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Jesus the Pacifist

Discussion in 'Interfaith Discussion' started by Mr Spinkles, Jul 24, 2004.

  1. Mr Spinkles

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    It seems pretty clear to me, based on various parts in the Gospels, that Jesus opposed all forms of violence--period--even in self defense. Indeed the early Christians opposed any act of violence so much that there was debate within the early Christian church as to whether or not Christians who had been soldiers could remain members of the church or be forgiven.

    It was not until Emperor Constantine outlawed all non-Christian religions that dogma was changed to make warfare acceptable.

    So, why do so many Christians today still find war acceptable? Isn't this contrary to Jesus' teachings? I think it is.
     
  2. Irenicas

    Irenicas high overlord of sod all

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    So do I. Note that the only time Jesus ever even got angry was when he found men gambling in a temple. He was a total pacifist. It confuses me why some Christians still think violence is acceptable - see the "crusade" thread.
     
  3. Green Gaia

    Green Gaia Veteran Member

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    I'm curious about this as well. Perhaps someone who is Christian can shed some light on this. To me Jesus is the ideal expression of love and compassion, there is no room for violence in that.
     
  4. Mr Spinkles

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    The evidence is overwhelming. Jesus speaks of giving up our loved ones, our families, everything we hold dear in order to follow him. He says if someone steals your cloak, give him your sandals also. If someone forces you to walk a mile, walk an additional mile (I am paraphrasing of course). Jesus scolds Peter for cutting off the ear of a soldier when they arrest Jesus.

    Think about that last part! What could POSSIBLY be a better excuse to use violence than trying to save the life of the Son of God? Yet even for that noble purpose, it is clear Jesus is against violence of any kind. Jesus suffers on the cross and sacrifices himself, when he possibly could have organized his followers and become a ruler through violent rebellion. It is crystal clear that NOTHING (even self defense or the defense of others, including family) is an excuse for violence according to Jesus.
     
  5. Pah

    Pah Uber all member

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    I understand, and even some Christians practise, a form of verbal "violence". It is taken from some interpretations of Jesus' conversations with the Pharisee's (sp?).
     
  6. Mr Spinkles

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    pah-- I have never heard of this. Could you enlighten me on this verbal violence?
     
  7. Pah

    Pah Uber all member

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    Matthew 3:7
    But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to where he was baptizing, he said to them: "You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath?

    Matthew 12:34
    You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks.

    Matthew 23:33
    "You snakes! You brood of vipers! How will you escape being condemned to hell?

    One apologeticist says that (sorry, I can't find the verses) when Jesus said to Pharisees "It is written" he was actually insulting the Pharisees who certainly knew what was written.

    And, of course, the poor fig tree which did not bear fruit out of season.
     
  8. Mr Spinkles

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    So some Christians go around calling people vipers and whatnot?
     
  9. Rex

    Rex Founder

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    I believe the Gospel of Thomas has your answers. It wasn't cannonized but who cares. It shows a rather darker side of Jesus.
     
  10. Pah

    Pah Uber all member

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    Well, not in those words. But the "warrior" mode exists. TheologyWeb supports the practise and was a main reason I left the board.
     
  11. Mr Spinkles

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    That is so strange to me I am actually chuckling to myself right now. I...I am not sure what else to say. "Verbal violence"?! That is so wierd! :rolleyes:

    I hope some non-pacifist Christians will read this topic so that we can hear their views on this subject. This was one of the millions of contradictions in Christianity that lead me to start truly thinking for myself, as it were.
     
  12. Scott1

    Scott1 Well-Known Member

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    Hi all!

    I would have to agree with almost all posted here about a peaceful Christ, with one exception:

    Some thoughts on this subject from my Catechism:


    2264 Love toward oneself remains a fundamental principle of morality. Therefore it is legitimate to insist on respect for one's own right to life. Someone who defends his life is not guilty of murder even if he is forced to deal his aggressor a lethal blow:

    If a man in self-defense uses more than necessary violence, it will be unlawful: whereas if he repels force with moderation, his defense will be lawful. . . . Nor is it necessary for salvation that a man omit the act of moderate self-defense to avoid killing the other man, since one is bound to take more care of one's own life than of another's.66
    66 St. Thomas Aquinas, STh II-II,64,7, corp. art.

    Made in the image of God, all humans should be protected (even those in the womb) and to that end, to not defend yourself against an unjust attacker intent on murder would invalidate the claim that ALL life is precious.

    It is true that some choose the ultimate sacrifice of dying for the faith:

    2473 Martyrdom is the supreme witness given to the truth of the faith: it means bearing witness even unto death. The martyr bears witness to Christ who died and rose, to whom he is united by charity. He bears witness to the truth of the faith and of Christian doctrine. He endures death through an act of fortitude. "Let me become the food of the beasts, through whom it will be given me to reach God."271
    271 St. Ignatius of Antioch, Ad Rom. 4,1:SCh 10,110.

    but I would point out that it is their CHOICE to die for the faith, and God is not so petty that he would expect any, save his own son, to die at the hands of sinners.

