianity has lost a lot of its political power. The Catholic Church has been in decline since Gutenburg invented the printing press and Luther encouraged people to start to read the Bible. More recently authors like Charles Hitchens and Richard Dawkins have advanced the view that religion in general is nothing more than a relic of the dark ages and one of the last hold outs against enlightenment.

While I disagree with Hitchens and Dawkins on the broader points I do not dispute or lament the fact that Christian political power is on the decline. In fact I welcome it. The subtitle of Christopher Hitches 2007 book couldn’t be more correct, “god is not Great; How Religion Poisons Everything.” [Emphasis mine]

The truth is that Jesus never meant for us to hold real power over people anyway and it all starts with the way he viewed his kingdom.

“My kingdom,” said Jesus, “doesn’t consist of what you see around you. If it did, my followers would fight so that I wouldn’t be handed over to the Jews. But I’m not that kind of king, not the world’s kind of king.” Jesus (John 18:36 The Message)

It is important to remember that the New Testament was written in a time when freedom of religion for Christians simply did not exist. There is plenty of teaching, from both the apostles and Jesus himself on how to react to oppression, stand up for human rights and submit to authority but no teaching that gives any adequate instruction on how to steward political power or which would give credence to a Just War theory.

Why? Because the authors didn’t have any religious freedom! Most of the New Testament was written from prison cells.

When Christians kill they usurp God’s authority. The bible is rife with stories of God’s mercy against even the most corrupt and sinful regimes. God is merciful and when he decides to end someone’s life he doesn’t need our help, the cities of Saddam and Gamorah were destroyed by a natural disaster and Ananias simply dropped dead.

I’m over my self-imposed 500 word limit and I can already hear your objections. What about the God sanctioned wars and killing in the Old Testament? What about Hitler? I’ll get to that but I had to layout the frame work first.

Up next Pacifism vs. Jihad. Stay tuned.


  1. >If States do not wield their “monopoly on violence” what are they? How would a State in which I can use physical violence against fellow citizens, say to in order to gain say their cloak or sneakers, differ from anarchy?The moral response of individual is one thing; the needs of a State are another. I am allowed to piously surrender my life and property over a moral principle; I am not allowed to be pious with you life and property. If someone was pointing a gun at your child and I had a clear shot to take the person out, would you tell me not to take it? Would I be allowed to listen to you.

  2. >This is a classic question and example and one that misunderstands the entire concept of eternity. When you look at life from and eternal perspective the question and answer become trivial. In that moment my only response is to fall to my knees and pray and allow God to be sovereign, as he always has been.

  3. >Whether or not we have immortal souls does not lessen the importance of how we treat other people in this world. Are you next going to tell me that it does not matter if the homeless person down the street starves to death? He is going to die eventually anyway and either enjoy eternal bliss or eternal agony.One of the reasons why I admire Augustine so much is precisely his ability to balance being a Christian on the one hand and living in and dealing with a non-Christian world with its non-Christian States.

  4. >Your arguement about the homeless person is flawed. Pacifism is about pacification, getting in the way of oppression and injustice in a way the honors humanity. Of course you don't let the homeless person die that would be a denial of their humanity and dishonoring of the fact they too are created in the image of God. Augustine on the other hand was flat wrong. When Chrisitans kill non-Christians they are in effect damning them to hell and that is a decision that is not ours to make. The way Christians balance life with non-Christians is by modelling a better way, not by exterminating the opposition.

  5. >In deed Certainly lots to consider and think about. I both agree and disagree with some points made but I do not want to go off topic. This also brings up many more questions with in my heart and mind. I am real good at giving lip service and being a cheerleader to christian (Christ like example lifestyle)values, and live the complete opposite lifestyle. This is only the second time reading your blog but as with the first post you have been an anchor so to speak and reminded me of what is truly important.For what ever it is worth Thanks for your writing this post and having this blog.

  6. >Thanks for inviting me to your blog.5/24/2010 1. Jesus was a PacifistI believe this is not true. Jesus was a Jew, and as part of a civilization that had undergone 2 exiles (Assyrian and Babylonian) already, and were being oppressed by a third world power (Rome), he had no stomach for revolt and war.2. There is no information on how to steward political power.There is plenty of instructions on how to deal with enemies and the conquered in the Old testament. Unless you believe that God changes His/her mind, that has to be taken into account as well. Mercy is not a characteristic widely seen against nations. We are commanded to "erase" Amalek, and that includes women and children as well. Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed by God, not by some natural disaster as you claim. You need not agree with the Bible, but you do need to respect what it says.3. I have a lot of problems with the story of Abraham's sacrifice of Isaac. I don't have much problem with his destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. Amalek has at various times stood for Babylon, Egypt, Rome, Germany, the Kosaks, etc. It teaches us that there are just wars, and that some evils are irredeemable.4. As you can probably tell, I am Jewish. Don't mind discussing the Old or New Testament with you, after all I don't believe God changes his mind, so that although he may have a covenant with you too, mine still stands.Leon

  7. >My entire theology hinges on the words Jesus spoke and until you read and understand the sermon the mount – Matthew 5-7, we have no starting point. I am of the radical opinion that Jesus said what he said and meant it. The cross of Christ casts a shadow over the entirety of scripture and reframes the debate. It does not change the original covenent in anyway, it fullfills it.Jesus gave us no instructions on how to steward political power in light of this new covenent. There is a difference between God initiating a holy war and what humans have interpreted as a just war. The human interpretation of just war in many cases is what led to occupations and exciles in many cases, which begs the question "hows that working for you?" This debate goes way beyond what I am capable of discussing at this time, many wiser men that I have spent lifetimes researching this concept and one day I may be able to have an intellegent debate about it but I'm not ready yet. In the mean time I direct you to one of my mentors on this area Dr. Gregory Boyd. http://www.gregboyd.org God used a natural disaster to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah, the point is he didn't need an earthly army to help him. That fact you have problems with Abraham's story is telling to me. Christians view that story as a foreshadowing of Jesus own sacrifice. As I said in the beginng, a lot of the "Old" Testament becomes clearer when seen in the shadow of the cross.

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