Whatever Happened to Christian Crusader Mentality?

The first papal proposal for a crusade was in 1074 by Pope Gregory VII. Gregory was responding to the conquests of Antioch and Nicaea, the reports of Christians “slaughtered like cattle” and reports of Constantinople threatened. You can read some of what he said here. For a number of reasons, his proposal did not substantiate into much. That’s too bad, if you ask me.

Near the end of the eleventh century, Alexios and the Byzantines from the Christian East were anxiously writing western princes and Church leaders for military assistance, citing attacks on Nikomedia in the early 1090s and their plight at the hands of the Turks within Cappadocia, Byzantium and Syria. Their reports indicated that churches were being burned or desecrated, that lands were taken, and that some Christians were forcibly converted, enslaved, killed or prevented from entering Jerusalem. Thus, their reports conveyed a dire threat to Christians and the eastern Christian empire. Muslims were thus behaving aggressively and badly toward Christians, taking their land, liberty and life.

This call from the East is probably the primary reason why, in 1095, Pope Urban II ordered a crusade. He wanted to help his Christian brethren and regain Christian land from Muslim aggression. Urban’s order resulted in the First Crusade, which involved thousands and thousands of Christians travelling to fight Muslims within the aforementioned lands. You can read Urban’s famous statement here.

Was the First Crusade justified? I think so. Considering these reports and the situation within the East, the conditions of jus ad bellum were met, because a united Christian action would have been (1) sanctioned by some authoritative leaders of the West and the empire of the East; (2) it would have been defensive; (3) it would have been proportional to the threat; and (4) it would have been a last resort to regain Christian lands and safety. I thus have no bones with the motivation for the First Crusade and Urban II’s decision – it was a just war. Of course, I am not here saying that every Christian acted properly during this war (jus in bello), but only that the motivation for war is justifiable. In fact, as a Catholic, my only regret is that it didn’t happen sooner. For more, read here.

Now consider modern times. ISIS and their goons are eradicating Christianity from Syria and Iraq. They’ve burned churches and desecrated holy places, killed Christian men and children, enslaved our women for sex and banished Christian towns. ISIS and their ilk have also attacked Christians in Yemen and Libya, and in surrounding areas. Christians are thus under siege and enduring genocide, and they are being pushed out from the land of Christianity’s birthplace.  Heck, the New York Times once questioned whether Christianity was going to be extinct in the Middle East. 

The conditions of jus ad bellum are thus present, and some nations are justly engaged in war with ISIS. I think that’s awesome: Kill them all. But what about a crusade? Or something crusade-like? Why isn’t that part of our Christian mentality anymore? Why isn’t our pope calling for it? Why aren’t Christians trekking in the thousands to defend their brethren and Christian holy places?

It seems to me that the pope could call for something like a crusade, citing the above-mentioned reasons, and encouraging Christian men across the globe to join the Kurds and other groups who are already trying to exterminate ISIS. We’ve seen cases where Americans and Europeans have travelled help the Kurds fight ISIS, and these persons are welcomed by the Kurds and considered heroic in the West. The pope’s call could just be a request for Christian men to help in that same way. Thus, they’d be fighting alongside Muslim Kurds and other groups against ISIS and for Christians. So why doesn’t the pope do that?

Modern Christians might say that this sounds too militant, but it didn’t always seem this way. So what changed? Indeed, why were we once a bunch of ass kickers but now settle for tweets in response to terror, aggression and genocide? Heck, even current pope acts this way, making mere statements of disappointment and grief while our churches are burned; and while Christian men are murdered; and while Christian women, even young girls, are gang raped and sold to slavery.

Our modern impotence, indifference or deference has an explanation: Since World War 1, we have been encultured to rely on global institutions such as the League of Nations or the UN to solve conflict. But I think that there is more than this: I suspect that after the Peace of Westphalia in 1648, the principles and ideas of Westphalian sovereignty spread and solidified, replacing the primacy of religion with the primacy of the nation. In effect, the bonds of oikoumene and Christian unity were gradually eroded. Hence, at the present time, if Iraqi Christians endure genocide and expulsion from holy lands, we just type our outrage on FB, quickly returning to our Pumpkin Spice Lattes and first world comforts without much of a second thought. Yet, if the nation is attacked, as it was on 9/11, or at Pearl Harbour, then we are prepared to release the dogs of war. Nation thus largely replaced religion and confined our loyalty to religion within its parameters.

So here is how I see it: The goal of the Peace of Westphalia was to get Christians to stop killing Christians. It meant to stop the inquisition mentality. But in its longterm effect, it also stopped the crusader mentality — that is, it also stopped Christians from defending other Christians, because it eroded the bonds of oikoumene and Christendom. In other words, the consequence of getting Christians to stop fighting with each other is that we stopped fighting for each other. What a shame.

