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WHAT DOES THE BIBLE SAY ABOUT NON-VIOLENCE?

The South African "christian pacifist" movement is actively propagating the idea that only total non-violence is Christian. They stress that the ideology of non-violence, however, does not imply that Christians are to be passive and uninvolved in the "Liberation Struggle." The SACC has widely distributed their recent manifesto, Jesus’ Third Way (1). This book promotes a socialist-democratic vision for a "post-apartheid" South Africa exactly as does The Kairos Document. The only real difference between the two documents is the means to the same end. The "Kairos" theologians invoke violence. Their example is the Nicaraguan Revolution. The pacifist proponents of Jesus' Third Way, on the other hand, invoke non-violence. The example to which they point is the overthrow of President Marcos of the Philippines. Both groups are training their parishioners right now to overthrow what they call "the capitalist, sexist, apartheid regime."

Some Use of "Violence" is Just According to the Bible
First of all, the Scriptures do not teach non-violence if one defines "violence" as the use of any force whatsoever. "Non-violent christians," however, deny parents the right to use the cane on disobedient children (Pr. 13:24) and certain types of criminals (Pr. 10:13) (2). They forbid the state to use guns (Rom. 13:4) and capital punishment (3). Men must not forcibly protect their wives, children and property from attack (Ex. 22:20). They deny any use of armed forces by a Christian civil government (4). Consistent pacifists claim 1) the desire to protect "one's own" is "clinging to privilege," and 2) anything less than socialist ownership in a unitary state is evil, divisive and selfish (5). This is not what God says! In fact, as a last resort, God mandates taking up arms to defend (Rom. 12:17-18) one's own property, people/volk, culture and faith against aggression, evil, and violence. Normally this is to be under the authority of the civil government (Rom. 13:1f), but, at times it must come from a Christian's own initiative (Ex. 2:16-19) (6). This is not selfish greed. Jesus said: "Greater love has no man than to lay down his life for his friends" (Jn. 15:13). Solomon said "Rescue the [innocent] being led away to death...staggering toward slaughter" (Pr. 24:11-12). By denying the right to protect one's neighbour and a social order with a Christian base, pacifism is the epitome of selfishness, self-indulgence, and rebellion against God's Word!

Pacifism is Rebellion against God's Justice and Law-order
Secondly, if the New Testament denies the use of all violence, as the pacifist claims, then it denies the validity of a blood sacrifice for sins. Pacifists are actually denying the validity of the cross of Christ and a "violence-wrought" forgiveness of sins! "Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness" (Heb. 9:22). Pacifists are, thus, claiming that the New Covenant has changed God's just Law. Christ explicitly denies this in The Sermon on the Mount, their chief proof text! He said that He had not come "to abolish the Law...but to confirm it." He said that "not even the smallest letter or stroke of a letter shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished." That will occur, He stated, only after "the Heavens and the earth shall pass away" (lit. trans.- Mt. 5:17-20) (7). His Sermon is not a "new" Law. Actually, Christ is correctly explaining God's just Law to counteract the Pharisee's distortions of it (cf. Mt. 15:1f, 23:1f) Jesus supported the ethic of the Mosaic Law. Thus He taught that "neighbour-love" and the use of force by parents or a civil government are compatible. Moses (Dt. 32:35), Christ (Mt. 5:38f, and Paul (Rom. 12:19f) forbid private revenge, not judicial retribution!

Clearly, both Testaments state that the New Covenant writes the whole Mosaic Law on the heart (Jer. 31:33; Heb. 8:8f). Because God's Law comes from His unchangeable character, the New Covenant cannot change that perfect Law (Rom. 7:12-22)(8). Pacifists, thus, actually believe in either an imperfect, changeable godlet (Heb. 13:8; Mal. 3:6) or in two different gods, one for the Old and one for the New. This error was common in the early church (e.g. the Manichaeans and Marcion, a Gnostic heretic). The Anabaptist, pacifist Socialists of the Reformation and their descendants at present (9) are not teachings the doctrine of Christ. Instead, they have accepted many of the doctrines of ancient heresies!

The Early Church was not Pacifist
"Pacifist christians" claim that they are the heirs of a "pacifist" early Church. This is false. In the New Testament, soldiers are not told that a career in the Army was unjust or unloving. For example, John the Baptist did not tell soldiers to resign but to exercise their duties justly according to God's Law, without extortion or false accusation (Lk. 3:14). There are four Centurions commended in the New Testament. None were told to leave the Army (10). Pacifists claim that all the early Church Fathers were pacifists. This has been ably rejected by orthodox Roman Catholic and Protestant Church historians. There were only two or three Fathers who questioned the morality of serving in the Roman Army. Their reason was the possible connection of Army life with idolatry. They did not reject military service per se nor a country's right to defend itself (11).

