of the most outrageous things Jesus ever said was: whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek,
turn to him the other also.
It isn't just that people reject this teaching--including almost all
nominal Christians--but they define
themselves by their vehement rejection of this advice. Their very justification for themselves is
that they do just the opposite. Although
they avoid spelling out that they are in fact rejecting a teaching of Jesus and
one which is found quite conspicuously in The
Sermon on the Mount, the major public teaching of Jesus.
Jesus joking ? You might very well
conclude that. If you ask the average
Christian what Jesus meant by Turn the
Other Cheek he will respond by telling you a joke which his pastor told
him. But before we conclude that Jesus Did Not Mean It ! He was only joking, those of us who call
ourselves Christians would do well to
study what he said in the context in which he said it--
5.38-44 Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth
for a tooth: 39 But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil:
but whosoever shall smite thee on thy
right cheek, turn to him the other also.
40 And if any man will sue thee
at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also. 41 and whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile,
go with him twain. 42 Give to him that asketh thee, and from him
that would borrow of thee turn not thou away.
43 Ye have heard that it hath
been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour and hate thine enemy. 44 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:
That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and
on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. [
From The Sermon on the Mount old King James ]
course, everyone knows what you have to do if someone hits you. You must hit him right back. Even give him 2 for 1, or a hard hit for a
soft hit, to let him know at once that it is not safe for him to hit you. This is wisdom,
is it not ? This is right thinking. We all see it. The children in the back seat know it, quite
naturally, without being taught. She Hit Me First ! Why couldn't Jesus see it ? Why was he so far astray in his thinking
versus the Old Testament
The Turn the Other Cheek admonition of 5.39
directly follows the eye for an eye
citation in 5.38 and teaches contrary to it.
An Eye For An Eye and A Tooth For
A Tooth is a basic teaching of the old Jewish Law which is found in several places: Exodus 21.24,
Leviticus 24.20, Deuteronomy 19.21.
Exodus chapters 21, 22 and 23 was known as the Book of the Covenant, the
old covenant of the circumcision. And it
displays that vengeful spirit which permeates the historical books of the Old
Testament, like The Lord's
instructions to Saul in 1 Samuel 15.3: 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 The Lord decrees this massacre of babies because of a 200 year old
grudge. He punishes Saul for sparing the
cannot understand the teaching of Jesus Christ without recognizing that,
although it was rooted in Judaism, it was also a radical reformation of
Judaism. Jesus was the First Reform Rabbi and the Last.
Hebrews 9.10 The only one with
full authority to transform Judaism from a fiercely nationalistic warrior creed
and State Religion into a universal pacifist and anarchist creed.
taught contrary to a religion which was tied to the state and victory in war
with the help of God. The name Is-ra-el means El Does
Battle. [ El = Allah and Elohim--the ancient Semite name for God
] Like all states, Israel was
established by success in war, and dis-established--it even disappeared--when
they lost the war. As Bismarck said: War is the Health of the State. We have to believe in Victory in War, as the
foundation of our belief in Our Nation.
And the State Religion must give us a God who Helps us Win. God
Bless America ! points to that battle flag which represents the many
victorious wars by which the American empire was established.
modern confusion about what Jesus taught began when Imperial Christianity appeared as a state
religion in the 4th century. It was an
apostate offshoot of Christianity, dependant upon the police and the army which
made its converts by the sword. [ See The Church of the Empire. ] It was a state religion and a military
religion like ancient Judaism and like Mohammedanism, which appeared in the 7th
century as a rival to imperial Christianity and its mirror image as a fighting
as an imperial religion and a warrior ideology has been with us ever since in
one form or another. Meanwhile, real
Christianity remained independent of the state and adversarial to its wars, as
it had from the beginning. It persisted
as a persecuted and sometimes underground sect usually found in the history
books under the heretic label.
John 18.36 Jesus defines the new Kingdom
of God on earth by telling Pilate that my
followers don't fight because My
Kingdom is Not of This World. He
defined it in a way which made it entirely incompatible with the forlorn hope
of the restoration of the Kingdom of Israel.
That was still the great national hope of the people of Israel, and
their mandate for the rebellion against Rome which began in 66 A.D.
He says that His kingdom is Not of This
World, that has to be understood in relation to what Jesus taught about This World: Satan is the Ruler of All the Kingdoms of This World--the Power that sustains the
Empire--and the World hates Jesus and
hates his true followers. That is, those
who serve Satan and worship the Empire are the adversaries of Jesus and his
followers. See Luke 4.5-7 and John
15.18-19. See Render, Not Surrender, Unto Caesar.
reformed Judaism. He defined the New
Covenant contrary to the Old Covenant where righteousness came from a
strict observance of Sabbath rules--John chapter 5--and ancient food
rules--Mark chapter 7. It is what comes
out of your mouth that makes you unclean,
not what goes into it, Jesus said. He
taught contra animal sacrifices in Matthew 9.13 and 12.7 and substituted
himself for all such sacrifices--this is
my blood of the New Covenant . . . [
Matthew 26.27 Hebrews 10.4 ] He characterized giving tithes of mint and
cumin as straining out the gnat and
swallowing the camel in Matthew 23.23-24.
Jesus taught that the commandments to Love God and Love your neighbor fulfilled The
Law, He took the Law of Moses on
divorce and put it in the trash in Matthew 5.31 and 19.3-10. He preached a New Covenant animated by a new
Spirit, as I argue in The New Covenant versus the Old Covenant on the Radical
Christian Press.org web site.
Love Your Enemies ? !
little further along in the Sermon on the Mount, in Matthew 5.44, Jesus adds another outrageous teaching: love your enemies, bless them that curse you,
do good to them that hate you.