 

38 Comments

  1. Matthew 26:52

    We should obey the words of the Lord, not the theoretical musings of Augustine and the traditions of men that have followed.

    • That is not a statement for universal pacifism. Jesus did not want to resist for a few reasons. For example, he said that (1) his capture was the will of the father (John 18:11) and (2) because Peter was not acting in defence and probably (3) civil authorities are to be respected unless they run afoul of God’s will, as we know from Paul.

      In any case, this is besides the primary point of the blogpost, which was to explain why we don’t have that crusader mentality anymore.

  2. “if Iraqi Christians endure genocide and expulsion from holy lands, we just type our outrage on FB, quickly returning to our Pumpkin Spice Lattes and first world comforts without much of a second thought. Yet, if the nation is attacked, as it was on 9/11, or at Pearl Harbour, then we are prepared to release the dogs of war.”

    Wow. Powerful.

    Christianity is no longer a comprehensive worldview for many (most?) of its adherents in the West. This is why many well-meaning believers in Western nations are convinced that many of our liberal ideas are really Christian ideas after all.

  3. To follow up my original comment, just because that Matthew passage is so contested, let me fill in the rest of the picture.

    Christians are to be soldiers of Jesus Christ–this means, among other things, that the battle they are engaged involves abstaining from becoming entangled with the affairs of this life (2 Tim 2:4). That would mean earthly warfare. The original disciples did not fight Rome–they happily went to the lions.

    This is because the war the Christian wages is spiritual. We battle the hordes of darkness that control and manipulate this present world (Ephesians 6:12).

    Consequently, our efforts are spiritual, not carnal. We battle with our words and actions, not with weapons. (2 Cor 10:4). Our goal is to exalt the truth of Christ and to restrain evil. This is done through the power of the Holy Spirit working in our lives, not through the collective action of some political or religious war.

    Because our kingdom is not of this world, Christians treat this world for what it is: something we are merely passing through. Along the way, conduct ourselves in a way that exposes the lies of this world, restrains the evil, and encourages others to come out of darkness and to instead abide in the truth. This is spiritual warfare, not carnal.

    So, rather than debating the theory behind whether we need a religious war with Muslims (and how such action might supposedly be justified), Christians should be doing what they can to convert them. But that is only possible when one has come out of one’s own sin and confusion, so that one can preach the truth without hypocrisy and with a clean conscience before God and man.

    As Paul says, though we walk in the flesh, we do not war in the flesh. We cast down every high thing that exalts itself against the truth of Christ by first fulfilling our own obedience (2 Cor 10:5-6).

    • Yah, no. Christians spent the first century and so persecuted by the civil authorities. We were called to submit unless we conflicted with the will of God. However, once Christians were not persecuted, and were in dominance, they had the civil responsibilities to govern. We don’t have much scripture about how to do that, but we do know that civil authorities have the right to defend and kill (by man shall his blood be shed, etc). Protecting Christians from ISIS is not so much a Christian duty as it is a civil duty, one legitimated by none other than God himself.

    • We will just go in circles since you saw my point and replied, and I’ve now seen your reply. But I would simply reiterate what I said initially: the scriptural commandments I cite trump any contrary prescription originating from the notion of a “civil duty” or anything else of the sort.

      In any case, thanks for engaging. I hope you will ruminate over these scriptures and revise your view accordingly.

  4. But I’m not arguing that it is a contrary prescription. Civil authorities are granted this power ( genesis 9:6) – that is scriptural. Deal with it.

  5. What you are advocating is in express conflict with many scriptures, some of which I have already tried to draw your attention to. You have as yet addressed none of those scriptures.

    What more can I do?

    I think it should be clear to anyone reading this exchange that the scriptures I’ve cited mean what they say, and that the view you are putting forward contradicts with what they teach. I think the fact that these scriptures plainly teach we are not to take up arms as Christians is much clearer than is your idea that Gen 9:6 is somehow a firm basis for the theoretical apparatus you think justifies religious wars. A child could read the simple scriptures I’ve quoted you and understand them–why do you ignore them then?

    I don’t see why you are bothering to quote scriptures in defense of your position when it is obvious that you are more than prepared to disregard them when they contradict your system.

    • If, in your eyes, it expresses a contradiction or inconsistency, then that’s your problem. Not mine.

      If you believe scripture to be wholly true, as I do, then there can be no inconsistency; hence, we need to interpret them in a way that is consistent and most plausible. Part of my solution is to understand that God has given governing authorities a unique authority, which conforms to most of the professional commentaries i read on it and are readily available on the internet.

      I suggest that you read them. I can even provide some of them, if you wish: http://biblehub.com/commentaries/genesis/9-6.htm

  6. These commentaries are written from the perspective of people who are stumping for one or other system of men–Catholicism, Calvinism, etc.