There is a Time for Righteous Anger!
Jesus taught that there is a total war on between the kingdom of darkness and the Kingdom of God in Christ (12). The 20th Century has demonstrated that either they will destroy Christians, or we must destroy them through the civil government, by the consistent, just application of God's Law — moral and civil (Ps. 72). It is significant, then, that many pacifists claim that Christ's message was only one of tolerant love, personal piety, peace, and meekness. It was not a message of confrontation nor of striving to build and defend a complete godly social order based on the principles of God's Law-Word. However, pacifist tolerance must not be equated with Biblical charity. It is instead a sign of a weak, appeasing Church and culture. Courageous, morally strong Churches and cultures have always fiercely resisted those infiltrating influences which undermine their very existence. The Church "captured" immoral Rome because it had firm Biblical convictions and did not love their own security unto death (Rev. 12:11). Giving way before the wicked — the humanist, the abortionist, the homosexual, the occultist, the prostitute, the socialist-revolutionist, the pornographer — is not a sign of charity or social "maturity." It is a sign of decadence and moral rot (13).

"Tolerant" neutrality is not Christian. When men violate God's Law, there is a time for righteous anger and action (Ps. 119:53). "Love does not rejoice in unrighteousness" (1 Cor. 13:6). There is a time to drive out the money-changers. God yearns for those who "will rise up for Me against the wicked...and take a stand...against the evildoers" (Ps. 94:16). Christians filled with Christ's love are to forcefully defend the weak and needy, in the sphere of civil government. They protect the rights of the poor from socialist-Marxist-humanist oppressors who snatch the bread from the mouths of the poor by sanctions and revolution (Ps. 82:2-4, Job 29, 31, Ps. 149:6-9). Indeed, if we are not angry at moral filthiness, we are not Christians because that is the nature of our Lord (Pr. 6:16-18, 8:13)(14). Only by 1) godly anger, 2) large scale Church planting, 3) imprecatory prayer against evil (Ps. 5; Eph. 6:10f) (15) and 4) enforcing justice in obedience to God's Law (Rom. 13:1-10) can we rebuild a civilization on the principles of God's Word.

"Like a muddied spring or a polluted well is a righteous man who gives way to the wicked." (16)

The Use of Non-violence as a Cover for Revolution and Violence
There is, however, another type of non-violence doctrine in our country. The Lord himself warns His people against priests and prophets who "prophesy lies and rule by their own authority" (Jer. 5:30f; 1 Jn 4:1). Such prophets always rebel against the authority and Law-order of the Creator (2 Pet. 2; Jd. 3-19). They preach "peace," but a peace without repentance from idolatry and the oppression of sin (Jer. 6:13-15, 7:3f). Therefore, they condone envy and "rejoice in theft" [socialism], "associate with the immoral" [adulterers and homosexuals], and openly "slander their brothers" (Ps. 50:17). Yet at the same time, they "take [His] Covenant in [their] mouth" and "tell of [His] statutes" (Ps. 50:16-23). Christ warns His people against those who twist God's Law-Word and "honour Him with their lips while their hearts are far from Him" (Mt.15:2f; Is. 29:13). Christ said that these false prophets taught "the doctrines of men" while using Christian-sounding words (Mt. 15:2f). These prophets succeed only because God's people "love it so" (Jer. 5:30; 2 Tim. 4:3-4). Repeatedly, God says His punishment is inevitable in time and history against such teachers and their followers (Jer.14:15f).

Such prophets often preach non-violence while using it as a cover for violence and evil. "Each speaks cordially to his neighbour, but in his heart he sets a trap for him" (Jer. 9:8-9). They use laws not for the God-designed purpose of "punishing the wicked" (Rom. 13:4; 1 Tim. 1:8f), but as a legal covering for the overthrow "the system." They talk of peace but actually plan war in their hearts (Jms. 4:1f). Pacifist, "non-violent" direct action is often used to spark violence in its wake (17). These "non-violent" activists stir up ungodly anger (Jms. 1:19f), hateful feelings, and passionate malice. Therefore, to them non-violence is not equal to "peacefulness," "tolerance," and "meekness." Instead, non-violence means stirring up violent emotions through the written word, slanderous rhetoric, and group chant and dance (cf. the toyi-toyi of the comrades). Ultimately, such feelings cannot be restrained. Therefore, "non-violent" marches, funerals, boycotts, and strikes are often accompanied by "spontaneous" outbreaks of violence such as necklacing, petrol bombings, and intimidation. "Non-violent" priests always claim they are not responsible for the results of their emotive rhetoric!