Most of the world, including most of the Christian world, finds that admonition impossible to swallow. It violates our deepest feelings. It goes contrary to everything we
believe. Instead, we find our righteousness
in the uncompromising fierceness with which we hate our enemies, just like the
Jews in the time of Jesus. In the books
of the old covenant, "The Lord's" insistence that righteousness
requires them to hate their enemies is a central theme: thou
shalt smite them, and utterly destroy them;
thou shalt make no covenant with them, nor show mercy unto them (Deuteronomy
7.2) he shall eat up the nations his enemies, and shall break their bones,
and pierce them through with his arrows (Numbers
5.41 has another admonition which points to the enemy that Jesus had
in mind: and whosoever shall compel thee
to go a mile, go with him twain.
A Roman soldier could grab a Jew and make him carry his pack for a
mile. And here Jesus advises them not
only to put up with this indignity in a resentful way, but to volunteer to
carry that hated pack an extra mile !
admonitions of Jesus must have shocked and outraged most of those who heard
them, just as they have done ever since.
They seem to be designed to challenge that spirit of sullen hatred which
is characteristic of oppressed nations.
Which did in fact drive the Jews into a doomed rebellion against the
Romans 30 years later.
rest of the context in which these teachings are to be placed is found in the
gospels generally. Jesus refuses to
become the king, in John 6.15 even
though he did not reject the title of King
of the Jews which was later posted on the cross to mock his
pretensions. John 19.19 He explains to Pilate that My followers do not fight because my Kingdom
is not of this world. John
the Jews discovered that Jesus was serious about refusing to become the Messiah
King they wanted who would lead them in a war of liberation against the Romans,
most of them lost interest in him.
Thirty years later they followed the kind of Messiah they wanted in a rebellion against the Roman Empire. The Roman soldiers in the Temple fortress
were slaughtered when they surrendered to the vengeful Zealots. The war ended in 70 A.D. with the destruction
of the Temple. A million Jews died in
the war, and the rest were scattered into exile all over the Roman Empire.
this not the direct result of their failure to take seriously the teaching of
the Sermon on the Mount ? That is a good
reason to take it seriously. They
fulfilled the mandate to Hate Your
Enemies, contra the advice of Jesus.
And the result they achieved was also forecast by Jesus: All
those who take up the sword perish with it.
1900 years later, under the sponsorship of Russia and America, Zionism, an
atheist and Socialist form of Judaism, was re-established in Israel in
1948. And they might re-build The
Temple, at least as a tourist attraction, before 2070, which marks 2000 years
since the animal sacrifices and the priesthood came to an end. Israel is nominally an independent nation which is in fact dependent upon the American
Empire. Israel, surrounded by the
Moslems, is the trigger for Armageddon,
aka World War III. Which will delight
the Christian Zionists who are
working to bring it about by their dogmatic Support
for Israel. They are tied to the hope of doom's day for Israel because their kind of Christianity has no other future. A long time ago they left the road that leads to the Kingdom of God on earth.
State of Israel built an elaborate memorial to Bar-Kochba who led another doomed rebellion against the Romans in
132-135 A.D. And they still refuse to
honor Jesus, Israel's most famous son,
who tried to teach them a lesson they did not want to learn. They still put their faith in God Does Battle. They put their faith in Battle anyway, since most of them are atheists.
the reformed version of Judaism taught by Jesus has spread all over the world,
although most often in the nominal and superficial and apostate form launched
by the Imperial Church.
the Jews in the time of Jesus, modern Christians also reject the Jesus who
refused to become the Warrior King of Israel.
They have replaced him with the
God of War who became Constantine's partner in the 4th century--In This Sign You Will Conquer ! [ See The
Church of the Empire, Chapter IV, Constantine's
Miracle ] When they sing God Bless America and bring out the soldiers and the flags which
stand for the wars of the empire, they in effect convert Jesus into the Warrior
King they want. And, like the ancient
Jews, they thereby reject the real Jesus, the one who preached that scandalous
Sermon on the Mount, which says Love Your
Enemies and other ridiculous things.
A Slap in the Face
don't have to push turn the other cheek to mean that we are forbidden to defend
ourselves or others from a serious violent attack. And there are many other things that Jesus
said and did which have to be taken into account before we can fully understand
what the nonviolent witness of Jesus means.
Taken in its original context, this verse seems plainly to mean that we
must abate that prickly self pride which is the source of 99% of our quarrels.
defense or defense of your family are fundamentally different questions from
the question of war, despite the perennial propaganda which confuses the
two. And both differ from the question
about personal honor defined as the readiness to fight when challenged. A slap in the face is a challenge to a
duel. Sir ! You have insulted MY
HONOR ! The most obvious meaning
the other cheek is that we must abate that prickly pride so typical of
individuals and nations which demands that we must at once respond to any
insult or challenge to our personal pride or our national pride. As Lamentations 3.30 suggests: let him
give his cheek to the smiter and be filled with insults. [ and see Isaiah 50.6 ]
one time in my life, I came to know an old patriarch who had killed at least 4
men, with some justification, and who had
fathered 23 children that he acknowledged. He took care of them by making and selling
moonshine whiskey. He lived by a code
which he taught to his sons and his many grandsons: if you
touch me, you better kill me--If you so much as lay a finger on me, you had
better be prepared to kill me, or else I will kill you ! And this warrior code was a major reason why
a number of his sons and grandsons served time in prison, as he had himself,
after sometimes deadly duels with other men for the favors of fickle
code is very much the world's code. It
is conspicuous in the relations between nations that instant retaliation for
any insult is necessary to maintain our national pride and power. If you mistreat our ambassador, you had
better apologize at once, or war is imminent.
This prickly pride and hair trigger pugnacity is typical of the stance
that nations and individuals must maintain.
