6 ARTICLES ON THE ISSUE OF WHETHER CHRISTIANITY ENDORSES VIOLENCE OF ANY KIND

1) THE NUCLEAR POWER OF FORGIVENESS!
Do you know why it’s best to turn the other cheek, walk the extra mile, give the additional coat? Do you know why it’s better to pray for your enemies and bless those who curse and despitefully use you? Why are all these things better than eye-for-an-eye revenge, tooth-for-a-tooth retaliation and hate-for-hate cursing toward those who offend us? See Matthew 5:38-48.
 
It is not JUST that turning the other cheek keeps us from sinning, although it does. It is not JUST that praying for our enemies is the noblest thing we can do, although it is. And it is not JUST that blessing those who hate, curse and despitefully use us makes us Christ-like, although it certainly does.
No, the REASON “loving our enemies” is the best thing we can ever do is that it gives us the maximum POWER to ultimately overcome all their evil for THEIR sake.
 
Let me put it another way. When somebody victimizes YOU with condemnation, hatred, cursing, lying, violence or betrayal, you know what you then become? You become the most powerful intercessor on earth for that PARTICULAR person. This is a Spiritual law imbedded by God in all creation. Whenever you are wronged, you are AUTOMATICALLY given EXTRA mojo, power, authority, anointing, and access to pray blessing and Holy Ghost “conviction” UPON the heads of the wrongdoers.
 
The absolute best blessing you can pray for the enemy you have TRULY forgiven is to fervently and tenderly pray down what Romans calls “coals of cathartic conviction” upon their souls. These hot coals sear their consciences with the urge and need to repent. I call these “soul-coals.” “Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head.” Romans 12:20.
 
An eye-for-an-eye spirit of condemnation, revenge and resentment against your enemies will HINDER and OBSTRUCT their conviction to repent. But, a turn-the-other- cheek Spirit of love and non-judgment will MAXIMIZE and OPTIMIZE the conditions for their Godly repentance to occur. Whereas an eye-for-an-eye “spirit” causes you to call down fire on your enemies, just as the misguided disciples did in Luke 9:51-56, the turn- the-other-cheek “Spirit” causes you to pity your enemies for they know not what they do. Luke 23:34.
 
Talk about victims’ rights! We have the right and increased power to help save those who wrong us— to save them to the uttermost from sin, Satan and themselves.
 
God has weaved an invincible dynamic into creation that always gives those who are victimized the most powerful force in the universe to wield at their disposal— forgiveness. But biblical “forgiveness” is not just “mercy” to graciously overlook the wrong. Biblical “forgiveness” in the original Greek language means complete “deliverance” for the sinner FROM the bondage to the sin itself.
 
In other words, “perfect forgiveness” ULTIMATELY works “COMPLETE deliverance.” This “power of good” to ultimately “overcome evil” and thoroughly PURGE evildoers of all sin-bondages works absolutely and without exception. Sometimes it works quickly. Sometimes it works slowly. Sometimes it works in THIS age. Sometimes it will work in the age to COME. But it ALWAYS works.
 
In our patience and faith in this Scripturally-promised dynamic, that of overcoming all evil with good, we will truly “possess our souls” as we count it all joy when we are “victimized” by persecutions. Luke 21:19; James 1:2-4. The reason we can rejoice is that IF and AS we truly forgive, bless and love our enemies, we are literally “saving them” from Satan’s clutches.
 
But, on the other unfortunate hand, our toxic resentment and desire to retaliate against our enemies will only worsen the situation, both ours AND our enemies. It may well be that there is so little true deliverance FROM sin because there is so little true forgiveness OF sin by those who have been victimized. But, us learning to fully and actively “forgive,” JUST AS the Father and Jesus “forgive,” is the KEY thing we are now called to realize and walk in.
 
The strongest intercession FOR particular evildoers potentially comes from those who are victimized BY those same evildoers. This is why, “Jesus liveth to make intercession for them.” We are “them.” Jesus is our champion intercessor BECAUSE He became the champion victim. He turned His cosmic cheek the other way in love rather than retaliate against us in wrath. And because of this, He truly is all powerful in Heaven and earth. His mercy ransomed us from all evil.
 
Jesus is easily the MOST victimized person to ever walk the earth. He was completely sinless, yet bore the full brunt of victimization for EVERY sin ever committed. He was victimized by all OUR misguided evildoing in thought, deed or word. Our mental, verbal, emotional and physical violence, all inflicted UPON Jesus at the Cross gave Him the the most powerful intercessory influence the world has ever seen.
 
So, even if we fail to fully forgive, we still have a cosmic safety net—- Jesus! Jesus is the savior of the whole world, which in the Latin is expressed as “Salvador Mundi.” Jesus is the perfect intercessor, and His love shall not fail to eventually overcome and rescue all men trapped in sin. He shall overcome them with His flawless goodness, whether it be in this life or the next.
 
But, let’s don’t just count on His safety net of mercy to make all things right in some FUTURE age. Let’s join in the “fray” of forgiveness right HERE and NOW. As warriors of virtue, let’s battle all wrath by learning to “forgive” with a vengeance! When we learn that God’s only “vengeance” is to “wholly heal” His enemies, then our hearts will be primed and ready to fight the good fight of faith.
 
 
2) SHOULD CHRISTIANS USE VIOLENCE TO DEFEND THEMSELVES?
 
“What would you do if intruders attacked you and your family? Wouldn’t you use deadly force to protect them?”
 
Who knows for sure what they would do, so, to a degree, it’s an unknowable hypothetical.
 
“But shouldn’t we defend ourselves and others from attackers?”
 
Well, Jesus was attacked by stoning mobs several times, but just supernaturally slipped through their midst every time without ever striking back. He also intervened to keep another from being stoned to death by a killing mob, but without committing violence Himself. He said those who live by the sword die by the sword, so it’s hard to use Him as a positive model for advocating violence.
 