    All I’m asking you is to do is approach these scriptures with a simple and honest heart and with a willingness to accept what they plainly say. Just read the Timothy and 1 Corinthian scriptures and ponder them in your heart. The Lord says the same thing about living by the sword in Revelation as he does Matthew, by the way.

    If you read the scriptures, there just isn’t any way to get around the fact that nonviolence was simply assumed as the Christian way of life. That is reflected in the earliest church. They understood what too many professing Christians today have forgotten: we are battling in the Spirit, not with carnal weapons, because the enemy is spiritual.

    This is confirmed additionally by the Didache and other early Christian writings. I think those sources are much more reliable a guide as to what the true faith says on this matter than modern commentaries, all of which are biased by whatever theological system the writer has adopted. No one until Augustine–surprise!—taught that Christians are supposed to be taking up arms for carnal combat in this world. We are supposed to be dead to this world.

    • These commentators are all speaking from their theologies and “systems of men”, but not you? You somehow transcend all of that? Gimme a break.

  7. Why is that so unbelievable to you? You could do it too if you wanted to. But instead you prefer your religion to Christ.

    Revisit the scriptures I have pointed out. You don’t need other men to interpret them for you. They are quite clear. It falls to you whether you want to obey them with an honest heart, or whether you want to seek refuges in excuses and convince yourself that God is going to wink at your disobedience. It is not difficult to understand what He expects of us. It is the simplicity of Christ–it only requires an honest and willing heart.

    Instead, you hide behind the doctrines and institutions of men. That will not be an excuse on the day of judgment. Today is the day to repent and to stop playing games, and to start following Jesus Christ.

    Only you can decide whether you want to fear God and do the right thing, or whether you want to continue taking false comfort in the strength of numbers. But there won’t be a crowd to hide in on the Last Day. It will just be each of us alone before God with everything laid bare. Really think about that, and act accordingly.

    • What’s “unbelievable” is that you think that you are beyond theology. You’re not. That’s what anyone who offers an a systematic interpretation of scripture has.

      I really don’t want to get bogged down in theology. My primary point has to do with the transition of ideas, their history and influences.

    • Many of the apostles were fishermen–they were not men of letters, and they certainly were not studied in theology.

      In fact, in chapter four of the Book of Acts, Luke records how the rulers and teachers of the Sanhedrin were astonished when they beheld the courage of Peter and John, and realized that they were but simple and unlearned men. The fact that the apostles did not excel in theology hardly hindered their cause–I see no reason to think that it should be any different for us now. They were perfectly able to do the truth. And so they did. If only professing believers today would do the same!

  8. And sorry if my last comment was harsh. I’m not just trying to win an argument against you. I really am hoping that you’ll consider these things in your heart, and look into them, and change.

    I of course understand you’d likely say the same about me, but again, all I can do is implore you to go and read these books of the Bible all the way through, with Jess verses taken in their natural context and in their plain meaning, and really be honest who yourself as to whether what you believe is aligned with the word of God.

    Is what you believe from the anointing of the Holy Spirit (1 John 2:27), or is it derived from the wisdom of man?

  9. That comment is here:

    Revisit the scriptures I have pointed out. You don’t need other men to interpret them for you. They are quite clear. It falls to you whether you want to obey them with an honest heart, or whether you want to seek refuges in excuses and convince yourself that God is going to wink at your disobedience. It is not difficult to understand what He expects of us. It is the simplicity of Christ–it only requires an honest and willing heart.

    Instead, you hold to doctrines and institutions of men. That will not be an excuse on the day of judgment. Today is the day to repent and to stop playing games, and to start following Jesus Christ.

    Only you can decide whether you want to fear God and do the right thing, or whether you want to continue taking false comfort in the strength of numbers. But there won’t be a crowd to hide in on the Last Day. It will just be each of us alone before God with everything laid bare. Really think about that, and act accordingly. What the apostles said about nonviolence is clear. It’s just a matter of whether we want to hear them.

    • “And He said to them, But now, whoever has a money belt is to take it along, likewise also a bag, and whoever has no sword is to sell his coat and buy one.” Luke 22:36

      “And Jesus entered the temple and drove out all those who were buying and selling in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who were selling doves.” Matthew 21:12

      These are not the words and actions of a pacifist. We are told there is a “time to love and a time to hate; A time for war and a time for peace” (Ecclesiastes 3:8), not that war is always wrong.

  10. Urban II,

    If you read my earlier comments addressed to Hulk, you will see that I said Christians restrain evil through our words and our actions. What the Lord did in the episodes you note is consistent with what I’m saying. That the two coincide is not accidental: all I am saying is literally what the apostles themselves have said in their letters.

    In the accounts you just quoted, Christ himself exemplifies the same principle I have been trying to express. Notice he did not kill anyone or call anyone to take up arms in a religious insurrection against the Romans or to kill anyone who was resisting his ministry. Nor did he instruct any of his disciples to do so when he commissioned them to go out and preach that all men should repent for the remission of sins.