Face saving is a basic cause of war.
against this code Jesus gives us a principle of turn the other cheek which must have astonished and outraged the
men of his time as much as it dismays us who pretend to be his followers. If you want to hear some imaginative attempts
to explain away the LITERAL meaning
of the BIBLE, ask the average Christian what Jesus meant by turn the other cheek. From these explanations you can only conclude
that Jesus said it for our amusement. It
was some kind of joke. This is one of
many scriptures which those who claim to read The Bible LITERALLY refuse to take literally.
fact, when He is struck by the servant of the high priest, as described in John
18.22-23, Jesus does not turn the other cheek.
Rather, he demands an explanation:
If I have spoken evil, bear
witness to the evil; but if well, why
smitest thou me ? In one of his
treatises Augustine tries to argue from this that Jesus meant something quite
different from the obvious and LITERAL meaning of what he said about turn the other cheek. But it shows the characteristic way that
Jesus changes a physical or military or political contest into a moral and
spiritual contest. Neither does he
incinerate the man who struck him by a bolt of lightning as you or I would do
if we had his powers.
launched a spiritual war against the world ruled by Satan. He announced that The Kingdom of God had
arrived. And gave us the mission to
establish it and the power to do it. [
John 20.21-22 ] And this happened
immediately after his own death and resurrection.
a soldier who gives up his life to defend his country, Jesus gave up his life
to establish the Kingdom He
preached. He was willing to die for it,
but He was not willing to kill for it.
That is the essential difference between the Kingdom of Jesus and every other Kingdom, as He says in John
18.36. He pushed the battle between good
and evil into an entirely new dimension.
[ See The
Spiritual Warfare of Jesus Christ ]
weapons not carnal
Paul teaches us how to fight a spiritual battle using spiritual weapons: (2 Corinthians 10.3-4) For
though we walk in the flesh, we do not
war after the flesh 4 For the weapons of our warfare are not
carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds. In Ephesians 6.10-18 he describes the arms
and the armor of the Christian Warrior and defines the enemy: 11
put on the whole armor of God
that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil 12 For we wrestle not against flesh and
blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world,
against spiritual wickedness in high places.
the kingdom of god versus the Kingdom
after He turned down Satan's offer to make him the ruler of all the kingdoms of this world (Luke 4.5-8) Jesus began his ministry with
the proclamation that The Kingdom of God
is at Hand (Matthew 4.23, Mark 1.15.
Luke 4.43, John 3.3-5) as John the Baptist had done before him. (Matthew 3.2)
And he went on to explain and define the Kingdom of God in dozens of verses to the end of his life. In John 18.36 he explained to Pilate that my kingdom is not of this world and so his followers do not fight to establish it.
He was crucified under a sign which mocked his pretensions to be The King of the Jews. And it points up the essential mystery of the
life and death of Jesus Christ--why he refused to become the King of Israel
even while he proclaimed the Kingdom of
The Kingdom of God is the major teaching of
Jesus and Paul and the other apostles.
And, as they define it in the gospels and the epistles, it is
fundamentally opposed to the world, and to the kingdoms
of this world, including the kingdom of israel.
church which was established in the 4th century deliberately obscured that
basic distinction and worldly Christianity
has perpetuated that confusion ever since, because faith in the nation is an
essential part of their worldly pseudo Christian
had two chances to be the king and he turned down both of them. When the people of Israel intended to make
him the King of Israel, Jesus escaped, as related in John 6.15. Jesus was not a patriot ! He was a draft refuser in respect to becoming
the Messiah the Jews wanted--a king who would lead them in a successful
rebellion against the Roman Empire. That
is why they quit him. And why, a few years
later, they followed false messiahs who led them into a doomed rebellion
against the Roman Empire. That ended in
the death of a million Jews, the destruction of the Temple, and the permanent
exile of the Jews. As Jesus warns in
defined his kingdom and his kingship by what he refused to do, by what he did
and by what he said. Matthew 21.5-8
describes him fulfilling the prophecy of Zechariah 9.9 thy
King cometh unto thee . . . lowly, riding upon an ass. It is a kind of triumphal procession into
Jerusalem for the final act of the drama.
But it is also the very negation of a proud military procession in which
the Son of David should have entered
Jerusalem, leading the army with which he would conquer Israel and throw off
the yoke of the Roman Empire. Instead, you have these undignified donkeys
and this ragged little impromptu procession. You have the unmistakable style of Jesus
Christ. Behold the man ! Behold the King of Peace ! That is why the Jews rejected his claim to be
apostate Christians of the 4th century caused this pacifist Jesus to disappear behind the Imperial Jesus who became
the partner of the Emperor Constantine--by this sign you will conquer ! In one of his orations Eusebius speculates
that the Court of Constantine is the Kingdom of God. Today's false Christians do the same thing
via patriotic christianity--GodBlessAmerica ! What is it except the worship of the beast and his power ? [ See Tracking
Satan 666 ]
The Original Kingdom of God--The Lord's tent
John the Baptist and Jesus announce that
of god is at
hand, they put forth a claim which resonates all the way back to
Moses setting up a special tent where the Lord will dwell right in the middle
of the camp as they travel through the desert.