But we have to be honest that Jesus operated in a supernatural worldview by which He relied on angelic and other forms of supernatural protection, what I like to refer to as Psalm 91 protection. This explains how Jesus supernaturally avoided harm without ever committing violence Himself. And He said we would do the same and greater works than He did.
 
The problem is that few today have that supernatural worldview. Without it, we either defend ourselves or die– those are the only two options. But with a supernatural cosmology, we can be ably protected from harm by others through angelic and other divine dynamics, none of which require violence on our part.
 
Divine protection is left largely unplumbed and unclaimed as a “forgotten benefit” of our “so great a salvation.”
 
But, I agree that if one does not have a worldview of faith which allows, relies and consents to supernatural resources, then self-defense becomes the only alternative to death.
 
I just believe that there is a third option. But, I do readily admit few believe “in” or “for” that third option. When that number DOES change from “few” to “many,” the Church will go into orbital glory!
 
God’s protective power, when catalyzed by faith, forms a protective and energizing shield around us. This shield has been called “Job’s hedge” (Job 1:10), “the secret place of the most high” (Ps. 91:1), and the “full armour of God” (Eph. 6:13-17).
 
Jesus continually lived in this protective shield because He trusted his Father for it. Jesus’ three-year ministry was His incredibly hazardous. Consider this: the religious Jews sought to throw Jesus off a cliff, “But passing through the midst of them he went away” (Lk. 4:28-30); “sought to destroy Him” (Lk. 19:14); they sought to stone him but be escaped “through the midst of them, and so passed by.” (Jn. 8:59); “sought to kill him” (Jn. 7:1); sought to slay him (Jn. 5:16); sought to capture him “but he escaped out of their hand” (Jn. 10:39); and manhunted him continually (Jn. 11:57).
 
Yet, Jesus’ enemies could not penetrate His divine hedge until Jesus willingly laid His life down by taking our sins to bear on the cross. Isn’t it remarkable that all His enemies were out canvassing to kill Him, but Jesus continued to minister out in public places right under their noses WITHOUT ever being harmed or without ever using violence Himself. They simply couldn’t gain access to Him because of His Psalm 91 shield.
 
Jesus could boldly say as the end approached, “The prince of this world cometh and hath nothing in me.” (Jn. 14:30)– no access to afflict in other words. Jesus was even forewarned about Judas’ betrayal so that it could have been avoided. Jesus chose for the hedge to be removed.
 
When an army of soldiers came to arrest Jesus, He told His disciples that, “Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels?” Matt. 26:53.
 
What a wonderful scripture for the power of prayer! Angels harken en masse to answer the prayers of the righteous.
 
But having this power at His disposal, Jesus chose to not exercise it so that he could lay His life down for us. No man or devil took it from Him. (Jn. 10:18).
 
Now what’s wrong with asking the question, “What would you do if someone were about to kill your family?”
 
Well, asking me ahead of time what I would hypothetically do if God FAILED to show up to protect my family, or lead us away to safety, is a bit of an unblessed question because it PRESUMES abandonment by God.
 
So, me deciding that I would kill another human being in self-defense is based on the flawed presumption that I THINK I have a perfect knowledge of the future as to what will happen if I DON’T shoot the arms and legs off my attackers before they actually make physical contact with me or my family.
 
How on earth could we EVER know, with certainty, the exact point we are to “officially” give up on God’s intervention and instead start flooding the airwaves with a bullet binge? Do you see? That’s really unknowable. What’s really being asked here is, “At what point do we give up on God’s intervening rescue?”
 
But, again, that is an unblessed question. The Lord’s deliverances work in different ways at different times. Mark 16:18 promises poison and snake bites (i.e. afflictions) won’t harm us.
 
Paul was actually bitten by a snake, and then shook it off into the fire with no ill effect on himself. But, what if Paul had panicked and disengaged his faith when he first got bitten? What if Paul had reasoned that because God didn’t warn him in advance so that he could have avoided the painful snakebite, that therefore Paul should take matters into his own hands. Paul might have then sprinted away in panic trying to find the best medical herbs or anti-venom of the day. But Paul didn’t do this at all. He instead remained stedfast and merely “shook off” the snakebite in faith. I am certainly not saying that we shouldn’t take medicine for illnesses. But in emergency situations, we CAN rely on God’s protective intervention. It IS an option.
 
Sometimes we ARE warned in advance of the snake or poison so we can avoid it. But, OTHER times, the snake painfully bites us and the poison enters our system. Yet, at these times, our faith can still keeps us from being harmed by the poison or venom.
 
God didn’t promise we would never be “bitten” by affliction, but He did promise we would never be “harmed” by it if we fight the good fight of faith. “Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you.” Lk.10:19.
 
What works for snake bites surely works for bullets. Christian testimonies (by missionaries, soldiers and others) abound of jammed guns, point blank misses, curved bullet paths, and other such protective supernatural phenomena. Of course these testimonies are largely anecdotal, but spontaneous miracles usually are.
 
In Matthew 5:38-48, I don’t see Jesus saying being perfect like His heavenly Abba is perfect includes blowing our enemies heads off their shoulders. Whatever we decide to do, faith has to come before fear. The problem with a policy of justified violence is that it puts fear ahead of faith.
 
I certainly appreciate soldiers’ and law enforcement officers’ brave willingness to put themselves into harms way, but I don’t advocate that anybody being killed is EVER God’s protective best for a situation– not now, not ever. There is a higher way.
 
The zealots of Jesus’ day were expecting a GI Joe killer Jesus with an Israeli flag in one hand and a throat-slitting sword in the other.
What they got was the Lamb of God. And they were mad because He wouldn’t back their killing ways. And many today tend to get mad too when somebody criticizes our killing ways.
 
This isn’t a patriotic thing but a Jesus thing. We are told by Him NOT to live by the sword because He will protect us another way. And if we feel the call to refuse the Lord’s deliverance and lay our life down in maximum impact as a martyr, then, as Paul said, to die is gain.
 