    And thus, no Christian for hundreds of years did or thought otherwise. Violence was seen to be pointless, as Paul and the other apostles explain. This is spiritual warfare not the kind of warfare the Department of Defense specializes in.

    It was not until Augustine invented the doctrine of “a just war” that anyone came to think that carnal warfare is permitted or even necessary for defending the faith.

    We can follow Augustine or we can follow the scriptures, but we can’t do both.

    Finally, I just want to emphasize that I’m not advocating quietism. On the contrary, the scriptures themselves call for action. But it must be done in and through the Spirit otherwise it is at best in vain, at worst in defiance to the commandments of God.

    • Let’s follow the scriptures:

      “But you shall utterly destroy them, the Hittite and the Amorite, the Canaanite and the Perizzite, the Hivite and the Jebusite, as the LORD your God has commanded you…”

      God has commanded violence. I agree that this is a spiritual war, but that in no way means that self-defense is illegitimate and “just war” is simply self-defense on a macro scale.

    • Hi Urban II,

      Thanks for your reply. I guess this time I’ll begin by prefacing things with some questions.

      Who did Christ call the apostles to war against? Who did the direct disciples of the apostles–Polycarp, Clement of Rome, etc.–call followers of Christ to war against?

      The earliest Christians were certainly warriors–Paul himself tells Timothy to be a solider of Christ–, but they battled against lies and wickedness, against spiritual wickedness in high places. That is why, when need be, they martyred themselves for the faith.

      I say all this by way of introduction because I know the point I am now going to make is one often abused in other contexts. But I believe it applies here.

      It is relevant to note, at least on this issue, that God was dealing with the tribes of Israel differently than how He is handling those who are commanded to enter the new covenant after the Cross. We want the New Jerusalem in the new heavens and earth. Because the Kingdom of God has been revealed through Christ, there is now no need to battle people over physical land and human politics and things of that nature. Today, the only distinction that matters is who is are the people of the promise (the seed of Abraham) and those who are still lost in the devil’s territory.

      We should be trying to convert those who are still lost, not kill them in war.

  11. TSI talks as though Jesus is dead. He acts as though Jesus was just a man who lived 2000 years ago, made some inspirational statements, and left us an inspirational example. He speaks as though Jesus’ field of action was confined to 1C Palestine. But according to NT Christology, the Son is active wherever and whenever the Father is active (Jn 5:17). 

    In the 1C, at the same time the Son was doing things in 1C Palestine, he was doing things in 1C India, China, North and South America, &c. As a member of the Trinity, the Son is an agent of divine providence. The Son is active 24/7 throughout the universe. 

    Nevertheless, the problem with TSI using Jesus as an example of non-violence is that his appeal must necessarily include Jesus’ exemplary historical *inaction* in many activities both during His Incarnation, as well as post-ascension inaction.

    To be consistent this position necessarily undercuts all appeals to Christian charity. For example what is Jesus doing for Syrian refugees? For Puerto Rican hurricane victims? For Mexican earthquake victims? Is Jesus personally housing, feeding, and clothing any of these people? No. 

    If TSI is going to analogize from Jesus’ example, then we shouldn’t have Christian relief agencies. We shouldn’t do the stuff Jesus isn’t doing. Well, Jesus isn’t on the ground in war-torn or storm-ravaged countries, aiding the hungry, homeless, wounded, destitute masses. In fact Jesus is an example of nonintervention in all the crises in the world today. He’s not only a non-combatent, He’s completely AWOL.

    So there’s a central contradiction in TSI”s argument. His position involves an argument by analogy. He says Jesus was nonviolent, so we should follow his example. So he’s operating with a general principle, Don’t do what Jesus didn’t do. What example is Jesus setting for us right here and now? Presumably, TSI thinks Jesus is still alive. Indeed, omnipotent.

    Yet on the face of it, Jesus is doing nothing at all to intercede in the world today. Therefore, by parity of argument, Christians should practice total nonintervention in the world as well. We should retire to Christian ghettos and piously wait for His return.

    One should also hope that TSI isn’t put in a position to make life and death decisions. Pray TSI doesn’t come across a rapist strangling your child to death in an alley. Pray that you aren’t TSI’s wife or child when a home invader breaks in with the intent to murder and rape you as TSI passively looks on quoting Bible verses and politely asking the rapist to stop. TSI’s brand of hipster pacifism can’t make the elementary distinction between the duty to protect oneself and the weak and vulnerable from violent aggression from *being* a violent aggressor.

  12. CRD,

    Before you start waxing poetic concerning the deep things of theology, how about you learn to control yourself and stop sinning? If you want to name the name of Christ, you should depart from iniquity.

