Jan 25, 2010

Resistance and Pacifism Part III : Final Cut?

Resistance and pacifism represents two sides of the fence in most of christendom. By and large, you are either or. Some of us are fond of the constitutional right to bear arms, defend our persons and our families, and some of us are hard pressed when confronted by the Scriptures to admit, we need to turn the other cheek, or not 'resist an evil man.'

Two years ago I held a position that advocated our rights to be involved in defense of our person when necessary outside of the context of presenting the gospel. I still do not quite know if that view matured into a defensible position. However, I did begin to defend it a series of posts labeled 'Resistance and Pacifism.' If you have time, give them a read. They are at least worth an exploration for contextual application.

In the past two years I have begun to view these things in light of my Scripture readings, and of course, new discernment through maturity has changed how I interpret some of the key passages that are used to defend bearing arms, defending ourselves/others with violence, or eventually justifying the 'Just War' theory. Arthur Sido at 'the voice crying out in suburbia' has posted a series concerning the viewpoints of a Christian's right to bear the sword. He fairly explores both sides and comes to a conclusion that results in a challenge to most of us who view the bible through American eyes. He starts to see the message of the Lord is plain. Our obligation as believers is to follow the teachings of our Lord and treasure the opportunity to consider this life but dung in comparison to the treasure we will have in Heaven. This includes claiming a 'right' to physically assault another for the sake of defense.

I do not believe I have come to full maturity on my position regarding this issue, but will admit I have begun to assume a pacifistic position. In his post regarding the 'Anti-Sword View,' Arthur quotes the synoptical account of Jesus' arrest in the garden. He discusses with his readers the need to observe the Lord's reaction to Peter when he draws a sword (that Jesus instructed them to buy) and strikes the ear of one of those seeking to arrest Jesus. As simple as it may sound, there is much to be learned from studying the Greek construction of this passage, as well as looking plainly at the passage itself.

And he said to them, "When I sent you out with no moneybag or knapsack or sandals, did you lack anything?" They said, "Nothing." He said to them, "But now let the one who has a moneybag take it, and likewise a knapsack. And let the one who has no sword sell his cloak and buy one. For I tell you that this Scripture must be fulfilled in me: 'And he was numbered with the transgressors.' For what is written about me has its fulfillment." And they said, "Look, Lord, here are two swords." And he said to them, "It is enough."
(Luk 22:35-38)

Just take a look at the statement 'And he was numbered with the transgressors.' Obviously we know this to be a quote of Isaiah 53:12, and we know this to be fulfillment of the Lord's purpose to go to the cross and be numbered amongst the transgressors (us) so that he may be a full propitiation for sin. I found it profitable to consider within this context the statements our Lord made regarding the purchase of a sword. It was not to defend themselves against the mob that was coming to arrest Jesus, it was so that was written about Him would have it's fulfillment. The transgressors have a two-fold meaning, immediate, and future. Obviously the two swords that Christ said were enough would not be sufficient in defending Christ against a group of trained men would it?

It really seems simple to me. No need to impose a complex theological and systematic explanation that proves all the places where violence was not 'reproved' in order to substantiate a claim that makes it okay to harm or injure others in the name of defense or justice. This clearly is a job that is okay for the 'State' to conduct, but not the individual believer himself. The Lord stated clearly that we turn the other cheek. He also made it clear that if His Kingdom were of this world His followers would fight (Joh 18:36). I claim that what you read in the account of what happened in the garden was NOT an example of the Lord's followers fighting, or defending. We surely see Peter rebuked for his hastiness, and we also hear the Lord say that living by the sword will cause one to perish by it as well.

Stark contrasts that are much clearer than we often think they are. If we view this topic without an agenda, or an evangelical-politico lens, we may see the truth of our messiah brought forth clearly.

Jan 18, 2010

There Are No Victims Here: Haiti

The adage, "A picture is worth a thousand words," is more than just true after seeing firsthand photos of the carnage that has occurred in Haiti. Truthfully, I will admit that my heart wrenched once I first viewed some of the wreckage. Although some of them are graphic in their nature, they are telling of how horrible things are for a large number of Haitians right now. While it is horrible for those that remain amongst the living, it is sobering to consider what it might be like amongst those who are now dead.

I have purposely avoided the media surrounding this event. I have done so that I may avoid the tendency sensationalism that is stirred up when something of such a magnitude occurs. When I first heard the news that an earthquake of 7.0 magnitude had struck the island nation, I immediately asked God to have mercy. But, I did not fall on my face or weep. I should have, and in not doing so I have remembered why this was not my initial reaction to such horrible news. It is hard for us to admit weakness, or need for God's mercy and grace, when we are so detached from the ground zero of suffering. Our nation is truly a nation of comfort, for even when tragedy strikes on our home soil, it still does not impact us for very long.

Let me pose a thought. What if the problem here is not related to Haitian poverty, global warming (or cooling, choose a side), voodoo cult practices, or any other speculated reason that has arisen in the aftermath of this sad news? What if there is no sound theological answer that systematically breaks down the specific cause that has created such an effect on the world? What answers can the disciple of Christ give to a scoffing unbeliever in times it seems that God has turned a blind eye to the plight of humanity? How many of us have turned to the Lord of Hosts and pleaded for His just hand, and His sovereign rule to be carried out in such a time as this?

