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Are Christians obliged to be fodder for evil?

FOR THE LORD’S DAY

And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war. His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself. And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God. And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean. And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS. And I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the fowls that fly in the midst of heaven, Come and gather yourselves together unto the supper of the Great God; That ye may eat the flesh of kings, and the flesh of captains, and the flesh of mighty men, and the flesh of horses, and of them that sit on them, and the flesh of all men, both free and bond, both small and great. And I saw the beast, and the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against him that sat on the horse, and against his army. And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshipped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone. And the remnant were slain with the sword of him that sat upon the horse, which sword proceed out of his mouth: and all the fowls were filled with their flesh. (Revelation 19:11-21)

Back in February a skit on SNL featured Christopher Waltz in a “mock trailer for a fictional film titled ‘Djesus Uncrossed.’ Jesus (Waltz) rises from the dead to seek vengeance on his oppressors. ‘He’s risen from the dead,’ deadpans the trailer’s voice-over narrator, ‘and he’s preaching anything but forgiveness.’ A sword wielding, cross-bearing Jesus then proceeds to dispatch a horde of Roman soldiers in a blue-lit silhouette scene à la Kill BILL Vol. 1.” The skit infuriated some people. They felt that, by depicting Christ in violent mode the SNL skit mocked him. Their complaints lead Sears and JCPenny to curtail their advertising for that installment of SNL.

Those events came to my mind today as I was reading the passage quoted above from Revelation. I found myself thinking that, in truth, the main objection to the SNL skit is that its puny depiction of Christ’s wrath doesn’t hold a candle to the Scriptural portrayal of his actual destruction of the beast and his minions. A cinematic depiction of Christ’s scouring of our earthly shire— including the fearsome winepress, expressing rivers of blood; and the fowl gorging merrily on the putrid flesh of the slain— would require combining Tarentino’s taste for gore with Hitchcock’s creepy manipulation of natural horror (as in The Birds). It would also call for a scale of individualized, heart wrenching general mayhem that tantalizes disaster movie makers in their worst nightmares, but which they never quite manage to reproduce on the screen.

Ironically, in these offensively evil times, self-professed Christians who feel outrage at the thought of associating Christ with violence may be playing into the hands of Christ’s adversary. After all, incomprehensibly massive, government perpetrated slaughters occurred with striking regularity during the twentieth century. Today, in various parts of the world, gruesome violence is being done to Christians with frequency. Events in Africa and the Middle East have Christians and Jews being systematically targeted for violence by groups that have seized control of governments, or are poised to do so.

Moreover, it’s not at all unreasonable to see, in certain recurring reports, signs that the U.S. government is preparing our military forces to do violence against Christian denominations that refuse to abandon God’s Word on matters like homosexuality. Just yesterday I read that “soldiers in the U.S. military have been told in a training briefing that evangelical Christians are the No. 1 extremist threat to America…Catholicism and ultra-orthodox Judaism are also on the list of religious extremist organizations.”

Given these signs of the times the notion that “gentle Jesus, meek and mild” is the only accurate, Gospel-authorized example for Christians may ironically lead them to strike a pose of defenseless piety in the face of these genocidal threats. Since the prospect of an easy kill emboldens cowardly bullies, this defenseless pose increases their temptation to do evil. Are Christians required to become a near occasion of sin for those inclined to prey upon the defenseless? Are we required by Christ’s example to make ourselves fodder for evil?

In the Bible God formulates the first law of nature in a way that requires that people be prepared both to die at the hands of the wicked; and to turn back upon them the fate they have inflicted upon another. “Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made He man.” The sight of murder naturally gives rise to righteous indignation, which moves people to act against the murderer. However, God authorizes people to take action only after some victim’s blood is spilled. Someone must therefore be willing to suffer the first blow. His death authorizes others to execute God’s will. Unlike secular political philosophers, the Bible does not formulate the first law of nature in terms of self-preservation; or even in terms of defending the lives of others. The first natural law is formulated in terms of the respect owed to God, because the blow struck against the human victim is a blow aimed also at God, whose image each person represents. (This means that the action taken is not a matter of ‘evil for evil’: evil done to another to avenge evil done to us. Christ admonishes us to return good for evil. But what God requires us to do is, by that fact alone, good; especially when it is done for His sake rather than our own.)

