Blog Archives

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

remixing romans 13: overcoming imperial zombification

1Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that
exist have been instituted by God. 2Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. 3For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, 4for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. 5Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience. 6For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. 7 Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.


Following the assassination of Osama bin Laden, and my subsequent reflections, I was confronted with numerous comments and questions regarding the above passage from Romans 13. One friend commented that, in light of this passage, he thought armed intervention was completely within the scope of government as taught the New Testament.

What I offer here is not a criticism of my friends, but a challenge to the way we read passages like Romans 13. Read the rest of this entry

maher: if you rejoice in revenge, torture and war… you’re not a christian

Sometimes Christians need to pay attention to the prophetic voices outside the Church…

Bill Maher: If You Celebrated Bin Laden’s Death, You’re Not Really a Christian

Make sure to watch the clip at the end of the post, which should confront the Western Church’s collusion with empire.

MCA

nonviolence wins

India’s government ordered up strong anti-corruption legislation on Saturday after a 73-year-old activist went on a four-day hunger strike and inspired a nationwide protest movement against graft.

I know this is a month old, but since nonviolence has been a major theme on this blog in recent weeks, I thought I would post it since most people would not have had a chance to hear about it.

In India, 73-year-old Anna Hazare began a hunger strike aimed at seeing government anti-corruption legislation passed. more details can be found below:

Hunger Strike Focuses Anger on Indian Corruption
Activist Ends Fast as India Pledges to Fight Graft

Hazare’s campaign has garnered support from all over India and the world:


Beautiful.

Powerful.

MCA

hating your enemy: the bin laden episode

In the hours following the announcement of the killing of the world’s most wanted terrorist, Osama bin Laden, it takes but a few mouse clicks to peruse countless comments on Twitter and Facebook by Christians who unashamedly celebrate his death.

I will do you a favour and not publish some of the awful comments I have read, some from well-known Christian pastors and authors.

The pictures are enough. In the news we have seen images of celebrations pouring into American streets, assumedly including Christians. These are a sad reflection of how far many Christians have moved from the teachings of Jesus, having replaced them with nationalistic zeal.

This is in now way intended to defend the past action of bin Laden. It is however to say that Christians need to rethink what Jesus might have to say about our enemies. Read the rest of this entry

lest we forget, best we regret

As we remember the sacrifice of fallen soldiers past, let us also remember that their deaths should not have been.

This year Anzac Day falls almost exactly on Easter. Both celebrations, in their own way, have attained an iconic status. However the buying of chocolate eggs, going on a long weekend holiday, playing two-up, buying a badge and getting drunk seem to be inadequate ways of remembering and reflecting on both events… Read the rest of this entry

the crucified (nonviolent) God

As Easter comes upon us for another year, and we think about the death and resurrection of Jesus, we must ask, what does this event mean for us here, today?

Atemporal “answers” aside, 2011 has been a year, among other things, of great political turbulence across the globe.

War, uprisings, rebellion, and violence have been a hallmark of human history, but seem to be especially concentrated at this stage of the historical drama (at least as far as we know).

Without naming specific conflicts, what does the death and resurrection of Jesus mean for a world seemingly overflowing with violence? Read the rest of this entry

just war, or just plain war?

“I’m driven with a mission from God. God would tell me, ‘George, go and fight those terrorists in Afghanistan.’ And I did, and then God would tell me, ‘George go and end the tyranny in Iraq,’ and I did.”
– George W. Bush

“We should invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity. We weren’t punctilious about locating and punishing only Hitler and his top officers. We carpet-bombed German cities; we killed civilians. That’s war. And this is war.”
– Ann Coulter

“A good butt-whipping and then a prayer is a wonderful remedy.”
– Fob James, Former Governor of Alabama

“AIDS is the wrath of a just God against homosexuals. To oppose it would be like an Israelite jumping in the Red Sea to save one of Pharoah’s chariotters.”
– Jerry Falwell

“There is only one way to get rid of nuclear weapons… use them.”
– Rush Limbaugh

“Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”
– Jesus in Luke 23:34

By all accounts, the life of Jesus paints a picture whereby the terms justice and violence fit together about as well as two corner pieces of a puzzle or two pieces of hook velcro. Yet Christians have, throughout history, engaged in horrifically violent activities.

It really does boggle the mind how the life of Jesus can be so ignored by people who claim to follow him. Despite the fact that the Sermon on the Mount is an incredibly non-violent manifesto, many Christians today still insist that violence is the way forward in our world.

Imagine it… violence bringing peace…
Read the rest of this entry

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