    I don’t know why you would say I am treating Christ in a merely historical mode. I quoted his words recorded in the holy scriptures, which are eternal and will never pass away–they apply right here and now, and anyone who has put to death the old man in a true repentance walks in the Spirit with Christ Jesus living in them. So I don’t see your point.

    I also quoted extensively from the words of the apostles. No one as yet in this thread has even so much as addressed those scriptures. Why not?

    Finally, I drew attention to the example of over three centuries of Christianity that, prior to the sole exceptin of Augustine, testifies that nonviolence was the universal practice of the church. But to you that apparently is out the window because maybe Luther or Calvin or John Piper or Paul Washer or John MacCarthur or some other Reformed theologian says otherwise.

    You also parody my position by saying that, if I were right, we should all hide away from the world. But that is exactly not what I am saying. In fact, in my last post I made a deliberate point of emphasizing that I am not advocating quietism.

    I said we are to war in the Spirit.

    But because you obviously know nothing about life in the Spirit, you don’t understand what I mean, so instead you lash out of me with a nasty attitude and baseless accusations. The way you are behaving is a perfect point in case of the carnal mind the lies of Reformed theology produces.

    So what more can I say? I suppose you can go ahead and decide to kill in the name of Jesus. In a way, what’s the difference anyway if you are wrong, since, on your theology, doing so would be just another sin that’s already pre-forgiven anyway? Your doctrines of men teach you that you can disobey God with impunity, because you have a magic cloak for sin, so really there’s nothing serious at stake in rejecting the words of Christ, the words of the apostles, and the examples of thousands of martyrs of the first three centuries of the pure apostolic church.

    It is the blind leading the blind into the ditch.

  13. CRD,

    One final thing: if to you the plain words of Paul and the other apostles are the things of “hipster pacifism,” what more can I say?

    You are very lost, and you should be ashamed of yourself for mocking the words of God like that.

    You need to come out of your phony evangelical church and come clean with God when there is still time.

    • @TSI – struck a nerve it seems…but nevertheless you fail to deal with the reductio of your analogy, or interact with the argument at all so my internal critique of your position remains unanswered.

      Also you’re quick to point to “the plain meaning” of Scripture (the doctrine of perpescuity), but you’ve yet to ‘splain how you arrived at your own, personal, unaided-by-any-man, led-by-the-Spirit-alone formulation of the doctrine of the Trinity. Care to enlighten us on this? Are you even a Trinitarian?

  14. CRD,

    I’ve ignored your argument because there is scripture after scripture showing you are wrong, so your argument is moot to me.

    The failure here isn’t on my part to engage with your argument. The failure is on your part to humble yourself and submit to the wisdom of God.

    I will ask again since you’ve decided to sidestep the issue: are you going to address the scriptures I quote from 2 Timothy, 1 Corinthians, and Ephesians?

    Are weapons are spiritual, not carnal: simple.

    We are to love our enemies, not kill them: simple.

    We war against spiritual forces, not worst ones: simple.

    We are to go to the lions if necessary, not take up arms against those who persecute us: simple.

    There is nothing to debate here because the record is clear. The problem is that you don’t want to accept it.

    I think everyone here can see your blatant hypocrisy. You get on here routinely and you lay into Catholics like Hulk and Urban II, saying that they can’t avoid individual responsibility at the end of the day, since they themselves had to accept the magisterium as authoritative. In that respect, you are correct to note that sola scriptura should win the day.

    But when someone like you sinning under the lies of Reformed theology is confronted with the simple word of God that contradicts your doctrine, then all of sudden you end up sounding like the very Catholics condemn and ridicule: the scripture isn’t so obvious, we need an army of theologians to interpret it, we need councils and creeds and confessions to decide, and who is any one single man to think he knows more than tradition? You see, at heart you’re still a Romanist. But rather than submit to Rome, you’ve just decided to submit to Calvin, and Luther and other men.

    To answer your question: yes, I’m a Trinitarian. I imagine you’ve asked because you assume that you can’t lose by asking: if I’m not you can pile on by claiming I’m a heretic, but if I say that I am, you can redirect the debate to some further talking point concerning biblical hermeneutics and how I can only know God is three-in-one if I help myself to resources I claim not to need. That is very cunning of you, which is precisely the problem. You see, you have a crafty spirit and a heart still full of guile. Your interest isn’t in obeying God; it’s in playing games with people and winning arguments on the Internet.

    And that’s why you’ll remain a hypocrite languishing in the degradation of your flesh until you come clean.

    If you want to say that you’ve touched a never, indeed you have: you should be ashamed to slander the scriptures the way you have. That makes me very sad, especially since you claim to be a disciple of Christ, when clearly you aren’t.

    If you were a Christian, you’d obey the words of God rather than trying to constantly explain them away by claiming they don’t mean what they say.

  15. And I apologize for the typos: I typed this on my phone quickly on a break at work. But I hope my point was clear nonetheless.

    As I say, the scriptures speak for themselves. Let every man judge for himself as to whether he wishes to obey.