Again, this choice is extremely personal and everyone must walk their own path. I would never condemn anybody for defending somebody under attack. I just hope those who DO believe in physical retaliation also wouldn’t condemn others who choose to walk a different and non-violent path.
I just believe there is a higher way waiting to be “rediscovered” by the sons and daughters of God. And I can’t even say what I would do with certainty.
 
But I do have an ideal at which I would hopefully aim. So, I am merely advocating here for another option to consider. Then let each of us act as we hear the Spirit lead.
 
3) DOES THE NEW TESTAMENT ENDORSE “VIOLENCE” OF ANY KIND?
 
How are we to interpret the sometimes violent imagery in the New Testament?
 
Are we EVER to apply that imagery to endorse Christian violence in the physical realm?
 
In other words, can certain New Testament passages EVER be used to endorse physical violence either on God’s part or on our part? Let’s examine this issue by answering five key questions.
 
A) Does the New Testament promote violence of ANY kind?
 
Yes, in several passages SOME type of positive violence is definitely expected, exhorted and valued. Here are a few. But, bear in mind, as you read these passages below, that NOWHERE is either “the realm” or “the form” of this violence explicitly identified.
 
“From the days of John the baptist until now, the kingdom of the heavens is taken by violence, and [the] violent take it by force.” Matthew 11:12.
“FIGHT the good FIGHT of the faith.” 1 Timothy 6:12.
 
“Suffer hardship with ‘me’, as a good SOLDIER of Christ Jesus. No soldier on service entangleth himself in the affairs of ‘this’ life; that he may please him who enrolled him as a soldier.” 2 Timothy 2:3-4.
 
“Be sober , be vigilant ; because your adversary the devil , as a roaring lion , walketh about , seeking whom he may devour : Whom RESIST stedfast in the faith , knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world.” 1 Peter 5:8-9.
 
But, this leads us to our next question. Are these exhortations to violence described above PHYSICAL violence, or is it some OTHER kind of violence?
 
B) Are we, in the New Testament, EVER commanded to act violently against “flesh and blood” humans? In other words, are other humans ever to be the enemy “objects” of our violence?
 
No.
 
Not ever. We turn the other cheek to our physical enemy, walk the extra mike with him, give our extra coat to him, and we bless him even as he curses and despitefully uses us. This is the non-violent way Abba treats His physical enemies, and it is where His perfection lies, a perfection we are called to emulate. Matthew 5:38-48.
 
Our only enemies worthy of violent destruction are vain thoughts, spiritless ideas, petty purposes, dark angels, and faithless impulses. This is where our New Testament violence is needed– in the kingdom of mind and heart within us, and only WITHIN us.
 
“For though we live as human beings, we do NOT wage war according to human standards, for the weapons of our warfare are NOT human weapons, but are made powerful by God for tearing down strongholds. We tear down arguments and every arrogant obstacle that is raised up against the knowledge of God, and we take every thought captive to make it obey Christ.” 1 Corinthians 10:3-5.
 
“Finally, be strong in the Lord, and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For our wrestling is NOT against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world-rulers of this darkness, against the spiritual ‘hosts’ of wickedness in the heavenly ‘places’. Wherefore take up the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and, having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; withal taking up the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the evil ‘one’. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” Ephesians 6:10-17.
 
These passages above omit other human beings from EVER being the object of our violence. We ARE called to “fight the good fight,” to “resist steadfast in the faith,” to be “a good soldier” who puts on “full armor” and weaponry, “By the word of truth , by the power of God , by the armour of righteousness on the right hand and on the left” 2 Corinthians 6:7. But, is this armor to be used against human enemies to commit ANY form of human retaliation?
 
C) Are we EVER commanded to use the weapons of God to exact “revenge” against our enemies, and if so, what kind of enemies and what kind of revenge?
 
No, emphatically not. Not one New Testament passage endorses Christian revenge by physical violence.
 
The only New Testament revenge we are called to exact is found in 2 Corinthians 7:10-11. It is a interior revenge which we are to exact against our OWN rebellious mindsets and hardened heart-postures. In other words, we are to take spiritual revenge on our OWN unrenewed minds and unrepentant hearts. Consider the following passage carefully.
 
“Now I rejoice , not that ye were made sorry , but that ye sorrowed to repentance : for ye were made sorry after a godly manner , that ye might receive damage by us in nothing . For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of : but the sorrow of the world worketh death . For behold this selfsame thing , that ye sorrowed after a godly sort , what carefulness it wrought in you , yea , what clearing of yourselves , yea , what indignation , yea , what fear , yea , what vehement desire , yea , what zeal , yea , what REVENGE ! In all things ye have approved yourselves to be clear in this matter.” 2 Corinthians 7:10-11.
 
So, this leads us to the real question.
 
D) Is the Kingdom of God a kingdom of physical violence?
 
First, remember this key truth: “The Kingdom of God is within you.” Luke 17:21.
 
Once we understand this, then all the Kingdom violence, all the Kingdom warfare, all the Kingdom enemies, all the Kingdom revenge, all the Kingdom weaponry– comes into proper alignment. Kingdom violence is ONLY and ALWAYS internal, spiritual, and allegorical.
 
“Every man, within himself has Moses and the Israelites, the Sadducees and the Pharisees, the Patriarchs and the kingdom of heaven and hell. Thus, the events described in the Bible, and looked upon by the pious as being things of a past history, are actually descriptions of eternal processes taking place in the constitution of man himself”. ~Jacob Boehme 1575-1624
 
The early church fathers understood this. It was obvious to them. The troubling question is why is it not obvious to us.
 
The early church fathers knew Jesus’ Kingdom was non-violent. It was an intuitive given. It was a normative, practical and typical epiphany to be received after any believer spiritually encountered Jesus. This belief caused the early church not just to read the New Testament non-violently, but to also re-interpret the violence of the Old Testament allegorically.
 
