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non-violent resistance

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non-violent resistance
I have just begun to read " The Kingdom of God Is Within You" by Leo Tolstoy, in the hopes of putting together some sort of reasonable answer to the major challenge to Christians who believe in non-violence, based on Jesus when He says "That I say unto you, resist not evil: ..." (Matt 5. v. 39.) It should also be noted that Ghandi was highly influenced on reading this book, resulting in correspondence between him and Tolstoy, and the impact of Ghandi's non-violent activism is well know.

The challenge to which I am referring is when someone asks us what would we do if enemy soldiers burst into out home to rape our wife and children? Or to avoid the implications of wartime, what would we do if, when walking in the park, we stumbled upon someone who was molesting a child?

Having only reached Chapter 2 of the book, the nearest to an answer so far by Tolstoy is in his paragraph addressing this dilemma. To quote from it:

"I see that a man I know to be a ruffian is pursuing a young girl. I have a gun in my hand--I kill the ruffian and save the girl. But the death or the wounding of the ruffian has positively taken place, while what would have happened if this had not been I cannot know. And what an immense mass of evil must result, and indeed does result, from allowing men to assume the right of anticipating what may happen."

Now this is not an answer, for I want to consider the occasion when the evil is actually taking place, or we know for certain that it is going to take place.

I am continuing to read "The Kingdom of God is Within You" (online!) and I hope to share with anyone here anything I find which addresses my concern. In the meantime I have posted hoping that others more knowledgeable than myself, perhaps through the experience of having held this discussion with army personnel during conscription for instance, might post a reply.

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mystic37: Mar 7, 2012, 6:26 AM
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Re: [mystic37] non-violent resistance In reply to
To the "non-violent" only folks I pose a passage of the Bible that usually stops such speculation pending a hopeful "interpretation" that might resume the speculation.

Luke 22:[36] Then said he unto them, 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. [37] For I say unto you, that this that is written must yet be accomplished in me, And he was reckoned among the transgressors: for the things concerning me have an end. [38] And they said, Lord, behold, here are two swords. And he said unto them, It is enough.

Because Jesus would be leaving them He gave new instructions. It was at that moment imperative enough to Jesus to tell His apostles to sell their robe to pay for a sword, carrying provision such as money. The item was a literal sword, the kind used to kill men or to at least discourage an attack by robbers.

Later Peter appeared carrying one of those two swords, there being no mention of paying for them. Peter used the sword offensively rather than for the express purpose Jesus referred to.

Throughout the Old Testament God presided over warfare, even providing strategies for killing the enemies of Israel. God is the same yesterday, today and forever, not allowing for national and personal defense one day then prohibiting that later. It's either OK with God or it isn't. From scripture we learn sometimes human lives must be taken to preserve society, enforcing law and order.

Of course there are possibly many other options for most dreadful threats, like running away to safety. But there is no firm prohibition against standing up for right, like Jesus did among the money changers at the temple. John 2:[13]
And the Jews' passover was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem, [14] And found in the temple those that sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the changers of money sitting: [15] And when he had made a scourge of small cords, he drove them all out of the temple, and the sheep, and the oxen; and poured out the changers' money, and overthrew the tables; [16] And said unto them that sold doves, Take these things hence; make not my Father's house an house of merchandise. [17] And his disciples remembered that it was written, The zeal of thine house hath eaten me up.

So is there a problem with that concerning Mt 5:39? When taking it in context with the whole sermon it's obvious a matter of how each person should co-exist with neighbors, not choosing a violent, abusive, reactionary lifestyle, but one that avoids trouble as much as possible, spreading kindness.

Now here's something for you to look up. A Roman soldier asked Jesus what he should do in light of Jesus' teachings. Did Jesus tell him to abandon the army, or not to follow orders to fight an enemy if required, or in any way recommend that none of His followers could at all engage in military defense?

Good topic. Blessings to you.
Jim
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Re: [mystic37] non-violent resistance In reply to
I hope by now you see that I'm mostly about defending Bible truth, not as though God's word needs any help, but that too many people can't yet detect teachings that go against the Bible. My desire is to get folks to thinking about what the Bible says to their situation, whatever it is. I never mean anything personally negative in my replies. With that said, I must continue toward my answer to your question, using the Bible as my Spirit led source, not books and commentaries.