  16. @TSI opines “We are to love our enemies, not kill them: simple.”

    The Scriptures are simple in that even a child can understand them, yet so rich and deep that the greatest human minds cannot plumb its depths. This is one of the paradoxes of divine revelation. Yet you are being simplistic.

    I’m dealing with your poor analogy because that’s the hinge of your *chic pacifist* argument, such as it is. Appeals to authority, even the ultimate authority of God Himself in the form of Scripture fails when one’s argument is fatally flawed. Not even God can make a contradiction a non-contradiction, so your facile appeals to Scripture fall flat.

    The NT contains a number of social duties. But not every obligation equally obligatory. And sometimes there are conflicting duties. Take Jesus and the Sabbath controversies.

    *Enemy love* is a sub-set of *neighbor love*. If you see a mugger attacking an elderly woman, you can’t be equally nice to the mugger and the old lady. Which takes priority: protecting her from being hospitalized by the mugger, or indulging in ineffectual gestures?

    How do you balance competing obligations? You’ve absolutized enemy love by relativizing neighbor love. You’ve plainly spent zero time seriously thinking about or praying over these serious Biblical matters. You’re just sloganeering, posturing, and genuflecting. Empty virtue signaling.

    You appeal to Jesus as the Christian’s exemplar, and that’s correct as far as it goes, yet your argument mangles His Person and work as if in some way Christians are to recapitulate His life and example which in many important ways was utterly unique and unrepeatable. For example you’ve marshalled the specter of martyrdom a few times now in defense of your pacifist argument, apparently with the intent of raising the question in the Christian reader’s mind of not only how we live, but how we die.

    The question in the first instance isn’t how *we* die, but whether we protect others from unjust death. Chic pacifists routinely collapse this rudimentary distinction.

    And, frankly, your analogy as constructed is borderline heretical. *Jesus came to die.* He came for the express purpose of redemptive death. That’s not the calling of ordinary humans. Our usual divine vocation is to have a normal family life. Procreate the next generation. Raise the next generation. Care for elderly parents, the weak, the needy and helpless.

    We may be called upon to be martyred for the faith, but we weren’t born for the purpose of dying, much less a redemptive death. We have no conflicting duty there.

    Yet in your refusal to engage your tattered analogy you’re being evasive. Retreating to appeals to the “plain and simple meaning of Scripture”, even when it’s been pointed out that the appeal is self-defeating, internally inconsistent, and illogical is intellectually and ethically defective behavior.

    Back to the analogy of the mugger and the old lady, if you are merciful to the mugger, then you are merciless to the victim. 

    Your harmonistic method is take the command to love our enemies as the standard of comparison, then redefine other commands to make them equivalent to that command. That’s reductionistic.

    God has commanded many duties in His Word, and sometimes there are competing commands. Yet it’s not a question of compartmentalizing these divine commands, but rather recognizing that different commands exist to address different situations. Otherwise, there wouldn’t be different commands in the first place.

    You trade in evasive abstractions that don’t begin to demonstrate how it’s loving to let a mugger bludgeon an old woman when you are in a position to forcibly intercede.

    That isn’t showing love to the woman. Rather, that’s allowing evil to triumph. Using buzzwords or reciting Scripture does nothing to express real love towards the elderly woman by taking appropriate action on her behalf. 

    You fail to draw an elementary distinction between a culpable aggressor and an innocent victim. It is evil to treat good and evil equally. Your response to me above belies your nasty habit of mischaracterizing the opposing position. This isn’t a case of creating exceptions to Jesus’ commands or ignoring Scripture in favor of the “traditions of men” as you slandarously accuse, but rather it’s doing the hard spadework and exegesis required to rightly divide God’s holy Word. A task that you’re obviously completely unacquainted with. You need to exercise critical sympathy. That means to understand the opposing position on its own terms. 

    Ironically it’s the hipster pacifist who makes ad hoc exceptions to Jesus’ commands by equating enemies as neighbors and thereby collapsing the elementary distinctions of neighbor love. In addition, your response seemingly commits another pacifist fallacy by equating someone else’s enemy with my enemy. But if I protect an elderly woman from a mugger, the mugger was her enemy, not my enemy. 

    Finally, by your twisted logic, since Jesus didn’t protect the victims of the tower of Siloam, Christians shouldn’t have building codes (e.g. fire codes, seismic codes). Since Jesus didn’t protect people from animal maulings, we shouldn’t kill predators that threaten human life. Since Jesus didn’t prevent people from death by famine, we shouldn’t use pesticides. 

    You might want to re-think your bizarre worldview.

    • Just more empty rhetoric.

      You’re going to theologize your way right into the pit, simply because you wouldn’t come clean. Sad.