However, Christ taught that out of the heart springs forth evil and wickedness (Mt. 15:19). God counts hatred stirred up in the heart the same as murder (Mt. 5:21). The heart that harbours "bitter envy and selfish ambition" does not come "down from Heaven, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic." Such a heart, stirred up for evil, brings "disorder and every evil practice" (Jms. 3:14-16). He taught us, instead, to be filled with the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22f) and with the "pure, peace-loving, considerate, merciful, and impartial" wisdom that "comes from above" (Jms. 3:17f). He taught us to return good, not vengeance, for evil (Lk.6:27). God knew that "democratic, non-violent, mass action" would lead to wickedness. "You shall not follow a multitude in doing evil, nor shall you testify in a dispute so as to turn aside after a multitude in order to pervert justice" (Ex. 23:2).

The Deception of "Non-violent" Evangelicals
Sadly, so-called "non-violent evangelicals" (cf 9) are easily deceived by these false prophets. They naively accept the socialist-democratic (18) vision of such books as Jesus' Third Way. This ultimately leads them 1) to become active in "the struggle" by encouraging and/or participating in direct, non-violent action (e.g. "peaceful" boycotts and sanctions); or 2) to tacitly co-operate with the false prophets who preach "peace" without repentance (Jer. 8:4). This has led many to abandon their evangelical faith! The Bible says, however, there can be no "peace" where the basic principles of justice found in God's Law are abandoned (Is. 57:15-21). 3) The vast majority are so coerced with false guilt and pity (19) that they do nothing to actively combat this "horrible and shocking" error of twisting the truth in the name of non-violence and peace (Jer. 5:30). The faith of these "non-violent evangelicals" is not Biblical Christianity but a pietistic, Escapist Religion. Like the Hebrews of old, escapist Christians would rather go back to the socialist oppression of "Egypt" than fight for a just, Christian, family-and-church-based Law-Order. Escapists are the ones who moan about the "giants in the land" (porn on TV, break down of the family, "inevitable take-over of evil," etc.) but fail to see that this is a result of their tolerant acceptance of the values and presuppositions of the false prophets. The Kingdom of the Prince of Peace, however, is anything but an escapist vision. It comes from Heaven wherever men, by His Spirit, obey the will of God written in His Law (Mt. 6:9-10, 7:24f; Heb. 8:10). Only Law-abiding righteousness destroys violence (20)

"You will keep the nation of steadfast mind in perfect peace because it trusts in You. Trust in the Lord forever, for in God the Lord we have an everlasting Rock." (21)

(1). W Wink, Jesus’ Third Way.
(2). Rom. 3:31; Num. .15:31 murder; Rom. 1:32 "worthy of death" in OT and NT law = death penalty (cf. Dt 17:6, 21:22; Acts 25:11, 25). Rom. 13:4. OT death penalties valid today except for ceremonial offences.
(3). rod = cane: Pr 22:15, 23:13-14; for criminals: Dt 25:3; Pr 18:6, 19:25, 29, 20:30, 26:3.
(4). cf R Sider and R Taylor, Nuclear Holocaust and Christian Hope.
(5). I Shaferevich, "The Socialism of the sects" in Socialist Phenomenon.
(6). Ex 22:2f; Pr 24:11f; Job 29:14-18; Gen 2:16-19.
(7). Documentation for eternal validity of the OT Law G. Bahnsen. Theonomv in Christian Ethics.
(8). Ps 19, 119.
(9). Modern Anabaptists in their social ethic: John Stott, Ron Sider, Nico Smith. Michael Cassidy, John de Gruchy.
(10). Lk. 7:9, 23:47; Acts 19:2, 27:43.
(11). cf footnotes in R Morey, When is it Right to Fight? p. 58.
(12). Mt 10:34-38, 12 15-37; cf Ps. 2.
(13). Pr 25:26, 28:4.
(14). Ps 97:10; 119:104, 113, 128, 163, 139:21-23; Rom. 12:9.
(15). cf. Ps 5, 7, 35, 58, 59, 68, 69, 73, 79, 83, 109, 137, 140.
(16). Pr 25: 26.
(17). E.g. The "peaceful" march on Pollsmor prison in 1985 co-sponsored by church leaders brought much violence.
(18). cf papers no. 5 – 7.
(19). cf RJ Rushdoonv. Politics of Guilt and Pity
(20). Rom. 8:4, Gal. 5:13f.
(21) Is. 26:3-4.

Mark Kreitzer, October 1988.

Gospel Defence League
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