You've had time to consider how Jesus dealt with His witnessing of evil practices in the temple. He met that with what some would call violence. He turned their tables over, scattered their money, ordered them to leave.

I presented a case in which Peter, bearing one of those two swords with Jesus in company fully aware of those possessions of arms, did manage to use a sword to slice off the ear of the servant of the high priest, Malchus. Jesus stopped the attack before the temple guard might make hamburger of that disciple, realizing that happened because it was prophesied. So, there was no apology to the temple guard other than restoring the ear, healed by a touch.

I would call any person, Christian or otherwise a coward to stand by doing nothing to stop a heinous crime from being completed like posed in the OP. I might not take a violent personal action against a rapist, but would at least put myself between the criminal and the victim. I can say that because I've done it in the line of duty while off duty. The rapist would first have to rape me. That would not be my will nor that of God, so the proper action is to work up a "list" of actions God could support. There should be some options available provided from God, perhaps intercession by an angel, authorized by my instant and very short prayer to the Father God in Jesus' name, "Lord, we need help in this.".

I can't allow myself to hate the criminal, and might tell him while being arrested by authorities, I would pray with and for him towards his salvation and total repentance and deliverance from his sin drive.

Any person standing by witnessing such a crime without taking reasonable intercession action, could not possibly by a neighbor to anyone. Before anyone reading wants to say "everyone is my neighbor!", think again. The evil man and the victim can't possibly be my neighbor at the same time. One is the enemy, the other my neighbor. Even God takes sides against an evil enemy, and will by faith and listening to Him provide the best solution.

Blessings to all, even those shocked by my answer
Jim
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dovegiven: Mar 7, 2012, 1:28 PM
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Re: [dovegiven] non-violent resistance In reply to
I must thank you very much, dovegiven, for your responses to my OP, which I find extremely helpful as I am not well-read of the Bible. If we continue with more correspondence, I look forward to further scripture references from you. I am still searching for the answer Jesus gave to the Roman soldier, as posed in the last para of your first post!

Staying only with my second example of the challenge to a non-violent response (leaving the case of enemy soldiers alone for the moment), and considering an intercession, as you most aptly put it, between the evil person and the victim, I would like to pursue your scenario a little further. As I have pointed out so far with Tolstoy, he has not provided a satisfactory answer in his short account as quoted above.

To place oneself physically between the two persons is supremely commendable (Kevin Costner's action as he protects Whitney Houston from the assassin's bullet at the end of the film "The Bodyguard" springs to mind!), and wholly Christian, I would agree. However, what if there was a way to prevent harm to oneself and yet still intervene? If the bodyguard could have had a clear shot at the assassin before he fired (far less dramatic of course!), the singer would have been equally protected once the assassin was taken out; but we are now in the scenario painted by Tolstoy, which I do not yet find satisfactory.

Also, once the good Christian has been eliminated from the action, the perpetrator is free to continue with their evil deed. Physical violence against the wrong-doer seems completely justified, and as soon as possible, but then we are on the slippery slope towards the institutional violence of the state, which Tolstoy was so adamantly against and very ably pointed out, I think.

At an individual level, what each of us would do in such circumstances is indeterminate beforehand, I think. I was once being threatened by a nephew swinging a golf-club. In my mind I contemplated going under the club and rugby-tackling him through the shed wall, but I sat down and he calmed down. However, he could just have easily knocked my brains out - I did not know. It turned out my action was fully justified, (did God speak to me? - I would certainly like to believe that He did - however I did not pray precisely at that moment as you so soundly recommend, I gave thanks afterwards!), but should I not be here now to tell the tale then would others think that God deserted me and left me to my fate?
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Re: [mystic37] non-violent resistance In reply to
This is a refreshing discussion, and I must offer my apology for sending you on that goose chase. John the Baptist, not Jesus, ministered to some Roman soldiers in Luke 3:14, commanding them not to be personally tyrannical, oppressive towards conquered people, or resent their wages. Neither he nor Jesus nor any other disciple condemned soldiers or warfare or self defense as being inherently evil. Paul also commanded Christians to obey the lawmen who are virtual ministers of God meant to deal with law breakers. I got ahead of myself bringing this in, but it is part of our answer concerning violence toward malefactors.

