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

From: Merv Bitikofer <mrb22667@kansas.net>
Date: Tue Jun 30 2009 - 22:36:31 EDT

It isn't for nothing that the kingdom of God is sometimes referred to as
the "upside-down" kingdom. Numerous challenges (in addition to how to
respond to violence) fly in the face of conventional wisdom and even
religious wisdom. (You have heard it said ... But I say to you ...)
It is interesting to note that these challenges are not totally new with
N.T. times or with Jesus. Stuck in the middle of Proverbs (25:21) is
this familiar gem: "If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat; If
he is thirsty, give him water to drink. For you will heap coals of fire
on his head, And Yahweh will reward you."

So Jesus isn't just making this stuff up on the fly. Amidst all the
seemingly sanctioned violence in the O.T. we also can still find other
O.T. passages that speak of God hating violence or, in part, rejecting
those who are violent (David isn't permitted to build God's temple
because of the blood on his hands.) It seems that Jesus really brought
this out and used it to raise the bar; a lot. Both Old and New
testaments presume that violence is just a part of the normal world.
Enraged and jealous husbands it is observed, will commonly be violent;
it's not called right or wrong --it just is. Soldiers will go on being
soldiers; that's just expected. But disciples! ... well that's another
matter. For them Jesus reserves an impossibly high bar: "be perfect as
your father in heaven is perfect ... who causes the sun to rise on the
just and the unjust." Jesus must have his own reasons for telling men,
effectively, not to even look at another woman in a desirous way. It
probably keeps us on our knees before him knowing all our points of
failure. Some pharisees imagined that they did a pretty good job as far
as law goes. Maybe all this is Jesus' way of saying, "Okay --you want to
be legalists and climb to heaven on your works? Then let me tell you
how much farther you're gonna need to go..." But nor can we just
dismiss this then by throwing up our hands and saying "well, then --I
can't begin to do all this anyway, so why try at all?" The Christian
rests in Christ's salvation; but he also knows that his work of becoming
more Christ-like is never done. Like a good teacher, Jesus makes sure
the goals remain challenging even to the best students.

I think you need to do what every natural parent does: have your
children learn to defend themselves. But also be telling them how
Jesus told us to react to enemies so that they can be familiar with his
challenge as well. They can then become partners with you in wrestling
with paradoxical and contradictory claims that are part of mature
Christian life. Then, someday, your children may grow in Christian
maturity to a point where they have a real choice they can make: If
they choose not to strike back, it won't be because they can't. It will
hopefully be because they are listening to the Spirit in a given
situation. THAT may get somebody's attention much more than a doormat
who has no other choice but to be a doormat would.

--Merv

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.
>
> ...Bernie
>
> -----Original Message-----
> From: asa-owner@lists.calvin.edu [mailto:asa-owner@lists.calvin.edu] On Behalf Of gordon brown
> Sent: Tuesday, June 30, 2009 3:17 PM
> To: asa@calvin.edu
> 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.
>>
>>
>>
>> Thoughts?
>>
>>
>>
>> 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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Received on Tue Jun 30 22:37:21 2009

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