  17. One more thing: it is a testament to how confused you really are when, at the end of your long post, you resort to your favorite example of the mugger and the old lady. First of all, I never said that the scriptures forbid us from doing anything to help those in harm’s way–those are your words, not mine. I simply said that they forbid war of the kind and on the scale that Hulk was posting about. Only someone as confused or shrewd as you would repeatedly try to turn things to the former, when clearly it was the latter I was emphasizing was at stake. But in a way I see no need to insist on the obvious distinction you missed, since, at the end of the day, it’s probably a short step anyway from admitting that we should help grandma to blowing up people in the Middle East with depleted uranium…

    Stop using the term “hipster pacifism.” The Apostle Paul was twice the man you currently are, so you should re-think your decision to mock his words and testimony.

    I don’t want to get dragged into your arguments and analogies. We both know all you would do is constantly nitpick and haggle over everything, drawing and redrawing distinctions and etc. Truly, it is a waste of time because you don’t have an honest heart with a spirit that is willing to yield to the truth even if you are wrong. If you did have a humble mind and a pure heart, you wouldn’t be sitting comfortably in your dead church under the Reformed lies that preach in favor of sin.

    You are very stubborn, so I won’t ask you to read the scriptures again. I’ve done so at least twice, but you won’t. So instead of asking again, I will ask anyone who is still following our exchange to do so for themselves. By now it should seem very suspicious to everyone as to why you won’t–or can’t–explain the scriptures I’ve quoted. Instead you digress into analogies and “distinctions” and so on and so forth. That’s because, as I’ve been saying from the beginning, the word of God speaks for itself. You don’t have an interpretation problem; you have a willingness problem. You don’t want to obey what they say, so you try to convince yourself that they don’t mean what they say.

    But if I can’t get you to read 2 Timothy, 2 Corinthians, or Ephesians with an honest heart, at least think about the first three hundred years of martyred saints. Were they hipsters too? Truly, shame on you.

  18. And one final thing:

    As for theology, it’s no wonder that you are a supporter of “just war” given your view of Christ, a view that will never lead to a true conversion because it negates a real repentance. On your view, the fact that Christ came to achieve a “redemptive death” just means that he’s done everything for you, and now all you have to do is trust in that and you can go about your business.

    Your theory of substitution (I strike me as a penal substitution kind of guy), a view of the atonement found nowhere in the scriptures themselves, gets the death of Christ fatally wrong, and as a consequence produces the kind of false carnal convert that you are.

    Yes, Christ died to reconcile us back to God. But you have yet to be reconciled because you’ve never repented.

    You’re still the same old man, which is why you can’t comprehend what I’m saying. To you, what I’m saying is foolishness–you deride it as “hipster pacifism.” Well, spiritual things are spiritually discerned, but they are foolishness to the natural man. That is why you don’t understand. Your mind is carnal.

    • I didn’t frame the issue in terms of just war theory, so don’t put me in that box.

      I’m engaging you on your own terms, using your own analogical method to demonstrate your incoherence. I merely deployed the mugger and the old lady analogy because it’s easy to understand, and it nicely illustrates your utterly confused position.

      God’s true character is truly revealed in *all* his actions. That’s why I asked if you were a Trinitarian. I’m glad to hear you are, even if you can’t or won’t give an account as to how or why. On Trinitarianism Jesus is God. God’s character is truly revealed in the eschatological judgment he will visit on his *enemies* on a global scale.

      More to the point, the NT emphasizes the life and cross of Christ because we are sinners, so we need to have our sins atoned for. That’s as much about *our* nature as it is about *God’s* nature. It’s not emphasized so you and your fellow hand-wringing pacifists can selectively highjack Him for your anachronistic propaganda.

      Yet the NT also lays great emphasis on the resurrection of Christ, the session of Christ, and the return of Christ (in part to judge the wicked). It is therefore, inaccurate and one-sided to use the Incarnation and First Advent of Christ as the all-defining prism to interpret God’s character, and then proceed to subordinate all other Biblical representations to that particular prism. 

      The question at issue is not whether Jesus (or the Apostles) is a role-model for Christians in some respects, but using Him (or them) as an argument for pacifism. To the contrary, by prioritizing the command to love our enemies, you disobey all other social obligations when one duty conflicts with another. NT commands include loving our enemies, neighbors, parents, spouses, children, strangers, etc.

      You cite blowing up Muslims in the Middle East. That’s a nice job of poisoning the well. How are you loving your Middle Eastern Christian brother’s wife or daughter by allowing her to be gang-raped by Muslim jihadis if you refuse to allow for the use of deadly force protect her from harm?  

      Your Middle Eastern Christian brother is commanded to provide for and protect his family, however you refuse to allow him to do what’s necessary to protect his family, livelihood, and financial assets from Muslim jihadis in the name of enemy love, therefore he can’t fulfill his duty in that regard. Then you go a step further and refuse to allow *anyone* to do what’s necessary, in the name of Christ no less!

