Re: [asa] Was Jesus wrong? (Resist evil?)

From: Jim Armstrong <>
Date: Tue Jun 30 2009 - 20:27:36 EDT
I am reminded of a kernel of wisdom that says essentially that the reason for studying the rules diligently is to know when they need to be broken. As outlined, Jesus' teachings seem to be appropriate within a very thick tier of living that lies above the more base conduct of men. But Jesus died in engagement with the latter, and it may be said that he anticipated and perhaps even provoked this engagement. Perhaps part of the appropriate counsel lies in the Caesar/God discriminator he offered, wherein civil government is expected (and blessed?) to do whatever is necessary to maintain civil society. I would think that the turn-the-other-cheek matter deals with matters of principle, which may be preempted by a higher principle, like self defense - unless a conscious choice has been made to subordinate even ones life to a principle. The unhappy situation is that there will always be difficulty with determination and consensus at the boundaries. We would prefer sharply defined edges, but I guess that's not our lot in a world with shades of gray and diverse perspectives. That's why wisdom is sought and valued (and necessary - as with the raising of children) at the points where rules fail.

JimA [Friend of ASA]

Dehler, Bernie wrote:
The question really stemmed from what to tell my kids about how to handle themselves on the playground.  I first tried the advice from Jesus and now I don't.  Jesus' advice doesn't seem to work for bullies who are in your face.  I think it is better to stand-up for yourself instead of turning the other cheek.  I had to come to peace with giving my kids the opposite advice of what Christ said to do.

Also- regarding Hitler, I think it is reasonable and best to kill Hitler if we had the chance.  This seems also to be against Jesus' advice.

In defense of the Bible (and Jesus), I think it could be said that this is a real terse passage and probably shouldn't be used for every situation (kid's on the playground, Hitler, etc.).  It isn't exactly a treatise on the subject on how to deal with trouble-makers... after all, it is only a few sentences.


-----Original Message-----
From: [] On Behalf Of gordon brown
Sent: Tuesday, June 30, 2009 3:17 PM
Subject: Re: [asa] Was Jesus wrong? (Resist evil?)

The question as to the appropriate Christian response to injustice is not 
an easy one, and differences among Christians about this issue should not 
be surprising. However, I would not phrase this question in terms of 
whether Jesus was wrong. If we approach the gospels thinking that Jesus 
might have been wrong, we are less likely to try to understand what he 
really meant.

The passage from Matthew consists of a series of commands. Commands are 
neither true nor false. So in that sense one cannot declare them right or 
wrong. So I think that Bernie's question is whether we should obey them, 
but if you think that it might not be right to obey them, by what standard 
are you judging what is right and what is wrong?

Gordon Brown (ASA member)

On Tue, 30 Jun 2009, Dehler, Bernie wrote:

I wrote previously about something that Jesus taught that I thought was
wrong (imminent return of Christ? let?s not debate that again).  I thought
of another, and would like feedback.


Jesus taught that we should "turn the other cheek;" walk 2 miles if asked to
walk 1 mile by an enemy; and give whatever a thief asks for, plus give them
even more.


Scripture reference:

Matthew 5:38-41

An Eye for an Eye

 38"You have heard that it was said, 'Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.'[a]
39But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on
the right cheek, turn to him the other also. 40And if someone wants to sue
you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. 41If someone
forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles.


When my oldest child was in school as a first grader, and getting picked-on,
I tried to apply this advice to her.  Also teaching "don't repay evil for
evil."  Instead- I told her to inform the teacher.  But I think the teachers
want the kids to learn how to get along, so they don't interfere much.


So it seems the best advice is this:


1. If a person is hurting you, ask them to stop.

2. If they don't stop, try to get away.

3. If you can't get away, you can hurt them to show self-defense.


It seems like this advice works, whereas Jesus' advice fails.


I also remember one time I was a kid and bullied someone else.  They hit me
in the eye, and it shocked (and surprised) me, and also wised me up.  If
they would have 'turned the other cheek' I wouldn't have learned to stop
bullying, and would have likely been a bigger bully.




Yes- the other idea about forgiving others instead of getting revenge is
great advice, but I have an issue with how we should treat bullies. 


BTW- This also applies to the community level of the behavior of nations
(dealing with Israelis/Palestinians, Iran, and North Korea).  Also- this
topic relates to the social sciences of psychology and philosophy (I know
someone would ask what this has to do with ASA).


I know that famous atheist Christopher Hitchens always rails against this
passage (Hitchens loves the idea of killing your enemies).  I?m more
middle-ground, seeing some good applications in the passage but also seeing
a part that doesn?t work.  The main thing I think Jesus got wrong was this
part ?Do not resist an evil person.?  In fact- there?s another non-biblical
saying which I think is better ?All that?s necessary for evil to flourish is
for good men to do nothing.?  They are opposite teachings.  Apply it to
Hitler- Jesus, if living on Earth while Hitler ruled, would seemingly
suggest not opposing Hitler.




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To unsubscribe, send a message to with "unsubscribe asa" (no quotes) as the body of the message. Received on Tue Jun 30 20:28:19 2009

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