Exodus 25.8 29.42-46. They take this quite literally. Deuteronomy 23.13-14 tells them to cover that which cometh from thee; For the Lord thy God walketh in the midst of
Judges 8.23, Gideon refuses to become the king: I
will not rule over you, neither shall my son rule over you. The Lord shall rule over you. And his refusal to become the king of Israel
foreshadows the refusal of Jesus Christ to become the secular king of Israel in
John 6.15 even while he persists in
announcing that the Kingdom of God is at hand.
the Lord finally agrees to let Israel have a human king, he agrees only under
protest and says that it means they have
rejected me, that I should not reign over them. And in the very next verse, 1 Samuel 8.8, he
equates their demand for a king with the apostasy whereby they have forsaken me, and served other gods. And in 8.11-18 he warns them that this king
they have demanded will be a curse upon them, will take their sons and their
daughters and their property, and that they will rue the day they asked for a
king. 8.18 And ye
shall cry out in that day because of your king which ye shall have chosen you;
and the Lord will not hear you in that day. Hosea 8.4
says of the kings of Israel: They have set up kings, but not by me. They have made princes and I knew it not.
passages show that the foundation of the Monarchy in Israel, represented not
God's will but the wicked will of the Jewish people who thereby rejected god. This presentation is at odds with the belief that there is some
easy compatibility between the Kingdom of God and the secular Kingdom of
line which is drawn here between the kingship of God over the Jewish people and
the rule of the kings of Israel points ahead to the line which Jesus Christ
draws between the Kingdom of God which he proclaims and the Kingdom of Israel
which he leaves to its folly and its terrible fate when he refuses to become
the king of Israel.
The End of the Kingdom
the reforms of King Josiah, he was killed in battle and the Kingdom of Judah
came to an end in 586 B.C. The Lord
abandoned it even though Josiah revived the observance of The Law. The northern
kingdom of Israel proper had already
been taken into permanent exile, by the time that the anti patriot prophet
Jeremiah prophesied the doom of Judah,
the southern kingdom. By the time of
Jesus, it had been more than 500 years since Israel had been an independent
they kept alive the hope of a restored kingdom. And this hope was mixed up with the great
expectation that it will also somehow be the
kingdom of god on earth.
And it is this double hope which Jesus addresses in his teaching--which he separates. He proclaims the Kingdom of God while refusing to become the King of Israel. Jeremiah's prophecy of the New Covenant is adversarial to a
Patriotic Faith centered upon the Nation of Israel and The Law and The Temple
in which the endless animal sacrifices are essential to their relationship with
The Lord. As Hebrews 10.4 explains: it is
not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats could take away sins. [ See Hebrews 8.8-12 re: Jeremiah
31.31-34 the New Covenant. ]
the very beginning, Jesus had an adversarial relationship with the Kingdom of
Israel. King Herod tried to kill
him. (Matthew 2.3-18) And his son Herod
beheaded John the Baptist who first announced that the kingdom of heaven is at hand.
Matthew 14.3-10 Jesus set out to reform Judaism in basic
ways. He challenged their rule bound
religion, which strained out a gnat and
swallowed a camel (Matthew 23.24).
He deliberately violated the Sabbath rules by telling the man to pick up
his bed and carry it. (John chapter
5). He taught them that it is what comes out of your mouth, not what
goes into it, that makes you unclean. (Mark chapter 7) But mainly he defined The Kingdom of God to show that it would necessarily part company with The Kingdom of Israel. When
you take away the Sabbath rules and the food rules and the animal sacrifices in
the Temple and the faith in the nation of Israel, what is left of historical
his parables he showed that the New
Covenant was not restricted to the Nation of Israel and that The Kingdom of God was not reserved for
the Jews-- many will come from east and west and sit at table with Abraham, Isaac,
and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven, while the sons of the kingdom will be
thrown into the outer darkness.
Matthew 8.11-12 And Luke
16.16 The law and the prophets were until John. Since that time the kingdom of God is
preached, and every man presseth into it.
And Luke 17.20-21 And when he was demanded of the Pharisees,
when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with
observation: 21 Neither
shall they say, Lo here ! or, lo there
! for behold, the kingdom of God is
Luke 22.16 Jesus says I will not any more
eat thereof, until it be fulfilled in the kingdom of God. In Luke 24.42-43 he does eat, by way of
showing that the kingdomhad arrived as
the result of his crucifixion and resurrection.
In Luke 24.44, Jesus says that by his death and resurrection He has
now fulfilled all
things which werewritten in the law of Moses, and in the
prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me.
That is, the fulfillment is done.
the 24th chapter of Matthew, and other places in the gospel, Jesus warns them
of what is coming to them because they have rejected the kingdom of God to pursue
a secular kingdom. Instead they
continued to pursue the dream and the illusion of a restored secular kingdom of
rejection of King Jesus and his Kingdom was Act One. Act Two was the attempt to re-establish the
Kingdom of Israel by a great uprising against the Romans in 66 A.D.. That was the kind of Kingdom they believed
in. Act Three was the destruction of
Jerusalem and its Temple by the Romans, the death of a million Jews, and their
dispersal to all nations.
course they were already dispersed. By
the time of Jesus there were as many Jews in Alexandria Egypt as there were in
Jerusalem. And the destruction of the
Temple accelerated the development of the spiritual and individual form of
Judaism which is not centered upon the Nation of Israel and which no longer
relies upon the animal sacrifices of The Temple to stay right with God. And they are hardly to blame for not
converting to that Military Christianity which began to persecute the Jews as
well as the non-conforming Christians in the 4th century. The Jews will be converted if and when they
ever encounter authentic Christianity.
They won't learn it from the TV evangelists.
preaches the kingdom of god
14.22 We must through many tribulations enter the
kingdom of god. say Paul and
Barnabas Acts 19.8 And he
went into the synagogue and spoke boldly for three months, reasoning and
persuading concerning the things of the
kingdom of god. Acts 20.21-25
testifying to Jews, and also to
Greeks, repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ . . .
24 so that I may finish my race with
joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the
gospel of the grace of god.
And indeed, now I know that you all, among whom I have gone preaching the kingdom of god, will see my face no
more." [ comment: Paul calls it the gospel of the grace of god
and he has preached it to both the Jews,
and also to Greeks and he also
describes it as preaching the kingdom of god. So the
gospel of grace and the gospel of the
kingdom are thesamegospel; ] Acts 28.23
So when they had appointed him a
day, many came to him at his lodging, to whom he explained and solemnly
testified of the kingdom of god,
persuading them concerning Jesus from both the Law of Moses and the Prophets,
from morning till evening. Acts
28.30-31 Then Paul dwelt two whole years in his own rented house, and received
all who came to him, 31 preaching the
kingdom of god and teaching the things which concern the Lord Jesus
Christ with all confidence, no one forbidding him.
