Monthly Archives: June 2011

Q&R: jesus and violence in the book of revelation

A life.remixed reader writes (in the comments section of my post Who Would Jesus Whip?):

Hey Matt,
Thanks for this post. I’ve really enjoyed reading your blog and appreciate your perspective on a number of issues, particularly this one, as your view is quite different to mine.
My question (not a trick one I should point out) is how you reconcile the image of the non-violent Jesus of the Gospels with the recurrently violent image of Him portrayed in Revelation?
Here is an example of what I’m talking about…

Revelation 19:11
“I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and wages war.” (NIV)

My point is that if Jesus’ character is one of non-violent resistance, must that not consistently be His character throughout the ages? Are you arguing that He is specifically calling us to model His non-violent attitude demonstrated in the Gospels but ignore (or at least disregard for the moment) His violent responses in other parts of the Bible (in a Deuteronomy 32:35 sense)?

This certainly gets back to your point about what constitutes violence. I definitely read a correlation between Jesus’ violence and His perfect justice…an aspect that we certainly lack.
This may be a subject for another post, but would love to know your thoughts. Read the rest of this entry

“bogan” racism? the raquel moore episode


SBS’s “Go Back To Where You Came From” has been that channel’s most successful project this year, reaching the worldwide top Twitter trending topics list two nights in a row (with the third episode airing tonight).

The idea is creative and brilliant – a documentary/social experiment/reality show all rolled into one. It harnesses the power of story over purely cognitive rhetoric, which has seemingly failed to change minds, and generally does not wield such transformative power (a reality that articles like this seem completely blind to).

On Twitter the confronting subject matter regarding refugees is not the only thing making waves; indeed one participant has become a Tweeting topic in her own right.

Raquel Moore has appeared across the Twitterverse, often coupled with labels like “bogan”, “ignorant” and other less repeatable companions.

True, Raquel did confess to being a racist in the first episode. Equally true is that after two episodes she does not seem to have shown any indication of changing her bigoted stance.

There is however still one episode to go.

For that reason it may be too early to comment. However something should be said about the name-calling that has gone on in the last two days. Read the rest of this entry

who would jesus whip? the temple cleansing episode

A recent conversation with a good friend left us in square disagreement about the validity of violence for Christians.

My perspective, which I have frequently made known on this blog, was that violence was out of the question for Christians. Indeed, even if one were to accept that God commanded violence in the Old Testament (most do, I am not so sure…), we must take seriously Jesus’ words in Matthew 5:38-39a:

You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, Do not (violently*) resist the one who is evil.

My friend responded by stating that he thought Jesus was violent; in the story of the cleansing of the temple Jesus seems to act violently when he fashions a whip, which is unique to John’s version: Read the rest of this entry

mark, the cross & the spiral of violence

Occasionally a quote is worth posting. This is one of those times.

In reference to Mark’s Gospel and its rhetoric toward contemporaneous rebels who violently faced off against Rome in the Jewish-Roman war of 66-70CE, Ched Myers writes:

Yes, says Mark to the rebels, our movement stands with you in your resistance to Rome; after all, our leader was crucified between two of your compatriots (15:27). Our nonviolent resistance demands no less of us than does your guerilla war ask of you – to reckon with death. But we ask something more: a heroism of the cross, not the sword. We cannot beat the strong man at his own game. We must attack his very foundations: we must render his presumed lordship over our lives impotent. You consider the cross a sign of defeat. We take it up “as a witness against them,” a witness to the revolutionary power of nonviolent resistance (13:9b). Join us therefore in our struggle to put an end to the spiral of violence and oppression, that Yahweh’s reign may truly dawn (9:1). (Binding the Strong Man, 2008: 431)

Indeed, if “Satan cannot cast out Satan,” and darkness cannot cast out darkness, how can violence cast out violence? Read the rest of this entry

jesus: fanatic or bourgeois?

Recently I had the pleasure of being referred to as a fanatic. In a negative way. By another Christian.

From a pulpit.

Luckily I (ironically) took it as a complement.

The comment was made by a young pastor in reference to my quasi-activism (I can’t really refer to myself as an activist, it would do a great disservice to those who really do go out life and limb in their activism for causes they believe in.)

This experience got me thinking about the Jesus-es that people follow. For example, which Jesus does this young pastor follow? And indeed, which Jesus do I follow? Read the rest of this entry

martha & mary: jesus the feminist & the destruction of privatised religion

Well-trodden.

That’s probably the adjective I would use to describe Luke 10:38-42, otherwise known as the story of Martha and Mary.

It would be an understatement to say that much has been written about this passage, particularly at a popular level. Music (“worship”) leaders love it! Martha, it is said, thinks the appropriate response to Jesus being present in her house is working, or serving – cleaning, cooking, whatever domestic duty the interpreter conjures up.

Mary on the other hand is said to really get what Jesus wants, which is to sit at his feet and listen – to be rather than to do.

This is a reading that has featured in middle class interpretation, and it suffices to legitimate a split-level faith in which being and doing can be separated, as can private and public religion, or faith (Mary) and works (Martha).

The problem is that this is not what the story is about. Read the rest of this entry

%d bloggers like this: