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HolyGround >> A Biblical defense of self-defense


7/13/12 8:13 PM
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DiscipleDojo
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 Thought today's post might interest some of my fellow UGers...


As a martial artist who’s also a minister, I frequently get this question in some form or another.

“Didn’t Jesus say to ‘turn the other cheek’?”

“How can a Christian practice martial arts when martial arts is about hurting people and Christians are supposed to love their enemies?”

Unlike other Christians who are martial arts or MMA fans, I don’t believe Jesus was a “macho” “cage fighter” or any of the other unbiblical and cliche stereotypes that some have embraced in their desire to reach and minister to men. In fact, I’ve written two articles on Christianity and the sport of MMA:

Ultimate Fighting…Jesus??

Qualifying Mark Driscoll’s defense of MMA

But the deeper question remains…how can a Christian believe in actual self-defense in real life (as opposed to sporting) situations when someone’s life may be on the line?

From my previous posts criticizing current U.S. foreign policy, readers my get the impression that I am a Pacifist in the theological sense of the word and oppose all violence in all circumstances.

However, while I have great respect for the position of Christian Pacifism and can very much sympathize with the views of those who hold to various forms of it (such as my friend Kurt Willems or scholars whom I respect immensely such as Ben Witherington and N.T. Wright), I cannot fully embrace a total nonviolence/pacifist position.

This doesn’t mean that I automatically embrace classical Just War theory, as many Christians over the centuries have. I think war is almost always unjustified.

Almost.

But aside from the military/war discussion, I believe that there is actual Biblical warrant for Christians practicing loving and Spirit-led self-defense.

Not ‘retaliation’.

Not ‘vigilante justice’.

Not ‘stand your ground’.

Not ‘defending your honor’.

But the actual seeking of a preservation of shalom. Wholeness. Peace. Well-being. For yourself and those in need.

Much could be said about this, and indeed many volumes have been written by capable and Godly theologians on all sides. But I wanted to share two posts written by one of my dearest friends, Olatunde Howard. Olatunde is a law enforcement officer and writes over at his blog Cru. Here are a few excerpts from his posts that I found especially profound in terms of this topic...

Continue reading


7/14/12 4:49 PM
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jrrrrr
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Psalm 144
Of David. Praise be to the LORD my Rock, who trains my hands for war, my fingers for battle.

Thou shalt not murder
One may take life to save ones own life or the life of another. One may take life in the pursuit of protecting the community in official service such as a police officer or soldier.

One may NOT take life for personal gain, or out of anger/hate/jealousy, etc..
7/16/12 12:09 AM
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reverend john
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jrrrr

that is a very simplistic view. Jesus in fact changes everything, he says love your enemy, he says do good to those that do evil to you, he says according to many "do not violently resist and evil doer"

The early church were almost universal in their pacifism for the first 150 years. The message they believed to be delivered down from Jesus through the apostles was that violence was never justified. This did not mean that evil was not resisted, it was to be resisted even to the cost of ones own life.

rev
7/16/12 12:11 AM
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reverend john
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I like your stuff jm, it is well done even when I disagree I appreciate it

rev
7/16/12 7:37 AM
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DiscipleDojo
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 Thanks rev.  :)
7/16/12 1:48 PM
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jrrrrr
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Hi RJ,

I think that what was being said was that one should not look to do violence. One should not have hate in your heart. I don't think what was being said was that one should just allow violence to be done to you.


He said to them, "But now if you have a purse, take it, and also a bag; and if you don't have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one. It is written: 'And he was numbered with the transgressors'; and I tell you that this must be fulfilled in me. Yes, what is written about me is reaching its fulfillment." The disciples said, "See, Lord, here are two swords." "That's enough!" he replied.

--Gospel of Luke 22:36-38, NIV
7/16/12 1:56 PM
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reverend john
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yes, that is one scripture, I believe it is taken out of context by his disciples and then the church. That scripture, says contextually, "in the past we have relied upon the kindness of strangers, but now we must actually be prepared for the world to hate us"

Justin Martyr said quite plainly when Christ disarmed Peter he disarmed us all.

rev
7/16/12 3:46 PM
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DiscipleDojo
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jrrrrr - Hi RJ,

I think that what was being said was that one should not look to do violence. One should not have hate in your heart. I don't think what was being said was that one should just allow violence to be done to you.


He said to them, "But now if you have a purse, take it, and also a bag; and if you don't have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one. It is written: 'And he was numbered with the transgressors'; and I tell you that this must be fulfilled in me. Yes, what is written about me is reaching its fulfillment." The disciples said, "See, Lord, here are two swords." "That's enough!" he replied.

--Gospel of Luke 22:36-38, NIV

 NT scholar Ben Witherington has argued that the phrase above "That's enough!" should be translated "Enough of that!" (i.e. Jesus is rejecting the use of the sword and ending the discussion).  I think he makes an interesting argument, even though, as I said in my post, I can't fully embrace a total pacifist view for Biblical reasons.
7/16/12 5:42 PM
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reverend john
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Yes, I understand its debatable, but I find more evidence in the favor of non violence, especially the early church response to the evidence.

rev
9/20/12 10:15 AM
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quick
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Reverend John, I apologize as I am sure you have answered this before, are you a pacifist?
9/20/12 10:32 AM
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reverend john
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theoretically I am an advocate of non violence, creative confrontive non violent action. The word pacifist can sometimes mean to do nothing, or be passive, and I never believe in that.