14.17 for the kingdom of god is
not food and drink, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit 1st Corinthians 4.19-20
But I will come to you shortly, if
the Lord wills, and I will know, not the word of those who are puffed up, but
the power 20 For the kingdom of god
is not in word but in power 1st
Corinthians 6.9-10 Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of god ? . . .
nor extortioners will inherit the
kingdom of god. 1st
Corinthians 15.24-26 Then comes the end, when He delivers the
kingdom to God the Father, when He puts an end to all rule and all authority
and power. 25 For he must reign till He has put all enemies
under His feet. 26 The last enemy that will be destroyed is
death. 1st Corinthians 15.50 flesh
and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of
god; nor does corruption inherit incorruption. Galatians 5.21
they which do such things shall
not inherit the kingdom of god Ephesians 5.5 no
fornicator . . . has any inheritance in the
kingdom of christ and of god Colossians 1.13-14 He has
delivered us from the power of darkness and translated us into the kingdom of his dear son 14 in whom we have redemption through his
blood, the forgiveness of sins. Colossians 4.11 and
Jesus who is called Justus. These are my
only fellow workers for the kingdom of
god who are of the circumcision;
they have proved to be a comfort to me. 1st Thess. 2.12 that
you would have a walk worthy of God who calls you into His own kingdom and
glory. 2nd Thess. 1.5 that
you may be counted worthy of the kingdom
describing Jesus Christ as a pacifist, I mean that he refused to go to war, and
that he taught his followers to do the same.
He refused to be the secular King of Israel or to lead a rebellion
against the Roman occupation of Israel.
The Christian community he founded was entirely independent of the
Jewish nation, unlike the Old Testament church, which was a state church. In fact the early Christian church defined
itself in opposition to the Jewish religious establishment which had the
primary role in the crucifixion of Jesus Christ and in the persecution of the early
Christians. And the true Christian
community remained independent of the Roman Empire long after some apostates
and traitors cut the deal with Constantine which established the new imperial
church of the 4th century--the grandparent of today's Secular Christian
churches. [ see The Church of the Empire on the Radical
Christian Press.org web site ]
true Christian community is the antithesis of the state church. Nor is there any such thing as a Christian
Nation or a Christian Empire. [ See Heresy
of the Christian State
] It is a contradiction in terms. My
kingdom is not of this world. The
imperial state church or the Christian nation both describe the unholy union of the secular
state and the Christian Church--as if the world and the kingdom of God could
merge. When Jesus says that his kingdomisnot of this world
and that his followers therefore do not fight
(John 18.36) He means just that.
We are spiritually and morally separate from the world and so we do not go to war on its
is how the first Christians understood the teaching of Jesus and thousands of
them went to their deaths rather than join the army or take a patriotic pledge
of allegiance to the empire and its emperor.
They defined the only real Christiannation by their witness and by their
blood. They saw themselves as belonging
to a kingdom which was separate in a fundamental spiritual and moral way from
the Jewish nation and from the Roman empire.
They were the new Israel and the true Israel and they followed the true
king who led them into a new kind of war for a new kind of kingdom.
in the primary meaning of pacifist
as one who refuses to participate in war, who
refuses to participate in the contest by which nations are established
or destroyed, clearly Jesus was a pacifist.
He didn't just say it, he meant it and he did it. He did refuse to go to war to defend his
nation or to liberate it from the foreign conquerors and it was soon thereafter
destroyed as the direct result of his refusal.
His refusal was one of the primary reasons for his crucifixion. His claim to be the King meant trouble with
the Romans and with the Jewish establishment while his refusal to actually
become the new King of Israel lost him the popular support by which he might
have prevailed in a contest with these powerful enemies.
respect to his nation and its desperate struggle to free itself from Roman
bondage, Jesus Christ was a Draft
Refuser, and at the highest
level. He refused to be the King they
needed. (John 6.15) Even though, by any
secular standard, the cause of Israel in respect to the Roman Empire was
entirely just. They had 100 times as
much justification for rebelling against the Roman Empire as the American
Colonies did for rebelling against the British Empire. By contrast, the American justification is an
exercise in trivial complaint. Imagine
Jesus answering the question: Is it Lawful to pay the tax which Parliament
has put on tea ? Yes, of
course. Is that all you have to complain
about ? You are going to go to war over
this ? ! But Jesus would not fight for
his own nation despite the terrible oppression they suffered under the Roman
Empire. And he explained why: My
Kingdom is not of this world. And
that is why my followers
do not fight. Don't fight in armies, don't fight with physical
weapons, don't fight for power. Instead
He called them to a spiritual battle to establish the Kingdom of God on
Pacifism, not passivism
was a pacifist not a passivist. Patriots and secular Christians are passivists who content themselves with
verbally supporting what they avoid doing themselves. Jesus was the reverse of passive. He led the way and set the example. He did everything and supported
nothing, unlike those who falsely claim
to be his followers, who support
everything and do nothing. He launched
an aggressive war against the world which continues to this day among the few
who have remained faithful to his call.
He fought the battle in person and put his own body on the front
are seldom seen at the front lines of the battle. When they do get there, they get out of there
as soon as they can. The further from
the front lines, the hotter burns the fire of patriotism. Patriots support
the boys at the front in lieu of joining them.
Waving a flag from a safe distance is the substitute for being out where
the bullets fly. They support the war just like
secular Christians support the
Christian cause with small contributions and symbolic gestures, in lieu of
living the Christian life themselves.