Consider the explanation of Biblical violence by Origen, the great early eastern father, specifically the violent passages in Joshua where the Israelites violently destroy their promised land enemies. Origen reinterprets these passages as “types” or “allegories” of the Christian battle against our inner foes– lethal lusts, faithless ideas, spiritless notions, and dark angels. The promised land here is our heart, not Israel.
 
“Unless those carnal wars (of the Old Testament) were a symbol of spiritual wars, I do not think that the Jewish historical books would ever have been passed down by the apostles to be read by Christ’s followers in their churches… Thus, the apostle, being aware that physical wars have become personal battles of the soul against spiritual adversaries, gives orders to the soldiers of Christ like a military commander when he says, ‘Put on the armor of God so as to be able to hold your ground against the wiles of the devil'” (Eph. 6:11). (Hom 15.1 [138]).
 
“[A Christian] affirms that even now my Lord Jesus Christ wars against opposing powers and casts out of their cities, that is, out of our souls, those who used to occupy them. And he destroys the kings who were ruling in our souls ‘that sin may no longer reign in us,’ [citing Rom. 6:12] so that, after he abolishes the king of sin from the city of our soul, our soul may become the city of God and God may reign in it, and it may be proclaimed to us, ‘Behold, the kingdom of God is within you'” [citing Luke 17:21] (Hom 13.1 [125].
 
“This warfare must be conducted by the Christian not with physical weapons, but with prayers, meditation on the Word of God, good deeds and good thoughts. Only in this way is the Christian able to withstand the works of the Devil, all the while invoking the help of Jesus Christ” (Hom 16.5).
 
Origen repeatedly stresses that a Christian reads with circumcised heart and thus ‘understands that all these things are mysteries of the kingdom of heaven’ (Hom 13.1 [125].
 
Origen says that literal (dead letter) Bible readings, at least in these warfare texts, is equivalent to heresy. Origen charges that reading Joshua’s warfare texts literally is “teaching cruelty” (Hom 11.6 [119]). Literalists “make malicious charges against our Lord and Savior, who commands the kingdom of heaven, which he had promised to those who believe in him, to be seized through violence” (Hom. 12.2 [121]). Without the “deeper understanding” of an allegorical reading, literalists, in Origen’s view, produce “perverse doctrines beautified by the assertions of a splendid discourse.. . [that]. . . . introduce into the churches sects not fitting to us, and to pollute all the church of the Lord” (Hom 7.7 [83]).
 
So, Origen sees “the promised land enemies” not as hostile humans but as carnal and/or Satanic IMPULSES. These enemies represent NOT flesh and blood foes, but rather terroristic thoughts, malicious mentalities, lustful strongholds, deadly ideas, and sinful mindsets. This alone is where ANY level of violence is spiritually permitted– on our own inner toxic impulses and lethal ideas, NEVER on humans made in the image of God.
 
Here then is Origen’s key to understanding the violence Bible.
 
Internalize, internalize, internalize.
 
Personalize, personalize, personalize.
 
Or let me put it another way: INTERNALIZE and PERSONALIZE!
 
For us, the Bible must not be read “by the external letter,” but rather “by the internal Spirit.”
 
The Kingdom of God is within us.
 
This Kingdom doesn’t come with outer observation but with inner penetration.
 
Scripture penetrates our inner Egypt and leads us to our inner Promised Land
 
The enemy Philistines likewise are not flesh and blood to us.
 
They are wayward impulses and ideas trying to corrupt our lives from the inside out.
 
Goliath is an internal enemy we have let roam the streets of our heart far too long— a carnal mindset, a fear, an insecurity, an intimidating dread which has paralyzed us.
 
Goliath is not an external giant as far as it concerns us.
 
The Goliath the most relevant to us today, here, and now is OUR Goliath.
 
Nor is the shepherd David merely a Jew who lived thousands of years ago.
 
David is the Spirit of Christ living in us NOW!
 
David is Jesus smashing the rock of His faith into OUR oncoming Goliath’s skull (mindset) of evil.
 
David is Jesus who beheads our toxic thoughts, thereby freeing us from all their oppressions by putting His mind into ours.
 
But, for every enemy impulse attacking us inwardly, there is a heroic Christological impulse ready to charge onto our inner battlefield and defeat, defang and destroy every Satanic suggestion seeking to form an enemy stronghold within us. Samson’s jawbone, David’s slingshot, Moses staff, the ark of the covenant are allegorical in arming us with inner inspiration to fight the good fight of faith.
 
I remember, at an earlier stage of my life, I was struggling mightily with lust, and it was threatening my marriage. Thorough prayer, I was able to draw an Old Testament image from Samson smashing the 1,000 Philistines with the jawbone of an ass. For a season, I used this image/metaphor to likewise smash lustful impulses which assailed me. As a former wrestler and football player, this imagery inspired my resolve to stand and contend against these lustful impulses. And it saved my marriage at the time.
 
Moreover, my allegorical usage of this passage was consistent with the Corinthians passage quoted earlier which states that our true battle is with internal thoughts and impulses rather than external flesh and blood. External violence here, for me, was converted to internal resolve.
 
Our weapons, again, are not CARNAL and EXTERNAL, but are INTERNAL and PERSONAL, and are mighty through God to the the tearing down of any and all mental strongholds of errant thought or vain imaginations which rise up against the knowledge of Spirit, Jesus and Abba.
Armed with this above understanding, we have one last question to answer.
 
F) What about Jesus’ parabolic teachings, such as the Parable of the Ten Minas (Luke 19:11-27), where Christ concludes the story with the following statement from the king: “these enemies of mine who didn’t want me to rule over them—bring them here and execute them in my presence.”
Is Jesus here referring to His Abba, at some point, physically killing those who reject His rule?
 
First, on a strictly literal level, the parables are often “rough-edged” and full of flawed humanity such as “wicked kings” (Luke 18) and “vengeful vineyard owners” (Luke 20) and “evil fathers” (Luke 11). To think that Jesus was trying to attribute these flaws to the Heavenly Father is unthinkable and unwarranted.
 