Back to your topic, I want to emphasize that probably the last option would be to make yourself a target, "taking a bullet" so to speak, when there are suitable options that would accomplish an interruption of evil doing without unnecessary endangerment. After all, that is a rare thing according to Romans 5:7 For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die.

Like Jesus did at the temple steps all that should be required in most situations of being witness to evil is to simply speak up with a minimum of physical activity. Assert authority of good over evil. Jesus did make a small scourge and drove the men out, along with the cattle, but there isn't notice He did harm to any. I've studied Jewish commentary on that, concerning what a rabbi can do, and concluded whatever Jesus did was mostly highly symbolic but serious because he was right and no priest dared to interfere. In that society a man in severe violation of the Mosaic Law who ignored a warning from a rabbi or other god citizen, became a marked man subject to being punished accordingly without due process such as a legitimate trial.

While many times we learn of a crowd standing by silently watching some crime, I'd suspect a lot of crimes are stopped just from one person shouting "HEY". Most criminals do not want an audience, or even one witness, so they typically leave the scene........except in the movies, and an increasing incidence of terrorism. Even martial arts experts don't prefer to pick fights with bad boys like Chuck Norris the "Texas Ranger" portrays, but shouldn't shrink from using those skills for defense. We ought to always use our brains effectively to find the smartest way to keep the peace.

I think you probably made the best choice not tackling that nephew. When someone is swinging a weapon like that and you are the only victim and unarmed or inadequately armed, always run away or to cover even if you think you might be able to overwhelm him. The exception, for me, would be to shield other people on the scene, defending until disabled.
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dovegiven: Mar 8, 2012, 12:21 PM
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Re: [dovegiven] non-violent resistance In reply to
Eventually I want to move to my second scenario, that of government, and ultimately war. It is in his analysis of human violence in this respect (man's inhumanity to man) that Tolstoy excels, I think.

However, before doing so, I am going to try to see if we have come to some sort of understanding, from a Christian point of view, of being personally confronted with someone threatening or acting violently towards oneself or another. For instance, should someone have intervened when Jesus was overturning the money tables!? It appears to me that we are saying that if the perpetrator can be calmed down, and we feel that we are in a position to do this, then this is the way we should go. I guess no-one intervened with Jesus because there were no other Christians around! Jesus showed His anger because He was human, and therefore for all of us righteous anger is justified and I wonder if even Tolstoy would go along with that - there would be no turning of the other cheek.

Peter cut off the centurion's ear and therefore, quite rightly, Jesus intervened, and also admonished Peter for what he had done.

For a further example of the impact of non-violence at a personal level, I have recently finished reading "The Overcomers", by Richard Wurmbrand. He describes the experiences of Christians persecuted in the prisons of Communist Russia - his messages being "Hate the evil systems, but love your persecutors" and "Love their souls, and try to win them for Christ". Here we have examples of turning the other cheek, in spite of the most horrendous conditions and tortures endured. The publishers suggest that the reader will "experience a depth of love and commitment rarely found in the Free World".

However, in this brief resume I appear to have come to the conclusion that there is a case for righteous anger at an individual level, but also a case for turning the other cheek if we are sufficiently courageous. This brings me to a consideration of what might be referred to as a just war.

Derek Prince of Legacy Radio Ministries was a conscientous objector during the Second World War. He served in the British Army in North Africa on the medical side only, as a non-combatant. There may be many more such persons in any future war which demands conscription. Meanwhile, we are able in peacetime to amicably debate whether or not there can ever be a case for a just war, as often exemplified by WW2.

I am only on Chapter Four of "The Kingdom of God is Within You" but I know enough already about Tolstoy that he is not going to support the idea of any war. As I continue to read, I hope to share here anything that might be apt from this book, and in particular any Scripture references to which Tolstoy refers.
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Re: [mystic37] non-violent resistance In reply to
Note that Jesus was a Rabbi, a fully qualified Jew fit to teach and be a community leader. Rabbis were respected. When they took an action that both taught and demonstrated holiness, promoting the Law, folks payed attention.

The merchants with all that cattle, probably 1/4 million animals were not appreciated, being extortioners, selling at inflated prices. They were promoting a business convenience concerning family sacrifices offered to the temple, instead of the people bringing a proper sacrifice that met requirements. They were there by permit of the priests, another breach of decency, especially at the temple. None of that was legal, and was in fact desecration.