They wave the flag a few thousand miles away from where the killing and
dying takes place. They don't stick an
extra $ 100 in the tax return envelope to pay for the war, but they Support
the Troops by spending $ 2 for a bumper sticker which says that. Unless they can get one for free.
power & money
major causes of war are not, as simpletons are taught to believe, that we have
to defend our families. The major causes
of war are the love of money and the passion for power. We have never fought a war that was necessary
to defend our families. We have fought a
dozen wars that were necessary to establish and maintain the power and the
wealth of the American empire. We did
not go to war with England because the English would not leave our women folk
alone. The great slogan of the American
Revolution was: taxation without representation is
tyranny ! That is, they are
taking our money and replacing the corruptions of the colonial legislature with
the corruptions of Parliament, so we have to go to war with them.
you read what Jesus taught us about power and money you see that he taught us
to shun both. And therefore, if we live
as Christians, we will find that we have eliminated both of the major reasons
for war. So if we do not go to war for
money or for power, if we do not go to war for the nation, what is left ?
defending our families
pretended justification for war is always the same: we have to protect our families. If we don't conquer those blue painted
barbarians of the British Isles, they will soon be down here in Rome raping our
wives and daughters. And, sure enough,
400 years later, that is just what they did, having been recruited into the
Roman Army and supplied with Roman weapons in the mean time.
we don't send 500,000 soldiers to Vietnam, those Vietnamese will soon be rowing
across 10,000 miles of ocean to attack our wives and daughters. That is why we have to send our fellows there
to attack their wives and daughters as a pre-emptive measure.
dumbest draftee must sometimes wonder if he is really defending his family and
his country when he finds himself 12,000 miles from home and 10,000 miles from
the nearest American shoreline. That is
when Defending Freedom or some other abstraction is put in its place.
you are really concerned with protecting your home and family, you might note
the obvious fact that you can do it much better if you are at home instead of
12,000 miles from home. You might
recognize that attacking somebody else's home and family in a foreign country
isn't actually the same thing as protecting your own in this country. So you can be a pacifist in the philosophical sense and still go around armed to
the teeth because of your fears for your daughter's safety. If men fought only in defense of their homes
and their families there could be no wars.
Someone has to leave home before the war can begin. Typically, both sides are far from home, like
the Americans and the Japanese battling for possession of the Philippines.
good reason for being a pacifist is that war always brings an epidemic of
rape. If you are serious about
preventing rape, you have to be serious about preventing war. The thousands of rapes committed in the war
in Bosnia and in the endless African wars are only the latest examples. Our Russian allies in World War II were
notorious for raping all across Europe.
The Germans did the same. The
Americans and the British did the same.
Every army in the field in war time turns into a gang of rapists. How else can it be ? You take young men away from their homes and
their wives and their girl friends at the lustiest time of their lives. You put them in desperate situations where
death is a daily reality, where there is no law except the soldier himself. You turn them loose on a defenceless
population. If they don't rape women,
they prostitute them with their army pay.
They leave behind a crop of illegitimate kids to fend for themselves in
a society devastated by war. [ See Rape
in War Time ]
raw fact is routinely covered up and left undocumented. That isn't the image of the soldier that we
want to present to the folks back home.
G.I. Joe is shown giving a candy bar to the orphan. He is not shown making an orphan out of the
boy or prostituting his mother with a carton of cigarettes. It is another of the basic lies about
war. There was a rare candid report done
after the war in which Pakistan split into West and East Pakistan--now called
Bangladesh. Some 120,000 women were
raped in East Pakistan by the soldiers of the West Pakistan army, and that in a
small war, between former countrymen,
that only lasted a few months.
Many of these women were then cast out by their orthodox Moslem
families, and so some of them committed suicide.
fiction is that armed men will protect our women folk from being raped. The fact is that these armed men are
themselves the primary cause of rape.
And how do you defend yourself and your family when the Russian army--or
the American army--comes marching down the street ? An
ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Preventing armies is the effective way to
is too bad no one ever asked Jesus the key
question: Suppose a Roman soldier were about to rape your mother, and you had a
sword, and the only way you could stop him . . . Which is typical of the Hyppthetical Morality questions people deploy to justify anything
and everything, like sending an army to the other side of the planet. Our fantasies distract us from dealing with
our realities. [ See Bulletin # 8 of
that title in the War for the Unborn
] One obvious answer is that Roman
soldiers traveled in troops and the individual in a conquered town had no
chance to stop them, no more than a resident of Berlin could stop the Russian
soldiers. No more than the Vietnamese
villagers could defend themselves against the American rapists.
protecting the children
propaganda lie is that military force is necessary to protect children. The violence which pretends to be in defense
of children invariably leads to killing them.
Defending our children is the
perennial excuse for wars in which millions of children are killed. It is used as an entering wedge argument,
just like Saving the life of the mother is used as an entering wedge argument
for the mass murder of abortion. The
allied bombing of Dresden created a fire storm which killed all the children of
Dresden. The children of Hiroshima and
the children of Nagasaki were destroyed by the atomic bombs that America
dropped on those cities. The children at
Mylai were massacred without mercy by American soldiers who would tell you that
they went there to protect their families back home. Of 60 million people killed in World War II,
two thirds were civilians and half of those were children. So this righteous war on behalf of
Americanism and Bolshevism defended
children by killing 20 million of them.