I do not intend to answer these questions in great length or detail. It is my intent to be as succinct as possible. The best answer I know to give sounds pessimistic to those who do not know the Lord. It also sounds condescending to fathom a picture of loving and merciful God that allows such destruction to occur. I know it could do very little to console those who are presently experiencing the chaos in Haiti to hear that they have been punished with an earthquake and destruction because they have been judged for some pact made with the 'devil.' It may be even harder to comfort them with the words of Jesus Christ,

There were some present at that very time who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And he answered them, "Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered in this way? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish." (Luk 13:1-5)

If I could say anything to the purposed 100,000's who have traversed the void from this world to the next it might be,

You have not been the victim of a crime that has been carried out against you, and inevitably costing you your life. The injustices you may have suffered in the past life have not gone unseen, and will be dealt with (Gen 18:25, Eze 33:20). Whether you have enjoyed prosperity and happiness, or you have suffered immensely, your life will be judged by a merciful and Holy God (Luk 4:17-19). But, you will give account for all sin you have committed toward Him. In your place you will stand condemned by your rejection of His Son Jesus Christ (Ecclesiastes 12:14, Mat 12:36-37, Rom 14:12, Mat 10:33), or your reception of His redemptive work on the cross (1 Cor 1:18, Eph 2:14-16, Col 2:14). He will first take into consideration the injustice dealt Him by you in your entire lifetime (Jer 3:25, Rom 6:23, 2 Cor 5:21). From the first to last breath, every second will be brought to the light. The Lord God has written the law upon your heart, given you the testimony of creation, and outlined the boundaries of which you live, eat, sleep, and work so that you may experience a testimony of His existence (Jer 31:33, Rom 1:20, Acts 17:26-27). You have had a chance to repent of your wickedness, and you have had a chance to live just and upright as you served Him. If you have chosen to consider the cross foolishness, and rejected the embrace of the true love of God (John 3:16), then you will receive your full reward.

Lastly, I want to add that this is not a generalized condemnation of all those in Haiti. This is what I feel is a proper Christian response to a tragedy of any magnitude. The hope the believer has is not in temporal aid, relief, or sustenance, but in a treasure laid up in heaven. We are to look forward to the time when we will worship Him with voices of praise singing with the angels, Holy, Holy, Holy (Isa 6:3. Rev 4:8)! The Lord has a compassionate heart on those who are suffering and dying. Think not that He has not considered the cries of those who are in agony right now! He hears their cries, and His heart breaks for them, but He too must remain just before all nations, for sin cannot dwell in the presence of the Lord. How can we say that God is not merciful when He has provided a way through Jesus Christ, but yet He is rejected by those whom He has extended His grace to? We are the ones with the blood on our hands, not Him.

I was ready to be sought by those who did not ask for me; I was ready to be found by those who did not seek me. I said, "Here am I, here am I," to a nation that was not called by my name. I spread out my hands all the day to a rebellious people, who walk in a way that is not good, following their own devices; a people who provoke me to my face continually, sacrificing in gardens and making offerings on bricks; who sit in tombs, and spend the night in secret places; who eat pig's flesh, and broth of tainted meat is in their vessels; who say, "Keep to yourself, do not come near me, for I am too holy for you." These are a smoke in my nostrils, a fire that burns all the day. (Isa 65:1-5)

Jan 12, 2010

Integrity In Blogging

I have posted this before, but would like to reiterate my feelings on it. If you do not seek to glorify God with your blogging then why blog at all? If you do desire to glorify Him are you accountable to Him in your words and posts, or do you just say it?

Principally speaking, I have not blogged because I do not want to be word vomiting all over your computer monitor for the sake of site hit statistics and page views. I have a laundry list of topics I am working on and want to be sure I am studying what I am writing, lest it be a waste of space and time.
I suppose I would remind my fellow bloggers and readers of some scriptures that should exhort us all to consider our behavior in speech, writing, blogging, and especially interacting with others in conversation. They would be,

Ecclesiastes 12:14 - For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil.

Rom 2:16 - on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus.

Rev 20:12 - And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done.

I just want to close this post by saying it only matters to me if you read this blog and know that what is written is well thought and written. It matters not if it is right, for surely it is only my opinion and perspective most of the time anyway. So, it will not be perfect, but I would like to strive for it to be honorable.
Peace be with you,

Jan 1, 2010

ESV Leather Study Bible Giveaway!

 From Christian Book Notes,

This week’s Winsday Giveaway is sponsored by Crossway Books. We are giving away one black, bonded leather ESV Study Bible ($74.99) to help 2010 be a year of Bible study.
For a chance to win, simply fill out the contact form below and enter. For additional entries, you can blog about the giveaway (I will be able to follow links), or mention it on Twitter using this short link http://wp.me/pviKd-Qt.
If you would like a chance to win this book, simply fill out the contact form below letting me know you would like to enter. Please spread the word to your friends. The drawing will be held on Monday (1/4) and the winner will be announced after he or she responds.  Good providence!

As always, you can subscribe to Christian Book Notes to be kept up to date on the latest reviews and contests.