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puddleglum
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 02, 2015 9:21 am  Was Jesus really a pacifist? Reply with quote

Jesus is perceived by many as being a pacifist who never practiced or advocated violence of any kind. He commanded us to turn the other cheek when someone hits us and to love everyone, including our enemies. On the basis of these commands some Christians have concluded that a Christian must never engage in any kind of violence. They believe it is wrong for a Christian to serve in the military, even if his country is at war.

If we consider only these teachings of Jesus this seems to be a logical conclusion. But Jesus also did and said some things that are inconsistent with pacifism.

His reaction when he saw what was going on in the temple wasn’t that of a pacifist.

And Jesus entered the temple and drove out all who sold and bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you make it a den of robbers.”
Matthew 21:12-13 ESV


When he was arrested Peter tried to defend him.

Then Simon Peter, having a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant and cut off his right ear. (The servant’s name was Malchus.) So Jesus said to Peter, “Put your sword into its sheath; shall I not drink the cup that the Father has given me?”
John 18:10-11 ESV


At first this seems to confirm the belief that Jesus advocated pacifism. He said that Peter was wrong in attacking. But then Jesus told Peter to put his sword back in its sheath. Wouldn’t a true pacifist have told Peter to throw his sword away because he would never need it again?

Earlier he had given his disciples a command that was even more inconsistent with pacifism.

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.”
Luke 22:36 ESV


He not only told Peter to keep his sword but he also said the the disciples who didn’t already have swords should buy them. But what is the point of having a sword if you are commanded to respond to an attacker by turning the other cheek? This appears to be a problem because we misunderstand what Jesus meant by the command.

Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.
Matthew 5:39 ESV


Jesus said that if someone slaps us on the right cheek we are to turn the other cheek. Most people are right handed. If you are facing someone and hit him on the right cheek with your right hand you will hit him with the back of your hand. You might cause some pain but you can’t do any real physical harm.

The purpose in striking someone this way is to insult him and express contempt for him. There have been cultures in which this act would be considered a challenge to a duel. Today it is possible that the person being slapped will try to kill the other without bothering with the formalities of a duel. Jesus has forbidden us to respond in this way. This command does not prohibit us from defending ourselves if someone attacks with the intention of hurting or killing us.

Swords can be used for other reasons beside self defense. Jesus said that one of the two great commandments was to love our neighbor as ourselves. If a neighbor is being attacked love demands that we defend him if possible even if it means hurting or killing the attacker. (I have heard objections to this on the grounds that it isn’t showing love for the attacker, but this is a situation that calls for justice as well as love.)

The things Jesus taught while on earth were only the beginning of his teaching. After he was taken up into Heaven he continued to teach and direct his disciples through the Holy Spirit.

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.
Acts 1:8 ESV


Acts chapter 10 tells how the Spirit led Peter to preach the gospel to a Gentile named Cornelius.

And while Peter was pondering the vision, the Spirit said to him, “Behold, three men are looking for you. Rise and go down and accompany them without hesitation, for I have sent them.”
Acts 10:19-20 ESV


Peter obeyed and the Holy Spirit came on Cornelius and the people who were with him just at he had come on the Jews earlier.

While Peter was still saying these things, the Holy Spirit fell on all who heard the word. And the believers from among the circumcised who had come with Peter were amazed, because the gift of the Holy Spirit was poured out even on the Gentiles. For they were hearing them speaking in tongues and extolling God.

Then Peter declared, “Can anyone withhold water for baptizing these people, who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?” And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked him to remain for some days.
Acts 10:44-48 ESV


Cornelius was not only a Gentile but he was also an officer in the Roman army.

At Caesarea there was a man named Cornelius, a centurion of what was known as the Italian Cohort, a devout man who feared God with all his household, gave alms generously to the people, and prayed continually to God.
Acts 10:1-2 ESV


If Jesus taught pacifism surely Cornelius would have quit his job and found a new occupation when he became a believer but there is no indication that he did anything like this. Chapter 11 of Acts describes the opposition of some believers to the conversion of Cornelius, but their objections were based on the fact that Cornelius was an uncircumcised Gentile, not that he was a Roman soldier.