Roots of Abortion
ix Child Sacrifice to
the Goddess Of
mother's watchful eye is the weapon that protects children. The police & the army are no use--the
children keep getting in the way of all that firepower. You don't need a .357 Magnum to protect your
child from being knocked down on the playground by a bigger kid. But the justification of protecting my child is used over and over again to justify killing
somebody else's child. The fantasy is that guns protect children. The reality is that guns kill children.
children of the world are not protected by our guns. Rather, they need protection from the guns
and the bombs that we use so wantonly in these wars that we fight for wealth
and power and national glory. They need
protection from these armaments that we sell around the world to keep our
faltering economy going. Thousands of
children are killed or injured every year by the millions of antipersonnel land
mines scattered in various foreign wars and never collected. Most of them were made in the U.S.A., which
is the world's leading arms supplier.
that is only one of the several kinds of child murder that we perpetrate. Thousands of children die from preventable
causes in those slums which are created here and abroad by our love of money
and our indifference to the poor. It
isn't our guns that are needed to protect children. It is the money that we spend on weapons--100
billion and more ! --and on luxuries for ourselves while others lack basic
necessities. This protecting a child argument is invoked as a cover for something
to do with
the state. It has nothing to do with self defense,
nothing to do with defending your daughter and rarely has anything to do with defending
simpletons are routinely deceived into believing that it has to do with all of
these things. It has a lot to do with furthering something called the
national interest--supposedly--but even that is debatable. That "interest" seems always to
coincide with the interests of rich and powerful people who are very unlikely
to be sharing with the rest of us.
in its general and philosophical sense, means that you are opposed to war. It
doesn't necessarily mean that you reject personal self defense. You may or may not, but it is a separate
question. There is an obvious difference
between one conscientious man using force in a desperate personal situation and
a war in which the prisons and the slums are emptied to put a million armed
hooligans into uniforms. Then they are sent halfway around the world
to shoot people whose language they don't even understand. It is one thing for an American to shoot
someone who is trying to rape his daughter.
It is another for him to be raping a Vietnamese woman at the point of a
gun, or prostituting one with his army pay.
The imaginary situation is used to justify an entirely different
one--the one that actually happened in the 1960s.
person need not be a Christian pacifist to subscribe to some such propositions
as these: 1) If I want to fight my enemies, I don't have
to travel 10,000 miles to find some--I don't need to go any further than
Washington D.C. 2) I don't need to have the federal government
make the decision for me as to who the enemy is.
pacifism, that is, being opposed to war, can be argued as a common sense
proposition to the secular-minded--that is, to most
"Christians." But common sense
seems never to provide a sure foundation for morality of any kind when faith in
God is lacking. For some reason it seems
that we have to learn to see the invisible and the far off before we can see
what is visible right in front of us.
which is based on real faith in Jesus Christ takes on an entirely new
dimension. It is no longer just a
negative opposition to these epidemics of rape, robbery and mass murder, which
are called "wars," it is an affirmation that there is a way to go to
war against evil which works.
Jesus and his disciples safe from evil men ?
They aggressively challenged a society that was as lethal as anything we
have ever faced. Like Saint Stephen, you
could be summarily executed just for saying the wrong thing. But Jesus Christ walked unafraid down the
narrow streets of Jerusalem for a high
noon confrontation with the bad guys.
Just like Gary Cooper, but without the guns. The Man had Guts ! And the Son of Man had a Spirit of Courage
which he bequeathed to us ! [ John 20.22
] So we don't have any excuse for not
following his example because we don't have to rely upon the puny spirit that
is in us. It is the very Spirit of God
that gives us the necessary courage to follow in the footsteps of Jesus. Of Saint Peter. Of Saint Paul. Of Saint Stephen. Of Ignatius and Polycarp, Perpetua and
Felicitas, and all the other Christ-imitating Saints who boldly confronted the
evil of their day, following in the footsteps of the Master. They were mortal men and women like us, who
showed that they were animated by an immortal Spirit.
fact, the Holy Spirit of Jesus Christ fights for us when we take up the battle
in the way that he showed us. One way or
another he will protect us and defend us and we may proceed with absolute
confidence that we are never at the mercy of evil men, no more are we at the
mercy of evil spirits. God isn't looking
the other way, He isn't out to lunch, He isn't sleeping, and He hasn't turned
His back on us, not if we are doing His work and fighting his fight. He is an employer who takes good care of his
you get that into your head, and when you finally learn to believe it, it
changes all your calculations as to where safety lies. In fact, it changes your life.
isn't that bad things never happen to us.
Bad things happen to Christians all the time. But, somehow or another, sooner or later, God
turns them into good things. And that
teaches us to put our trust in God, not in things. It teaches us to put our trust in God, not in
money, not in guns, not in the safety which the police and the army pretend to
provide. It teaches us to trust in God
in bad times just the same as in good times.
It teaches us that the Great Empire is an idol with feet of clay. It cannot protect us, it cannot even protect
itself. The hymn truly says:
trust in horses
trust in chariots
name of our
name of Jesus
our salvation lies
hear from heaven
And answer every
only argument with the verse is that Jesus isn't so far away as heaven implies. When we have real trouble, He is right down
here with us. The Holy Spirit of Jesus
Christ walks into the battle with us when we fight it in Jesus' way.
But secular Christians continue to put their faith in the
Lone Ranger. They look to the good man
with a gun instead of the Prince of Peace for their protection. They apply ethical principles taken from
Saturday morning cartoons, westerns, space fantasies, spy novels, detective
stories and war melodramas--all the scriptures from which patriot Christians learn their most basic moral
principle: a good
man with a
gun answereth to
evil ( John
30-30, Luke 45-70, Matthew 12 gauge )
in guns we
gun fantasies come from that fantasy land which is the devil's play
ground. The faith in guns is one variety
of the faith in power and money. It is a
cousin of the faith in the law and the lawyers.
It is spiritually akin to the fantasy that we can win the victory
through conventional politics. People
who are afraid of guns have instead the faith that morality can be popularity,
that it can be established by popular vote.
They have the illusion that there is a
safe and respectable way to fight the battle that requires no real
sacrifice or courage from us. We can
stick with the crowd = the people are
is missing is faith in the way that Jesus Christ showed us. What is missing is faith in courageous
personal witness, the commitment to
nonviolent direct action. Instead
of worrying about how we are going to defend ourselves when they come to get
us, we should be worrying about the best way that we
can get them !