Because of their “rough-edges,” scholars have long warned us to only glean broad points from the parables. In other words, we shouldn’t get “hyper-literal” in thinking EVERY detail of the story lines up perfectly with Heaven. Parables are there, rather, to just get us thinking about Heavenly dynamics in new ways. They don’t fill in ALL the revelatory gaps on a one-to-one ratio. We have to let the Holy Ghost do that.
 
Regarding the major message of this particular parable, on a strictly literal analysis, Jesus is merely redirecting His disciples to stop squandering their efforts to determine WHEN the Messianic Kingdom is coming. He is exhorting them to instead focus their faith on better utilizing their God-given gifts profitably to prepare NOW for the coming Messianic Kingdom. The threat of execution at the end of the Parable may be nothing more than a sobering rhetorical device used to expose and emphasize their complete lack of readiness to receive the very Kingdom about which they are asking. In other words, Jesus is warning them NOT to ask for something they are not yet capable or ready to receive.
 
Here is the key point. We must let the Spirit translate all parables for us, helping us know which perfect facts to focus on and which flawed facts to leave behind. Just as we crack the shell off of a nut before eating it, or remove the skin off an orange before consuming it, so too do we need to remove the “human husks” off the parables before we use them to define the character of God.
 
The fact that many parables contain violent, petty, unjust and wrathful rulers does NOT mean that God is likewise violent, petty, violent and wrathful. Jesus used flawed humanity, warts and all, to make heavenly points. Like with many Old Testament passages, we must let Jesus alone excavate, elevate and illuminate the character of God.
 
Jesus acknowledged that parables do NOT speak clearly to the human mind (Mark 4:10-12). So, why would we PRIORITIZE less-clear parabolic statements by Jesus over the more numerous and perfectly clear statements He makes concerning His Father’s nature. The most compelling statement by Jesus regarding His Father’s nature occurs in Matthew 5:38-48.
 
In verse 48, Jesus exhorts us to, “THEREFORE be perfect as our Heavenly Father is perfect.” And to what does the “THEREFORE” refer? Clearly, to the previous ten verses which explain the Father’s perfection. This passage paints the Father as a God who always: “turns the other other cheek” when attacked, “walks the extra mile” when “asked,” gives the “extra coat” to help the needy, endlessly “lends” to those who “ask,” generously “blesses” all those who “curse Him,” fervently “loves” all His enemies, does “good” to His “haters,” and passionately “prays” for those who “despitefully use and persecute” Him.
 
The Father generously sends His healing “sunlight” on “both the good and the evil,” and He sends His replenishing “rain” on “the just and the unjust.” Do you see? This Sermon on the Mount passage is the Father’s perfection CLEARLY stated by Jesus. Don’t ever use a less-clear parabolic passage to trump a more-clear expository passage, particularly when it comes to defining the character of God.
 
Second, as an alternate reading, when we consider this Parable OF THE TEN MINAS allegorically, which it IS on its face, we must remember to internalize, internalize and internalize. If this king is going to be executing rebels at the fulness of His coming, then what “kind” of rebels? How about rebellious thoughts, rebellious ideas, rebellious emotions, rebellious lusts, rebellious impulses, rebellious mindsets and rebellious heart-sets. How about any rebellious thing in our inner psyche which hinders us for fully knowing, loving and following God? What if the REBELS described in various parables were, in truth, figurative descriptions of debilitating dynamics which pollute our inner promised land, dynamics which are the ONLY legitimate objects of righteous violence?
 
Is this reading compatible with New Testament teaching? Oh yes. Again I cite these three passages for reflection. Read them carefully. There is not ONE endorsement found here for ANY kind of physical violence against ANY human foe at ANY given time in ANY given situation. In fact, as the verses below show, a major part of our battle is in enduring physical assaults and privations from human others WITHOUT responding in kind.
 
“For though we live as human beings, we do NOT wage war according to human standards, for the weapons of our warfare are NOT human weapons, but are made powerful by God for tearing down strongholds. We tear down arguments and every arrogant obstacle that is raised up against the knowledge of God, and we take every thought captive to make it obey Christ.” 1 Corinthians 10:3-5.
 
“Now I rejoice , not that ye were made sorry , but that ye sorrowed to repentance : for ye were made sorry after a godly manner , that ye might receive damage by us in nothing . For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of : but the sorrow of the world worketh death . For behold this selfsame thing , that ye sorrowed after a godly sort , what carefulness it wrought in you , yea , what clearing of yourselves , yea , what indignation , yea , what fear , yea , what vehement desire , yea , what zeal , yea , what REVENGE ! In all things ye have approved yourselves to be clear in this matter.” 2 Corinthians 7:10-11.
 
“For he saith , I have heard thee in a time accepted , and in the day of salvation have I succoured thee : behold , now is the accepted time ; behold , now is the day of salvation. Giving no offence in any thing , that the ministry be not blamed : But in all things approving ourselves as the ministers of God , in much patience , in afflictions , in necessities , in distresses , In stripes , in imprisonments , in tumults , in labours , in watchings , in fastings ; By pureness , by knowledge , by longsuffering , by kindness , by the Holy Ghost , by love unfeigned , By the word of truth , by the power of God , by the ARMOR OF RIGHTEOUSNESS on the right hand and on the left , By honour and dishonour , by evil report and good report : as deceivers , and yet true ; As unknown , and yet well known ; as dying , and , behold , we live ; as chastened , and not killed ; As sorrowful , yet alway rejoicing ; as poor , yet making many rich ; as having nothing , and yet possessing all things.” 2 Corinthians 6:2-10.
 
Jesus was clear that PHYSICAL VIOLENCE was taboo and not a part of His divine nature. But He was just as clear that SPIRITUAL VIOLENCE takes the Kingdom of God by storm. Matthew 11:12.
 