      So what gives?

      Are you really this dense?

  19. I have tried my best, but I give up. Honestly, I do wish you the best in your seeking, but it seems to me that you have a lot to unravel.

    I have tried to get you just to discuss the relevant scriptures with me in 2 Timothy, 2 Corinthians, and Ephesians, and you won’t.

    I am not at all trying to be anything else but sincere when I say that you should ask yourself why that is. If your heart is truly aligned with the Word, then why can’t you stand on it? You should be eager and willing to settle this with direct reference to the words of scripture, and yet time and again you refuse to do so.

    I also asked what you think about the saints who chose to be martyred rather than take up arms either for themselves or anyone else, but that again is something you won’t address.

    You aren’t going to be asked these kinds of questions in the apostate churches where it’s “God and Country.” I hope that you come out from among them for your own sake. They aren’t teaching or preaching the truth.

  20. So that’s how this works? You simply get to claim the moral high ground by repeating prooftexts even when your appeals to Scripture are demonstrated to result in arguments and positions with perverse and wicked conclusions?

    You’re deflecting rather than refuting. You refuse to take effective measures to protect and defend the innocent. That’s a sub-Biblical worldview at best, and evil at worst.

    There’s a glaring mismatch between your mental construct of Christianity and reality. You may not want to deal with it, but you yourself are forced to prioritize Biblical obligations. Sadly in your warped worldview your harmonization is to protect the wicked from the innocent instead of protecting the innocent from the wicked and pretend that’s “Christianity” when in fact it’s just a vacuous substitute.

  21. For now at least the third time, you ignore three hundred years of the early Church, which epitomizes true faith.

    Instead, you speak great swelling words of emptiness.

    My view is not a construct. Yours is. What I have said has the advantage of recognizing historical fact and taking the scriptures at their word. It’s you who denies reality.

    You’re not arguing with me. You’re arguing with God.

  22. You’re still stuck looking at the Bible and the world through your harmonistic kaliedoscope. Frankly your pacifism is an entirely predictable feature that’s consistent with your unscriptural, works-righteousness brand of perfectionism. It really couldn’t work out any differently because of the unfortunate theological box you’ve placed yourself in.

    You see pacifism wherever you look because you’re looking at everything through your perfectionist hermeneutical grid. It’s ironic because even though you’re quick to point and laugh at the clunky horn-rimmed Calvinist eyeglasses I wear, you’re oblivious to the fact that you’re wearing a full-on Groucho Marx headset replete with an oversized red nose that honks when your lips move and googly-eyes on Slinky springs that ogle in and out of their sockets as you piously wag your finger and tut-tut at me. It’s simultaneously hilarious and pathetic.

    Oh well, shaking dust off feet and moving on.

  23. No, I just read the scriptures and do what they say. That’s what all the saints for two thousand years have done.

    I did want to mention that I’m not “proof-texting.” I was explicit in saying that you should read the entire letter of Ephesians, 2 Corinthians, and 2 Timothy. The particular verses I selected to quote directly are just very emblematic of the entire thrust and tone of the letter as a whole.

    Which leads me to my final point. When interpreting any text, you know that any approach worth its salt has to properly understand the kind of text it is. So what kind of text are these New Testament letters?

    Well, they certainly aren’t military letters or political revolution tracts. We don’t see Paul writing to the churches to advise, say, where to store the munitions. Or Peter advising the saints in ambush tactics. Or John directing the saints were to amass in preparation for an insurrection against the Romans. James isn’t putting plans into motion to prepare for the seizure of Jerusalem, etc.

    These are spiritual letters with spiritual advice for spirit minded people. They were dead to the world in that they were not interested in taking up arms for the kinds of purposes you think are biblical. There mind was no longer on such things. To try to harmonize the scriptures with that kind of perspective is simply trying to fit a square peg into a round hole.

    That’s all I have to say about it.

  24. @TSI by moral necessity must condemn this thief:

    https://www.marinecorpstimes.com/news/your-marine-corps/2017/10/03/marine-vet-steals-truck-and-saves-dozens-in-las-vegas/

    And if @TSI were in the same situation he would have stood by passively, perhaps wishing he had a truck. Or else maybe he’d have found the thieving Marine who was willing to take the necessary measures to save those 30 lives, and told him about his moral dilemma, quoting “Thou shalt not steal” while impotently wringing his hands.

    Or maybe he would have apologized to the 30 shot, bleeding and wounded victims, patiently explaining that he’s unable to help them due to his moral paralysis, and that he’s only upholding 2000 years of Christian tradition by allowing them to wallow in their gore because although there’s an unattended vehicle parked nearby that could be used to transport them to the local hospital, it would be immoral to take it.

    And after all, Jesus never even owned or drove a vehicle, much less did He take one that didn’t belong to Him. The Triumphal Entrance donkey incident was a totally different situation.

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