The best defense is a good offense.
The best offense is the one that Jesus Christ chalked out for us and
showed us how to run.
response that Jesus gives to Pilate gives his basic prescription for dealing
with evil: bear witness. We are swamped
by evil because we do not have the courage to bear witness against evil. We let it grow and grow until war becomes
inevitable. Let the government take care
of it, let the military deal with it. If
the so-called Christians of Germany had witnessed against the evils of Nazism
when it first began, it would not have taken 60 million killed to stop it. And it wasn't really stopped then, it was
only transformed into the success of Communism, which led to another 60 million
killed. Imagine what the difference would
have been if only a few more Christians had followed the example of Franz
Jaggerstatter in bearing Christian witness against the evils of Nazism. Which, together with Bolshevism, its twin, were the poisonous fruits of World War I,
that great eruption of mass murder in the very heart of patriotic
Christendom. [ See Hitler Deploys the Patriot Pastors on the www.Radical Christian Press.org web site ]
like the early Christians, we shun the pursuit of power and wealth, if, like
Jesus himself, we do not respond with violence to personal insult, we thereby
eliminate the three major causes of war.
If we bear witness against
evil on a daily basis instead of letting it grow unchecked, like weeds in the
garden, we do not find ourselves in those desperate situations in which massive
State organized violence seems to be the only remedy.
you neglect to do all the things you can and should do to bring your son up
right you arrive at a situation where there is no alternative except to hand
him over to the police. And they can't
do anything with him either. The actual
premise of war is that we neglect Christian witness and fail to oppose evil in
all of the ways that are open to us, until finally evil has grown to where
there is nothing for it but to kill 60 million people to eradicate it. That is, to achieve the illusion that we have
eradicated it. Because we were afraid to
open our mouths and witness to the truth, we arrive at a situation where there
seems to be no alternative except to send in the soldiers to deal with this
those who called themselves Christians had energetically opposed slavery there
need never have been an American Civil War.
They went along with it for centuries.
Then most of those who opposed it opposed it as a matter of idle
opinion, discreetly expressed, not as a matter of passion, conviction, courageous
personal witness, and nonviolent direct
action. The result was that their sons
had to pay with their lives in a contest that was about power not about the
evil of slavery. As General Sherman once
bluntly stated it: all the niggers in the South aren't worth the life of one union
soldier. This is about control of the
Mississippi. But they had to believe
in the righteousness of this cause and the necessity of this cause or admit
that the blood of their sons had been shed in a contest that was inspired by
yourself a pair of real questions: I.
how many times have you saved someone from death by having a gun handy and
using it ? II. how many times have you let someone die
because you did not have the courage to bear Christian witness, like that brave
handful who save babies from death by Sidewalk Counseling in front of the abortion clinic ? In fact the babies die every morning while
secular Christians pursue the affluent American lifestyle and indulge
themselves in fantasies of some day saving a life with that gun they keep
The Witness of
the Early Church
sincere Christian does not try to find his way around texts
like love your enemies or my followers don't fight because my kingdom
is not of this world. Jesus did
forbid us to go to war and we have to live up to that. That isn't my opinion, it was the conviction
of the early church before the anti church of the Roman Empire appeared, as
witness Polycarp, Origen, Tertullian, the Canons
of Hippolytus and the personal
statements of thousands of Christians who went to their deaths for refusing to
serve in the Roman army. Respect their
courage and their witness in blood to their belief that Jesus taught us not to
kill. What do secular Christians believe
in enough to die for ? They believe in
the empire enough to conscript other people's sons to die for it.
the example of his own life and in his teaching, Jesus shows us three things
that we must shun: wealth, power and
violence. And these things are tied
together. Wealth buys power and power
brings wealth, but war is necessary to get and keep both. There are 50 places in the gospel where by
his example and his teaching Jesus shows us that we must avoid money, power and
violence. A modern Christian can explain
away all of them by way of validating a Christianity which is in fact wedded to
wealth, power and war. In the first
centuries of Christianity they didn't explain them away. Those primitive Christians avoided all luxury
and shared everything they had. They
could not be magistrates. They went to
their deaths for refusing to serve in the Roman army, just as Jesus was killed
for refusing to be the kind of a king that the Jews wanted. four sm 101
pacifist witness has persisted through the centuries despite the persecutions
of the state and its ally the state church.
The refusal to kill for the state is characteristic of the heretical sects that tried to restore
the Christian Church to its original integrity.
It reappears in the early Baptists, (= the present-day Mennonite and
Amish) in the Quakers and in the sometimes authentically Christian parts of
otherwise secular churches, like the early Franciscans.
have been studying war and pacifism for many years now and I have gone to
prison for it. But I am still trying to
understand the mystery of the life of Jesus Christ and what his nonviolence
means for us. Thinking about it is one
thing, trying to live up to it is another.
For most of those years I have had a gun handy. It is only in the last few years that I have
tried seriously to follow Jesus more closely.
I think the gun is one of the things you leave behind when you get
serious about following Jesus Christ.
the God of
God that the New Testament reveals to us is not a god of war. He is a God of Peace who wages spiritual war
through us. As Romans 16.20 says And the
God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly. Note under
your feet. Even though the
power is his, the victory is ours also.
Hebrews 13.20 says: Now the God of peace, that brought again
from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the
blood of the everlasting covenant
21 Make you perfect in every good
work to do his will, working in you that which is well pleasing in his sight,
through Jesus Christ. To whom be glory
for ever and ever Amen.
Isaiah 9.2 says:
The people that walked in darkness
have seen a great light. They that dwell
in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined. We have been given a great light. We are soldiers
who belong to the camp of light, as
Tertullian said, who have sworn our loyalty to the Prince of Peace. We must not then join those who have turned
back to the camp of darkness.