When Jesus began clearing the area, no man could properly stop Him partly due to their own sins, like when Jesus wrote in the sand in John 8. When Jesus finished they asked what sign all that meant. Bear in mind there would have been present other Rabbis, priests, Levites, scribes, sect leaders, all stages of authority over such actions Jesus took.

So that left Jesus to use appropriate force to right a great wrong.

Jesus' disciples were there, remembering a saying of Jesus after His resurrection, but at that event remembering an OT prophecy.

As for turning the other cheek, I think it is critical to understand the use of it. If you are offended because of preaching Christ, then don't take it personally, but let your person be used to suffer persecution for Jesus' sake.
If you are mugged and suffer a cut in the cheek, you are not required to let the mugger get the other cheek. Don't offer it. The mugger might delight in that. You do whatever you can to avoid the situation, deflect it, neutralize it, or run from it. When Jesus authorized the carrying of a sword it was for this second purpose, self/group protection when offering your body to useless violence would do nothing to advance the Kingdom. Peter used that sword not as intended, but in fact interfered with the plan of God. That use of it was more like someone making converts mostly at the point of the sword, suffering no objection to the message delivered. He drew correction from Jesus on another occasion when Jesus called him Satan. I think he grew up in that area later after Jesus left.

If carrying the sword then by all means learn the conditions of acceptable use.

A scenario. You have a sword passing through a rough nation preaching Jesus. The government had advised the trails were full of robbers, that no missionary survived them when unarmed. You manage to be invited by a tribal chief to tell your message to his people. When you finish the chief orders you killed, choosing to reject the message. It would be proper not to draw that sword, but to kneel and die for Jesus.

Another. You succeeded in that village, only to be attacked by robbers along the trail to the next village. They are sure to kill and rob you, regardless of your mission. It would be appropriate to draw the sword and defend yourself. In fact, Jesus told the disciples not to carry a purse or extra shoes He also said not to delay getting to their appointment by saluting anyone along the road (embracing/welcoming). Not carrying a money bag helped disinterest robbers. IOW, let nothing interfere with that mission.
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Re: [dovegiven] non-violent resistance In reply to
still working on my 2cents here-So here goes Jesus was outside the city and being confronted by a throng oof very angry people chosing the of love and non-confrontation liftedhis hand and walked through an opening in the crowd they made for him. Their intention was to stone him but anger seemed to melt in the face of so much love.
m7th--circle of revival
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Re: [m7th] non-violent resistance In reply to
John 10:39 Therefore they sought again to take him: but he escaped out of their hand,

In fact the crowd took up stones twice to execute Jesus for what they believed was blasphemy.

I agree that is a valid means of non-violent resistance, but would you be up to just walking off through their midst? We could speculate that Jesus knew he had angelic help blinding their eyes to Him, but I don't see the crowd showing mercy there. They were actively trying to capture and kill Jesus.

I am trying to find a WWII missionary story in which I think the Japanese were sweeping a town, leaving no escape route. The missionary and his family huddled in the town center in the open, as the soldiers went through killing. They didn't find the ones hid by God. Now that's faith, to me.
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Re: [m7th] non-violent resistance In reply to
Another instance of attempting to stone Jesus has Jesus hiding Himself in the temple, then walked out right through the middle of that infuriated crowd.
John 8:59 Then took they up stones to cast at him: but Jesus hid himself, and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by.

John 8:59 Then took they up stones to cast at him: but Jesus hid himself, and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by.

Interesting how Jesus did whatever it took to avoid capture and execution before His time, with obviously little option of escape. He would have known the men couldn't bring stones inside, so they had to wait for Him to come out. While in there, I wonder, did Jesus pause to pray for deliverance? We don't know, but I'd say that would have been wise towards receiving a divine plan.

Would not hiding and escape then be the first line of defense, taught by Jesus? It takes faith to do things like that. Second line I suppose is turning the other cheek, which Jesus did when arrested and scourged. It was the primary moment to to that. The gospel depended on Jesus doing that, enduring persecution for righteousness-sake.

Third line perhaps is physical defense when your life is threatened, and there is no persecution for the gospel involved. What good comes from senseless murder of missionaries when the murderers are only interested in possessions?

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Re: [dovegiven] non-violent resistance In reply to
excellent thoughts!!!
m7th--circle of revival