What is SPIRITUAL VIOLENCE? It is the interior focused “Samson Spirit” which is so missing from the body of Christ today. It is the refusal to surrender, the will to fight and not go down, the courage to fight against all odds until the enemy gates are removed. We are called to endure hardness as a good soldier of Jesus Christ, to fight the GOOD FIGHT of faith, to put on the FULL ARMOR of God, and to fill our hands with weapons of righteousness in our right hand and in our left. 2 Timothy 2:3-4, 2 Corinthians 6:7, Ephesians 6:10-17.
 
It is the faith-fueled guts of an armored spiritual warrior to STAND AND CONTEND not only against Satan along with his fallen principalities and powers, but also against all our OWN personal Philistines of doubt, worry, disease, oppression and fear. We don’t fight against flesh and blood, but we do fight.
 
4) A THOUGHT EXPERIMENT ON NON-VIOLENCE AS A WEAPON SYSTEM
 
What if I told you that a master weapon had been discovered that would forever defeat our enemies with absolutely no loss of human life?
What if I told you that to develop this weapon, we would first need to commit a significant investment of time and effort, along with a significant risk that some of the workers would be killed during the developmental process?
 
What if I told you that eventually this weapon would render every other form of weapon obsolete and useless? In fact, what if I told you that it would render ALL war useless and inoperative?
 
Would you invest?
 
Would you commit?
 
Would you accept the risk?
 
Would you put your whole being into this process?
 
Of course you would. Just as countless resources were invested and risks taken in developing our nuclear arsenal, so too would “carte blanche” resources be granted toward the ultimate weapon I am proposing.
 
Now, what if I told you that this new secret weapon was……. the human heart which refuses to retaliate with violence, instead exercising only peace, love and blessing toward all enemies?
 
Wait a minute! Is blessing our enemies actually a weapon that ultimately overcomes them?
 
Well, Jesus said so.
 
Perhaps we need to look at the way of non-violence as a superior weapons system that just needs massive commitment and development.
 
But, won’t many people die as this perfect weapon is developed? Possibly yes, but if so, they will be martyrs for the greatest cause in history.
 
Now, I freely admit this a tough topic to navigate. Below is the question that always jumps to the forefront.
 
“What would you do if intruders attacked you and your family? Wouldn’t you use deadly force to protect them?”
 
Who knows for sure what they would do, so, to a degree, it’s an unknowable hypothetical.
 
“But shouldn’t we defend ourselves and others from attackers?”
 
Well, Jesus was attacked by stoning mobs several times, but just supernaturally slipped through their midst every time without ever striking back. He also intervened to keep another from being stoned to death by a killing mob, but without committing violence Himself. He said those who live by the sword die by the sword, so it’s hard to use Him as a positive model for advocating violence.
 
But we have to be honest that Jesus operated in a supernatural worldview by which He relied on angelic and other forms of supernatural protection, what I like to refer to as Psalm 91 protection. This explains how Jesus supernaturally avoided harm without ever committing violence Himself. And He said we would do the same and greater works than He did.
 
The problem is that few today have that supernatural worldview. Without it, we either defend ourselves or die– those are the only two options. But with a supernatural cosmology, we can be ably protected from harm by others through angelic and other divine dynamics, none of which require violence on our part.
 
Divine protection is left largely unplumbed and unclaimed as a “forgotten benefit” of our “so great a salvation.”
 
But, I agree that if one does not have a worldview of faith which allows, relies and consents to supernatural resources, then self-defense becomes the only alternative to death.
 
I just believe that there is a third option. But, I do readily admit few believe “in” or “for” that third option. When that number DOES change from “few” to “many,” the Church will go into orbital glory!
 
God’s protective power, when catalyzed by faith, forms a protective and energizing shield around us. This shield has been called “Job’s hedge” (Job 1:10), “the secret place of the most high” (Ps. 91:1), and the “full armour of God” (Eph. 6:13-17).
 
Jesus continually lived in this protective shield because He trusted his Father for it. Jesus’ three-year ministry was His incredibly hazardous. Consider this: the religious Jews sought to throw Jesus off a cliff, “But passing through the midst of them he went away” (Lk. 4:28-30); “sought to destroy Him” (Lk. 19:14); they sought to stone him but be escaped “through the midst of them, and so passed by.” (Jn. 8:59); “sought to kill him” (Jn. 7:1); sought to slay him (Jn. 5:16); sought to capture him “but he escaped out of their hand” (Jn. 10:39); and manhunted him continually (Jn. 11:57).
 
Yet, Jesus’ enemies could not penetrate His divine hedge until Jesus willingly laid His life down by taking our sins to bear on the cross. Isn’t it remarkable that all His enemies were out canvassing to kill Him, but Jesus continued to minister out in public places right under their noses WITHOUT ever being harmed or without ever using violence Himself. They simply couldn’t gain access to Him because of His Psalm 91 shield.
 
Jesus could boldly say as the end approached, “The prince of this world cometh and hath nothing in me.” (Jn. 14:30)– no access to afflict in other words. Jesus was even forewarned about Judas’ betrayal so that it could have been avoided. Jesus chose for the hedge to be removed.
 
When an army of soldiers came to arrest Jesus, He told His disciples that, “Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels?” Matt. 26:53.
 
What a wonderful scripture for the power of prayer! Angels harken en masse to answer the prayers of the righteous.
 
But having this power at His disposal, Jesus chose to not exercise it so that he could lay His life down for us. No man or devil took it from Him. (Jn. 10:18).
 
Now what’s wrong with asking the question, “What would you do if someone were about to kill your family?”
 
Well, asking me ahead of time what I would hypothetically do if God FAILED to show up to protect my family, or lead us away to safety, is a bit of an unblessed question because it PRESUMES abandonment by God.
 
So, me deciding that I would kill another human being in self-defense is based on the flawed presumption that I THINK I have a perfect knowledge of the future as to what will happen if I DON’T shoot the arms and legs off my attackers before they actually make physical contact with me or my family.
 