Righteous action thus requires, in the first instance, people who are willing, as Christ was, to give their lives in order to release the power of God’s Word against the perpetrator of evil. But people of goodwill who witness it are authorized to take action against the perpetrator, on account of their respect for God. But in order to do, in this respect, what the Word of God authorizes them to do, they must be equipped for action, in spiritual and material terms. They must be prepared to execute God’s law.

Did Christ’s willingness to be the one whose self-sacrifice releases the power of God against evil, repeal the Word of God which authorizes human beings to be the instruments of that power? Christ insisted that he did not come to change one jot or tittle of the law laid down by His Father God. Despite that insistence, does his fulfillment of the law require that Christians either abjure God’s truth or else submit to be slaughtered by evil? Christ said that Christians should pray to the Father “thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” Are we then to deny God’s will on earth when, in response to blood-shedding violence, the code of righteous indignation He included in our human nature moves us to execute it?

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{ 13 comments }

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  • Dawg_em

    This situation certainly seems to present a conundrum for professing Christians. But being a simple man I believe I have a simple answer;

    Let’s say some warm spring morning after Mass, my wife and I are on a stroll. A “street urchin” approaches and says something along the lines of, “You look like a Christian. Well, are YOU? Will you forgive?” He then gives me the back of his hand across my face. As a Christian, I would have to admit to being compelled to turn the other cheek.

    He then turns to my wife and says the same thing. As he lifts his hand I proceed to open a can of wupp— upon his person.

    In short, we are called to suffer personal attacks and yet we must “rescue those being led away to the slaughter”. If I knew I would be the one and only person led away to a FEMA camp, well….

    But knowing they will load thousands, if not millions, on “trains” for the long ride to oblivion mandates a Christian response.

  • http://www.facebook.com/ibantam Chris Burleson

    Besides, making a future generation responsible for our debts is taxation without representation!

  • sanderson12

    I have come to understand that there is a difference between innocent and guilty blood. For example, if you study the stories about Saul and David then you will see that God perceived a difference between spilling guilty blood vs spilling innocent blood. While God rewarded David by making him a king after spilling Goliath’s guilty blood, God took his annointing away from David after David spilled Uriah’s innocent blood.

    • Dawg_em

      For you to claim Catholics worship a “dead, emaciated weakling hanging on the cross” is beyond buffoonish. There can be no resurrection without the cross. Nor can there be forgiveness of sins.

      Grow up.

      • sanderson12

        You appear to be too blind to realize that Catholics worship a dead Jesus rather than a risen Christ. I recommend that you actually study the Catholic Church and, in particular, Vatican II.
        To get you started, here is a video based on biblical rather than Catholic principles:

    • alkeyes

      One imperative of respect for the Bible is to show respect for God’s words, as they are given to us. In the Ten Commandments God did not prescribe “do not kill”. He prescribed “you shall not murder.” Murder is unlawful killing, killing not authorized by God.

      Unless it is set right again, Thinking that begins by disrespecting God’s Word is unlikely to end in respect for His will. That’s why I take pains to begin my thinking about politics, and everything else, from premises that are consistent with God’s word. If you think something I have written in this post is not consistent with the Bible, point it out. I welcome correction in this respect because “All scripture is God-breathed and profitable for instruction, for reproof, for correction, for schooling in righteousness:…” (2: Timothy 3:16)

      The approach you have taken in your post here, however, leads me to wonder what force is motivating you. Trustworthy correction begins by comparing what someone has said with what God says. Where human opinion conflicts with the Scripture, correction is obviously called for, and perhaps reproof. But after referring in a very general way to some Bible accounts, you make as if to reprove what I have said, without even attempting to show where it conflicts with God’s word. In the one reference you make in that regard, to God’s commandment, you do not accurately follow God’s word.

      Along the way your reference to Catholics is a transparent ploy, intended to impair the thinking of any readers prey to reflexive bigotry. This use of human foibles to divide Christians in the face of our common enemy is one of the most common tactics the adversary employs. But you know what’s especially ironic, don’t you? It’s that you seek to deploy the tactic of anti-Catholic bigotry in order to gain credibility as you conjure up a conclusion that agrees with statements made by some Catholics. They too pretend, as you do, that God simply forbids all killing, when in fact, it is the shedding of INNOCENT blood that is among the six or seven things God hates or abhors (Proverbs 6:16).

      You cleverly begin your post by alluding to the distinction between innocent and guilty blood, but you then conjure up a conclusion deceitfully translated into Scriptural terms precisely in order to hide the truth that God’s commandment against murder is deliberately worded to take account of this distinction. This clever abuse of God’s words for verbal misdirection reminds me of Eve’s encounter with the Serpent in the Garden.