Jesus acknowledged the authority of human government. When asked whether it was right to pay taxes to Caesar his response was, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” We are not only required to pay our taxes, but the choice of Cornelius as the first Gentile convert shows that we may also serve as soldiers in Caesar’s army. Jesus never taught pacifism so there is no reason a person cannot be both a professional soldier and a Christian.
Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 11: Wed May 25, 2016 4:16 pm
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koko wrote:

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As I wrote above he told them to honor the time limit of their contract (one that lasted 30 years). However, they became unarmed constables and were then called "peace officers" according to Thomas Merton.

How do you know this is true? There is nothing in the Bible to show it.




It does say 'make peace with ALL men'. Nowhere are we told to engage in military combat.

The many centurions who converted to Christianity did not intervene when their fellow Christians were thrown into the lion's den. That sure says a lot.



The early Christians saw all military service incompatible with the Christian message.
Quote:


“A careful review of all the information available goes to show that, until the time of Marcus Aurelius [121-180 C.E.], no Christian became a soldier; and no soldier, after becoming a Christian, remained in military service.” - The Rise of Christianity, by E. W. Barnes, 1947, p. 333

“It will be seen presently that the evidence for the existence of a single Christian soldier between 60 and about 165 A.D. is exceedingly slight; . . . up to the reign of Marcus Aurelius at least, no Christian would become a soldier after his baptism.” - The Early Church and the World, by C. J. Cadoux, 1955, pp. 275, 276

“In the second century, Christianity . . . had affirmed the incompatibility of military service with Christianity.” - A Short History of Rome, by G. Ferrero and C. Barbagallo, 1919, p. 382

“The behavior of the Christians was very different from that of the Romans. . . . Since Christ had preached peace, they refused to become soldiers.” - Our World Through the Ages, by N. Platt and M. J. Drummond, 1961, p. 125

“The first Christians thought it was wrong to fight, and would not serve in the army even when the Empire needed soldiers.” - The New World’s Foundations in the Old, by R. and W. M. West, 1929, p. 131


Source: Bible Encyclopedia Insight on the Scriptures Vol I p. 176
http://wol.jw.org/en/wol/d/r1/lp-e/1200000376#h=27



I suppose that one could argue that first and early 2nd century Christians "got it all wrong" and should have been Killing their fellow man (and Christians) in the miliary but most people recognise that "love your enemies" does not involve Killing them.


JW

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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 12: Wed May 25, 2016 9:57 pm
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JehovahsWitness wrote:

koko wrote:

Quote:

As I wrote above he told them to honor the time limit of their contract (one that lasted 30 years). However, they became unarmed constables and were then called "peace officers" according to Thomas Merton.

How do you know this is true? There is nothing in the Bible to show it.




It does say 'make peace with ALL men'. Nowhere are we told to engage in military combat.

The many centurions who converted to Christianity did not intervene when their fellow Christians were thrown into the lion's den. That sure says a lot.



The early Christians saw all military service incompatible with the Christian message.
Quote:


“A careful review of all the information available goes to show that, until the time of Marcus Aurelius [121-180 C.E.], no Christian became a soldier; and no soldier, after becoming a Christian, remained in military service.” - The Rise of Christianity, by E. W. Barnes, 1947, p. 333

“It will be seen presently that the evidence for the existence of a single Christian soldier between 60 and about 165 A.D. is exceedingly slight; . . . up to the reign of Marcus Aurelius at least, no Christian would become a soldier after his baptism.” - The Early Church and the World, by C. J. Cadoux, 1955, pp. 275, 276

“In the second century, Christianity . . . had affirmed the incompatibility of military service with Christianity.” - A Short History of Rome, by G. Ferrero and C. Barbagallo, 1919, p. 382

“The behavior of the Christians was very different from that of the Romans. . . . Since Christ had preached peace, they refused to become soldiers.” - Our World Through the Ages, by N. Platt and M. J. Drummond, 1961, p. 125

“The first Christians thought it was wrong to fight, and would not serve in the army even when the Empire needed soldiers.” - The New World’s Foundations in the Old, by R. and W. M. West, 1929, p. 131


Source: Bible Encyclopedia Insight on the Scriptures Vol I p. 176
http://wol.jw.org/en/wol/d/r1/lp-e/1200000376#h=27



I suppose that one could argue that first and early 2nd century Christians "got it all wrong" and should have been Killing their fellow man (and Christians) in the miliary but most people recognise that "love your enemies" does not involve Killing them.