    What I am trying to get across, is that God will not "look down" upon those that do not have the fortitute to die at the hands of another........ fear is not a sin.

    Peace,
    Scott
     
  13. Mr Spinkles

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    Scott-- You seem to be saying that the noble thing to do is to not commit violence even in self defense, but God will forgive people for not being strong enough to do this. Is that basically what you are saying?

    That does seem to make sense, given what Jesus taught about God forgiving our sins, etc. Still, that does not change the fact that according to Jesus, the right thing to do is to not use violence against attackers. After all, Jesus said that he who tries to save his life will lose it....
     
  14. Scott1

    Scott1 Well-Known Member

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    Mr S,

    Well, first, I would not use "noble"...... I would use pious..... noble sounds too much to me like it concerns how humanity would view the action.

    That's about right. A martyr chooses the ULTIMATE sacrifice for his/her faith, and I don't believe God would condemn a person who defends him/her self against an attacker..... after all, it is God who instills in us the desire for life and the desire to defend it.
    To end your life for God is CONTRARY to our human nature, and is thusly not something that God expects of us.

    I believe God wants our faith and love, not our death.......

    Then stop eating. Kill yourself....... see where I am going.......? Life is precious.

    Peace,
    Scott
     
  15. mahayana

    mahayana Member

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    As a long-time pacifist, and admirer of Jesus, I've spent a lot of time considering this subject. Just a few thoughts: first, you mustn't confuse passivism or non-violence with pacifism. Two different (if related) subjects.

    Jesus was a pacifist, from "Blessed are the Peacemakers" through "I say unto you, love your enemies; do good to those who wish you evil."

    The bottom line for a pacifist is the taking of a human life; no one who points a weapon at a group of people, pulls the trigger and empties his clip, can claim to be loving his enemies. Same thing if he cuts their throat or causes a bomb to blow them to pieces. You can't kill for Jesus.

    Violence, up to this point, is another matter.

    Secondly, the events leading up to the capital punishment of Jesus might be construed as a form of suicide in order to achieve martyrdom. I'm still trying to figure this one out. Perhaps Jesus saw this as necessary, in order that his teachings might achieve immortality, that we would still be trying to apply them thousands of years later?

    Thirdly, the present conflict between the west and some militant Islamist groups makes the differences between Muhammad and Jesus on this subject quite pertinent. Not saying that a majority of either Christians or muslims follow these teachings.
     
  16. Rex

    Rex Founder

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    From Gospel of Thomas:

    Jesus said: I have cast a fire upon the world, and see, I watch over it until it is ablaze.

    Jesus said: He who does not hate his father and his mother cannot be a disciple to me. And (he who does not) hate his brothers and sisters and take up his cross like me, will not be worthy of me.

    Pacifist?
     
  17. Mr Spinkles

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    Fair enough. :)

    I see where you are going, but it does not seem to be where Jesus was going. A big part of his teachings focused on the fact that this life is not important...it's the next life that counts, and we should always try to do what is right/loving even if it means suffering for us in this life.

    Perhaps the focus on the afterlife appealed to people in Jesus' time more than they do to people today, because back then earthly life was difficult, dirty, and short.
     
  18. Scott1

    Scott1 Well-Known Member

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    Mr S,

    Ok, that sounds about right, but I am looking at the big picture. Jesus had the apostles continue his teachings and begin to spread the faith.

    Much of the NT is about right action and right faith..... all of these things point towards living the life on this earth to the standard of Christ.

    Don't live for the wordly rewards of human pleasure, but live a long abundant life in witness to a loving Father.

    Peace,
    Scott
     
  19. Mr Spinkles

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    Yes, I think you are right--that is the main message of the NT. But take it one step further...what would be the standard of Christ? Would Christ fight violently, even to save his own life?
     
  20. Musician

    Musician New Member

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    Christ in dealing with us on earth actually has two missions--the first one, in short, to fulfill the Old Testament law and to "become the sacrifice" for our missing the mark (sins); we can't follow Him exactly because we do not have this mission. However, he stood up against the corrupt money-changers at the Temple and called Herod "an old fox." He did not want the Israelites to stir up a rebellion with Rome or others at the time, an idea they believed was the Messiah's mission. Many did not understand that he would have a second mission, that is, in short, in the future, when He would put down the nations who were against Him, which would be followed by a reign of peace. This is when the swords would be turned into ploughshares and the lion would lie down with lamb (see Old Testament prophecy, etc). More discussion? I'll be glad to chat--been a student of Bible for many decades. --Musician :)
     
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