Applied Biblical Theology, Part 2
Originally posted on the Townhall Interface blog on November 6, 2006. See Part 1 for introductory comments.
Setting the Stage, Act 2
In Part 1, we saw how liberals will attempt to shut down criticism of their positions by quoting Jesus’ admonition to not judge. We also saw that they could only do so by ignoring both the context of the passage and several other relevant verses that require a different understanding of the original verse. Here in Part 2, we will see the same strategies being attempted again with the same invalid and even more disastrous results.
Resist Not Evil?
As this was more of a side point, there is less to quote from our liberal commentor on this topic. However, what is said is clear enough and is, indeed, representative of one of the major tenets in the philosophy of liberalism.
As for the war/peace; I am aware that war is part of the human condition. Does that make it right? There is a good reason that Jesus said for us to resist not evil. Because it is in our attempts at resisting evil that we begin to emulate evil. And then we lose our souls.
Your soul is more valuable than your life, and you should behave thusly. It is better to submit to God’s will, to trust in God, than it is live a long life. Better die than to kill.
Jesus did, indeed, tell us to "resist not evil," (Matthew 5:39) but was He saying we are not to resist all evil? Context is again the key, in this case, just the rest of the verse would be sufficient, but here’s the whole thing:
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. And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also. And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain. Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away. (Matthew 5:38-42)
What evil was Jesus saying we should not resist as defined by the context? Let’s see: someone slapping you on the cheek, someone suing you for your clothing on your back, someone forcing extra effort on your part without pay and for their benefit, and someone asking a loan from you. Did anyone see there anything about someone wanting, not to slap your cheek, but to separate your cheek from the rest of your body? Jesus is clearly talking about personal revenge, not self defense, or even national defense.
This is confirmed by the first sentence of this passage where Jesus is pointing to an Old Testament principle (Exo 21:23-25, et al.) that was originally for judges but had been misappropriated by the Jewish religious sects for personal use in getting even. This is the extra-biblical historical context.
Further ignorance of the Scripture is seen in the assertion that "it is in our attempts at resisting evil that we begin to emulate evil." If that were true, how does one explain Jesus being without sin but still able to resist the evil of the conversion of the Temple into a den of thieves by overturning tables (violence!) and making a grand mess in aforementioned Temple courtyard (John 2:13-17)? Have you ever tried to move a cow with just a "scourge of small cords"? This was not small feat on His part, but a rather violent and physical demonstration. (Yet He was in total control of Himself as He did so, as evidenced by the fact that when He came to those selling doves, a significantly more fragile creature, He simply demanded that they be removed from the premises and did no violence upon them (2:16).) While it is certainly possible to resist evil by emulating evil, resisting evil with strength to the point of violence when the evil requires it does not necessitate emulating the evil being destroyed. (And let it not be argued that this was Jesus and He was a special case, being the God-man and all that. Romans 8:29 says we are to be "conformed to the image of his Son," so we are to be like Him.)
Also to be found in the Bible are admonitions such as Proverbs 28:4, "They that forsake the law praise the wicked: but such as keep the law contend with them." This is resisting evil when violence is not necessary. It is, nonetheless, resisting some form of evil. (And please don’t object because this is an Old Testament verse; 1 Corinthians 10:11, among others makes it clear that the Old Testament is still applicable.)
Based on this liberal position, it is sinful for a Christian to be a policeman or a soldier, yet we find not one verse condemning such occupations despite opportunities to do so. When soldiers came to John the Baptist and asked what they should do, John did not tell them to get out of the army (Luke 3:14). And Paul points out that the ministers and rulers in government "beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil." (Romans 13:4) Clearly the sword was not used to clean his fingernails!
And speaking of swords, Jesus also told His disciples, "…But now, he that hath a purse, let him take it, and likewise his scrip: and he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one." (Luke 22:36) What was he supposed to do with the sword, carve pumpkins? The sword is an offensive and defensive weapon. It was so important to have one that one is to sell clothing, another necessity, to obtain one. If we are to "assume the moral high ground" and allow ourselves to be killed rather than to kill, then why did Jesus tell his disciples to obtain a sword and at such cost? It is absurd to think that it would be used for anything other than self defense, at a minimum.
Regarding the idea of violence to the point of killing, many liberals assume that the commandment to not kill (Exodus 20:13) would also apply here, as well as to capital punishment (the liberal whose comments to which this post is a response did not use this argument that I know of; this is extra, but is highly relevant to the topic at hand). Unfortunately for liberals, they have again not done their homework. Just as the Eskimos have a multiplicity of words for snow, categorizing it by characteristics highly relevant to living with it as a ubiquitous part of their world, so the Hebrew tongue has multiple words for different contexts of killing. There is a separate word for killing animals, for killing in war, for premeditated murder, etc. The word in the commandment cited refers to premeditated murder, not the judicial execution of convicted criminals (Genesis 9:6), or killing in war.
So, is "Better die than to kill" really morally superior? What is generally believed about suicide? Suicide is what this truly describes. Is suicide morally superior to self defense? You will not find any Scripture to support that concept in any form. And, yes, it does not matter that you aren’t the one pulling the trigger on yourself; if you have the means to avoid being killed, and do not avail yourself of those means, you are committing suicide just as much as if you had taken the knife and plunged it into your own breast.
At the risk of self-aggrandizement, let me conclude this point by quoting the conclusion of something I’ve written earlier in an essay entitled, "The Fecklessness of Multiculturalism."
For the multiculturalist, self-defense, especially with violence, is immoral. Thus we have all the nonsense about the moral high ground in the national debate on the treatment of the murderous thugs caught in acts of violence, all too often not against armed forces, but against innocent and unarmed men, women and children. They are blind to the fact that such high moral ground is merely the site of literal suicide as their enlightenment flings them off the high precipice of their moral confusion. Pardon me if I decline to subscribe to such delusional self destruction.
This inability to define and see true evil is the most dangerous consequence of this worldview. Hugh Hewitt plays an audio clip every now and then from some movie in which the actor is exclaiming something like, "I don’t like you because you’re gonna get me killed!" Not only does this position commit suicide, but it is a suicide bomber: it will take us all down with it. Because the multiculturalist has no reason to fight for his way of life, he has no true appreciation for freedom and its cost. His motto is "better Red than dead," modified it seems for the 21st century to "better Mohammed than the grave." In sharp contrast, we have Colonel Travis’ words when he fully realized that he and the 185 soldiers gathered at the Alamo were surely to perish there: "But if I am destined to die, let my scabbard be empty, and my sword red with the blood of men who would deny freedom." Needless to say, he was not a multiculturalist! God give us the grace and wisdom to sink this philosophy into the trash heap as soon as possible. Otherwise, it will put us there instead.
It is helpful to understand that the position of the commenter against which these two posts have been written has a Quaker background. The pacifist worldview of that sect is well-known, but, as shown here, is biblically uninformed. For further thought, I would refer the reader to this excellent essay (not mine) about sheep and sheep dogs. The picture it gives is also very helpful in illuminating some of what is going on here.
The grand conclusion of this two part analysis: when evaluating all the data of Scripture, taken properly in context, you find no evidence that judgments may not be made when done properly, or that evil is not to be resisted or that it is morally superior to avoid killing by allowing oneself to be killed. If you wish to take those positions, by all means, feel free to do so. But DO NOT claim you have the Bible as support for your ludicrous viewpoint. You have not done your homework. You only darken counsel by words without knowledge (Job 38:2).