JW





EXCELLENT post. In the past I did research this matter and found sources just like those you reported. It takes a while but research will affirm this truth. Unfortunately, many professing Christians are obsessed with the idea that war and military careers are an essential part of Christianity. Instead of spreading love as Jesus did, they feel that spreading war and killing in his name are acts divinely mandated.

Jesus was a pacifist. He told us he could have brought in 72,000 holy angels to kill each and every one of his enemies but he chose not to do so. Never did he resort to death and violence against those who sought to undo him. Being a pacifist is Christian. Failure to be one is totally incompatible with worshiping the Prince of Peace.

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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 13: Wed Jul 06, 2016 3:16 pm
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koko wrote:


Jesus was a pacifist. He told us he could have brought in 72,000 holy angels to kill each and every one of his enemies but he chose not to do so. Never did he resort to death and violence against those who sought to undo him. Being a pacifist is Christian. Failure to be one is totally incompatible with worshiping the Prince of Peace.


Where do you find Yeshua condemn Avram for defeating the five kings to rescue Lot, or the actions of Yehoshua the judges of Israel, David and the exiles of Medio/Persia in the time of Hadassah(Esther), let alone any act of war. It is true that Yeshua encouraged the promotion of peace, but the pacifist contention Yeshua taught that war was never acceptable, is unjustified. Yeshua focused on personal freedom and responsibility, specifically in a Torah submissive society. Of course, military service in these United States does require one to sacrifice some freedom in service to a secular government. However, opposition to that is different from a condemnation of all war.

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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 14: Wed Jul 06, 2016 9:43 pm
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Show me any biblical evidence that Jesus endorsed war as a means of settling problems.

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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 15: Wed Aug 30, 2017 2:52 pm
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Re: Was Jesus really a pacifist?

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[Replying to post 1 by puddleglum]

The answers is no, he wasn't. He was, in fact, the exact opposite. Marcion of Pontus declared Christ to be “the author of evils” and “to take delight in war”, and Hierocles claimed that after Christ had been banished (rejected) by the Jews, he and nine hundred of his followers had turned to robbery. That this is what had actually happened is clear from The Lives of the Saints, e.g. a city ruler complaining about and warning against about Paul and Philip:

For they are sorcerers, and they have subverted my rule, and have wrought deeds of shame among my women, and scattered abroad my officers and soldiers, and overthrown my house, and plundered my city, and stolen my possessions, and blotted out my hope, and done away my goods, and destroyed my pasture, and they have made accusations against each other, and they have carried off my handmaidens.

It is easy to show that Simon Peter was none other than the faction leader Simon bar Giora, who was known for his violence (see here).

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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 16: Wed Aug 30, 2017 10:15 pm
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''Marcion of Pontus declared Christ to be “the author of evils” and “to take delight in war”



Jesus was called even worse in the New Testament. But nowhere in that book does he express any desire for war or combat. Instead of engaging in aggressive war, Stephen and the Apostles all accepted martyrdom as did the Messiah. Anyone who delighted in war would have met the fate promised in the Bible where it says those who live by the sword shall die by the sword.

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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 17: Thu Aug 31, 2017 10:47 am
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There are simply too many references to Christ being violent. See for instance also Simon Peter, who abducted the wives of Albinus and Agrippa, the arch rivals of Simon bar Giora.

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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 18: Wed Sep 06, 2017 11:16 pm
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There are far more references to him being non-violent. This is why he died on the cross and was resurrected. Had he been violent he would not have suffered that fate.

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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 19: Thu Sep 07, 2017 10:42 am
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[Replying to koko]

He was not the son of God, but was born to Joseph, Herod's treasurer, and Mariamne I, Herod's second wife. The Jews knew him as Simon Magus and his disciples only later began calling him Jesus, the Messiah. He was wanted by the authorities for having ransacked the temple, but as his father was 'connected to the government', he managed to escape further attention by being removed from the cross before he had actually died. After his recovery he assumed the name Paul of Tarsus in order to continue his campaign to overthrow the Romans in Palestine.

Quite a violent man, as were his disciples.

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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 20: Fri Sep 08, 2017 7:50 am
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he managed to escape further attention by being removed from the cross before he had actually died


A long while ago I read an account similar to this that was written by a Muslim scholar. Like you, he makes the assertion but fails to back it up with any historical evidence. But if that is what you wish to believe, then so be it.

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