How on earth could we EVER know, with certainty, the exact point we are to “officially” give up on God’s intervention and instead start flooding the airwaves with a bullet binge? Do you see? That’s really unknowable. What’s really being asked here is, “At what point do we give up on God’s intervening rescue?”
 
But, again, that is an unblessed question. The Lord’s deliverances work in different ways at different times. Mark 16:18 promises poison and snake bites (i.e. afflictions) won’t harm us.
 
Paul was actually bitten by a snake, and then shook it off into the fire with no ill effect on himself. But, what if Paul had panicked and disengaged his faith when he first got bitten? What if Paul had reasoned that because God didn’t warn him in advance so that he could have avoided the painful snakebite, that therefore Paul should take matters into his own hands. Paul might have then sprinted away in panic trying to find the best medical herbs or anti-venom of the day. But Paul didn’t do this at all. He instead remained stedfast and merely “shook off” the snakebite in faith. I am certainly not saying that we shouldn’t take medicine for illnesses. But in emergency situations, we CAN rely on God’s protective intervention. It IS an option.
 
Sometimes we ARE warned in advance of the snake or poison so we can avoid it. But, OTHER times, the snake painfully bites us and the poison enters our system. Yet, at these times, our faith can still keeps us from being harmed by the poison or venom.
 
God didn’t promise we would never be “bitten” by affliction, but He did promise we would never be “harmed” by it if we fight the good fight of faith. “Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you.” Lk.10:19.
 
What works for snake bites surely works for bullets. Christian testimonies (by missionaries, soldiers and others) abound of jammed guns, point blank misses, curved bullet paths, and other such protective supernatural phenomena. Of course these testimonies are largely anecdotal, but spontaneous miracles usually are.
 
In Matthew 5:38-48, I don’t see Jesus saying being perfect like His heavenly Abba is perfect includes blowing our enemies heads off their shoulders. Whatever we decide to do, faith has to come before fear. The problem with a policy of justified violence is that it puts fear ahead of faith.
 
I certainly appreciate soldiers’ and law enforcement officers’ brave willingness to put themselves into harms way, but I don’t advocate that anybody being killed is EVER God’s protective best for a situation– not now, not ever. There is a higher way.
 
The zealots of Jesus’ day were expecting a GI Joe killer Jesus with an Israeli flag in one hand and a throat-slitting sword in the other.
What they got was the Lamb of God. And they were mad because He wouldn’t back their killing ways. And many today tend to get mad too when somebody criticizes our killing ways.
 
This isn’t a patriotic thing but a Jesus thing. We are told by Him NOT to live by the sword because He will protect us another way. And if we feel the call to refuse the Lord’s deliverance and lay our life down in maximum impact as a martyr, then, as Paul said, to die is gain.
 
Again, this choice is extremely personal and everyone must walk their own path. I would never condemn anybody for defending somebody under attack. I just hope those who DO believe in physical retaliation also wouldn’t condemn others who choose to walk a different and non-violent path.
I just believe there is a higher way waiting to be “rediscovered” by the sons and daughters of God. And I can’t even say what I would do with certainty. But I do have an ideal at which I would hopefully aim. So, I am merely advocating here for another option to consider. Then let each of us act as we hear the Spirit lead.
 
5) SHOULD CHRISTIANS USE VIOLENCE TO DEFEND THEMSELVES?
 
“What would you do if intruders attacked you and your family? Wouldn’t you use deadly force to protect them?”
 
Who knows for sure what they would do, so, to a degree, it’s an unknowable hypothetical.
 
“But shouldn’t we defend ourselves and others from attackers?”
 
Well, Jesus was attacked by stoning mobs several times, but just supernaturally slipped through their midst every time without ever striking back. He also intervened to keep another from being stoned to death by a killing mob, but without committing violence Himself. He said those who live by the sword die by the sword, so it’s hard to use Him as a positive model for advocating violence.
 
But we have to be honest that Jesus operated in a supernatural worldview by which He relied on angelic and other forms of supernatural protection, what I like to refer to as Psalm 91 protection. This explains how Jesus supernaturally avoided harm without ever committing violence Himself. And He said we would do the same and greater works than He did.
 
The problem is that few today have that supernatural worldview. Without it, we either defend ourselves or die– those are the only two options. But with a supernatural cosmology, we can be ably protected from harm by others through angelic and other divine dynamics, none of which require violence on our part.
 
Divine protection is left largely unplumbed and unclaimed as a “forgotten benefit” of our “so great a salvation.”
But, I agree that if one does not have a worldview of faith which allows, relies and consents to supernatural resources, then self-defense becomes the only alternative to death.
 
I just believe that there is a third option. But, I do readily admit few believe “in” or “for” that third option. When that number DOES change from “few” to “many,” the Church will go into orbital glory!
 
God’s protective power, when catalyzed by faith, forms a protective and energizing shield around us. This shield has been called “Job’s hedge” (Job 1:10), “the secret place of the most high” (Ps. 91:1), and the “full armour of God” (Eph. 6:13-17).
 
Jesus continually lived in this protective shield because He trusted his Father for it. Jesus’ three-year ministry was His incredibly hazardous. Consider this: the religious Jews sought to throw Jesus off a cliff, “But passing through the midst of them he went away” (Lk. 4:28-30); “sought to destroy Him” (Lk. 19:14); they sought to stone him but be escaped “through the midst of them, and so passed by.” (Jn. 8:59); “sought to kill him” (Jn. 7:1); sought to slay him (Jn. 5:16); sought to capture him “but he escaped out of their hand” (Jn. 10:39); and manhunted him continually (Jn. 11:57).
 
Yet, Jesus’ enemies could not penetrate His divine hedge until Jesus willingly laid His life down by taking our sins to bear on the cross. Isn’t it remarkable that all His enemies were out canvassing to kill Him, but Jesus continued to minister out in public places right under their noses WITHOUT ever being harmed or without ever using violence Himself. They simply couldn’t gain access to Him because of His Psalm 91 shield.
 