However, I doubt my ability to practice my beliefs in a setting where people are being injured or assaulted, particularly those I am close to. I do consider this a flaw, I am a very violent man.

rev
9/20/12 2:48 PM
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quick
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Thanks for sharing. I've actually just started going to a Friends meeting, and while I really enjoy it I have a hell of a time reconciling with their pacifist stance.
9/20/12 2:58 PM
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DyingBreed
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How'd I miss this one??? Phone Post
9/21/12 9:20 AM
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reverend john
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If you would like to talk more about it send me and email quick

pinnedagain2001 at Yahoo.com

rev
9/22/12 4:34 PM
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ridge hand
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jrrrrr - Psalm 144
Of David. Praise be to the LORD my Rock, who trains my hands for war, my fingers for battle.

Thou shalt not murder
One may take life to save ones own life or the life of another. One may take life in the pursuit of protecting the community in official service such as a police officer or soldier.

One may NOT take life for personal gain, or out of anger/hate/jealousy, etc..

Thou shalt not kill. (Exodus 20:13)

Add thou not unto his words, lest he reprove thee, and thou be found a liar. (Proverbs 30:6)
9/22/12 8:20 PM
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jrrrrr
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ridge... check on that translation. Both the tradional jewish and many revised christian is Thou shall not murder.

Exodus 20:13
New International Version (NIV)

13 "You shall not murder.
Cross references:Exodus 20:13 : S Ge 4:23; Mt 5:21*; 19:18*; Mk 10:19*; Lk 18:20*; Ro 13:9*; Jas 2:11*
<<<=
=>>>New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Exodus 20:13 in all English translations
9/23/12 2:01 AM
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DiscipleDojo
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jrrrr is correct. The Hebrew verb is not "kill" in the Ten Commandments. It's "murder" and refers to the unlawful and intentional taking of human life.

For an excellent discussion of it, see "Old Testament Ethics for the People of God" by Christopher Wright.

9/23/12 1:23 PM
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ridge hand
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jrrrrr - Psalm 144
Of David. Praise be to the LORD my Rock, who trains my hands for war, my fingers for battle.

Thou shalt not murder
One may take life to save ones own life or the life of another. One may take life in the pursuit of protecting the community in official service such as a police officer or soldier.

One may NOT take life for personal gain, or out of anger/hate/jealousy, etc..

"Psalm 144
Of David. Praise be to the LORD my Rock, who trains my hands for war, my fingers for battle."

Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: (Jeremiah 31:31)

For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds (2 Corinthians 10:4)

And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God (Ephesians 6:17)

For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12)



"One may take life to save ones own life or the life of another."

Thou shalt not kill. (Exodus 20:13)

For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins (Hebrews 10:26)



"One may take life in the pursuit of protecting the community in official service such as a police officer or soldier."

Thou shalt not kill. (Exodus 20:13)

Thou shalt have no other gods before me. (Exodus 20:3)

Preach the word (2 Timothy 4:2)

The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life; and he that winneth souls is wise. (Proverbs 11:30)
9/23/12 10:32 PM
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jrrrrr
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Bible is filled with understanding that peace is preferred, but it also understands that war can happen.

Numbers 1-2
New International Version (NIV)

The Census
1 The Lord spoke to Moses in the tent of meeting in the Desert of Sinai on the first day of the second month of the second year after the Israelites came out of Egypt. He said: 2 "Take a census of the whole Israelite community by their clans and families, listing every man by name, one by one. 3 You and Aaron are to count according to their divisions all the men in Israel who are twenty years old or more and ABLE to SERVE in the ARMY. (emphasis added...JRRRR)

Pursue Peace Before Waging War

When you approach a city to do battle with it you should call to it in peace. And if they respond in peace and they open the city to you, all the people in the city shall pay taxes to you and be subservient. And if they do not make peace with you, you shall wage war with them and you may besiege them. Deuteronomy 20:10-12

When in your war against a city, you have to besiege it a long time in order to capture it, you must not destroy its trees, wielding the ax against them. You may eat of them, but you must not cut them down. Are trees of the field human to withdraw before you into a besieged city? Deuteronomy 20:19.

Only trees that you know do not yield food may be destroyed; you may cut them down for constructing siege works against the city that is waging war on you, until it has been reduced. Deuteronomy 20:20
9/23/12 11:39 PM
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ridge hand
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A man also or woman that hath a familiar spirit, or that is a wizard, shall surely be put to
death: they shall stone them with stones: their blood shall be upon them. (Leviticus 20:27)

If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an
abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.
(Leviticus 20:13)

Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but
slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass.
(1 Samuel 15:3)

----------------------------------------------------------------------------

Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of
Israel, and with the house of Judah: (Jeremiah 31:31)

But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that
hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you (Matthew 5:44)

Preach the word (2 Timothy 4:2)

For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be
wearied and faint in your minds. (Hebrews 12:3)
9/30/12 6:29 PM
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YoungGunABKJ
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rom 13;4

num 35;19The avenger of blood shall put the murderer to death; when he meets him, he shall put him to death.
9/30/12 7:26 PM
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jrrrrr
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Edited: 09/30/12 7:44 PM
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um...is it me or are people throwing in quotes and not showing how they are in context to the thread...?
9/30/12 8:10 PM
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quick
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I think that is his MO.
9/30/12 9:24 PM
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DiscipleDojo
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Yeah, he's done that in other threads.  KJV verses copied and pasted with no context and only semi-related to the topic. Strange.

9/30/12 10:54 PM
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YoungGunABKJ
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how does it not relate to this topic.

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