THERE IS NO PACIFISM IN THE BIBLE
The late Revd Bertrand L Comparet, AB., J.D.(USA)
IT IS reported that a Hindu recently undertook to rebuke all the Christian nations, by asking "How can you reconcile Jesus' doctrine of non-resistance with your military armament, and with the wars you fight from time to time? Which of you will retum good for evil?" In speaking thus, the Hindu smugly gloated over what he thought was an inconsistency between our religion and our national conduct. Unfortunately, there are even some Christians who are so ignorant of their own religion that they become embarrassed at such accusations, and feel that we must be guilty of inconsistency, even of wrongdoing. The Hindus' ignorance we can forgive, as he knows nothing of our religion beyond a few phrases quoted out of context; but it is time for Christians to learn more about what they claim as their own religion. We could ask the Hindu, in return, how he can reconcile Premier Nehru's aggressive attack upon Portuguese Goa, which Portugal has held since the year 1510 - how can he reconcile this aggressive warfare with Nehru's lofty proclamations of his devotion to peace - that is, whenever "peace" consists of, leaving White Men in slavery.
But we shall not be content to point out inconsistencies in the attitude of the Hindus. I want to prove to you today that our own conduct is not inconsistent with our religion. In the first place, it is false to speak of Jesus' 'doctrine of non-resistance.' In John 2:13-16, the Beloved Disciple reports that the first act of Jesus Christ's ministry in the city of Jerusalem was to make a whip of ropes and flog the moneychangers out of the court of the Temple. Does this look like non-resistance, cringing submission to the triumph of evil? Indeed not! Nor was this all: Matthew 21:12-13 and Mark 11:15-17 both record that He repeated this cleansing of the Temple of the evil antiChristians who infested it, during the last week before His crucifixion. Jesus Christ, Himself, never tolerated evil, never consented that it should be allowed to remain triumphant rather than to resist it. Only in His crucifixion did He allow the forces of evil to have their way: and this was not through any doctrine of non-resistance to evil, but only to fulfil the purpose for which He had assumed a human body. He came here for the express purpose of meeting death to pay the penalty for our sins, in order to save us; if He had not submitted to crucifixion, His purpose to save us would not have been accomplished. For this reason only did He submit, and not because He ever believed in letting evil triumph without resistance.
But someone will say, "What about Matthew 5:38-39?"
"Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: But I say unto you That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also."
No, there is no inconsistency here, either. This advice was never given to the nation, that we should surrender to China and leave the world in slavery. It was given only to individuals - and to particular individuals, at that. Jesus was preaching to bring His truths before all who had the qualities to respond to Him and would become His disciples: these would be that first generation of Christians whose responsibility above all else was to spread His word, without being distracted by petty quarrels with other people.
They were to face ridicule, contempt and hatred; every day they would be given provocation by insults and injuries. If they let themselves react with natural anger, they would be in constant quarrels and fights; they would be constantly arrested and in jail, not as noble martyrs to a great cause, but as brawlers constantly fighting in the streets over personal quarrels - which would not be a good recommendation for the new religion of Christianity. Even if they did not fight, but looked to the law to vindicate their rights, this would make them spend all their time and energy in lawsuits instead of their missionary work. This was not the duty of the early Christians. But that He did not intend that they should tamely let themselves be slaughtered by ruffians is clear: In Luke 22:36, He told His disciples that "he that had no sword should sell his cloak and buy one."
So many erroneous religious doctrines come from the mistake of taking out of context words spoken for a certain time and place, and trying to make universal, eternal rules of them. In Matthew 14:19 and Mark 6:39, when Jesus Christ was about to feed the multitude with a few loaves and fishes, we read that "He commanded the multitudes to sit down on the grass." This certainly doesn't mean that it is a Christian's duty to go around making people sit down on the grass: it was spoken only to meet the special circumstances of a particular time and place and no-one should try to make a doctrine of it. So also with Jesus Christ's instructions to the early Christians to stick to the job for which He had chosen them, and not waste time quarrelling with the wicked. But don't ever think that, if you see some ruffian trying to rape your wife or daughter you should merely stand around murmuring pious platitudes about the desirability of good conduct. Your duty - and I do mean DUTY- as a good Christian is to stop him if you have to kill him to do it.
So much for the individual. But this Hindu was trying to place Christian nations (not Nehru's India, nor China) under the individual's restrictions. God always distinguished between the rules for the individual and the rules for the nation. Particularly is this true of the Laws of War.It is only when we have been guilty of evil conduct and disloyalty to our God that He has allowed wicked nations to oppress us until we repented of our evil ways; then He has Himself used us as His own servant and agent to make war against those wicked nations. He began our training in this early: when our ancestors came out of Egypt in the Exodus, they were attacked by the Amalekites. For this, God said that He would have war with Amalek from generation to generation until He had utterly blotted out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven.- and this duty He commanded His people Israel to perform, as we read In Exodus 17:14-16 and Deuteronomy 25:17-19. But that is only the beginning: in Jeremiah 51:20, God Himself said to our ancestors and to us, their descendants,
"Thou art My battle axe and weapons of war: and with thee will I break in pieces the nations; and with thee will I destroy kingdoms."
Is there anything pacifistic about that? Evil must not be allowed to rule the earth in triumph. To those who are good, you can speak in a language they understand, the language of peace and reason. But to those who are utterly evil, you must also speak in the only language they understand. Russia and China can't understand platitudes; they can understand superior force.
Again, we read in the seventh chapter of Judges how God sent Gideon, with but 300 men, to deliver Israel from the huge army of the Midianites; and he routed the Midianites with the slaughter of 120,000 men. We are clearly told that this was by "the sword of the Lord and of Gideon."
Neither let yourself be misled by someone quoting, "they that take the sword shall perish by the sword." Note that this speaks of TWO swords: the sword of the aggressor, who shall perish by the sword of the defender.
Lest anyone should say that this is only a characteristic of earthly men, a relic of the past, and that we should look forward to a higher, nobler character to be attained in the future, let us examine the Book of Revelation, in its description of Jesus Christ when He returns to reign over all the world as King of Kings and Lord of Lords. In Revelation 19:11, it says of Jesus Christ that "In righteousness He doth judge and MAKE WAR." Jesus Christ, Himself, recognizes that there can never be "peaceful co-existence" between good and evil: one must certainly conquer, the other must certainly perish; if good has not the will and the courage to be the conqueror, then evil will rule supreme. So long as evil exists, there will be wars: the wars of evil's aggression against good, until good conquers and exterminates evil; and this last great war to wipe out evil will be led by no less a general than our Redeemer, Jesus Christ.When He comes, let Him find you, not hiding under the bed in abject terror, but marching resolutely in the ranks of His army.
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