Jesus could boldly say as the end approached, “The prince of this world cometh and hath nothing in me.” (Jn. 14:30)– no access to afflict in other words. Jesus was even forewarned about Judas’ betrayal so that it could have been avoided. Jesus chose for the hedge to be removed.
 
When an army of soldiers came to arrest Jesus, He told His disciples that, “Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels?” Matt. 26:53.
 
What a wonderful scripture for the power of prayer! Angels harken en masse to answer the prayers of the righteous.
 
But having this power at His disposal, Jesus chose to not exercise it so that he could lay His life down for us. No man or devil took it from Him. (Jn. 10:18).
 
Now what’s wrong with asking the question, “What would you do if someone were about to kill your family?”
 
Well, asking me ahead of time what I would hypothetically do if God FAILED to show up to protect my family, or lead us away to safety, is a bit of an unblessed question because it PRESUMES abandonment by God.
 
So, me deciding that I would kill another human being in self-defense is based on the flawed presumption that I THINK I have a perfect knowledge of the future as to what will happen if I DON’T shoot the arms and legs off my attackers before they actually make physical contact with me or my family.
 
How on earth could we EVER know, with certainty, the exact point we are to “officially” give up on God’s intervention and instead start flooding the airwaves with a bullet binge? Do you see? That’s really unknowable. What’s really being asked here is, “At what point do we give up on God’s intervening rescue?”
 
But, again, that is an unblessed question. The Lord’s deliverances work in different ways at different times. Mark 16:18 promises poison and snake bites (i.e. afflictions) won’t harm us.
 
Paul was actually bitten by a snake, and then shook it off into the fire with no ill effect on himself. But, what if Paul had panicked and disengaged his faith when he first got bitten? What if Paul had reasoned that because God didn’t warn him in advance so that he could have avoided the painful snakebite, that therefore Paul should take matters into his own hands. Paul might have then sprinted away in panic trying to find the best medical herbs or anti-venom of the day. But Paul didn’t do this at all. He instead remained stedfast and merely “shook off” the snakebite in faith. I am certainly not saying that we shouldn’t take medicine for illnesses. But in emergency situations, we CAN rely on God’s protective intervention. It IS an option.
 
Sometimes we ARE warned in advance of the snake or poison so we can avoid it. But, OTHER times, the snake painfully bites us and the poison enters our system. Yet, at these times, our faith can still keeps us from being harmed by the poison or venom.
 
God didn’t promise we would never be “bitten” by affliction, but He did promise we would never be “harmed” by it if we fight the good fight of faith. “Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you.” Lk.10:19.
 
What works for snake bites surely works for bullets. Christian testimonies (by missionaries, soldiers and others) abound of jammed guns, point blank misses, curved bullet paths, and other such protective supernatural phenomena. Of course these testimonies are largely anecdotal, but spontaneous miracles usually are.
 
In Matthew 5:38-48, I don’t see Jesus saying being perfect like His heavenly Abba is perfect includes blowing our enemies heads off their shoulders. Whatever we decide to do, faith has to come before fear. The problem with a policy of justified violence is that it puts fear ahead of faith.
 
I certainly appreciate soldiers’ and law enforcement officers’ brave willingness to put themselves into harms way, but I don’t advocate that anybody being killed is EVER God’s protective best for a situation– not now, not ever. There is a higher way.
 
The zealots of Jesus’ day were expecting a GI Joe killer Jesus with an Israeli flag in one hand and a throat-slitting sword in the other.
What they got was the Lamb of God. And they were mad because He wouldn’t back their killing ways. And many today tend to get mad too when somebody criticizes our killing ways.
 
This isn’t a patriotic thing but a Jesus thing. We are told by Him NOT to live by the sword because He will protect us another way. And if we feel the call to refuse the Lord’s deliverance and lay our life down in maximum impact as a martyr, then, as Paul said, to die is gain.
 
Again, this choice is extremely personal and everyone must walk their own path. I would never condemn anybody for defending somebody under attack. I just hope those who DO believe in physical retaliation also wouldn’t condemn others who choose to walk a different and non-violent path.
I just believe there is a higher way waiting to be “rediscovered” by the sons and daughters of God. And I can’t even say what I would do with certainty. But I do have an ideal at which I would hopefully aim. So, I am merely advocating here for another option to consider. Then let each of us act as we hear the Spirit lead.
 
6) I think Walter Wink, in his Engaging the Powers books, did a great job dismissing the legitimacy of violence for the Christian in his chapter “On Becoming the Thing You Hate.” Here he vividly notes how retaliatory violence often deforms those who commit it into becoming clones of the original perpetrator. Hitler was the first to ever bomb civilian cities, but then Churchill “amped it up” big time by committing civilian bombings on much wider scales.
 
Finally, as the ultimate response to Pearl Harbor, America drops an atomic bomb on two civilian cities incinerating and irradiating tens of thousands of children, women and civilian men. Japan was willing to surrender during this nuclear siege, just not unconditionally. Moreover, off shore demonstrations were urged by some rather than direct civilian bombing as a “shot across the bow” which might have eliminated the need for these atomic bombs to mercilessly melt the flesh off so many women and children.
 
I don’t judge these men making these decisions at all. They were under immense pressure and were, by any fair reckoning, definitely choosing what they believed to be the lesser of two evils. But, it is necessary to consider the effects of violence not only on the victim, but also the psyches of both the perpetrator-nation and the perpetrator-individual. It’s not about judging anybody. It’s about evolving to higher states of spiritual awareness.
 
Do we have to become like our enemy in order to defeat him? What good is it if we violently gain the world, but lose our own soul in the process?
 
Scripture says the. Lord did not allow David could not build the Temple because he was a man of war and violence. These are worthy matters to consider. Out of them flow the issues of life.