      Your reference to supposed Catholic teaching is obviously meant to cast aspersions on what I have said, even though what you assert (“God said do not kill”) is more “Catholic” in the sense you pretend to decry (which is to say, not Biblical) than what I have written.

      I conclude that the aim of your reference to Catholicism is simply to sow seeds of discord. The Scripture (Proverbs 6:19) includes people who do so among the six or seven things God hates or abhors.

      Finally, I need make no apology for worshiping a “dead emaciated weakling hanging on the cross”. I am not ashamed to stand with Paul (whose conviction for Christ crucified you speak of in terms of condemnation). On the way to Damascus he met Jesus, so bright with glory that Paul lost his sight. But by trusting in Christ’s voice from heaven Paul regained more than he lost. Seeing with that better vision he unashamedly spread the good news, writing (1 Corinthians 1:23) “we preach Christ crucified” ; and also “I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.” (Ibid., 2:2)

      The kings and princes of the earth, who rebel against God and His son, bursting their bonds and casting away their cords (Psalm 2:3), may see the emblem of Christ’s perfect obedience to his Father’s will as something to be despised, but I believe it is better to die living with Christ, according to God’s will, than to live (so-called) in the praises of willful men. They reject Christ’s death on the cross as something shameful because, in rebellion against God, the Father and the Son, they have cast away the standard that represents man’s complete acceptance of His will “on earth as it is in heaven”.

      If this preference reflects my Catholic upbringing, so be it. But I think it is rather the good fruit of my Christian faith. My earnest prayer for you is that you will someday take it as such.

      • sanderson12

        1. I presented a conversation about
        innocent and guilty blood which you then misconstrued into some warped
        anti-Catholicism rant.

        I simply presented a topic of conversation about innocent and guilty blood and
        it had nothing to do with Catholicism. My comments about Catholicism were to contrast the false idol of the dead Jesus that Catholics see and worship every week during mass with the risen Christ.

        2. As far as my comments about Catholicism, you appear to have judged me
        as a bigot when all I did is point out the fact that Catholics worship a dead
        Jesus hanging on a cross that is often nailed to a wall behind the priest
        during mass. That’s not bigotry. That’s the truth. Catholics also worship idols of Mary and saints even though the Bible says not to.

        I also uploaded a video that explains that the Catholic Church was not begun by
        Paul as the Vatican claims. The
        video presents biblical references that indicate that the Catholic Church was
        instead started by Simon the Sorcerer. As someone who supposedly respects God’s word, I would think that you would have discussed the video instead of busying yourself with attacking me.

        I seem to have made the mistake of thinking that you were someone who I could have an interesting discussion with but instead, you slandered me for no
        reason. What good has your Catholic beliefs done for you when all you have done here is slandered me simply because I disagree with you? Jesus never murdered or killed anyone nor would he have slandered me like you did. Thank goodness I believe in him more than I believe in you.

  • http://www.facebook.com/skevin.wojtaszek SKevin Wojtaszek

    Wow. Do I ever want one of you guys to have his finger on the button!

  • http://www.facebook.com/andrew.gramling.1 Andrew Gramling

    If you bow down to evil, it will always be standing over you. I think sometimes it is necessary to defend oneself. Patience and wisdom first, action later, when required, is my way. God himself has put me in the position to live this way, so I’m guessing it is deemed acceptable.

    • Dawg_em

      As Ambassador Keyes says, they will have to draw “first blood”. Some of us will have to be killed before righteous action can be taken. The problem is discerning whether a false flag event will be used to claim a fundamentalist Christian conservative has killed federal agents or police officers.

  • JamesAt17

    I never felt that I should fall over for evil to do as it desires against me. The dividing line has been drawn as to those who will believe and those that choose not to. If I am attacked and those attackers think I won’t fight back they are in for a number of them dropping dead before they realize they had that scripture wrong. Thousands of Christians are also out there buying those guns and ammo. FEMA camps set up all over the U.S. I doubt they are for the people that follow orders to bow to the anti-Christ. When they come for me I am ready to take a few out before they send me off to see the Father.

    • http://www.facebook.com/dwight.osborne3 Dwight Osborne

      If you’re a Christian, you won’t be here to be sent to the concentration camps. This isn’t likely to happen until the tribulation.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1481354920 Craig Bergman

    Let it come.

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